Return to Our Happy Place: A Much-Needed Escape to Eagle Ridge

Recover from the stress of busy life with a visit to Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena, IL.

Should we go? Did I have time? It was Friday. I had a big conference the next week and I’d be leaving Monday morning. I didn’t have time to go. I had too much work to do.

My neck twinged.

Yes, we should definitely go.

Our destination was the northwest corner of Illinois for a much-needed relaxing and romantic getaway. We needed it, but I didn’t know how much, nor how much it would prepare me for the next week.

We were invited to the new Stonedrift Spa at Eagle Ridge Resort. When I say I needed it, I’m not lying. The Sunday before I had made a trip to urgent care because of a trapezius spasm near the base of my neck.

Have you ever had a muscle spasm? OUCH. As I said to Jim, “I went through chemo and radiation, and this is going to be the thing that breaks me?” Not today, spasm.

After a few days of medication and taking it easy, and a new Bluetooth keyboard so I could raise my laptop screen and wouldn’t be looking down all day long, we drove to the Driftless region.

We reached Terrapin Ridge, high above the surrounding farms, by Illinois standards. We slowed for the 90-degree turn into Elizabeth, our view from the ridge one of hills and fields and trees, and I felt like I could breathe.

I feel like that every time I reach that stretch. It’s stress-stress-stress, then I see the sign that we’re entering Jo Daviess County. The terrain begins to rise and fall, rise and fall. Farm stands and antique shops and a glass museum pop up like so much charm and quaintness.

Then we see that sign. I inhale. Exhale. Finally, relax.

And nearly every time, I say, “I could live here.”

It had been awhile since our last visit. In fact, it was our last “normal” (if you can call it that) outing before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August, 2020. Returning was… surreal.

I thought I’d be emotional, and I was, but it wasn’t the sadness I expected. Instead, I felt calm. Relaxed.

Like I could breathe.

We checked into the lodge at Eagle Ridge, unpacked our bags in a room overlooking the lake, and walked to Stonedrift Spa.

Our stay, massages, and meals were provided by Eagle Ridge Resort, but my opinions are honest and not at all influenced by magic.

View from our room at Eagle Ridge Resort

The new spa is located where the old General Store used to be, a place we visited multiple times for snacks, wine, and items from the deli.

The building is unrecognizable, with a new entrance and much more space, and all the spa stuff you expect. Soft music, soft lighting, the hushed tones of self-care.

While we could have had a couples massage, we elected to take individual treatments. I was still in a bit of pain, and while I hoped the massage would help soothe my aching muscles, I did not expect magic.

But magic is what I got. I told Todd about my spasm. He pinpointed it, and for the next hour he used expertise he’d honed for at least thirteen years, which is how long he’s been at Eagle Ridge.

I left that room refreshed, relaxed, pain free. I reveled in my ability to lounge without wincing while drinking cucumber water and eating chocolate covered cashews.

Then I took my sweet time showering. (I might have brought a ramekin of cashews with me.)

“Magic!” I said as we checked out. “Magic.”

Theresa, post magic massage, at Stonedrift Spa, with towel wrapped around head
Me, post magic massage. Don’t I look relaxed?

We dined that night at Woodlands. One of the reasons Eagle Ridge is our happy place is the food. Chef Randy menu is farm- and woods-to-table. I’ve foraged with him many times when they hosted morel hunts for media in the before times.

Of course, he never took us to his true foraging spot. No morel hunter worth their weight in fungus gold would expose a prime picking spot to outsiders.

Dinner was, as I expected, excellent. The food, the company, the wine (Eagle Ridge Cabernet), and the service.

Steak bites at Woodlands Restaurant
Pork Chop at Woodlands Restaurant at Eagle Ridge

We asked for recommendations and Les immediately provided his favorites. He did not say, “This dish is really popular,” or “A lot of people like this one.”

As a former server, those two phrases are a pet peeve of mine because they indicate the server doesn’t have a favorite, likely because they haven’t tried it.

At the end of the meal, I asked Les how long he’d been working there. Most of the staff I’ve met at Eagle Ridge have been there for double-digits. Les surprised me by saying he’d only been there three weeks.

He’s a pro, that one.

We took our desserts to go. The next morning, we walked the short path from the docks through the woods to the resort. Breakfast was a buffet, with made-to-order omelets, heaps of bacon and sausage, cheesecake (cheesecake!), and the most buttery smoked salmon I’ve ever had, except for the last time I stayed at Eagle Ridge.

Walk through the woods at Eagle Ridge

Too soon, it was time to go. I needed to be home that afternoon to prep for my conference, which I’d be road tripping to with two crazy travel writing friends.

Jim and I stopped at Thunder Bay Falls, a private waterfall in The Galena Territory and accessible to guests of the resort, before heading into the town of Galena.

We strolled the historic Main Street until the heat wiped us out. Then, we drove east, past Eagle Ridge, through Elizabeth and its 90-degree turns, over Terrapin Ridge, towards home.

Thunder Bay Falls in The Galena Territory
One of the historic spots in downtown Galena, Illinois

You might think my stress returned the further we got from our relaxing getaway, but there’s something about Eagle Ridge and The Galena Territory that stick with me. Especially when the fresh air, attentive service, and delicious cuisine are accompanied by a therapeutic massage.

It’s a place where you can relax.

It’s a place where you can breathe.

You might even say it’s magic.

Book your stay at Eagle Ridge Resort

Visiting Stonedrift Spa and Eagle Ridge Resort

At Stonedrift Spa, you’ll find a unique blend of services designed with your grooming and wellness in mind.

Entrance to Stonedrift Spa
Inside Stonedrift Spa
  1. State-of-the-art Hair Salon: Step into a modern hair salon where you can enjoy a plethora of hair services, from a fresh cut to color transformations and blowout styles.
  2. Traditional Barbershop: Located in a private room is a traditional barbershop that caters to both classic and contemporary tastes, delivering an authentic barbershop experience.
  3. All-Natural Nail Care: If your nails need a little TLC, an all-natural nail-care service offers both manicures and pedicures.
  4. Group and Bridal Packages: A dedicated loft space is tailored for groups and bridal parties to celebrate their special day with customized beauty and wellness packages.
  5. Comprehensive Body Treatments: You can dive into a suite of body treatments, available in dry and wet rooms featuring a Vichy shower for a spa experience like no other.
  6. Massage Treatments: There are multiple types of massages, including one perfect for pre- or post-golf and another that uses CBD lotion (which is what I had).
  7. Unique Wellness Experiences: For those seeking something different, unique wellness offerings such as Reiki, Sound Healing, and Forest Bathing provide a holistic mind, body, and soul experience.
  8. Weekend Yoga and Stretch Classes: They can stretch and rejuvenate with guided yoga and stretch classes held on the weekends.
  9. Breathe & Detox Rooms: One can experience the luxury of Breathe & Detox rooms, benefiting from the deep penetrating heat of an infrared sauna and the advantages of halotherapy, renowned for toxin elimination, muscle soothing, and stress reduction.
  10. Facial Treatments: They can enhance their skin’s glow with a range of facial treatments, including the premium Platinum HydraFacial.
  11. Luxurious Steam Rooms: After a long day, one can unwind and relax in state-of-the-art steam rooms, perfect for detoxification and relaxation.

Book your services at Stonedrift Spa.

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