So much has happened since our last post. We’d love to go into greater detail about every adventure but it’s time we got you caught up to where we are now. Hopefully we’ll do a better of job of timely posts going forward. It was way back on Tuesday July 11th that we arrived at Big Rock Campground west of Chicago with the intention of staying one night at this beautiful campground that does not take reservations. We’re not shy about attempting a stay at a “first come” campground if we’re arriving early in the day mid-week and not close to a holiday weekend. It definitely paid off this time. We had our pick of a multitude of campsites and immediately decided to stay a full week. Not only was it a great place for long walks, and we certainly did not take advantage of all the trails through areas of savannah restoration, but it served as a great base for exploring some off the beaten path historic sites.

We had great views of restored savannahs as we walked the trails at Big Rock Campground

In Ottawa, Illinois we visited the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage  Museum. We sought this museum out because we both have strong family histories in the scouting movements but were delighted to learn more about this historic community on the Illinois River.

Then we stopped for lunch at the Bull Moose Bar & Grille in Sandwich, Illinois. The restaurant features the dining car that served President Theodore Roosevelt from 1900 to 1913 and has been at this location in Sandwich since 1931.

The next day we trekked to Dekalb, Illinois to visit the Ellwood House. The guided tour gave us some fabulous insight into the invention of barbed wire in the late Nineteenth Century and into the life of Isaac Ellwood, the entrepreneur who turned Dekalb into the barbed wire capital.

The Ellwood House in DeKalb housed three generations of the Ellwood Family before being donated for the purpose of preservation and education.
Some of the earliest barbed wire was invented in DeKalb where Issac Ellwood set up the first barbed wire factory.

A couple of days later we headed back to Ottawa to soak up history in Washington Square Park, the site of the first senatorial campaign debate between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln on August 21, 1858.

The Lincoln-Douglas senatorial race debates ultimately played a major role in Lincoln’s successful presidential campaign two years later.
The interpretive signs help visitors understand the historical importance of that day in 1858.
Washington Park places major emphasis on that first debate.

Next we headed to the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park. It was our first fairgrounds camping experience and it worked wonderfully for us. Shortly after we arrived we walked the short distance to Liquid Johnny’s where we enjoyed some good food, good beer, and people watching. We then spent two days in the area with our friend Marlis. Our adventures were wide ranging starting with a delicious breakfast at Yemas Family Restaurant then exploring the grounds at the Dousman Stagecoach Inn Museum in nearby Brookfield before heading to the Basilica known locally as Holy Hill, with an amazing history, an amazing structure, and an amazing view especially if you are brave enough to climb to the top of one of the spires. To finish off the day’s adventures we headed to Pewaukee, Wisconsin to stroll the charming downtown shops across from the beach. On day two we headed into downtown Milwaukee stopping first at EE-Sane Thai-Lao Cuisine for a lovely experience. It’s been a fave of Marlis’ for years. Then on to Colectivo Coffee Cafe to view the preserved 1888 pumping station. While we were along the lakefront we walked the mile long breakwater and watched the sky as the Blue Angels rehearsed for their show the next day. Wow! Then on to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Just the architecture itself makes it worth the trip not to mention the quality of the couple of galleries we had the energy to peruse thoroughly, Sandanavian Art and American Art. On our way out of downtown we passed the location of Rainbow Summer. We didn’t get to the the iridescent balloons inflated but we did see where they would glow later that evening.

The basilica is most inspiring.
And the view from the top is breathtaking.
It’s always fun to have a friend as a local guide.
The preserved pumping station in the center of a coffeeshop was a reminder of how we’ve progressed in technology and environmental stewardship in these last hundred years and more.
It was fabulous to see the Blue Angels perform and not have to be in the midst of a great crowd.
What a treat to visit the Milwaukee Art Museum on the shore of Lake Michigan.
They had great collections of traditional American art,
and some offbeat modern art. The “man” to the left of Steve is an art installation!
The Wisconsin State Fair Park was gearing up for the fair but the RV Park was a pleasant place for our stay.

Our next destination was Prairie Edge Farm outside of Madison. Our friends Mary & Jim have spent the last several years lovingly restoring this farm that dates back to the 1850’s. We were delighted to be able to moochdock near their barn, spend some quiet time with the two of them, enjoy watching “The Girls”, their flock of chickens, participate in their annual big outdoor party, dance in the amazing second floor ballroom in their barn, and just marvel at their prairie restoration.

What a treat to be hosted by Jim and Mary on their farm as they hosted a spectacular picnic style party for her birthday.
We started the visit with a Friday night fish fry at the local watering hole, The Pickle Tree Restaurant where we saw our mutual friend, Vicki!

The second floor ballroom in the barn is spectacular. It serves as the center for the local dance community.
Our moochdocking space outside the barn was so very convenient and comfortable.
We were astounded at the large gathering of family and friends! It was a great chance for us to reconnect with friends of ours from the dance community.
While we were out to breakfast the newest member of the chicken flock at Prairie Edge finished hatching!

After that we spend two more nights at Big Rock Campground, three nights at Forrest W. “Bo” Wood Campground on Lake Shelbyville near Sullivan, Illinois where we scored Site #7 with a view of the lake. That’s where we had an awning adventure when a rogue gust of wind pulled out some stakes and bent the arch pole of our Isabella awning. Using the picnic table and bench as a crude jig we did manage to regain enough of the original shape to be able to use the awning again at a later date.

Our campsite at “Bo” Wood on Lake Shelbyville was lovely, but the gravel didn’t give us a strong purchase to really stake down the Isabella awning. We ended up having to take it down shortly after putting it up.

Next stop was a weekend visit with CJ and Phil in Bloomington, Indiana. We camped in their driveway, got an introduction to 3D Printing – CJ’s new hobby, and headed into downtown a couple of times for dining adventures at Malibu Grill one night and the Irish Lion the next not to mention a foray into Soma Coffeehouse and a stop by a limestone disk on the courthouse lawn commemorating the time back in 1910 when Bloomington was the Center of the United States population.

CJ invested in 3D printing equipment about a year ago. She demonstrated her skill by printing us a couple of fidget rings and toys.
One night we went in search of a speakeasy bar but found it to have no vacancy so we enjoyed some local brews instead.
An obscure little limestone disk commemorates Bloomington’s 1910 status as the Center of the US Population

Then after an overnight at the Richmond KOA Holiday in Richmond, Indiana we were back at Pier Lon Campground near Medina, Ohio for ten nights. From there we rendezvoused with Dave, Amy, and girls three times, took care of some personal business, and started packing for the next adventure.

One evening we ventured into Akron to meet up with family at a First Friday celebration. We especially enjoyed the reception we got at the D-Bo’s Food Truck when we ordered Pulled Pork Nachos!
We enjoyed our forays into Medina to take care of some personal business and the just explore the town some more.

On Friday we started heading east. We stopped at a couple of Harvest Hosts sites. Friday found us at Mound Grove Golf Course in Waterford, Pennsylvania as guests of Stephanie & Ed who now own and run the golf club and restaurant located on land that’s been in the family for a hundred years. After decades as a potato and dairy farm it was converted into a golf club in 1993 by her father who opened the restaurant in the 1860’s barn two years later.

As members of Harvest Hosts we were welcomed to spend the night at Mound Grove Golf Course.
And as part of the deal we became customers when we enjoyed some great salads and beer. That was followed by fun convtersation with fellow travelers.

The next night we ate, socialized, and slept at the Prison City Taproom and Brewery in Auburn, New York.

And as Harvest Hosts guests at Prison City Taproom we had some great food truck sandwiches and beverages and hobnobbed with fellow full-time travelers camped near us.

Finally we overnighted at Country Aire Campground in the Berkshires in Charlemont, Massachusetts. A full hookups site there gave us the chance to drain all of our water tanks before heading to Greg’s driveway in Greenfield, Massachusetts where we’ve been enjoying a chance to visit with the kiddos as we put finishing touches preparing the trailer to sit idle for six weeks and to finish packing our bags. Tomorrow we’re off on The Next Adventure!

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3 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Wow! You have been busy!! Great stuff. I want to visit that HH brewery! Excited about your next adventure!

    Reply
  2. Patty Marten

    Great article! Will be passing the Illinois camping info on to my Illini trailer pals!

    Reply
  3. Jackie Mallory

    Loved your sharing of your five week journey looks like you took full advantage of each area. Who does all the planning? Thanks for sharing with us. Await the next.
    Jackie Mallory

    Reply

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