Sunday, July 22, 2007

‘The Brians’ at Siloam State Park

Ken started the weekend early. Our good friends from Atlanta, Dave and Donna, have a son 14-year-old son, Brian, who was spending a month here in Quincy on his grandparent’s farm. Ken set up an RV outing to Siloam State Park with him and our 13-year-old great-nephew, Brian.

The boys arrived 1:oo Thursday. Grandma Baker included lots of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the farm when she dropped of Brian, (hereafter referred to as ‘Big B’) and our niece Theresa brought a bike along with ‘Little B’ so there would be 3 bikes for the 3 boys.

Ken immediately put the ‘B’s to work loading the RV and hooking up the jeep. They helped him run through the ‘pre-flight’ checklist and soon were on the road.

They were immediately greeted by the Siloam natives when they pulled in the park. When they stopped to fill the fresh water tank, they spied a curious mama deer and her fawn nearby. The boys were able to get within 25 yards of them, before they bolted back in to the forest.

Ken was able to get our favorite Siloam campsite, #45A. Siloam does not take reservations and has electric only sites. We think this is one of the reasons this beautiful park is seeing less business. People like knowing that they have a spot they want before spending the gas to get to the park. Ken knew that by arriving mid-day Thursday he would have plenty of sites to pick from.

The B’s helped with the guiding duties to back Baby into her spot. During unloading time, the RV basement compartment keys were misplaced. Although neither B had touched the keys, it was the started of the running joke for the weekend, the problems Ken was having with the ‘damn kids’. He was actually very lucky because after using the jeep for a camp ground tour and to go fishing, the keys feel to the ground from the back of the jeep, while stopped to make cell phone calls. Apparently Ken had placed them on the spare tire while unloading the bicycles and they’d fallen between the tire and the tailgate. It was real luck that they just happened to fall out when they closed and not while they were driving around!

The Illinois white-tail population wasn’t in question this day. The guys saw a couple of deer as they drove down to the boat dock, and then a couple more on their way back to the campsite. On weekdays when the camper population is down the deer population is quite visible, but once the weekend comes along with more campers and activity the deer retreat into the woods and remain out of sight.

There were foil dinners and sweet corn over open fire for supper. Ken’s usually excellent grilling skills seemed to be knocked off balance a bit as the meals and corn came out on the overdone side. (Ok, I like to think we work better as a team!).

Of course, the boys wanted to make sure I was aware that Ken burned the supper and not the ‘damn kids’.

After dinner the threesome headed down to the lake and fished off the dock until sunset. They could see lots of fish in the very clear spring water but didn’t catch any.

Back at the RV they snacked and watched a DVD, ‘Employee of the Month’.

It was bedtime about midnight after some time of negotiating who would sleep where.

At 6am, Friday, Ken took the dogs out while The B’s were still sleeping soundly so Ken came back in and slept until 10:00. He then did scrambled eggs, sausage and potatoes for breakfast. I figure those must have been good or The ‘B’s would have been sure to let me know.

On the way to the boat dock the guys stopped in front of one of the restrooms where they could pick up a cellular signal. They check in with home and I found out that the boys were not ready to come home in the afternoon and instead preferred the Theresa and Jim bring me out to the park and we extend their time a bit longer with an evening meal.

When the guys got to the boat dock they encountered another slight hangup.

Illinois State Parks require that all watercraft launched from their properies have a state registration, even non-motorized inflatables like our SeaEagle. Ken got the information on how to apply for the 3-year license and will send in next week.

The boat licensing issue called for reverting to ‘plan B’ and renting a rowboat for a couple of hours. Again they weren’t having much luck with the fish, but The ‘B’s got to give Ken a lot of ribbing since his he was rowing the boat with one oar different from the other causing the boat to want to go anywhere but where they wanted.

At about 6:30pm Theresa, Jim and I arrived with brats. Ken did the grilling while Teresa and Jim walked down to the lake were The B’s were fishing off the dock. We had a classic summer meal of brats, beans, corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Jim recognized a camper next door who came over to visit with him and we talked about their dream of fulltiming in a vehicle like ours some day. The B’s headed out for one last trek around the campground by bike.

It was nearly dark when we loaded The Bs in to Jim and Theresa’s van for their trip back to Quincy.

I did a short bike ride in the dark to the sound of cicadas and the ebb and flow of fireside chatter as I passed the occupied sites. There’s very little light pollution in this park and so the only light was the moonlight the stars and the patches of campfire light. It was a wonderfully cool, clear evening so we enjoyed our campfire for an hour or so and than headed in to sleep.

As has become the norm, Ken and I both sleep exceptionally well in the motorhome. It was especially nice to be able to sleep with all the windows open and drift off to the night sounds. The owl that was a neighbor several months ago when we were here is still making his presence known, but seems to have moved his hunting ground a little farther from our site since we can hear him now but it’s not like he’s right next door. We were awakened by the dos going bonkers at one point in the night. It was apparent the next morning that we had a midnight visit from a raccoon since he had left pawprints all over the picnic table and tore a whole in the container of bait worms. The worms were gone but I find it hard to believe that a raccoon with a whole campground of garbage containers to choose from would be eating our earthworms!

It was a purposefully quiet weekend for us.

I walked the full campground with the dogs and then came back to fix breakfast and enjoy time together out under the awning.

Ken worked on fixing his rod n reel.

Our friend Katie who was here the last time we came to Siloam, came by several times to play with the dogs.

We also took a couple of bike rides with her.

This was my first outing with my new bike. It’s a Wal-Mart bike, nothing fancy, with 7 speeds. Definitely a different breed from my 35-year-old English racing bike, rest its soul, but proved to be a pretty good fit for the campground.

Mid-afternoon we walked down with the dogs to the closest dock so Ken to test out the repair work on his rod n’ reel. The repair job proved out to be really successful but we decided not to stay to actually fish since the dock was crowded with kids and fishing poles already.

Ken decided a late afternoon naps was in order and we ended up watching a movie ‘Revenge’ with Kevin Kostner and Anthony Quinn. It turned out that the movie was good enough to keep Ken’s eyes open instead of just a way to fall asleep!

We grilled out and enjoyed a campfire again. The sky was really clear and the cicada’s were only interrupted by the sound of the kids nearby playing red rover. It actually was getting quite cool so we both showered and hit the sack early. We even threw another quilt on the bed, enjoying another really great night’s sleep.

Sunday we decided to do a thorough RV cleaning after breakfast. We dusted, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, scrubbed counters and the floors---it was amazing how quickly you can get through housecleaning in a house this size!

Since I really want to be sure I can do everything with the RV myself, I challenged Ken to let me do all of the guy-stuff part of the teardown and prep to leave, dis-assembling the grill, and packing it, getting the awnings up, loading bicycles on the jeep, disconnecting electricity, etc., It was really hard for Ken to keep his hands off but I got through it.

I then drove to the dump station while Ken drove the jeep—another first, driving the motorhome without anyone else in it! I did the grey water and black water dump on my own, then Ken decided to backflush the tanks while I hooked up the jeep for towing. Ken said I did fine and I think if I had to I could do the whole things on my own now though I need to do this every once in awhile to make sure I stay in practice for times when Kenny may not be up to it.

We got home in time for Ken to turn around and head out to what little B’s big brother, James, race out at Quincy raceways. In fact, he picked up big B on the way, so The Brians will be ending the weekend with Kenny as well.

Next weekend we will be splitting the family with Trevor and Ken taking the motorhome to Mahomet, IL, for a benefit golf outing for the Eastern Illinois University football team. Kyle and I will stay here in Quincy since Kyle will have his 4 wisdom teeth pulled on Friday. Ken promises that he there will be another first as he’ll take the pictures and do the blog writing for next week’s Frerx Adventures!

Hugs, C

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