It was less than a week since our last RV outing but Ken and I were both getting hitch itch. For years when heading east across Illinois, we had driven by a sign pointing to Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Park and Recreation area. Ken’s brother, Michael and wife, Jean, had camped there and gave it a thumbs-up so we chose this as our next destination.
We decided to get there the long way via Carlinville. While in Quincy over the weekend, our son Kyle had snagged a great buy on patio furniture but the large glass table top he bought didn’t fit well in the Honda Pilot, Jenni’s vehicle they had driven from Carlinville. We were all concerned about whether it would make the 2 hour trip back to Carlinville without breaking. Ken and I volunteered instead to give it a nice soft ride on the top of our motorhome bed.
We didn’t leave Quincy until about 11am on Monday. Kyle’s girlfriend, Jenni, was at his house to meet us as we dropped the table off on his covered patio in Carlinville at 1:30. Since there was really no place on streets by Kyle to park the motorhome we made it a very quick stop not even turning off the motor. We then headed north and made it to the Prairie Lake Campground at JEPC by about 4:00.
This campground is definitely in the middle of nowhere. Of course since Jim Edgar Panther Creek is huge – 26 square miles, most of the ‘nowhere’ is part of the park! The park has only been in existence since 1999 which is new by park standards. We were surprised based on this that there are very limited number of full hookup and 50 amp sites.
The shower houses are well laid out and very clean and playground neat and still looking new. The sites are mostly long and level, although the choice spots overlooking the lake were not full hookup and only 30 amp.
While we picked site 38 which was full hookup and 50 amp, we’ve decided that next time we’ll opt for a site either along the woods or with a view of the lake.
We’ve learned that we can make it comfortably at least 5 days on our tanks, especially if there is water close enough to hook up to if we exceed our 95 available gallons fresh water. If we are going to push it on our gray tank then I simply use basins in the sink and shower to catch water and discard. At nice parks, Ken actually prefers going to the shower house where he has lots of room, and lots of soak time with plenty of water pressure. The only reason we need 50 amp is for the second air conditioner. Even when it’s hot, we can restrict to the main area A/C during the day and the bedroom A/C at night and be comfortable.
Another lesson learned for us is the importance of the direction our RV is facing when shade is at a premium. We are definitely outdoor people and seldom cook or sit inside. Even breakfast is usually cooked in our electric skillet out under the awning. Because of the summer sun and heat we’ve found our RV lifestyle demands plenty of late afternoon shade under the awning. Sitting having coffee in the early morning sunshine is something we like to do, even when at home on the back deck. You know – get in that daily dose of Vitamin D when it’s still too early to worry about sunscreen. Our compass had apparently been knocked off kilter when Ken did the dashboard fixes last week and we hadn’t noticed. For that reason and since it was overcast when we parked he selected a site that he thought would have us facing mostly north, when instead we were facing mostly west with little shade morning or night…now we know how important getting these directions right is to us…and will recalibrate the compass before next trip as well!
There are two campground host sites. We were surprised to find out that the main loop host was onsite year-round and, in fact, was now on his second year of living their full-time. He had wifi rigged up from his site which reached the first 11 sites.
I walked down a couple of times during our stay to check emails. In fact, that is where the prior blog was published from.
The temperatures were really mild – highs upper 70’s, lows in the 60’s -- so we were able to sleep with the windows open, enjoying the sound of the breeze through the cottonwoods.
It had been a while since we had carried our bikes along. Since we still had Kyle’s Trek at our house, Ken cheated and brought that bike for himself rather than his own 40-year old bike. We had been told that there were some good bike paths in the park and were not disappointed.
More on that in tomorrow’s blog.