Saturday turned out to be an adventure packed day.
It was a wonderfully cool morning so we started with coffee under the awning followed by a breakfast of oatmeal and toast outside. Unless it’s really hot, and especially when we don’t have full hookups, we prefer cooking, eating and cleaning up outdoors.
Late morning, after Ken mapped out a general trip route, we headed out for one of our exploration days. We’ve always envisioned that, if we were on the road extended or full-time, we would park and then have several days like this where we headed out to explore the sites in a 50 mile radius of the rig. Based on this day, I think we’ll need to be a bit less ambitious on what we pack in to one day!
First off, we headed to Rochester where Trevor had a place he’s considering renting when he starts his new job in Springfield this fall. I was not thrilled with the idea that he’d be driving from Rochester to the center of Springfield every day but, once we actually drove to this location, we were quite happy with it. I’m really surprised it is a Rochester address since it is just off of I-55 on the east side of Springfield at the Hwy 29 exit. It’s a carriage house where the owner is building an apartment on the second floor so everything will be brand new including a washer and dryer. After seeing the location and exterior, we are now hoping this works out for him.
We had also located a state park, Sangchris Lake, that had a Rochester address ,so, considering this might be a good place for us to park when visiting Trevor, we made that our next stop. It felt like we really had to do quite a bit of driving to get to this park. The lake was very nice and there were sites right along the shore but not many were both 50 amp and level so we’d be limited, at least during really hot or cold weather, on which sites worked for us in this campground. We are glad we made the trip though since now we have a good idea of what it takes to get here and what sites we might consider, and also, because there are two campgrounds and we’d definitely do the Hickory Campground over the Deer Run Campground having checked both out.
When we left Sangchris Lake we drove south to the little village of Dorchester, IL. Carrie, one of the ladies we had lunch with on Friday had mentioned that they were having their 50th Annual Dorchester Homecoming and were famous for their fish fry. Since it was already 3pm, we decided that the fish would make a great late lunch.
Even though we arrived at probably the least crowded part of the weekend festivities, in the middle of a very hot Saturday afternoon, there were still lots of activities going on.
There was a 16-inch co-ed softball tournament in full swing.
This is small town softball at its’ finest with many of the participants having their team names shown with duck tape on their backs and many of the young ladies built like they could put the guys to shame with that bat in hand.
We’ve observed, over the years, that there seems to be a lot of really athletic girls in these small towns that often get missed by college recruiters who prefer working the big cities where they don’t have to travel so far to see lots of talent.
One thing was for sure, there was no rule against beer in the dug out on this hot afternoon!
Behind the baseball field they had a horseshoe tournament in progress where we saw this guy lay in 2 back-to-back ringers as we walked by.
There were your usual carnival games, beer tents and kids activity areas.
Lots of people were carrying in chairs and settling in for the day. There was a parade in an hour or two so we decided we’d better skedaddle before we ended up having problems getting out of town.
With the great food and atmosphere we will definitely suggest that Kyle, Jenni and their friends make an effort to drop by to enjoy this event next year. In fact, just might be a good weekend for us to work in to our travel schedule!
We were now on the last leg of the route we planned for the day and headed along more back roads to check out some of the local lakes. We were actually surprised by the size of Lake Gillespie. We thought we’d get a picture of this kid skiing on the lake, but, it turned out, he was a newbie.
We had fun watching his attempts but based on what we were seeing figured it wasn’t going to be any time soon that we saw him up on those things, so we continued on our journey.
We then found our way to Lake Catatoga. This turns out to be a small lake with many small fingers, allowing for maximum amount of lake frontage on minimum acreage. It’s a private community of shoreline lots with some common areas. We’ve observed two variations of these kinds of developments in the past. Either they are very upscale with expensive homes with the community feeling very exclusive to the point of smugness. On the other end of the spectrum we’ve seen developments with few restrictions that have been turned in to dumps. Lake Catatoga seems to be nicely in the middle. There were no trashy trailers or overgrown lots. While we saw a few higher end homes, there were also some really quaint little cottages. There were lots and lots of decks with nice views and docks with small boats. Most of the landscaping was maintained but maybe not particularly manicured. I think it would be a wonderful place to live if it weren’t 10 miles from any town.
By the time we were leaving Lake Catatoga it was after 5pm. Since Kyle and Jenni had a day planned in Springfield we had offered to drop by at supper time and let the dog out of the crate for awhile. While Ken played with Staley, I took advantage of Kyle’s internet to post yesterday’s blog.
We’d hoped to take the dogs out on Beaver Dam Lake in the evening but both of us were pretty tired from out travels when we got back. I’m glad though that we decided to buck it up and do it anyway since it turned out to be a very relaxing, and rather comical end to the day.
Ditka absolutely loved the boat.
He seemed to have an understanding of the water as well, sticking his snout down for a drink now and then but with no interest in getting any closer. Although the vet said swimming would be good exercise for him, we really didn’t want to encourage him getting in at this point. He settled in comfortable at Ken’s feet and enjoyed the ride.
Sox, on the other hand, could not figure out this calm placid water surface.
She seemed sure she should be able to walk on water. I found myself laughing out load just watching her antics which results in her tumbling into the lake headfirst twice. The part that was not so funny was that I ended up soaking wet and smelling like dog from pulling her back in and taking the brunt of the post-swim shake.
In retrospect, I pulled her in too quickly. Next time I’ll make her swim and work at it a bit since she never did try to stop getting back out there.
The water was calm and glassy. The heat of the day had subsided and once on the lake we had surprisingly few insects joining us. We floated along enjoying the surroundings, watching the little kids along the shore with their fishing poles, and annoying the resident heron who periodically warned us with his prehistoric honking sounds that we were in his space.
We came off the lake at sunset and headed back up the hill to the rig.
One of my new favorite RVing days, for sure.