We have a new employee in our department at work and by boss asked if I would go to Marion, IL to do some face to face training with her. So being the camper that I am I asked if would be ok fi I took the camper down to a nearby campground to stay in while there. I had the opportunity to take Glenda and I thought it would be nicer for her to be in our camper than sitting in a hotel room. In addition it would save the company some money(just doing my part for expense control). I figured I would just pay for it myself since it was my idea to go with my truck and stay in a campground. My boss liked the idea since she has done some camping in the past with her family. So she emails the Business Travel Center and Financial Services and they both agreed that the company would pay for the campground fees and mileage. I couldn't believe it. How great was that. Marion, IL is near Rend Lake in southern IL. Rend Lake Information This is a nice website that has an overview of what is available around the area. We decided to stay at the Benton KOA right off I-57 at exit 71. Coming from the north you turn left after exiting and get on Main St, go across the overpass and turn left at the first light. There is a CVS and Pizza Hut on each corner. You then go about one mile and the KOA is on the right. It is a typical KOA with gravel roads and sites.
Fortunately we had an end site with a dry creek on the awning side that went behind out site. As always with a gravel road there was alot of dust from rigs going in and out. The other thing was it was right next to the Interstate. All day and all night traffic sounds were constant. Of course we did have cable, and full hook ups so we made due with what we had. After being there just one day we could tell it was more of an overnight KOA than a stay and play. Fortunately I was gone all day working but Glenda had put up with the noise since I had the only transportation. She did go to the pool each day which helped her keep cool. I forgot to mention the Midwest is in an incredible heat wave with temps in the upper 90's to low 100's. We found out our air conditioning works and we were very thankful for that.
This is a picture of the sites on the other side of the dry creek where rigs went past our site as the parade of campers came in in the evening and left in the morning. If only we had done a little more research in regard to the campgrounds around Rend Lake. One of the reasons we chose the KOA is it was close to the Rend Lake Bike Trail. Currently there is a 9.4 mile bike
trail open on the east side of Rend Lake with more trails to open later on. The
current trail is broken up into 2 parts. The north trail runs for 5.9 miles from
the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park Office (off of 154) to Rend Lake College. The
south trail (not currently connected to the north trail) runs for 3.8 miles from
the Southern Illinois Artisan Shop & Visitor Center to the North Marcum Swim
Beach. Each evening after we had dinner we explored the bike trail.
I actually took this shot of Glenda while riding down the trail and held the camera over my shoulder. It turned out pretty good I must say. As we rode on the bike trail it wound around some of the Rend Lake campsgounds(North Sandusky, South Sandusky, North Marcum and South Marcum). We found out quickly that even with most sites having only electrical hook ups and a few with full hook ups there was lots of shade and peace and quiet. It would have only been a few more miles to travel to my work destination each day to stay at one of these campgrounds. But now we know.
The other great thing about staying in a more wooded forest type area was the incredible number of deer than we saw along the roadway into the park and even along the bike trail. I was able to get a somewhat blurry photo of a deer that we came upon while riding one evening on the trail.
You would think we had never seen deer before but just being able to get that close and to see so many around the area it felt so natural and like we were far from civilization. We will definitely be going back in the future. There is a nice beach area that you can go to if you pay a day use fee. I don't remember what the amount is off hand but it would be worth it.
We stopped one night as we rode through the South Sandusky campground loop and talked to the cmap hosts. Very nice folks that only lived a few miles away but came to the campgrounds for years so when they retired they applied to be hosts and have been doing that for 7 months each year for the past 5 years. They gave us a load of information. That is what is so great about the camping life, people are so friendly. We got to the Rend Lake area on Sunday, I worked until Wednesday and then we traveld back to Central IL on Thursday. We weren't ready to go home yet so we drove on up to Comlara Park(Lake Evergreen) just about 10 miles north of Normal, IL and got a nice site for the rest of the weekend. We asked what sites were open and they told us #48A was available. That is a nice shaded site at the entrence to one of the loops in the park. It is a popular site since people are going in and out of the park along the road infront of the site. The great thing is it is set back enough from the road that you don't feel like people are looking in on you but you still can do your own people watching.
The weather was still really hot but on Saturday we got a nice little thunderstorm to cool down the temps for a while. It was very spotty and I don't think it rained much in the surrounding area or at our house in Normal.
We decided to pack up around noon on Sunday and take the camper to the storage facility and then headed home to get cleaned up. Later on Sunday we took a drive to east of town near LeRoy, IL and checked out Moraineview State Park. There are 137 Class A trailer campsites with electricity and a sanitary station.
Water is available in several locations in the campground. So we may be going there next weekend. The 1,687-acre Moraine View State Recreation Area, with its 158-acre lake(Dawson Lake), is a
beautiful, convenient and accessible locale for relaxation and
recreation. For some reason we can't get enough of this camping thing. I'll let you know soon if we make it out to the campgound this coming weekend. Stay cool and Happy Camping.