Holy Crap It’s August

August 5, 2014 at 8:34 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Where did the summer go?  I mean, besides being sucked up by weddings and work and rain, that is.  Seriously, the weather this year has been the most un-summer like summer I’ve ever experienced – my air conditioning hasn’t been on in weeks!  Not that I’m complaining (and my wallet SURELY isn’t complaining) but I guess after the winter we had I was longing for some heat and sunshine.  Instead we’ve had mild temperatures and lots of rain.

Camping not glamping

Perhaps I’m extra bitter because I had plans to go to the beach yesterday – which was rained out – and then plans to go to see live music in Millennium Park tonight – and they’ve been rained out too.  I suppose it doesn’t help matters that my sister and her boyfriend flew to the Dominican Republic on this week for a vacation chock FULL of sunshine and sand…and I’m staring at gray skies and wearing a light sweater.  Oh, bother.

I won’t let it get me down though!  I’m going to try to see the live music in the park on Friday instead and this weekend looks nice enough that I might actually get to go camping.  Yay, camping!  I’ve had a serious urge to spend some time near a bonfire in the woods since like the middle of winter and I’m going to make it happen, just wait and see

.  I’ve got a new hammock, a tent and a big bottle of wine so I should be all set!

If only the weather cooperates, that is.  And if it doesn’t I’m going to pitch my tent in my living room, roast marshmallows over my oven and hang my hammock up between a couple of lamps.  Take that, Mother Nature!

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Starved Rock

October 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

This was much cooler and larger in real life.

This was much cooler and larger in real life.

Scott and I had another camping excursion last weekend, this time to Starved Rock State Park.  I’d never been before but Scott used to go about a decade ago and was under the impression we could hike the awesome trails of the park right from our campsite.  In reality, the campsite was a few miles drive from the park but we were still able to do some hiking.  Here are the pros and cons of this site compared to the one we went to at the Illinois State Beach Park a few weeks ago:

Pros:

  • We got to do a lot of great hiking and I saw places in nature I’d never seen before

Cons:

  • It was about an hour further of a drive (each way)
  • The campsite wasn’t as nice/secluded
  • The bathrooms DEFINITELY weren’t as nice
  • Alcohol was technically prohibited but just about everyone was drinking anyway

All in all, I think I liked the campsite at the Beach Park better but the hiking at Starved Rock made up for any difference.  We spent about 3 hours hiking around, going through canyons and up and down various overlooks and peaks.  It was gorgeous.  My photos didn’t really do the view justice at all and I didn’t take too many since I was so involved with the scenery.  Obviously I took the one of breakfast because I just love food so much and that photo did do the meal some justice.  The hike was the highlight of the camping experience though and I’m looking forward to the next time we make that trek.  There was a Visitor’s Center that had a small museum and some info that I enjoyed reading and there were plenty of trails to choose from.  Kids, families, groups of friends and couples were everywhere but the crowds tapered off the further you got from the Center.  It was definitely worth the trip.  There’s a lot of history to that area and the name of the place comes from a Native American tribe who was fighting with another tribe and basically chose to starve at the top of the plateau rather than surrender.  Kind of depressing but absolutely interesting.

Breakfast of Champions!

Breakfast of Champions!

We almost didn’t stay though because the weather called for strong storms all night.  The winds were really strong when we were setting up camp and we had to chase down our tent more than once – until we stuck the cooler in there to weigh that sucker down.  We decided to tough it out though, come hell or high water, and the only thing we dealt with was the water.  The rain managed to hold off until about 10pm so we had enough time for veggie dogs and s’mores before it hit.  When it started, though, there was no avoiding it.  We basically called it a night then and slept through the worst of it.  The tent held up fairly well and only got soggy in one spot, so that was nice.  In the morning the weather cleared up and became beautiful again so we were able to dry all of our equipment off while making the delicious breakfast seen here.

The whole experience was a great way to welcome the fall and I hope timing and weather cooperates so we can go once more before winter really hits.  Who knew camping could be so much fun?!

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So Campy

September 16, 2013 at 10:54 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Over the weekend, I went camping for the first time years.  My mom recently gave Scott and me a nice big cooler on wheels and we bought a tent earlier in the summer so since the basics were covered, we were good to finally go.  Scott  found a state park on the beach about an hour north of the city and we planned on meeting some friends of ours out there.  We arrived fairly early Saturday morning and pitched our brand-spanking-new tent, then sat around snacking until our friends showed up.  The plan was for them to stay the night as well but my girlfriend announced she was pregnant as soon as they arrived and said they wouldn’t be staying all night.  How could we be mad about that?  Truth be told I’ve had some idea that she might be “in the family way” for a while now but I knew that she would tell us when she was ready.  So of course we had a lot to celebrate and we were able to gush with excitement all afternoon!

Campsite Sweet Campsite

Campsite Sweet Campsite

We had plenty of food and drinks (I tend to overpack and this trip was no exception) and after lunch we walked along the beach for a while.  There were a few trails we explored and the campground had quite a few people but not so much that it felt crowded.  The facilities were pretty nice and it was just so peaceful to be out in the woods.  Our friends left after a true campsite dinner of hot dogs (veggie for Scott and me), beans and s’mores and Scott and I stayed up late just enjoying the quiet and the fire.  It didn’t get too cold during the night but it did start raining about 5am and that just didn’t stop.  We had planned on hanging out for a while in the morning but the rain put a damper on things (literally) so we packed up and headed out as soon as we could.  After stopping for a greasy breakfast in a local diner, we were home and taking a nap by noon!

It’s so nice to know that this kind of reprieve from the city is so close and I can safely say that my urge to camp has come back with a vengeance.  The last time I was camping was during Bonnaroo (a huge three-day music fest in the middle of a field in TN, sort of like Woodstock).  That was fun but it was much different from having a place with an actual fire pit and real bathrooms, so I think I’ll stick with this type of camping from here on out.  There’s another local place that Scott really wants to take me to so we’ll try for one more outing in a few weeks, before the weather gets really cold.  The peace and quiet in the woods was exactly what I needed to recharge before another workweek in the city!

 

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