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Illinois 2003

Sept 4 - 24, 2003  -  Trip #10

September 4, 2003 - Leave Ocala, FL, on our way to spend a week searching for wild mushrooms in Illinois around Joliet.  We planned to make 3 overnight stops there in our Westy, spend one week in a rental at an RV resort, and 3 stops back home.

This was our first attempt to run DeLorme Street Atlas 2004 with USB Earthmate GPS on an HP Pavilion ze5470US notebook PC. I studied the manuals several days before we left and tried the GPS on a short shopping trip. The PC was bungied to a plastic milk crate fastened between the two front seats of the Westy.  After several hours we found out the GPS was unplugged. Then later we discovered that the 300 watt inverter was disconnected. Arrive Southern Trails RV Resort, Unadilla, GA, (our very friendly home park) at 2:15 pm. Found a site in the shade of pecan trees. Shane was power-washing chairs and areas around pool.

Sept 5. Free pancake breakfast 7:00 am at campground.   Leave Unadilla at 7:30 am - still no rain. Took a wrong turnoff in Atlanta, GA, again - did the same thing last year. U-turn brought us back to the highway.  Arrive at Family Leisure  Resort at Adairsville, GA, at 11:10 am, but it is now Harvest Moon RV Park with full hook-ups and no longer Coast to Coast - Site #18.   Paid $20 with VISA.  Got free popcorn, cable hookup, and swimming with Randall, air temperature was 90.1.

Harvest Moon RV Park

Sept 6 - Saturday - While driving thru Nashville, TN, saw a man walking along interstate carrying fishing poles and a bucket. He parked on the I-24 highway shoulder and was heading for the river. Must have been a good fishing spot somewhere there.
J. J. Audubon State Park, $18 with senior discount. Jam music fest and motorcycles camping across the road from us in the park.  Music was rather enjoyable.  Used the lightweight green plastic windshield cover camping at night.


Sept 7 - Sunday - Breakfast in Mt. Pleasant, IN, 8:00 am, at McD $3.26. Tried to set my watch to Central Daylight Time and broke the stem. Went to Wal-Mart north of Evansville, IN, at 11:22 am and got a beautiful watch for $6.82. Three sales associates worked for over hour adjusting the expansion band so it was a perfect fit. Leisure Lake Membership Resort (Coast to Coast), Shorewood, IL - 31 foot Dutchman travel trailer, with 12 foot slideout $160 for one-week rental.

1240 miles to Joliet.  Toilet did not work, ants on kitchen counter - sprayed with ant killer. Finally got rid of ants the following week by also using vinegar. Two  TVs, but not much reception - we used our 11-inch Funai TV/VCR from the Westy. John was able to listen to Chicago radio station 720 for the Cubs baseball games. Tried calling sister-in-law Carol and my sister Peg - not home - left messages. Our first time using a cell phone - Nokia 5185i with WalMart's digital Simple Freedom prepaid national wireless service powered by Alltel. Wireless airtime card was $20 for up to 80 minutes. The wireless service provider in Illinois proved to be not compatible with our home area in Florida, so we had to dial each phone number several times before making a connection, even though I checked our service provider at home before we left and was told there would be no problem. Finally reached John's sister Helen using a phone at a gas station.


Dutchman trailer

Sept 8 - Monday - Left list of trailer problems at office.

Had a terrible breakfast at Burger King, - egg and sausage on a soggy croissant, little doughy cinnamon mini-rolls, and bad coffee. Not like McD's. Visited Helen and showed pics with the slide program on laptop. Spent more than 2 hours shooting digital pictures in her many albums, using my Canon Mavica MVC-FD75. Got a lot of pictures of John's relatives. Called Peg and Carol tonight using the cell phone - found out that I have to dial additional numbers because of a different service provider.  The trailer toilet was fixed - unclogged the sewer line.

Carol and Rich

Sept 9.

Peg's at 10:00 am - one of her neighbors was having a 40th birthday, and someone put 40 flamingos all over the front lawn - took pics. Went to my brother Rich and Carol's at 12:00 after Carol's swim pool therapy. Showed picture slide show on laptop when Peg arrived.


Sept 10 - Wednesday - Leave Leisure Lake

Arrived at our daughter Vicky and Tom's house in Turtle Lake, WI, at and got the downstairs bedroom. Vicky made beef stew (from Big Red - Tom's customer's steer) in crockpot.   Daughter Val, Larry, and Frisky arrived before dark. Grandkids Lucas and Isabella enjoyed wearing their gift rabbit ears.  We spent some time playing on computers.

396 miles to Turtle Lake.

Turtle Lake

Val and Larry

two bunnies

Sept 11 - Thursday. I washed our dirty van and Val's dirtier car while Vic, Val, Larry, Frisky, Lucas, Isabella, and T went on a hiking and picture-taking trail thru a marsh. Turkey sandwiches for lunch with home-grown tomatoes. Tom took Lucas to his violin lesson at 4:00 pm.

Vicky took the rest of us to Pipe Lake where Vicky, Isabella, Larry, and T swam in the cold water. Tom and Lucas joined us later. Weather looked stormy and was very windy. Vicky prepared a fried walleye (from their spring trip to the Boundary Waters) dinner with Noodle-roni, carrots, fresh vegs, shrimp with cocktail sauce. Still NO coffee for John. Ice cream (vanilla and mint/chocolate) dessert later.

Pipe Lake

Sept 12 - Friday - Leave Vicky's.

Breakfast at McDonalds in Turtle Lake for John's first cup of coffee since meal at Perkins, and he needed it.  Got back to Leisure Lake at 5:00 pm.

396 miles from Wisconsin to Leisure Lake.

Sept 13 - Saturday - Decided to stay for one more week and paid trailer rental - $160.

Walked thru woods in Shorewood Park; John found one small sheephead, but left it.

Sept 14 - Sunday - Rain last night and most of morning. Picked up Joliet Herald News at White Hen Pantry. Used Cobra 2-way radios on hiking trail in Aux Sable forest preserve on Route 52. Great way to keep in touch with each other. Two trucks were unloading tables for a picnic but left before we did. Woods were wet, but no mushrooms.

I used a poncho and radios on  a muddy trail at Silver Springs State Park - rain - got lost on the trail when I couldn't find the exit on the loop. There were new trails in the area that I was not familiar with.

Picked up 6 big ears of "world-famous" Glascock sweet corn and cooked 4 ears - ate 3. Best sweet corn we had for years - nothing like Florida corn.   Wanted to visit John's niece Betty and her husband Jesse, but could only leave a message on their answer machine. (Betty let us know later that she was in Disney World in Florida when we were in Illinois.)

inside trailer

table area inside trailer

Sept 15 - Monday - 52.9. Tried two furnaces in trailer but they did not work. Used our little Cafrano electric heater from the van. Went to see Helen. Still was not able to contact Betty and Jesse - left a message. Watched the slide show, ate home-made droby (potato sausage), worked a Marilyn Monroe/ Elvis/ James Dean jigsaw puzzle for a while. Came home with Helen's zucchini bread, peanut butter cookies, and several pieces of candy. Dinner tonight was mac salad, leftover half ears of corn, last piece of fried chicken, zucchini bread with coffee and tea. dining area inside trailer

Sept 16 - Tues - another cool morning - 57.9 - John was having a bad day healthwise.

Sept 17 - Wednes - cool in the morning - almost 60. Went to Kankakee River State Park. Walked part of archery cross-country trail. Then went to Chippewa campground and walked down bike trail, then into the woods toward river and back to campground. Two-way radios worked very well. John was able to wait in the van or at a picnic table while I hiked. Various fungus growing, but nothing pickable. Stopped at Gerdes Woods for a quick loop through woods. Found one golf ball "souvenir" for our nextdoor neighbor who golfs. Went to Italian beef diner on Washington Street recommended by Peg and described by the outdoor umbrella-covered picnic tables. Tried to eat outside under an umbrella but flies and bees made us leave to enjoy the beef at the trailer. Weather warmed up during the day to the 80's. Can of Campbell's chicken rice soup heated in the microwave for dinner tonight made John feel better.

Sept 18 - Thurs

Visited the Bird Haven greenhouse at Pilcher Park and viewed thousands of many kinds of butterflies. They were more numerous than I have ever seen. There was a seminar for Women's well being going on with many exhibits in the Horticultural Center and gardens - floral displays, massages, aromatic therapy, cosmetics. Next was the Nature Center where I tried to take pics of the large albino catfish, but it was moving too fast.  Walked around a couple of loops in the woods - very few signs of mushrooms.   Back to trailer for lunch and finished the Italian beefs reheated in microwave.

albino catfish

Sept 19 - Fri - Stayed in the campground all day. I was trying to put 3 miles on bike every evening, but the dusty gravel roads were hard to ride on.  It is 1.25 miles around the lake on the road. Leisure Lake

Sept 20 - Saturday - 35, up to 43 by 7:15 am - steam on the lake.  It was cold - time to go back South.  We stayed longer in Joliet to go to a wedding ceremony at St. Ambrose Church in CrestHill, IL.  The beautiful bride was the youngest daughter of my 1st cousin.  Later the temp was 84.9 at 3:00 pm at campground.

6:00 pm reception.  It was so nice to visit with many caring and loving relatives and friends at a church hall where food, including Polish sausage with sauerkraut, was served family style.  We sat at a table with several of my cousins and their spouses.  Had a marvelous time talking about past memories and getting current updates on the families and their grandkids and great grandchildren.  When we got back to trailer, plugged the Westy to shore power to cool the fridge overnight.

274 miles during week.


John and Ev at wedding

Sept 21 - Sun - 51 - 233 miles.

In the morning the temp in the fridge was below 30; set the thermostat down to halfway. Checked the amp on the new aux OPTIMA red top battery - 12.6. I am so happy about not worrying about adding water or checking battery during its 3-year guarantee. Anthony, our mechanic, recommended this battery because I was always fretting about the old battery. He told me the OPTIMA was expensive, but it would even work under water and I would never have to worry about fumes or adding water. He also installed a sturdy hand-hold over the passenger door so John could get in and out of the Westy easier. John also used it frequently while I was driving - we should call it a "security handle."

The sumacs and maples were beginning to change colors in Illinois.  ;Hickory Shores Resort, Carlyle, IL, at 1:15 pm, $6 CtoC card.

Sept 22 - Mon - 8:15 am, 57 - 300 miles.

Breakfast at McD, Carlyle, IL - the friendliest place with extra big sandwiches. Big Buck Camping Resort in Hornsby, TN, at 3:15 pm, $6 CtoC card. Biked the circle around one of the lakes two times - about a mile around with a couple of speed bumps. Then I took a ride/walk around another lake that showed a lot of erosion at the far end. I ended up getting red clay mud on my shoes and the bike tires. Got most of the mud off by going thru water puddles.

Comfort station has been remodeled. They have been working on it for at least 2 years. The entire inside has been redone in delightful aromatic red cedar. What a great improvement. It was like being inside a huge cedar chest.

cedar chest

Sept 23 - Tues - 394 miles.

Holley King Lakes Resort at DeFuniak Springs, FL, $6 CtoC card.  Swim in unheated pool with floating turkey oak leaves and a few live mole crickets, otherwise water was very clean. I got bit on my bare feet by a few fire ants back by the van. Our little TV/VCR finally bit the dust tonight after all the past years of rough handling.  Three people were fishing from a boat so we sat on the pier by the lake until after dark. Beautiful sunset on the lakes.

John on pier


Sept 24.   Finally figured out how to set the GPS by centering it on the map and scanning in to get more detail. Wish I knew more about this GPS system, notebook PC, and cell phone before we started on the trip.  So much to learn and so little time.   Total miles - 3,627.


The six nights spent in the Westy proved to be not too stressful.  The two-week rental of the trailer worked out very well.  Back home, it took several days to unpack.  Got the Westy and the red-clay-rimmed tires on the bicycle cleaned with a power washer, and finally figured out how to read the GPS logs. Although we did not find any mushrooms, this No. 10 Westy trip should score an "8".

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