If you caught the last post, we are putzin’ around Chicago for a spell and awaiting the ability to make a few upgrades (namely new tires) our rig so that we can continue on our journey. I have to say that Chicago is truly the least RV friendly city I have ever (ever) experienced. There are few-to-none places you can boondock and certainly RV facilities far and few between. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a friend here and there host us in their driveway which has been super amazing. But in effort to regain some sort of ‘normal’ life, we needed to escape the city for a spell. We decided Illinois Beach State Park would be a cool…. and most affordable…. escape. We booked 5 days, four nights up there and headed up for a long-extended weekend.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t give Illinois the credit it deserves. When I am wrapped up in city life, I will easily admit to ‘nature’ in Chicago not necessarily going hand-in-hand. But of course, once you escape that, or find it’s alcoves, you will come to appreciate just what Illinois has to offer really. Same holds true for Illinois Beach State Park.
Now, this was our first experience at an RV park as well! We had been boondocking, or staying with friends. We had not utilized a park yet, and so this was our first. I successfully had our first dump, which was quite an amazing feat in and of itself. I had been holding the kids off from ‘fully’ using the facilities other than the emergency pee simply cause I did not know how to to actually empty our tanks AND I did not know where we were actually going to come across our first opportunity. So this was great timing. It was definitely time to get it done, and it was in a non-busy, non-rushed atmosphere where I could put all of my newly acquired YouTube knowledge to good work. After our first, I felt far more comfortable and knew I could handle it all now 😉 .
We drove around the park when we arrived and the office was closed with a note that stated “go pick your spot and come back at 4pm.” So we did just that. We drove around to each of the various sections and truly picked the most beautiful one. It was a longer hike to the playground, but right across from the bathrooms and showers, and just steps from a beach pathway. Within the first hour of us being there we were greeted with a pair of deer, a few raccoons, a snake, and skunk (fearful of us thank goodness…. off he ran). We also could hear many owl and eagle calls through the trees as well. We were quite happy to have landed in a nature-heavy area with RV season seeming to be tail-end. There were very few spots filled in the park. A few showed for a Friday and/or Saturday night, but even then it was quite an empty park and perfect time to be there.
We had an electrical hook up which was perfect. Little-to-no wifi connections though. But with the amount of time we were outdoors, that did not seem to matter too much. We did several hikes a day and the park is close to a business district as well, so a mere mile walk westward into town and you could grab something if you happened to need it.
Several bonfires during the day and evening as the temps were quite cool. We were quite thankful for the working RV heater we had, and had strong empathy for those tent campers that showed up on those cool, cold nights!
Being right on the beach we had several beach walks and collecting of rocks, which also lead to rock art designs with sharpies. That was a super fun activity to do with the teens. The little did lots of widdling of sticks and collections of various nature items. Oh yeah, and we finally got our map up on the outside of the RV. We had been talking about how to track our travels and this seemed like a super duper fun way! You’ll see the kids have already been *all* over the place! It was fun to reminisce each of the trips when we did it!
It was a super great time, and after the 5 days we were sad to depart. Definitely a place we’d return to again!