Thursday, September 30, 2010

Campground review - Mark Twain State Park

We spent one night in Mark Twain State Park. Garmin sent us a bit off the trail - to the State Park office which was closed. Their maps to the campground were atrocious, but we found our way there using the iron in my nose!

Cleanliness - 9

Bathrooms - 5 - they were clean, but the showers were cold.

Facility fun - 6 - they have a nice lake and lots of trails.

Facility usefulness - 6 - Dump station, laundry facility, no full service-sites.

Nearby attractions - 5 - St. Louis is 2.5 hours away, Hannibal is 45 minutes away.

Staff - 8 - Camp hosts were great. Guy cleaning the bathroom was too.

Natural surroundings - 9 - State park with lots of trees and nature.

Roominess 9 - Big sites, this time of the year during the week it was almost abandoned.

Value - 7 - we paid $21 a night for just electric.

Overall - 8

Hannibal - home to Mark Twain

I love our country. Not necessarily what our country is becoming, or what it has always been, but the ideas and concepts our country was founded on. One of the cool things about our country is the many great Americans our country has produced. On this trek across the USA I hope to learn more about some of these amazing Americans of history and in the process teach my kids about them too.

This is why we stopped in Hannibal, Missouri to visit Mark Twain's Boyhood home and Museum and then later camp at Mark Twain State Park. Mark Twain was not just a great storyteller and philosopher, but he was a man acquainted with tragedy, including the death of his brother at age 10 and finding a murdered body. He once loaned matches to a vagrant who was later arrested. In prison the vagrant lit the match for a cigarette and caught his bed on fire. The jail keeper was gone and no one could let the poor man out of jail as it burned down so he died. Mark Twain (AKA Samuel Clemens) always remembered that the night. So many people in those days knew death and tragedy as an intimate friend.

We are called the nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear its loftiest honors if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented, which was human liberty. - Mark Twain

First visit - Villa Kathrine

The Napkin Dreams journey has begun. Like the pioneers of history, our family loaded up our modern day Prairie Schooner and headed west! We can't believe this dream is really happening!! We are excited, nervous, and even a bit fearful, but we have adventure and daring in our souls.

The first day went off without too much of a hitch. We had a tight squeeze in a gas station and a problem with a tire strap, but everything worked out alright. Our first stop was the Villa Kathrine in Quincy, Illinois. This free little tour (we made a donation to the restoration) was nice because we were the only ones there! the Villa is a Moroccan/ Spanish style Mansion built in 1900 by a man named George Metz. It sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and a big suspension bridge connecting Quincy to Missouri. We also were invited to pick some apples from a tree on the grounds - score on the free apples!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Edward's Apple Orchard

While camping near Rockford this past weekend we decided to go to Edward's Apple Orchard with the Moberly family. Edward's Apple Orchard is near Poplar Grove, Illinois. I have been there twice before with church groups. It is a bit commercialized, butthey have a great little store with wonderful apple donuts, so good.


Campground review - Paradise Campground

This weekend we had a trial run in the RV at a campground near Rockford, Illinois, our home town. We were there to camp with my sister's family, the Moberlys, and to have Brendan dedicated at Rock Church on Sunday. Rock Church is the church Patsy and I were married in and where I first served as a Pastor so many years ago. Full circle.
Anyway here is the campground review of Paradise Resort in Caledonia:

Cleanliness - 7

Bathrooms - 4 - they were clean, but the showers were cold, small and little stream of water.

Facility fun - 8 - beach on a pond, Kishwaukee river flows through edge of campground, fishing ponds as well, old playground equipment. they had lots of activities too.
Facility usefulness - 6 - Dump station, very small camp store, no laundry facility.

Nearby attractions - 7 - Rockford and Chicago are close by. Edward's Apple Orchard is close too.

Staff - 8 - Pretty friendly folks, loved the trick or treat.

Natural surroundings - 8 - nice shade trees and ponds, but close to a railroad, with short trains even at night..

Roominess 7 - It was a large campground, but it was extremely busy with a huge portion dedicated to long term campers.
Value - 6 - we paid $37 a night with only grey water sewer no wifi. No club discounts on weekends, but it is a Passport America campground during the week.

Overall - 7

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fish gone wild

These were the greediest fish ever. All those huge koi with open mouths grossed me out a bit.

Niabi Zoo

Yesterday we went to a local zoo here called Niabi Zoo, in Coal Valley, Illinois. This is a nice, little zoo and it was a wonderful fall day. When I say little the zoo does have elephants, lions, giraffes, tigers, leopards, bison, a reptile house and an aviary. Still you can see the whole thing in about 3 hours. But the reason we had our little zoo trip was a bright idea of mine. For a few dollars more than the cost of admission, our family joined as annual members. Why would we do that when we are getting ready to live on the road full time? As members of the Niabi Zoo we get to get into the reciprocal zoo program where we can enter zoos and aquariums across the US for free or half-price, depending on the zoo. Pretty sweet deal fro a traveling family like ours!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Leap of Faith

Do you remember the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where he has to take the "leap of faith?" He couldn't see anything below him but a deep ravine, but he had to trust that something was going to be there when he put his foot out.

It is interesting to note that even on the precipice of a dream coming true, th
ere is still a nervous leap of faith that must take place. In the midst of the excitement, the planning and preparing and plotting and praying, is and bundle of nervousness that sometimes keeps you up late at night or wakes you early in the morning.

The fear of the unknown is both terrible and marvelous at the same time. It is funny but over the years I have talked to several kids who have a similar feeling about heaven, including my own sons. Even though the promise of something is truly wonderful, the leaving of our comfort zone puts knots in our stomach. Why is that? Human nature I guess.
The sad reality is that those knots paralyze us sometimes. We refuse to take steps of faith, steps God has ordained for us, because of these nervous feelings. I think that the feelings were intended to drive us to prayer and preparation, not paralyzation.

So here we sit on the precipice of a dream come true. We choose not to fret but to take this nervous energy and use it as fuel for the fire to live for God with complete trust and abandon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Campground review - Drew's Country Campground

Another regular installment on this blog will be my (our) review of campgrounds we stay in. I can't promise we will review EVERY one, but we'll try and get quite a few on here for future travelers/campers to these areas. We will look at several key aspects of each campground and rate each one with a 1-10 rating system. Then we will give an overall rating.

Our first review is Drew's Country Campground in Holland, Michigan.

Cleanliness - 7

Bathrooms - 5 - they were clean, but outdated.

Facility fun - 4 - a pool and old playground equipment.

Facility uselfulness - 8 - Dump station, laundry facility, wood delivered to your site.

Nearby attractions - 8 - Holland has some nice stuff to do and some nice beaches and a lighthouse.

Staff - 8 - met three staff. Two were great and one was a dork.

Natural surroundings - 8 - nice shade trees, but close to a busy highway.

Roominess 8 - The sites were pretty decent and the campground was ot crowded on a great weekend.

Value - 5 - we paid $34 a night with no sewer or wifi. No club discounts.

Overall - 5
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