Tag Archive | camping

10 Things I Hate About Camping

Followers of Midwestern Plants are probably scratching their beans wondering why I would write a post like this… Well, there is a dark side to camping and I need to share my experience so YOU won’t be duped.

During my childhood, ‘camping’ to my family, was staying at a Super 8 😉 I started my camping adventures tent camping at 18. Finally, after many years of sleeping on the ground, my husband and I bought a travel trailer (TT). The ‘normal’ progression of a tenter is usually to buy a pop-up. We thought pop-ups were just as annoying as tents. They take as long to set-up and pack-up as a tent, along with the fact you still don’t have your own bathroom.

Our first TT was 27′ long and was perfect for our family of two. We now have a 37′ Toy Hauler (it has a garage for our motorcycle). We love this new trailer. It has everything we need and more.

Without further adieu, here is my list of things I hate about camping, in no particular order:

#10 – Weather

Bad weather camping is pretty bad in a tent, however it’s not so bad in a TT. At least we have DVD’s, books and other things to keep us occupied. Sadly, it still means no campfires, kayaking or dog walks. Bad weather is also inherently attracted to trailer homes. We’ve rode out a few bad tornado warnings, knowing we could hit the well built shit houses. We don’t go there early, as they usually don’t want dogs in there and I’m not leaving my dogs in an unsafe location.

I can’t wait until we can control the weather and only have it rain on weekdays 😉 I was hesitant to toss this one in as no one has control over it… yet.

#9 – Campground Reviews

I wish folks could put aside their feeling when writing reviews and just stick to the facts. Many times I can read past what folks whine about and glean the pertinent information that works for me, for example:

“The kids were bored as there were no activities…” = Super, no screaming children!

“The site was very uneven…” = You don’t know how to level your trailer.

“The campers next to us were loud…” – If they weren’t permanent, who cares, we won’t see them.

When reviewing a campground or anything else for that matter, state the facts only please.

#8 – Unleashed Dogs

I can’t begin to tell you how many times we encounter unleashed dogs of all sizes. After Breck was attacked in our own yard, we are quick to take notice of any situation that might harm our boys. Dog’s are funny when one is on-leash and the other isn’t. Unless your dog is 100% trained to stay at your side, leash them!!

#7 – Loosing Your Site to a Seasonal

If you’ve booked at a private campground, most likely you’ve seen the verbiage ‘you will be moved if a seasonal wants your site.’ Sadly, this has happened us a few times. Although we tell the campground the size of our TT, they inevitably move us to a site too small for us…. and it’s the last site available. There’s no real protection from this happening, unless you book at a state campground, which only allow a maximum stay of 2 weeks.

#6 – Full Hook-Up is Not Really Full Hook-Up

Full Hook-Up means: there is electricity, water and sewer AT THE SITE. Welp. Some campgrounds will tell you they are full hook-up, but what they really mean is that there is electricity and water AT THE SITE and they have a dump station or pumping services for sewer service. Clearly, it’s very inconvenient to pack-up and bring your camper to the dump in the middle of our stay, thus you then must pay for your tanks to be pumped.

 

#5 – Meeting Scary People

For the most part, campers are good folk. I’ll actually say there are 100% good folk, as the one scary person we came across in the campground was not really a camper. All I’m saying is to be aware, especially if you’re remote camping.

There was a trail that went through the county campground we were staying at. A man walked by with a beer, telling us our dogs were cute and if he could say hello to them.  Hmm, it was daylight, other campers around, so no alarms went off. We started chatting about border collies and camping… Husband offered him another beer and a chair as the sun went down. When the topic of his site and type of trailer came up, he then informed us he was just ‘passing through’ the area on foot. OK, I’ve met many homeless folks that were really nice. However, all of a sudden, things got weird. He started discussing female genitalia and things he liked about it. I gave my hubby the ‘I’m-uncomfortable-look’ and excused myself, saying I needed the loo. Hubby gave me our code word for get the protection at the ready, our loaded 45. When my husband knew I was safely inside and packing heat, I listened out the window to my husband tell this man that his topics were not welcome and he had better take his leave. He left without incident, thank goodness.

#4 – Campground Up Charges

Owning a campground isn’t exactly a get rich lifestyle. Many times camp owners are left to deal with rotten situations their guests put them in. Whether it be acts of bad driving (running over signs, pipes or trees), flushing large, unknown items down the toilet or even just littering, camp owners get creative about adding on fees to your daily, rental fee. Here are just a few we’ve seen:

$10 fee per dog – The campground felt the need to charge this to cover the doo-doo removal service.

Charging $10 per day, per camper for campground amenities and not allowing an opt out.

We have WIFI! (for $2 a day… and its only available near the office… with 2G download speeds…)

$5 a day charge for air conditioners.

 

#3 – Site Trespassing

It’s rare that we find a campground that has large sites. However, the larger the site, the more likely you’ll have folks walk right through the middle of it. We put our boys on 20′ feet leads when we’re at our site. Of course, we size them shorter if our site is smaller. One long weekend of camping had us on a site what was about 40′ feet by 40′ feet. That is huuuuge compared to most campgrounds, we were able to add on to the boys leashes to give them 30′ to play. One day, while we sat near our campfire, a family of 6 rode their bikes right into our campsite and was freaked out when our boys ran after them! The one kid was so terrified he dropped his bike and ran. We asked his parents why they thought it was OK to trespass right through our site. They played the ‘no speaka da English’ game. I then translated my distaste for their actions in an international language way…. We didn’t see them the rest of the trip.

#2 – Not Using Fog Lights at Night

One of my husband’s biggest pet-peeves is drivers in campgrounds using their headlights at night. At best, the speed limit in a campground is 5 mph. At these speeds, the chances of having an accident are slim. Since many campers don’t have their own toilets, driving to the loo becomes an hourly occurrence, especially when there is liquor involved. Camping is about reconnecting with nature, and seeing stars is a part of it. Constantly being flashed in the eyes with headlights is no fun.

#1 No Outside Firewood

As an arborist, I understand the dangers of transporting firewood. All kinds of pest issues are caused by folks moving around contaminated wood. By law, you cannot move firewood outside of 50 miles or over state lines. If you’re within those parameters, no problem. Clearly, campgrounds again, in the never ending search to make money, try to have you buy a 4 piece bundle of wood for $10.  We buy one bundle from the campground and then find someone selling it nearby for 1/64 of the price.

Yes, I have also watched folks drive to a campsite where someone had just left to see if they left any firewood behind.

 

 

 

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Happy Trails

Last time camping under the old, oak tree… I wish you the best, my friend.

I was thinking that my last post, the one that has been static on my site was a scary selfie of me in a welding helmet… That just can’t continue for any longer! 😉 This post will serve as a better landing spot for my blog and describe its status.

We recently went to our favorite campground, Hickory Hollow in Utica, Illinois. It is right near the Starved Rock area. Every September, you can count on us to be attending the wine festival! This year’s fest was a bit less chaotic, as last year’s fest was a madhouse. Because of this and the ticket prices doubling, we were able to get around much easier this year.

We were very melancholy, as the sand mine (just past the berm behind the camper) has bought the campground to destroy it for the sand it stands on. How sad is that?!? I can’t describe the pain I feel for my favorite burr oak tree (next to camper). It’s like knowing a friend with a deadly disease… knowing that in a short time, their life will end sooner than it should. I need a subject change… my blubbering is upsetting my dogs.

Updates….

I have been researching my future ventures en mass! I have a plan for my future schooling in Horticulture Therapy, which starts this January, finishing in the Fall of 2018. Not too long! I have also decided to try to open my own business revolving around Nature Therapy. This will include Forest Bathing (shinrin-yoku (森林浴) in Japanese), and other programs for nursing homes. I’ll try focusing in those arenas first, and see if I need to branch out or not. I will post updates…

Hubby is doing super at quitting smoking! It’s been 4 months now!

For our Annual Christmas Camping Vacation….. GALVESTON, TEXAS is the winning location for 2017!!! We’re already booked and have started researching things to see and do. If you have any insider info, please pass it on 🙂 We will also be needing a Texas themed audio book for the 18 hour ride down there. Last year we listened to, “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil” for our ride to Savannah.

Here’s a funny coincidence, well, maybe not so funny… We decided on Galveston one week before Hurricane Harvey hit them. Last year, we decided to go to Savanna, Georgia one week before Hurricane Matthew hit them. Hmmm, are we dooming the cities we choose to visit to hurricanes? Maybe next year, we shouldn’t pick a coastal city 😉

I hope everyone in my blog-o-spere is doing well. I’ve visited the WP Reader a few times. It’s really hard to be in there too long. I could have an hour blow by in what feels like a second. I love reading everyone’s posts, however I MUST STUDY!!! When my life has settled down, I will return to the reader and posting myself. Until then, I hope the best for all of you! I do miss our fun in the comment’s section!

Take care!!! Ilex

What’s That Bird? 

Knowing that my camerone can’t take a photo at a distance, I’ve learned that shooting a quick video can make-up for the lack of detail. I may even be able to pull a still from the video. Sadly, not in this case.

I am a beginning birder and try to key these little guys out to the best of my knowledge, however it is based on personal perspectives also. Although I think Juncos are black and white birds, many keys have them under brown. I furiously search under black, then white and can’t find them. Now, I’ve also employed other websites like allaboutbirds.org to know even more about the birds I have identified. I’ll admit I don’t feel like I’m any better at ID, but I’ll learn. I’m used to plants that love to be admired and stand still white I look for identifying features, leaf shapes, petal count, undersides… etc. Birds and animals… Not so much.

This little, yellow guy has a black face and is not a American Goldfinch, at least not a common one, I know those. I’ve looked through trushes, flycatchers, finches… exhausting!

I was in Central Illinois during Memorial Day, not sure if migration was still happening or these guys are residents. I was in a prairie/savanna area, not too far from water.

Any guesses??

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Ah, the Weekend, a First-Time Coffee Share…

I follow a Wonder Woman from Australia named Rowena. Why is she Wonder Woman on top of being a Wonderful Woman? Read her about page on: Beyond the Flow.

Every Saturday, Rowena participates in the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Nerd in the Brain, where her and others discuss their week over coffee and many other beverages. This weekend, I’ve decided to join them.

It has been a pretty good week, my hours at work this week went down to 53. I’m starting to see some headway, as the piles on my desk are getting thinner. By July, I may be down to 47 hours 😉 I’m not here to complain about work, tho.

Like we did for the Memorial Day weekend, we’ve decided to take the day following the Forth of July holiday off also. The stress of driving home with everyone else, on the same day, has turned us bonkers. We have always had a good drive leaving for our destination, as we leave a couple of days before the long weekend. Our bosses may not be happy with us, however I don’t give a rat’s ass!

We’re going to Door County, Wisconsin again. Specifically, Sister Bay. We’re normally pretty fickle and don’t go to a location twice, however there were so many things to see here, we didn’t get to them all in one trip. We most likely won’t even finish the list this trip, either! It’s super beautiful there, and I highly recommend it. It’s dubbed, ‘The Cape Cod of the Midwest’. Hopefully, we will be able to participate in an art class or two. For whatever reason, many artists have settled here and open their doors to teach their talents.

Before we leave on our trip, we both have to go to the dentist for some work. I thought I was the sissy-la-la of the relationship when it came to going to the DDS…. Au contraire mon frère!! My husband wears that hat! I only need two teeth pulled, unless they are able to talk me into implants. Let’s see… a $500 bill or a $10,000 bill? I’m so over spending a mint on my mouth. From childhood to now, I’m guessing I’ve dumped at least $125,000 into my mouth. I know teeth are important, however all the rest of mine are in great shape, these are the farthest back and don’t effect the opposite ones on top.

I’m here in The States and I often feel like we put too heavy of a worth on looks (cosmetic surgery), including dental work. Please don’t take offense to this running joke in the U.S., British folks, but we always poke fun at your crooked teeth. I’m sure this poke was dreamed up by a DDS marketing team for them to justify the advertisements for many, unnecessary dental procedures… Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is, do other counties, especially with publicly funded healthcare systems, push for dental implants or do they opt to pull the tooth? I’d love input. Research here tells me I need to opt for the $10,000 method. I’m just not sold. Sadly, my husband is in a worse boat than I am, due to smoking and having not gone to a DDS in years. PS – We do not have dental insurance.

Otherwise, I’m living the dream here in the Midwest! May’s rains are over and we’re finally enjoying some heat. The saying used to be, “April showers, bring May flowers”. I’ve changed that to, “May’s doom and gloom, brings June blooms”!! Flowers have been a bit early this year compared to the recent past. If you don’t know my blog, I post blooming flower photos by date (phenology) and compare them to previous years. The next two months will be a blur of color, as it’s the bloomiest time of the year, here. =-D

I thank you for taking the time to share a cup of Joe with me! I look forward to joining you more often.

Enjoy your weekend!! Ilex

Illinois State Beach Park ~ What a View!!

Last weekend we went to Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois State Beach Park to camp. We got right in since many folks weren’t thinking about swimming in May… at least not here. Lake Michigan doesn’t get warm enough for swimming until early July. We did walk by the beach and I could walk with my toes in the water, for a short time. No more of me was going in! Brrr.

This is a IDNR (Illinois Deptment of Natural Resources) park, one of the most protected areas in Illinois. I love coming here, as there is such a diversity of plants, animals, birds and insects. We also had a great view of the dormant Zion nuclear plant. Awesome…?

General Information and History

This area is 4,160 acres and has a recorded 650 plus different plant species. Long recognized for its unique geological features, native flora and unmatched beauty, the Lake Michigan dunes area originally was, in the 1700s, part of the “Three Fires” of the Algonquin Nation: the Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa.

This area was slated to be a preserve as early as 1888, when Robert Douglas, a Waukegan nurseryman, and Jens Jensen, a famous landscape architect (If you live/visit Chicago, you’ve seen a lot of his work), worked together to make the area a regional park. With the threat of industry progressing from the south and sand mining ravaging nearby dunes, legislative efforts to save the area finally began in the 1920s.

In 1948, the state obtained the first parcels of what is now known as Illinois Beach State Park. The Illinois Dunes Preservation Society was established in 1950 to protect the area. Through its efforts and the determinations of the Department of Conservation, in 1964 the area south of Beach Road was dedicated as the first Illinois Nature Preserve.

This area is unique, as it is a sand dune area and the rest of Illinois is nothing like it. I was on the hunt for Opuntia – Prickly pear & Juniperus horizontalis – Trailing juniper, both of these are native to this area. In 1804, explorers Lewis and Clark noted that trailing juniper “would make a handsome edging to the borders of a garden”.

Our bedroom is in the back of the camper and furnished with a large window to gaze out of. You can barely see it to the right of the photo, however there is a small window right where my head is. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a window less than 3″ inches from your face. The fresh, night air is wonderful to sleep by.

The real view, not through the window. Lake Michigan.

     

We were back to balancing rocks. Here’s a simple one that took a bit of patience.  ||  I don’t think anyone was home.

This is the coolest thing. It’s an ice fishing house, that’s also a travel trailer! It’s on hydraulics and lowers to the ground / ice for fishing. So neat.

As far back as 1982, the federal government began collecting a nuclear-waste fee, paid by electricity users through fees tacked on to their bills and earmarked to pay for disposal of the radioactive spent fuel rods. Starting in 1998, the U.S. Department of Energy was supposed to start picking up spent fuel rods and taking them for storage, according to Everett Redmond, senior director of fuel cycle and technology policy for the Nuclear Energy Institute, a power industry trade group. But there was no ready storage option to hold them. So power companies were forced to store more and more of them at their own facilities and eventually successfully sued to recover costs for this storage.  Chicago Sun-Times 2017

Someone likes to dig.

     

We keep trying to outdo each other on the rock stacking. Well played husband, well played.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Happy New Year!

My type of fireworks! See all the colors? Georgia allows fireworks. We’re getting a free show from all the neighbors.
Downside.. the boys are freaking out. Breck is in the pooper, Oreo is under the table.  😳 Why do more folks like the boomers over the Ahhh pretty ones?

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

12/12/2016 ~ 1,000 Posts For Ilex!

twodogsGood day Friends of Midwestern Plants!!

On March 10th, 2013, I started Midwestern Plants with my first post. The only ‘LIKE’ on it (to this day) is from my hubby 😉

I started this blog to build a portfolio of work to break into freelance writing, along with a photo library of Midwestern plants. I didn’t really think of making any money from the blog or even building a following, let alone find some really cool friends here!!

I shopped free blog sites and settled on WordPress. It was easy to figure out and they even had a nice app to use (I’m an app-fanatic!!)  This was to be my first use of a ‘social media’ type site. Suffice to say, I’m not a fan of Facebook or other social media, due to many reasons that I won’t go into now.  I think FB can be a rude, unsupportive place for a writer.

Although, I was worried that WP could turn into FB, I was pleasantly surprised that after 4 years of blogging, I’ve only had maybe 1 or 2 ‘troll’ comments. And on the other hand, I have made so many friends here!!! Not only have I met friends, I’ve gotten so much encouragement, support, camaraderie, ideas, praise, laughs… I can’t imagine my life without all of you! =-D

On January 12th 2015, I wrote my 500th post. Seems like I’m on par for about 250 posts per year. It was January, so I had just gotten my report from WP with my ‘crunchy numbers’ (WP term). I don’t look at these kind of stats on a regular basis, however I do like to read this year end report. My ‘Top 5’ of read posts hasn’t changed much since then, however the folks that are following and commenting has changed a lot. Out of the 14 folks I mentioned in my 500th post (2 years ago), only 6 are still actively blogging. Some of the folks I follow posted that they were taking a break for whatever reason, however others have just disappeared. I always wonder what has happened to stop someone who’s posted daily for years to just disappear. Did they get a full time writing job? (YES!!!) Taken by aliens? Joined a cult?  Lost in a forest? Got caught with kiddie porn? Die? Ironically, the kiddie porn one kinda happened! A blogger I followed had an outstanding warrant for touching kiddies and was extradited back to his home country. =-( And he seemed so NORMAL to me =-O Another woman told me that she had contracted a stalker and had to quit posting, so this person wouldn’t learn more about her.

The internet can be a scary and peaceful place at the same time. Although I don’t post photos of myself and am somewhat anonymous, I have physically met a few fellow bloggers. We had followed each other for a while, so I was not nervous to meet them. I would also love to meet others in the future. Many bloggers in my circle are local, however some are from islands very far away. Maybe one day I will do some puddle jumping 😉

I want to pay tribute to some awesome fellow bloggers that sure make blogging worth it for me. Although I can’t thank everyone I follow personally, I do want to say, THANK YOU all for the comments, the laughs, the support, the tears, the wisdom and the friendship I get from all of you! ❤ ❤ ❤

Travels with Choppy: I just can’t get enough of Choppy’s outfits and celebrations of holidays we all should learn (Letter Writing Day! Who knew?!?) Even tho he’s a cat, Schooner is pretty funny also. And now that #@}0*%ing ELF?! I never know what else I’ll be laughing at next being subscribed to her blog!!

Thanks Sarah, for making me have to change my pants after I’ve pissed them from laughing… One of these days, the fur kids have to meet… Schooner? Probably not 😉

Mad Cap Dog: Scifihammy has me in stitches, whether it be from her Sunday musings or the antics of her Little Monkey! She also keeps me sane with the beautiful, warm, colorful landscapes of Cape Town, while all I see is white 😛 She chills out to my snow posts, so it’s a win/win!

Scifi, I love ya! I’m so glad someone gets my Star Trek references… otherwise I’d be hearing crickets. Thanks for always letting me know you’ll be out for a bit. I would seriously miss ya, if you just dropped off. Dropped off writing, I meant 😉

Easy Weimaraner: I’m beside myself as I write this. Two weeks ago, Easy left us for the Rainbow Bridge. There will never be another Easy. He was hilarious, from his classroom teachings to his indoor snow creations. His staff are equally funny, as Dad can’t stop injuring himself and Mom can’t stop shopping.

Kathy & Mark, I can’t say enough how missed Easy will be, butt time will heal the wounds.

Mongolope: Mongo is a Labrador Retriever that lives with his family in Seattle, Washington. Mongo usually gets in a lot of trouble due to his appetite. He is very smart, however very food driven also. My favorite thing Mongo does is fetch the paper, how cool is that? Be sure to read about Mongo’s first Halloween… You’ll be in stitches!!

Mongo’s Dad, Love the stories you tell about your buddy, Mongo! He is so much fun to read about and sure has some, um, interesting habits 😉

Eddie Two Hawks: Eddie posts wonderful photos of plants from a tropical, Florida location, along with beautiful pieces of wisdom. The photos excite my eyes and the quotes make me think.

Eddie, Thank you for all the wisdom you have brought to my life. I always feel warm and fuzzy after reading your posts. Your photos bring back memories of all the tropical plants I had in my yard while living down there.

THANK YOU!!

I’m not sure what directions all of us are going, however I am so glad to have met you all and share what time we have on this big, blue marble. Lastly, I share with you a favorite tidbit about friendship:

Friends are in your life for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime:

When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. S/he has come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

S/he is there to meet a need. Then without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, s/he will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes s/he dies. Sometimes s/he walks away. Sometimes s/he acts up or out and forces you to take a stand. What we must realize is that the need has been met.

When a person comes into your life for a season, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. S/he may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. S/he may teach you something you have never done. S/he usually gives you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Lifetime relationships teach you lifetime lessons. Those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. You must accept the lesson, love the person/people anyway, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl