Tag Archive | review

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

Kickapoo State Park ~ Campground

imageWe came to this area for the Memorial Day weekend. It was only about a 3 1/2 hour ride south for us… Granted, just getting around the “shitty” (city = Chicago) takes an hour in itself. We were lucky that the Kickapoo State Park is even open with our state is such debt. Many state campgrounds have closed because of the lack of funds to man them.  Sadly, Kickapoo is on this list. I’m glad we got here before the October 1st closing. This one did have a “camp host” opposed to a ranger, which is a family that is allowed to camp at the campground for free in exchange for working at the entrance and taking care of all the daily needs of the campers. Some camp hosts are awesome, some suck. The set here (5/2016) at Kickapoo sucked.

As many may be reading this for the campground information, allow me to elaborate:

Kickapoo State Recreation Area has two major campgrounds for tent and trailer camping, with 184 sites. All of the sites are very large, even the rustic camping. Our electric (30 amp) site cost $25 a night. About half the sites have electrical hookups, two shower buildings and a sanitary dump station is available. Sadly, because of lack of funds, the dump was bubbling full when we pulled away from the line of nine campers behind us waiting to dump. A limited number of walk-in sites are available for primitive campers. The shower buildings are closed by November 1 and reopen May 1. Although I did not use the shower house, it looked clean.

Kickapoo owes its crystal clear ponds and luxuriantly forested ridges and hillsides to the regenerative powers of nature.  During the past 50 years, trees and vegetation have reclaimed the former mined land. The state’s 1939 purchase of 1,290 acres of mined lands from United Electric Coal Co. was largely underwritten with contributions collected from Danville area residents.

With twenty-two lakes and access to the Middle Fork River, Kickapoo is known for the opportunities it provides for water-based outdoor activities. Anglers find excellent fishing for large mouth and small mouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie and redear sunfish. Especially popular are the annual fall and spring stockings of rainbow trout, which provide an unusual opportunity for central Illinois anglers to fish for catchable size trout.
There are 12 launching ramps on nine of Kickapoo’s lakes. Boat and canoe rentals are available for Clear Pond. Only electric motors are allowed on the park’s lakes. For people wanting to canoe the scenic Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, a canoe rental and shuttle service is available from Kickapoo Landing.

Hiking the trails within our campground was a treat. The once stark surface mined banks are now covered with a forest of cottonwood, haw, ash and wild cherry. Bald cypresses, introduced along the pond edges, add to the variety in the canopy. A fav of mine, the sycamore, was well represented in the campground, along with having 4 on our site. The trails were single file paths that canvassed the landscape both high and low. We crossed land bridges, looked out over scenic bluffs and let the boys run into the ponds. Oreo was a bit surprised at the fast descending sides of the pond. Two dog steps in was over two feet deep, which is about snoot level for him. He quickly retreated.  The deep water ponds were abound with aquatic insects, plants, crustaceans, amphibians and a variety of fish.  Our stay corresponded with the cottonwoods blooming and it looked like it was snowing.

I’m not sure if this Google Maps image helps show all the ponds that were available for us to paddle on. Our campsite was #95 and is almost in the center of the photo, right on the bank of Long Pond. The pond was a good 50 feet down a steep embankment. See the photos below for perspective.

long pond



Our campsite, #95, Long Pond is directly forward in this photo. A pretty good site, aside from the path going though the back of it. Although the site was very large, folks would walk through very close to our trailer and well within the 20′ long leads my dogs had on. My dogs are friendly, though energetic to meet people. Not all folks are dog people, but then WHY, for all that is holy, would you walk within a dog’s radius than walk 10′ father away and yell at me for having my dog jump on you???!?! People have no sense.


Long Pond is to the left. The path in the previous photo is to the right.

image   image 

This area was inhabited by the Kickapoo tribe. They later were moved to Kansas.
Kickapoo (Kiikaapoa or Kiikaapoi) which means “Stands here and there,” and “wanderer” which describes their nomadic ways.
Twenty-two deep water ponds, ranging in size from 0.2 of an acre to 57 acres, provide a total of 221 acres of water for boaters, canoeists, scuba divers and anglers.

image   image

Long Pond from just a bit down the road from our campsite and one of the many beautiful Bald cypress trees along the pond.


Here is the location of our camper viewed from the Long Pond. You could barely see it. The arrow is pointing to the front, top corner of the trailer. It does blend into the scenery being brown. I think all the scrub growing on the bluff doesn’t allow for perspective of just how high and steep it was.


Yeah, you go first and clear out all the cobwebs.


There’s no current in the ponds, which made it easier to paddle all around.

Don’t dock here!! Blooming poison ivy is on guard here!

All in all, we really enjoyed our stay here, however I can’t not mention the amount of rude campers we experienced here. We’ve both been camping a loooong time and we’ve never seen this many together, I swear it was a “Bad Camper” convention! From unleashed dogs, doggie land mines, 24/7 barking, large fires, loud music, loud drunk folks (although it’s supposed to be a dry campground), speeding, brutalizing trees, public urination, cars parked willy-nilly, excessive lighting, walking thru our site and to ice the cake, someone setting up a tent on OUR campsite! We were told that it was such a big site, we should be able to share…. Host actually agreed with them and rather than get kicked out, we dropped subject. How F-ing rude IMO.

We’d come back if by some miracle they are open in the future. We have a better site scoped out for our next visit. One where there’s no paths going thru it!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories

I’m starting to see my small area of the world wake-up and stretch. I witnessed my first snowdrop bloom, have had to yell at my dogs NOT to chase the rabbits in the yard and my workload has increased. One out of three ain’t bad.

I’ve seen many things start to progress and want to record it, technically for posterity. I do like that I have a phenology list of plants around me and want to continue to propagate it (giggle)! I have thought about writing new posts and/or reposting old ones. Not a fan of reposts per se and writing a new one about the same topic is well, stupid IMO. However, I see others doing these type of recap posts and though it was a great idea. Monday Memories is born.

This also gets me off the hook for fresh material on the busiest day of the week  😉

The Willows are starting to turn yellow here. wpid-20140304_070015_richtonehdr.jpg

This is right on schedule with last year. This photo is from last year and had I taken a new one last Friday, it would have been void of snow. However Mr. Jack Frost is not done wit us yet! We’ve got 3-5 inches predicted for this evening! (Technically, I’m writing this Sunday night ~ We’ll see in the comments if I’m right!)


Summer blend gas is on order.

Our gas prices are starting to rise, even though the cost of a barrel of oil is going down. Yeah, living by a large city is awesome!! Not. So even though there is plenty of gas made and ready to go, the refineries have to make summer blend for the area that drives the price up almost double. $2.97 per gallon now will be $4.50 in June.

The upside is usually the price of diesel stays the same price throughout the year at about $2.70 per gallon. This is good when we are camping and driving a bit to get where were plopping for the weekend.


s daliDaylight Savings Time

This was a few weeks ago, however I think it’s important to understand where these notions come from and just why do we do it?!?

Many think this was all done to try to save resources, energy and money… However, environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, found that the Daylight saving did indeed drop lighting and electricity use in the evenings… HOWEVER, higher energy demands during darker mornings completely canceled out the evening gains.


Coming up soon!


© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl