Tag Archive | rv

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

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

Hurry Up, Already! Spring Can’t Come Soon Enough for Me!

Although I really can’t complain about our Midwestern winter this year, its still lasting too long for me. I’m hoping for an early spring, however it usually doesn’t happen like that when we’ve been teased so early in the year.  In mid-February, we had a week of 60F / 16C… That was just crazy weird! Of course the convertible top was down all of those days =-D We got a lot of yard work done that weekend. My front garden is all pruned and ready to be posted about. (I’ve been holding out on ya’all regarding showing you my whole front foundation bed!)

I’ve been out checking the status of the daffy and tulip bulbs, along with the buds on the lilac bush. The bulbs are barely out of the ground and no action on the lilac. I used to have a fair amount of crocus, snowdrops and grape hyacinths in my lawn. I haven’t replenished them in a few years and I think the squirrels have accidentally dug them up or they’ve perished, as I don’t see any yet. That’s OK. When things decide to pop, they tend to do so in a hurried manner. Spring bloomers, to me, are like the ocean or a 2 year old… turn your back on them for one second and they quickly change their status from OK to OH!

My quince are starting to bud. I love quince. Such a vibrant display of color. These shrubs are quite small right now, however as part of my front bed, I’m not planning on letting them get too large. I’m focusing on pruning them to be fuller shrubs. Quince can be quite leggy without proper pruning early in their lives. Since the blooms tend to be in the lower, inside regions of the plant, the more inside area, the more numerous the blooms. Same goes for my mock orange. These are a dwarf variety, however they have the same blooming location as the quince. Proper pruning will give these guys a thicker branching structure, lower in the plant. Of course you don’t want to get too crowded of a crown, that promotes less air circulation which lead to other problems. Like Goldilocks’s liking… not too much, not too little 🙂 This is a great argument for purchasing smaller, younger plants… so you are able to prune and train them to your liking.

This may be my last Friday off this Spring. Sad face. Although I am writing this post on St. Paddy’s Day, these photos were taken before the snow… There is still about 3″ (9cm) of snow on the shady parts of the yard. I’m going to try to eek one more Friday out of this month, however that’s pushing it. I’m actually doing rain/bad weather dances, as that will delay any construction / clean-ups until April 1, when our contracts actually start.

I finally got a real nice, competent co-worker to fill a much needed gap in our company. She’s very young, however hungry to learn. Who knows? Maybe she’ll like horticulture and follow that into college. Maybe not. I just hope she stays long enough to straighten this place out a bit. After only three weeks, she’s proved herself immensely in keeping all the records straight. You just don’t understand how stress relieving she is to me! I’m a horticulturist, Jim! Not an office manager!! 😉 I’m hopefully going to get out into the field a bit more because someone is there to man the office. Sadly, I did get my wish last Tuesday and had to drive to the North Shore in a snowstorm for an emergency tree locate. That was super!! NOT. In the end, it wasn’t that bad and I proved myself where 2 other ‘Master Arborists’* failed. Three’s a charm, they say…

As it is Spring around here… A time for new beginnings and all that. I’m going to try to get my life in a bit more order. First, I need to get myself in better health. I don’t know how I got so fat. I hope I don’t have a heart attack when I go out planting Spring flowers in three weeks =-O

Next, I need an income plan. Life at my job right now is pretty awesome (along with the pay), I’m not going to leave anytime soon. Yes, I have complained about it in the past (who doesn’t???), however now that I’ve got some well needed help, I can focus on what I consider more fun and that is working with plants.

Yes, I will continue with my blogging here. Honestly, during the flowering season, posts write themselves with all the photos. It only takes me a second to stop and shoot the flowers.. Haha!! I’m still hoping for that perfect writing job. Ya know…. The one that pays you enough to actually eat better than Ramon noodles? That is another reason I keep the blog going. It is a portfolio of sorts. It also shows I’m capable of finding stuff to write about.

Speaking of which… I thought of a great ‘Tuesday’ feature, that will also showcase some of the awesome blogs I follow. It’s a win / win. I’m not an ‘Awards Blog’, however I understand that they are around to try to promote each other’s blogs and share. I’m just not a big sharer of personal info, that’s all. However, I’m all for promoting each other! I’m not going to give the premise away just yet… They say you should always leave your audience wanting more….

 

*I’m only a test away from ‘Master Arborist’ status. It requires 10 years of active service, educational goals and passing a test.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Toy Hauler Mailbox: When Good Things Come From Bad

We live in a somewhat rural area, where there are no sidewalks and our mailboxes are at the street. It’s the first time I’ve ever lived with this situation. In the past, I had a walking mailperson, who dropped mail in my house-attached box.

In the past few years, I’ve become an Amazon.com addict, along with many other online stores and the amount of package deliveries have spiked to epic levels. I do have a wooden bench near my door that is under an eave for those large boxes, however some of the smaller ones still got jammed into the small mailbox, ultimately bending or breaking something. Frowny face to the mail carrier!! No Duncan Doughnut’s gift card for you!!

Along with USPS (United States Post Office), I also get deliveries from UPS, Fed Ex, DHL, and other carriers. Only the USPS can deliver items INSIDE my mailbox, the rest get placed on my bench. Here’s a tid-bit for you; Did you know it is a federal offense to steal mail (anything delivered by USPS, in or out of mailbox), however only a misdemeanor to steal packages delivered by carriers other than USPS? This is why smart-ass thieves tend to steal packages off stoops over cracking into mailboxes. Either way, I’d hope the Karma train takes care of these thieves!

We’ve been talking about making our mailbox into a travel trailer for years. However, the timing was never good to start the project, along with the fact we still had a working mailbox… Until a week ago.

My neighbor is slowly dying. I can’t recall the disease that is killing him, however it’s a reaction from a drug he took years ago. He is unable to eat because of reoccurring sores in his mouth and in a lot of pain from a previous neck injury. He’s on liquid morphine and has hospice folks coming by often. One day last week, he got into a large argument with his wife, and amazingly was able to get out of the house and behind the wheel of his truck. I was actually writing on my laptop, overlooking my yard and mailbox when it happened. BLAM! Mailbox up! Mailbox down! Neighbor back-up and off mailbox, neighbor drive forward and continue down the street.

I ran out there immediately and called his wife, as I knew he shouldn’t be driving. She told me the police were already in route, so there was not much else for me to do, but to pick up the many pieces of my mailbox. Not more than 10 minutes later, I watched the mailperson drive by, looking at the mailbox-less post, and continued on. Um, you could have knocked on my door and delivered my mail! But no. The mail carrier just carried on.

I was able to Jerry-rig a close replica of my mailbox with what was left of the box, some bungee cords and duct tape. It doesn’t really close, however it would work for the interim.https://youtu.be/sZnhtojtUYc

Meanwhile, we decided it was time to make out new mailbox, technically a ‘toy-hauler’, and impress our neighborhood with our skills ;^D

  • First, we started by ordering a LARGE (24″ long x 12″ wide x 15″ tall), gray mailbox from Amazon.com. In the future, we hope this allows for less squished packages.
  • Hubby painted on the windows, doors and details.
  • He then made the gas tanks out of PVC.
  • The bumper and hitch are made from copper and painted black.
  • The wheels came from a toy truck and painted silver instead of the yellow rims it came with.
  • The spare tire (also made from PVC) and the faux awning were then attached.
  • We found little reflectors online to create the taillights and side lighting.
  • Finally, we found a place that made little license plates for our address number. Yes, it’s a bit out of proportion, but we wanted it to be seen from a distance.

In the end, I’m really impressed at the turn-out of this project! I think it’s so cute!! If I recall correctly, without time and labor, material cost us about $85.00.

Ironically, my hubby sent a pix of this to his boss, who then posted it on his FB page, bragging about what a creative employee he has. Many of his friends responded back positively and even asked if his employee could make other mailboxes like fire engines and race cars! How cool is that?! Hubby has already been trying to figure out how to make mini hoses and Mars lights….

    

*PS – No one besides my mailbox was harmed by my neighbor. The sheriff found him parked on the side of the road, around the corner. Whew!

© 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

Burr Oak Sketch

We recently went to the Vintage Wine Fest in Utica, Illinois, and camped at a favorite campground, Hickory Hollow. Sadly, the newly built sand mine next door has sent folks elsewhere to camp as it is very noisy, along with blasting throughout the day. Another sad note is that the owners want to retire. They had hoped to find someone to purchase the campground and continue to run it as one, however no such luck. The sand mine gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse and they accepted. The mine is allowing them to stay in business until October of 2017, right after wine fest, a big weekend for them.

We have been camping here for the last 10 years. We’ve been on many different sites, however site H0 is our favorite. There is a large, burr oak on the site that is just magnificent. I am besides myself to know that this tree will be killed to be able to remove the sand it’s roots have been in for over many years (give or take 100, my guess). I’m very sad. =-(

I, of course, had to try my hand at preserving the memory of the grand ‘ol tree.

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I hope some of the acorns I grabbed will continue on the heritage of this wonderful tree.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois State Beach Park

This is the third time we’ve been to Illinois State Beach Park. Part one here  | Part two here.

This is a IDNR (Illinois Dept. Natural Resources) park, one of the most protected areas in Il. It’s located in Zion, kinda a rough neighborhood, but you don’t even realize where you are after entering the park. We also had a great view of the dormant Zion nuclear plant. Awesome…?

This area is 4,160 acres and has a recorded 650+ 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 industry progressing from the south, sand mining ravaging the dunes and parts of the surrounding rural area succumbing to pasture and homesteads, 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”

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Cicuta maculata ~ Water Hemlock    Stay away!!    ||   A mossy rose gall, caused by a Diplolepis rosea or Bedeguar Gall Wasp. So cute and fuzzy!! Not really detrimental to the plant.

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Midwestern Plant Girl on the hunt for blooming flowers!!!image

The still standing Zion Nuclear Power Plant. It was built in 1973 and decommissioned in 1998. The hot, nuclear mess still sits in holding tanks below the buildings. Supposedly, the new date for clean-up is in 2020. All the hot stuff will be sent to a remote location in Utah. Poor, Utah… drew the short stick, didn’t we??? It will then be restored to its original habitat, hopefully.

Pretty scary that it sits right next to the largest fresh water supply of the Midwest….

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There were a few gulls on the nuclear power plant side of the fence. 😉 They know folks are supposed to stay on the other side of the fence. There are still armed guards here, keeping folks away from the hot mess.

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Pretty rocks… I would have made a great petrologist =-)

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I love our savannas.

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Chelydra serpentina — Common snapping turtle   ||     Lithobates pipiens or Rana pipiens ~ Northern leopard frog  They were everywhere!

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Wasps and beavers

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Breck with Daddy and Chicago waaaaay in the distance.