We left St Louis Sunday, in the morning, to try and escape most of the heat, however, we were never able to escape it as our next destination was just as hot with temps in the high 90's and very high humidity. Driving through downtown St Louis was very jarring to say the least. I-64 was quite bumpy all the way into IL for several miles. It finally started to calm down a bit after getting out of the greater STL area.
Our drive today was about 3.5 hours, straight east on I-64 through southern IL. We arrived at The Rest Up Camping and RV Coral in the early afternoon. This is a brand new RV park that we have been following through the building progress on Facebook for a couple months. It is a full service, western themed resort with a wonderful restaurant and bar, store with yummy ice cream, a very cool playground and put put golf course with more amenities to come. We were lucky enough to snag one of the 10 full hook up sites they opened at the beginning of July. We stayed 4 nights through the fourth and had a great time getting to know the owners and staff. They are really doing a great job with the place and we can't wait to come back to see the finished product. Quality shows all over the park from the beautiful buildings right down to the really cute barrel sinks in all the restrooms. The food and drinks in the saloon were very good and they will be expanding the menu as they open more RV spots and have more quests staying with them. The most interesting part of their story is that the land was earmarked for a prison and the state had invested alot of money several years back for all of the infrastructure, but then as the IL political landscape was sort of, shall we say, "Shaky", the money was no longer available to finish the job and the idea of the prison was abandoned. The new owners were able to purchase the land and use the utilities already installed to support the campground. With only 10 sites open, we had very little noise, which made for a nice quiet stay. When fully developed, they plan to have 200 RV sites and several cabins. They have plans for a splash pad, gathering room, laundry, store and an arcade type shooting range.
For the rest of Sunday, we stayed at the RV and had dinner and drinks in the saloon. It was all very good and we planned to go back for a lunch because the burgers looked and smelled amazing! With it being soo hot, we skipped our evening walk and retired back to the RV.
Monday was a day of exploring and household chores. We found a little laundromat in Mount Carmel, 15 miles north of the campground, called Sudsey Dudsey. I continue to be tickled by the cute names for laundromats that we have come across. While I was taking care of the laundry, Rick went to wash the truck. The trip so far proved to be a very buggy one, so he was hoping to get those little critters washed off. Once finished with the chores, we drove through a very nice little state park, Beall State Park outside of Mount Carmel, along the Wabash River on the IL/IN border. The park was very well kept with a boat landing and small campground, most sites with electric, that looked to be very underutilized. They do not take reservations and the park staff comes around to issue a permit. We couldn't find any information that led us to believe they even charge for camping. Once back at the RV park, we packed everything away and went to get groceries at the little local IGA. We just love supporting these little grocers and try to whenever we can. We also needed to go over to the Liquor Barn, which had a drive-thru, to get some wine for dinner. Let's just say this is a popular stop for folks and they did have a decent selection for a tiny country town. That night we broke in the brand new fire pit with some corn on the cob and marinated pork chops.
Tuesday we took a drive into Evansville, IN and took a tour of the USS LST 325 docked there. Evansville was a major contributor to WWII, as they produced many of the LST ships for the war as well as ammunition. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the ship and the history of the LST's in WWII. Rick enjoyed sharing his knowledge about them as well and even had a nugget or two for the tour guide. Our tour lasted about 80 minutes and it was a good thing we opted for the very first tour of the day at 10am, because it was very hot and spending time in a big metal ship just amplified that! Thank goodness they had fans throughout and really stressed the importance of taking water with you on board. We had worked up quite an appetite, so after the tour we headed to the Acropolis Greek restaurant for a good gyro sandwich.
On our drive back to the RV park, we took a more scenic route and stopped in New Harmony, IN. This quaint little town has a long history. Established in 1814 by the Harmony Society, the settlement was home for those Lutherans who separated from the original church. Later in 1825, the town was purchased by Robert Owen, a Welsh industrialist and social reformer. He set out to create a new Utopian community. Unfortunately, this social experiment fell on hard financial times after only two years. This little town has alot of interesting old buildings and art and the visitor center has developed a really nice walking or driving tour by using your cell phone to go through the different audio information for each site. One of the more interesting stops was the roofless church. It was essentially a large garden area surrounded by a brick wall. The first picture is of a curved parabola dome that houses a sculpture underneath, seen in the second picture. The third is the gates to the open air church.
On the fourth we hoped to see fireworks since the sky was soo dark but unfortunately, we had a little storm roll through earlier and then just complete darkness at night, perfect opportunities for some more RV porn pictures. At the end of the evening, we had a chance to talk with Mike & Mindy, the owners of the new RV park. We shared some feedback with them and Rick also gave some ideas for the restaurant. They were very eager to hear input from the campers and thanked us for being one of their first guests. I must say that everyone at the RV park was very friendly and went out of their way to make us feel welcome.
We left Rest Up early Thursday morning to make the long trek back north through IL. 6 hours later we pulled into Blackhawk Valley campground. We were able to score a full hook-up, pull-thru site for half off with our Passport America card. $17.50, yes please! Once we got cleaned up, we ventured out to see the old stomping grounds. Rick & I lived in Rockford for about a year in 1995 before we were married. Rick came down to start his Exec Chef career with The Machine Shed restaurant. We then moved back to WI where he opened the new Machine Shed restaurant in Pewaukee, WI. We ended up having dinner at The Machine Shed and there were some folks still there that Rick worked with 23 years ago! Dinner was delicious and the apple dumpling for dessert topped it all off. The next morning we woke to much cooler temps in the 70's and we decided to take a walk around the campground prior to leaving. It is such a nice, well kept campground with a mix of well-kept seasonal sites and overnight spots. As we were walking around, we saw a seasonal couple working outside and upon getting closer, we saw they were working on their outdoor train track. They had an amazing setup complete with a tunnel, village and a firepit in the middle. We talked with them for quite some time about their train, trains in general and our RV plans. What a sweet couple and nice little park. We will certainly put this park on our must stay when we travel through IL.
As I write this, we have now made our way back to WI and are moochdocking again at my Dad's. We are catching up on laundry and spending time with family. Our next adventure will be to Door County, WI to start our first workamping experience at Peninsula State Park as campground hosts. Stay tuned for more adventures...
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