Camping and Cantigny

Blackwell Family Camping

A few weeks ago, kind of on a whim, I made reservations for some family camping at Blackwell Forest Preserve. This is an ideal place for us to camp in some ways, as it’s close to home, centrally located to interesting locations nearby, and is as basic as it gets. The negatives stem from the positives: close by so crowded, on a noisy road, very basic so only minimally back to nature. No worries though, we had fun anyway.

Tazer, Little Worker and I headed over late Friday afternoon to get the camp set up. What I love about car camping is that you can bring just as much as a car can carry and you’re willing to pack and unpack. Beyond the camping basics, I also brought our camp kitchen, a piece of furniture that keeps our cooking stuff organized, is a base for our camp stove, and generally makes things easier. I also brought some tiki torches, as the bugs can be quite fierce this time of year. The rest of the clan showed up after soccer and, after a dinner of fire grilled hamburgers, it was time for bed. On Thursday (I think), I had developed a hacking cough that came and went and it came and went for much of the night, so I didn’t get much rest – expected when camping, but still no fun.

The next day was full of plans, loosely adhered to. For breakfast, eggs, bacon, and hash browns – ah yes, the beauty of car camping. We then headed out for a day of adventure. Much of the morning was spent hiking in search of geocaches – we are working on the 2014 Dupage Forest Geocaching Challenge, adding this year’s coin to the previous two. Unfortunately, the second geocache did not have any of the required stickers for our “passports,” so we need to keep going. A fun project.


The afternoon was spent at Cantigny, Robert McCormick’s estate, where a tasty lunch, gardens, and several museums awaited us. The First Division Museum is an amazing place, important history presented in an engaging manner, we will definitely be back as one visit did not do it justice. More than the museum, the kids loved climbing up and around the tanks that were parked outside. We then head over for a tour of the mansion, which was about an hour and required trips up and down stairs as we wended our way through this amazing “farmhouse.” Even after touring the gardens, visiting the museums, and walking the whole way, the kids somehow had the nervy to visit the playground, fine with me if only because I finally got to sit down and rest.

Since I wasn’t feeling well still, I opted to head home for a better night’s rest, returning the next morning with blueberry pancakes and fresh coffee. One last hike along the lake and through the woods and it was time to head home. After a lunch of homemade pizzas, I returned to bed and slept the afternoon away. As I said, a good place to go camping, close to home.

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