Spring Break upon us, we made plans to visit Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Michigan. Wouldn’t you know it, our daughter woke up sick and squashed that long weekend plan, but we cobbled together a road trip into northwestern Illinois, an area we’ve driven through but never really explored too much. For an overnight, it promised to be plenty of fun within easy distance of home.
First stop: the Ronald Reagan Boyhood National Historic Site, one historic looking home among many in Dixon, IL. Reagan spent a few years here while a youth and the sign has beckoned to us on many a trip past here, but we’ve never stopped. This time it was on the way, so we made it a point to seek it out. Since the home and Visitor Center are not open except between April 1 and October 31, we moseyed around the outside, took a few photos, and moved along. Interesting, but probably not worth a detour, though we didn’t get the whole experience, so who knows?
Up next. we drove to the Mississippi Palisades State Park for lunch, hiking, and climbing. While we were super successful at lunch and hiking, it wasn’t to be so for climbing. I forgot to pack the bouldering mat, so we were a bit leery about climbing, and we didn’t do enough exploring to find a bouldering spot suitable to try out safely. Still, a beautiful park with scenic views, hills steep and high enough to trash our flatlander legs, and bluffs to return to for climbing exploration.
One of the reasons we wanted to hurry along was that our overnight accommodations were at the Galena Log Cabin and Adventure Creek Alpaca and Goldendoodle Farm. Quite the mouthful and, hey, alpacas!
We needn’t have hurried, unfortunately. Maybe this was a beautiful farm in the past, but its time has clearly passed. Owned by an older couple, the compound is mostly mud, decaying log cabins, and trash-strewn areas all around. The alpacas were beautiful creatures, but we really felt sorry for the dogs – closed up in a tiny cabin, they were filthy and needed a serious nail-trimming. We wouldn’t be surprised if the authorities got involved relatively soon.
We made the most of it, as best as we could. While certainly shabby chic inside and out (though not the chic part), the beds were comfortable and we had a decent sleep. This is priced too high for the impression and quality of upkeep – they need to either raise their standards or drastically reduce their prices.
For dinner, we headed into the town of Galena and were really impressed with the lack of chains in the historic section. Many, many people were out strolling and window-shopping, so we joined them, along with some time on the levee. Beautiful place to visit, with lots of places to eat and shops to browse in.
On our way home, we stopped at Horseshoe Mound Preserve, a natural area being revived with native plants. A unique stone amphitheater with sundial locations noting True North, the Solstices, and others, we wandered the trail and took in some amazing views of the bucolic countryside. There is a purported treasure hunt for kids at this location, but since it was pouring rain, we got the feel of the place and headed home.
See all the photos from the weekend in the Midwest Basecamp Easter Weekend Roadtrip photo album.
- Shabbona Lake State Park
- Nachusa Grasslands