From prairie to suburbia

After exploring waterfalls, cornfields, and indulging in root beer floats, it was time to leave the Illinois prairie and head into Chicago’s suburbs to visit family.IllinoisWe’re quickly reminded about the Illinois tollway.  With the two additional axles on the Fifth Wheel (toll fee based on number of axels), our first toll was $7.50 and we only  used this stretch of road for about 10 miles.  (Thank you Hildi.  Once again hubby listens to the GPS instead of the wife.  Wife would’ve saved the money by rerouting)  Oh well 🙂  Before leaving Colorado, I considered purchasing the Illinois I-Pass but didn’t think we’d use the tollway enough to make it cost effective, plus I had concerns there would be a mail delay and the darn thing would arrive at our daughters home after we hit the road.  Illinois I-Pass

Sycamore IllinoisHaving the I-Pass makes it very convenient since there’s no stopping involved.  You get to pass the toll plaza without slowing down as the little contraption is scanned through the windshield.  Also the cost of the toll in most cases is half price with the I-Pass.  And trust me, those tolls add up real quick.

Hildi has us exit Interstate 88 shortly after the toll plaza and takes us through some small towns.  It’s a fun drive.  Al nor I have driven through this part of Illinois in nearly twenty-five years.  With the exception of a little growth, much has remained the same.

We pulled into the Paul Wolff Campground with low expectations considering we were rather disappointed with the Starved Rock State Park Campground.  Wow, what a pleasant surprise.  There’s 89 paved sites with 50 amp electric and 10 primitive walk-in tent sites.  Water spigots are scattered precariously throughout the grounds.  We snagged a large pull-thru site with a water spigot nearby to hook up to.

Elgin Illinois

Paul Wolff Campground, Elgin, Illinois

The more popular RV loop offers shaded sites amongst a grove of large trees.  We chose the open meadow loop to optimize TV and internet reception.  This is a Kane County run Forest Preserve and is maintained impeccably.  It’s located on the far west side of the city of Elgin in northern Illinois.

Paul Wolff Campground

9 miles of trails meander through the Burnidge Forest Preserve/Paul Wolff Campground. This is one of the mowed meadow trails. I loved all the wildflowers.

I grew up east of Elgin, Illinois, and my dad still lives in the house where I was raised.  Thus, the Paul Wolff Campground was a great find and the quick 15 mile drive to dad’s house made for lots of enjoyable visits.

gardening in Illinois

picking cucumbers and tomatoes with my dad in his garden

My dad’s house is within walking distance to the train station and usually we never pass up at least one sojourn into Chicago anytime we’re back in the area.   The Metra train even has a stop near the campground; Big Timber Road.  After serious consideration, we took a pass on the day in the city opting to focus on family visits, especially since our son, Logan, surprised everyone with a visit.

Illinois farm stand

Logan and I visit the local farm stand to pick up dinner

Logan had flown to Chicago from Phoenix earlier in the week for a business trip and ended up extending his stay so he could spent some time with his Illinois relatives.  My dad was thrilled to see him, as were his aunts.

When it was time for Al and I to drop Logan off at O’Hare Airport, I did the driving.  I was a little nervous driving the big truck through congested traffic, especially at Chicago’s O’Hare.  When I lived in the area years ago, I always had little cars. I managed the big truck just fine, but was relieved to get that drive out of the way.  We encountered stop and go traffic, insane road construction, heavy congestion, and mean pointing police officers at the airport, and of course tolls.

Al and I decided it was best I drive since this was my old stomping grounds and I know the roads better than he does.  Hubby doesn’t like it when I give him directions (aka – tell him how to drive).  Hildi (the GPS mistress) can tell him how to drive, Ingrid (the wife) cannot.  Must be that marital thing!

Next up, we move over to Al’s sister’s place……

Gardening

88 year old Dad says, “Oh no. What happened to my flowers?” In the foreground, you’ll notice the weight of the blooms toppled the limbs. With a little attention, they’ll be upright in no time.

Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles

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