Like so many of our little getaways, this trip needed to be just a couple hours drive so that the weekend wasn’t lost in travel and so that set-up could be in daylight (in our early camping days we would often set-up after dark priming the evening for upset, don’t you know.)
I was looking around at campgrounds to the south of us (that we hadn’t been to yet) but I was just not getting that eager feeling. HoHum, I kept looking. Then I decided to look north. There is a destination I want to learn about but it required more drive time than I wanted to spend. Eventually, I was led to look Northeast and found the little park of Siloam Springs.
Finding the campsite is always just the beginning as I always hope to include a little history or tourist activity. I found just the thing in Quincy, Illinois: Villa Katherine. This home was built by a man for his lady love, who lived overseas. He had been a world traveler and greatly admired the Moorish buildings he found in North Africa, so he had his own Moorish home built up on the bluffs of the river. His lady would not move to Quincy so he lived a lonely life in his castle with a beloved big bull mastiff dog named Bingo (note: accounts vary on the breed but I saw a picture and I have to go with the mastiff). It is said that Bingo still clicks his nails on the downstairs tile floors but I didn’t sense poor Bingo trapped there forever. It’s a quick stop as the furnishings and gardens have dissappeared with time but its uniqueness and quiet make it an enjoyable place to visit.
We had the opportunity to see Indian Mounds Park in Quincy as it was along the way, but we were eager to find a campsite since we hadn’t made reservations.
Moving along to Siloam Springs… I learned that at the turn of the century a spring was discovered that rivaled and even surpassed the famous Eureka Springs in Arkansas for its concentrations of minerals and healing abilities. Business boomed here for a while and then fell into disuse and disrepair until it was finally made into a park–a dam built and a lake formed. We were told we could still find the ruins of the first spring but we searched and weren’t so lucky.
Where our luck did hold was in the campground. It was Mother’s Day Weekend and we expected a full house (a dreaded thing for us). I said my little wish to the universe before we left home and it was answered. We ended up in the first of three camping circles and we were blissfully alone. Ours was a loop of Hickory and Oaks. I guess the other campers wanted the beautiful pine trees in the further loop. Campers tend to like to camp in with others–security in numbers I guess. The pine campground is really, really pretty. Don’t get me wrong, I adore pine forests for camping–in Winter, when the sap isn’t raining down on your gear and shiny white finish. Our site was $20 per night with electric, water available and a clean shower house in the Pine Loop.
Our site had trail heads that led down to pretty little fishing lake where boat rentals were possible. There is nothing so lovely as a walk in Midwestern woods in springtime. In May you will still see Flox, Delphinium, May Apples and many other pastel colors lining the pathways and dotting the sun flecked forest floor. Is there anything more lovely than wild Delphinium?? The little purple Merlins hats of the fairies that inspire poem and song. Simple sweetness.
These trails were dotted with many unusual stone outcroppings and brilliantly moss coated rocks. So pretty!
One of the best things about being alone in a campground is that I feel free to sing my favorite songs as loudly as I please in front of the fire and my Hub feels free to unleash his inner fire god. Oh, the fires he will build.
This is what is zen about camping. You are in a silent place, the Barred Owls are singing just at the edge of your vision, the early fireflies are shyly making themselves known, the wind rustles the top of the soft new leaves and the occasional possum lifts his snout in the direction of your camp.
This is what is fun about traveling in a little Casita–you live outside of a small camper rather than in.
The forest has a way of replenishing us. The Casita makes this liberation possible.
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