We love to be in Chicagoland in the summer. There is so much to do: concerts, plays, festivals, etc. etc. This year - all cancelled. As I recovered from shoulder surgery we looked for interesting things to do that I was able to do. We drove to La Salle which in the 1840’s was the largest town in Illinois. Located on the newly dug Illinois and Michigan Canal, it was a major transportation hub bringing out raw materials from the newly settled midwest and bringing back manufactured goods to settlers moving westward. We rode a sparsely populated (COVID guidelines) river boat pulled by a reluctant mule along the tow path and learned about this history in our part of the country. La Salle was a major transfer point as goods from the small canal boats were transferred to the much larger river boats. On our drive home we stopped on bluffs overlooking the river to watch non-COVID compliant wedding reception revelers celebrating on boats tied together.
The motor home needs to be exercised just as we do, so after Labor Day we spent a few days camped at the Indiana Dunes State Park. Bad storms in the Gulf of Mexico had sucked all the humidity out of our area and Chicago loomed on the horizon in the clear air over Lake Michigan like the Emerald City of Oz. The campground was nearly full, but the sites were widely spaced and we felt as safe there as we do at home with the added benefit of a campfire, s’mores and a beautiful beach.
In October we drove to southern Wisconsin to visit some state parks and do a little boondocking. We subscribe to a website that lists places where people allow you to camp on their property for free and spent two nights at Front Porch Farms, which was more junkyard than farm, but was a quiet, convenient place to stay. We searched for scenic spots that highlighted the fall colors that were beginning to appear. We had the most fun at a stop in the cranberry farm area where the fruit was beginning to be harvested, The berries grow low to the ground in giant paddies. Farm machinery is used to beat the berries off the vines at harvest time and the paddies are flooded with water. The berries float and can easily be sucked into waiting trucks through giant vacuums, similar to the process that is used to clean up oil spills. We donned rubber overalls and waded though the colorful crop. For a brief moment it felt like our normal travel life had returned.