Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shelbyville–Forest Park Aquatic Center

Saturday was going to be another hot day, and we were looking for something fun to do with the kids.  Looking around on the internet, we found the Aquatic Center in Shelbyville’s Forest Park.  It looked promising, so we decided to take a drive to that side of the lake, drive through the Lithia Springs Campground (another COE park that we had considered) to check it out, and then go to the Aquatic Center.

With our plan in place, we had a quick lunch and changed into bathing suits.  It was about a 20 minute drive the the other end of the lake, through corn and soybean fields.  At Lithia Springs, we obtained a “Sightseer Pass” from the gate attendant, and drove through the 4 campsite loops.  This is a more popular campground, and it was almost full, but not suitable for our big rig!  They have one full hookup loop (D leg), and a beach within the campground (off C leg), but each leg ends in a very tight turnaround.  We could never get our rig around those turnarounds!  So, even thought several sites are technically long enough, this campground is not really big-rig friendly.  Lots of trees overhanging the roads, too!

From there, we drove into Shelbyville and right to Forest Park.  We paid our $5/person entrance fee and found a group of chairs under a giant umbrella.


The pool included a zero depth entry area for small kids, up to 3’6”, then a larger area that was 4’0” to 5’0”, a smaller area that was 11’0” with a diving board and slide, and a waterslide that ended in a 3’6” pool.


The largest area of the pool – 4’0” through 11’0”


The very popular waterslide – No, I didn’t go down it!


The kiddie area of the pool – complete with water fountain and frog slide!

In the building they have mens’ and womens’ locker rooms, a family changing room, and a concession stand.


Lots of big umbrellas for people who need to be in the shade.

The kids headed right for the waterslide,

072011_Lake Shelbyville

and it didn’t take long for the big kids to join in the fun!


Todd gets the prize for making the biggest splash – in and out of the pool!

They certainly had a blast on the slide, and I would have loved to join them, but at Bryce’s insistence (Please Mom, don’t go on the slide!), I just stayed in the pool.  That was refreshing enough!

Next, the group headed down to the deep end to try out the other slide and the diving board.

072011_Lake Shelbyville1

They had fun on that one, too, but not quite as much as on the twisty slide!  Tom and Todd decided that they needed to check out the kiddie area, and rest for awhile!


They’re just a couple of big kids!

It was a great way to spend a hot day, and well worth the $5/person entrance fee! 


Staying cool!

After a few hours, we packed up and headed back to the campground so we could get cleaned up in time for church at 5pm. 

While we were gone, Todd got a fire going and we had pizza pudgie pies and hot dogs for dinner.  We had quite a bit of thunder and lightening while we were cooking our dinner, but the storm stayed south of us and we never got any rain.


It cooled off nicely, and turned out to be a good night for a campfire!

There’s nothing like a busy day at the pool to make everybody sleep good at night . . .


. . . or even in the afternoon! 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

More swimming and geocaching

It may have cooled back down in some areas of the country (including back home!), but here in southern Illinois it’s still REALLY hot and humid!  Thursday’s high was predicted to be 97 degrees, so it sounded like a good day to spend at the beach!


Despite the heat, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves!

One of our neighbors in the campground has a couple of Sea-Doos, and invited to guys to take a ride.


Making sure Nick knows the hand signals . . .

Unfortunately, the Sea-Doo chose that very moment to stop running, so they had to get towed back to shore.  Nicolas got a ride on the other (faster!) Sea-doo, though.


Nicolas takes a ride on the Sea-Doo with one of the girls . . .


While they were out for their spin around the lake, the Dad’s were trying to figure out what happened with the other Sea-Doo. 


Tom the engineer gets right in there!

We found out later that 3 rocks had gotten sucked up into the motor, and were rattling around in there, not allowing the motor to spin properly.  Later, after dinner, the guys managed to get the rocks out . . . but weren’t sure if permanent damage had already been done!


It’s HOT, and Bryce is ready to get back in the water!

We stayed for a couple more hours, until everyone was sufficiently sunburned . . . and then headed back to the campground to relax and cook dinner.  When we got in the truck to leave the beach, the external temperature reading was 100 degrees . . . our hottest day yet!  Later we played some cards and watched a movie in our RV . . . it was just too hot to have a fire!

On Friday, after breakfast of waffles and bacon, we decided to do a little geocaching.  It was overcast, and not supposed to be quite as hot . . . but we all needed a break from the sun anyway!


We thought this one would be easy, but no such luck!

Todd, Josh and Kylie had never been geocaching before, so we thought this would be a fun way to introduce them to it . . . unfortunately our first two attempts (right in the campground!) were unsuccessful. 


We weren’t doing a very good job of convincing them that this was a FUN pasttime!


Even Bryce was getting tired from the effort!


We didn’t find the cache, but Bryce found a “natural” bike rack!

Giving up on those, we left the campground to attempt a series of 4 caches in the Kaskaskia wildlife Refuge.  We had to find the first 3 caches in order to find the “codes” we needed to be able to open the last one.

At the first, we were a little distrustful of the GPS that was pointing us into an area of waist-high weeds, so we took a little walk down a mowed path.


Taking a walk along the banks of the lake . . . but not towards the cache!

We finally decided to listen to the GPS, and Tom trudged into the weeds . . . and he found the cache!


Tom makes the first find of the day!

With our confidence boosted from the find, we go back to the truck and continue our search for the 2nd cache in this series.  This one took us down a “scenic drive”  . . . and it was definitely an adventure!


This narrow gravel “road” (unnamed on our GPS) to us to the 2nd cache.

The hint that was included in the description for this cache made it an easy find for Bryce.


Bryce and Tom in the middle of the “tree junction”

Number 3 took us to a boat launch, and everybody got into the search, but it was Bryce who made the find again!


Close to the “end of the line” now, everyone gets into the search!

The final cache included quite a hike, but we weren’t giving up at this point!  Tom and Nick took the lead, and the rest of of followed close behind.


This guy was practicing for an upcoming bass tournament . . . looks good!

We made the long hike to the far side of the island, and the kids dove right into the woods to look for the large cache and use the 3 codes we had found that would unlock the box.  Once again, the coordinates were right on and Nicolas found the cache with no trouble . . . well, hopefully no trouble . . . we’ll see if he ends up covered in poison ivy n a day or two!!


Everybody washes off their arms and legs to minimize the poison ivy risk!

Having successfully completed this geocache series (yeah!), we headed back to the air conditioned comfort of the RV.  The boys headed right to the showers, and Tom and I loaded up the dirty clothes and went to the laundromat in Sullivan. 

We got a little bit of rain as we were coming back from Sullivan, but it didn’t last long or cool the temperatures down much.  After our busy day, we were ready to relax in the air conditioning again tonight, and watch another movie.  Maybe tomorrow we’ll be able to have a fire!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last day at Brookville Lake & Move to Shelbyville Lake, IL

Tuesday was our last day at Brookville Lake and we were just taking it easy.  Nicolas and I took a run in the morning to pick up some homegrown corn from the local market.


We picked up some delicious corn, tomatoes, green beans and melon from Denny.

Back at the beach after lunch, it was a lot quieter than on the weekend, and the water even felt cooler.


Tom scans the beach for the best place to sit.

We had some fun in the water and worked on our tans for awhile, and I got to spend some time reading.

072011_Brookville Lake

Back at the RV, I started dinner while Tom relaxed and the boys played cards.


Tom talks to his dad while Casey relaxes under the camper.


We’ve played lots of cards this week, and even gotten Tom to join us!

After dinner, we got a lot of the outside cleaned up and ready for the move, so we could get an early start in the morning. 


Tom takes care of the stinky job!

We woke up to find it nice and cool in the morning, and the boys got right to work getting the bikes and chairs put away.  It’s definitely easier to get ready for a move to another campground than it is to go “home”!  The clothes and the beds and the food all just stay where they are, rather than getting packed up to go back in the house – we could get used to this!


Casey is ready to move on – and she makes sure that she isn’t going to be left behind!

By 9am, we were all hooked up and ready to head west to Illinois.  We took I-74 to Indianapolis and then picked up I-70 to Effingham.  We stopped at a Walmart to re-stock some groceries before heading north on IL-32 to Sullivan and the Forrest W. Bo Wood COE campground.

Our friend, Todd, with his kids – Josh and Kylie – had arrived just a few minutes before us, so we both took care of getting set up and settled into our sites.


Right now there are just a few other RVs in this section, but it’ll fill up by the weekend!

We’re in a brand new section of the campground (just opened this summer) with full hookup and really long pull-through sites, but that also means no shade at all and not a lot of grass.  We are oriented so that we get afternoon shade from the RV itself, so that’s not too bad . . . and the electric is good so the A/C is cranked up!

It’s supposed to be hot this weekend, so I’m sure we’ll spend plenty of time at the beach . . . but hopefully we’ll be able to do some hiking too, and check out some geocaches in the area.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Geocache Adventure

It was supposed to be cooler and less humid today, so after a big brunch of pancakes and sausage, we decided to do a little geocaching.  I had located several geocaches around Brookville, so we packed up some water and set off.

The first were a series of (4) caches along the Yellow Bank trail.


We located the trailhead and parked the truck in a shady spot.


The first cache was supposed to be near the trailhead, so we searched all through the weeds using both our Garmin Nuvi GPS and our handheld GPS.  One of our goals was to determine which GPS worked better.  IT didn’t take long to realize that the handheld does have better accuracy, because it gets you down to within 2 feet.  so, I guess all our previous trouble must be due to operator error.

Today wasn’t starting out too well, and none of the guys were successful in finding this first cache.


Bryce is sure he’s got to be right on top of it!


Nicolas found lots of good hiding places under that old bridge, but no cache!


Tom contemplates where this could possibly be hidden.

We decided to move on to the next three, since there were supposed to be easily accessible from the trail. 


The Yellow Bank trail is an easy 3/4 mile hike (each way) through the woods.

We arrived at the location of the second cache, and everyone was searching for this camouflaged test tube.


Hmmm . . . could it be under this bench?

We looked all around the trail, in hollow trees, under roots, and then I found it!  It was just laying on the ground, covered by a few leaves!  The container was pretty chewed up, like an animal may have gotten to it, but the log was still there and we were able to get it out and sign it.


OK, now we were on a roll – we had found one!!  the next was supposed to be a similar container, and the clue led us to believe that we should be looking in trees this time.


Again, we were successful, with Tom scoring the find this time!  Then it was on to the last.  This time we were looking for a box, so it should have been even easier.  We had an extra clue to go by, but it ended up not being very helpful.  Finally, Bryce made the find, and we were 3 for 4, and at the end of the trail. 

We decided to take another stab at the first one on the way back to the truck, hoping to capitalize on our success so far.  They searched around in the weeds some more, and finally Tom found it!  Yeah!!


Bryce signs the log, making us 4 for 4 on the day!

It was a nice walk in the woods, and a successful day of geocaching!  We decided to push our luck and try for one more at the Franklin County Park & Fairgrounds.


The county fair was a couple of weeks ago, so there was just one RV in the campground today.

This is a really nice park, with some great camping areas – we wouldn’t mind staying here at all!  They even have sites with water & electric.


Nice sites that would even accommodate our big rig!

Bryce took the lead with the GPS, and soon located the cache.


Hey, check out that stump behind you, Bryce!

Before we left, we took the truck up the “hilltop road”, and YIKES!  What a steep climb – up and down – and some crazy switchbacks that we never expected to see in Indiana!


The road was steep, twisty-turny, and BARELY wide enough for our truck!

On the way out, we drove around the 4H barns and the fairgrounds areas.  This is a really nice park!


A nice ball field – with lights, even!

We rewarded ourselves for our 100% geocaching success with a stop at the Dairy Cottage in Brookville for ice cream.  Their sign out front said “homemade orange sherbet”, and that sounded really good on a hot day!  The boys had blizzards, and Tom and I tried the sherbet – it was wonderful!


Only $1.60 for that giant cone – and it was sure good!

With today’s successes under our belt, RVfamilyMI (our geocaching name) is well on their way to being real geocachers!