This is Camping?
I made it to Illinois, checking out a new-to-me RV park in Rockford before heading for Plans B or C. Blackhawk Valley Campground is technically the least expensive campsite in the general Chicagoland area, and the most presentable I have yet seen. Nicely kept grounds, full hookups in monthly sites, decent water, if commendably mineralized. And quiet, for the most part. There are occasional dogs barking, but it’s limited since allowing it to persist or having/allowing yer mutt get loose stands a very good chance of getting tossed out and blacklisted. Usage of generators ist verboten, since electricity is readily available. Washrooms and showers are immaculate, and if I don’t feel like paying the cost to electrically heat water in the trailer, a rather luxurious hot shower is available as short walk away.
As a result, this attractive campground is pretty much booked solid. All the seasonal spots are taken up. Upon arrival, I had to wait a couple of days to see if a monthly spot would be available – they had promised two onroute campers a look at the last two available monthly spots. I only got in because of shuffling me into another spot that was temporarily open, and the guy who was booked for it would be placed in another site that would be vacated by the time he/she/they arrived. The only open slots are daily ones, which seem to pack up solid every weekend. I’d guess that the vast majority of these campers are locals. One couple lives in Yuma, Arizona and comes up here to stay in the muggy summer sweat to avoid the dry but suicidal blast in their own hometown. The couple next to me are insurance adjusters who move where the calls dictate. Most seasonals only show up on weekends. Daily slots are mostly empty except on weekends. Only the monthly patrons are iffy as far as home base goes.
As with any RV park, there are tradeoffs. The campground is located in a deep valley beside the Kishwaukee River. For now that means very limited cellular voice, and not a prayer of cellular data without an amplifier. My amp brings the signal up to a workable level for phone calls and data, if needed. The local WiFi signal is too meager to be used much at all, but my Hawking directional antenna manages to pull it strongly enough to run Netflix movies with a tolerable number of interruptions. Naturally, the glut of weekenders tends to chop that down to email and stalling research only.
The sole driveway winding down into camp is an aggressive slope. It’s no problem for the Evelo ebike, but riding up or down it is prohibited, and the story is they’ll run out of the camp office to stop you. My guess is that too many people embedded themselves into the heavy tree cover on the way down, and in the old days, rim caliper brakes only worked in a forward direction. The brake pads popped out onto the ground if applied, jeopardizing even an uphill climb. Insurance companies must have had a field day. The distance to sources of supply are too long and squeezed alongside hazardous traffic to make them practicable by bike. However, the Mighty Furd is already making 60-140 mile trips to get to and from appointments and family, so the service trips become a relatively minor addition. In the future, I’ll expect a rising mosquito population, thanks to the river.
Less than a week after I arrived, fighter jets streaked overhead on a regular basis. The reason was an upcoming air show at Rockford Airport. The oncoming scream of a jet even at subsonic speeds is half hissing air as it is cleaved violently aside, and half engine intake. Each type of fighter makes a different sound, the most unsettling being the F-4 Phantom, a quick Vietnam-era fighter that looks bad and yet set rate of climb records in its day, as I recall. My nickname for it is “Droopy”, from the appearance of its tail, which looks like it’s about to fall off. These practice runs were much closer overhead and more frequent than they were on the days of the show itself. I had considered going over to the airport to attend, until I saw the $30 per vehicle entry fee, $20 for a motorcycle. Considering my proximity in camp, it seemed sufficient. Unfortunately, on the two show days, the flyovers were much more distant than in practice, but I still had the prior days’ impressive aural reminders to console myself with. Still do.
The solar panels are out in order to make passage into the office easier. The wiring isn’t hooked up to them, since there’s little point. The shade is one factor, and the recurring rains and heavy overcast the other. This is unusual weather even for here. On this trip, if I had to rely solely on solar power, I’d be running mighty thin on it. Doesn’t matter all that much, given the hookups. The Defiant may be modified toward long-term bookdocking, but at heart, this RV park is what it was built for. I recently resealed the rear vent and other roof features at the back of the roof. Unfortunately, the sustained rain has pointed out that the job still remains uncompleted, and the ability of water to travel above the flat interior ceiling makes the origin of the leak unclear. Yet it must be addressed since, unlike in the Southwest, mold and accelerated rot of the wood structure will result. The rare clear day here means breaking out the ladder again and moving forward with more sealant, and more hope. With a to-do list already as long as my arm for a 3-month stay, it’s gonna by a busy time, oh yes!