Today was the first day of Memorial Day weekend, a three day weekend for many Americans. Part of frugal living is finding the joy in simpler activities. For us, that includes reconnecting with nature by hiking through the wilderness and enjoying the sights and sounds that cannot be found in a sterile office environment.
Someone asked Shae what our plans for the weekend were, and when she replied that we would probably be hiking 3-6 miles they could not understand why we would want to do that. Well, keep reading to get a glimpse of what adventures and fun can be had in your own backyard.
We drove a short distance to Detweiller Park in Peoria, Il.
Detweiller Park is special because it is the southern most trailhead for the Illinois River Bluff Trail (see a trail map here). The 6.9 mile trail features terrain that you would not expect to find in Central Illinois. Namely, rolling hills, and deep ravines.
There was an nice playground by the trailhead that we took advantage of to set Frugal Boy free while we ate some lunch. After fueling up it was time to hit the trail.
It didn’t take long to have an up close encounter with this fine specimen.
Whenever I post these types of photos to Facebook, I always get a rash of comments along the lines of “kill it” or “run away”. Our goal is to impart a “Live and let live” philosophy to Frugal Boy. The snake, like most animals and insects, poses no real danger to us. It is far better to admire it with respect and then move along and let it go about its day.
Perhaps the greatest thrill that I get out of hiking is not knowing what’s behind the next bend in the trail.
Aren’t you just the least bit curious as to what’s up ahead on the trail. Just take a few more steps to find out. You never know what you’ll come across, and we came across something that totally blew us away!
Well, are you curious yet? Are you thinking, maybe I should get outside and enjoy the freedom of nature?
What if you found a ghost camp?
The trail had switched from a dirt path to a two rut gravel road. The first thing we came upon was this old swimming pool and bath house.
Next door was a canteen/cafeteria area?
An overgrown cross gave a hint as to the camp’s original occupants.
Our road reached a junction, but trail signs pointed the way to a place further back in the ghost camp.
Here we found intact restrooms and an accessible caboose.
If you looked at the trail map at the beginning of the post, you’d see that this was Green Valley Camp, our turnaround point for the day. GVC was run by the Salvation Army before being turned over to the Peoria parks district.
We switched off carrying duties and Frugal Boy was hosed down because it was hot out.
On the way back we spotted some more of nature’s wonders.
Do you know what plant has mitten shaped leaves?
If you said, Poison Ivy, congratulations! Leaves of three, leave it be.
Nearing the end of the hike, we crossed over another rambling brook. I had made a mental note of it on the way in, and we stopped to let Frugal Boy play in it.
He was happy as could be and got nice and dirty. A fellow hiker walked by and just grinned when she saw a mostly naked toddler playing in the stream.
Overall, it was a splendid hike.
- Discovered a Ghost Camp ✓
- Played in a stream ✓
- Saw animals in their natural habitat ✓
- Avoided poison ivy ✓
So that’s why we go out hiking on our three day weekends.