Great Lakes Trip 2018: Midwest

If you missed the first five recaps of our Great Lake Trip, you can catch up here:

Lake Ontario

Lake Erie

Lake Huron

Lake Superior

Lake Michigan

* * *

We have completed our tour of the five Great Lakes, and are now headed to check out the Midwest, specifically Illinois : )

We left Wisconsin on Monday morning and arrived at Johnson Sauk Trail State Recreation Area in Kewanee, Illinois in the afternoon. After we got the camper set up, we took the bikes down and went exploring. The campground has a concession stand but it was closed when we went exploring. We also found a lake, Johnson Lake — pretty, although not a Great Lake!

The next morning, we took our little farmers to check out the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Illinois! The Pavilion is known for its hands-on exhibits that are focused on tractors and other heavy machinery. The boys had been looking forward to going to the “tractor museum” for awhile. They loved sitting on all the equipment and playing in the Discovery Zone, but their favorite part was going to the John Deere store and looking at all the toys.

After we finished exploring the John Deere Pavilion, we had lunch next door at the River House Bar & Grill (where kids happened to eat free on Tuesdays!) and took a walk along the Mississippi River.

The next morning, we packed everything up and headed to Eagle Creek State Park in Findlay, Illinois. Chris’s parents are from Findlay and he grew up spending summers there with his grandparents. We decided it was worth a visit since we were already so close. There is no longer any family in the area to visit with, but we drove around to visit all the old homesteads and it was fun for Chris to share some stories about his (and his parents) childhood with his sons.

After driving around Findlay, we headed to Shelbyville, a nearby town that Chris visited with his parents and grandparents as a kid. We visited the Lake Shelbyville Visitor Center which was quite impressive! We checked out the gift shop, aquariums, and terrariums. The visitor center also had beautiful views of the lake and dam areas. There was also a butterfly garden outside which my butterfly obsessed Jackson loved!

We then went into town and had lunch at Lisa’s Cafe. Chris remembers eating in this establishment under a different name with his parents and grandparents when he was young.

After lunch, we stopped by Birkey’s Farm Store, a Case IH dealership in Shelbyville…

After that, we hopped back in the truck, had the boys change into their bathing suits, and headed to Lake Shelbyville Beach. Lake Shelbyville is a reservoir that was created by damming the Kaskaskia River in Shelbyville, Illinois. Can you believe that in all the years Chris visited Illinois when he was young, he never swam in Lake Shelbyville? Well, our boys did on their first visit and they loved it! They also had a really great playground!

After swimming in the lake, we found the local post office in Shelbyville and mailed post cards to family and friends we had purchased throughout our trip.

After mailing our post cards, we headed back to Findlay. We made one more stop on the way back to the campground at Sloan Implement, one of the largest John Deere Dealerships in the world. Chris used to come here with his Grandpa in the summers.

The next morning, we packed up and started our trip back home. We spent Friday night at Pokagon State Park in Indiana. It was a long day of traveling and our campsite was pretty wet when we arrived. But we made the most of it — we ate dinner, the boys rode their bikes, and went for a walk. It’s a shame we didn’t get to explore more because it looks like an awesome park!

On Saturday night, we camped at Woodland Campground in Pennsylvania. The campsite we had reserved was unavailable because the previous camper’s rig broke down. They were able to get us in to another site though. Woodland is a family owned campground and that evening the owners had an ice cream social on their patio for all the campers.

On Sunday morning, we packed everything up and made our way back home to New York! And that is a wrap on our big summer trip of 2018! We did a lot of planning for this trip and looked forward to it for so long that we are all a little sad it was over!

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