We've been fortunate to camp a lot this spring and summer. Here is an overview of where we've been from Easter through Independence Day. We've had great spots in Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana, and our home state of Illinois recently.
We spent Easter at Piney River Resort in Tennessee. Piney River is an hour from Nashville and is located on a beautiful river. The river had flooded the week before our arrival, but the amazing team at Piney River Resort was able to rebuild our site just before our arrival. We took part in the Easter egg hunt and other activities, but our highlight of the trip was that it was our first camping trip with our rescue dogs, Polly and Parker. We think they are going to love camping with us! It was also a first towing with our Taco.
A few weeks later, our kids were both busy with scout camps. We decided to have a kidless camping trip and visited Sam A. Baker State Park in the ancient St. Francois Mountains and on the St. Francois River and Big Creek in Missouri. This was a relaxing getaway of biking the paved trail through the park, walking the dogs, and hiking the Shut-Ins Trail. We also spent a lot of time sitting in the river in our new Eno Lounger SL Chairs. We ate breakfast and lunch at the lodge; both of which were great, but the catfish alone was worth the visit. Shut-Ins are a unique geological formation found in the Ozarks that are a flat waterfall where the water has carved shoots that make a great natural water park. Missouri has a few great examples of shut-ins, including Johnson's Shut-Ins and Castor River Shut-Ins, both of which are worth a visit and a great day trip from Sam A. Baker.
A trip that we booked and rescheduled multiple times was our visit to Pennyrile Resort State Park in Kentucky. Near Dawson Springs KY, the park is located in western Kentucky. Kentucky resorts are filled with amenities, and Pennyrile is no exception. From boating, swimming, putt putt, golf, and horseback riding, there is a lot going on. We chose to do a bit of hiking around the lake and the bluffs, as well as enjoying lunch at the lodge.
Far closer to home is Little Grassy Lake Campground and Marina on Little Grassy Lake in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. This location is a great 'go to' a few miles from home. Although we stayed close to home, we took full advantage of the amenities on the lake and nearby, including paddleboarding on Little Grassy, mountain biking the new trail system at Touch of Nature, and lunch at Little House of Tacos in Cobden.
For Memorial Day, we planned a fun-filled weekend with friends at eXplore Brown County near Nashville, Indiana. A weekend here is a weekend unlike any other. The campground and cabins, both very affordable, are tucked amongst the amenities that we took full advantage of, including a beautiful zipline run, several paintball courses, hiking, and arrowtag. Arrowtag was invented by the owner of eXplore Brown County. He uses a bow with arrows that have a rubber ball tip and guides us on a number of elimination, and last man standing games. We also hiked at Brown County State Park, visited Nashville to walk the shops, enjoy ice cream and coffee at The Chocolate Moose, a great dinner and a walk around the lake at Big Woods - Hard Truth as well as The Nashville House, a nice glass of wine at Country Heritage Winery, and - like was always do when we are anywhere near Bloomington - Thai Tofu salads and Sour pints at Upland Brewing.
Timber Run in Perryville, Missouri is a great quick weekend getaway for us. At about 75 minutes, we can get out late on Friday and still have a nice weekend at the campground. Timber Run has a new pool, dog park, a trail that goes 4.4 miles around Perry County Lake, and a playground. The weekend we visited also had Christmas in June activities going on and live music in the afternoon. We visited the Castor River Shut-Ins this weekend and enjoyed cooling off in the cold river. We enjoyed great meals at Mary Janes Burgers & Brews and Jackson Street BrewCo.
Finally, staying in Missouri, we returned to Big Creek RV Park in Annapolis. Big Creek, Sam A Baker, and Timber Run are all good areas to see shut-ins, great hikes, history, and river floats in this part of Missouri. We visited K Bridge, an area of the Black River that is the place to be on a hot weekend. We also visited Pilot Knob, a civil war site, and visited Ironton during their July 4th parade. Ironton is also home to a very good coffee roaster, Arcadia Valley Rosters. Thee Abbey Kitchen in nearby Arcadia also has great food in a historic building.
During our stay at Big Creek, our air conditioner failed. Keep following along to learn how we replaced it.
Shane and Jessica
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