May 27, 2018 (by Angela)
Jim, Chewie, and I are six days away from calling it a wrap in Southern Illinois – at least for now. Actually, with Jim on his way tomorrow to the Northeast for work this week, he pretty well has wrapped up his time here. He gets home Friday; we move to Missouri Saturday morning.
First, let me say that I have really enjoyed Marion Campground & RV Park in Marion, Illinois, despite the way it may have seemed with the post previous to this one. It is not the fault of the park; it’s a fault with some people who use the park. I don’t know if Jim will write a review or not, but if not, know that if you are coming down I-57 and need a place to stop for a night or a month, I’d recommend stopping here. It may be located in the middle of town, but it doesn’t feel like it. The Interstate and a train track are close, but neither bother us. In fact, trains are few and far between, short in length, and as far as I can tell, only roll by during the day.
What did we do while here? Other than a quick two-day trip back to Tennessee to help Mom, I simply breathed. We had many more sunny and nice days than rainy ones, and I enjoyed that fact. I got some chores done that had been put off and had a “me” day for a hair cut and a mani-pedi. Chewie had a spa day, too. I tried twice to catch a family member, Macey Jo, at her shop in Carterville, IL, but never got to see her. Jim scored a new t-shirt, though. If you are in town, go by her shop: Live Simple Shop.
Of course, Jim has been working and traveling by plane each week, so our fun time together has been limited. When Jim was home and had time, we played and spent time with family.
Our first settled weekend here (moving weekends don’t count), Friday night, he and I went to the opening game of the season for the Southern Illinois Miners. We had great seats immediately behind the dugout down the 3rd base line with a fantastic view of the batter box. I’ve never seen a team with so many official mascots. Lucky the Canary and Grounder the Mole, took turns visiting with me and putting on a show in front of us. Big John, the other mascot, must have been off that night. By the way, the Miners played the Erie Crushers, but it was the Miners who crushed Erie. Unfortunately, we had to leave before the Miners finished crushing the Crushers and also missed the fireworks show.
The next day we visited with family in Joppa, Illinois. Julie, Jim’s Mom, provided the space, and we provided the food for any and all of the family who could come on short notice for supper.
Our second weekend here, Jim went to see the new home of one of the son’s, and then he took two of the older grands out for lunch and then strawberry picking. It was the first time ever for the boys to pick strawberries. I’d not felt like going, but I enjoyed the strawberries Jim brought home. Some were put in the freezer to enjoy later.
Memorial Day weekend, our third and last “settled weekend” here, Jim, Chewie, and I stayed busy – but mostly Jim stayed busy. Friday night, Jim took the two older grands to see Solo: A Star Wars Story. Dylan, the oldest grand, had asked his Grandpa about a month before if he’d take him to see the movie, so you know Grandpa was going to make it happen. This time Aiden, Dylan’s younger brother, wanted to go also. That was ‘”grand” with Jim.
Saturday morning, after picking more strawberries, we went to watch one of the younger grands, Noah, play baseball. Jimmy, Jr, Noah’s dad, is one of the assistant coaches for the team. Jessica, Noah’s mom, kept stats. We got to visit at lunch after the game, including talking with Noah’s sister Lily, one of our few “grand” daughters. After that, we made our way over to Jim’s Mom’s house to have a quieter visit with her and his step-dad Tommy.
Sunday, we hiked with our youngest, Clarissa, and her still newlywed husband Josh. They were married this past December. Clarissa and Josh took us into the Shawnee National Forest and shared with us some of their favorite hiking trails with water destinations where swimming is available for those who wish to do so. We went to Bell Smith Springs, Burden Falls, and Jackson Falls, though most of our time and hiking was at Bell Smith Springs. Chewie, of course, was excited to be on a trail again, attempting to be leader of the pack. Jim and I enjoyed the visit while traveling to and from by car as well as by foot.
Over all, other than the excitement of the holidays and wedding late last year and our trip to Japan in January, this has been the best month for me on the road since September 2017. I am so happy not to be wet, cold, sick, or stressed to the max with “not fun” family things with which I’ve had to deal. Jim and I look forward to a fantastic summer.