Marengo Ridge Conservation Area.

Last week M— and I decided to get out of the city for the weekend. We picked the Marengo Ridge Conservation Area more or less at random from The Best in Tent Camping: Illinois and headed out on Saturday afteroon, with a quick stop at L.L. Bean for various bits and pieces.

Arriving just after a short rainstorm had passed over, we ended up with a perfect campsite, down a little trail from the road.

After setting up camp we went for a walk on the nearby trails. I regret not taking this giant puffball back to the campsite to grill.

We went into downtown Marengo for dinner (astonishingly good pulled pork with mashed potatoes and cornbread), and found ourselves in the middle of the annual Settlers’ Days festival, complete with a carnival where we rode the Ferris wheel and M— won a prize throwing darts at balloons.

Then back to the campsite for smores (made, on the advice of Tiny Fix Bike Gang, with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups instead of chocolate—a great success), beer, and bourbon.

In the morning, after a breakfast of instant coffee and leftover cornbread heated up over the fire, we took another walk through the trails—this time heading south of the campground access road into the prairie we’d only had the chance to check out briefly the day before.

It would have been very easy to take a nap here.

There was milkweed all along the trail,

and milkweed bugs.

And then it was time to head back to Chicago (but not before a stop at the Illinois Railway Museum in nearby Union).

October 14, 2013