Sunday, March 10, 2013

Family Retreat to Wildlife Prairie Park in Peoria

A few weeks ago, I spoke at a high school retreat for Grace Evangelical Free Church in Davenport, Iowa.  I spoke three times between Friday and Saturday night.  The camp where we were was in DeWitt, Iowa, about 30 minutes from Moline.  As a gift, they blessed my socks off with an honorarium for speaking!  So, we decided to use that money toward a short family retreat to bring a small reprieve from my ministry responsibilities, as well as, my seminary studies.  So Kathee found a park online that rents cabins year-round.  And so we ended up staying at Wildlife Prairie Park outside of Peoria, IL, about an hour and a half from Moline.    

On the way to the park, we "had" to stop at the Bass Pro Shop in Peoria (it's actually in East Peoria, and the park is west of Peoria, but when you are that close, it's a must-stop in our book).
Hope gave her approval of the cabin and had a blast running back and forth between the two re-tooled grain bins that we stayed in.  That's right, folks, re-tooled grain bins.  When we pulled up to them, Kathee and I just started laughing.  However, once inside, as you can see, they are much nicer than one could expect!  Since we hadn't read anywhere about plumbing and/or water, we assumed we'd be walking to a main building to get our own water and showers and whatnot.  So having it right with us inside was a blessing.  And by the way, like I don't know you are thinking, "who are these people?"  And, if you know us, you already know this is how we roll!
Check that bad boy out!  Re-tooled grain bins!
This was the view from the kitchen window.  And if there's one thing I love in a place, it's big windows for me to sit and watch nature.  So it was a blast seeing all the water fowl, the deer, the raccoon, and other animals that made passing by the window a daily happening.  
Gideon and Hope helped get "camp" set up right from the start.  
And after everything was good to go at the cabin, and the kids were settled, I tried out the snowshoes I rented from Active Endeavors in Davenport.  This is something I thought for years would be cool to try out, but never had the chance.  I LOVED it!
And who knew that there was a geocache less than half a mile from the cabin?  Yeah, I did!  I ended up added 4 more to my found caches while at the park!

We ate well and had fun at meal times!
Kathee and I played Jinga.  The woman is cold as ice when it came to the nerves of that game.  And yet again, we found a game that Kathee destroys me without even trying.  I lost every games we played!
The park had the most deer I'd ever seen.  They were everywhere.  We saw these two little ones with their mother a lot by our cabin.  The lead one here ended up coming within about 6 feet from the window.  The kids LOVED seeing them!
We also took a couple of good hikes at the park.  This park is a zoological park, and was filled with native animals to the Midwest (these were in cages, however).  We saw gray wolves, red foxes, silver fox, coyotes, bison (way off in the distance), whitetail deer (also way off in the distance).  We missed seeing the black bear, the bobcat, and the river otters.  The great thing is that we had the place to ourselves!  And we had so much fun!
We stopped along the way at the Sandhill Crane exhibit (where two of them came and hung out by us) as there was a geocache.  It was also a great place to stop for some GORP and a drink!
When we got back from our hike, there were 11 deer right outside the window.  After the kids got a good look, I opened the back door to get a picture.  They were GONE in a heartbeat!

One of the hiking destination was to an overlook, that was GROSSLY exaggerated.  The road to it hadn't been plowed, so we did the half-mile walk.  Aside from the deer tracks EVERYWHERE, we were the only footprints (the above picture is on the way back to the van).  It was really nice, and peaceful to walk.  And aside from the geocache at the top, the overlook was opposite a hill that was about 50 yards away, and about the same height as the overlook!  

At the end of the night, after the kids were in bed, Kathee got to sit and (re)read one of her favorite book series, and I was able to start a book I've wanted to read since college, J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism.  
When it came time to pack up and head out (on Saturday morning), the kids thought it better to play in the cupboard than help clean up.  As you can see, they loved it!  All in all, it was a GREAT time away.


auntbonnie said...

SO jealous that you got to stay in grain bins! I am adding them to my Bucket List Of Places To Stay (yes, I have one!). Grain bins! Who knew?

Twilson9608 said...

This looks like a really good time!