Serenity surrounded by trees

I’m losing track of states and places and park names. Fortunately, my photo app had no such problem. It told me that I was currently in Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in Barren, Illinois. I didn’t believe it: who names a town ‘Barren’? Doesn’t that seem like it’s just asking for people to be depressed about living there? So I double-checked with my phone and my phone thinks that I’m in Benton, Illinois.

So, yes, not only am I losing track of where I am, my phone and my photos app are equally confused. To make matters even more perplexing, if you search for Barren, Illinois in Apple Maps, it shows you Benton, Illinois.

I finally went to wikipedia, which let me know that Benton and Barren are neighboring townships. Barren has a population of 496 and Benton has a population of 8972. I seriously think that Barren should consider changing their name: it just doesn’t sell the place. On the other hand, maybe it’s an accurate description? But I would guess not, because whether I’m currently located in Benton or Barren (and it’s anyone’s guess, really), this is a very pretty area. And at least I’ve figured out that I’m in Illinois.

The reason that I wasn’t so sure is because when I left Missouri, I intended to do laundry, go grocery shopping, and then drive across Illinois and across Indiana and into Kentucky, which was where I wanted to stop for a few days. But I got off to a late start and then everything took longer than I wanted it to and then, most critically, the rest stop on the highway was closed, and B really needed to go. My choice was to drive another hour to the next rest stop with a whimpering dog at my feet, get off the highway and find a reasonable parking lot with a nice verge of grass, or just say the hell with it and find the nearest campground. I went with the latter.

Seriously, though, the campgrounds are beginning to all blend together. One after another, a different day, a different set of trees. Sometimes water, sometimes not. Sometimes starry skies, sometimes cloudy mornings. I’m going to have to start coming up with some distinctive event for each campground or they’re all just going to be a blur in my memory. In this campground, the distinctive event would definitely be Zelda, bolting through the screen door to chase away an entire herd of deer. She stopped before she went into the woods with them, but I scolded her anyway. I’m trying to convince the dogs to pretend that my screen is actually a door, but they’re just not buying it.

And if I ever come back here, I’m definitely going to try to get campsite #79. It’s spectacularly positioned, set off at the end of a cul-de-sac, with no neighbors, and an amazing lake view. The campground has lots of nice spots, though. I picked mine because there was no one else on this cul-de-sac, but before the night was over, every other spot filled up. But there’s tons of space around the sites, so even though it is definitely technically crowded — almost every site is full, at least in the portion of the campground where I have wandered — it doesn’t feel too crowded.

I suspect during the week it will empty out, too. When I wandered around with Z this afternoon, I could see that almost everyone was leaving on the 22nd. It’s probably going to be really nice and very peaceful here on the 23rd. But I won’t be here to see it, because I’m moving on, too, aiming for Kentucky and then West Virginia and then, within the week, PA. It feels like going home, and I’m looking forward to getting there!