We were supposed to go to the Smokies. We had reservations for two weeks in Gatlinburg. Now, we’ve been lucky. We’ve done a lot this year. We’ve had big trips to Alabama, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa and Texas. And some smaller trips in between. But about a month ago, Dan and I had “the discussion.” We reviewed our budget, taking into account Christmas and all of the end of the year bills coming up. Plus we had a car repair. Those never come cheap.
After our fiscal “review”, Dan said, “We need to cancel our reservation for Greenbriar. Why don’t you look and make reservations for us at Rend Lake?” My first thought was, “Great. Stupid Ole Rend Lake.” Even though I love Rend Lake. I knew Dan was right, but I couldn’t agree just yet. I hadn’t gone through the five stages of grief. I was stuck in the bargaining stage which is a couple steps away from acceptance. I wasn’t bargaining with Dan, just myself and the numbers in my head.
Well, it took about a day and half, but I did finally accept our fate of a close-to-home five day camping trip at a half-price senior discounted Army Corps of Engineers campground. I even concurred when a nice neighbor commented, “The Smokies will still be there next year.”
So, here we are at Rend Lake. We’ve been here three times before, staying at South Marcum COE campground. This time, in order to keep the excitement alive, we decided to stay at South Sandusky. I have to say, as far as consolation prizes go, it is number one. It’s beautiful here. The sites are really spacious. But, the best thing is the bike trail.
The bike trail is at the beginning of our campground. It is eight miles in one direction and four in the other. The trail is almost all concrete which is so nice. There aren’t any large, gaping dangerous cracks like on some asphalt trails.
Our first day here, after we were all set up, we rode ten miles. With the day’s light dwindling down, we spotted several deer along the trail. Our second morning, we rode from South Sandusky, our current campground, over to the South Marcum campground where we had stayed in the past. This section of the trail ends at South Marcum, so that was the end of the line. We added a bit for a total of twenty miles.
Our third day was met with rain, but not enough to keep us from getting outside some. We visited the small town of Sesser which is just three miles away. The town’s population is 2,000. I’m surprised they didn’t update the sign and add us in. The place seemed deserted except for the trucks that barreled through the main drag.
Things didn’t look so much in disrepair as just empty. Main street was lined with old time stores. Many were empty, but those that weren’t empty were closed even though it was late morning on a weekday. I can’t blame them as it was only Dan and I as far as the eye could see. We stopped by the one antique store which stored a number of items out front. Not sure if “stored” is the right word. It looked as if the stuff was dumped there. In any case, it was only us and a couple of mosquitoes who, by the way, were glad to see us.
There were some bright spots. A “Bagels and Brew” with outside seating. A custard stand which always looks inviting to me. There was an old opera house building which boasted character of long ago. This town is just waiting to happen. Now they do have “Rend Lake Days” and a craft fair in the fall. And we did just miss the “Testicle Festival” – thank heavens. But they need more, and I hope they get it. A bike trail from the Rend Lake campgrounds to the town sounds like a good starting point. But perhaps I am a bit biased.
After feeding the mosquitoes, it was back to Benton for lunch on the square. We ate at The Buzz which was delicious. It’s across from the courthouse, and, not surprisingly, it closes at two. After lunch, we buzzed over to Walmart for some needed supplies. No bike riding this day.
The next couple days were too chilly and windy for much bike riding. With a perfect forecast for the coming weekend, we decided to extend our stay. There was one available full hook-up campsite for Friday and Saturday night in all of Rend Lake land – which is literally hundreds of sites. Someone probably had to cancel. We know what that’s like. In any case, we grabbed the site, so we could stay two more days.
Because of our extended stay, we needed a bit more food. Walmart was 12.4 miles from our campsite; Sesser Foodland was 6.8 miles. We went to Sesser, that Certified City we had visited earlier. Sesser Foodland was a smaller, local store, but it had most anything one could need. There were also some items we didn’t need but sure looked good. If you’re camping at Rend Lake and need groceries, I recommend Sesser Foodland. It’s a nice grocery store.
Of course, we do have to move for our weekend stay. Our next campsite is in the North Sandusky campground, and that’s where we’ll be in my next post. Hope to see you there.