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Endless summer in Illinois and beyond

By Jeff Mayfield          Send a link to a friend

[SEPT. 14, 2004]  I hate to tell you this, but I don't know much about what happened in the sports world this past weekend. I have been gone for a couple of days, which is just long enough to get woefully behind in pennant races, college football and the start of the pro football season.

When the weather is 75-85 degrees, I just want it to keep staying nice through September, October and even November if possible. I have been like that since I was a little kid. I loved being outdoors. So, since I can't update you on the state of our local football and baseball teams, I do want to challenge you to get out and take your family on some day or weekend trips in the next few weeks. Some of the places I think are worthy of your venture are:

1. Jack's Fork and Current rivers, Missouri

Travel time is about five to six hours depending on where you go, and you can canoe, go tubing, swimming, fishing, camping, etc. For those who would rather not rough it so much, there are bed and breakfasts, hotels, lodges, and cabins galore to choose from. For those looking more for a family setting, I suggest Discovery Ministries near Eminence, Mo. You can reach them at (573) 226-3213 or

2. Clinton Lake beach

Travel time is about 40 minutes, just east of Clinton, and it will cost you $1 per person to enjoy the beach and bathhouse there. It is a nice sandy beach with a sandy lake bottom that gradually goes out to the buoys, which makes it fun for kids and adults of all ages. The water is still pretty warm over there. There is also the possibility that the marina there will be renting boats next year. Nice concessions, snack bar and restaurant are also at the location. Some tell me that they use a nearby pavilion to grill and have family lunches or dinners.

3. Weldon Springs

Also just east of Clinton, with a travel time of 25-30 minutes from Lincoln. A very nice family place, especially for young families. They have rowboats and paddle boats for rent and a snack bar and a restaurant on the grounds. The lake also has some hiking trails, and there is a very nice campground for those who want to spend the night or the weekend.


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4. Miller Park

In Bloomington-Normal, approximately 40-45 minutes from Lincoln. Features a lake with rentable paddle boats and a cute little zoo that small children can really enjoy. There is also a great playground there; at least my son thinks it is great. You can also pay to play putt-putt golf, and there are lots of places to hike and have picnics.

5. Lake Springfield

Probably takes 30-40 minutes to get there from here. There is a nice beach on the west side, and on the east side is a marina where you can rent jet skis, pontoons and even a huge reunion barge for those wanting a different family reunion idea. There is also an excellent little zoo on the west side, some beautiful gardens and trails, and plenty of places to picnic.

6. Starved Rock

Approximately 1½ to two hours north of Lincoln on U.S. 39 near Oglesby. A great place to go with your family, especially if the kids are in elementary school or beyond. There are great hiking trails with tremendous views of the river. There is lots of history on our Indian heritage and on the early settlers. There are places to camp in the area, and for those who desire, there are nice cabins and a lodge and restaurant. This is one of our family's top destinations.

There are lots of other places out there, but I tried to list those that would not break the bank. There is still plenty of time to get out and let you and your family enjoy God's beautiful creation.

We just got back from a couple of glorious days on the creeks and rivers of the Ozarks, spending one day at Rocky Falls and another day at Bluff Hole. We jumped off rocks, canoed, went inner-tubing, skipped rocks, had picnics, went swimming and overall just had tons of fun. What's more, trips like that create some of the best memories you can ever imagine.

So, go out there and have some fun, but please be careful because it's a jungle out there. Please call me at 737-5903 or e-mail if you would like more information on any of these destinations.

That's it for me… Have a great week, everybody!!!

[Jeff Mayfield]

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