Monthly Archives: July 2017

2017 – Beeds Lake State Park, Hampton, IA

20170719_204403.jpg We were at Beeds Lake State Park in Hampton, Iowa a couple of years ago and I did a review on it then. Things are the same as they were then, so this will be another short review. We had a back in site on our previous visit, but this time we ended up in a “parallel parking” site. We were here before over Independence Day and the place was packed. This time we arrived during the county fair which takes place close by and the place was full once again. Our parallel parking site worked out just fine, although I chose it because it was on the end of the row and with a bit more elbow room than most. The 50 amp electric was solid and restrooms and showers were okay. I had a decent 4G signal until each evening. At that point the signal was strong enough but I think all the fair goers were overloading the system. Because of trees I was unable to get the Dish western arc satellites so I swapped out LNB’s and aimed for the eastern arc which I got with no problems.

Our feeling about Beeds Lake is about the same as it was before: it’s a nice spot if you are okay with electric only, an odd parking setup, and being 10 miles or so off of I35.

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2017 – Cherry Glen ACoE Campground, Ankeny, Iowa

This is our third stay at this campground, so my review will be a short one.

Previous reviews: from 2013 and from 2015.

campground.jpg We actually prefer tailblazing and finding new and interesting places in our travels. However, it is nice to visit family and friends too – and that brings us back to some places again and again. I’ve been reminded that there are advantages to that too. On previous visits we learned the campground and this time we put that knowledge to use as we made advance reservations for a site we knew we would like.

As you might guess, not much has changed since our last visit. The campground is still a great one with big, shady sites. We got one of the sites with water so we didn’t have to fill the fresh water tank upon arrival. The 50 amps came in very handy as we endured some 90 degree days.

One pleasant change is that my Verizon 4G signal is better than on our previous visits. We got a fairly solid 2-3 bars.

The place was packed out over the weekend, but rather empty during the week – something to keep in mind as you consider staying here.

20170717_113740.jpg The Neal Smith trail is still inviting, but not so much with the high temps and humidity.

This place still gets a thumbs up and will be our northern Des Moines campground of choice on our next visit.

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2017 – Touring the John Deere Plant in Moline, IL

20170711_122038.jpg Having seen John Deere tractors and equipment all my life it was fun to see how the combines are manufactured and assembled. We arrived at the plant about 20 minutes before our tour. We were warmly welcomed and offered coffee to drink and invited to take the virtual tour of a combine harvesting corn. It is a completely automatic process from picking the grain to storing it in the bin and transferring it out. The virtual tour explained the functions of all the cameras and buttons in the air conditioned cab that seemed more like the cockpit of a jet plane than farm equipment. Scott said it is nothing like what his family and friends used when he was young. We also got to sit in the cab of the combine in the photo – we were told that that unit as it was sells for around $600,000 and will harvest around 300 acres of corn in a single day! When our tour was called we were led to a cart for a riding tour of the factory. Once inside the factory itself no photos were allowed. Our guide was a volunteer and retired employee. He explained what was happening in each area. At one point we were invited to walk with our guide up a stairs to see the painting process. There are large vats of liquid into which the parts are immersed as they are automatically moved through a series of processes. The paint itself was applied by robotic arms mimicking human motion but moving much faster. However, there were still humans doing touch-up work after the robots finished. We saw the manufacturing process from the cutting of the small parts all the way up seeing finished harvesters waiting to be taken on their first test drive. I recommend this tour. Be sure to get on line and schedule ahead to get on a tour as slots are limited and demand is high.

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2017 – West Lake Park Terrace Campground – Davenport, IA

20170711_183154.jpg This park is a real gem. Close to the Davenport, IA I280 bypass, on a pretty lake, and in a beautiful park. The campsites at West Lake Park Terrace Campground are full hookup, level sites, with gravel pads and concrete patios and lots of nice shade.

Here are a few things you’ll want to know. The water spigots are a distance back from the sites, and two sites share the same spigot, each of which has two hookups. You’ll likely need some extra water hose. Also many of the sewer hookups are at the back of the site so you may need extra sewer hose or at at least pay attention when selecting a site. Also, there are several gates to West Lake Park. If you want Terrace Campground, you want Gate 5.

20170710_152904.jpg This is a no reservations campground. When you arrive you find a site and then go to the office to register and pay. We arrived on an early Monday afternoon and had many sites to select from. By Thursday most sites had been taken but there was still a selection of sites. My guess is that the place pretty much fills up on summer weekends.

Nearby is the water/electric only campground, West Lake Park Summit Campground. You actually register at the office at Gate 5 for that campground as well.

This is a really nice campground and the prices are reasonably low. We’ll remember this one for future stays.

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2017 – Clinton Lake Recreation Area – DeWitt, IL

20170705_151354.jpg Right off let me confess that we didn’t spend a great deal of time at the Clinton Lake Recreation Area campground (near DeWitt, IL). We stayed at the campground while we visited Jackie’s brother, Jim, and sister-in-law, Phyllis and most of our days were spent out and about with them.

This is a really big campground and, again, to be honest we didn’t see much of it beyond the section we were in. There are a variety of sites, ranging from just a few 50 amp full hookup sites to several 30 amp full hook up spots to water/electric to electric only. This facility borders Clinton Lake – a popular area boating and fishing spot. Nearby is a marina and beach. None of the sites in our area, though, bordered the lake. This place is far enough off the beaten track that travelers don’t often find it. The locals, though, fill it up on summer weekends, often in family groups who know just what spots are their favorites.

20170709_195647.jpg The roads are good and the sites are level and spacious. I was under the impression that the electric is an issue. Our power pedestal began acting up and getting hot. One of the campground employees cheerfully changed out the plug and breaker and we were back in business. I had the feeling that it was a common occurrence.

There are a couple of issues you might want to know about. First, the few shower houses with modern facilities are in need of more “TLC.” Also, there are several stinky pit toilets supposedly available closer to the campsites. I can’t imagine anyone using them. Second, my Verizon signal was fair to poor, depending on time of day. Using the signal booster I managed to do most of what I wanted but at times it slowed to a crawl.

All in all, our experience at this campground was a positive one and we will likely return.

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