2017 – Beeds Lake State Park, Hampton, IA

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.

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

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

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

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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2017 – Horseshoe Lakes Thousand Trails, Clinton, IN

I think we like Horseshoe Lakes Thousand Trails, near Clinton, Indiana better than we liked it on our first visit. When it comes to campgrounds it’s basic real estate: location, location, location. We felt like we got a better site than we had on our previous visit and because of that, we liked the campground better than we did then.

Other reviews are here

Honestly, things are pretty much the same as they were when we were here four years ago and that’s not a bad thing. The setting is beautiful and most of the campsites available to those of us who travel are nice while not the best ones. The best spots with wonderful views of the lakes are taken by long timers. Many of these folks have made lots of upgrades to their sites, turning them into showplaces.

As I said, we liked our site. It sits on a finger of land with drop offs on either side, giving us some really nice separation from those on either side of us. While it isn’t one of the really great spots overlooking a lake, it was one of our favorite spots so far this year.

This being Independence Day weekend there were lots of people around. However, I think I counted two empty spots (although they may well have been due to no-shows). The campground was in great shape and there were some nice events including a “zoo” with interesting animals and a barbecue with the meat provided by the campground.

Our Verizon signal was good and I was able to get 2 of my 3 Dish Network satellites through the trees. We had one low voltage episode in which our Surgeguard cut power to the camper for a few minutes.

This is a pretty campground and we’ll likely return when future travels bring us to western Indiana.

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