Last weekend we camped at Mauthe Lake campground in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine North State Forest. Mauthe Lake campground is about an hour Northwest of Milwaukee, and two hours from where we live in the Chicago suburbs.
We drove up on Friday night, grabbing a quick dinner in West Bend on the way. Our site among the pines was beautiful, but it did not offer the privacy or quiet that we typically enjoy at other campsites. We heard road noise, loud music and people talking well into the night. The first night was pretty rough for the three of us, but the second night we slept a little better.
On Saturday, Billy’s cousin and her family joined us. After eating some subs for lunch, we hiked the easy 2-mile trail around Mauthe Lake. We spent the late afternoon at the beach while the kids played in the sand. We made pie iron pizzas for dinner and fruit pies for dessert. On Sunday we woke up to rain. After we started a fire, we made Pie Iron Breakfast Sandwiches.
Everett enjoyed playing with his second cousins, and they kept him entertained so Billy and I could relax a bit. We had a nice time and we’re really looking forward to camping with them again!
Recently, we took our first family camping trip with our 9 month old baby, Everett. We weren’t sure if he’d enjoy his first camping experience, so we decided to camp for one night at Thomas Woods Campsite, less than an hour from our home. Thomas Woods is in the Marengo Ridge Conservation Area in Marengo, IL. If you’re looking to camp somewhere scenic and close to the Chicago area, I’d highly recommend Thomas Woods.
Marengo Ridge is just over 800 acres with five miles of hiking trails. Thomas Woods campground offers both car camping and hike in sites. On the early May weekend we camped there were only a handful of sites taken. We chose site 39, but there wasn’t a bad site in the campground.
We had a hard time keeping Everett on the blanket we laid out for him. At this age he just loves to explore and hates being confined (getting him into his car seat is a challenge). Everett spent a lot of time crawling around on the soft moss that covered the ground. He had a blast playing with the rocks, sticks and pinecones scattered about our site.
We took a couple hikes and spotted a good variety of early spring flowers. There were a few lookout points with sweeping views of the grasslands and surrounding farms.
Everett loves to raise his hands to show us that he’s “so big!” We brought along our clip-on high chair and tray, which worked well with the picnic bench at mealtimes.
To our surprise, Everett slept better in our tent than he does in his crib at home. I guess he liked being snuggled up between us in our double sleeping bag.
We packed light for this camping trip and managed to fit all our essentials plus our pup Lacy in my Jetta Sportwagen. We did bring our huge sleeping pads to make sure that Everett got a good night’s sleep. We kept our meals simple as well. We made veggie quesadillas in our pie iron for dinner and egg and cheese sandwiches for breakfast.
Judging by his smiles, I think Everett had a great time. We’re looking forward to our next family camping experience.
- Thomas Woods Campsite website
- Location: 3100 IL-23, Marengo, IL 60152
- Reservations: Call (815) 338-6223, ext. 1200 by 11 am on the Thursday before you camp, or register with the camp host when you arrive.
- Camping fees:
Non-Electric Site: $10 Residents / $15 Non-Residents
Electric RV Only Site: $20 Residents / $30 Non-Residents
Holiday weekend surcharge: $2 Residents; $5 Non-Residents
- Firewood: No outside firewood permitted. Good quality firewood available on-site for $5 a bundle.
- Things to know: Dogs are welcome, though it is not mentioned on the website.
Billy and I just celebrated our second anniversary with a camping trip to Blackhawk Memorial Park in the driftless area of Southwest Wisconsin near the town of Woodford. This is the third time we’ve camped at Blackhawk. It’s the perfect place to find an inexpensive last-minute campsite, even on a holiday weekend.
We pitched our tent on campsite #19, across the Pecatonica river from some cows. At night we saw a few shooting stars that we later found out were part of the Camelopardalids meteor shower.
I’m in the last trimester of my pregnancy, so we did less hiking than usual. We hiked around New Glarus Woods State Park, and then had ice cream nearby at Kennedy’s Ice Cream & Grill.
We used our pie iron to make cornbread, pizza pockets and sausage cheddar biscuits. We also made a veggie breakfast scramble and walking tacos. Can you tell that I have a big appetite lately? I’ll post the recipes soon.
Shortly before our trip, the folks at Coast sent me a free HP550 flashlight to try.
This particular LED flashlight is very bright, making even a dark night seem like daylight. Seriously, use caution and don’t shine it in anyone’s eyes! The HP550 has two brightness settings and an easy to adjust slide focus.
We compared the the HP550 to our Maglite LED flashlight. The HP550 is smaller, 9 ounces lighter and significantly brighter than the Maglite.
The Coast HP550 is available at Walmart for around $60, or enter below to win the one we tested. Good luck and happy camping!
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