After Nauvoo, we continued our trek West with a few more stops. First up for the day was Charles Mound, Illinois. That would be the highest point in Illinois. One of Hyrum's life goals is to climb the highest points in the United States. He added the caveat that he can't get states next to each other in the same year. He says it's to spare me but I think it is his way of dragging it out as we travel across country every year.
Charles Mound is located on private property and only open to high pointers four weekends a year. We just happened to be passing on an open weekend. We drove out to the middle of nowhere in Illinois, parked our car at the side of the road and trudged up the drive. We passed a cow pasture, soybean fields, a pond, a man on a lawnmower and the other people who had come to hike the Mound, there were quite a few. It was a 2 mile hike round trip and the kids did a great job. They enjoyed looking around and we even found a few wild blackberries to samples. We can now say we've been to the top of Illinois.
After Charles Mound we headed east to the Field of Dreams movie set. The original baseball field and corn field are still there and you can go play a game, have a catch, run the bases or run in the corn. That is of course just what we did. It's all free, though of course there is a handy booth for purchasing memorabilia.
Then we were off so we could make it to Omaha that night. The next day was Sunday so we went to church and drove all day. We pulled into Rocky Mountain National Park around 8:30. We hurried to put up the tent and get a quick dinner before night came.
When we go camping, morning comes early and when the sun rises around 5:30 am it comes really early. We got up and by 9 am we were on our way to the trail head for a 3.5 mile hike. Things started out a little rough for Charlotte but once we got her going she was a hiker extraordinaire. I carried Spencer for the duration of the hike since little legs really slow you down and there was a lot of traffic on the path.
There were three lakes on the trail, Dream Lake, Nymph Lake and Emerald Lake. Each was prettier than the last and Emerald Lake was well worth the extra steep climb at the end. The setting of the clear mountain lake under the mountain ridge was just beautiful.
We were glad we started out early because things began to warm up quite a bit as we made our way down the mountain. We spent the rest of the day chasing the shade from our canopy at our camping site and the kids played with the kids in the site next to us.
That night we had some rain and wind making for a very long night. We found out our tent doesn't do well in the wind as it buckled in on the kids. Thankfully we stayed dry and the made it through without having any serious problems.
The next day we left early under clouds and fog. It was only about 45º when we got on the road and headed out of the park. We saw a large elk enjoying his breakfast once we rose out of the fog.
Our next stop was a lunch stop at Wendy's and the grocery store. Our meal provisions had run short. We then made our way to Vernal and Dinosaur National Monument. It was pretty warm once we got there so we found a camping spot and went back to the visitors center. From there we took the shuttle out the old dinosaur quarry. It was kind of neat to see the place where the dinosaur bones we see in Pittsburgh came from. Charlotte was disappointed because there aren't a lot of dinosaurs put together, just bones in the wall. I don't think I would make it a destination but it was a good place to stop since we had time.
Back at camp, we waded in the Green River for a bit and once it started cooling down we ate dinner and let the kids play for a bit then off the bed. The next day we were back on the road by 8 am and anxious to get to Provo and hot showers.
It was a good trip. I'm glad we stopped and got to see some really neat things. Rocky Mountain National Park is definitely on our list of places to stop again.