Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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This is a trailer park?

Well… yes and no. I spent a day and a half over this long weekend at the Woodhaven Lakes Private Recreational Camping Resort in tiny Sublette, Illinois, about two and a half hours west of Chicago. Before I go too deeply into the objective facts, I need to note one very important thing: the place is gorgeous. When one arrives there, the pace of life slows, the pulse and the blood pressure ease off, and everything becomes cleaner and simpler. But of course, with the word “Resort” in the place’s name, I don’t suppose that should come as much of a surprise.

So what is the difference between this place and all of those trailer parks you’ve seen or heard about? Oh, plenty! The only thing they have in common is that both are filled with mobile homes of one sort or another – park units (such as the one seen here), trailers, RVs, and tents. At Woodhaven Lakes, one owns the land and either brings a mobile home onto it or buys the one that was already there, if there is one. A key difference is that one cannot live there year-round – an individual may only stay for a total of six months out of the year. They do keep track of such things, as there is a gate at the one and only way in and out of the park. This policy has the effect of keeping low-income owners away. I won’t say it keeps them away entirely, as there are a few disreputable trailers to be seen here and there, but it definitely keeps things from getting out of hand.

On-site amenities include a nature center, grocery store, family restaurant, Pizza Hut, swimming pools, workout facilities, library, hardware store, bank, laundromat, and chapel, among other things. There are over 15 miles of walking trails. There are quite a few small lakes on the property and many of the lots back right onto them (as you might imagine, those tend to be far more expensive lots). The speed limit on all roads is 20 mph, and while boats may be put into the lakes, inboard and outboard motors are prohibited, so the place tends to be very quiet almost all the time.

I also scanned through a copy of the park’s monthly newsletter. In addition to the sorts of things you’d expect – special events and so forth, there was also a published list of rule violations. It included things as small as “hinge on shed broken” and included the address of the violation. While that may seem like Big Brother or excessive micromanagement to some, I have to say I’m down with it in this instance.

I was there as a guest in a trailer that was larger than most. It had a living room, kitchen, an upper loft, and a sizable addition. I’m told that well over a dozen have slept there quite comfortably. While I am not considering the purchase of a lot there, a good friend of mine has put in an offer on one (the one pictured here, in fact). The prospective closing date is still a few weeks away, so I won’t say anything more about that until the deal becomes final. But I will say this – if it goes final, I have been told that I will be welcome out there pretty much anytime I’d like, so I will continue to educate myself about the place! As a practical matter, I’m not sure how often I’d actually be able to do that, but it’s nice to have the option. For the record, this unit is a modest single-level park unit with a nice eat-in kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and small living room with a pull-out bed. The previous owners added an enormous deck to the side that probably covers more square footage than the interior of the trailer, so it should be a lovely place to get away from it all. I walked through it with my friend and a real estate agent and it seemed to be in exceptionally good repair.

I can only add that I had no idea a place like Woodhaven Lakes existed. Oh, on top of all that – the place shown here had an asking price of a mere $18,000, so one would think that the final price should be somewhat lower than that. That’s certainly a tiny fraction of the asking price on some of the condos I’d been looking at here in Chicago. Having a place like this as a getaway could certainly make city apartment life a good deal more bearable!

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