This is where I was for five days last week. This is a lake near CC’s place on the grounds of the Woodhaven Lakes Private Recreational Camping Resort, of which I have written in a few earlier posts. This was my first time there since CC closed on the place, though she’s been out there several times fixing things up. While we did spend some time simply lounging there, enjoying the peace and the clean air, we also used it as a base of operations for day trips to some delightful places.
What’s that? That, my friends, is an alpaca. CC, Wilma, and I spent an afternoon at the Casa de Verde Alpaca Ranch in Marseilles, IL. As you might infer from the angle of this photo, alpacas can be quite friendly towards humans. They recognize and respond to their names and will even touch noses with you if they like you. This particular facility is the 7-acre backyard of the husband and wife team of Bill and Deb.
This is Deb having a moment with Pedro. Deb has followed quite a path to get to where she is – from hairdresser to Chicago parole officer to alpaca rancher! After seeing how wonderful she is with her current charges, it’s hard to imagine her in any other profession.
That’s CC (on the left) holding a little alpaca who is only a couple weeks old. Deb and Bill own over 40 alpacas in all, so the yard can get a little crazy at times – but it’s a good kind of crazy! In case you’re wondering, most of their alpacas would carry 5-figure price tags, though a non-pedigreed one can be had for under a thousand dollars.
Later that afternoon, Deb took us to see her friend (and fellow alpaca rancher) Tana, who does extensive weaving with yarn spun from alpaca fleece. On a hot day, alpacas LOVE to get sprayed with the hose. Here we see Tana fending them off as they clamor for some nice cold water.
Here is Wilma behind the wheel of her Chrysler Sebring convertible, a model (and color) of car that I seem to be mystically linked to when on vacation. Wilma requested that her image not be posted on the internet, so I have obliged by making her look like this week’s suspect on an episode of COPS. We tooled around some in this vehicle, most notably when we went down to Amboy, where we found two wonderful things: 1) A drive-in diner that served the very best lemon slushes in the world; and 2) A video store that was having a going-out-of-business sale. I bought an armload of DVDs for $2.99 each, including A Mighty Wind, State and Main, and Standing in the Shadows of Motown.
We also spent a few hours hiking in Matthiessen State Park. It’s a beautiful place near Utica, IL, only a few miles from the more well known Starved Rock State Park. If you ever go there, be prepared for some serious up-and-down along the trails. This particular gorge was one that CC took a pass on, but she offered to hang onto my camera while I went down there. Yes, that’s me in the center of the picture, trying to keep my footing amidst the mud and water.