A Thousand Trails Resort
Address: 970 Green Wing Rd, Amboy, IL 61310
Phone: (815) 857-3860
# of sites: 636
Full hookup price: From $75/night
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Warnings: Rust in water, mosquitos
This is a very well-groomed resort with a lot of family activities. It's on a lake and the fireflies are abundant. The biggest advantages for us were the amount of space between sites, probably 20 feet on many, and the thick green grass throughout the campsites. Amenities include inexpensive laundry facilities, paddle boat and kayak rentals on the lake and plenty of green space.
The number 1 con was the amount of rust in the water. After just 2 days our hoses were brown (see photos) and there were stains in the bathroom toilet, shower and sink, as well as on clothing we washed in our own washing machine, and that was with a brand new water filter on the incoming line. Obviously we had to stop using the water for cooking, drinking, making ice and iced tea and for laundry.
We talked to other campers who said that they had rust damage during past campouts here. When we complained about the rust damage to the manager, he told us we couldn't prove our damage in the photos wasn't already there before we came to his resort. While that may be true, how many people take photos of everything while setting up camp in case there's damage? He refused to give us his insurance information and said that no one had ever complained before.
There are other cons as well. There are over 2,000 sites in this park, and all but 636 camping sites have permanent setups, either trailers and motorhomes set up with full-time hookups, decks, etc., or park model homes. There are as many residents here as the whole town of Amboy, which makes it feel you are camping in town.
This park is very much set up for families with kids. Noise like screaming kids or loud music isn't regulated or limited in hours, and kids were never told to leave the adults-only jacuzzis. Most of the activities were for families as well, not much for adults-only. In fact, there was nothing for adults to do on the grounds in the evening.
Bugs! There were many flies, mosquitoes, gnats and "no seeums" everywhere in the resort when it wasn't raining. We were bit up quite a bit, even by some of the flies and even though we were using Off. I finally started wearing sweat pants and sweaters even when it was hot when I walked the dog to help protect myself, but even then I got bit as they must have crawled up under the clothing. The rain did help, but it only rained a couple of days (though we did get 6 inches over that time).
This is also an expensive resort to stay in. If you aren't Thousand Trails members, the cost of a site with full hookups starts at $75 per night, but our site, with 50 amp electric in the section we were in, was $108/night.
I would highly recommend this park to families with small children (not so much teens) as long as you bring and use your own water. Adults without kids can skip this park unless you have a Thousand Trails membership and it's on the way somewhere else on your trip.
In my personal blog, I recently posted 9 reasons not to become an RV nomad. I received a few responses that left me thinking that perhaps they thought I wasn't enjoying my new nomadic lifestyle. Au contraire. Nadyne and I are very happy to be full-timers. I had wanted to dispel the notion that everything is wonderful on the road. It isn't all great, but most of it is.
So, here are my top 9 reasons to ditch the 9-to-5 and live in an RV on the road:
9. You can visit friends and family all over the country- When we were living in Denver, how many times do you think we visited my brother in Boston or my daughter in Seattle? Two weeks of vacation per year isn't enough time to fly across country to visit all of one's family, especially if that family is scattered from coast to coast like ours is. We left friends behind in Buffalo, NY, when we moved to Las Vegas that we haven't seen in many years, and that has happened after every move we've made. Seeing these folks in person is a priority to us in this new lifestyle.
8. There's a lot less to clean- We down-sized from almost 1700 square feet to just about 360. Yes, we have to clean more often, but it just doesn't take very long.
7. You can take as long as you want to explore nature or other areas of the country- Again, because of limited vacation time, we were forced to severely limit the distance and duration we traveled, and we put off our Yellowstone trip twice for that very reason. When we do make it there, we may stay a month (if we want to). Also, small towns go unexplored when you have a time limit. Some of those towns are well worth visiting, and now we have the time to do that, wherever we are.
6. Enjoy tourist attractions off-season or middle of the week- Another benefit of setting your own schedule is that you can plan to visit highly-popular parks and attractions when they will be less crowded. You can skip all the Spring Break venues in March and the National Parks in July and August. Being able to do tours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is a huge advantage as well.
5. Lower your cost of living- Eliminating debt, as we did, helps a lot, but even eliminating mortgage or rent payments is a big help. Whenever you are strapped for cash, you can boondock (i.e. dry camp or camp without fees or hookups), which makes camping nearly free. Or, you can moochdock by parking your rig in your sister Patty's driveway!
4. You meet like-minded people- Few people understand what life is like on the road like fellow full-timers. In the RV community, life on the road is something travelers have in common, making conversation between random members easy. How many people do you know that can relate to a build-up in the sewer hose or smells of less-than-ideal black water venting? There is much you can learn as well, such as how to get the best drone footage, troubleshooting power outages or the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), or finding out what is needed to install a solar power system.
3. Find solitude often- Even in Colorado, solitude was fleeting. The Denver metro area is comprised of 2.8 million people, most of whom are in the Rocky Mountains on the weekends. I one got up at 4am to drive 2 hours to a trailhead in the Rockies and I arrived to find all the parking spaces were taken. If you are a city dweller, as the bulk of the population is, finding solitude can be next to impossible. Being on the road, however, is the opposite. Solitude, quiet, wide open spaces and the Milky Way are at your fingertips nearly everywhere you go.
2. Increase closeness in your relationship- Most couples who live together in an RV find that getting close is mandatory -- you either become intimate or your relationship fails. There is no such thing as holding onto anger or resentment. You have to work it out, since you'll be seeing a lot of each other. For most loving couples, kindness, empathy and cooperation become second nature. If you don't like your partner, don't move into a confined space together.
1. If you don't like where you live, you can move- There are many reasons you might not like where you park -- overcrowded campground or boondocking area, rowdy campers, excess Interstate noise, approaching severe weather, and more. If you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or irritated by your surroundings, you can move. After all, you're mobile!
Leave comments on any of these reasons, or if you have others to add. We've only been full-time for a couple of months, but we've been preparing for years.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 7 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.