- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2020

PROPHETSTOWN, Ill. (AP) - Prophetstown State Recreation Area is Brad Pollock’s home away from home – even though it’s not too far from his real home – so when the 55-year-old realized he couldn’t pitch a tent and sit by campfire along the Rock River, it was quite the bummer.

That all changed as Phase 3 of Illinois’ reopening plan brought about by the COVID-19 health pandemic came to fruition.

“It feels good finally, and I don’t have to worry about it,” said Pollock, glad to get some camping in before he resumes work Sunday at Sterling Steel after a short furlough.

Pollock had his tent, but forgot his pillow, he realized after returning to his tent at 2 a.m. after fishing at the nearby Walker’s Slough. Despite that, he’s glad he got outside.

“It’s just nice to be out here,” he said. “No humidity this weekend. I don’t like being in the tent with that.”



Quarantine was rough on Pollock and his golf game: He spent today practicing his chip shots in front of a nearby dumpster.

“I was distraught over the whole thing,” he said of the COVID-19 restrictions. “I just couldn’t stand the fact of being told what to do. I’m 55 years old, and none of it made sense to me. I think we threw ourselves into a chaotic situation.”

The number of campers was about the same as any other early summer weekend, he said.

Over at Morrison-Rockwood State Park on May 30, about two-thirds of the spots were full. The gnats were out in full force, but that didn’t stop the Mattan family of Port Byron from hauling their Starcraft camper to the park for a weekend away from home.

Brad Mattan has camped at Rockwood before, and enjoys the large lots, and the space between them as well.

“It’s great to get outside with the family and enjoy something besides quarantining yourself,” Mattan said. “We’re enjoying it as just us, we’re not going crazy, but it’s a beautiful weekend for it, that’s for sure.”

He and his wife, son and daughter enjoyed making s’mores over the fire and cooking hot dogs. The kids really needed to get out of the house, he said.

“To actually sit outside by a fire and be somewhere besides the house is pretty nice,” he said.

Rockwood campground host Jane Onken didn’t have to deal with any problems.

“It’s been a great weekend,” she said. “People are having a good time just enjoying themselves. It’s been quiet, and it’s been really good.”

Campers also flocked to White Pines State Park in Mt. Morris, Lowden State Park in Oregon and Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna.

Palisades camp supervisor Jane Dalton thought there would be a little more than the 50 or 60 who took to the park and its more than 200 spots. Still, she gets plenty of walk-ins.

“They’re all very, very happy, and very nice,” Dalton said. “They’re very wonderful.”

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Source: Sauk Valley Media, https://bit.ly/3eNNrT5

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