July−The day after the 4th, there were three shiny Winnebagos who met at Emerald Acres in Pearl City, IL: Connetts, Frosts, and Johnsons. After traveling so far and getting all set up, they were tired and hungry so they ventured into Freeport for an Applebee's dinner. On the way back to camp, it had rained hard and they saw a beautiful, double rainbow. No, they didn't get the pot at the end, but they were there to start the weekend for the Cardinal Capers and before they knew, six more shiny Winnebagos came in on Thursday morning: Gastels, Korzuns, Schulzes, Wallins, Watnes, and Wrights.
The wagonmasters (Connett, Gastel, and Johnson) really wanted them to meet Mrs. Mike, so we all grouped together and headed to Freeport, driving by some old homes built in the 1800s to meet her. Her eyes were quite wide when 16 cardinals tried to squeeze into her 4' x 6' entrance, but she was so sweet she sent us all home with some of her homemade potato chips.
Evening came quite fast as all sat around a ring of fire with these sticks made of wire with meat on the end trying to grill their dinner. I think they were all related to those people who live in those "tin" boxes you hear about. Johnson did tell of a naked man in the bathtub with a frog at the end of the tub staring at him. That was after he had eaten his cherry pie—must have been an Irish cherry pie, not an Italian cherry pie this time.
Sometimes you wonder about them as on Friday morning they all come out dressed alike with a cardinal sitting on their shoulders. They all followed each other, ending up in Lena at a place called Torkelson Cheese and all they did was stare at the people behind the glass window busy making cheese. And then, they had enough nerve to purchase some cheese from the people on the other side of the window. One cardinal had to stay back at camp because somehow his key got on the wrong side of the entrance and he couldn't get in. After the cheese was all purchased, they ventured to an old grocery store in Lena that has been converted into a place where they could buy back some memories—called Lena Mercantile. Guess what? They were hungry AGAIN, so the people there felt sorry for them and fed them before sending them on their way. They then went to the Little Cubs field in Freeport where they played Cardinal Capers baseball, throwing these little beanbags through holes. Some gorgeous lady was on the sidelines playing a keyboard with the typical baseball songs. Guess the women were the best as it was 18-6.
Back at camp, the cardinals all sat under a tree and told stories. Had a couple come in who thinks they would like to become a cardinal so they could fly with us. The campground people kept an eye on these cardinals and thought they might be hungry again. They invited us into the barn and fixed some chicken and fish and some funny little balls that were pretty tasty. After that, even though it was 80 degrees, the cardinals sat around another ring of fire watching the lightning bugs and bats flying above and wondering what the heck a "Fart Tender" was. Some folks were beginning to wonder about these cardinals. Connett and Johnson were accused of being a little different as they were the only ones to hear gunshots in the night. Someone then shared some tasty ice cream sandwiches—yep, eating again.
Saturday morning came early and all grouped together again and drove to the "Pickers" place just outside of Freeport. Nobody purchased any junk, but guess what? They purchased more food. Then to downtown Freeport to Union Dairy where some met the "Little Guy" (hamburger) and sure enjoyed him. Across the way, the cardinals met Senator Steve Douglas and President Lincoln. They agreed to take a picture if the cardinals would listen to their Lincoln/Douglas debate presentation, which was excellent and very informative.
Back to camp for another happy hour with Delores and Ginger and back to the "Pickers" for more peaches and a couple of bushes. I guess the cardinals have these happy hours to get happy as they were so excited when it was time to go to Pizza Hut. Dean was very happy as he had this big grin all night—"Something About Ashley" kept hitting on him.
The wagonmasters really felt bad as they didn't let the cardinals have their regular potluck night, so we fed them Sullivan's homemade donuts before all departed for home on Sunday morning. We thank Dean for the ring of firewood and we sure hope that "Jim guy" finally learned how to use that new phone. Maybe we'll learn more next month.
Fly safe Cardinals.
By Barb Watne