Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Hard to come home

July 07, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Sometimes it really is hard to come home.

In case anybody has noticed, I have been taking a lot of vacation this summer. Here at work we are undergoing a change in vacation policy. In the past we could bankroll days. Starting this year we’ve got a use-it-or-lose-it policy. So all those saved-up vacation days have to be used. And fast.

That’s why there have been a lot less columns and posts out of me this summer.

And that’s why I found myself reluctantly returning to Illinois last night after spending a week in the scenic sand country of west-central Wisconsin. We had gathered for a family vacation near River Falls, Wisc. The trip was fun, even though I never wet a line once (much to the chagrin of Chef Todd). About all we did was sit around, take care of kids, play in the sand, sip on beverages, start fires, play bags and eat cheese curds. And relax.

That part was hard enough to leave.

Harder still for me was leaving the scenery of southeast Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin for the flatlands of Illinois. We gawked at Lake Pepin. We gawked at all the pretty valleys and hills as we drove home. Then part way through Iowa it hit me: There would be no more wooded bluffs stretching as far as you can see. No more clear-running, rock-filled trout streams.

Understand, I enjoy Illinois. I can name plenty of scenic places in this state, plenty of places that I love to visit.

But for some reason it was particularly hard to come home this time to a town stripped of trees and a flatland dominated by corn and beans.

Actually, this is nothing new. Every year I feel the pull to head north or west. And the urge is growing stronger. I spend time pondering moving somewhere with fewer people and more trees. The reality is that day is probably a long way off. There are bills to pay and deep roots here in Illinois.

But there is also vacation to take. Thank goodness for that.

 

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