For awhile, Steven and I have been discussing taking a camping trip to do some star photography, but we weren’t able to make it work with our schedule this summer. When I mentioned going to the Galena Halloween Parade this past weekend (more on that later this week!), Steven suggested making that our camping trip! The weather was going to be fantastic for October – sunny with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s – so we were in!
We drove to Apple River Canyon State Park (in Millville, Illinois) on Saturday afternoon. Steven called ahead to make sure we didn’t need to reserve a campsite, and sure enough – plenty were open (although quite a few filled by the night!). It was fun driving around and picking out the perfect site for us. The campgrounds were on top of the canyon, so some butted up to really pretty trails and looked over the canyon!
Ultimately, though, we chose one that was next to a giant field, which we thought would be better for taking the star photos that night (fewer trees in the way).
We used a brand new tent that I picked up on super clearance at ALDI. Another dream camping trip, apart from the star photography one, would be to hike to our campsite, so we wanted a lighter tent than the behemoth we have. The new tent was super easy to set up and worked fantastically! Now all we need to work on is packing lighter, ha ha (<— will probably be easier without a zillion blankets to stay warm!).
After setting up we went to the parade and got back to our campsite just past 11:00 pm. We were still determined to set up a fire (to warm up and eat s’mores!!!) and take the photos.
Steven put his camera on the tripod and used his CamRanger (wireless camera control) to take the shots. We thought we’d take most of them in the open field behind our campsite, but actually really liked the way the photos looked with the trees in them! He played around with exposure time and some other settings, and we also did some light painting with our flashlights for fun.
By the time we moved the camera to field to take the more open pictures we were used to the warmth of the fire and it felt quite a bit colder away from it! We didn’t spend as much time out there, ha ha.
We went to bed a bit after 1:00 am, and it was 47°, with a lower real feel. The temperature definitely dropped over night. We were bundled up in several layers of clothes and blankets and didn’t feel too cold, but struggled to sleep on the hard ground! That is the nice thing about our other tent – it has a blow-up mattress built in to it! I remember both of us being awake in the very early morning and me telling Steven I was going to need to take a nap later in the day, hee hee.
We starting cleaning up the campsite around 9:00 am the next morning. The new tent was super easy to disassemble and put away. Yay! And I am happy to report that we used everything we brought.
After paying the $8 site fee*, we explored the park a bit more before we took off. The rock formations and river looked beautiful in the morning sunlight! We really liked camping there and if we go back, we’d like to take more time to actually hang out on the site. It’s not a huge one, but there are four small trails that I’d like to check out, and it would be fun to spend more time around the camp fire.
This is actually the first time that the two of us have camped together without other people and it was really nice. I’ve been in need of a quiet night away and this was perfect!
*We were interested to find out that payment was on the honor system. The park ranger seemed grateful that we paid. And laughed at camping in the “cold” weather.