Outstanding In Their Field


There are multiple articles that try to explain the difference between price gouging versus supply and demand economics. Now for the reason I bring this up:

For the 2nd year in a row, I parked my combine during harvest and traveled to scenic southern Illinois and Shawnee National Forest. Last year, I wrote about all the wonderful sites we enjoyed and stated that I would return because we missed some points of interest on our list.

This trip we brought Charlie, an American Pit Bull mix my wife Cora has owned for 13 years, since Charlie was a puppy. Bratwurst, a bully mix male, who spent all winter in a kennel after his arrest for vagrancy and homelessness until we adopted him in June, completed the quartet. This year, we rented a cabin on a pond near Lake Egypt. Having never vacationed with dogs before, I figured this trip could be interesting or a disaster.

The dogs enjoyed multiple sites each day. They were attentive and enjoyable on our long hike at Bell Smith Springs Hunter Creek Trail. Charlie rekindled her love of water by dipping in several pools. Bratwurst revealed that he despises water, preferring to circle for miles rather than dip even a toe in the creek.

After the dogs were exercised each day, we took our bikes on the Tunnel Hill Bike Trail, with beautiful scenery through woods and over many unique bridges and trestles over deep valleys.

We took an amazing 3-hour guided tour of the Cache River Wetlands and saw thousand-year-old bald cypress trees. The flying silver carp that splashed us with water kept us cool in the 78-degree temps, as well as providing much entertainment. Had it not been for a recommendation from Andy to see the oldest trees in Illinois where he interned while studying for his master’s degree at SIU, (Southern Illinois University) we would have missed one of the highlights of our trip.

We must return next year. There is more to see and repeat, and Cora is itching to get us on the zipline that goes through the forest canopy.

  1. Back at our cabin, Charlie was able to behave like a beaver in the pond. She even became a lifeguard when she swam 50’ from shore to pull my paddle board to dry land when I appeared to her to be perilously in danger in the deep water.

I took Bratwurst out on the water; he panicked and almost dunked us both. Dogs had been welcomed in the canoes on our wetlands tour earlier, and Bratwurst’s behavior proved that leaving the dogs in the cabin was the correct decision.

On our arrival, I quickly found the travel guides were touting that another total eclipse was coming to southern Illinois with a direct hit for Carbondale on April 8, 2024. We quickly found out that our cabin was available. Since I will not reward price gouging, we did not book a stay for next April. Our $150 cabin for this trip is available for $900/night during the eclipse. I will reason that $200-$300 a night is a reasonable “eclipse premium” and over that is indeed gouging.

I have a few farming acquaintances in the area. I wonder what they would charge me to sleep in the hayloft of their barn for a couple of nights.

There is a very sad addendum to this article about a great vacation for our family of four to Shawnee. Within a week of coming home, Charlie lost her appetite, became incontinent and lethargic. Tests showed typical signs of advanced cancer.

Cora’s sadness for her passing is buffered by the memories of Charlie’s first and only vacation, one that was great fun for her beloved Charlie. She is now the latest of many dogs that will spend forever on the farm.


Charlie’s obituary and picture while at Shawnee

Charlie Wick-Kiefner

Born on June 2, 2010, she was adopted by Cora at 10 weeks from Naperville Humane Society. Charlie loved chasing balls and diving off docks into the water to fetch balls or sticks. She was as an excellent swimmer. She was loved by Cora and slept every night completely under the covers by her side.

Charlie spent most of her life as a city dog on a leash or in a fenced in yard. As a senior dog her owner married a farmer and Charlie became a farm dog. She was able to enjoy truck, combine and tractor rides and complete freedom on the farm to explore.

Charlie never possessed a prey drive and was the kindest soul to everyone she met. The farm allowed her to partake in one of her greatest but most disgusting joys, finding the grossest and most disgusting excrement or rotting carcass and rolling in it. This led to a nightly shower with Cora’s husband, John.

Charlie was laid to rest between two apple trees on the farm that gave her great joy and exercise the last 3 years.

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

Charlie was loved; she will be missed.



July 2024
August 2024
September 2024
October 2024
November 2024
December 2024
January 2025
February 2025
March 2025
April 2025
May 2025
No event found!
Prev Next