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C'mon, We're Going for a Hayride!

3/12/2012
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Let’s face it – most people think of going on a hayride as an autumn activity, along with a roaring bonfire.  But at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge, hayrides and bonfires aren’t just for fall – they’re available most of the spring, summer and early fall! (April 1st-September 29th).

Now where I grew up, in Schuyler County, IL, we have also been known to call a hayride, a “hayrack” ride.  You put bales of hay on a wagon, hitch up a tractor (thank goodness the lodge likes green), and head off for a fun time.  Even though Dan and I have been on the hayride many times, it really is one of our favorite things to do while at Heartland.  Each night after the delicious dinner that only the lodge can serve {another topic for another day}, the conversation turns to the hayride.  The beautiful scenery – and the incredible view of the sunset at the turn-around point – is just waiting for everyone to enjoy.  C’mon, time’s a-wasting if we want to catch the sunset!

Now there are some tools of the trade, so to speak, for enjoying this hour-long ride along the Mississippi River bluffs.  Depending on the weather, long pants are always a smart choice.  And I usually grab a jacket because once the sun goes down, the cool evening air settles in.  But most importantly – don’t forget your camera!  There are some great photo opportunities along the way – beautiful country scenery, a working Elk farm, and the chance to see some wildlife in their natural environment.

hayride deer photoYour guide (or chauffeur, or, in this case, tractor-driver) for the ride knows exactly where you will see the most Whitetail deer and turkey.  He will slow down and stop so everyone has the chance to view the deer in the open fields - sometimes the deer stand perfectly still, waiting for you to take their picture, and other times, all you see is a white tail bouncing through the air.  The working Elk farm is always a highlight of the evening but you may also see a pasture full of horses (Dan’s passion) as well as cattle and Elk grazing on a hillside or grabbing a drink from a pond.  Unfortunately, Dan and I have never seen any turkeys but just as the scenery changes throughout the year, I’m pretty sure, the wildlife scenery does also.  However, we HAVE picked our favorite spot to build our dream home {emphasis on dream} but you’ll have to find yours.

Once you reach the true destination of the hayride, the view is breathtaking.  As the sun is setting in the west, just remember – you are on a bluff-top in Illinois and can see across the river into Missouri!  What a view – the farm ground looks like a checkerboard from this vantage point!  And on a good day, it is amazing how fast the sun will set – it’s almost like you can see it moving.

hayride sunset photoWhat if your stay at the lodge is booked over the July 4th holiday?  Your hayride just became one of the best seats in the area for watching fireworks.  Imagine reaching the turn-around point in time to catch one of the best firework shows in Illinois (and the mid-west) right in Pleasant Hill, IL.  And if one fireworks extravaganza barely whets your appetite, just look to the horizon over the Mississippi River bluffs in MO and catch up to five more firework shows.  I may have to mark this one on the calendar and check it out!

Whether it is your first hayride, or one of many you have taken, it’s an experience you will enjoy.  Not only does the scenery change over the years, so do the guests at the lodge so it’s always fun to visit with new people or catch up with old acquaintances.  And every once in a while, you might even be lucky enough to have the hayride all to yourself – what fun!  So regardless of whom you are sharing your lodge experience with (spouse, best friend, entire family or just you), pack up and join us for a hayride.

Lori Biehl
Thirteen-Year-in-a-Row-Guest

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