June 24th, 2013
Last month I had the chance to try something I have never done before – go for an ATV ride. Growing up in Chicago, ATV riding was just not something that was very commonplace. And, even once I moved to Springfield, the opportunity just never really presented itself. That is why I was so very excited to be able to give it a try at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. Not only would I get to try something new and adventurous, I would also get great instruction, luxury accommodations, and pretty much the best meal imaginable. When you stay at Harpole’s Lodge, use of the miles of fun scenic trails comes as part of your stay! If you have your own ATV, you are welcome to bring it (this is a $60 value!). If you don’t, you can arrange to rent one when you make your reservation.
So, I brought my husband with me to the lodge last month. When we checked in, we were given a map of the trails and able to learn a bit about them from Miss Wanda. We spent most of the evening playing pool and watching hockey on the big screen television. Another couple staying at the lodge had been ATV riding that day and told us how much fun they had exploring the trails. After hearing about their experience, we made up our minds to give it a try for ourselves.
It was a wonderful cool spring weekend following the Amazing Girls Getaway and we had just finished a great brunch and were ready to gear up and go for a ride. Having never done an ATV ride, I was a little nervous. I had envisioned us getting lost in the woods or me somehow falling off and embarrassing myself. But, the instructor who familiarized us with the ATVs did an excellent job preparing us. He explained that the lodge has miles and miles of trails that are for beginners and that we would have no trouble finding our way. He told us where to go, what to avoid, and how the ATV would work. The ATV was a little bigger than I had expected and a lot easier to control.
We set out away from the lodge and towards the woods. Central Illinois had gotten a lot of rain in the weeks before and we were careful to stay on higher ground. The spring flowers were in full bloom and I enjoyed meandering past them as I gained the courage to go faster. Once my initial hesitation was gone, it was great to speed through the trails and take in the sights. I had not expected the mud to actually make the trip so fun. On an ordinary day, I don’t believe the trail would have been quite so muddy, but because the recent floods caused the ground to soften, we were able to have a great time riding playing in the mud. At one point I got a little stuck (pretty much my own fault), and my husband had to give me a little push to help me out. We were both laughing hysterically as he got all muddy.
I think the best part of the entire experience was getting to see so many animals in their natural habitat. We were able to see a few deer and many pretty, colorful birds. We had been on the hayride the night before and gotten to see elk and deer, but there was something so much more magical about being on our own out in nature.
As a former city girl with little in the way of outdoorsy experience, I was a little nervous about the whole idea of ATVing, but now I can wholeheartedly endorse it for city girls everywhere! And, my favorite part of the lodge is that after spending a day getting messy out in the woods, I was able to return to a luxury suite, wash up, and relax in front of a beautiful fireplace. The unique combination of adventure and luxury offered at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge is truly second to none.