The fire crackles as two plump marshmallows singe to toasted perfection while we gaze into the embers beneath. It’s a warm night and we relish in the stillness of the forest with only an owl’s gentle hoots calling to us from the distance. It had been far too long since we had pitched the tent and this was a great night out.
We realized that we could still have the nostalgic camping experience without having to put a lot of preparation into it. Sunset Hill Farm County Park has a campground that is less than fifteen minutes away from our home. It was almost like camping in our backyard. We didn’t have to plan weeks in advance for travel, reservations, food, or packing up our bags for the weekend. After some paperwork with the Valparaiso Parks and Recreation and payment of $15.00, we were setting up our site the very next day after the Friday work day.
Sunset Hill Farm campground is on the property of the county park connecting to challenging hiking trails that loop over an expanse of 238 acres of forest preserve and open prairie. There is also a small functional farm where goats, sheep, and geese sunbath in their pens. For all of our running friends, we would like to emphasize the word hill at this location because a trail run at Sunset Hill Co. Park is an incredible workout.
After making camp, we did a 3 mile run through the Murray Woods and North Prairie, finishing our loop with the ultimate climb back to the campground. It was nice to have some warmer weather to be able to run outside in a T-Shirt and shorts.
Since we had the convenience of camping local, we headed back to the apartment for a quick shower, a delicious meal, and a short walk with the cat before returning to our campsite. As the sun set below the horizon, we got the fire going and took in the moment to reflect on our day. We were the only campers at the park that night and our site was secluded on a trail far from the parking lot along the edge of the forest. It felt like we were the only the humans left in this wild world as we listened to the sounds of nature echoing around us.
This had to be one of our best campfires of all time with just the right conditions to continue throughout the evening. We roasted marshmallows and ate S’mores until the glow faded into the coals. I pushed the dirt from the bottom of the pit over the logs before drenching the remaining flickers with water so we knew that our fire was completely out. The two-person tent was a cozy spot to cuddle together with our books before switching off the flashlights. There’s no place like home, unless you are camping together.