The early evening sky couldn’t quite make up its mind.
The early evening sky couldn’t quite make up its mind. Patches of blue glowed to the south, while lightning flashed and thunder rumbled over Goggins Mountain to the north.
In the foreground, spring peepers chirped sweetly from Beaver Pond.
The storm finally won out in a deluge that caused the peepers to pick up their pace, singing in the rain.
I was “roughing it,” sort of, at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. But the weather was no cause for concern; I watched the drama unfold from a rocker on the porch of my cozy camper cabin.
Camper cabins, which offer a comfortable compromise between a housekeeping cabin and a tent, are hot items at four state parks. Johnson’s Shut-Ins and Mark Twain state parks have six camper cabins, Stockton State Park has five and Lake Wappapello State Park has four.
When the campground at Johnson’s Shut-Ins was relocated and rebuilt after the collapse of the AmerenUE Taum Sauk Reservoir in December 2005, six camper cabins were added on a hillside overlooking Beaver Pond.
The two-room cabins have a queen-sized bed in the bedroom and a futon. They have rustic wood furniture, including a dining table and chairs. They have electricity, heating and air conditioning, but do not include water or bathrooms. A central showerhouse and restrooms are a short walk away.
Each cabin has a ceiling fan, microwave/toaster, compact refrigerator and coffee pot. A porch bench and rocker, picnic table, lantern pole, pedestal grill and campfire grill are outside. Guests bring their own cooking and eating utensils, and bedding linens or sleeping bag.
The cabins at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park were built on site, while the cabins at the three other parks were prefabricated then moved to the parks. The pre-made log cabins include a carpeted sleeping loft for the kids.
“The kids really love the lofts,” said Dustin Webb, superintendent at Mark Twain State Park. “We get a lot of folks who come to fish, and family groups once the kids are out of school.” Webb says the cabins were very popular last year and believes additional camper cabins would fill quickly as well. The camper cabins at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park rent for $75, plus tax, per night. Rates at Stockton, Mark Twain and Lake Wappapello state parks are $65 a night, with some parks offering lower prices during the week and in the off-season.