A Cabin by the Pond – Carbondale, Illinois

Rustic doesn’t begin to describe the cabin we rented for our honeymoon in Southern Illinois. Rob found it on the Internet and there were few pictures but it sounded good and was close to the Shawnee National Forest.

I know what you are thinking. What about a national park spells honeymoon? Where is the romance? Where is the heat and passion? Those are things we have all the time really. We are passion personified. We don’t need a honeymoon to heat up. However, despite our penchant for unusual romantic spots, we will not be adding this cabin stay to our list of favorites. As Rob summed it up, “ Great sex and a couple good hikes, but the place was a dump.”

The cabin was found on the Internet. It is not rustic – Carbondale and the University of Southern Illinois sit literally minutes away. There is no pond. Not a natural one anyway. And it sits in the middle of a neighborhood. Just a simple not quite A frame cathedral ceiling with one bedroom and a loft.  Sparsely furnished and far short of the fully stocked kitchen (some of the tableware was fast food plastic and the last occupants walked off with the toaster).

Our host, T, greeted us at the nearby gas station and led us to our honeymoon abode. The first thing he did when we arrived was to apologize for the smell. All I could smell was the scent of burning candles, a scent that seeped into some of our clothing even. T then proceeded to show us around with the tour ending in the living room and proudly pointing out the big screen TV and digital channels menu. When Rob pointed out that we don’t watch TV, he offered to lend us DVD’s from his library.


“We’re on our honeymoon,” Rob told him.


“Oh, well do you drink? Plenty of places to buy great wine around here.”


Clearly, a man who knows a thing or two about romance and marriage.

As our stay progressed it became necessary to flip the mattress though we didn’t find it all that much more comfortable. At home we have a king sized bed. There is a line in an Everclear song that talks about king sized beds “plenty room for the real good sex” and that aside, they are comfortable when the two occupants are six foot and nearly so tall.

Rob washed the sheets too. Not because they were spunky – we employ the towel trick to avoid that wet spot thing – but because the rest of the cabin was so filthy that despite T telling us he’d washed the sheets before our arrival, Rob decided not to put much stock in that.


The counters in the kitchen revealed a gray grime when wiped. The stovetop and the kitchen floor were covered in a similar slime. The smell emanated from the fridge region, but despite pulling out both the fridge and the stove, we couldn’t locate the source.

When we were checking out T told Rob that the smell was water in the crawl space but it smelled more like the mouse that died in the vending machine at the high school were I worked last. Just crawled in looking for food, got stuck and died. Nasty smell. I still think there was a dead mouse lodged somewhere under the fridge but that is someone else’s olfactory nightmare now.

The bathroom was also the laundry room, which was nice, we thought, because we could wash our hiking gear before packing up to leave. But when washing the sheets we discovered that the spin cycle cause the washer to bounce – literally – so hard that the top of the machine was dislodged. The trick was to do very small loads. Would have been good to know ahead of time.


Rob was much more dismayed by the state of the cabin than I was. He had not spent the summers in Minnesota that I had as a child. Perham comes to mind. My dad took us to a fishing cabin that was so awful that we all revolted – mom, sibs and me. My dad generally could not have cared less what the troops thought but the next summer we stayed in a much nicer place.

So to me, the cabin by the pond was not the absolute bottom of the vacation chain. Still there are nicer places and we have both come to the conclusion that we are old and need our amenities when we travel.

2 thoughts on “A Cabin by the Pond – Carbondale, Illinois

  1. My idea of camping is a window air conditioner. I’m not one of those people who says I was born in the wrong century, unless I should have been born 300 years in the future. I need my creature comforts.

  2. What great descriptions!! I remember visiting Shawnee–it is absolutely breathtaking — at least in the mid-western terms—

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