A Rendezvous at Isle a la Cache
A few weeks ago we took a step back into the 18th century. We didn’t need a flux capacitor, just a short drive to a local forest preserve and a place known as Isle a la Cache. Isle a la Cache is a 95 acre island and part of The Des Plaines River preservation system. It is thought to be one of the places used by French voyagers in the 1700s to cache the supplies and goods they traded with Native Americans.
Every year at the museum on the island they hold a “Rendezvous”, two days during which history buffs re-enact what life was like for early French Traders. Now we have been to our fair share of re-enactments since we have been residents in Illinois but this one has to be one of my favorites. This was a chance to see life as it might have been not just a battle in period accurate clothing and gear. I enjoyed seeing the actual livelihood re-enactment. It was almost like stepping into the pages of a history book.
So the boys grabbed their fur trader caps some toy muskets and we set off on trip into the past. Before you knew it we were walking through an old outpost with tent shops set up to sell goods made from the traders wares. Around the way we discovered a small band of musicians playing music. then further down by the river a tented settlement with more goods on display. The river had traders paddling their canoes through it to complete the image of a fur trading community in the 1700s.
We were there on the first day of the Rendezvous so we got to watch the preliminary round of the musket competition. All the muskets were either flintlock or matchlock muskets and each contestant had two tries to shoot a gourd placed on a hay stack about 50 yards away. Only half of the contestants were able to make the shot, and day two was going to be even harder as they had to shoot targets floating in the river.
Our last stop of the day was an exhibition on falconry. We were taught how to identify different birds of prey along with how and what they eat (we even got to see them enjoy a few dead mice). Among the birds they had were a red-tailed hawk and a great horned owl. We also learned about bio diversity and how a healthy environment has many different forms of life working together.
We are pretty lucky to have so many preserves and parks around us that offer rich educational opportunities. The Rendezvous is only one, but one I bet we’ll be back at next year.
If you want to know more about Isle a la Cache or plan a visit you can find info here: http://reconnectwithnature.org/preserves-trails/Isle-a-la-Cache