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A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!

Monday, July 09, 2007

THE CONTINUING STORY OF BEING A CAMPGROUND OWNER

A couple of years ago, we decided to add on to our home. Just about the time that the addition was closed in and we were putting up the last of the drywall sheets (with a jack!), Dan injured his back pretty badly…couple this with the fact at this time his knees were bothering him a lot, he was “out of commission” for a long time. AND two months earlier I had major surgery on my shoulder so I was not a lot of help. He has since had both knees replaced and has his back “in line” but has to be very careful of it, so there are a lot of the finishing touches on the inside that we haven’t completed yet. But the outside is totally done. We have nice new windows, an addition to our bedroom, an “entry way” for our yard and a new smaller bedroom. So now I DO think we ARE done with our building projects…except for maybe a bird house or two!

As I have said in the previous part of this story, there were a lot of improvements/enhancements that people wouldn’t even realize but it still was money put back INTO the park instead of put into OUR lives (for example, a wonderful website, snowmobile trail access that we maintain and pay the State for, membership in various organizations, etc). There is still so much room for expansion here but we are at the age where we are thinking about retirement. AND, it just dawned on us in early May that Dan is only 6 short years away from being 65! Me, I’ve got a ways to go, youngster that I am!

When we purchased “this place” we bought it with the intentions of building it up and then selling it for our retirement. Neither one of us can believe that retirement age for Dan is just around the corner.

During our years as a park owner, we’ve had our share of disappointments, bad surprises, and unexpected pleasures. There have been guests who truly test a person’s patience and customer service skills but fortunately those guests are few and far between. We have guests who come back year after year, who bring us fresh baked bread, gifts from their garden, home made crafts and then we have had guests that we hope we never see again. We’ve got a bulletin board in our lobby with cards, letters, and emails from guests who have enjoyed staying with us. There have been guests who have complained about “all those rules” (this is usually after you have asked them to “tone it down, it is past quiet time”) and we have guests who come back because OF our rules and BECAUSE they know they are enforced. Ya just can’t please everyone. It took me several years for that to really sink in. After I finally came to terms with the concept, I was able to sleep better!

So, if this is beginning to sound like a farewell speech, it is..sort of! In early May, after the light came on about Dan’s age, we decided it was time to think about selling. We are not in any rush for our park to sell. In fact, the first time the realtor called me and said she had someone who wanted to take a look at it, I actually was sick to my stomach! We’re not ready to leave!!! Not yet!!! I probably shouldn’t say “fortunately” but I am going to; fortunately, the persons did not make it for their appointment. So that problem was side stepped for now!

You probably wonder what our plans are for the future, right? We truly hope this does NOT sell until Dan is much closer to 65…and we really don’t know what our plans are! There are things we would like to do; traveling for one. You know how we enjoy our vacations.

And THIS will really seem extremely strange; when we are no longer “tied down” to a job 24/7, 340 days a year (remember, we do have a short period of time we ARE closed between April and May). As it is right now, we can’t go anyplace together. We have to attend functions one of us at a time. We can’t go visit people. I have to time my housework so Dan will be available to answer the phone or attend to guests in the lobby. We are “on call” so to speak all of the time. Do you get the picture? Any vacations that we take have to be taken between the time we close in April and the time we open in May…our choices of places to go at that time are pretty limited! So, yes, it will seem VERY strange to be able to do things TOGETHER and not plan our lives around our business and our guests.

We think we’d like to stay in the Newberry area and remain involved with the Tahquamenon Area Snowmobile Association and the Chamber (I update their calendar of events on the Chamber website). On the other hand, I don’t know if I’d want to be around so close to a business that we have loved for so long, especially if the purchasers didn’t continue where we left off.

We are going to be very “fussy” about who we sell to. We’ve got too much of ourselves put into this place to just turn it over to any one. It is comparable to giving up a baby for adoption, at least for us. You want to make sure it is going to a good and loving family who will nurture it and help it grow.

We are not putting for sale signs on our property and it was NOT supposed to be listed in any local papers. You notice I said SUPPOSED. This past week, in the Newberry News, there was our listing, plain as day. You can bet I called the realtor and told them I was not happy about it, but the damage is done (if one can call it damage). Our reasoning for not advertising locally is because there ARE so many properties for sale in the area and the reason for most of the sales is because they have gone out of business. That is not the case with us and we didn’t want “local tongues wagging” or camping guests assuming the worst. Our decision is purely based on Dan’s age and his legs and back issues.

So, we intend to be here a while yet and now you know the rest of the story!

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