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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!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


It is getting that time of year when Dan and I both have the travel bug. We’d both like nothing better than to load up the tent and the gear and take off. Obviously we’d have to head south! The closer it gets to April, the worse this urge will be.

I think it was in 2003, we were visiting Civil War battlefields and some how ended up on the Natchez Trace Parkway. I am so glad that we did! Dogwood trees were in blossom as well as other trees and flowers that we were unfamiliar with. We were on the Parkway only through a bit of Mississippi but would like to take the whole trip sometime. There were areas where you were able to get out and actually walk the Natchez Trace.

And one of the times that we were coming back through Virginia, we ended up traveling on a mountain highway through the George Washington National Forest. What a beautiful drive it was and the forest campgrounds were so inviting….as were the bear proof trashcans. Read this description and see if it doesn’t sound like heaven;

The 1-million-acre George Washington National Forest is steeped in American and pre-American tradition: a one-time home for Indians, a passageway for pioneers and a battleground during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Today, the forest offers an assortment of recreational experiences in one of the East's largest expanses of pristine land. Available activities include hiking, fishing, backpacking, biking, camping, wildlife viewing, and scenic driving.

Once nearly denuded of all trees, the land making up the forest has sprouted a rich mantle of second-growth hardwoods and hemlocks, which drape the mountains and hills of the Blue Ridge and the Alleghenies. In all, the forest can claim some 40 species of trees and 2,000 species of shrubs and herbaceous plants.

All or parts of six federally designated wildernesses lie within the forest, which is home to at least 70 kinds of amphibian and reptiles, some 200 species of birds, nearly 100 species of freshwater fish, and 55 species of mammals, from squirrels to bears.

More than 900 miles of hiking trails — including 60 miles of the legendary Appalachian Trail — and 2,000 miles of roads crisscross the forest. Large swaths of the forest parallel the idyllic Shenandoah Valley and
Shenandoah National Park,

HOW COULD YOU NOT WANT TO PACK UP AND HEAD THERE??!!!! I may start working out a budget and see if we feel we can take a trip this spring! What is better than hiking and sight seeing all day, then coming back to sit before a campfire in front of your tent? (Yes, we have a camper, but I really prefer the tent!)

It has been hard to go the past 4 years without a vacation, especially when we were use to going some place every April. When we purchased our business in 1992 we kept the campground open year round but by 1996 we decided we wanted AND NEEDED some time for ourselves. 1997 was our first vacation since we moved here in 1992. Prior to that, we had a 3 week vacation every year from 1985 when we got married. It is hard to not have the travel bug!
And the way “they” keep talking about the price of gas this might be the last year we COULD take a “cheap trip” (cheaper to tent camp anyway!).

One of our favorite places to camp is Elkmont Campground in Tennessee. There is a beautiful river that goes through the campground. Twice when we were there we were able to camp right by the river. What a wonderful sound the water makes rushing over rocks and boulders…until about 2 a.m. when that is all you can hear (that and the bears tearing at coolers that dummies left out of their camper or vehicle…that is when you realize just how far away the bathrooms are and just how badly you have to go…that is a story for another time).

There is also one other thing about this campground that is very impressive…yellow sponge mushrooms the size of pop cans. Dan and I were taking the dogs for a walk around the campground and we both about dropped our teeth when we started seeing these HUGE mushrooms! Next thing I knew Dan was picking them. When I realized he had his cap full of mushrooms, I batted the cap on the bottom. The mushrooms went flying in several directions…as did Dan trying to get them back. He didn’t even need to speak. I could tell from the look on his face the first words out of his mouth were going to be “What the hell did you do THAT for??”

I’m one of those people that read the rules and abide by them. Dan expects ME to keep him informed of the rules…which was what I was about to do. One of the rules for being in the Smokey Mountains National Park system is you do NOT pick ANYTHING! It doesn’t specifically say mushrooms but I thought they fell under the category of ANYTHING. Heck, there are even wild ramps (which are wild onions) growing all over the place. This is considered a delicacy to the folks in the area so as I recall from reading the rules, there is a day set aside at a specified area where people can do dig wild ramps.

So, if we some how manage to get to the hills of Tennessee this spring I hope we come back as the same, plain old Yoopers we are and not as some hardened yellow sponge mushroom poachers who made a big monetary contribution to Tennessee. If we cooked them real fast, maybe no one would notice????

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