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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!

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Almost a year has passed since I started reporting on the Sleeper Lake Fire. Last night, I read through some of my posts from that event, read the comments you left, read the letters and emails that were sent to me, looked at all the photos that I had taken…and it is hard to believe a year has passed.

I have a big, fat folder in my filing cabinet of newspapers, the DNR fire maps, the emails and comments that you sent. It was amazing how many of you were so concerned about the fire and the devastation. I made “online friends” from as far away as Oregon due to the fire. People from Arizona sent messages (and certificates of appreciation) to me via their friends in Paradise. Some of these people have even been in the area since then and have taken the time to stop by and introduce themselves. All of them had some sort of tie to the area. I even became acquainted with a Professor of Photography from Illinois due to the fire. He has been very helpful (and patient) with all of my questions in regards to the best SLR digital camera in my price range. The poor fella has been helping me in that since last year! (Thanks Ernesto!)

We had the opportunity, as you may remember, to have had the Missouri Fire Crew from Mingo with us briefly. You may also remember what an emotional experience that was for us; how honored Dan and I felt to have them here. (We have since found out that during all the flooding in Missouri and other places that the Mingo Job Corp center, where these kids and young adults were from, had been decimated by the flooding.)

We were in the “fly zone” and had Black Hawks and Minnesota tankers flying over head all of the time. We would always try to give them a thumbs up as they flew so close over head. I joked about the pilot of one of the tankers; he was so close I could count the fillings in his teeth. When the fire crew would come back into town at night, Dan and I would try to be outside to give them a thumbs up. People in town would line the streets to hold thank you signs, applaud and give them the thumbs up. There were countless, nameless, volunteers who gave up hours of their lives providing food, water, clothing, DOING LAUNDRY for all of those on the fire line.

I don’t want any of us to forget how fortunate we were. I look at all the ruin in other parts of the U.S. this summer caused by fires and floods and it makes you thankful all over again. Things could have been so much worse for our area.

When you view the area that was the fire, you would never know that it had been less than a year ago. Within weeks of the blaze, lush, green vegetation had sprouted. It is back to being wild country once again.

In case you have never seen the Sleeper Lake Video, here is the link to it. You will want a high speed connection or a lot of time on your hands…but regardless, it is worth the time to view it;


Our thanks again to anyone and everyone who helped in whatever capacity.


  1. Anonymous9:59 AM


    We had lunch last Saturday at the Bay View Inn in Epoufette. There was a photgraph by the cash register and we asked what it was. It was a TRUCK LOAD of Morels that had been picked at the site of the Sleeper Lake fire - Awsome.

    Gaylord and Munising

  2. Ellen,
    I wasn't going to mention the mushrooms because ya know how secretive mushroom hunters can be! Dan and I were NOT any of the ones who found mushrooms there but we know several who did!

  3. Anonymous4:57 PM

    Cathy, I was one of the fire fighters who was there for two weeks last summer. I am from Pa.

    All of us were honored and humbled by the gratitude of the area. We had all been on fires before but never had we ever seen so many people pull together.

    Since that fire, I have checked your site a couple times a week. I found you as a result of the fire. I had been told that you were the one to read; that you were giving up to the minute reports and sharing things from your point of view.

    I have been on two other fires within the past 6 months but no where did we feel as welcome as we did in Newberry, Michigan.

  4. Gus, thanks for taking the time to share with us.

    The Newberry 4th of July parade this year was in homor of everyone who helped with the fire. Even some of the firefighters from wherever were in attendance.

  5. Anonymous9:01 PM


    you're welcome! anytime!

    I was just up at the cabin and came by weekend before last to say hi...but you guys were packed and no one to be found. But no fear, we're returning next week.

  6. ES, You probably can figure out that I still haven't taken the plunge on that camera...YET!

    I'm sorry we missed your visit! If we were packed, we must've been outside trying to make sure everyone was settled in their sites, etc. Hope you stop by again!

  7. It is hard to believe that it has been a year. I remember waking up in the very early hours on the day to the smell of smoke and going through the house making sure there was no fire here. I then looked all around outside trying to find the source. Once daylight arrived, it was clear that there was a big fire somewhere. Outside was the smell of smoke and a noticable haze in the air. And that was here in Paradise! Over the next days we would find ash on our vehicles here and there. And the one place we could always go for an up-to-date report on how things were going, was your site. Thanks again for it.

  8. Theresa, Thanks for the thanks. I hope we never have to do that again.

    BTW, what is going on up in Paradise?? I bet within the past 10 days the Paradise ambulance has gone flying past yere at least 8 times. (Did they ever find that lost man OR his dog??)

  9. Its funny you should ask about the missing hiker, as I just added the latest update I could find to my blog. And yes, his dog came home the other night. Poor thing. If you scroll down a bit, you will also find other updates on him as well. Here is my blog address:


    And yes, things in Paradise are just crazy this past July and now going into August! The latest run from earlier this week was a woman suffering from 'the bends' after diving. Still not sure how that turned out.......


  10. Theresa, I read about the dog coming back in the newspaper. It makes me wonder if the poor thing stayed with the man all that time (I haven't read your updates yet so I'm making assumptions about the missing man). I'm gonna go read your updates now.


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