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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, November 03, 2008


(WE ARE BAAACCCKKK!!! Before I go into my vacation tirade I want to let you know that this will be coming in bits and pieces and sometimes could be very detailed. The reason for that is because of sharing every little moment with my Mom who would love to go back to visit Kentucky and Tennessee but cannot. She is taking her vacation via us)

Our well planned, special purse purchased for vacation got off to a screeching halt.

October 18th, we got up early, finished packing stuff in the truck, had breakfast and were putting the finishing touches on leaving our homestead. The furnace happened to come on before I could turn it down…and I smelled fuel oil. This is not supposed to happen.

Some of you may recall all the problems we encountered with our faithful furnace LAST winter (it drove us out of our home a couple of times due to the smell and the blue air in hour home). All I could think of was “Here we go again.” Long story short, Colburn’s Plumbing and Heating (the people we use since they were able to correct last year’s problem) got here about 10:30 a.m. and we were finally on the road by 11 a.m.

As I was making my way into the truck, Dan said “Don’t look back! Just get in the damn truck!” We did alert our neighbor to keep watch of the furnace, etc but it still makes you uneasy to leave when ya just don’t know what will happen (the repairman couldn’t figure out really what was causing it either, but tried a fix for it which I guess has worked).

Dan and I prefer to avoid places like downtown Dayton and stay away from Cincinnati as far as we can, so we took I-75 to 69 ended up in Coldwater, Mi. the first night. The next morning we left the motel (couldn’t find an open campground and didn’t want to set the camper up for one night) about 6 a.m. and continued south on 69, cut across at Anderson, Indiana (I can’t help thinking of an old song when driving this route; “In a little red barn, on a farm, down in Indiana, let me lay my back on a stack of new mown hay.”…beautiful farm ground) We finally made it to the 275 by-pass around Cincinnati….still too busy to suit us! AND, NEITHER ONE OF US REMEMBERED I-75 INTO AND BEYOND LEXINGTON AS BEING 6 AND 8 LANES OF TRAFFIC!~ Us Yoopers aren’t use to that! Dan is an excellent driver and I’m an excellent backseat driver (and map reader) We just get in the middle of all of those lanes and pray our exit is on the side that I, the navigator, think it will be!

We did eventually find the exit for BSF. However, we weren’t able to find the campground that we have stayed at before at Big South Fork. I the past, we were headed into BSF coming from the south headed north. But we finally found one of the modern campgrounds after driving out of our way many miles and a couple of hours (getting dark by now). We arrived via the “back way”; we had pulled into a State Park, I think it is called Pickett State Park (Kentucky) and the bathhouse was NASTY and the sites were not level. We did NOT stay there.

Dan and I arrived at the Bandy Creek campground only to find a sign on the entrance (about 2 miles from the actual entrance drive) that the campground was full. If you’ve ever been to the hills and curves of Kentucky, you know you don’t find a place to just turn a truck and camper around. I told Dan to go into the park anyway; maybe someone had forgotten to change the sign...and they apparently had. There were lots of sites that were open.

I pointed out 3 or 4 very nice, level sites that were within a short distance of the bathhouse. HE finally picked one that was about 1/16th of a mile AWAY from the bathhouse. OK, I thought to myself, anytime I need to get up in the night, guess who is getting up with me. It wasn’t just the concern of bears and the possibility of rattle snakes who might be trying to catch some fading warmth off the pavement, but it only seemed fair to me that he should accompany me on any strolls thru’ the dark. After all, it was his vacation too and I wanted him to enjoy it just as I would.

It was dark by the time we got our little pop up set up and everything put the way we want it so we made our first stroll to the bathhouse. It was still about 60° or better, the stars were coming out and it was a clear, beautiful night…and we were tired but at least we were still speaking to each other and we were having a good time. I told Dan that walking in the dark would be good for his knees and that in a couple of hours or so, we could do it all over again.

Anyway, since it WAS such a nice night and was still warm out, Dan and I didn’t get the sleeping bags out but just the wool blankets (he sleeps in his “bunk” and I sleep in mine). By about 2 a.m. I could see my breath upon exhaling so I did turn the little furnace on…and it was time to make that 1/16th of a mile COLD journey. I wasn’t worried about rattlers getting warm from the pavement anymore….I was concerned about hives and possible frost bite. And, for me, once I’ve basically gotten dressed, taken a jaunt in the frosty air, I have a hard time getting back to sleep, so that second night was a short one for me. Not Dan though. He managed to crawl back into his nest and go back to sleep. How fair is that?

One major thing about BSF is that people use it a LOT for horseback riding. There are a LOT of trails just dedicated to horse and rider. There are even stables in the park that you can board your horse while you camp or you can rent a horse. We noticed the next morning that most of the campers in Bandy Creek campground were horse people. There must have been 30 or 40 horse/camp trailers in the park…NICE rigs. (I think I will have a photo to put with this leg of our journey). And, we figured out that anyone that is tall enough (I think this is including kids age 10 and over) to reach the brake, clutch and gas pedal, see out the side and rear view mirrors of a heavy duty ¾ ton truck KNOWS HOW to back one of these trailers up and sit it on the campsite squarely the first time; no “jockeying” around to get it on that campsite…one shot and they are on their site.
(The photo above is of a horse/camping 5th wheel trailer and their festive Halloween campsite. We found people in Ky really get into that trick or treat stuff!)

So with all of that said I will stop for now and try to include a photo or two of our stay at BSF. One of the photos will be of the horse/camping trailer; another might be of me starting our campfire and the other one of Dan putting green wood on our campfire. I guess at this point I SHOULD explain about the campfire wood we purchased at BSF. Ya get a BIG stack of it and it is all oak; some of it is split, some is not, but all of it was green. If I could have soaked that wood for about 3 days in diesel fuel, I might have been able to get a decent fire going. We carted that wood with us all over Kentucky and part of Tennessee hoping it would dry enough that we could start a campfire without the use of napalm. We did get campfires going, but not without lots of brush, pine needles, pine cones and using a LOT of matches.

(Today will be unloading the camper day, getting groceries and our accumulated mail, laundry, etc so I don’t know if I will have more for you tomorrow or not.)


  1. Glad you are home safe! It is nice to get away but I have found it a lot nicer getting home. Looking forward to your vacation stories.

  2. Camp Runamuk, THANKS! We're glad to have gotten home safely, although not necessarily glad to be back yet! I will admit when I saw the Mighty Mac, I got a lump in my throat (as I always do) and gave God thanks for allowing us to live in da U.P!

  3. Cathy, I, too, am glad you are home safely and also glad to get your blog going again. We are heading to the UP tomorrow and are excited. We're hoping to get up to Whitefish Point for the Fitzgerald service on Monday.

    My husband and I got a GPS unit and that really helps on expressways because it tells you what direction your exits will be-left or right- and then what lane to get in if you need to be left or right on the exit. It really helps in heavy traffic and especially pulling a camper.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.

  4. SBW, we've thought about a GPS but we've heard too many "horror stories" from some of our campers so we haven't made the investment yet.

    Hope you make it to the Fitz service.

  5. I just checked the site for the heck of it, not expecting you back already, and here you are! I love the pics you have posted so far and can't wait to see more!

    On another note, did you hear the news this morning? The gentleman was from Newberry. We are just sick about this and are sending our thoughts & prayers to his family.

  6. Theresa, we did hear about the man from Newberry (I didn't recognize the name). But regardless, prayers and thoughts to the family.

    I will be posting photos with each "entry" so keep checking!


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