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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!

Sunday, February 08, 2009


It is the middle of the night, so I’m not sitting here with my mini thermos of coffee. I need to wait about another 4 or 5 hours before even I can do that.

But, I knew I wouldn’t get back to sleep and I wanted to brag about two of the best groomer operators I know. We’ll get to that in a minute…gotta give you the background first.

It was up to 40° yesterday and was foggy and misty. Our yard is beginning to take on the appearance of snow sprinkled with huge pepper corns…all the bird seed that has been snow covered is becoming visible. The snow looked like soft serve ice cream. This does not make for good grooming conditions. Riding snowmobiles in this weather can still be OK, but you can’t put a groomer and drag on the trails when it is that warm….so we figured no grooming last night/this early a.m.

But it did finally get below freezing. It’s about 26° right now. I’m not sure what time that happened or when it stopped being foggy and misty, but I do know that Groomer Dan (hubby) and Prez Bob have both left to go grooming…at 12:30 in the a.m. This is dedication if you ask me…and I will toot their horns and be proud of what they do for the sledders and the community.

Bob came ringing our doorbell about midnight and asked Dan if he would take # 9 and hit the Falls trail. Bob was going to take # 10 and head up north, at least to what is called School Bus corners. Between Newberry and this corner is where the trail really takes a beating. The concern is that by the time they have both been on the trail 9 hours or so, it will have started warming up again (supposed to be in the upper 30’s/low 40’s again today, Sunday). They can’t be out on the trail trying to make it smooth when the temps get much above freezing. The snow will ball up and won’t flow through the drag and the trail won’t be like a ribbon. (The Falls trail, #45 on the trail map, is our shortest run and takes about 8-9 hours to groom, #9 North to Pine Stump can take 14 hours or longer to groom, # 9 South to Rexton, Cut River and Trout Lake can take 15 hours or longer to groom and sometimes the operator who grooms that trail has to groom the trail around town and that takes about another 3-4 hours)

There are younger groomer guys that could do the job, but Bob and Dan know how to handle the snow, and get it to flow through the drag after having such a warm up as we did today (assuming the texture IS right…they may not know that for sure till they’ve been out on the trails for a while).

This reminds me of the “old days” of grooming; back when TASA had to rely on bag phones for communication (left a LOT to be desired) and when we had Lam Tracks for groomers. I fondly referred to them as LAME Tracks because they always broke down on the trail. Anyway, Bob would be out grooming and call in the middle of the night for Dan to meet him at such and such a place and "switch places" with him. More often than not, though, a groomer operator does the whole run IF HE WANTS TO and is up for it. (I think this was still going on after TASA got their first New Holland groomer). At that time, the groomers didn’t have a CD player and the tape deck left a lot to be desired (what with all the rough riding). So, the guys had the one radio station they could pull in.

I remember on particular night Bob had called in the middle of the night to give me the trail update and I could hear the jams playing on the radio in the background. He said it helped to keep him awake. After we hung up, I was still able to get in touch with someone at the radio station and asked them to dedicate MACHO MAN to Trail Boss Bob who was out in the middle of nowhere grooming a trail. Bob said it took him quite by surprise when he heard his name come over the radio. Things seemed less hurried and simpler way back then. It must be an age thing for all of us.

I think Bob and Dan kind of miss the way it “use to be” and even that wasn’t more than 6 or 7 years ago. But time passes, things change and we all get older.

One thing that has not changed though is the dedication of Bob and Dan….and as I said I WILL toot horns for them!


  1. I, too, can't sleep tonight and even though I'm in California right now, I appreciate the dedication of Bob and Dan.

  2. SBW, Isn't California a little out of the way to get back to Michigan?? HA! And thanks!

  3. We have dear friends who moved here last summer from Michigan.We thought they are just the next state over. let's run over and see them. Well, eight hours later, we pull into their driveway.


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