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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!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


The first family vacation I remember was “coming up north”. To Michiganders, you know that means pretty much any place North of Cadillac, but for my family, it meant arriving at Carp Lake which is about 7 miles from Mackinaw City.

My Mom and Dad didn’t have a lot of money when I was a youngster. I didn’t realize it at the time though, but looking back, I understand that now. So, those vacations had to have been a real treat for them.

I remember being squashed in the backseat of the family car between my grandparents on a trip up north. I remember that Mom and Dad had old, deep purple colored Mercury, but I don’t remember if that was the vehicle I was being squashed in. I DO remember getting in a heap of trouble because I had left several crayons inside the car, backseat, up by the window on that little “ledge” between the top of the back seat and the window. The crayons melted into one, what I thought was a beautiful colored glob. Mom and Dad didn’t share the same positive reception of that colorful glob. Need I say more.

Carp Lake is a small “village” on Lake Paradise. It has always been an escape place for others to come to. There are many cottages and cabins on the lake and many of them were rentals. I’m not so sure about now. Dan and I take a drive through there every once in a while, but it doesn’t look as it did when I was a kid. In fact, I can’t even FIND the cabins we use to stay in. They could have been torn down by now and replaced by a home or a couple of homes.

The cabins we use to stay in were owned by a family from Three Rivers, Michigan (which actually is not too far from where I grew up in Colon). I remember the McKosh’s as being an older couple when I was just a kid (probably age 4). The cabins had a screened in porch, individual bedrooms and most rooms were done in a highly varnished pine and everything smelled like fresh cedar. Each cabin had a boat and there were probably 4 docks on this property. I remember the lake as being a sandy bottom and I remember swimming in the lake; well not so much swimming as splashing around. These are pleasant memories NOW, but as a kid, I was brought up north kicking and screaming…yep, even at age 4.

I don’t remember much about Mackinaw City at that age, but I DO remember taking the ferry boat from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace. The Mighty Mackinac Bridge was not built yet but it had to have been in the works, but I don’t remember seeing any of that. I remember being on the deck of the big, old black and white ferry boat with my Mom and Dad and asking them where Grandpa and Grandma were. They told me they’d gone back to the car. I remember a scared feeling because we were out in the middle of the lake on our way to St. Ignace so HOW could they have gone back to the car??? I asked my Dad about this and he reminded me that the car was on the “boat” too.

I have memories of climbing Castle Rock in St. Ignace, of visiting Indian burial sites, checking out various touristy type shops. Some of the memories I have actually reside in a photo album of my mother’s…black and white photos against black pages of heavy, stiff paper. The photos are held in place by little silver foil type things that must have had glue on the back…or maybe you had to glue them in place. That I can’t tell you.

I’m sure that if we came to St. Ignace, we must’ve also visited Tahquamenon Falls and all the other wonderful places in the area, but at that age, I don’t remember that. I DO remember driving to the Newberry dump to wait and watch for the black bears that would come out around dark to forage for food at the dumpsite. This site was closed many, many years ago.

The next trip that I remember making up north with my mom and dad, was probably about a year later when I was 5. The ONLY thing I remember about this trip was the Mackinac Bridge!!! If you remember, my first experience with getting to St. Ignace was by car ferry, now all of a sudden (or so it seemed to me!) here was this huge bridge! At that time, there was a park underneath the Mackinaw City side of the bridge. What I remember about that park was Mom and Dad showing me the bridge and how it crossed the big lakes to the other side. All I could see was the bridge disappeared into the water on the other side and I did NOT want to go across it in the car! I thought for sure we would all disappear into the water!

They did manage to get me across the Mighty Mac and as much as I wish I could remember that first trip across, I have no memories of the actual crossing or what we did once we got to the Upper Peninsula. I don’t even remember if any set of grandparents were with us that trip or not.

And I don’t remember anymore trips to Carp Lake or Mackinaw City till several years later…and by then I had a little sister. We are 7 years apart in age.

And the next chapter of MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH A BRIDGE will be continued!!!


  1. You have some lovely memories. Family vacations as a kid are loaded with adventures. I'll be watching for more of yours.

  2. My mom and dad kept the same exact kind of photo album! They have both passed now, and I have custody of the album. They still have the little triangles that hold the photo in place, but the glue is drying out and the pictures are falling out.
    I spent my childhood off and on in the U.P. because my dad was in the Air Force. He was stationed at KI Sawyer twice and then was a recruiter in Marquette. And when we weren't living here, we would come up for summer vacation too.
    We are lucky that you did come up here as a kid, otherwise you may not ever have moved here later in your adult life.

  3. Wow! Such fond memories. And you take such lovely pics. too!

  4. Retired One...that is quite a family history you have, how you arrived here I mean. And thank you for knowing how to say just the right thing to make a person feel warm and fuzzy!!!

    Ekanthapadhikan, I've enjoyed looking at some of your photos too!

  5. Joanna, YOU inspire me to dig deep and find those memories.

  6. Thank you for sharing! I love childhood memories and stories. Glad to see your love affair with the Bridge started at a young age ;)

  7. Anonymous9:15 AM

    I still live in St. Joseph County. I grew up in White Pigeon and currently live in Mottville. I too love the Mackinac Bridge.


  8. Anonymous9:18 AM

    Oops forgot to tell you that my husband and I used to rent a home in Rudyard that was owned by a couple from Sturgis. They would rent it out by the week during the summer. They don't do that anymore now that they are both retired and spend more time there. I miss staying there.



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