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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, August 29, 2013


LABOR DAY WEEKEND IS UPON US!!!  That means the camping season for us is about over, so hence another one bites the dust...almost.

It has been a tremendous season; business has been good with almost every business owner I have spoken with.  It has been our best season since 2004.  Yep, it has been a LONG, dry spell.

When it gets this close to time to close (October 11th at noon!) I think back about some of our guests and some of the funny things AND sad things that have happened over the years.  Thankfully, the funny out weigh the sad.

Here are a few of the funny stories from previous posts.  Enjoy!!


In the evening, when things have slowed down, Dan and I set on the couch and watch TV (or at least go through the motions of trying to find something to watch). Due to the way our living room furniture is arranged, we can also watch what is going on in the campground.

I guess it was about 8:30 last night, I saw a skunk trotting across one of the campground roads towards the playground. It stopped a distance of maybe 3 or 4 feet away from the road. It was very visible. It jumped up, spun around and acted like it was playing with something, but we couldn’t see what it might be playing with. THEN we saw the tail go up and we waited for that dreaded aroma….nothing. That tail went straight up so we were very surprised that he hadn’t sprayed at something.

THEN we saw a family (human family that is) walking towards that particular campsite road. There was Mom, Dad and two kids….and the skunk was not that far away from them. There was nothing we could do except watch and pray that they saw the skunk before it was too late! BUT THEY DIDN’T!!! THEY KEPT ON WALKING TOWARDS THE SKUNK!!! And the skunk was not backing away or even moving (as far as we could tell anyway; it IS a bit of a distance). THEY GOT RIGHT UP TO THAT SKUNK!! The skunk still didn’t move and by now Dan and I are very alarmed; is it sick??? Is someone going to get bit?? Sprayed???

We watch in horror as the little girl bends down as if to pet the skunk!! OH MY GOD!!! I know we get a lot of people from the city, but even at that, these people should know about petting strange critters. The parents and kids are standing around the skunk and the little girl picks it up and puts it back down. I’LL BE DAMNED IF THAT SKUNK DIDN’T SPIN AROUND IN A COUPLE OF CIRCLES AND TAKE OFF DOWN THE CAMPGROUND ROAD!!! And no one is screaming, no smell in the air. WHAT A FORTUNATE FAMILY!! By now we’ve got the binoculars out in order to see if this critter looked like it was something that Dan needed to go out and shoot (maybe it was sick or injured)!

I’m glad Dan didn’t go grab the gun; WE would have been the ones left feeling stupid. Well, actually we DO feel stupid. The “skunk” was a large remote controlled truck that was dark in color with a white blaze from front to back!!!

All that spinning around and the raising of the “tail” was actually being controlled by this little girl. I don’t know what caused the truck to ‘rear up’ so it looked like a skunk raising its tail. We got a good laugh about that.

Overnight, Dan must’ve forgotten about the whole episode because when he asked me this morning if I had seen any skunks this morning on my trip to and from the bathhouse, I answered “Nope. And I didn’t see any remote controlled trucks either!”

Or check out THIS post;




GUEST: We took a long ride today. We were at the Soo and watched the ships and then we came back along the lakeshore and ended up in Paradise. All that time we were on the road and didn't see so much as a squirrel!

ME: How are the colors along that drive?

GUEST: Just wonderful! Isn't this supposed to be the Moose Capital or something? The only time we saw anything large was when we were leaving Lake Okeechobee. I saw an elk crossing the road!

ME: Isn’t that lake in Florida? I didn’t know there were elk in Florida!

GUEST: No, this was after we left Copper Harbor. We were over in the western end of the U.P.

ME: There isn’t a Lake Okeechobee in the U.P….could it have been Lake Gogebic?

GUEST: YES!!! That is what it was! Anyway I saw an elk there.

ME: We don’t have elk in the U.P. but there are elk in northern Lower Michigan.

GUEST: Well, it shows elk on the Michigan map of the U.P!

ME: (I have gotten out our Michigan map to show her) See, these are supposed to be moose and these are supposed to be elk (pointing out the symbols on the map to her).

GUEST: OH!!! Well it must have been a moose then! But it didn’t have any horns.

ME: It could have been a young bull or a cow.

GUEST: I KNOW what a cow looks like and that wasn’t a cow! I’ve seen cows before.

ME: A female moose IS called a cow and a male moose is a bull. The same with elk. But deer are called does or bucks. And bears are sows or boars.

GUEST: So I DID see a moose! It must’ve been a female moose! Wait till I tell my grandson!


The following is based on our experiences over the past 17 years. I know there are things I have not covered, but I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that Dan and I are total grumps. We have “grinned and bared it” and ‘sucked it up’ for a long time but after a while, ya do get to a point where you get tired of people not using common sense or having respect for others.

So, with that in mind…here goes!

Dan and I have always been security conscious for our guests. Even before the world got to be such a ‘bad place’ and before you had to worry about your kids or your possessions coming up missing… so we have a HUGE yellow sign at the entrance to our park that basically states that this is a private park and you must be a registered guest or have a visitors pass or permission from the office to be in the campground.

You don’t know how many times we will see people drive in, stop at that sign and read it, and go on in the campground anyway. Sometimes these people, who do not belong here, drive out to the bathhouse and use the facilities. AND there are big, bright yellow signs on the men’s room and the women’s room that state the facilities are for REGISTERED GUESTS ONLY. It is hard enough keeping facilities clean and supplies replenished without having to serve people off the road who pay NOTHING to come in and use the bathrooms. And when you say to them “I saw you stop and read the sign; why didn’t you come to the office before just driving in?” The reason they usually give is “OH! I didn’t think that meant me!” DUH!!!

And then there are the “lookers”. Dan and I don’t mind a bit if someone wants to take a drive through and look at the place…just stop at the office and let us know! Don’t just drive in and tear around the roads…stop at the office! We will give you a campground map so you know what type of sites we have and where they are!

OTHER IRRITANTS (remember this is tongue in cheek!!);

1. Make sure you have a roaring campfire…one that has inferno type flames shooting 6’ in the air and sets the grass on fire. Oh, and make sure you drag in all kinds of brush and wood that is too large for the fire pit ring (because you don’t want to pay $3.00 for campfire wood). Maybe in a couple of days you can get close enough to it to make those S ‘mores…and maybe you can set the woods on fire while you are at it…or at the very least, create enough hot air to launch a balloon!

2. Please make sure to trim the trees. You can always use the green wood and leaves to start that inferno fire. Campground owners intentionally leave shady branches on trees so you can break them off to use for hot dog sticks or making green, stinking fires (NOT). Just think; if everyone trimmed our trees for us to make hot dog sticks or try to start a fire, why how pretty would the trees be???

3. When you checked in and you were given a campground map and were told the regulations were on the back side. Two of the rules were even explained to you so there would be no misinterpretation when you finally took the time to read them. So, when I said “In order to preserve our grass, no rugs or mats of any size or kind are allowed on the ground”, why did you say “My rug is only 3’ x 3’”? What part of NO RUGS OR MATS OF ANY SIZE OR KIND did you not understand??

The other rule that was pointed out was “Do not rope, tie, chain or nail anything to any of the trees or utility pedestals.” So why was it that the first thing you did was to CHAIN your dog to a tree?? Use your bumper or a picnic table. (The reason for this rule is because one time a little boy went running off across the campground to the bathhouse and caught his neck on a low hanging clothesline and got hurt. And this has happened to me when I would be mowing; didn’t see the rope and caught myself across the neck. And it looks butt ugly to see everyone’s laundry and undies hanging out to dry. And most people forget to take the clothesline down when they depart. Dog chains rub the bark off from trees.)

4. Please make sure to put your garbage in your fire pit and then have the nerve to complain about critters of the night visiting your campsite. Also, if you are a tent camper or in a pop up, please make sure to pour your dirty, greasy dish water on the ground or around a tree and then complain about critters and bees being at your campsite. (We offer buckets to all of our tenters and pop up camper guests so they can collect their dish water and either pour it into their fire pit or preferably carry it over to the dump station and dispose of it there).

5. Please make sure to NOT WATCH YOUR KIDS!! We especially enjoy it when there are kids using the $200 volleyball net to swing on like they were monkeys. (But maybe this happens due to the playground swings being overrun by bigger kids or adults?? See # 6 for explanation) Or when they are stuffing their underwear down the toilets in the bathhouse. If they actually manage to flush them down the toilet, that little joke usually costs us about 4 or 5 hours of our time and sometimes a professional is needed to correct the problem. That can cost upwards of $100. Or then there is always the cute kid that manages to lift up the mat in the shower stall, take a poop in the corner, and slam that slotted mat back down over his “left overs”. We really get a hoot out of that.

6. People over the age of 8, please feel free to use the bucket swings that are for toddlers. Disregard the sign that states “IF YOUR BUCKET IS BIGGER THAN THESE BUCKETS, PLEASE STAY OFF.” Adults in particular, if you happen to get your big bucket butt caught, please let us know so we can take photos for our scrapbook. You could use the LARGE SWINGS YA KNOW.

7. Please make sure to allow your pet to run around unattended. Maybe he or she will make friends with some of the locals…like the skunks or porcupines or maybe a wolf or bear. Also, please let your pet poop wherever he or she feels the need. Ya never know what you might find outside your camper door when you return later. We want to make sure nothing of yours is left behind and do our best to make sure your “lost items” are returned safely to your campsite.

8. OH, and SMOKERS!!! Please totally disregard all the signage of NO SMOKING in the bathhouse or Laundromat. We have decided a new approach. What we will do if we smell or see smoke coming from a toilet stall (because that is where you seem to spend your time smoking), we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action and douse the fire. We also find it humorous when you are coming into the office that you put your cigarette butts on the grass instead of in the little butt bucket by the deck.

OK, I'll quit....truly, Dan and I aren't the grumps this makes us sound like. But seriously, do these requests we make of guests seem all that outrageous??

1 comment:

  1. Never a dull moment in your neck of the world, Cathy. So happy it's been a great season for you. 2004 was a long time ago!
    I'm sure you're counting the days til October. In the meantime, I hope the place is full, the weather is perfect and the campers all behave themselves-- the "skunks" too :-)

    xo jj


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