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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

CAMPGROUND REVIEW- Chalk Hills Campground and WE Energies Rec Site No. 1

Yayyyyyy... last week, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has finally opened up their campgrounds for camping! It was time to see if we could quick get reservations at one of our favorite little campgrounds along the Menominee River.


Their website on Thursday showed that yes, they were going to be open for the weekend. The owners are very accommodating and let you just email in your reservation, and pay them via check or cash when you get there!

I quickly texted our oldest daughter and her husband and kids to see if they wanted a site as well. We have all been chomping at the bit to go camping but with the covid-19 shut down, it's been difficult to get into the nice quiet remote rustic campgrounds. In Wisconsin, there's been some commercial type campgrounds open, but those are usually crammed together tight with all the fancy amenities and that's just not our type of camping. We like peace and quiet and nature...

Chalk Hills campground is located in NE Wisconsin / UP of Michigan, between Stephenson, Michigan and Amberg, Wisconsin, on Cty Tr K, right over the border into Michigan alongside the Menominee River.

It is a private campground, but very remote. There are only twenty-five sites, each one has electric. Most of them are 30-amp, and five of them are 50 amp. $17 a night.


Water is available at the entrance but it's an unthreaded spigot, per Michigan rules. So if you are going to fill with water when you get there you need to use a "water bandit" which is a rubber clamp on device that allows you to attach a hose to an unthreaded spigot.  Usually under $10 in camping stores.


There are no flush toilets or showers in the park. There are two very clean and neat outhouse pit toilets. Each campsite is spaced far enough apart from the others, a few are even pull through sites. We enjoy sites number 15, 16 and 13 on the north end. Mostly we like site number 15. When we pull in nose first to the West, our door opens out over the beautiful woods. It's kind of a remote site with nobody nearby.  They even have a deal:

ALL SITES ARE $17 PER NIGHT, with a check-out time of 12 noon.
Back by popular demand - stay 5 nights, get 6th consecutive night FREE!


On the other southern end of the park sites number 4 and 5 are pretty nice because then you can get the TV stations on your antenna if you want them. Most of the TV stations in the area fade out during the day, but come in late at night so you have to rescan your TV at night time to pull in better reception.

We were lucky enough to score sites number 16 for ourselves and number 13 for our children / grandchildren in their motorhome.

Because it was such a last minute decision to go camping, we spent most of Thursday quickly restocking our motorhome, dewinterizing the holding tanks, and making sure everything was up to snuff. Steve even did a lube job on the chassis and we started the refrigerator up the day before so things would be cooled down to load groceries.

Early Friday morning we finished loading up the rest of the things that we needed to take along. We did one quick last run to the credit union ATM which happened to bring us past the daycare center. We had permission in advance from our kids to pick up the two oldest grandkids from the daycare. Boy oh boy were they surprised that we were coming to grab them and take them camping with us!! They had no idea we were going camping together for the weekend. It was quite a delightful change of pace from their being isolated at home or just at the daycare during the day. Their parents are essential workers so they have been in the secluded daycare and not out and about or doing anything else with friends or entertainment or at any public facilities.

We popped the kids in the motor home and away we went. 

This Chalk Hills campground is only about 60 miles away to the north of us, so it didn't take long to get there. But co-pilot Clayton fell asleep just as well..



We got to our beautiful campsite and everything was neat as a pin. All of the winter branches and leaves had already been cleared away, the trash cans were lined with new bags, and the campground was ready for a new season of camping.


 I am known on my fiber and camping groups as 
KarenInTheWoods.
Yes, I am. 


We pulled into our campsite which is very nice and roomy. Our kids arrived about an hour later with their motor home and pulled into the adjoining site. It's nice that these two sites are so close together, which is unusual for this campground. It makes it great for a family group to camp together but still maintain two sites.



The relaxing weekend was filled with walks around the campground, playing games of Yahtzee and cribbage, cooking up delightful food, and watching the kids enjoy themselves.  We even baked an apple pie in our motorhome oven!










 It don't get any better than this!



Who needs electronic arcade games when you can play nature's own "Whack-a-Mole" using dried acorn caps and a rubber sledge hammer?



There were only two other RVs in the campground and 3 or 4 tents. That was it for the entire weekend. Things were pretty quiet and we had a lot of time to relax.

Most of the sites in this campground are wooded with low brush in between the campsites. There are a few that are more open and sunny if you wish that for solar or TV reception with a satellite dish.

The cellular signal is somewhat spotty in some areas of the campground. If you walk around with your phone you can see where a limited signal does appear from time to time. But the idea is to get away and relax without electronics. If you really do need to call out or get a signal, you can find it in an emergency.


The grandkids were all excited about sleeping in their tent. They got it all set up, spread out all of their sleeping bags and pillows, and played in it during the day.



But true to form, they all ended up in Grandma and Grandpa's camper each night with their piles of sleeping bags and pillows! of course, that left peace and quiet for their parents over in their motorhome on the other campsite! LOL


Fresh air and sunshine
wears them out.

Nothing could be more joyful than waking up in the morning with three toussle-headed little silly sleepy kids. We had hoped that our other grandkids were going to stop by and visit for the day, we left them messages but didn't hear from them about stopping up for a visit.



On Sunday, our kids packed up their motorhome earlier because it was supposed to be a rainy icky day. A few raindrops were splattering here and there as they were loading up. They took the two younger kids home with them, and left the oldest, Chelsea with us.

We were going to stay a little longer and check out the nearby We Energies Recreational Sites all up and down the Menominee River.

Here is a PDF link to the large map of the entire Wilderness Shore Recreation area that is maintained by them:


Here is a small screen shot 
of the area we were in:


These sites are maintained by the We Energies power company and are part of the reservoir area up and down the river because of their hydroelectric dams. Various campsites are scattered here and there with small groups of sites in each little Recreation Area grouping.

We drove around in the Tracker with our granddaughter Chelsea, and looked at a few of them. We made notes of the various sites that our 38 foot long motorhome could fit on in the future at some of the little groupings.

Our original plan was to get back into the motorhome and drive home that afternoon because the weather was going to be lousy. Much to our surprise, the sun came out, the clouds blew away, and it turned into a beautiful Sunday afternoon!!!!

We drove down to the farthest recreational site on the east shore of the reservoir called Rec Site No 1. What a wonderful beautiful quiet piece of paradise!

There are only four sites in this group with 2 pit toilets. Three of then sites were empty and the fourth one was occupied, but had a tag on that said they would be leaving that afternoon.

We looked at each other and decided that yes, we would spend one more day camping up in the area because the day had turned out so pleasant.  It's so nice to be retired now and have control of our own schedule.

We called ahead to our kids and said we were stealing Chelsea for another day, that she had the bonus of getting another night of camping with us because she chose to ride home with us. Next time it will be Clayton's turn, next time it'll be Claire's turn, and hopefully turns with the other grandchildren as well over the summer.

We drove the Tracker back to Chalk Hills Campground and got our motorhome roadworthy to travel the few miles down to the next campsite along the river.

By the time we got back to the rec site No 1, the people on site 1D were packing up their gear and loading up their big pontoon boat. We pulled into site 1C and just waited with a filled out envelope with our camping fee in it. We just didn't write the site number on the envelope yet because we wanted to be sure they were actually leaving and not deciding to stay another day.

They pulled out a little late by about 4 p.m. We pulled right over into their recently vacated site and dragged over our lawn chairs and took it over ourselves. What a beautiful location! Kinda on a little peninsula jutting out into the water.



The ground is firm and we could see the remnants of a gravel parking pad somewhat underneath the overgrown grass so we knew we had firm ground to park the motor home on. Otherwise we really avoid ever pulling onto a grass campsite.  Especially with rain in the forecast. You may get in, but you may never get out! Not with a 30,000 pound motorhome!!


This site 1A is a little more wooded 
and has a little path to the water. 


Sites 1B and 1C are kind of connected with a beautiful grassy area with tall trees in a park-like setting and a small section of a sandy beach. Great for two families to camp together.  We did see a little bit of poison ivy there, so we thought it was probably best that we take site 1D anyhow.



We finished filling out the exterior of our envelope for 1D, and put our tag on the post, It's only $15 a night, cash or check. Of course there are no amenities or hookups or electric or anything else. It's rustic. But it's absolutely beautiful!

I feel like we were in one of those 
advertisements of "Go RVing" or something....



Chelsea is an avid little fisherwoman and enjoys the challenge of catching fish. One big one kept jumping in the same spot on the river and she said it was taunting her, teasing her to catch it. I bet you that fish jumped ten or twelve times in the same spot over the period of an hour.

Because we were in Michigan, we didn't have any Michigan fishing licenses yet. Children are allowed to fish though, so we only took out one pole for Chelsea to use. We did not want anybody misconstruing that we adults were fishing.


First she used a fishing lure, because of course we didn't have any bait along with us. She cast again and again and again and that danged fish didn't want anything to do with her lure. Grandpa even tried putting a different lure on. That darn fish ignored that lure too.

We cooked up a nice dinner and sat and watched the sun go down over the water.


Chelsea helped cook up a dinner of pasta and sauce, 
along with salads.


We took a little walk with the dogs around the campground after dinner. It was so nice. It's a small place but it was good to get out and stretch our legs


Things were so calm and beautiful. There were a couple families of geese who floated by with their little babies, as well as a family of ducks.

Chelsea found a dragonfly for a pet, but she let it go right away after examining it carefully. She also found a big huge honking crayfish which she also let go again. We asked if she caught a fish --- what would she do with it? She said she would probably let it go cuz she likes catch and release.



We spent the evening playing Yahtzee. That sassy little ten-year-old got 3 yahtzees in one game! We could not believe it. We've never seen that! Her very first shake was a yahtzee, about one-third of the way through she got another Yahtzee, and her very last shake was a yahtzee! Of course she was the "Yahtzee Queen".



She had a hard time keeping her eyes open and she was soon snoozing in the motorhome. It was such a beautiful quiet relaxing evening with no noise - no cars going by - no nothing. Other than the chirping of the crickets and the peaceful sound of a slight breeze whistling through the tall pine trees.


When we camp on rustic sites we don't need electrical hookups. We have 500 watts of solar panels on the roof and four 6 volt batteries hooked up with an inverter to run anything electrical that we wish. Even with our lights and TV and recharging our cell phone, excetera along with the coffee maker and the electric shaver, we only used 3% of our battery power by the next morning.

It got cool during the night, but we don't run the big energy hogging propane furnace. The fan can really draw down batteries fast overnight. When we are camping rustic, we use an Olympian Wave 8 catalytic heater. It does not draw any battery power at all to run--- as it is a convection type heat source that just warms the room.



Here is a blog post of when we installed it
and more details: 

About halfway through the night, the temperature got down in the fifties inside of the motorhome so Steve woke up and lit the heater. We were toasty warm for the rest of the night and into the morning.

On Monday, the sun was shining and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. It was going to get up into the 80's later, but we had a wonderful morning with sitting out and enjoying our coffee in the sunshine. Grandpa made us a delightful breakfast with bacon, pancakes, and even a few waffles in this cast iron waffle maker.


My sister Linda gave it to us as a camping present. You can use it outside on the campfire or just as easily inside setting across the propane burners on the stove.

Chelsea decided it was time to go take care of catching that fish. He was jumping again and teasing and taunting her in the same spot. We went out and walked around the campground looking for a few worms for her. We overturned some rocks and brushed away some piles of pine needles. We found one and a half worms. I'm not going to tell you why we only got half of one of the worms?

She tried again and again to catch that elusive fish and soon her worm and a half were gone.

As a last resort, we opened a can of corn. She tried a few different kernels but that danged fish just wasn't going to be fooled. He did not want to get caught.  All he was interested in was jumping for the mosquitoes and the flies or whatever it was in the air, and he was ignoring anything she was putting in the water at the end of her line and hook.



It was time to put away the fishing pole and start gearing up to get ready to go home.  We wanted to check out the rustic gravel road that left the park on a southeasterly descent back to the main highway, instead of looping back around on the main road that we had come by. It's always best to check these things out in advance before driving down them with the motorhome. So we hopped in the Tracker to take a quick zoom around to check out the condition of the road. It was a gravel road but in fairly good shape with only a few potholes here and there. We were able to see a young bear run across the road, a mama deer with a brand new baby fawn that could barely walk. We sadly saw a mushed turtle, and a big huge golden eagle that had an amazingly huge wingspan of probably three to four feet!

All of these things were within a mile or two of the campground.

Pretty soon it was time to pack up and start heading back home. Another weekend of delightful camping was in the books, along with the bonus of one extra evening at recreational site number 1 from the WE Energies system. We will definitely go back to this campsite again, it's only about 55 miles from home.


6 comments:

  1. looks you it was so much fun! Glad you got to get out and go camping. Fishing can be an exercise in frustration. But She showed persistance, good for her.

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  2. Wow, what a weekend! I've never been a big fan of camping because we always tented, but I bet a motorhome would a much nicer option.

    It's so nice you're able to spend time with the grandchildren (and their parents) again. Take care and stay well!

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  3. What a fun weekend. I'm ready to move and get outside in a relaxed camping atmosphere. I'm thankful for my cousin's RV Park in our hometown, but it's not the same as camping in a natural setting.

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  4. Replies
    1. Awwww thank you for your concern! We just got super busy with house projects and now we are going to load up the camper in the scape for 3 days so I will post more than when it's a real camping trip

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    2. Karen, so glad Flowergirl asked and you posted a response. I too was getting concerned. So glad to hear all is well and we'll hear from you soon.

      Delete

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