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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Campground Review - Lake Ottawa - Memorial Weekend 2007 (part one)

(this is one of series of posts of various campgrounds we have been to over the years... I am going through my files in alphabetical order and posting past camping trips in my blog.... something to do over this long long winter---- sigh)

This review is going to be in four parts.  Two are from 2007 and two are from 2009.  

This campground is the one we end up going to the most often when visiting with family up in Iron River, Michigan. The formal name is Lake Ottawa, but we have always called it Ottawa Lake...   been camping here since I was 10 years old.  I am sure we have camped on each and every site in the park at least 10 times if not more, and I am not kidding.    We have our favorite sites, but take what we can get.

It's close to town for all the ones to run in and out for things, and friends come to visit us too.   Seems once my family get out there, all set up, it's run to town for this, run to town for that... go go goooo   But mostly, Steve and I like to sit and relax at the campground.  Once in a while we will go in on Saturday mornings to hit the rummage sales with the folks if they want.  You listen to the local radio call-in program called Telephone Time and rummage sale people call in to advertise their rummage sales and what they have for sale.  We scribble down the addresses and hop in someones vehicle to go.  Sometimes the women go in one and the guys in another.  We will even meet up at various sales as we make the rounds!  If we bought something too big for my sister's car, we leave it till the guys come along in the truck.  They always do!

Anyhow, back to the campground:   It's a very popular campground, and is often full to capacity on the weekends.  There are only 22 sites total.   We need to send out famly on Thursday to scope out the sites, pay for one and erect a tent on it till we get there mid-day on Friday.  It's a rustic campground with no hookups at the sites, but there is a dump station at the entrance with fresh water if need be.   Also the bathrooms do have flush toilets and cold water sinks.  Not many National Forest campgrounds have that.   They have a sweet little old lady there as campground host.   It used to be run by the Dept of Ag-Forestry division, but now has succumbed to the economic decision to be concessionaire run by a private company.  It's their second year now and they are doing good.

The swimming is good with a nice beach lot of parking and picnic grounds, and lovely log lodge changing house.  You can even rent it for parties with a fireplace and a kitchen area.   The fishing is walleye and bass.  The boat landing is well used and nice access for dumping in the boats.   The campground has sites all well-spaced and plenty of underbrush and fully wooded.  No cell signal, no aircard signal, and I doubt too many satellite dishes can find a signal through the trees.  The campground is wound around on two loops on a sloped side down to the lake shore.  Only 2 or 3 sites actually are lakeside, but mostly it's a wooded park.

Here are the links for the information:

Lake Ottawa campground information

We like site number 17 the best.  The folks head out on Thursday and park far enough back on the site, then we come on Friday and park in front of them.  We of course pay double for the site, but we don't mind.  They make a bit more money but we are also close by for carrying stuff and food and meals.  The folks get half off with their Golden Age passport.  They are $7 and we are $14 per night.

from our rustic campsite 1
 We stayed up here a whole week before Memorial weekend this time, and the folks needed to get out and refill with water and dump tanks, so we did too.  Then when we came back, we switched places.  Mainly because if we ran our generator (located in the back of our rig) the exhaust was coming in the front of their rig and setting off their C0 detector!    Another good reason to swap spaces on our site.   We only ran the generator a few times, to charge up the boat batteries on an auxillary charger and run the vacumn cleaner a bit and our washing machine one day for 2 loads.   Nice to have the generator, but we don't like running it in any campground.  It's a very quiet Onan LP generator, built in, and pretty harmless.  You can't even hear it running if you walk away from the campsite.   But I don't like sitting out and listening to it by our campfire.  Limited use and only if necessary. from our rustic campsite 2

By the weekend, all our family and friends rolled in, and they took up the spaces all around us.....    as they all got set up, we greeted and helped and carried things and started our weekend together.. it was typical U.P. weather for this time of year, sunshine days but cold nights.
 our camping neighbors

The guys love to go out fishing at night for walleye... but if the temps are down in the 30s, you have to dress for the part.  Out on the lake in an open boat at night is pretty danged chilly!    (this is my goofy older brother, remind you of that movie  A Christmas Story?   Where little Ralphie's brother is so bundled up he can't put his arms down? cant move

Although running chain saws in the park is forbidden, the host said we could run one for about an hour...  and the little electric one I gave to my step-dad Lowell is very quiet.  Our site had some trees that had been cut down the previous fall that needed to be cut up and the forestry had never gotten back to take care of it.  So the host said we could do it and use the firewood in our campfire, just not to remove the wood from the park.  No Problem!     Lowell loves my little chainsaw, I gave it to him a few years ago.  What a fun toy!

floridian chain saw man

These are my folks.... Ma and Pa Hall    They stay in Florida in the winters, and come up to Michigan for the summers with their motorhome.  They also own a home up in Michigan too, so the motorhome is just for the travelling in between both places.  They are very thin-blooded and bundle up accordingly.  LOL
 frozen halls

Like I have mentioned previously... FOOD makes up a big part of our camping weekend.   Everyone pitches in.  Ya know the saying about Too Many Cooks?   We welcome the help and the input of anyone who wants to stir the pot, add more seasonings, or take care of the fire.
three chefs

Since it was cold, we did up a big pot of roasts, with everyone tossing in something.  This is a big nesco roaster insert that my brother brings each time.   Add to the table a few salads, loaf of homemade bread, and some dinner rolls ... we were set!   Most of the cooking is done over the campfire.  This is my tripod, that is adjustable up and down for proper cooking temps.  I got custody of it in my divorce in 1991, the one and only thing my welding ex-husband ever made for me!    My sister hauls it around in the back of their pickup truck, as it gets pretty black and sooty from the campfires.  It is collapsible, and makes a great device for our large camping groups.

huge roaster with roasts over fire

Daughter Heather and newly engaged to finace Jesse.   They had been friends for over a year, and her roommate married his brother....  so they all rented a house together as roomies.  Then they fell in *love* ...awwwwwwwww   now they are getting married this October.  How cute!   His family has a cottage nearby, so they came up to visit us at the same time.
jesse and heather

Friends stopped by with the little grandchildren to visit.  This is Logan and Autumn, two little cousins.  Bundled up in true Memorial Day weekend clothing.. heh heh    Told ya it was cold!
knock knock

Grandpa Lowell (my step-dad but we don't like using the name "step" in our family)   is a native Kentuckian.. but enjoys the woods in the U.P. now that he married my mom.  He fits right in our crew and we love him dearly!

Our guys take him out fishing now and he just LOVES that pasttime.  Look at his trophies! 
lowells fish

He needed these pics to send back home... show them folks what fishing really is in the Northwoods.  
 lowells fish 3

Ususally four or five of our guys head out in various boats for nighttime fishing for walleye.  But Lowell is used to turning in about 8 or 9pm   So day time fishing is better for him.  Give him a boat, some bait and a pole--- off he goes!
 mighty fisherman lowell

 This is my Steveio.... the folks up north love to pronounce the silent P in our name... so up north we are all The Pa-Fundtners.. heh he.   Steve is usually the guy who tends the fire, and keeps my sister from overloading it too high.  She likes a BIG fire!   So they battle all weekend over how much to put on.    Brotherinlaw Fuzz had some contruction scrap to get rid of, so they burned it up in the firepit.  We never cook over the commercially processed wood, only the natural firewood. pafundtner

Once the fire burned down to coals, and more real firewood was added, it was time to break out the marshmallows!
roasting marshmallows

Little Autumn, granddaughter of a fellow camping buddy,  who comes out to camp with us a lot.  She is a diabetic, so has to be monitored on exactly what and how much she can have of such treats.  So having ONE Some-more is a BIG deal to her.    She is my little pal.  Even if her grandfather might not be camping with us, they bring her out to see me and sometimes leave her with us so the guys can go fishing.
making somemores

Here is her grandfather, Bob Senior.  We *adopted* him about 10 years ago.  His son sometimes fishes with my brother.  Senior moved up here from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan when he retired from the post office.   He didn't know any other folks to camp with, so we said come on!  Join us!   Now  each time we head up camping, someone is sure to call Senior and let him know where we are going.  Sure Nuff, he tosses in his gear, hooks up his camper and heads on out!

Senior has his bestest buddy, Shadow along.  We call him Federal Express, cause he can get away from that post office man and rush rush rush around much faster!   He also loves to fetch big rocks from underwater, and carry them back up to the campsite.  Just mention the words  ROCK, WATER, LAKE OR SWIM and his is spastic!   We also help take care of him if Senior wants to go fishing.  Because this dog is totally miserable if he knows Senior is out on the lake and he can't go too.  He will howl incessantly if once of us don't take him to our campsite.  Quite a character of a dog!
 senior and shadow

This is my sister Schmoo and brother Butch --- yes, everyone up north has nicknames it seems.  They are really Linda and Steve.   I have a dad named Steve, a brother named Steve, and married a Steve.  See why they need nicknames?   So dad is Wankel, brother is Butch and husband is Pa-Fundtner!   hahahahahaaa

(note the top of the tripod?  those nuts are left loose enough to allow the legs to come outwards to a good distance but not enough to collapse. Underneath the top plate is a pulley for the cable that goes up and down for adjusting the height of the grill) 

sister and brudder
He looks entirely too serious, doesn't he?  It's because he is gearing up his stuff to head out on the lake.  FISHING is on his mind, can't you see that in his eyes?   He is happiest out in the woods.   In the background is my sisters trailer, a Holiday Monitor.

Okay.. next day.. still cold and damp.  So we started up a big ole pot on the fire with a couple hams inside.  When Steveio and I started dating, he said he loved to make soup, but didn't have a soup pot.  Actually he got next to nothing in his divorce, deciding to leave the household intact for his young sons, instead of disturbing the whole thing.  He only left with his clothes in the trunk of the junky car. He left the better car for safer more reliable transport of his sons.   Of course, his ex-wife moved in her lover the very next day. That guy took over the house, the car, the tools, the whole kit n kaboodle.     Poor Steveio.  But if not for that, I would never have met him or have the chance to spend our lives together now!    

But I digress...   He didn't have a soup pot.  So I bought him this one when we started dating.   Now that I married him, I got the soup pot back again!!!    He says sometimes he thinks I married him JUST to get the soup pot back.  LOL
steveios soup pot

Well, those guys went fishing overnight and guess what Steveio caught? 
 Boy oh boy was he ever proud of this fish! 
 steveios walleye 1

  We didn't mount it ... instead, we ATE it! 
steveios walleye 2

By Memorial Day, the sun came out... and things warmed up.  Enough to open the door on the camper, turn off the heater and get in some fresh air and sunshine!  I brought out my spinning wheel and enjoyed the outdoors.
  This is The Life!   
Him=Fishing   Me=Fibernating 
sunny spinning day

(the next post will be part two.. with the YOOPER BLOCK PARTY! )


  1. Interesting blog! I like reading about other peoples adventures.
    Wondering how you write on your pictures? Do you use a special program? I'd appreciate your response. Thank you, Nancy

  2. Hey Joe and Nancy.. thanks for reading my blog! Where in Wisconsin are you from?

    As for the pics... I use a program that came with my Polaroid camera called PhotoImpression from my old camera and now MediaImpression with my newest camera. It lets me write words on, crop, fix, alter, draw, etc on any jpeg photos. If you lived close to me during the summer months I could lend you my disk to install it.


  3. Just ran across you blog today. I don't have time today to go back very far, but I will. I'm enjoying your campground reviews. Fishing in the north woods takes me back many, many years. :)


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