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Monday, May 14, 2018

CAMPING VACATION - Day 4 - Black River State Forest: Moving from Castle Mound to rustic camping at East Fork

The weather is not as sunny today as expected.  We even had fog this morning at Castle Mound Campground in the Black River State Forest!  Steve said he doesn't think the weathermen really know what they are doing in this area of the state, especially this Spring. LOL

After some coffee, we tossed the dogs in the Tracker and set out to check on four other campgrounds in the nearby area.  The park ranger was telling us about East Fork campground which is still in the Black River State Forest, just up higher north and more remote and rustic. No hookups, no water, no sewer, just outhouses and a hand pump.  Remote.  It sounds like our kind of place. 

But first we went past Merrillan, with a little city park called Gile.  Very nice and well maintained with a ball diamond, pavilions, nice playgrounds, and on the river next to a waterfall. It was right on the edge of town, and only $15 a night with 30 amp electric. Good to keep in mind, even if just travelling through and you need a place to park.

Then we drove to two county parks called Russel Memorial Park Campground, and East Arbutus County Park. Both are run the by Clark County.   They are mega-parks with over 100 of shoreline sites, rented monthly and seasonally.  Not really our cup of tea, but I bet a lot of folks have fun there.  Close to bars, supper clubs, sporting shops and the ATV trails. Even the river across the way was lined with cottages, all with docks and boats and jet skis.  Thanks, but no thanks.

The skies were lightening up and blue sky with puffy white clouds. The temps were up in the 70's and it was turning into a fine May day!

Then we drove on to the East Fork campground in the Black River State Forest.  Ahhhh this was more like it!  We drove back into rustic woods and tall pines, lining the quiet section of the Black River.  There are only 24 campsites, and one is occupied by a host popup camper, but no host in site.  Off duty on a Monday morning?

There aren't any hookups here, not even a water faucet to fill your tanks, just a green hand water pump like in the old days.  That is okay, we have our fresh water full enough, and our 500 watts of solar panels and four 6volt deep cycle marine battery bank.  We are at charged up at 100% right now. 

We drove down to the end of the loop and were surprised to see about 10 young men in orange vests, all raking the leaves into piles.  They were raking them from the campsites, the roadways and along the ditches.  Boy oh boy were they working hard, and smiling and waving as we drove by.  Then we saw the Warden and the white van from the Corrections Facility.  Ahhhhh they were prisoners on loan for outdoor duty and getting a chance to enjoy the sunshiny day.  Nothing wrong with that at all, and if they are low risk and can behave with one warden watching them, they must not be too dangerous.

We picked out a site we liked at the far end of the loop, number 24.  We had to keep in mind the open sky between the trees, to get the maximum amount of sun exposure for our solar panels if we camp here.

We drove on back to the motorhome, about 20 miles away to Castle Mound, but first stopped at the grocery store on the way for more lettuce and french vanilla coffee creamer.  We were running out! 

We decided to eat up some late breakfast/early lunch so I cooked up some french toast with Italian  bread and I put vanilla and cinnamon in the batter.  No roughing it when it comes to our meals.

Then I fried up some sandwich ham for a bit of protein.  Decadent meal with some homemade maple syrup we bought from a farmer last week.

Time to pack up the rig and head up to the main office building.  There we could pay for the campsite we wanted over in the other unit, as it is all the same part of the state forest.  The office takes charge cards which makes it nicer for us (our Am Ex earns us cash back!)  So we paid her for 2 nights in site 24 and got our tag to hang on the post when we get to the other campground.

We didn't bother hooking up the Tracker for only 20 miles, so I drove it ahead of Steve to the campground.  Stopped to see this young deer messing around on the road.  Many younger yearlings are kicked out now by the does who have new fawns now. They are kinda confused about life on their own and don't realize the dangers of being on the road.  So I took a few pics, then I rolled down my window and lectured him on the need to get OFF the roads!  I always tell deer that, ya know.

We pulled into the campground and the workers now had piles all lined along the road throughout the whole campground!  They were almost done, and the big truck wasn't here yet to pick them up. We had to drive around the leaves, and sometimes over the piles because the road is narrow.  I felt bad! 

We talked to the park ranger worker who was also monitoring their progress. He said the truck broke and the piles would be sitting there overnight. He said drive on through and we waved at the warden at the other side of the workers as well.  I don't think they were too upset that we were messing up a few of their leaf piles.  Here is the motorhome making it's way between the piles.

As we pulled down to the end of the loop what do we see???  ACK!  Another camper had pulled in while we were gone, and which site did they choose??  24 of course!  LOL LOL  Of the 23 other sites they had to choose from, they chose the one we wanted!

They had no idea we had already paid for it back at the main office 20 miles away.  We parked the rig on the side of the road and walked down, near where the prisoners were working.  We decided that site 19 was even better for us with more sky exposure and right up close to the water with a great view.  The only problem was they had about 8 big piles of leaves piled up all in front of the site and in the site as well. 

The nice park ranger said he would get the prisoners back up there to 19 to clear it out. We said we can wait, no problem, no hurry.  They were already down around sites 3 or 4.  He got the warden to come and get them back up the road to clear it out for us!  Ahhhhh  we smiled and waved and hoped they weren't grumbling about it.  They all seemed pretty happy to be out and about in the outdoors, and not too much could wipe the smiles off their faces today.

The rig got backed into place and easy to level, the site is well laid out.  We even have some leftover firewood from the previous campers!  How nice is that?

We called back to the main office and the gal there changed our site number in the computer. She thanked me so their record keeping would be straight. Otherwise they would be paid twice for site 24 and we would probably get a bill for camping in site 19 without a proper registration. 

Ahhhh now this is camping! 

Now it was time to settle back and relax. The corrections van loaded up the guys and tools and left the park.  Now we had it all to ourselves.

We saw a bald eagle flying overhead, a wild turkey right up alongside the road, and a pair of cranes in the river.  There are elk in the area, but we haven't seen one yet. The air was perfect temp and there was just the slightest of breeze.  No mosquitoes.  We sat in the lawn chairs with a few apples and relaxed for the first time in a few days. 

About 2 pm I decided it was time for a NAP!  With all the windows open in the motorhome, the slight breeze was wafting through.   Steve joined me and the dogs on the bed and we all took a nice long afternoon snooze!

We took the dogs for a little walk around the campground. There is a short nature trail with interpretive markers for about half a mile.  We went through the campground and noticed that the trailer on 24 still has nobody around it, and the host site is also quiet with only a popup camper and no cars. So we have the place to ourselves.  No sounds but us and nature. Nice!

Our supper tonight was Steve cooking brats on the grill, some leftover potato salad and some leftover grilled veggies.  All served up alongside of the river at our picnic table.  Food always tastes much better when cooked outdoors.

Just as we were finishing up supper we felt a few drops.  Those danged weathermen were wrong again!!!  They didn't say a word about any rain today.  Sure enough, I checked the earlier report against the current one. Now suddenly we are having rain from 6 pm till 10 or even midnight. 

Sitting out under the awning as it was drizzling was okay for a while.  The dogs huddled under our chairs to stay out of the shower.  As the temps dropped around 7 pm, I felt the dampness set in my bones. I said enough, and went inside to work on my blog.  As I sit here typing on the laptop, I am looking out the windshield at the rain coming down.

So much for our campfire tonight, eh?  Steve covered the wood pile so it would stay dry for tomorrow night we hope.  That is only IF the weathermen are right.  Tee heeeee 

Okay, the blog is done. I am having some trouble with the special DC only power cord that converts from 12v to 19v for my Acer laptop.  I just ordered a new one now from Amazon (while sitting here in the middle of the woods!)   and it will come to our house by the weekend when we get home. I still have regular household power cord and am running it off the inverter.  When we boondock like this without hookups, we try to only use 12 volt DC type stuff if we can. A lot of our lights are 12v LED bulbs too.  I do like to run my curling iron in the morning and sometimes we run the coffee bean grinder as well. The less we run the inverter the better. But we will tonight for some tv before bedtime.

Tomorrow, if it's sunny like they promise, we will probably be fully recharged by 11 or noon.  We may be boondocking, but we sure aren't roughing it. 

Just before hitting "publish" on this, I looked up and saw the folks driving past to the trailer on site 24, and also another car pulled into a site further down in the dark and the rain, and it looks like they will be setting up a tent!  It is now 9pm.  Setting up a tent by their headlights on the car from the looks of it down through the trees.  Oh how well I remember those days of camping!   I suppose if they come and ask for help, we could lend a few umbrellas and a lantern.

I am thankful we are high and dry and comfortable tonight. 


  1. Karen..... something happened three months ago with your blog. No posts show up since then except when I see them on facebook and connect that way. I've tried reloading your blog and everything. Wonder if this is happening with all your readers.

    1. I am still getting around a thousand viewers a day. But I'm not sure if they are coming from people who click through from Facebook or from people who have me on their reading list. I went to the Blogger help files and there are a hundred and sixty people posted complaints about the same thing and no answers yet... I haven't changed any settings so there might be some problem there at blogger? Perhaps you could delete and then re-add my blog to your reading list?

  2. Just noticed that the same issue shows up on your list of blog posts on the right side of your blog.


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