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Sunday, August 30, 2020

A Day With Grandkids Before Going Camping

We are loading up the RV to go camping on Monday. Rather than battling with the Weekend Warriors, us retired folks can take advantage of the nice quiet campgrounds Monday through Thursday. We're not sure where we're going yet, maybe head up along the Michigan Lakeshore and check out a couple of the campgrounds, till we find a place we want to be?

In the meantime, I think I will make a post of a wonderful day spent with three of our grandchildren. I wish we could see more of all of our grandchildren. These three live the closest, so we tend to spend more time with them.

Their daycare center closes up twice a year for a single day, to do a thorough cleaning and reorganization.  Friday was such a day. Parents scramble to find alternative care situations. Fortunately for these three, they got to come to Grandma and Grandpa's house. The means coming over at 6 a.m., their normal drop-off time at the daycare.  We set the alarm clock for 5:45 and soon they were tumbling in the door!

They really enjoy coming here, and our first task was to make a breakfast buffet. That is at their request. We fill up the island with all different choices of things for their breakfast. Ranging from fresh fruit to dry cereal to juices to applesauce (with sprinkles) and hard boiled eggs. It makes for a fun breakfast time, to sit around the table and talk, get caught up on what's going on in their busy lives, and everybody gets to basically eat what they want.

After breakfast, we planned an outing to go for a little hike through the Nature Preserve located behind our home. The rain clouds were threatening to let loose but we thought we would quickly get on our shoes and head out the door before it began.

Here is Clayton helping his little sister Claire get her shoes on. I love it when everybody cooperates and works together so we can get a move on. That's how nice it is when you got kids that can behave and get along with each other.

Here we are getting ready for a little hike. First we sprayed down everybody's ankles and legs with mosquito repellent, because not only are the mosquitoes pesty, there has also been an influx of ticks and chiggers recently in Wisconsin with the unusually warm weather.

Here is the sign at the entrance to the Nature Preserve. It is owned by the Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust. They have some future plans for developing better walking trails and a parking lot area. Honestly, I like it just the way it is. It's rough and rustic and protected so there will never be any development back there or any selling off of the land for future home building. Beyond that is a big swamp marsh that is owned by the Department of Natural Resources. Beyond that is a county road and then the bay waters of Green Bay leading out into Lake Michigan. That means our backyard will always be natural. Not many people even know it's there.  Good for us----

Right at the corner entrance to the preserve, our neighbor has this adorable little cement deer statue. The kids always have to stop and pet it and talk to it. From time to time, on various holidays, he decorates it. Wonder what he's going to do on it for Labor Day?

The trails are wider open at the beginning of the nature preserve, but after you get beyond this point, it gets a little narrower and harder to follow. As we walked along we felt a few different raindrops here and there and we knew our walk might be cut short.

There is a remaining foundation of a big barn that had been burned down back in the 1930s or 40s I think. The kids call it a "Castle" because of the rows of little square shaped window openings that look like ramparts of a castle. Clayton went inside to peek out from one of the openings.

Steve took the picture of this colorful group of hikers out on a quiet Friday morning. I think we represent every color of the rainbow.  Claire found a big feather she played with for the rest of the day, and Chelsea picked me a bouquet of wild flowers.

Not too long after that, the rain started and we needed to trek back indoors for the rest of the morning.

I put little Claire to work wiping down the entire kitchen window sill, after she carefully removed each of the blown glass paperweights. She is such a good little helper and tries so hard to keep up with the big kids. She would rather "help" me with projects than play with toys!

As for the big kids, even though it was drizzling rain on and off, Grandpa put them to work washing off the Saturn. It's still had a lot of dirt and grime on it from the weekend before. What fun for them to get out the brushes and soap and the garden hose. Grandpa said they spent more time trying to spray each other with the hose than taking turns scrubbing the actual car. Who knew?

When they came in and got dried off, it was time to put all of the little glass paperweights back on the windowsill. The older kids helped little Claire rearrange them in whatever silly little order of organizational ideas they had in mind. Sometimes it's by color, sometimes it's by shape, sometimes it's by size.

Bit by bit they got all of the paperweights back on the windowsill. I have been collecting them for years now.  Sometimes at a thrift shop, sometimes from antique stores, sometimes I get them as gifts. Up above those,  I have stained glass suncatchers on the window. It makes for a colorful corner in the kitchen and something to look at when we sit at the table and have our early morning meals.  When the sun is shining, it's soooo colorful!

The rain let up a little bit so the kids went out to harvest some tomatoes for me. I've been getting about a basketful a day. What great helpers to harvest for me.

I have been canning them up as quick as possible. I've been running out of canning jars so I did freeze some quarts in zip lock bags. I don't have a lot of freezer space, so I needed more jars. But my thoughtful son-in-law Waylen found jars available on sale at Menards yesterday, and brought me two cases. I think I'm good to go again?

The rain continued on and off all morning. That was fine with me. We have been bone dry for about two weeks. It seems that like every storm that was coming across the state of Wisconsin would split in half. Part of it will go north of us, and part of it will go south of us, and work right around us out into Lake Michigan. We were getting missed every time! The lawns were starting to turn brown. My rain barrels had been empty for too long. I hate using city water on my plants. So now the rain barrels had a chance to fill up again.

Chelsea was busy at the sewing machine working at projects. While she was doing that, Clayton and Claire were doing a little bird watching out the back windows of the she shed. Those are the Doggie Ottomans for them to sit on, but work great for the little Bird Watchers too.  I love this pic!

I just love their curiosity and inquisitiveness about the birds. By watching with the binoculars, they can look at them up close, while the birds are at the multiple feeders we have hanging in the backyard. Later in the evening, the deer come and hang out too.

Little Claire decided it was time to play a couple games of Yahtzee. So I stopped my sewing projects with Chelsea to get in a couple games with the little stinker.

Can you believe she got two yahtzees?!?! 

She likes going for yahtzees more than going for small straight, large straight or full house. I think the yahtzees are more exciting. Plus they all match! Each time she wins a yahtzee, she insists that she builds the dice up into a little pyramid that she calls a "birthday cake". Why, I have NO idea....

Chelsea had made this beautiful abstract type painting at the daycare a couple weeks ago.  It is painted on a recycled 12 by 12 ceiling tile as her canvas. I had seen her working on it, and I asked her about it, if she was planning to hang it at her house or if we could possibly hang it up here at our house. I felt it showed such an unusual way of painting the Bumblebees. Plus, it matches my favorite shirt!

Chelsea was busy busy busy at her little sewing machine. She got it for Christmas last year and brings it over here to work on projects. She decided to sew little makeup bags for each of the teachers at her daycare center. Some of them are leaving now to go back to college, and some of them are staff that had been there for many years. She sewed and sewed and sewed. She was able to make up 12 little bags to bring over to the daycare that afternoon, when the teachers were all done with their cleaning and reorganizing. Each little bag has a zipper, box pleat ends, and is lined inside. I'm quite proud of her and helped her with some of the top spots. But mostly she sews them all by herself.

Before lunch, it was time for all of us to don our little aprons and get to working on a treat for later that afternoon. The old standby favorite at our house is rice crispy bars.

Everyone takes turns helping out. 

Of course, we have to add sprinkles to them each and every time.

The sprinkles just make them taste so much better, 
as well as make them colorfully fun to eat.

And when we are all done, it's time to lick the spatulas. We had to bring out extra spatulas just to make sure there was enough to go around. I remember when I was a kid, we would be so worried when Mom would be cleaning out the bowl to fill the pans with whatever we were baking, whether it was cakes, cookies, pie filling or whatever. We always wanted to be sure there'd be some left in the bowl for us to take turns scraping out and eating. We never heard of botulism from raw eggs out of cookie dough back then. None of us died. But from that lesson, I've learned that I have to always leave more than enough in the bowl so everybody can have the satisfaction of having a little bit on the end of their spatula.

Pretty soon it was time for little Claire to lay down and take a nap (with me too). Chelsea was going to do some tablet time watching some YouTube, and I took Claire up to the bedroom for a rest. This is when Clayton and Grandpa sat down to whip out a couple more games of Yahtzee between the two of them. Clayton is quite the player, quick and adept at math, and very often he is the winner.

Pretty soon everybody is up and at em, and back together to get their gear organized because they were getting picked up by their parents. Projects were completed, toys were picked up and put away, dishes were done, and hugs were given all around....

After a long day, 
they are gone. 

The house is quiet. 
Too quiet.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

CAMPGROUND REVIEW - WE Energies Rec Site #1 between Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan


We just spent a wonderful time of 3 days and 2 nights at the We Energies Recreational Site number one, which is part of their Wilderness Shores campsite system located along their waterways and dams on the Menominee river.

Their sites stretch from the Chalk Hills Dam area, with site one located between Wausaukee, Wisconsin and Stephenson, Michigan. The rec sites continue all the way north along the river, deep into the UP of Michigan. Here is their website for more information of their other recreational areas.

We stayed at rec area number one:

The nearest cross road to this rec site also has a boat landing with access to get on to what is known as Rosebush Lake. It's actually just a wide spot in the river...

This rec area is set up for camping with 4 sites. It is located just below the big Chalk Hills Dam on County Trunk K and turn south on 356.  There are signs.

These sites are remote and quiet and rustic and tranquil. There are no electrical hook ups, or water available. Be sure your batteries are charged up and your fresh water supply is full. There are only pit toilets so it's nice to have the all of the comforts of home in your RV when you stay here.

There are 2 trash cans available in the spaces of 4 campsites in this rec area. The We Energies workers do stop by from time to time to collect the fees from the pay post and take care of the garbage and cut the grass. Everything is neat and clean.

The sites numbers are 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D. All four sites can accomodate a Big Rig. But the turnaround at the end by site 1A is a bit tight.  If you are pulling a large 5th wheel or drive a long motorhome like ours, sites 1B, 1C and 1D are more ideal. 

We enjoy site 1D the most. It has the most beautiful setting and is flat and level. We can park the big RV near the water on a very firm grass lot.

p.s. that is our sign on the post. We put it there after paying for the site and setting out a few chairs, a tiny tarp tent and some firewood. It held the site until we could come back with the motorhome that we left out on the highway in a parkinglot.  It saved us the extra miles of driving in the rig, only to find out if the site was vacant.  Then we would have had to drive back out to the highway and head on to another campground. 

Next below is a photo of site 1C which is just as nice and has a little opening right into the river from the campsite. 

This is the view from your fire pit at campsite 1C:

Walking down the road a little ways past the pit toilets, you can enter into site 1B. It's a little more wooded, less open, but very peaceful and quiet with shrubbery dividing it from 1A. But if you'd like to camp together with another couple, sites 1B and 1C would be perfect to have to 2 campers close by each other.

The last site 1A is a bit further down this little gravel lane:

Site 1A is at the end of the road with a little turn around loop. It is a quieter site off by itself.  There is a little path leading from the fire pit out to the edge of the water. 1A is not on the water's edge like the rest of them, but when you walk down the little path from the site towards the river, this is only how far you have to go:

When you walk down the path from 1A fire pit and camping area down to the river it is very beautiful in this is what you see. You could even tie up your boat here and keep it overnight, safe and secure, to go back fishing again early in the morning:

There are two pit toilets available for the 4 sites. Everything is neat and clean and well maintained. We prefer to use our own toilet in the RV and utilize our onboard holding tanks instead of the pit toilets, if we can help it.

There are no reservations. It is "1st come 1st serve" and "pay as you stay honor system" at the post. The fee is $15 a night. They will accept checks and if you don't have the proper cash on hand, the sign says that the Rangers that come to visit the park will make change for you if they are around. We've only seen 1 ranger one time while we were here. Otherwise it's pretty quiet. So bring enough cash or write a check. Of course, no credit cards accepted.

These are some of the signs at the main entrance. They are chock full of information that can help you out, and understand the rules for camping here. Click on any photo to enlarge.  Oh... and no ORV's allowed. (off road vehicles like ATV's, side by sides, dirt bikes etc.)  That's nice because then they're not tearing up the lawn or the campsites and it makes it peaceful and quiet for the rest of us.

Here is the little boat landing just across the channel. There is sufficient parking there for probably 10 to 15 trucks and trailers in the lot. The boat landing launching depth appears to be about 4' deep at the edge of end of the pier or dock. We observed people loading and unloading big pontoon boats as well as fishing boats from this landing.

OK, that's our review of the campground for the specifics if anybody's looking to go camping there. 

Now I will talk about the things that we enjoyed while we were there for 3 days and 2 nights:

Here's a couple a typical touristy pictures
 of Steve and I
enjoying ourselves

Of course the campground is dog friendly. On leash at all times.  Binney has given this place her stamp of approval. She looks pretty happy doesn't she?

After we set up camp, it was time for Steveio to relax with a beer or two. The temperature was a perfect 75, slight breeze and no rain in sight.  It's good to see him settle down in a chair and sit still for a bit.  He needs to do more of that. 

We whipped up an easy camping dinner of bratwurst, corn on the cob, cucumber/tomato/onion sweet sour salad. I confess that I did fire up the generator for about 10 minutes to steam some corn on the cob while in the husk in the mircrowave.  But with nobody else around, a little bit of generator time isn't too bad. Ours is pretty quiet and it's a built in propane Onan generator and not obnoxious.

After dinner, we decided to relax around a campfire. Instead of building a big fire in the rock camp fire pit, Steve took out his other toy. This is called the Flame Genie and it is a portable camp fire pit that runs on hardwood pellets!

The pellets are all natural compressed hardwood, so there are no chemicals or harmful toxins. So you can sit around the fire and breathe easily, as well as cook over it if you choose.

We pour on a few cups of pellets every half hour or so.  If Steve puts on too many, it smothers it up and smokes for a while until it ignites again. When we are ready to go to bed, it cools off quickly if we stop adding pellets to it. It usually burns out within half an hour. Then it can be stowed away in our basement compartment so we can go to bed.  

If we only want a campfire for a little while in the evening, I like this better than starting one in the firepit.  It is easier than having one burning all night or leaving burning embers.  

Here is a little video clip I made of it burning. It so enjoyable to watch the flickering flames, that's so fascinating to see how it works:

His is an older model I bought him about 8 or 9 years ago.
Now they are designed a little different:

Flame Genie on Amazon

Around $100 for the smaller one
and $170 for the larger one

We had a very relaxing peaceful evening. Didn't hear a thing, it was quiet and tranquil. We woke up in the morning to a couple sand hill cranes flying overhead and the sounds of some loons. 

Oh the joy of fresh perked coffee and what a view out the windows!!!

Steve whipped us up a wholesome hearty breakfast. That is his specialty to make a nice breakfast when we are camping. Then it's my job to do the dishes...

After breakfast was cleared away I decided to take out my sewing machine and work on some quilting. This is my solar powered sewing machine!  Really, I'm kidding. Actually the sun charges up our five 100 Watt panels up on the roof. They in turn store the energy down into our four 6volt deep cycle marine batteries situated in a basement compartment. From there, we have an inverter that I turn on which changes the 12 V DC current over to 120 VAC current to operate any electrical household appliance.

So I can Sew

What a view! 

The dogs think it's very hard work to be camping. Rest and relaxation are a must. It's really "A Dog's Life" after all.

My quilting friend Judy Delaet from Wausaukee was able to pop over and spend the afternoon with me. She brought some show and tell quilts that she had worked on.  I brought out one that I had worked on, that is from the bed inside of our motor home.

We had such a nice time gabbing away together, the afternoon just flew by. We were treated with the most delightful sunset as the water calmed down on the surface of the river and there wasn't even a lick of breeze.

The colors got sharper and pinker and more purple with a perfect reflection across the water as the sun set behind the trees.  I didn't do any enhancing on this photo, it's just aim and shoot from my cell phone!

This time Steve decided to light a real fire with regular firewood in the provided fire ring of rocks. We like those rock rings so much better than those rusty iron or steel rings that some of the national forest campgrounds use.

We relaxed for the rest of the evening until a few stray raindrops started. Then it was time to tuck away our things and put away our lawn chairs, and listen to the rain on the roof.

It only rained for a short time but it was well after our bedtime, so it was good to go to sleep. Peace and quiet all around with no noises or anything. It was total heaven. 


We woke up this morning and started perking the coffee. The dogs got out and about and we took a little walk. But the weather report isn't looking too good. It's going to be very hot and very humid. Our solar is not adequate to run the two air conditioning units on the roof of the motor home. To run those, we would have to start up the generator. Who wants to camp with the generator running for hours on end? Just to have air conditioning?

For that matter, who wants to camp next to somebody with a generator running for hours on end? So not only would we NOT want to do it ourselves, but we wouldn't want to impose it on anyone else either.  Not that there was anyone else around, but if someone came, they might be turned off by our generator and go somewhere else.  I would not want to be the cause of someone missing out on such a great camping location. 

I did do a little more sewing this morning and finished up the blocks for 4 new hot pads for my kitchen at home. It was quite peaceful to have some quiet creative time to do my quilting, while Steve puttered and put'zd around with a few other things on the motor home.

We took one last walk around the other side of the channel and past the boat landing, out onto the causeway that leads down to another recreational area site. I think number 38? From over there we can get a nice view back to the little peninsula that our campsite is situated on. 

I think this almost looks like 
a magazine shot of
"Go RVing"  LOL! 

The wind started kicking up as we were hooking up the motor home and the Saturn behind. We feel a storm kind of blowing in so it's probably good to get a move on. They did say scattered thunderstorms this afternoon.

We carefully went through our hook up procedure with the Saturn and got the Even Brake situated and tested. Everything is good to go. You can read my last blog to see what we did about swapping over our toad vehicle behind the motor home from the Tracker to the Saturn.

So now as I write this we are heading home and should be home and unloaded ahead of any storms.

Needless to say, I think this is my 2nd most favorite campsite all around, 

1st Favorite is Rattlesnake Point 
in Elephant Butte State Park 
in New Mexico. 

This We Energies site is my number 2.

and a close 3rd is 
Burnet Island state park
 in central Wisconsin.

We swung by the city dump station in Oconto near the Holtwood Campground, paid our $2 fee and dumped our tanks.  Parked the rig back in the yard and we are home again before the heat and humidity and weekend warriors descend on the woods!