Remember what I said about an empty campground? Well, at present, we’re the only ones holding down the fort!
We had 11 sites full over the weekend and we’ll be about 2/3 full this weekend, but Monday and Tuesday nights we were the sole residents of the campground and in that we were here the campground wasn’t empty — and it was lovely. Like having our own private 40 or 50 acre forest. Kewl Beans!
Gradually life is taking shape. We’re kitted out, got a little organized with the paperwork, and ran into Hudson in order to pick up a couple bits and bobs that we’ll use to feel better about how we do our job. You know how it goes — everyone makes the job a little bit ‘their own’ — and that’s as true of us as anyone else.
We don’t collect fees here. (I’m glad) But we do take care of the notification system that lets folks know which sites are occupied — or about to be occupied — and which are available. That means working off the Daily Arrival Report which is a standard report spit out by the national recreation reservation system. It seems that every single CORPS campground we’ve been to has their own unique way of letting you know which site is yours and which are available. I sometimes find it humorous that for an organization as large as the federal government that no one has every imposed regularity on the system. But they seem not to have done.
The Daily Arrival Report is a 2 week summation of all the campsites, their status and the status of any and all reservations during that period. It’s a simple form, and what we do with it is really quite simple — as long as you’re careful and pay attentions to daily changes as new reservations are added and cancellations remove people from the ebb and flow of campers. As we get into the season — and start seeing more campers — we’ll be in and out of the campground more frequently than we are now. For the moment we’re enjoying the calm before the storm.
The crew that cares for routine restroom and campsite cleaning and mowing began their season the day after we arrived. Dean and his son Todd have had the contract here for a number of years, the contract runs another three years and were it not for them we’d have to be cleaning restrooms and mowing the grass. As it is, with them around our life is much easier. We have some physical work to do but mostly we serve as the CORPS eyes and ears and public information officers. It’s fun.
I know some folks like the idea of working three or four days and then having four or three days in a row off, but here it’s 5 on and 2 off. Of course the 5 on aren’t that strenuous. And with us having been here numerous times it’s not like we feel the need to take 4 days off to go some place to explore. Our two days off are enough to take in the things we want/need.
One of the things we like about this gig is the ranger. Brad is actually quite an accomplished artist. On our last visit here he had an exhibition going at the local hospital and here are a few shots of some of his glass work.
While we are here we’re reasonably close to Hudson Wisconsin — on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota at the St. Croix River. It’s a nice town about 8500 population. It’s much better known than it’s neighbor to the South — River Falls, which is about twice it’s size (due in part to a branch of the Wisconsin University system) — and it’s a riverfront weekend getaway for a lot of Minnesotans.
Not far outside of Hudson is Willow River State Park — where we stayed last year. It’s cascade is a big attraction in warm weather. I’m sure we’ll visit again this year. (When it’s warmer!!!!)
We have had sun and warmer skies since leaving Milwaukee. It feels good. It was warm enough to sit out the sweatshirts half on and half off and just enjoy the afternoon. However, we’ve noticed that the Minnesota State Bird (otherwise known as the Mosquito) has been showing up — even this early in the season. Not in numbers yet, but being in the woods we know to expect them.
Each day the leaves emerge a little further. We don’t see quite as far through the forest without obstruction; it will be a few more days until the view of blue sky beyond the ridge disappears completely. This is a site from which we don’t see many sunsets because of tree cover. We are still able to see sunrises — through the forest but that won’t last long.
Because we are away from all the campers, and the rear of the coach faces away from the road we can leave the three rear window shades up all day and night. We get more light that way and we rarely are able to get much benefit from that rear-wall window of our coach.
Right in our site is not a great place to observe the stars — the CORPS put a night-light across the road at the pay station. But a short walk (0.1 mile) or golf cart ride gets us to an open field where the stars are more easily seen.
This time of year there are a lot of migrant birds flying through the area. The diversity of calls — we hear a lot more variety than we get to see — will soon settle in to the few residents that call this forest home. It’s not a great diversity but we enjoy it for what it is. In the past we have heard owls here — but thus far not this year. However with overnight temps in the 30’s we haven’t been keeping our windows wide open. The good news is that we have two more nights in the 30’s and then our overnights are forecast to rise. We’re having a little warmer than normal temps and we won’t complain.
There you have it. Day three on the job and all is well. Thanks for stopping I’ll be here to chat tomorrow.