Old Diary

Record Camping In Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. —New figures show a record number of campers visited Wisconsin state parks this year.

More than 159,000 campsites were used according to registrations with the state Department of Natural Resources through the first weekend of October. Department section chief Chris Pedretti said that includes more than 388,000 nights of camping in state parks. The numbers beat previous records set in 2012.

The camping numbers include about 5,000 campsites in 54 state parks and southern forests, the Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/1H2S9VB ) reports. The statistics don’t include the Columbus Day weekend, which Pedretti said is a big weekend for people “out to see fall color.”

“The numbers will go up some more just because of this weather, which is awesome for the end of October,” he said.

State park fee increases that took effect July 28 haven’t dampened camping numbers so far, Pedretti said. Daily and annual admission saw $1 and $3 increases, while camping fees went up $3 to $5 per night for Wisconsin residents and $5 to $8 for out-of-state visitors.

Devil’s Lake State Park supervisor Steve Schmelzer said the park’s 424 campsites have filled each weekend in the summer for many years, but that now he’s seeing more visitors on weekdays and in the spring and fall. The campground south of Baraboo is one of the state’s most popular.

Camping increased in Wisconsin a year after the recession hit.

“People weren’t taking big elaborate vacations anymore,” Schmelzer said. “More were looking at camping.”

Visits to state parks across the United States went up by 12 million to nearly 740 million last year, according to Lewis Ledford, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors. He said weather makes an impact, and that more people did “staycations” after the recession.

“But I think mostly it’s just the demand to get out and find the space in the out of doors where we get that tonic for the mind, body and the spirit,” Ledford said.

Old Diary

Billy Goat Gruff

Billy Goat Gruff It was a gorgeous day here and one of our lighter duty days so we decided to play with the Billy Goat. Not the brush trimmer, but the oversized leaf blower.

The campground at Tyee  is open and the trees are shedding like crazy.  I’ve been meaning to get in there and clean the place up but one thing or another and we weren’t getting there.  Today we corrected that.

There are only 9 sites in the campground and none of them have electric or hookups.  But it’s popular with local fishermen and even at this time of year there’s a lot of traffic in and out.

billygoatblowerI have to say that the Billy Goat has a lot of bluster!  With me manning the goat and Peg with a little Stihl backpack blower on her back with polished that place up in quick order.

It wasn’t a super busy day but we had a good time.  Which included two long conversations with volunteers.  New York Ed — at one  of our prettiest campgrounds is full of gossip — stopping off to work his campground every day is sort of a dance between getting our job done and ending up talking a lot.

We also have Wyoming Ed — who works the Eel Creek Work Center.  And then there’s L.E.O. Ed.  What’s up with the shortage of male names here in Oregon?

Stihl Backpack BlowerWe also had a conversation with Lagoon Joe — so called because it’s the Lagoon Campground that he hosts.  He’s half of a husband and wife team that have volunteered here for several years.  Contrary to some of the hosts who are always into all the local gossip these two are much more stick-to-your campground people  They have been our source of info on restaurants, and things to do in the area.

Presently I think that aside from New York Ed we might be the furthest from our pre-volunteer homes.  Most of the gang are here from much closer destinations: WA, OR, CA, ID, WY, MT.

The boss is back tomorrow.

Well, thanks for stopping by.  I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Rub Two Sticks Together

2013081019064805 2013081019070806 2013081019073307I don’t think that you’re supposed to use sticks this size to make a fire! We had a full campground over the weekend and among the campers was a group of 11 families that come every year for a themed camping weekend.  Boy did they have fun.  The theme was M.A.S.H.  There were white streamers wrapped around the fences and FIRST AID signs al over the place; campers were wandering around in Camo, the laughter of children could be heard throughout the campground and most everyone was having fun.  The best part about it was:  they policed their own area and picked up all their own trash.  Good on them.

At the same time in another area of the park a poor lost soul wandered around in an alcohol and drug induced haze.  On Saturday we had to call in the Ranger because he had overstayed his reservation, and I thought the problem might drive away that evening.  But he was quiet (and confused) and not bothering anyone (at THAT time) so the Ranger let him pay up for another night and stay.  By then he had already fallen-off-a-trail — not off a cliff, but he had lost his footing and rolled head over heels down a small embankment ending up in the marshy, wet, muck at the bottom of the hill — so most of his clothes were hanging up on a line to dry.  But yesterday as checkout time approached he emerged from one of the forest trails — at the other end of the campground — mumbling and crying “I can’t find my campsite.”  I felt sorry for this 30 something year old guy, a parent, someone’s son, but clearly a lost soul.  I carted him back to his site, tried to find a phone number we could call to get him some help but he had thrown his cell phone battery into the woods and was carrying the phone (less battery) around with him, phone in one hand, back of the phone in the other hand.  It was truly sad.

I called the Ranger.  The Ranger called the Sheriff.  Two Sheriff’s soon arrive and not long after the chap was on his way to the nearest mental health facility in Eau Claire.

I felt bad.

It was nothing we had done.

But I wonder what our society is coming to when so many souls are so in search of escape that they spend entire weekends (and longer) in a foggy drug and alcohol induced haze.  I guess I just don’t get it.  I’ve never drunk a lot — I am too easily inebriated.  I don’t do drugs — never tried them, never wanted to:  I like my life, I don’t need to escape.  I have no way of understanding either the cause or the effect.  But it makes me sad to see a young man reduced to a blithering idiot by chemicals.

That drama only took a couple hours to unfold.  The rest of the day was sheer joy.

My dear daughter discovered that I can’t read.  I was telling her about a volunteer gig we thought we had found — turns out I didn’t see the start date and she did.  The ‘revised’ start date, the one that was there all along and I merely read right over it means that we might not undertake it.  Oh well.  It’s good to have kids who keep you on the straight and narrow — even via long distance.

While I’m on that topic, from time to time you see posts you can’t access.  I haven’t been able to figure out a better way of having a private lengthy written conversation with my daughter than to use the blog, so I apologize if you see those posts and you want to know what’s in them and cant get in.   Just tell yourself it’s father and daughter talking as fathers and daughter are want to do and laugh and giggle just between the two of us.

So, that’s my story for today, and I’m sticking to it.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Old Diary, Travel

What’s Right For One May Not Be Right…

Wednesday was retiree breakfast day for Peg, so I had a morning of welcome quiet.  All in anticipation of a busier afternoon.  Some of the gang were out of town so it was a smaller gathering than some…

journey dl

We borrowed Michael’s pickup to remove the yard waste from yesterday’s trimming.  All went well until we had emptied the yard waste OUT of the truck and I realized I was not wearing my prescription sunglasses!  I had them on when we started, and here was this 20 cu yd dumpster into which we had just thrown about 1/2 cu yd or trimmings.  We rooted around in the dumpster from outside for about 10 minutes.  About that time one of the “technicians” came over to find out why we were taking so long.  He rooted around for a few minutes too.  Then…. He… looked… down… on… the… ground…. right next to the dumpster.  There they were!  No damage, no scratches, just waiting for me to pick them up.  The day was much better after that!!!!!!! 😀

I decided to replace a couple ceiling tiles — no one said I had to but they were damaged and I wanted to deliver the house in the best condition we could within reason.  The little damage wasn’t all that great, but neither was the expense.

do the best you can

I’m working really hard
on this right now….

My daily blog reads have been doing metaphorical splits.  That is to say, several of the blogging RV’ers have recently bought houses and intend to get off the full-time road.  Another couple have realized that their several-year-RV-pursuit-of-the-perfect-place-to-retire has finally led them to realize that what they really want is what they already have:  the mobile lifestyle of an RV’er.

These thoughts are being framed at a time where for 6 months we have had no routine or predictable lifestyle.  Home showings come up whenever… With some of our belongings in Journey and some here at the school we are continuously looking for things that seem not to be where we thought.  And we don’t want to go out and re-purchase the toys and tools that used to be our life — only to get rid of them again.

These disparate threads of thought remind me that there is no “right” way to retire.  Nor is there a “right” way to RV.  Weeekenders are no “better” than full timers, and full timers are no “better” than weekenders.  It’s just a choice. A choice that depend on personal preference. And for us, we have had some fun during this selling time, but we are still treading life’s waters.

My daughter introduced me to Pinterest some time ago.  At first I didn’t understand the design metaphor. When I caught on I went ballistic.  At the moment — and perhaps for the last 6 weeks — I’ve been letting myself waste time pinning to boards;  I don’t want to go out and buy tools that I’ll only have to get rid of, and my brain isn’t clear enough with real estate concerns to be very productive with my camera.  So, I’ve said to myself that for a short time, Pinterest is an investment in my mental health.

On the positive side, I’ve used the time to find and preserve OLD images I like.  I’m a black and white image freak, I like dips into history that I knew nothing of, or forgot about, I like old style pinups, etc., etc.. So, I’ve learned some, and I’ve been reminded of how little about history young people know.   I’m not haranguing the education system, I’m saying that young people simply have not lived through the same things.  We are ALL experientially ignorant of what went before us.  We may know the details of what happened before, but we were not there to live through what went before.

On the negative side, Pinterest pinning and Facebook statuses are hardly an expression of individuality.  Which brings me back to my point…..  Why else do posts get shared hundreds of thousands of times?  Or meme’s get re-posted until the world is sick of cat pictures.  Humans love to do what other humans are doing.  Humans love to be part of something.  We need to belong, to find similarity, to connect.  Is it any wonder therefore that the jobs we take are a function of how we view our friends? Or that the places we live are a function of the position we see ourselves occupying in society:  do we want to impress, ascend the social ladder, or do we even care what anyone else thinks about us?

Let me share a short story.  For 25 years we owned a 12 family apartment building.  I never thought of it as living in an apartment house — we owned it and we did whatever we wanted.  I knocked a hole through one wall and even extended my office into another apartment —  making it an 11 family building.  When I see high-rise apartments with 5 or 10 or 15 apartments on a single floor and the only way to get to your “home” is via one of several elevators I’m aghast.  How can anyone live like that?  Why would anyone WANT to live like that.  But the fact is that a lot of people want to be around people:  some of the time, or all of the time.  That’s not me.  230 sq ft of RV somewhere in the US is just fine for me.

numeral 29

Twenty Nine More Days?

Will we get tired of the RV lifestyle once we get this house sold?  I don’t know.  We are agreed between us that we’ll spend at least twice the time it took us to sell the house before we consider anything else.  But might we spend 10 times that long?  Or 20 times that long?  Or might we realize much sooner that being able to move is all we need.  After spending all of last summer and most of the fall in Journey we have already realized that we don’t have to move very much to be happy.  We have what we want-and-need right there with us — we don’t “need” more.  No matter where, we are are in the moment in that place.

We’ll find out what lies ahead.

Hopefully starting in 29 more days.

Images, Journey DL, Minimalism, RV Living

Before Light Weight Camping

I have been camping since I was a wee tyke. My parents took me weekend camping and vacation camping from the time I was about 4 or 5 years old.  In those days there was no such thing as light weight anything.  I came across this image and it brought back so many fond memories I wanted to share it.

Before most people every dreamt of RV’ing a lot of us were out in the woods camping the hard way:  with pounds and pounds and pounds of gear. This old Ford has been modified more than my dad ever modified any of our family cars (notice the custom boat mount on the roof). My dad was one of those guys who had bought into newer is better; and he traded station wagons every two years like clockwork.  (a lot of people got some really good used cars)

Coleman White Gas Stove

Coleman White Gas Stove

Dad did make custom storage boxes that sat at the end station wagon so that we could cook on the tailgate.  We had our white gas stove, our aluminum nested pots, and all those little goodies that you have when you go camping.  I still remember how heavy those things were to move off the station wagon and onto the picnic table.  It was racoon proof, and to the best of our knowledge it was bear proof too — which only means that we never put anything into the boxes that a bear might want. But I guess that’s not bear-proof at all. 🙂


At any rate, camping back then was a lot more hard work.  And sometimes it’s fun to look back and remember how sore my young muscles got lugging all that stuff around.

I’m glad that today our gear can now be weighed in ounces instead of tens of pounds.  But that doesn’t mean it’s any more fun.  And there’s no way to change the way the parks and forests have filled up with people.  There’s no going back.  But…. life is good and camping is fun whether it’s in a tent, on foot backpacking, or in Journey.

Old Diary, RV Living, Travel

Vroom, Vroom — Plans Set in Jello

We have a plan – sort of! It’s might be one of those set-in-jello plans,  but it’s our plan.


We hope to head out of Cudahy around the 4th of May. It’s a target, open to change.

We head South towards central and southern Illinois for a couple weeks, then towards St. Louis and beyond into Southern Missouri. We’ll wander then into Northern Arkansas and Ozark Hill Country.

We have a new goal this summer. Last summer was our “Year of the Mississippi.” This year we embrace spontaneity. It’s about proficiency I suppose.  We were complete novices last year.  We aren’t much more advanced this year but we will fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants with no reservations.

Will it be easy?  I have no idea!  Will we have fun?  You bet your bippie we will! Consider this Peter & Peggy’s upping the ante on spontaneous RV’ing.

Geographically Living In the Moment

We hope to keep our RV mileage down to around 300-400 miles a month.  (Our CR-V mileage will be much higher we know)  The low mileage is not about the cost of fuel.  It’s about changing our habitual way of travel.  We have always covered a lot of miles in a short time to get somewhere.  Why? Because we didn’t have time to take our time.  Consider this  metaphorically living in the geographical moment.  Our goal is to see the country, not merely to drive through it.

Where do we go beyond this outline?  That depends on the summer’s heat, whether our house has sold, and how energetic we are under the summer sun.  If it’s too hot, we might head North into Iowa and or Minnesota.  If we thrive in the heat we might hang out in the South through the summer.  And we aren’t even thinking as far as Autumn, at least not until the house sale is a done deal.

We’ll be in Illinois through Memorial Day — that’s our thinking now.  Firm dates are still hard to come by.  As late as yesterday we were still weighing whether we should delay longer. And if we are going to stay spontaneous we don’t need to set dates.

Are we getting excited?  Dunno…. I don’t want to think too much about all the fun we’re planning in case we have some snag forcing us to hang around in Cudahy.  I need to stay in the moment while we are HERE too!

Journey DL, RV Living

I Ought to Be In… RV’s

Classy RV

They don’t come any more classy than this

I thought we might be spending part of today at Journey, getting some work done in her.  Alas, that did not happen. Here’s hoping tomorrow might see more success at that.

A couple days ago I checked the weather forecast and there was a week in the 40’s coming up with mid 50’s a week from tomorrow.  I looked again today and now all those 40’s are 30’s and 50’s are nowhere to be found.  I guess wishing doesn’t make it so, at least when it comes to Spring. Continue reading


Motorhomes of Days Gone Bye

Right hand drive, and the awning is almost as large as the RV.

RV Living