Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Camping with Fred in Michigan's UP

If you're like me, a non-Michigander/Michiganian, you may be wondering what UP means. It's Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the area north of Lake Michigan south of Lake Superior. It's a wonderland full of the beauty of nature, trees, lakes, waterfalls, and campgrounds.

In the UP the people who live there call themselves "Yoopers." If you Google you'll find a lot of humor written about the "Yoopers," particularly for their regional speaking dialect.

That's Fred's Northern Lite Traveler to the left of The Glampette above.

And if you're wondering who Fred is, he's The Glampette's builder I met on the Teardrops n Tiny Travel Trailer forum in June. Some of you may have been wondering what he looks like because I've been posting about him here and there for the past 11 months but hadn't ever shared a photo of him. Why? Simply because I didn't have one to share. LOL

When I left Michigan in June I realized I hadn't seen much of anything in the whole state except for the inside of Fred's garage, house, and the local grocery store. He said the next time I came back he'd take me camping and at the very least, show me Lake Michigan. Well, he's a man of his word. Not only did he meet me at the Camp-Inn Camp-Outt rally in Mauston, WI in September, after the rally we headed north and camped along the UP for five days.

The funniest part about the trip (to me) was after it was over Fred told me when I drove away towing The Glampette behind me in June he watched the trailer going down the road away from his house and thought to himself he'd never see it again. But there she was back in his garage just four months later :D

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

As in all of life's experiences there was good and bad. The good was that we were there to enjoy the colors changing in the thousands of trees that lined the roads and highways as we drove from campground to campground. Also, it turned out that Fred was a perfect travel companion. We got along just swell. I'd imagine camping would be a real drag if you ended up stuck with someone you don't get along with or who gets on your nerves. So, choose wisely.

And the bad? I did mention there was some bad. Well, there were still a lot of mosquitos around and they devoured me. One night I had so many bites my left forearm and hand swelled up so badly that Fred was concerned enough to offer me an antihistamine.

Then there was the flat I almost had when I picked up a screw in the trailer's tire. That actually happened on my way to WI. I noticed the head in the tire while we were sitting chatting the day after my arrival in WI. But, there was a silver lining because it never did go flat and the next day (as an added travel tip bonus) Fred taught me how to patch a tire with my handy new patch kit that I now keep in my tool box.

And there was the ugly. On our second night of camping is when the government shut down. We were in a National Park at the time and the next day the closure prevented us from camping at the National Lakeshore Park we wanted to stay at.

Our first night after the rally was spent at Holtwood Camping Grounds, an rv park, in Ocanto, WI. We arrived just before dusk and chose two spots along a picturesque river running along the outer edge of the campground. When we went to self-register we found out that they were "premium" slots that cost $2 more than the regular interior slots. We decided to live a little and be big spenders rather than opting to move to a more economical location. LOL

Everything about the campground seemed great. The grounds and restrooms were clean, the location was nice, everything seemed fine until a train blew through town just a block up from the other side of the river and blared its horn all the way through town several times that evening. I know people say you get used to those kinds of things when you live somewhere long enough but I just can't imagine ever getting used to a train that close and loud.

The next morning we slept in, got up, made a simple breakfast, and hit the road. I soon learned sleeping in is part of camping. It's not something I'm good at at home but I was getting the hang of it by the end of the week.

Along the way to our first official National forest campground we made a quick stop so that I could see Lake Michigan for the first time, up close and personal. There were a few things I couldn't help but notice:
  1. It was big enough to look like an ocean since you couldn't see the other side.
  2. Instead of seagulls there were swans and Canadian Geese along the shore.
  3. There were bright rusty colored reddish streaks in the sand. Fred said it was iron. I Googled and learned that it is probably hematite, a type of iron ore/oxide.
  4. It struck me as odd that a lake has a sand beach, just like an ocean beach. All of the lakes I've ever been to in WA, ID, and CA have gravel beaches. 

Just a short drive 2 hour drive from our lodging the night before and we were at our next destination. Standing between our two trailers this was the skyward view at our campsite at the Hiawatha National Forest. Gorgeous! At night the sky was full of stars. I would have set out my camera on a tripod and tried to do some long exposure photography but it was cold, dark, and Fred had already gone to bed. . . So, I wimped out.

We'd chosen to stay at the Flowing Well Campground, a small, rather intimate camping area where each campsite is secluded by forest on three sides with one side openly facing the entry road. We were the only ones there that evening. Fred pointed out that in the future if I'm alone this would not be a safe way for me to camp.

On the bright side there were no signs warning about bears so I felt fairly comfortable that evening except for the hordes of mosquitos that attacked me when I went to register our campsite at the self registration booth. I would have taken a picture of the booth but seriously had to get out of there as quickly as possible due to the sheer number of mosquitos lurking about waiting for an easy meal.

Most of my life I've told people that I enjoy looking at nature more than actually being in it. Well, between my new'ish love of nature photography and now camping I've decided that I really don't mind being in nature all that much. In fact, I rather enjoy it. Just to see the fern fronds, a paper hornet's nest, and the lichen growing on the bark of a tree gave me a rush of peace and serenity. I think I'm hooked.

The Sturgeon River runs right alongside the campsites.

Because of the iron the water is the same rusty color as the streaks were on the sand earlier that day. I read online that the water available in the campsites has a funny taste due to both the iron and sulfur, but it is safe to drink. Given my issues with not enough iron in my diet I was thinking I should drink up while I was there!

That night I received a text from my mom that the US Government was going to shut down at midnight if an agreement about the debt ceiling couldn't be reached. As we all know now that shutdown came to pass. But in the morning we slept in and made breakfast. . . I have to say it was nice to feel removed from the dramas that consume the news cycles.

Part of what I loved most about my time camping with Fred was finally learning how to cook while camping. There were many small tricks like cooking food ahead at home and keeping it in an ice cooler to reheat at the campgrounds. We also had a nice variety of produce and dry goods. In the cooler Fred had milk, sour cream, some cheese, and a few other staples that were enough to make our meals interesting and delicious all week long. Every couple of days we'd stop somewhere for a fresh bag of ice. It wasn't nearly as problematic as I'd envisioned it would be keeping a cooler cold for a week straight.

Fred the Navigator charting the day's course on his trusty atlas.

And this is Fred. Some of you may have been curious what he looks like since I've been talking about him since last December when he started building The Glampette. This post is the first time I've shared any photos of him. One thing we have in common is that neither of us like to have our picture taken. I kind of snuck this one in while he wasn't looking. That became our MO on the trip, to take pictures of the other person on the sly. LOL. But I was glad he did so I had some to share to prove I was there.

Even though we were in a National Forest at the time of the shutdown we saw no sign of anything amiss in the late morning, no park rangers came to evict us, by the time we headed out to visit a couple of tourist stops and move on to that evening's campground.

Upon our arrival to visit Miners Falls and the Pictured Rocks reality reared its ugly head. The road leading into the area was cordoned off by big orange barrels due to the government shutdown. I, being a goody goody would not have gone in. Fred, being a bit of a rebel, reasoned that if the government was shutdown there wouldn't be anyone there to arrest us if we did go in. . . So, in we went as the park rangers had left enough room between the barrels for cars to pass.

A little blurry due to using a long exposure with no tripod :)

Was it worth it? You bet. Miners Falls was gorgeous! A short hike on a clear path through some beautiful trees and we spotted the waterfall probably around the same time we heard it. Up close it was something to behold. The photo above has a man in the lower right corner to give you a sense of scale. At 40 feet tall it is one of the area's most visited waterfall attractions due to its accessibility. Turns out there are hundreds of waterfalls in Michigan. It would be fun to return someday and hunt down more of them to photograph.

After we left Miners Falls we drove a bit further to the Pictured Rocks. The water looked like the Caribean ocean. It wasn't Curacao blue but it was a stunningly vibrant aqua green color you wouldn't expect to see in a land locked body of water in North America. At least I didn't.

I was really glad Fred didn't let those orange barrels stop us from going in. Having seen Miners Falls and the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore I can't imagine driving all the way there from CA only to have been turned away.

Our next stop was the Twelvemile Beach Campground just a few miles away. The one downside of traveling with a friend and two tiny travel trailers between you? All of the time you'd normally be able to spend chatting with them is solo time. You're all by your lonesome in your car either being followed or following them. Fred was in the lead so this was my view that week. Not too shabby. I'd imagine the drive is also pretty in the summertime but I'm sure it can't compare to mile after mile of autumnal hues lining each side of the road.

When we arrived at the Twelvemile Beach Campground this is what we saw. Other entries into other National parks and campgrounds were similarly blocked that afternoon. Even a lookout was cordoned off but we drove into it anyway. I swear I was feeling like such a rebel if there'd been a crosswalk I would have jaywalked, on purpose. At the lookout lot we learned about a dirt road just past Grand Marais that would take us to the Lake Superior State Forest Campground where a couple we'd just met said there was still room available if we made it there before all of the other campers being evicted from Twelvemile Beach Campground beat us to it.

We found the dirt road no problem. I had it easier following Fred. Every time I saw his trailer fly up in the air from a particularly deep rut in the road I moved over to the left or right to avoid it. After what felt like more miles than we actually traveled on that dusty, rutted road we finally arrived at the campground.

In the top photo you can see the blue of the lake just over the top of my car.

Unlike Flowing Well, the campground at Lake Superior was full of guests and from one campsite you could see into several around yours. Which was fine. We even got to know a couple two sites down with a teardrop trailer. That's the thing when you have a tiny trailer and you're in close proximity to someone else with a tiny trailer, one of you will walk over to make an introduction and the next thing you know you're chatting away about both, or in this case all three, trailers :)

It looks and sounds like the ocean. It just doesn't smell like the ocean.

And another camping lesson learned. I'm such a newbie I was ready to relax at the campsite and start preparing dinner. But Fred said "Come on, let's go." Go where? Down to the lake before it got too dark to see it! Just a short walk through the two nearby campsites and a path took us right over a very small ridge to the beach.

The expansiveness of the lake was rather awesome, like it left me in awe. It is so big, and so loud, we could hear the crashing of the waves from our campsite that evening. Fred told me this is where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank. I'd heard the Gordon Lightfoot song before but had no idea it was a real life event or that one day I'd be standing and looking out upon the very waters she sank in.

Realizing that real people had drowned in that historic event made it a little odd in that moment to appreciate just how beautiful the water was. It may not be much of a shot but I did love this one because of how monochromatic it is. The blue of the water and shadows on the sand and stones go together in a cool and soothing color palette that helps me to remember what it was like as we, and other campers, sat on the shore as the sun went down.

But before that there was just enough time and light to take a few photos. Fred captured this fun shot of me hiding from his camera behind my camera. And I didn't even realize he'd taken pictures of me walking down the beach photographing the lake. I did get one of him taking a picture of me but it didn't come out as good as the one he got of me. I really need to practice photographing people sometimes too and not just food all of the time :P

In the morning another walk down to the beach was in order. It looked so different by day. Fred got another picture of me. I'm working on that whole aversion I have to having my picture taken so I even posed for a few.

We hit the road again and were off on a new adventure.

Honestly, I can't even tell you where we were. I have no idea. I was following Fred and when he pulled over on the side of the road near a bridge I parked behind him. I thought we were stopping to take a break but we'd arrived at a very special river he wanted to share with me.

When he was younger he'd canoed down the Two Hearted River, Ernest Hemmingway had written about in the Big Two Hearted River, with a friend years ago. He'd asked if I wanted to try canoeing down it as well but when I replied I'm not a strong swimmer that kind of put an end to that discussion. LOL

For the record I do know how to canoe, I was a Girl Scout after all. The summer I went to Camp Four Echoes I even had to take a tippy test where you purposely tip your canoe over in the lake and swim to shore. But that was decades ago and canoeing a winding river is very different than canoeing on a calm lake.

Fred beat me down to the river.

Once there I was not only able to photograph the river, I did get Fred to pose for a picture. As we stood beneath the bridge I caught his profile with the river behind him and told him I thought it would be a nice shot. I think in return for posing for the pictures at Lake Superior that morning he returned the favor and let me take a few of him.

When I tell people I camped the UP the first thing most of them ask is if I went to Mackinac Island or if I crossed the Mackinac bridge. Not only did we cross the bridge, we documented it. I didn't notice Fred stick his camera out the window shooting a few frames blind behind him. Not only did he catch me on the bridge, his pictures were all perfectly level. I in turn was shooting his trailer from behind. I didn't hang my camera out the window (it's too big and heavy) so the windshield diminished the clarity of my picture of his Northern Lite Traveler. But, what I lost in clarity I think I may have made up for in composition ;)

After crossing the bridge we drove a ways then stopped for gas and used the side of their parking lot to make a light lunch. Another thing Fred taught me: WIth a tiny trailer you can pull over on a quiet road or a parking lot and make lunch. That whole week we never ate at a restaurant. Not once. We prepared every meal ourselves. I loved that. As much as I enjoy good restaurant food I equally enjoy home cooked/prepared meals as well.

Unlike a traditional teardrop where the hatch swings upwards, his Northern LIte Traveler has a rear door that drops down and becomes a perfect work counter for cooking and preparing meals.

This time I knew to go look at the lake first before it got dark.

Just a little further and we arrived at South Higgins Lake, our final campground. It's another place that Fred last visited in his childhood. He said while the lake looked the same the campground had changed dramatically since his last visit. He recalled one could park right on the beach to camp. Now, the park is divided into dozens of RV slots with electricity, water available at posts in each area, and had the nicest camp showers on the whole trip.

The sun was setting when we arrived and the sky was lightly painted with colors that reflected in the almost still surface of the water. It was even more gorgeous than it looks in the photo. It had a peaceful, calm quality to it that just kind of took my breath away. Being it was the last night of our trip I enjoyed the view feeling blissed out and serenely happy.

Soon it was dusk, then dark. Thank goodness we had my dad's vintage Coleman lantern. It is truly a camp necessity as far as I'm concerned. Without it we would have only had the light of  Fred's galley and the campfire light to dine by. Which wouldn't have been bad, but having a light at the table was sure nice. Fred had cooked dinner so I did the dishes. The lantern light was very handy to be able to actually see that I was getting the dishes clean.

In the morning Fred got up and made hot water for coffee for him and tea for me. Since then I have made one cup of tea with my propane stove and have practiced in the backyard mastering making eggs (scrambled, over medium, and omelets) on my camp stove.

LOL I wasn't sure if I should show this picture or not. Because I'm still trying to naturally increase my omega fatty acid and salt intake I often have canned salmon mixed with diced avocado, apples, and a little soy sauce for breakfast. Though I offered some to Fred each morning I made it he politely declined fish for breakfast. I don't know why. I did tell him the next time we go camping together I am going to make him my salmon hash because it's awesome and it's fish for breakfast that I think he'll love.

After breakfast we packed up and headed back to Central Michigan where Fred lives. He was going to build out the rest of the interior of the trailer for me adding my new countertop and shelves that I had procrastinated building myself.

Here's the thing, though the UP may be more famous for its fall colors, Central Michigan has its own share of gorgeous locations including this old, double arched, railroad bridge in Belding. I don't even know the name of it. But if you know a local they might know how to tell you to get there. Fred had looked for it before and that week it took us two tries to find it. It was almost like going on a treasure hunt and well worth the effort.

Along with the autumn colors I also enjoyed the last flowers of the summer in Fred's garden. While I was there the temperature dipped one night leaving the yard covered with frost in the morning. Not only was it beautiful, it killed all of the mosquitos. After that night I didn't see another one the rest of the week. So there you have it, the best time to visit Michigan for me is after the first frost and before the first snow. LOL

To Fred I can only say thank you for being such a great builder and friend. You took so much time and care teaching me how to camp and I just wanted to say your efforts were truly appreciated. Your tips, advice, and the experience I gained that week I will use often in the coming years as The Glampette and I continue our bonding process.

P.S. I'm hoping we (You, me, The Glampette, and your Northern Lite Traveler) can make the Camp-Inn Camp-Outt followed by a week along the UP an annual tradition. Next year I'll have to try a pasty :)

For more information about the things I saw and the places I stayed at here's all you need to know:

Holtwood Campground (RV Park) -  website
400 Holtwood Way
Oconto, WI 54153

Hiawatha National Forest
Flowing Well Campground - website
Rapid River, MI 49878

Miners Falls - website
Munising, MI

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - website
Grand Marais, MI 49839

Lake Superior State Forest Campground - website
Newberry, MI 49868

Two Hearted River - 

South Higgins Lake State Park - website
Roscommon, MI 48653

Monday, November 25, 2013

SOMA chocolatemaker at The DIstillery: Toronto, Canada

Guess what I hate? When you fall in love with a dish or dessert and the restaurant or place to enjoy it is thousands of miles away from where you live! Such is the case with SOMA chocolatemaker located not South of Market in Downtown San Francisco, this SOMA is in Toronto, Canada.

Just a few weeks ago I was in Toronto as part of my cross country road trip from San Jose, CA to Wisconsin, to Michigan, to Toronto. In Toronto I was able to take some time to meet up with my friend Chris who said he had a special place to take me that he knew I would love. You may remember Chris as the friend who photo-documented my CN Tower, pre-Edgewalk experience back in 2011.

From downtown we walked a mile over to the distillery district where some of the city's most historic buildings have been preserved and turned into a quaint shopping district of boutiques, artisan studios, and eateries.

Chris knows my penchant for chocolate so a visit to SOMA was in order. The first day we visited, yes we went two days in a row LOL, the place was packed. This picture was from our second visit right at closing time.

Though they sell chocolates galore and have a case full of gelato this is what we came for: SOMA's "elixirs." They're their drinking chocolates that you can purchase in house in shot glasses, or you can buy packages to take home to make yourself. I did both!

Of the two flavors I brought home I tried making the Gianduja (roasted hazelnut) mix first. I read and followed the directions carefully. I've found that's the best way to achieve success with any recipe.

Upon opening the package I saw the chocolate wasn't powdered like traditional hot cocoa drinks. Instead, it comes in the form of large granules lightly dusted with cocoa powder.

The instructions said to bring the water to a boil on a burner, add the chocolate, and mix. I did but the chocolate wasn't nearly as smooth as the shots I'd enjoyed at SOMA. In fact it was kind of glumpy.

So, I tried again. this time I used my chocolate know how to heat the chocolate using a double boiler method. Because I only needed to heat a half of a cup of water I used a small mixing bowl atop a small sauce pan. I do have a proper double boiler but it would have been much to big for this particular job. The nice thing about using any double boiler is the chocolate doesn't get too hot, which can cause it to seize.

The extra effort was worth it. A perfectly smooth shot of drinking chocolate, just like the shots I enjoyed in Canada! The only other change I made was to add a bit more water to thin the chocolate out. Then it was perfect!

Chris and I sat in SOMA the second day because it was cold and rainy out. And seriously, what better kind of day to enjoy a hot chocolate than a cold one? That day the chocolate was extra hot/spicy because I'd ordered the "Mayan Hot Chocolate" with spiced ginger, Madagascar vanilla, orange peel, chili, and SOMA's special blend of spices.

I'd also purchased some chocolates the day before. Of them my favorite was the Caramel Feuilletine. It was so good I purchased two more, one for each of us. I would seriously consider ordering some by mail for a special occasion, you know, like it's because it's a Tuesday and I just want some really delicious chocolate and caramel :)

The coolest part is even though they're 2665 miles away I can order SOMAs products and have them delivered right to my door! The employees made sure to let me know that before we left as they'd figured I was a tourist now addicted to their delicious products. Here's what you need to know to visit SOMA yourself or to order their products online:

SOMA chocolatemaker  - website

Distillery District Location
32 Tank House Lane

King Street West Location
443 King Street West

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Camp-Inn Camp-Outt Tiny Trailer Rally in Mauston, WI

You may not know this but back in September and October I took a four week road trip and traveled to several places that included Wisconsin, Michigan, and Toronto, Canada.

Visit the Camp-Inn website at www.TinyCamper.com

My first stop (after dropping Kitai off with his grandparents in Washington) was to Mauston to attend the 10th Annual Camp-Inn Camp-Outt trailer rally. Fred had learned about it on the www.tnttt.com Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers' forum. I'd been planning to come out to Michigan a week later on my way to Toronto so I pushed my trip up a week and made it in time to attend the rally. There were 101 registered campsites and 194 people from 24 states all in one park for three days. It was such a blast!

If you have a thing for tiny trailers, like I do, your heart just kind of goes pitter patter at the thought of a hundred of them all in one location.

It was quite exciting. It was The Glampette's first official rally. I met up with my friend Fred (The Glampette's builder) when I arrived at the campground. He took this picture for me that shows exactly how much I love my trailer :) I just need longer arms.

The route to the campground was a little convoluted since I drove to Washington state first, but then it was almost a straight shot down I-90 to arrive at Castle Rock County Park. On the way I drove through a lot of rain, rain and a sleet storm in Montana, and a lot of wind in Minnesota. In total it was around 2,643 miles, or 38 hours, of driving not including gas stops which add an hour a day to your on the road total when you're driving 10 hours a day.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you may recall reading about Camp-Inn trailers on two occasions. It's doubly unusual because you just don't see that many teardrops in the wild, so be parked beside one twice in one summer is, I think, a rare thing.

The first was the second night after I'd left Michigan in June from picking up The Glampette when I spent the night at the KOA in Kennebec, South Dakota. When I arrived and the camp host saw my tiny trailer he was really excited and said there was another tiny trailer there that evening and he would put us beside each other so we could be friends. LOL

Turned out it was a Camp-Inn teardrop. Its owners had just picked it up the day before just down the highway from the campground the rally was held at.

I mentioned a Camp-Inn again just recently in my blog post about the teardrop trailer rally on Treasure Island at the Flea Market. Once again I ended up parked beside a Camp-Inn for a few hours on Sunday. There seems to be some cosmic thread that keeps bringing us together.

This is Shari's 550 Teardrop.

As you can imagine there were many Camp-Inns at the rally. The funny thing was that I had no sooner stepped out of my car when two women approached me. One was walking quickly with a happy smile on her face, clapping her hands together as she asked "Is that the Glampette?" LOL I almost fell over and for a moment I was speechless. I couldn't believe someone in Wisconsin knew the name of my trailer. Turns out Shari had followed my story online and recognized the trailer the moment she laid eyes on her as we'd entered the park.

Her teardrop was so cute. She even had potted plants, a nice ground cover and a pink flamingo glamping up her space.

I also met Randy, a fellow tnttt forum member who came over and introduced himself as someone who had followed my build but I wouldn't know him at all because he never posts anything in the forum himself.

Next, another friendly guy came over, pointed his finger right at me and said with a smile: "You got lost!" LOL I had. I told him I did. I made a wrong turn before I made the right turn getting to the campground. He said he saw me driving the wrong way down the highway and told his friend "She's lost." It took an extra 20 minutes or so but I finally figured it out after stopping to ask for directions.

I have no excuse other than that I was on vacation to explain why I didn't take enough photos while I was there. So, I had to pull this one from the Camp-Inn Facebook page of another model trailer they make, their flagship 560 Raindrop. It's the Cadillac of teardrop trailers. I would list all of its features but there are so many there isn't room for all of them here. You can click it's name above to see the descriptions on the Camp-Inn website. The must haves to me?

• Panoramic front windows
• The interior is 5 feet wide holds a queen size mattress and has a couch that converts to bunk beds
• Most of all it has the sexiest most modern teardrop galley kitchen I've seen to date

There's also a 500 Teardrop model with plenty of nice features but after you see the 550 Teardrop and 560 Raindrop I'd imagine it's hard to not want one of the fancier options.

And there were non-Camp-Inn trailers there too. Some were manufactured, but many were home built. That was one of the neatest things about the rally. I've noticed that everyone who owns a camper is pretty much always very friendly and fun loving. But, when it comes to rallies, sometimes things can get a little segregated. For instance you might have to have a certain brand, or a certain year to be considered "vintage," or a certain model, or style trailer to be able to attend some of the rallies.

There's a good chance The Glampette won't fit into most of them because she's new (modern) and she's not a teardrop but she's not really a canned ham either.

So both Fred and I thought it was pretty neat and very generous of the Camp-Inn folks to let non-Camp-Inns attend their annual rally.

One of the highlights for me was that Fred taught me how to use my dad's old Coleman lantern. He'd bought it in 1983 (the receipt was in the box) but hadn't ever used it so it was both vintage and new. I'd picked up some Coleman liquid fuel on the way and that evening we filled her, pumped her little knob, and lit her up. I have to say a Coleman lantern is a camping essential. More on that in a future post.

The rally was also my first opportunity to use one of the vintage folding chairs I'd found at The Antiques Colony earlier this year. I have a pair. They were green and brown when I bought them. Now they're glampy yellow!

I was also lucky that Fred was there because other than fruit and wine I didn't bring a whole lot to eat. LOL. He'd told me ahead of time I won't go hungry so I didn't worry about buying groceries since I'd been on the road for the four days previous to my arrival. Not only did he bring enough food for both of us, he even got me some honey!

It was one of the options the organizers had made available when you registered that you could purchase honey, bees wax, and cranberries because nearby the Cranfest was taking place that weekend.

Fred lives in Michigan and had arrived a day before me so he'd scouted out the available campsites and chose a picture perfect one for us right alongside the lake. That's his Northern Lite Traveler trailer to the left in the lower picture. Believe it or not it weighs even less than The Glampette with a dry weight of only #525 pounds.

On Saturday there was a huge potluck dinner. This is not the dinner we attended. Due to rain that evening, and our needing enough hands to carry our potluck contribution, dinner dishes, flatware, and our own drinking cups, I didn't have enough hands to want to juggle my camera in the rain. But, our dinner looked the same as this one, only with less sun, more jackets, and more wet.

After dinner there were announcements and awards. Guess who won the award for coming the furthest distance from the west? One guess. Mmmm hmmm. Me! So cool to win an award at my first rally. And it's gorgeous. A beautifully routed wood plaque that I will cherish always.

The next morning I woke up and went to photograph the sunrise, which was as dramatic as a sunset because of the low clouds over the lake.

There was a huge group breakfast then people departed to either head home. . .

Or go take a tour of the Camp-Inn factory in nearby Necedah. We'd signed up for it on Friday after I'd arrived.

Can I just say I felt as if I was in Santa's toy shop? But the toys were gorgeous teardrop trailers. The trailers in the lower half of the picture above are completed, the white paper is to protect their aluminum skin until they go home with their new owners.

The factory itself was very impressive. Everything was clean and meticulously organized. The jigs they use to fabricate some of their parts looked like sculptural works of art themselves. It was fascinating and the perfect way to end our Camp-Inn weekend.

Thank you so much to Craig, Cary, Betsey and everyone else who made the rally possible. It was such a treat to drive so far across the country and be so warmly received.

Not only did I take home an award, I also took home a Camp-Inn, double walled, stainless mug. Fred won a pair in a raffle after the potluck and was kind enough to give me one as a memento of our weekend in Mauston. Lucky me :)