Clare County Review & Marion Press Columns

Pat’s Bits and Pieces: And so it begins…


The beginning of the summer season is this weekend.
I know, I know, the calendar says summer starts June 21st, but let’s face it, the season always starts with Memorial Day weekend…
Two Clare County schools have already held graduation ceremonies with only Farwell coming up next weekend.
The school year ends shortly after that, then it is officially the best time of year – summer vacation time!
In fact, the last day of school in Clare County and surrounding areas is coming up fast. In Harrison, schools out May 31st. In Clare, Farwell and Gladwin, it’s June 2nd. Beaverton gets out June 6th and Coleman’s last day is June 7th. Each one is a half-day.
This time of year has always marked the beginning of our camping season and on Memorial Weekend we always went north to “open up the camper.”
We’ve done a lot of that for many years, mostly on weekends, sometimes with an extra day tossed in and occasionally for a whole week at a time.
Years ago, we used to load up the kids, tie on the canoe, load up our big old-fashioned tent and Coleman lamp, stove and various gear and head out. We always took a cooler full of kid-type food and treats. We cooked a lot of meals over the campfire, slept on the ground with mats or air mattresses and sleeping bags, fished or swam every day and took loads of pictures. Later we did it all with a pop-up camper.
That was fun and made for great memories, but not so much anymore, Now that I’m an old lady, I like a bit of luxury thrown in, and since we became “empty nesters,” we have always had a trailer of some sort.
After exploring campgrounds around Roscommon and in Crawford County, we eventually parked our (then) little trailer on a permanent spot – family property near Roscommon. For recreation, the Au Sable River is just down the road, Higgins and Houghton Lake a few miles away, lots to see and do in the area and family to visit.
From our little home away from home, we had a five-mile view, mowed grass, a hammock strung between two trees, a deck and a built-in fire pit for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.
If it was rainy, we’d go shopping, visiting, take naps, read books and watch movies. If the weather was nice, we would go canoeing, for long walks through the woods or berry picking, take naps and enjoy family cookouts – and take lots of pictures.
For several years, my brother Jim and his wife Ginny parked their camper there too, so we always have loads of fun together and would plan our vacations with them.
We lost Ginny to cancer several years ago and their camper was sold, although Jim still liked to come up to visit ours.
Then Sister-in-Law Marlene lost her hubby and sold their summer place near the river. She bought a trailer and parked it next door to ours, added a big screened porch and we had a neighbor once again.
In later years, the RVs made camping more like vacationing in a cottage. We had all the amenities that we have right here at home. Our last one, the fifth wheel, now several years old, was a great investment and we really enjoyed using it for our summer get-aways.
Between age, compromised health and allergies, we have cut back on our trips north.
We’ve decided that since fellow camper Marlene is now longer coming up to hers much anymore, we are selling ours and sharing hers. We are both in our late 70s and she’s in her mid-80s, so between the three of us, we will be able to still enjoy the north country a bit, visit family, and make the accompanying chores a bit easier on handy-man Jack, who will now open and close up just one camper each season instead of two.
So now our 5th wheel is setting right next to our “big camper,” out here on North Whiteville, waiting for a new owner. It was a hard decision, because we remodeled, decorated and made that little get-away place our own.
I’m hoping it goes to someone who can enjoy it as much as we have.

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