A special shout out to the three guys that advised me through the purchase of my Ford Truck in May, Jim, Bill and Regis.
On July 26th I drove East two hours to Freier's Truck Toppers in Appleton, WI, to get the topper put on the bed of Big Blue. I had ordered the topper in May.
When I pulled into the parking lot, I could see the blue Leer topper already waiting in the garage for me.
They found a place for me to sit and wait and plug in my computer. The chair they gave me was damp, and the inside of the shelter was covered in old spider webs.
I didn't care! I had more than one line of cell service!
I turned on my computer and started to check email and upload a picture or two to this blog.
The owner had told me on the phone the process would take two hours. But I just got done checking email and my bank account and I had just begun to write to you and bam! They were done!
Dang! I had been looking forward to spending some time with net access!
After paying about $4,000 for the topper, I was driving back to cell service desert near Boulder Junction, Wisconsin.
I am into this! ... No I am not
Camp hosting at South Trout Lake had several big advantages. I had a nice big camping spot. I could stay there for a whole month. I am hearing from others that it is difficult to get a two-week reservation even when you get online as soon as the reservations become available, eleven months prior. And even the sights with no electric get snatched up. The campground only has 23 sites so the number of sites I needed to clean each day was minimal.
Five days a week I was required to clean the pit toilets. That might sound disgusting, but these toilets were really clean with modern plastic toilet seats in good shape.
To clean them I would spray the disenfectant on the seats and doors and sometimes the walls. Then I left it to work its magic while I swept for cobwebs inside and out.
The walls of the stalls were probably painted with enamel paint that was peeling. I always waited to sweep the floors until after I wiped down the walls and toilets because there were always chips of paint that came off when I wiped the walls.
The work required fit well within the 20 hours per week required of a host.
I was enjoying the trails and the forests and the many many lakes. (Did I tell you there are over 900 lakes within the American Legion State Forest?)
Most nights I would walk either to the dock next to my campsite, or down the road about two blocks to a place where I might get another line of cell service. From there I could study Spanish on Duolingo and maybe (sometimes) send a picture of the sunset to Steve in New York, Terry in Tennessee, or my Sister, just a few miles away.
One day I took the kayak that my sister loaned me and went early in the morning to Lake Allequash within a mile or two of my campsite.
When I arrived at the parking lot I heard a lot of grackles "grackling" in the trees. Not the prettiest sounding bird, but the sheer number of them made the experience fun.
Then when I got out on lake and started gliding across the glass-like surface, I was amazed at the wide variety and quantity of birds singing from the surrounding trees.
On that kayak ride I saw a pair of tundra swan and their two signets. I saw two separate families of loon and the amount and variety of calling they were making was incredible! I made a video to capture the sound (don't mind the picture, I turned the camera while filming.) I saw an eagle dive down to the water. And all the time I heard the lovely call of the Thrush (I think it was the Hermit because it's song is the prettiest in my opinion.) Hermits feed on the ground but often sing from the trees. Probably there were other kinds of thrushes too.
I thought of my birding and Kayaking friends Diane, Cindy, Regis, and Mary Ann and hoped we could share this experience together some time. They would be able to identify the birds sounds. I imagined them smiling, their mouths agape, in awe and wonder.
When my kayak ride was done I felt like I had just come from a fantastic massage. My body was all mushy and relaxed, my spirit several levels higher than my normal. I would not be exagerating to say I was high on life.
I had learned that there was a campground further north within the forest that had more sites and needed a "manager". A campground manager is a full-time all-season host that gets paid a wage.
Since I was loving the area so much, I decided to ride up there to check it out. Twice.
There were two campgrounds needing a manager. But Sandy Beach had lots of deer flies that hovered over and in front of me as I rode my trike toward the campground. I must have had three dozen with me most of the nine miles from Manitowish to the campground. I imagined I looked like Pig Pen from the Peanuts Comic Book gang.
The second time I sat at the picnic table at the Big Lake Campground and used the cell service to see if there was a stronger signal than where I was staying at South Trout Lake.
On that day at that moment I had three lines of cell service. Later I discovered that three lines at one moment does not mean three lines ten minutes later or two feet away. The second time, though, I noticed that the Manager's site didn't have electricity or water. Just like where I was at this season.
So if I took the job, I would be living without electricity a whole season. It would require me to buy a gas heater because it can freeze this far north in May and October. If I add a portable gas heater to my trailer I would then put in safety alarms in my trailer. Still, I was considering it.
I was enjoying the bike trail. Bikers I had encountered on the trail were enthusiastic, some of them saying, "I have been on a lot of trails and this is the best I have ever been on."
But it was also nice to be kind of close to my sister's place. Where I could go visit. And I got another picture of the fun paint job she had done to her basement stairs.
I did have a Damsel Fly ride on my finger for a long long time. I took a picture for Debra. She likes dragon flies. I am sure a teal damsel fly will do.
There is a couple of great hiking trails nearby. The Star Lake Trail I walked with Big Bang Bob early in the month and later on a warm day I walked it with Mary. She and I took a dip in the cool water.
I had told Steve about a tree I saw on the trail. It had fallen over years earlier across the trail. But a few upward limbs just kept growing and still reach for the sun. They are now as tall as the other trees in the area. It was inspiring that dispite adversity, with persistance and adaptation, life overcame. He asked me to take lots of pictures, so when I was with Mary on the hike, I took lots of pictures, trying to capture the story of the tree.
I also saw a couple other trees that were inspiring. A birch tree hit by lightning, reaching skyward, the top full of leaves and looking happy.
I talked with Debra on the phone and she talked sense and I decided not to persue the position for next season. But then in a day or two I was back to considering it.
Why? Because I loved the area, the job was outside and active, and because I spent twice what I had budgeted for a next vehicle when I bought Big Blue. I was ready to dedicate time and energy to re-building my savings.
I have resisted working again because I don't want to take away from my play time with my friends in Florida. But a seasonal job would be good, right?
Then I got food poisoning... or something. It knocked down my energy several knotches, my spirits went down with the energy. It hit me that living without a good fridge and without running water can be dangerous if I get in too much of a hurry. or get sloppy.
How long does unchlorinated water stay potible in a container in the summer heat? When I got food poisoning I stopped trusting my water and looked forward to getting to a location where I had a running water supply.
I realize now there are plenty of seasonal jobs that don't require me to live without electric and without good cell service. So I am pretty sure I am turning down the Camp Manager position when they call me in November.
But you know me and my flippy-floppy head. We just never know where my head will be at in November.
Speaking of sick. My last days at the camp is when I got sick. Ann Abeles said I needed to go see a doctor because I was sick longer than 48 hours. She and Fred were both scientists and Fred did work on viruses so I trusted her judgement.
My plan had been that August 2nd I would pack up and take two days of driving to get to Bemidji where I would ride the Paul Bunyan Trail and see Ann and Fred.
When August 2nd arrived, I didn't feel up to packing up camp and driving all the way to Northern Minnesota.
So I canceled my reservation there and moved up my reservation for West Bay Camping Resort in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. The campground where I had reserved in Bemidji charged me for the full week and their policy is not to return a dime if I cancel within a week of arriving.
So more money down the tube. Bye bye.
I went to a walk in clinic. I got tested for COVID (negative) and then she told me that from my symptoms it was most likely viral and that is a good thing because my body will probably fight it off.
So I am camping for a month at a private campground with electric and water and a shower house! I was thrilled when I used my microwave for the first time. My fridge! I have ice! I have a light in my fridge! And I have my sink set up with a water filter and trust-worthy water to drink.
While in Rhinelander I will brush up my resume and introduce myself to the Chamber and elsewhere and inquire about a seasonal position for next year.
Of course there is still a part of me that doubts I should do it here, I mean what about the Finger Lakes region of New York? Or the mountains of Virginia? Where else that has good bicycling and vistas and seasonal jobs?
But then there is the comfort of having my sister nearby. Right now I am using her back porch and wifi to write to you.
I am back to working out at the Anytime Fitness like last year. I tested my jumping capability and I am still able to jump as high as last year.
The two new friends I have been texting or talking to most nights are moving along in their lives too.
Terry (whose wife passed maybe a year and a half ago) is on his way to Sturgis, SD. He had to step over some nervousness and doubt to make this trip. But he is on his way and I am excited for him. He is towing his motorcycle behind a pickup that he has fixed up so he can sleep in it. Nice work.
He has also moved into a new home for him and one night when we were talking while he was sitting on his balcony, I could hear the crawdads singing. (He's in Tennesee).
Steve of New York (whose wife died suddenly this spring) and I have enjoyed great conversations. He told me about "Playing for Change" which is great music by great musicians from all over the world put together to raise money to save the Planet or something. It does some good somewhere. Steve is enjoying rides with his northern bicycle group which is a LOT bigger than our group in Florida. He rides motorcycle and havests lovely tomatoes from his garden. He wows me with stories of climbing mountains and wilderness camping.
I really REALLY appreciate having their regular contact and conversations. Life is better when you have people to share it with.
And that is why I so much appreciate YOU! Thanks for traveling with me.
When I was on the Root River Trail I took a picture of a sign by the Welcome Center in Harmony, MN. I shared it with you and a while later I got a note from Max Schulman who has co-written and published a number of books on the trails in our part of Florida. You can find his books by clicking here.
"Peace & Harmony.
Writing came to Japan from China, and Japanese still uses the Chinese
characters along with their own native alphabets adapted from them. It was part
of the massive cultural importation that occurred over the course of several
hundred years. However, there are also hundreds of kanji characters that were
made in Japan.
These native Japanese characters are called kokuji (国字 – national characters). They’re also referred to as wasei kanji (和製漢字 – kanji made in Japan)"
And he added:
"internet research and chart assembly" by Max."
Your lifestyle show true genius... and I am green with envy
with every post!