Permanent Camp Sites - Do I need one?
By Roy F. Brown
I grew up going camping with my family, then later when I got married we bought a tent and continued the tradition. In later years as family and friends moved away camping became only a fond memory. I do still have some family members camping and will visit them on occasion. It's still fun sitting around the fire and cooking over an open flame, but when it's time to turn in, I'd rather be at home.
When I bought my pontoon those thoughts began to change. I was thinking how great it would be if I could stay at, or close by the lake on weekends. Knowing that I could never afford to buy any property in the vicinity, I started looking at permanent camp sites. That's when a new permanent campgrounds opened up just across the road from where I kept my pontoon docked for the season. I drove through Cranberry Creek Campgrounds and met the owners, Brian and Tammy, who told me there were only 3 spots open. They had only opened a few months earlier with 55 total sites. All of the sites had water and sewer, electricity, and cable tv if you wanted it. Brian also said there were plans for a laundry and shower facility. I picked out a spot that day.
Now the problem was that I did not own a trailer and it was getting late in the year if I wanted to get it moved in and do some camping yet that season. I found a 29 foot, Brunswick trailer with a big window on the living room end which would face the east, letting the morning sun in. The dealer moved the trailer and set it up for me. Now my work begins.
Since this was a new campground and had been covered with pine trees which were cut for logs, the sites were, shall we say, rough. Lot's of brush, poison ivy, and something else with a lot of very sharp thorns. There were also smaller trees that had taken seed beneath the pines, but because they had received very little sun light through the pines they were weak and spindly. All of the campers got strict orders from Tammy not to cut any trees. I only cut the ones that were so small that I figured she'd never know they were gone. After many weekends of brushing and raking, I finally got the site cleared and seeded. I got a fire ring, an old truck tire rim, from a friend and began building fires on top of the old pine stumps. It would take quite a few fires but eventually the stump was low enough that they were no longer a trip hazard. It was never my plan to get rid of all of the stumps, just the ones close to the trailer, and in the walkway to the showers.
The next spring I decided that a deck would be nice. So I sketched out the plans and headed to Menards to buy the lumber. I talked my friend Bill into helping me with the construction. Neither of us had ever built a deck so it was a learning experience, but I have to admit that it turned out pretty nice. I picked up some patio block to make a walkway from the driveway to the deck, got a grill and table and chairs. Although this had all been a lot of hard work, it was enjoyable. I was doing something that not only made the site look better but was going to be my own weekend getaway destination.
Ok, all of the work is done and it's now time to sit back and relax right? Wrong! I'm not comfortable just sitting and doing nothing. Yes I have cable tv but it just doesn't seem right sitting in a trailer in beautiful northern Wisconsin on a nice day. I should be outside enjoying nature, and admiring my landscaping. It just didn't feel right to me.. So I had wireless internet installed, thinking that I could sit on the deck with the laptop and work on my web site, or at least do some surfing. But if all I'm going to do is watch tv or sit in front of a keyboard, I might as well stay home. I had great neighbors that would invite me over for a campfire at night and I would go sometimes, but didn't want to become a bother so most nights I'd start my own fire and have a few drinks. As relaxing as it was it soon became boring, and having the trailer became awkward. When I wasn't there, I thought that I should be, and when I was there I wanted to be home.
So, is a permanent camp site something I need? No, not at this point of my life. When I was younger and the kids were at home it would have been fun, I'm sure, but this is not something that I need now.