Monday, May 7, 2018

Camp Chicken Chronicles Returns

It has been quite awhile since I posted anything from the old Camp Chicken Chronicles blog.  Life gets busy and after my Dad passed away in 2015 it was hard to post.  He and Mom spent so much time at camp and were such a part of the place that it was difficult.  But it is time to start publishing again.

Yesterday promised to be a nice day so Arlene, Mary and I headed for camp to check on things.  We had not been there since muzzleloader season in the first week of December of last year.

Arlene brought Polish Dogs, chips, potato salad and cookies for lunch.  Her son-in-law Dan, his daughter Steph and grandson Chayse and the new Lab puppy Rocket came up also.

Upon arrival, I opened up the trailer to check for mice.  Of course, there were three in the traps.  It is a never ending battle with the unwanted rodents. 

The next chore was to put the batteries back in our four-wheelers.  Arlene wanted to start hers and make sure it was running good, so after connecting the battery she started it up and went for a little ride.

Mom arrived and got to meet Rocket.  It was love at first sight for both of them.

While we waited for lunch to be ready Chayse practiced his sling shot skills shooting at cans that his GG had set up for him.

After stuffing ourselves, we cleaned up what was left of lunch and went to hook up the small trailer that Dan is taking to his house for some much needed repairs.  The floor in the kitchen needs replaced and there was a leak around the ceiling vent over the bed. 

Of course, we can't do a project without something going wrong.  The crank that raises the hitch up on the travel trailer so that you can connect it to the truck broke.  There is a small pin in there that holds the gears in place and it sheared off.  After some improvising, Dan, Mary and Arlene managed to fashion a substitute and get the crank working.

Dan, Steph, Chayse and Rocket headed home and we just sat in the sun and enjoyed the nice weather.  Once the black flies, ticks and mosquitos come out, it won't be so pleasant sitting outside at camp so it was nice to be able to enjoy the rest of the day.

All that fresh air was making us pretty tired, so we loaded up the car and headed home.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

We Miss You, Gram!

Every year I remember Grandma's birthday. It doesn't seem possible that it has been ten years since she passed on. I know that she is smiling up there in heaven because now Chris, Judy and Ross are living here and our family is home again.

Today was my grandma, Gladys Rutledge's birthday. She would have been 110 years old. She passed away at the age of 100 on April 18th, 2004.

It is because of her and my grandpa, Elmer Rutledge, that Camp Chicken even exists. It belonged to them and when Gram passed, it was passed on to my mother, Gloria Smith.

Gram lived through many trials and changes, the Great Depression and all of the major world wars to name a few. She saw America change in so many ways. The things we take for granted today; cars, telephones, indoor plumbing, electricity, radio, and television were all "new" things in her lifetime.

Gram loved Camp Chicken, only she called it the "Forty". She liked to sit in a chair outside at camp and listen to the birds and the wind in the trees. She loved the sound of the wind in the trees and would always remark that "the trees are really talking today".

Camp brought her peace, I think, and good memories of the times she spent there with Gramp. They had huge gardens at camp and helped Mom and Dad cut wood to heat our house.

I think of her often when I'm at Camp and sometimes, I feel her presence there. Arlene, who has what I call "Native ESP", sometimes actually sees her spirit there. I think she comes to see what we are up to and to just make sure that we are all right. It is a comforting feeling, really.

I miss her and even now, I'll pick up the phone to call her if there is something on TV that I know she would like to see. Sometimes when I'm driving to Pickford, I'll think, "Oh, I should stop by and see Gram". Then I realize that she is gone.

She had a huge influence in my life. She told us stories about our family history and because of that, we know where we came from and how we got here. She taught us to be frugal with a dollar and to work hard.

Gram loved to read and passed on that love to our Mother, Gloria, who passed it on to us. My brother, sister and I all love to read and my nephew, Ross is a voracious reader. Ross gets his love of reading from his Mother, Judy and from our side of the family too.

Gram also loved the outdoors and was an avid birdwatcher all of her life. She took great pleasure in nature and all of the plants, trees, and animals that inhabit our world.

Gram was a wonderful cook and baker. She made the most incredible ginger/molasses cookies, chocolate chip cookies and my favorite, apple pie. I really miss the apple pie made from the transparent apples that grew on the apple trees at Camp Chicken.

I know that my sister Cindy really misses the ginger cookies.

One time when Gram and Gramp were away, Cindy and our cousin Sandie Nettleton got into Gram's large cookie jar and ate all of the ginger cookies. Boy, were they sick!

When Arlene was desperately ill with cancer and couldn't eat anything at all, Gram baked her ginger cookies every week, and told her to eat them because ginger helps settle your stomach. Arlene says that Gram's ginger cookies helped save her life.

Gram was wonderfully skilled in the old arts of sewing, crocheting, knitting and quilting. For years she quilted with the other Senior Ladies down at the town hall. When she got too old to go down and quilt, she quilted baby quilts at home. Everyone who was blessed with the gift of one of her quilts treasured them always.

Oh, Gram had her moments too. She had an awful temper and could be difficult. When she got very old, sometimes the bad seemed to outweigh the good. There were times when I know she drove my poor Mother crazy.

To my Mother's great credit, she still went to Gram's house every day after my Grandpa passed away in 1983 and made sure she was all right, brought Gram her mail, and did countless chores for her. I know it wasn't easy for her to be Gram's caregiver for so long.

But, as is usually the case, we tend to remember the good times we had with Gram and all of the wonderful things she did in her lifetime.

  • Happy Birthday, Gram! We sure miss you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Camp Chicken Loses It's Smallest Warrior


We are so sad to let everyone know that we have lost Camp Chicken's smallest warrior. Mary Sue's little dog Tiny had to be put down last week.

She had been suffering from heart problems for a couple of years now and Mary had been giving her heart medicine that the vet had prescribed. The heart medicine seemed to be working pretty good and Tiny even grew back the hair that she had lost over the years. She had begun to look like one of those hairless dogs instead of a Pomeranian. But she was getting to look like her old self. Although, at times she would seem to lose her balance and get her front legs crossed up.

We are just broken-hearted to have lost her and Mary Sue is inconsolable. She was such a little character. She could be gentle and loving one moment and as crabby as a little bear the next. But she always looked out for us when we were at Camp. She was unhappy if she lost one of her "people" and would have to always move so that she could keep all of us in sight at all times.

She was especially upset if she lost sight of Mary and would bark and bark until Mary came and picked her up. Tiny was a good watch dog too, even though she only weighed 14 pounds. She had sharp eyes and if she started growling or barking we would know that she had spied some animal and we needed to pay attention. She could spot movement in the woods and was quick to let us know we had an intruder.

She was such an important part of Camp Chicken life that it is going to really hard for all of us now that she is no longer there.   We would take her along wherever we went.  She sat in a lawn chair and watched us build Arlene's deer shack, our camp storage shed and our new storage shed.

We taught her to ride in a backpack on the 4-wheelers and took her back to Mary's hunting camp in that backpack several times to bait for Mary's brother, George for deer season.  She would sit patiently in the chair and watch us cut wood and do all kinds of camp chores.   As long as she could see Mary and Arlene and I, she was happy.

You know, our pets are such and important part of our lives.  They are members of our families and when we lose them, we grieve.


Rest in Peace, Tiny Bubbles.  We will miss you.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Camp Chicken Labor Day Weekend 2013

We had planned on spending the weekend at Camp Chicken but the weather report for the weekend was for hot weather Saturday, rain and thunderstorms on Sunday, and cold and rainy for Monday.  So we didn't plan on going to camp.  We were going to try and squeeze in a round of golf and that was it.

Saturday morning the weather didn't look too bad so we thought we would go to camp and take photos of all of the changes that have taken place since we had a logging company come in and cut the dying spruce trees and remove the poplar and dying maple and birch.  People have been asking how it looks now.

Camp looks very, very different now.  There are no spruce or balsam trees left around the camp circle.  It is extremely open and you can see such a long way into the woods.  This was how Camp Chicken looked when I was in my teens.  It was very open then and ringed with giant elm trees.  The elms all got Dutch Elm disease and slowly died off in the late 70's.  That opened up the sun and the spruce trees took advantage of that to take over the camp area.  They all came from the big "Mother" Spruce trees that were there.  There were three of them and they were probably 100 feet tall.  The spruce seedlings came from them.  They are sadly all gone now, victims of Spruce Bud Worm.

So anyway, we decided to get some chips, pop and adult beverages and take a ride to camp.  Chris, Judy, Ross and Cindy went with us.  It was warm at camp but not terribly bad.  We sat around and visited and had snacks.  It was so relaxing. 

About 6:00 pm we decided to go to the Sundown for wing night.  They have the best wings around and it is all you can eat with fries and cole slaw.  After stuffing ourselves we left the restaurant and we were going to head home when my nephew Ross, said "I thought we were going to stay at camp this weekend?"  I explained that because of the uncertain weather that was forecasted, we had decided not to go.  He looked so disappointed, that I just couldn't say no. 

So we made plans on the fly.  Mary Sue, Arlene and I would go to the Soo, and pack clothes, get groceries and get Tiny Bubbles and meet Chris, Judy, Ross and Cindy up at camp.  Since the new pop-up camper was still at Chris's house, he was going to tow it to camp so they would have a place to sleep.

We got to camp about 9:30 PM and tried to set up things in the pitch dark.  Chris and I tried to run power to the pop-up so that Arlene and Mary could see what they were doing and suddenly water started shooting out of the sink.  There shouldn't have been any water in it.  So they had to clean that up before they could finish setting up the camper.

It was an adventure but we got everything done and a fire started.  It was so nice but really damp.  If you got out of your chair for a minute it was wet.  The fire was nice after we finally got it going.  We sat around visiting and finally went to bed. 

Everyone was up fairly early and we got the generator going and started making coffee for everyone.  About 11:00 AM we headed to town to have breakfast.  Main Street CafĂ© was closed and Big "D"'s was so crowded there were no tables so we went to the Sundown.  They have a nice brunch menu so we stuffed ourselves.  We went back to camp and we were going to cut the grass and set up the croquet set but it started to rain and rained most of the day.

So we sat in the "Clubhouse" and played cards.  The rain did quit long enough for us to start leveling the area where we want to put the pop-up.  Mary Sue started it.  She went a grabbed a shovel and started leveling a spot.  My sister-in-law Judy says Mary is from the "Badger Clan", she isn't happy unless she is digging in the dirt.  We laughed so hard at that one. 

We decided to cook dinner while we had sunshine.  Arlene made red potatoes and onions cooked in tin foil on the grill and we grilled hot dogs.  Judy had brought garden cucumbers and tomatoes too.  Supper was really good.  During dinner it started to rain again and while Arlene was doing dishes it started to thunder and lightening really bad.  So some of us took shelter in the trailer and some of us went to the clubhouse.  The worst of it missed us but it really rained hard.

Janet had come up for a visit so after dinner we went to the "Clubhouse" and finished our Phase 10 game from the afternoon and then we all played Attack Uno.  It was a lot of fun.  Chris, Judy and Ross were pretty tired so they decided to go sleep at home in their own beds.  We hit the hay as we were all pretty tired.

We were up at 8:00 AM and made coffee.  Breakfast was cheese and crackers and bananas but it sure tasted good.  It was still raining so we opted for Phase 10 to see if it would quit but no luck.

Chris, Judy and Ross came back up to help us close up camp and put things away so that was a big help.  We'll be back up Tuesday or Wednesday to get the pop-up and bring it in to wash it.

Oh and we have a new addition to Camp Chicken!  Chris, Judy and Ross got us a rooster to stand guard over camp when we aren't there.  We haven't named him yet but I'm sure we can come up with something appropriate.

There are more photos on my Facebook if anyone is interested.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trip to Camp 3-09-13

The new vent cover arrived during the week and after hearing that rain was in the forecast for Sunday, we decided to make a trip to camp. Chris, Judy and Ross volunteered to go along to help us.

The road was still in great shape even after a week of warm weather. I was a little worried that it might be soft or slushy but it was good. We parked at the gate and after getting our snow shoes strapped on headed in to camp.

Chris helped me get the tall stepladder out of the shed and he climbed up on the roof while Arlene went inside to do what needed to be done in there. The roof was really icy so Judy volunteered to walk back out to the cars to get the shovel. Chris was able to get some of the ice off the roof so it was a little safer to walk up there.

Neither of us thought to get tools so Judy had to trudge to the shed to get the tool box and screwdrivers for us. She asked us if we needed anything else and we said "No" so she set out on a walk to the back of the clearing.

After surveying the situation for a bit, we managed to figure out how the old vent cover had to come off and the new vent cover had to go on. We had directions, but they weren't very helpful and as Chris said "who needs directions, anyway?" But after a bit, Chris managed to get the new vent cover on. We had to lay on the trailer roof to do it and we were both soaked by the time we got done.
Judy had come back from her walk and said that there was a fresh deer kill right at the end of the camp clearing. So Chris, Ross and Arlene headed off to check it out.

This is the closet we have ever seen a kill to camp, and it was really fresh too. There were plenty of tracks and some were really fresh as if we had actually scared them off. They looked like coyote tracks, pretty small prints for wolves . It looked as though they had peed around the kill as if marking their territory.

This is a bit too close to camp for my comfort so we may have to go see if we can use a call and get a shot at them.

But after checking it all out we loaded up and headed back to the cars. Chris, Judy and Ross were going to the Laker hockey game that night so we wanted to get back.

It was a relief to get the vent cover replaced and considering how much it rained Saturday night and all day Sunday, I am really glad we got it done.
I have to say that now I'm getting anxious to start going up to camp and spending the weekends again. It seems like a long time since we have been there.   Spring can come any time now.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Trip to Camp 2-23-13

Arlene had a bad feeling about camp so we decided to go have a look on Saturday. 

First we had to clean up the 6 inches of snow that fell overnight and then rested for an hour before heading out.

Chris, Judy and Ross came with us and we were again able to drive right to our gate thanks to Dana Galer who keeps the road open.  They had spent the morning cleaning up the snow at their house as well.

We all put on snow shoes for the trek into camp.  I wore Grandma Glady's traditional wooden shoes which was kind of special.  I haven't worn them since I got my smaller winter walker snow shoes from L.L. Bean.

We were all quite surprised by all the snow that had fallen at camp.  Arlene and I had been there about four weeks ago to clean off everything and the snow on the trailer was pretty deep again.

I climbed up on the trailer and started with it while Judy, Ross and Chris started removing the snow off the big shed.  I was almost to the end of our trailer when I realized that something wasn't looking right.  There were two separate heavy, icy layers mixed in with the snow and the weight had broken the vent cover on the vent over the bedroom and the bed.

Chris helped Arlene shovel a path to the trailer door so she could get inside.  Sure enough there was snow on the bed but not much, thank goodness.

Arlene's ESP had been right on.  We managed to put some black plastic over the screen and close the damaged vent cover.  I then covered it with a tarp and shoveled snow on top of it.  It will have to do until we can order a new cover and replace the broken one.

When I finished, Chris helped me to shovel off the popup and then he helped Judy do the rest of the shed.  We were going to build a fire and Arlene and Ross had shoveled off the firepit but we couldn't get at the kindling and firewood so Arlene decided to cook our hotdogs on the grill.  Luckily we didn't have to dig that out of 4 feet of snow.

That hot dog tasted as good as filet mignon by the time we were finished!

We finished up and gathered up everything and snowshoed back out to the vehicles.

Then we headed to Mom and Dad's to blow out their driveway.  Our cousin Danny Nettleton had been doing it but his blower broke so we went to help out.

We ended a long, long day of snow shoveling, snow blowing, and ice chopping over pizza at our house.  Chris, Judy and Ross were going to the Lakers game so we treated them to dinner after all of their hard work.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snow Shoeing Tahquamenon

Arlene had found this ad in the Soo Evening News that the DNR was sponsoring guided snow shoe hikes at Tahquamenon Upper Falls every Saturday in February so we planned a trip.  Chris, Judy and Ross were going to come with us but came down with a cold so it just ended up being Arlene and I.

The guided tour wasn't until 3:00 PM but we left the Soo about noon and took the scenic highway that goes past Brimley and along the Superior lakeshore. 

It was really a beautiful drive.  It had been a long time since either of us had been to Paradise, Michigan.  We had a good time reminiscing about our snowmobile trips to that area.

We got to the Upper Falls about 2:20 PM and went to check out the snow shoe tour.  We met some really helpful DNR folks who gave us all kinds of good information about snow shoeing the trails.  They had snow shoes there that you could borrow and they had a nice fire going with hay bales to sit on.  We found out that we could just go on our own so we decided to go ahead instead of waiting for the tour.

We took the snow shoe trail that goes through the woods to the Upper Falls viewing outlook.  You can actually walk to the Falls down a plowed path but snow shoeing is more fun.

This was a giant tree that was down and the trail went right under it.  It was pretty neat.

This part of the trail is about one-third of a mile and kind of up and down over some pretty lumpy terrain.  It didn't take us too long to get to the Falls though.

We met some nice snowmobilers who took our picture and then we took theirs too.

We decided to take the "Lantern Trail" back to the main parking lot.  That is the shorter loop that is about a mile long and they do Lantern Lighted cross-country ski and snow shoe tours with a bonfire and hot chocolate.  There is a longer trail called the Big Pines Trail that goes over three miles. 

The trails are groomed for cross-country skis and snow shoes.  If you go on snow shoes you are supposed to walk on the sides so you don't mess up the track for the skis. 

We saw this unique snow formation along the trail.  It looks like someone in a hat.

There were some really beautiful big pine trees along the trail.  They were really tall and really big.  I tried to put my arms around one of them but I couldn't even come close.

We made it back to the starting point and decided we didn't want to overdo it so we didn't go around the rest of the loop.  When we got back to the where the pavilion and the bonfire was, we met Roger Morrison sitting at the fire.  We had a nice visit with him.  Funny how the whole place was crawling with skiers, snowmobilers, and strangers and there was someone we knew sitting by the fire.

We walked over to the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub.  It is a pretty cool place.  They brew their own beer and have a gift shop and restaurant there.  The food was pricey but good and we had a nice dinner.  They do brew their own root beer and it was delicious.

When I was a kid there wasn't anything at the Falls but a gift shop and a little snack shack where you could get a pop and some chips. 

It was getting late so we headed back to the Soo.  I had to pull over to the side of the road so Arlene could take some photos though.