Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday Trip to Camp

We took a trip to camp on Saturday to burn our brush pile while there is still snow on the ground and everything is still really wet.

We were up bright and early and after loading the car, picked up Mary.

When we turned onto the road that heads up to camp, we noticed that something was on the road. It was a large flock of wild turkeys. They were right in the middle of the road and in no real hurry to cross. I got some nice shots of them in front of the car.

On the way up to camp, Arlene spotted a deer standing completely motionless in a thicket by the road. It always amazes me how long a deer can stand perfectly still.

We got to camp and there was still snow left but not enough that I couldn't get through it with the Blazer. We had brought two fire sticks to get the brush pile going but the pile was so wet that they had little effect.

Arlene, ever the firebug, decided that we needed to try gas, so I drove to the storage shed to get the gas. But even that wouldn't get the pile going.

I decided to try a more traditional method so I walked to camp and got some maple and cedar sticks and then gathered birch bark. Finally, we managed to get the thing started.

Arlene and Mary tended the fire as it slowly burned away. It was quite windy, which helped fan the flames and kept things moving along.

As the pile began to really get going, a small mouse came scurrying out of the inferno and flopped on his back to "Stop, Drop, and Roll". Apparently, he had seen the video! He dived under the pile of birch bark and huddled there. We peeked in at him and found him to be shaken but largely unhurt. I'm sure he'll be inside our trailer in a few days, looking for a new home.

The fire finally died down to one stubborn wet spruce log and a pile of coals so Mary and Arlene rolled the spruce log into the wet snow to extinguish it and we poured two big cans of water on the coals and covered them with snow.

Satisfied that everything was completely out and the coals were cold, we went to check the trailer. We did have a couple of mice in our traps, so we cleaned that up.

Instead of getting warmer, it began to get colder so we headed to Hessel to gamble.

As usual, Mary and I had no luck and Arlene was pretty lucky.

About 7 o'clock, we decided to get something to eat. Arlene thought we should try out the food at the "Runway" Bar.

Now let me explain about the "Runway". When I was younger, the Runway Bar was a notorious "Dive". There were fights in there every single weekend and one time, someone got mad and tried to drive his car through the front door. My Gram called it the "Beer Garden", and would jokingly say "want to stop and hoist a few?" every time we passed there on a ride. Most people wouldn't be caught dead in the Runway.

But several years ago, new people bought the bar and completely remodeled and expanded it. Now it is very nice in there and really clean. The decor is what we call "North Woods" and they have old snowshoes and skis on the walls along with deer heads, a stuffed raccoon trying to open a Cracker Jack box, a stuffed squirrel, a coyote and even a martin.

I was reluctant to go there but Arlene convinced us and I was pleasantly surprised. It was really nice and the burger and fries were first rate. It was real hamburger made into patties not the frozen stuff from Gordon's foods.

We had a nice dinner and headed home. It had been a really long day and we were all ready for our beds.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Gladys Susie Rutledge - We Miss You Gram!

Today is my grandma, Gladys Rutledge's birthday. She would have been 106 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.

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.