Monday, June 9, 2014

North Country: Getting started

June 2014:

The Texas summer has set in with overnight lows only getting down to a steamy high 70's/low 80's and daytime temps jumping up into the 90's, with the 100's lurking around the corner. This effectively shuts down the short trip season, at least for me, since the nearest comfortable weather is an altitude tempered 800 miles away in New Mexico, but that doesn't mean I can't be drug out of the shop and into the van if the reason is strong enough. What follows is one such trip taken exactly one year ago.

Jun 9 2013

OK, out the door once again. This time the destination is a nephew’s wedding in Michigan. I try to claim that I don’t usually do much traveling this time of year what with the heat making sleeping oppressively uncomfortable along with the fact that summer break has released all those kids out into the wild with the rest of us, but that doesn’t seem to hold true the past few years.  First it was my niece’s wedding a few years ago in July, then my daughter’s graduation in Tucson in 2012 at the end of May, when all the snowbirds have already abandoned the place to the heat, followed this year by my nephew’s wedding.

You’d think I’d have sworn off summer trips to Michigan after my niece’s wedding.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a great wedding, but it was also 100 humid degrees for much of the week I was there. If I want to spend my time in the van trying to sleep in my own sweat while listening to the roof-top AC unit whine I could have stayed in Texas! But once I showed up for her wedding I kind of boxed myself in. Not like I could show up at hers then give my nephew’s a pass, especially since I was still working when she got married and I’m retired now! That’s as good a way to get in bad with the family as I think you can come up with!!

 Oh well, heat here we come again. As long as I’m going anyway I figure I might as well make the best of it by getting up into country that's a little inhospitable at the other end of thermometer during non-summer times of the year, such as Minnesota and the north shore of Lake Superior. So, summer heat or not, North Country here we come!

But first I’ve got to get there.

I’ve always had a less than flattering opinion of the I35 corridor between San Antonio and the Red River at the northern border of Texas, and today didn’t do anything to change that. It’s a miserable piece of road, poorly designed, with little of interest along the way and way over-crowded. Unfortunately, when you're heading north and trying to get from here to there without dawdling from our place in central Texas there just isn’t much choice.

Taking it fairly easy I got a leisurely start this morning and slipped through the tangled mess of Ft. Worth around mid-afternoon and made it up to the Texas border before I stopped. I’m in a campground at the Cedar Mills Marina on the south shore of Lake Texoma tonight. It’s a little off the path down some smaller roads but looked interesting when I was perusing The Book (Trailer Life Campground Guide).

In addition to the small campground this place has a large marina, fuel dock, marine repair and parts store, boat storage, boat sales, an ocean-going sailboat factory, a restaurant, a yacht club, a camp store, lots of rental cabins (Booked solid on the weekends through August according to a phone conversation I overheard while checking in.), many vacation homes and an airstrip.

I’m jammed deep into the trees in what is normally a tent site (Only way to get electric/water only rather than a more costly full hookup site.) that cost me just over $20 per night. Again, the advantage of having a nice compact rig that is pretty much self-sufficient.

Note the low branch on the left that I had to maneuver the AC unit around.

I’m sitting here watching a gaggle of adults, kids and probably some other sorts of creatures, across the other side of the campground. It’s obviously a gathering of several families and it reminds me of camping trips when I was young. (Pretty much all the Aunts and Uncles camped and we often all did it together.)

Several of the boys over there are currently running around tossing water and ice from the coolers at each other, gradually escalating the game so they can find the point where someone is going to get hurt, or when one of the adults will put a stop to the game. (I know because I used to be one of those kids.) The girls are gathered around a couple of the mothers all engrossed in something on one of the many tables they have circled together. The men are sitting/standing around showing each other they know how to build a fire and drink beer. (I know because - well, except for the beer part, never did get a taste for the stuff - I used to be a man. - Wait! Somehow that doesn't sound quite right. . .)

Ahh, old times. Except I don’t remember us having fancy travel trailers and $50,000 pickups to pull them with or decked out power boats with the latest in toys to pull behind them, or motorized scooters for the kids to run back and forth to the bathroom on; and we never missed any of that stuff either!

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