Campground Review: Castle Rock County Park – Friendship, WI

The campground boasts a really nice playground, volleyball court, sandy beach, boat launch with rentable slips, and a neat waterfront tent-only area. There’s a stocked camp store and modern restrooms with coin operated showers. The staff is friendly and helpful.

If you plan on visiting this campground you might want to be aware that there’s another Castle Rock County Park on the western side of the lake (different county). We didn’t visit that park but I can imagine someone headed to the east side of the lake getting a bit confused by the signage. This review is for the park in Adams County and near the town of Friendship, WI on the east side of Castle Rock Lake.

We had one problem that you might want to know about. On a hot Saturday afternoon in the full park our electrical management system reported a low voltage of 102 volts and shut the electric down to the camper. The voltage coasted between 102 to 105 volts for about four hours. When it got above 104 volts our EMS would turn the electric back on for a while but after a short time it would drop again. I spite of the warmth of the afternoon we turned the air conditioner and most other electrical items off and moved outside. Around 7:00 that evening the voltage began to rebound and we were good to go for the rest of our stay. The campground staff didn’t know much about electricity and when they called their county guy he told them that having a voltage at that level wasn’t good but that it wouldn’t damage air conditioners. I’m no electrician, but my sources don’t agree. I’ll let you decide about that for yourself. Again, it took a combination of hot afternoon and full campground to cause the problem in the first place.

I think it would be really hard to get satellite TV in the wooded sites, but elsewhere in the campground it should be doable in most sites. Our Verizon 4G was solid. I think we’d return to this campground. The lake is beautiful and, if one can snag one of the sites along the lake, it’s a great spot for a visit to the area.

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Sightseeing Review: Wisconsin Dells and Adams County Fair

In comparison, the Adams County Fair at Friendship, WI was pure hometown fun. It was in full swing so we decided to check it out. We got there in midafternoon and walked through the animal exhibits and then the exhibit hall where there was a variety of food, art, woodworking, flowers, farm, and garden products as well as handmade clothing and quits. We walked through the carnival and then settled in in the grandstands. Prior to the main event of the day was a children’s peddle powered tractor pull complete with peddle tractors and a mini-moving weight. The kids peddled with all their might as the weight got heavier and heavier. It was cute and fun to watch as parents happily clicked photos of the event. The tractor pull, itself, was quite entertaining as various classes of pullers took their turns. We saw everything from antique tractors to pickup trucks to souped-up modern day tractors pull a big weight sled that is engineered to get heavier the farther it is moved. It was my first time to see anything like this and I found it a fun and entertaining way spend an evening in Wisconsin.

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Campground Review: Crystal Lake Campground – Strum, WI

My Verizon 4G worked well and since we were backed up to a wide open field I had no problem at all getting a satellite signal. Also worth mentioning is that the campground has excellent WiFi, a rare find in most any campground. We had not one, but two severe thunderstorms during our one week stay. Both times park personnel knocked on our door (once at 3:00 a.m.) to warn us of the coming storm. I appreciated that extra effort. However, the concrete block restrooms were a distance from our campsite and the “official” place of refuge was the fire station in town, a 5 minute drive away! We stayed put, watching the weather radar on the internet. Had there been anything bigger, though, we would have been in a tough spot.

The open sky could be a real plus for fans of sitting out at night and counting satellites. However, the bad weather I just mentioned plus the abundance of smoky campfires pretty much drove us in after dark. In the right conditions, though, this place would be great for people who like to star gaze.

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Sightseeing Review: Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum – Eau Claire, WI

Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum is a historic museum for all ages. At the entrance there’s a small gift shop and displays of clothing and tools that the loggers wore and used. There’s also a room set aside for kids to play in. It has cute items like “Bunyan-sized” mittens, knife and fork, and a giant shoe. From there we went out into the reconstructed logging camp. It just so happened that we were just in time to join a Mennonite tour group that was on a guided tour. They looked us over and must have decided we were okay. It would have been interesting to chat with them but the group, almost all young women, didn’t interact with outsiders very much; we smiled a lot and they smiled back and that was the full extent of our interaction. Our guide did a great job taking us through the buildings and telling us about the daily life of the loggers who were manly farmers who worked at logging for a dollar a day through the winter months. If the farmer brought his horse along the horse earned 75 cents a day, almost as much as the lumberjack! There were no thermometers made available to the lumberjacks, I guess the foreman thought that if they didn’t know how cold it was that they would have less reason to complain about working conditions! The cook shanty and bunk house were especially interesting to us. We saw a foreman’s office, a camp store (called a Wanigan), and a Filers Shanty where an old logger would sharpen teeth of the saws. In the bunkhouse the men slept two to a bed, shared a common drinking cup, washbasin, towel, and bar of soap. We then went outside and saw how they hoisted logs onto sleds or railroad cars using a machine called a Jammer. The Heavy Equipment Shed includes a modern day vertical band re-saw manufactured in Eau Claire. There’s also a blacksmith shop and a barn. The logging camp is located in Carson Park – a beautiful place with many nice features, including a great ball park that is the home of the minor league Eau Claire Express. There are many nice trails and places for kids to play. I recommend that all who visit Eau Claire check out this nice area.

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Campground Review: Dakota County Fairgrounds – Farmington, MN

The fairgrounds has lots of good gravel roads, so there’s plenty of places for a nice walk. There’s also Dakota Village on the property. It’s a small town of several carefully restored buildings dating back to around 1900. There’s a church, schoolhouse, drug store, blacksmith shop, and several other buildings. During the fair and at other times, local volunteers come out in period clothing to make Dakota Village come alive. There are also equestrian and canine groups that do training adjacent to the camping area. It’s fun watching these activities.

The campground does have restrooms (although the one right at the campground was undergoing repairs during our stay). I saw a single shower in the restroom, though, and it didn’t look very inviting – the toilets, though, were acceptably clean. We had full scale Verizon 4G and, with no trees to speak of, no problem getting a satellite signal. The county fair takes place in August, during that time all campers have to be out, as the area is used for venders and parking.

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Sightseeing review: An Afternoon at Minneapolis’ Mall of America

There are several attractions beyond shopping and eating. We walked through Nickelodeon Universe, an amusement park with a zip-line, several roller coasters, a flume ride, and a number of other rides for all ages. I can only imagine how popular this indoor venue is during the cold Minnesota winters. There is also the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium and Moose Mountain Adventure Golf. In the exhibit area right now there’s the Barbie Dream House experience and a Star Trek exhibition.

It’s easy to see why this is a must-see place for visitors in this area.

Sorry to say because of some issues with the camper as well as some health-related issues we didn’t get to see several of the other area attractions we planned on seeing here. That will have to be done on a future visit!

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Campground Review: Beeds Lake State Park – Hampton, IA

You might want to know that all the RV sites are 50/30 amp only with no water or sewer hookups. There are water spigots scattered around the campground so it’s easy enough to fill up with fresh water upon arriving. However, there is only one dump station for the entire campground. After the busy weekend there was a line of people waiting their turn at the dump station. The campground boasts a couple of new shower houses and restrooms. I had a clear sky for satellite TV and my Verizon phone got a weak, but working 4G connect. There’s a fairly busy train track not far from the campground. We often heard the trains but it wasn’t a big deal.

If you happen to be traveling I35 through northern Iowa and don’t mind driving 10 miles or so off the freeway you might want to keep this place in mind. I suggest you make a reservation so you can guarantee a parameter, back in spot unless you think you would be satisfied with a parallel parking site that will feel like a pull-through when there are few fellow campers around.

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Campground Review: Cherry Glen Campground – CoE – Saylorville Lake, Iowa

This is our second stay at this nice Corps of Engineers campground, located on Saylorville Lake, northwest Des Moines, IA. Things this stay are much the same as they were when we were here two years ago, so you might want to check out my review from that stay. I’ll just focus on a few fresh observations in this post.