Monthly Archives: July 2015

Campground Review: Castle Rock County Park – Friendship, WI

PHOTO_20150720_151720.jpg Castle Rock County Park, (Adams County), near Friendship, WI was a good find for us. We wanted a spot reasonably close to Wisconsin Dells but far enough out that we could escape the higher tourist rates of that area when all we wanted to do was visit there one day. The result was a week’s stay at this nice campground located on a large, beautiful lake. The campground is pretty big with around 200 sites and is quite popular with people living in the area. Most of the sites are leased seasonally but a few of the best sites (along the road by Castle Rock Lake), as well as other nearby sites are set aside and can be reserved for up to two week stays. Other sites, if not in use by seasonals, are also available to travelers. I think I’d call ahead to check for availability rather than just show up, especially on a summer weekend.

100_4204.JPG Most of the sites are level grassy spots, but several of the short term sites are nice gravel sites. There are no sewer hookups anywhere in the campground but there is a dump station. There are a variety of spots with one section in a pine tree filled area and other grassy sites in partial to full sun. One thing I noticed was that the electric pedestals and water hookups are often in odd configurations with outlets for multiple campers and often requiring extensions cords and hoses. In our case the shared hookups were directly behind the camper so there’s at least a good chance that the hookups will be close by.

100_4212.JPG 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

100_4231.JPG Our main sightseeing event while staying at Castle Rock Lake was an afternoon at the Wisconsin Dells. We wanted to see some of the beauty of the area as well as get an overview of the area. A ride on the Original Wisconsin Ducks was just what we wanted. Our tour guide was quite entertaining as well as informational. We spent the first part of the tour on land riding through the woods and then entered the Wisconsin River for a short cruise and then after another short overland jaunt we cruised on Lake Delton for a while. Our guide pointed out rock formations along the river and gave a short history of the Lake and famous landmarks nearby. It was a fun and entertaining tour. We also did some shopping at the huge outlet mall there and looked around the town. It’s a tourist’s dream with an emphasis on water parks.

PHOTO_20150724_182905.jpg 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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2015 little Free Library near Friendship, WI

Castle Rock County Park

2397 County Rd Z, Friendship, WI 53934

I came across this Free Library at the Castle Rock County Park near Friendship, WI.  This library is part of the Little Free Library movement  that was started Wisconsin in 2009. It has now become an international program. I will keep watching for more to share as we travel.

2015 Castle Rock County Park near Friendship, WI - 12015 Castle Rock County Park near Friendship, WI - 2

 

 

Campground Review: Crystal Lake Campground – Strum, WI

PHOTO_20150714_095727.jpg Crystal Lake Campground is a nice city operated campground in Strum, WI. It’s a few miles south and west of I94 and within easy driving distance of Eau Claire, about 30 minutes away. There are basically two sections of the campground. The older section consists of sites 1-21. These sites are grass camping spots with plenty of trees and a feeling of privacy. They are also water/electric only. Sites 22-42 are developed gravel campsites offering full hookups. There aren’t as many trees, but a few of the sites look out over the upper portion of the lake. Many of the others border a big open grassy area that has a mown park-like feel. There are restroom/shower buildings in both sections of the park as well a big children’s playground and two volleyball courts – these get a lot of use by the locals.

PHOTO_20150718_101537.jpg The lake itself is a small, but pretty lake. Right at the campground it’s more of a fast moving stream emptying into the lake. However, a short walk toward town takes you right along the lake shore and then over the highway bridge and dam into the small downtown.

Adjacent to the campground and, in fact, right next to several of the campsites in the older section of the campground is a nice nine-hole golf course. If a person likes to golf they can basically walk out of their camper and onto a fairway. The golf course also has a restaurant.

Aside from the golf course, the only other primary draw is Eau Claire which does have some nice attractions as well as about any kind of shopping a person might want to do. There are campgrounds closer to the city, but for the price and amenities, Crystal Lake is an excellent alternative.

100_4170.JPG 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

100_4177.JPG 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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