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Leonard's Campground Review - Part 4

Sometimes the campgrounds aren't all that spectacular, as compared to those that offer miniature golf, swimming pools, horse back rides and such. Some campgrounds just offer differences, such as the next two.

Spruce Park on the River at Kalispell, Montana.

campground at Spruce Park on the river When we arrived at Kalispell from the south, we were bone tired after an unusually long days ride. So we stopped at the first campground we came to. We recommend staying here when at Kalispell. There were a few RV's and trailer campers, but lots of open tent sites beneath the trees. The owners were on hand and gave us the spot we wanted. We found this campground to be modern with sanitary bathrooms and showers. The grounds were well kept. They have unique hand crafted flower pots throughout the grounds, which causes you to stop and marvel at the craftsmanship. The campground sits on the shore of the Flat Head River. From the campground you can see the mountains of the International Glacier Park. We wanted to tour the Park and ride on the famous "Going To The Sun" road.

famous Going to Sun Road This tour, was the tour we decided to fly fish as many famous rivers as possible. We asked about fishing the Flat Head river and the lady owner told us to fish from the campground shore and we wouldn't need to buy a license. We got that questionable feeling in our stomach, but decided to fish anyway. We had only been fishing for about a half hour, when a boat came slowly up stream. As it got closer, we saw that it had red lights and uniformed men in it. We quickly retrieved our lines and hid in the saplings along the shore, for fear we just might be fishing illegally. After the boat passed, we emerged from the bushes and flipped our lines back into the river. Another half hour later we had to repeat the disappearing act again, because a different boat, a larger boat came down the river, with lights and uniformed men. It passed and we figured that was that. So, we cast out again and lo and behold, yet another small boat came around the bend. "That's it!" Judy said. "We're going to get arrested for sure." So we abandoned any thoughts of catching supper. The next day we learned that someone had ended their life by jumping off a high bridge upstream and that the Sheriff's department had been looking for the body. Upon learning this, I turned to Judy and said she might have just snagged the body if she would have fished a bit longer. Her punch to my arm can't be duplicated and her reply can't be printed, but suffice to say, the words she used weren't very nice.

Pioneer Trail Park and Campground on the Escanaba River, Escanaba, Michigan.

Escanaba River, Pioneer Trail Park campground with fishing This campground is another very nice place to tent camp at. It sits on the shore of the Escanaba River, a river that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, writes about in his poem, The Song of Hiawatha. The campground is located between Escanaba and Gladstone, on US # 41.

We found the campground to be huge, with lots of old growth hardwood trees throughout the grounds. The grounds have thick lush grass and every tent site seemed perfect. The bathrooms were a little older, but well cleaned and the facilities are modern. We give this campground high ratings and we would certainly stay here again.

We arrived at Pioneer Trail Park fairly late in the day and found the campground to be busy and full of people. We stopped at the office to secure a tent site. The lady manager apologized, saying that she only had a few spots left and that they were on the far end of the campground. We took the spot anyway, but was not disappointed. We were on a slight hill above the main grounds and had a clear view of the river.

As we were setting up the tent, an old lady walking by, stopped and said we had better hurry as the food was being laid out on the tables. "What?" we asked. She repeated her statement. It dawned on us that this must be some sort of group camp out, like churches have. So, we explained to her that we were not part of the group. She started laughing and said that was okay, anybody can be French for one day. Later we were told about 500 people attended the dinner.

Camping near Escanaba River Michigan It turned out that these people were a large Cajun (Cajon / Arcadian) group of families that got together once a year. So, we quickly set up the tent, stored our gear and walked down to the river shore to have some free food. Oh, my goodness. The food was served buffet style and was fantastic. We have no idea what we were eating, but we didn't care. We were in heaven. We didn't talk much, because we were about the only people who didn't have a Cajun accent. But none the less, the people treated us like we were cousins and made sure we got a lot to eat. Every time we apologized for being interlopers, the grins would appear and one old guy even said in his strong Cajun accent, "Dats alright you youngens. Der is so much of dat der food, God his self might just show up."

Of course, all the while we were eating, the Cajun music was playing. It was such joyful and happy music. And we enjoyed watching the little kids dancing the old way. Watching the old people dance, enjoying their lost youth. We even kicked up our heels a time or two. Everybody was so happy. Everyone was so beautiful.

And then when it was real dark, the American National anthem was played, after that the French National anthem. When both anthems were done, the fireworks soared and blazed over the river in spectacular colors. After the fireworks, Judy and I retired to our tent and fell asleep to the sounds of fiddles and concertinas.

When ever Judy and I talk about that night, we feel a little lump of sadness, knowing we will never have a chance to enjoy an evening like that again.

Read Leonard's Campground Reviews:

Campground Review Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

More of Leonard's articles: Two Wheels by the Campfire

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