Some camp adventures more fun in retrospect - Press-Republican: Columns

Some camp adventures more fun in retrospect

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Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014 3:24 am

We’re here because we’re not all there. I didn’t coin that phrase, but in our case, it seems to apply.

We’re half-way through our annual Cole’s Creek camping experience and are loving every minute of it.

As much as we worship our little piece of paradise along the Saranac in Morrisonville, it’s always nice make a little getaway. In the past, I’ve compared it to the “Ma and Pa” Kettle series only us “old folks” can recall.

So, let’s call it “Ma and Pa Little Go Camping.” It’s a trek from Clinton County through Franklin and into St. Lawrence. Almost 40 years ago,the late Ellsworth Napper from Saranac first told us about this camping spot. Once we tried it, we were hooked.

In those days, we had a bunch of kids and pets, so vacations were replete with sounds of laughter and barks, burned hot dogs, scraped knees and skunks. That is not to mention leaking tents and pop-up campers. Old towing vehicles had frequent breakdowns and we learned new cuss words as we pumped up flat tires and replaced everything from water pumps to radiators along the way.

One time, when a blockade forced us to skirt the Mohawk Territory near Massena, we suffered a fuel pump malfunction in our old International Harvester Scout II. It was a Sunday and we were stuck near Rooseveltown. It was hot. Children and adults revealed their frustration in myriad ways: “Why did we stop here? I’m thirsty. I’m hungry. I gotta pee.” We must have had nerves of steel in those days.

We got lucky that time. The people in front of whose house we broke down came out to see what was happening in their front yard. We must have made quite a spectacle. They took pity on us, offering cold lemonade and cookies. I wish I had written down their names. They were our saviors for a few hours.

No cellphones in those days, so we went into their home and called our son-in-law, Roger Wright. He got into his truck and headed our way, arriving in due time, and then the fun began in earnest. He hooked onto our Scout, which was hooked onto our pop-up, and began towing the whole menagerie down the road to Cole’s Creek. Was it a pleasurable experience? Only in retrospect.

On another occasion, we broke down near Massena and had to be towed to camp by a professional tow truck operator. We must have seemed pathetic, because he insisted on helping to set up the camper once he backed it into our spot. I slipped him a 20 and he was delighted. So were we.

Other times brought other scenes of pathos and perfection. Besides our own foibles, I managed to chronicle those of our camping friends. When our dear friend Diane L. rented a camper for her first experience, she tried and failed to boil potatoes on a grill on the tailgate of her SUV. It was a failed experiment offering more hindsight humor.

Tall tales around a hundred roaring campfires, burned fingers on flaming marshmallows, stubbed toes on protruding tree roots, severe storms from the north and huge goosebumps from the cool river water. As the late Dean Martin used to croon, “Memories are made of this.”

As you might know, I lived and worked for a time in a short-lived tourist attraction old-time western village called Adventure Town near Alexandria Bay at age 20 or so when, as my mother used to say, I had “no brain and no pain.” I have the scars to prove that riding the big bulls wasn’t a complete picnic and getting shot by outlaws and playing dead in the dusty street while kids kicked you in the head wasn’t perfectly pleasant, either. More marvelous memories.

We showed our friend Gloria from Georgia around that town and did a terrific tour of Boldt Castle on Heart Island in the St. Lawrence. I recorded a TV show there and you’ll be able to see it on Hometown Cable after awhile.

All this and we still have lots of vacation time left. Stay tuned. Have a great day and please, drive carefully.

Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the “Our Little Corner” television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or e-mail him at



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