Friday, August 10, 2012

Revisiting my first RV campsite

Cunard Lake Wisc
I first visited lovely little Cunard Lake in August of 2004.  It’s a small, rustic campground that’s part of the Northern Highland American Legion (NHAL) State Forest near Minocqua in north central Wisconsin.  The picture above was taken from my lakeside campsite during that trip, and I was hooked on RVing from then on!
That first trip was quite a learning experience, though!  Here was my fancy, schmancy setup:
car canoe and camper
After a wonderful (but very cold and wet) tent camping trip up into northern Ontario earlier that summer, I decided that I was ready to spend the “big bucks” on my first RV, a Starcraft pop-up tent trailer.  I firmly believed, at the time, that it would be all the RV I’d ever need, and really had to convince myself that this “tent on wheels” (which also happened to have a toilet/shower, furnace, and kitchen) was worth nearly $9000 more than my humble REI tent.

I was pretty sure I had remembered all the dealer had taught me about how to “pop-up” the trailer, and I proudly hitched it to my SUV all by myself and headed towards Wisconsin.  With no campsite reserved, I wisely determined that the NHAL area would be my best (and only) bet for weekend camping since it’s the only area in Wisconsin with a few hundred “first come first served” sites across various lakeside campgrounds in the region.
I arrived at Cunard Lake and saw that all lake view campsites were taken except for one, so I took it!  It was an awkward and rather unlevel site, but I figured I had “levelers” on my camper, so that wouldn’t be a problem….
So, I got to cranking…and cranking!  Once the rear “levelers” had nearly lifted the wheels off the ground, I realized “oh, these aren’t really levelers—these are just stabilizers not meant to hold the weight of the camper’s axel and wheels!”  Rookie RVing mistake # 1.   Forturnately, I only managed to bend up the door frame a little bit (and nothing worse).

camper exterior

After I finally managed to get the camper all set up, the rest of the weekend was glorious.  I remember falling asleep to the sound of loons calling on the lake, and the paddling was wonderful on this no-motor lake.
Fast-forward 9 years.  The View had spent all summer in my driveway untouched as I’ve been busy working and planning a big home remodeling project.  It was a hot HOT summer in Chicago and I was ready for a get-away.  But where?  I didn’t have enough time to do the really big Canadian trips on my bucket list (the Maritimes or the Canadian Rockies).  So, I decided to re-visit my favorite Northwoods and Great Lakes campsites instead!
I arrived to Cunard Lake this time, with my much more capable View, and amusing myself that I ever thought a $9000 pop-up camper was “all the RV I’d ever need”….ha!  Just as before, all the lake view sites were taken except for one…THE exact same one I’d had before!  Fortunately, I’ve learned a thing or two about leveling an RV since then, so I was able to make the odd-shaped, un-level site work (so glad to have a short motorhome that I could easily position for a perfect lake view!).

I had excellent Verizon 3G coverage from my site and just LOVED my new “office with a view” layout—I can’t believe how much more comfortable and functional the View has become now that I’ve removed the dinette table and put in the swivel-rocking office chair.  So comfy to prop my feet up on one of the dinette benches, gaze out the window, and compute away…and get paid for it!

This was Millie’s first trip to Cunard Lake, and with one word (“swimming”?), she quickly found the path down to the lake.

Millie has a favorite toy that we use for swimming, and her routine is to always try and snatch it away whenever I go to pick it up…she usually succeeds!  Here’s a little video of her afternoon fun--
Millie Swims Cunard Lake
After Millie got to do her fun activity, I got to do mine—paddling!  The lake was peaceful with lots of lily pads.  Saw a few small frogs on this morning paddle, but the loons were apparently over at the next lake looking for their breakfast.
On our final evening, the skies were clear so I thought I’d try some star trail photography.  I set my cable release to take a 30 second exposure every minute for about 3 hours. 

Cunard Lake Star Trails edit
Still learning how to process these correctly, and I honestly think I like just one of the single exposures better, but it was fun new thing to try out!


  1. I loved Millie's video. Reminds me of a beloved lab from many years ago. You and RV Sue are tempting me to get a canoe!

    1. Love my Sea Eagle! Really like that I can leave it inflated and just strap it onto the car's roof rack-- no fancy Yakima or Thule equipment needed! When done paddling for a few days, just deflate and stow it in the back of the Tracker!

  2. What a great place to have an office and a place for Millie to play. Loved the pictures.

    1. Well, if one must work, I guess this would be about the best place to do it from :-)

  3. So glad to hear you are out and camping again! Missed your posts.

    1. I was having extreme "hitch itch" being home for 4 months straight. Really nice to be back out on the road again!

  4. I loved how the only sound at the lake was Millie breathing and splashing water. All the pictures were lovely.

  5. Hey, how nice! I’m sure you’ve had moments when you just joked around and laughed. :D Simply remembering the times when you still had so much to learn about RV living is pleasurable. Do you have some things you want to change now that you know better? Though I have a feeling you’ll say no to my face. :D

  6. Your RV story sounds wonderful! From how your first trip to Ontario had been, to the first RV trailer you bought, and finally returning to Great Lake campsite with your new RV! Life is what you make it, and it definitely seems like you’ve been running it the way you want!

  7. Your lakeside campsite is so beautiful! The place really looks peaceful and relaxing. A pop-up tent trailer is really ideal for this kind of place. You’ll definitely enjoy spending your time there! Anyway, looking at your pictures, I can say that you definitely have an eye for photography. Nice!

    Rosalinda Rudloff


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