Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day Five of our Caravan / Rally

Friday was a very interesting day inspite of what it looked like it was
going to be. As mentioned earlier, our Sphagnum moss place would never
return our call and when we finally found their town garage, they suggested
we go see a competitor. We called the competitor at 8 AM and they agreed to
see us at 2 PM. We then called the log home place and moved our tour up
from 11 AM to 10 AM.

The log home tour was interesting and informative. Just like everything
else in life, what you see isn't exactly what you get. It may look like a
log home, but looks can be deceiving! The do provide the makings for a
fully log home, but most of them are veneered imitations. They took us
through the various buildings used for storage of the pre-cut items. They
have some nice relatively new equipment to plane the sides into round shape.
They make lots of shavings and use a vacuum system to take the stuff outside
and drop it directly into a semi trailer. It is sold to a packaging
operation that bags it for sale in Menards etc. Everything they use is
Wisconsin White Pine. The real downer on the tour was that I had my rain
slicker on and no coat underneath. It was cold and I nearly froze. A

In the PM, we headed out to the Sphagnum moss place in the nearby town of
Millston. These folks are really into the production of items for the home
gardener. They showed us their harvesting equipment, an old Oliver 1940 or
so crawler, with extra wide carriage and with the track pads replaced with
oak 2by4s 2 feet long. Again, he said it can drive on a marsh where a man
could not walk. Yep, once in a while, they bury one and have to pull it
out, clean it up and use it again. The harvested moss is spread on a sandy
field using a farmers silage feeder wagon to make neat windrows of the
stuff. They then hand rake it flat. It takes a week of sunny weather to
dry the moss and in that time, they turn it three times. When it is moss
turning time, everyone in the shop (from mechanic to the office girl) are
called out to rake the moss over.

They package the moss in various end user arrangements (pole, donut, or
box). They also process Spanish moss from Florida and a sheet moss from the
Carolinas into retail packages. They employee 20 to 30 people and are
located in non-descript metal buildings with not the cleanest surroundings
(but it gets the job done). While standing their listening to him, about 10
or 15 four wheeler go carts came charging off of the road into a filling
station. He commented that the primary business of the area was 4-wheeling
in the Black River Forest which totally surrounds the town. Then he pointed
to the bar across the tracks where 4 wheelers were lined up like horses tied
to the hitching rail.

On our return trip to the rigs, we stopped at what looked like a log home
development and water park. The place was well kept and reminded on of the
movie "On the Beach". No one was around, no cars or people. We finally
spotted a fellow loading golf carts, so we stopped and asked him what was
going on? He told us that the water park was bankrupt and had been closed
for over a year. The homes were condo's that had been sold where the owner
could use it or let the developer rent it to others. But since the water
park was closed, there were no renters or owners using the homes.

The homes were real log homes like the ones we had seen in the morning, but
the smaller ones. It was a whole city of homes, multiple row homes and
apartments with no one around. He also mentioned that there was a nice
campground over the hill that was part of it. So obviously we had to go

The campground is a Jellystone RV Resort Campground and is the one that
Sandy and I priced last summer for this caravan. Their special rate was $53
a night with use of the outdoor water park. (Just what we need this week.)
We had passed on that great opportunity. The campground was not too busy
either, like only one RV on top of the hill.

A most interesting day.


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