archives pt. 12 Scoop's 


  PLUS Local Gopher Irritated After Urine Attack! PLUS Scoop answers your Questions!




Yes, you too can win a valuable GOLDEN STAR CERTIFICATE suitable for framing, and destined to become very valuable...or maybe not. Regardless, get one by ratting on your friends! Send Scoop a Tale of Woe!


Scoop #1 2003


Welcome back!

Each Spring I offer important Safety Tips for campers, this being a particularly vulnerable time for you. Everyone is in a hurry to get set up and forget the Winter blues--we all are eager for fun at last! But haste makes for injuries, and that’s something we all don’t need, right? One must be especially careful at this time, certainly when using hatchets or LP gas, and so on. But there are other hidden dangers, most notably the incident described below…



Local Gopher OK After Urine Attack

Small furry rodents are in an uproar after a recent urination incident. Lori Dummer of Janesville, WI, was at her campsite recently when she felt the ‘call of nature’, as she put it. This was late at night, and alcohol was a factor. She felt her way off the deck and to the ground. There, she squatted. "I thought this would be a safe place to ‘go’," she said later.

Unfortunately, she peed straight down a gopher hole. "It was a direct hit," she explained. "I think I woke the gopher up unexpectedly—it came jumping out!"

Lori tried to escape, but the underpants around her ankles stopped her short. "I had the horrid thought that it might crawl up my leg! But instead it shook its furry little head and darted away."

Husband Bill led the startled Lori away from the scene, shaking his head. "We have a toilet in the trailer," said Bill. "We’re not animals…Lori needs to keep her wits about her, especially after too many White Russians."

However, Lori’s mood turned to excitement when she realized that the gopher never came back. "This is highly unusual for a nesting animal," she said, "even one that got peed on. They always seem to come back. So, apparently my new technique inadvertently worked wonders, and I think there’s money to be made here--nobody wants gopher-holes in their yard!"

Lori is still working out the details, but is confident her "Shock & Awe" plan will be a goldmine.





Of course, wild animals are not the only Safety Hazard we must fear. Often a common RV or household item can cause panic.

Although I will suffer deeply for this following breaking news item, I must warn all of you of a potential danger while camping, especially if you bring items from home. Recently, Mrs. Scoop was getting ready for work at the local campground. She accidentally knocked her kitchen flashlight off the shelf, and the light would not shut off despite her fierce efforts. I discovered all this when I found her trying to hide the flashlight at work. She admitted, "I was worried it would start on fire and burn the house down, so I brought it with me."

Actually, this was smart thinking. What if she had knocked over a lantern, or a candle, and could not shut it off? Safety first, we always say.


In a related ‘family’ incident, Scoop Jr. was attacked by a protective duck the other day after he parked his car and walked towards his office building. He described the vicious animal as "hissing and spitting at me, then beating me about the back of my head with its wings."

This happened near Chicago, and police were summoned, who immediately cordoned off the nesting area of the mother duck. Unfortunately, the area is right where Scoop Jr. and everyone else who works there has to exit, and local authorities are concerned about the team of gypsies that has set up camp nearby, offering to clean your windshield with a filthy rag for a dollar.

"We think the gypsies ‘planted’ the mother duck as a way of inducing new business," stated the suburban town’s Mayor. "We are launching a full investigation, which should be finished about the time the eggs hatch."

And now…it’s ‘Question Time’!

Dear Scoop,

How long does it take to put a roof over a simple deck? I ask because my husband Jeff has been working on this project for almost 2 years now. Last fall he sunk some posts for the roof, but they were all different sizes and heights and the short posts were in the back and the tall ones in the front. He finally figured it out and cut them correctly, and actually put the plywood on the roof. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, it is going to rain on June 23, 2005, and I am planning a party. Will the roof be done by then?

Signed, Krista Franklin

Dear Krista,

I would suggest you take charge by buying 5 cases of beer and inviting any thirsty camper you spot. Some of them will just stand around and give advice, but the odds are some of them will know something, and your party will be a success!

Dear Scoop,

Is it true that last Fall you and two other grown men were chased out of a trailer by a raccoon, and the three of you got wedged in a doorway fighting to be the first one out?

Signed, Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

This is not accurate! I was first, but John Vermey and his brother Mike both grabbed the back of my shirt and tried to get ahead of me. They caused the bottleneck—I would have been long-gone down the street by then.

UPDATE: What could have been a dull ‘Scoop’ winter was enlivened by the desperate tactics of Carol Okerstrom, now known as "The Vulture" for her web-site scavenging of trivial information. The Vulture’s relentless pursuit of First Place for my Trivia Contest resulted in her being awarded the "Finstermocker", a truly grand award, one that Carol now displays proudly in a beautiful shrine at her site.

Scoop salutes Carol for her tenacity and boldness, in that she blatantly spent hours and hours researching trivia while at work when she was supposed to be doing actual work. That’s the spirit!

And now, I ask you: Who was Mrs. Finstermocker? (Hints: WGN-TV, Andy Clyde and the 3 Stooges).



I’d also like to mention a great site on the Internet, so I will. It’s, and features cartoons and other artwork about camping by Frik, a great guy. Frik and I are working on a project together, but I can’t reveal any details right now. All I can say is, check his stuff out. And if you are involved with any camping publications, Frik has a great offer. No matter what, view his artwork!


SURVEY: In your opinion, who is better at eradicating gophers: ‘Carl’ from Caddyshack, or Lori Dummer? Results will be posted in the next ‘Scoop’.


SCOOP’S SPECIAL GOLF TIP: Looking for a hole-in-one? Call Lori Dummer today!

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Scoop of the Month Menacing Raccoons and Giant Spiders--the joys of camping revealed! And don't forget to ask The Golf Cart Guy your urgent cart question! It's all here, Folks!


Raccoon Rampage On The Rise

According to authorities, there has been an increased level of raccoon damage to permanent (‘seasonal’) RV dwellings this spring. “Although the winter was relatively mild in respect to past seasons,” said local expert Dr. Rachel Rhakhoun, “they still sought shelter to raise their young or to escape what they feared would be a harsh winter. Forgive me if I sound a tad frivolous, but after all, these animals are not avid watchers of The Weather Channel. In fact, I doubt they even get cable in some of these campground areas.”

        When questioned for advice, Dr. Rhakhoun suggested skirting your RV with decorative vinyl or lattice, searching the perimeter of the skirting for signs of recent tunneling, and filling in any ground cavities. “I would also recommend that you always wear shoes, or at least have one at the ready,” she added.

        This advice came in handy recently for ‘Bob’ and ‘Kim’*, whose Park Model suffered winter damage, even though it was skirted. The raccoon got in by pushing through a gap where the LP gas line came through the vinyl skirting. It is not known if a single or multiple raccoons caused the damage, and further inspection is needed, but the A/C ductwork was chewed up and one or more animals got up in to the actual metal ductwork of the Park Model. This is where the shoe came in handy.

        Says wife Kim: “I was in the kitchen making coffee. All of a sudden I heard rattling noises near my feet. An animal was shaking the heat vent right next to my feet. I yelled for Bob. He came running in, said (expletive deleted), and immediately took off his shoe and pounded it on the floor vent to scare the raccoon out. That was quick thinking, but then he (Bob) left me there!”

         Explained Bob: “I could see its beady little eyes and sharp fangs gnawing at the metal of the floor vent (“not true,” says Kim), and I realized that no mere morning-type slipper or shoe would save my wife. I only had thoughts of her safety. That’s why I searched desperately for a combat boot or other heavy-type shoe. Sorry I took a while.”

        The rattling noise had subsided, but Kim was still nervous. “I kept looking over my shoulder while I tried to pour coffee,” she said. “Half of it spilled on the floor. I was lucky to get any in the cups at all.”

        On further reflection, Kim voiced another concern. “A lot of the spilled coffee went down the vent. What if those beasts lapped it up and got caffeinated? Are they going to be up all night now? My God, what will they do next—chew in to our cable hoping to get The Late Show or Larry King Live?”

        When this reporter interviewed Bob and Kim, they were seated comfortably in their room addition. Miniature ‘burglar bars’ had been installed over all the floor vents in view. Bob answered the door wearing LL Bean Alpine Mountain-Scaling boots with heavy metal cleats. “Let ‘em try again!” he said. “I’m ready for war, pal!”

        “I’d offer you some coffee,” said Kim politely, “but we’re not serving at the moment. Not until those dirty rotten caffeine-swilling rodents are gone, Mister!” ”

*NOTE: Names have been changed due to threats from ‘Bob’ and ‘Kim’. All facts otherwise are true…sort of.



Many years ago I wrote about my friend Bob (real name), who while camping with a Scout Troop showed me how he deals with spiders. Mrs. Scoop and I were checking out his tent when a giant Daddy-Longlegs came perilously close to Mrs. Scoop’s hair. Bob nimbly grabbed the spider off the canvas and plopped it in his mouth. One long leg was the last we saw of it as Bob swallowed the astonished arachnid. Mrs. Scoop and I were astonished also, as Bob is not the sort of guy you associate with spider-eating. After all, he is a very successful businessman who resides with his wife Sue in an upper-class suburb in Illinois, and spider-eating probably is not tolerated. But that’s why he goes camping…

        Mrs. Scoop and I recently had the pleasure of dining with Bob and Sue and staying over at their house. I knew Bob had sort of semi-retired, but as a man of action, could not sit still. After selling his construction business, he still helped out his friends in the trade. Also, he snores. This played an important factor in the following decision he made, as I’m sure all of you manly men will understand:

        Scene: At night, Bob and Sue’s bedroom. It is dark. Camera zooms in on Bob.


        Scene: Wife Susan’s fingers reach over and pinch Bob’s nose. Only the fingers are first seen, creating an aura of suspense. Bob sort of awakens in a semi-comatose state, rubs his nose, and turns over. He begins to snore again, even more loudly. (Note to Special Effects: insert soundtrack mix of grizzly bears snarling and other humorous noises to simulate Bob’s snoring!).

        Wife Susan gives Bob an elbow in the back. He does not respond, so Susan, really ticked off, uses her Kung Fu training to plant a knee in the small of his back in an attempt to roll him off the bed completely. Bob responds by bolting upright in bed. “What?” he says.

        Wife Susan: “Robert, you were snoring again! How many times have I warned you? If you keep this up, you’re going to be sleeping in a tent in the back yard. I’m not telling you again!”

        Bob: “A tent? Fine! I’ll pitch a tent!” Bob then smacks his lips greedily. A shifty look comes to his eyes. “But not the back yard!” he exclaims. “I’ll go where there are spiders galore! The Dominican Republic…it has the biggest spiders known to man. I can eat like a King!”


         OK, so I lied. What actually happened is that Bob, a real-true good guy, traveled to the Dominican Republic to build housing for people who had nothing to live in. The idea was sponsored by a single individual who prefers to remain anonymous. The only way in to the camp was a hiking trail. Supplies and construction materials to the building site were brought in by horses. Different groups came in to help at intervals. Some were Boy Scouts, some were religious organizations. It was when the Jehovah’s Witnesses group came in that Bob got in trouble.

        NOTE: My lawyer says to tell everyone that I am merely repeating what Bob said, and in no way do I disrespect any religious group, and if in any way this column offends anyone, sue Bob. Full name available upon request…NOT!

        So, anyway, the Witnesses came to town. According to Bob, they meant well, but seemed not too attuned to ‘outside living’. “At camp there’s one thatched hut, and hammocks, and tents, and the people worked as hard as they knew, but it wasn’t their world. We had to hike for an hour to get from camp to the building area, and then back. We’d get back about two in the afternoon, and they’d read the Bible from then until dark at 9PM. They didn’t dance, they didn’t sing, they didn’t joke around. They were bored to death. So, for the hell of it, I decided to entertain them one night. The spiders in the Dominican Republic are really gigantic. And they are everywhere. So we were setting around a campfire and I saw a cluster, a spider snack-pack, so to speak. I got their (Witnesses’) attention, and started cramming giant spiders into my mouth. At one point I probably had three spiders as big as a US quarter inside, legs squirming and struggling out of my mouth. But I ate them all, down to the last leg joint. The kids were in awe.”

        NOTE FROM BOB: “You really can’t get more than three spiders at a time in your mouth and swallow them. There’re too many legs, and spiders have those barbs on their legs. They grip your lip and try to crawl out of your mouth. Then they try to crawl up in your nose. So you can’t chew—there’s not enough time—you have to just swallow quickly.” Bob also wants you to know that spiders are the ‘cleanest insects’, virus-free, and he would never eat any other type of insect. “Especially flies,” he stated. “They are poop-eaters!”

        Discussion: Did Bob do a good thing by entertaining the kids by eating spiders? Answer: No! According to the Top Jehovah Guy, Bob eating spiders was bad. He wasn’t told why, just asked not to do it again. He was chastised for eating spiders at night while by day he built houses. Go figure. Bob also tried to organize a volleyball game by stretching a clothesline between two trees and using a coconut as a ball, but on his first volley the Witness teen stood there helplessly as the coconut hit him right in the forehead. The game ended 1-0.

        I want to also mention that Bob got in BIG TROUBLE with the Baptists, another fun group. One day he took his shirt off after a day of laboring in the high heat and humidity. That’s a no-no. And then…God forbid!!!…he drank a (one) can of beer! In a cruel ironic twist, the Baptists then made Bob take his shirt off again so they could give him 20 lashes with a palm frond covered with poop-eating flies.

        OK, I lied again. But just about the palm frond. We simply can’t have this sort of stuff happening as ambassadors of America! If you are aghast at this sort of frivolous activity, call or email somebody. But not me. And not Bob…he’s not going back. “I can do good deeds right here in the good ol’ USA,” he said, “where the spiders roam and a man can take his shirt off in the hot sun and have a nice cold beer. And snore to his heart’s content. In his tent.” 

FINAL IMPORTANT THING: Campers, you need to check out The Golf Cart Guy at my Golf Cart Guy page here at If you own a cart, Gorno is the man to ask for important info. He can do most anything, and if he can’t, he’ll say so. So check out the web-questions, and email Scoop for more. I’ll forward them to The Golf Cart Guy and he’ll answer as many as he can in the next column and by email. PS: Make sure you read the Big Time Legal Warning which releases me from any liability!

        A quick sample question:

        Dear Golf Cart Guy:

          I recently painted my cart Chevelle Blue. I think you saw it. What did you think? Brian.

          Dear Brian: I think it sucked. Wait, just kidding! The problem is, you had it done at MAACO, whereas I, more personally attuned to the owner-karma aura of my cart, did it painstakingly in my own garage at home. I wish your paint job well. Later, The Golf Cart Guy.

        Yes, I already see future problems with The Golf Cart Guy. That’s why you must read the Liability Release Thing! But keep those emails coming, and have a great summer! And remember, rat out your camping friends at PS to arachnologists: I know about insects and spiders. I know about scopulpa. Don’t email! It’s just a humor column! Want some real excitement? Eat a spider, pal.


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Scoop of the Month  Tsunami Hits Local Lake as Phil Goes Tubing! And more!

Tsunami Phil hits the lake in southern Wisconsin. Photo by Ken or Mary Atella.

Tsunami Hits Clear Lake

Spectators Line Shore In Anticipation

Word spread quickly, and on a recent Saturday afternoon the beach at Blackhawk Campgrounds was filled with onlookers waiting to view what was to surely be a spectacular sight. Yes, Phil Skortz was going tubing for the first time.

Phil is one of the friendliest folks at Blackhawk, and might also be one of the largest. Weighing in at a solid 330 pounds ("I fluctuate."), he had never been tubing, and in fact cannot swim. "I’m not the floating type," Phil said later, "so I guess that’s why they started setting up the lawn chairs early. I also heard there was some betting going on."

This all started Friday night. In the Campground saloon, Phil remembered hearing that Dean Vehrs was going tubing the next day, and Phil immediately jumped in on the fun. "I have weak ankles," said Phil, "and that’s why I’ve never been skiing or anything like that. But I figured tubing would be easy. You just lay there, right?" (Ha!) Phil then asked if Dean had a tube big enough for him. Dean reassured Phil that he did indeed have a double-tube, and they would be ready and waiting for Phil the next day.

That next morning, Phil was down to help with the annual corn roast. Being a municipal worker for a Chicago suburb, he immediately applied for the job of Supervisor, but was denied, being the ‘new guy’, and instead had to actually work, which meant he got butter all over himself, which would later lead to a serious tubing incident, although there were other factors. These would be the several Yaeger-Bombs he fortified himself with before boarding the boat. "I was nervous," Phil admitted. "Let’s face it, I’m helping with the corn roast and people are coming up to my face and asking, ‘Are you really going tubing?’ And I can hear other instigators whispering about it, spreading the word. So, yes—I was nervous." But brave Phil accepted the challenge.

The problem of finding a suitable life jacket was quickly solved, hand signals were memorized, and the pontoon boat took off. Dean was the Captain, Jesse Garza the spotter, and Dean’s brother Rick and his three kids as photographer and spectators. "It was easy getting onto the tube," said Phil, "but when he started up it felt like my arms were being pulled out of their sockets!"

Meanwhile, the spectators had assumed viewing positions. This is when Phil got brave. "The second time around, I decided to wave to the people on the beach," he said. He now admits this was a mistake. "I took one hand off the grip to wave, and the boat went into a turn and I almost lost it. I had to use my foot as a rudder to stay with it. I think I broke a couple of toes, but I’m no sissy, and I’m not going to the doctor. I’ll just apply for the Supervisor’s job when I go back to work."

Phil wants to give big thanks to Dean, who actually stopped the boat, and Jesse, who helped him back in when Phil signaled enough. "Most people would have dragged me around for a while," said Phil. But then things got ugly. Phil went out two more times.

We’ll let Phil describe these terrible incidents: "All I could hear were engine noises and waves slapping at my face. That was a constant. But the second time, as I was being flopped around, I landed smack-dab on a wave with what I can only delicately describe as ‘precious things’, this being a family paper and all. That really hurt. The third time I went out, my shorts started to slide off, maybe because I still had some butter on me. I had to spread my legs to keep them on, thus preventing a public uprising for common decency. Plus, I could see it vividly in my mind: ‘Skortz’s Shorts’ on eBay, or me on one of those fake ‘Priceless’ internet jokes."

Phil also wants to mention that he couldn’t raise his arms above his shoulders until Thursday, he shook and shivered for 20" the first time back on the boat, no one else was drinking alcohol, and that Ken & Mary Atella and Tim & Dianne Briggs just had to come out on Ken’s boat to take pictures. Phil also says: "Jimmy Barnes, top this!"


He vowed never to be caught, to never to appear in a ‘Scoop’ article. But time has run out for Steve Gorniack, aka ‘The Golf Cart Guy’, aka ‘Gorno’. Gorno has been under surveillance for some time now, but has always managed to elude detection by helpful—or bribed!—neighbors.

Alas, poor Gorno, your boasting brings you here to this page at last! While not a milestone in mishaps, your ‘accident’ deserves space because it will serve as a Public Service Announcement regarding ‘Foot In Mouth’ disease, which as a reporter I am required to mention whenever I want (PSA1.5 section 57.HUH?)

Anyway, alert NewsHounds sounded the alarm after Gorno attended a wedding at Lake Lawn Lodge in Delavan recently. Dressed to the Nines, he was reported leaving at 11:30 PM. Shortly afterwards, he received a clandestine cellular phone call from a mysterious "Cap’t Brian", who informed him that ‘the new boat was ready for an inaugural "Adults Only" tour’. Approximately 45 minutes later, a covert beach rendezvous occurred, with blinking golf cart lights as a secret code to guide the mystery boat to its pick-up destination. Gorno then removed his shoes and socks, careful not to leave any traces in the sand, and especially careful not to get his suit wet or torn as he waded out to the boat.

And this is the part where Gorno reaches the boat, forgets to hold on as Cap’t Brian pulls away, and lands flat on his back in the water. It was only a foot deep or so, but he got soaked head-to-toe, so it counts!

Was alcohol a factor? Gorno was asked later. "Absolutely!" he replied.


These goofy gals were up to it again. All have been in one article or another, some recently, some long ago. And this seemed like a good opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me out by being silly or tattling on their friends. In this case, it was just for fun. (And being silly!)

As Mary Atella put it: "We decided to visit sites where the people weren’t up for the weekend, take pictures of us on their decks or whatever, and email them the picture so they wouldn’t be lonely. There were a lot of us, and we went to a lot of sites."

The photo shows them at Bob and Lorayne Fugate’s shed, where Lorayne did the painting of William Beard’s ‘The Dancing Bears’. To the left are Shirley Gollwitzer, Arlene ‘Toots’ Carberry, and Mary on the ground. Dancing are Rae Augello and Dianne Briggs.

Photo by Ken Atella

And with that, let me thank all of you for a fun and very interesting summer, and thanks to all who helped out with everything, in any which way. Have a great and safe Labor Day weekend, a fun winter, and I’ll see you in the spring. Keep those emails coming: And check often; your friends goof up in the wintertime too, you know! UPDATE: Sorry, no Jimmy Barnes tale, which is probably a good thing! Also, ‘Skortz’s Shorts’ are now trading on eBay at a negative $200. You should have bid earlier. Ta-ta!

PS: More photos coming soon!












ANIMAL HAZARDS! Beware! Woodchucks, Snappers, Monkeys, and Spiders, oh my! PLUS: How not to fix your room addition!


Cap't Dan almost gets 'Bobbited'   photo by Dan Ross



            Camping is meant to bring us closer to nature. But when camping in heavily wooded areas, you are in nature’s own back yard, habitat to many wild species. If you are also near a water source, such as a river or lake, there are other species to consider. “Sunning on the beach with a frosty beverage lets you enjoy many more examples of the beauty of nature,” says noted local naturalist Seymour Booty. “But there can be dangers here also, specifically if your wife catches you staring too long at other female species.”

            Booty also warns of bringing along the family pet if it is not accustomed to the outdoors. “This is especially true of a poop-flinging monkey.”

            When questioned about this odd statement, Booty said, “Scoop, don’t you remember your Aunt Maggie’s story about how her pet monkey Willie hated her husband, because, she suspected, he secretly taunted Willie? And how one night, after Uncle Jim was about to have his last martini, Willie hurled a poop-ball, a fresh batch, and hit Uncle Jim in the forehead? And Uncle Jim, being a high-ranking Chicago Police Officer, took his .38 Special and threatened to send Willie to Monkey Heaven?”

            Yes, I do remember. I liked Willie. Willie was saved at the last moment by Maggie, also a high-ranking Chicago Police Officer. I’m not sure, but I think Willie was sent to the Monkey Witness Protection Program, and is hiding out as Yu Flung Poo, the Asian martial arts stunt-monkey.

            Anyway, if you own such a monkey, don’t bring it camping. There are enough animal hazards naturally, as you will see. Some of these hazards can hit pretty close to home. In my case, it was my garage. So, let me riddle you this:

Q: How much wood can a woodchuck chew…if it’s trapped in your garage?

A: About one fourth of a 2x4.


            There have been strange noises in our bedroom recently (no potty-mouth snickering, please!). To me, it sounded like a mouse chewing on drywall right next to the ductwork. Actually, it never woke me up. Rather, it was Mrs. Scoop giving me an elbow in the ribs that woke me up. Then I would go over near the A/C vent and stomp my foot, and the noise would go away. As far as I was concerned, the problem was solved. However, along with the elbows I got due to snoring, the pain in my side became too much to ignore. I went into action.

            I bought a ‘sonic’ thingamajig that is supposed to drive mice away. It emits sounds they just can’t take anymore, much like the rap music coming from the ’62 Chevy stuck next to you in stalled traffic. Our bedroom is above the garage, so the garage became the focal point for the sonic thing. It was when I was plugging it in that I saw what remained of a structural 2x4. No mere mouse, or even a beady-eyed rat, had teeth big enough to chew up and spit out the chunks of wood I saw. So my next plan of action was to get a live-animal trap, which I baited with lettuce. (The instructions included various food items for trapping particular animals, but lettuce was a common denominator, and it also meant I could skip my salad that night). The next morning, I used the remote to open the garage, lest I be attacked by a scampering killer-beast, and found that I had trapped a woodchuck.

            It was a light tan color and filled half the cage. Since I only kill what I can eat, other than rap-emitting stereo speakers, I drove a fair distance and let the woodchuck loose. Note: I did this while standing on my tailgate, with the cage door pointed straight down. Chuckie fell out, gave me an upraised paw nail, and scampered into the woods.

            I mention this tale as a warning to you campers. What happened to me happened in the city. It’s Milton, WI, and there are definitely animals, but imagine the wild beasts you might encounter at a campsite. Of course I’m talking about the kind that walk on all fours…even when sober. I only wish there was some more evidence to show you about animal hazards…



            But wait! News from around the world is suddenly pouring in! Right now, let’s go to anonymous NewsHound Dan Ross. His report concerns former seasonal camper Dan Niemann, aka ‘Cap’t Dan’, and his wife ‘Flounder’ Shelley (see Archives: ‘Running With Scissors”). They were up for a visit, and Dan spotted a large turtle just off Dan’s pier. It was feasting on bluegills the kids had caught and released. According to Dan Ross, “Dan and Shelley were up for Memorial Day weekend. They just can’t stay away! Anyway, Dan saw this snapper by the pier, in about two feet of water, and he reached in and grabbed it by the tail. Boys will be boys! The turtle must have weighed 25-30 pounds. Its tail was as long as Dan’s forearm (Note: Dan is a tall, muscular guy). The head was as big as my fist, not including the neck. I tried as fast as possible to get photos; he told me to hurry because it was so heavy. What worried me was that the way Dan was holding it, the snapper’s jaws were hanging right at his crotch.”

            Fortunately for Cap’t Dan—and Shelley—Dan was not ‘Jawed’ or ‘Bobbitted’. And the beast was released unharmed, thus awaiting another potential victim.



            And now, from the country Chile, courtesy of Reuters Limited (mentioned so I hopefully won’t get sued), we have a story about erection-inducing spider bites. I’m not sure if this will help cure ‘Karin B’s’ fear of spiders (mentioned in my last column), but if she gets the right imported spider, husband Bob might start leaving for the golf course late. According to Chilean Doctor Fernando Romero, his team has studied the venom of the Latrodectus mactans, a black widow spider found only in a certain region of Chile. They did this because of tales of Chilean farmers who, according to Dr. Romero (and Reuters Limited) ‘acquired superhuman virility after being bitten by the black widow’.

            They checked this out after hearing about Chilean dudes with long-lasting abilities. They were called ‘spider-bitten’. If the spider bites a child or an elderly person, it can kill you. But for the Spider Dudes, strong young hard workers, it led to what can best be described as a month-long Viagra vacation. This is causing a lot of problems in this part of Chile, in that those villages with willing women, no work is getting done. And in the villages with no willing women, the Spider Dudes are herding sheep.



            Brian Wojtas (aka “B&E’ Brian) narrowly avoided arrest several weeks ago on charges of trespassing, damage to property, vandalism, breaking and entering, and sheer foolishness. Over-eager to rebuild his 3 Season room and roof, he came up to his campsite early in the week to get a head start. Generous friend and neighbor Gary ‘GPS’ Salavitch had given in to frugal Brian’s whining and offered him some left-over coils of roofing nails that were in his (Gary’s) shed, and even revealed the secret hiding spot for the shed key.

            Brian then spent the next 25 minutes trying to unlock the shed. Frustrated, and unwilling to splurge on new nails, Brian became desperate. Figuring good friend Gary wouldn’t mind a little damage to his shed (as long as it was repaired by Gary’s Friday arrival), Brian searched for a woodchuck, then resorted to hacking the shed door apart with a chainsaw.

            Well, maybe he only pried some wood off to get the lock off—reports vary. Regardless, he was now inside the shed. Wanting to get Gary’s golf cart out of the way to make his nail-search easier, he was elated to find the EZ-Go key on the same ring. He was a bit puzzled that Gary hadn’t told him he had bought a new cart—this one was white with a lift kit and big tires, whereas just a few days ago Gary had been driving a stock green cart. But Brian was undeterred by such a minor matter—he wanted those nails.

            It was after 20 minutes of fruitless searching that he called anonymous NewsHound and fellow friend ‘Gorno’ to ask if he knew where Gary might have hidden the nails. Gorno didn’t know, but before hanging up, Brian mentioned Gary’s new golf cart. Here is the actual, uncensored conversation that ensued:

            Gorno: “Gary’s cart is green.”  

            Brian: “But the key worked in the cart.”

            Gorno: “Brian, any EZ-Go key works on any EZ-Go cart. By the way, what shed are you in?”

            Brian: “The one by the front of his trailer. Why?”

            Gorno: (imagine an evil grin) “Brian, Gary’s shed is the one behind the trailer.”

            Brian: (after a long moment of silence): “(expletive deleted)! Oh no…this is not good!”

            Brian is a good guy, and he got things ‘patched’ up, both with the shed and the owner, thus avoiding an embarrassing arrest. We’re not sure of the exact details, except that neighbors have reported a mysterious stranger washing and waxing a white golf cart at dawn for the past two Saturdays.



            I really feel bad about this…ratting out a noble NewsHound. But he started it himself by leaking the tale to me. I think he thought I knew, figuring evil “B&E’ Brian was out for revenge…

            Steve ‘Gorno’ Gorniack and other friends had gathered to help Brian with repairing Brian’s deck. Gorno brought over his flatbed utility trailer (normally used to haul his golf cart) and then waited while Brian scanned the area, wondering which nearby shed might contain some deck screws. Already an accomplished burglar, he knew he could get free screws in no time flat. But tiring of his ‘wash and wax’ punishment, he prudently decided to spend his own ‘darn hard-earned dough’ on a $5 box of #4 deck screws.

            Meanwhile, Gorno had positioned his utility trailer over Brian’s firepit, a convenient and central location. Gorno then used the trailer as a base for his table saw and began cutting deck boards. As Gorno put it: “It was easier for me to be on the trailer while cutting than next to it. And then…

            “It all seemed to happen in slow motion. I guess I should have figured where I was standing in relation to the axle. It was my minor body weight that sent things downhill. It was a surreal moment—me and the utility trailer were fine, but the world was spinning…and that’s without any tasty beverages.”

            Gorno came back to reality when he and his saw came sliding out off the trailer as the rear end settled in the firepit. “I’m OK, the saw is OK, and the trailer is OK,” said Gorno, “but I was a bit upset when Brian asked if he could just burn the trailer for his campfire that night, as the cost of firewood has risen.”



            Remember, always wear protective covering when drinking, This advice comes courtesy of Ken Atella, who was carrying on a normal beer conversation with friends when he was bombed. (Disclaimer: Ken was not ‘loaded’—he was merely a target).

            “Thank God I had my long-billed cap on,” said Ken, “otherwise I would have got an eye-full. As it was, the second squirt was dead-on, right in my last can of beer. I have rights too, you know, and the next robin that lands in my yard, I’m gonna’ put a net over it and get revenge. About three cans of Bud Light and an enchilada should do it.” 


Chuckie's Revenge

NOTICE: No animals or humans were harmed in the writing of this column. Cap’t Dan let the snapper go, I set Chuckie loose under your deck, and as far as I know, Uncle Jim teased Willie, but never actually spanked the monkey. Ken is just kidding about the enchilada…I think. See more ‘Scoop’ at Email your own tales, or better yet, your neighbors’, to We can keep things anonymous! But please wait a few weeks if I don’t respond immediately…we Spider Dudes have many webs to spin. PS: The column ‘Running With Scissors’ was written way before the book or  movie, so there! Next Column: Paris Hilton wants wax job; calls Brian.







 FOOD & FUN a la SCOOP plus valuable GPS info every camper needs to know (OK, maybe just Gary Salavitch!)
Editor’s Note: This column does not necessarily represent the views of this paper (The Camper's Courier), especially since Scoop has tried in the past to get free beers by showing a phony Press credential or promising a glowing review.

There are a zillion things to do on a hot summer weekend here in Rock County, but even Mrs. Scoop and I can only do so much. So here’s my DISCLAIMER: Sorry if I missed your place. Sorry if we came on a bad day. Sorry we didn’t get back to try everything on the menu, music included. These are merely a few weekends and days jumbled together. And you know how blurry things can get after a while, especially since Mrs. Scoop had recently returned from visiting Scoop Jr. in San Diego, where she had her first Mojito. The taste for a Wisconsin Mojito fueled our journeys, thus limiting valuable critiquing time.

So here we go:

Emigail’s Roadhouse (Newville): $$ Nice and funky. First time this year, Mrs. Scoop and I just had the crawfish tails (appetizer), but we’ve eaten here before and enjoyed every New Orleans bite. You can get ribs, alligator, gumbo, andouille sausage, and other tasty surprises. We came back again and each of us had the catfish Po’Boy, a very good, large sandwich. Our bartender wasn’t sure how to make a Mojito, so Mrs. Scoop settled for a Rum Runner, which included these rums: coconut, pineapple, and orange, topped with a layer of Black Strap rum. It also had some juices in it, as if it mattered by now. It’s safe to say Mrs. Scoop wasn’t really disappointed after all.

Anchor Inn (Newville): $$ Right on Rock River with boat rentals, a playground area for the kids, and good outdoor seating. This is Mrs. Scoop’s favorite place on the River for burgers and chicken strips, but if you want your burger well-done, let them know explicitly. Or, you could be like the guy who was there last time, who ate 4/5ths of his burger and all but two onion rings, then complained the burger wasn’t well-done. The bartender was overly-gracious in getting him another burger free. He really pushed it when he asked it that also include new onion rings. But he got ‘em.

We also got to hear The Manberries there that Saturday afternoon. We had left Emigail’s and had driven past the music when I happened to catch sight and sound of Brian Hughes’ big mouth. So we turned back. After enduring the usual sarcasm from Brian—handsome, but a Cowboys fan--we settled back on lawn chairs and enjoyed the music. Warning: If you’re a Bears fan and showing it, expect to hear about it from Brian.

Fins (Newville): $$$ Newly-opened this year, and coolly decorated. It’s the one that has the colored triangular awnings (‘cooler shades’ from Australia) over the deck area on Rock River. They’re right across from Anchor Inn, and wisely decided to offer a different menu. First time, Mrs. Scoop and I split a small Jimmy Buffett Pizza (‘Cheeseburger In Paradise’) and some crab cakes and cornbread. All was most excellent. Next time, out on a Sunday to hear The Blue Olives, who are playing at Fins every Sunday for most of the summer, I had ‘Jason’s Hot Muffaletta’, which I just realized I am going to hear about endlessly from you warped, twisted joke-mongers. Anyway, it was tasty, spicy, and on a freshly-roasted hoagie bun. Mrs. Scoop was also able to get a very appealing Mojito, thanks to Nick DiPasquale, a great bartender and, according to Mrs. Scoop, a ‘good-looking young guy’. Mrs. Scoop and I also want to thank Sue & Pat and the rest of the Fabulous Five for creating such a fun environment. Scoop Jr. now proudly owns an ‘Blue Olives’ Tee autographed by every member, and swears he will never wash it, unless he accidentally wears it while surfing in Pacific Beach. Which will undoubtedly happen.

Also of note is that on the Fourth of July, a Wednesday hot and humid, Big Daddy Woo-Woo, a great R&B funk band, got everybody extra-hot dancing. According to anonymous NewsHound Mike Duffy, earlier the band had played ‘Fire’ and set an amp cord afire. Now, that’s a hot band.

The Speakeasy (Janesville): $$$$ Mrs. Scoop had the Friday Night Fish, and chose an excellent 8oz cod filet, with a light panko breading, which neither I nor my spellchecker even remotely know the meaning of, but it was darn good. I had the ribs, which were also tasty, but a bit on the small portion for my appetite. The first time we came here was because of the Courier Christmas Party, which is usually held in January or July, depending on their hectic schedule, and I would like to report on the excellent food I ate that night, but that was also the Night Of The Chocolate Martinis, so you’re on your own for that menu. The wait staff dresses the part, but some of them need to find a better tailor. It’s not their fault—it’s hard to find a good zoot suit nowadays. But the flappers always look good. There’s live music…a band which sounded great the Martini Night (Sat.), and a very good jazzy piano group this last time (Fri.).

The Armory (Janesville): $$$$ (you can add to the Inclusive Menu for a few dollars more). We went here to see ‘Cabaret’. The dinner/theater combo was reasonably priced for all the entertainment you got; both the play and the meal were excellent. This is a very good idea if you’re trying to impress someone…a newly-rehabbed historical building, free parking downtown, outdoor patio, inside bar with drink specials, and the seating for the play is intimate. It’s best if you plan way ahead. One glitch: they mixed up Mrs. Scoop’s and a friend’s food orders (Mrs. Scoop, eating Stuffed Trout: "Hmmm…not a lot of fish in this." Friend, eating a Crusted Portobello: "Funny, this vegetarian salad tastes…fishy."). But the waitress promptly gave fresh, free, correct replacements when notified. I, who am smart enough to know what I don’t know, never order menu items that have more than two ingredients. I devoured my pork loin with mash potatoes with no problem, thank you.

We definitely are going back to see another play, and probably for Comedy Night on Thursdays. Uncle Hank and I are also going back to solve a mystery. Two of the females at our table said the Ladies Room mirror made them look "funny", as in a squiggly carnival mirror. Being mature, well-trained husbands, we did not try to quote Joe Pesci in ‘Goodfellas’, nor, being somewhat sober, did we try to enter the Ladies Room to investigate. But we have to know.

The Pump Room (Chicago, at the Ambassador East): Mrs. Scoop and I haven’t actually been back there this year. I’m just hoping someone will go there and see if the picture of Uncle Hank and me is still on the wall of celebrities. It was in the alcove behind the band stage, appropriately hanging next to Bozo. If you go there, let me know…

Luke’s (Milton): $$$ My favorite local restaurant. As this column was going to press, Kevin and Jenny and family are going to take a break from the restaurant business, and new owner Jeff Swenson will be there to greet you. Don’t worry--Kevin and staff are helping out during the transition. Mrs. Scoop and I were there very recently, everything was tight and under control, and our prime rib and fish were fantastic. The best to you Kevin, Jenny, Jaydalyn, Colin, and your Future Blessing. Jeff, congratulations, and Mrs. Scoop will be in shortly to test your bartender’s Mojito-making skills. If all else fails, make her a Rum Runner.

Buckhorn (Milton, Charley Bluff Road): $$$$ Chico and Dawn and family (Kevin and Shelley) & staff do a fine job here on a beautiful bluff overlooking scenic Lake Koshkonong. Mrs. Scoop and I weren’t able to review recently, but I hear the outdoor patio is great, and the food was also great last time in. Mrs. Scoop had an entire whole catfish, and I meant to bring the skeleton home and scare young kids with it, but I forgot after too many drink selections. My prime rib was awesome. Chico says: "Dining boaters, welcome to our 300 foot pier!"

Remember, there are no bad joints listed above. All are ones Mrs. Scoop and I visit often. That’s why they’re listed. We recommend them. Price Guide: $ = You cheap so-and-so, I hope you’re on the fly and this isn’t a date. $$ = You’d pay the same at McD’s, so eat zestier, hear music, and have a beer. $$$ = Impress your significant other. $$$$ = Impress your significant other and sit up straight.

SALOONS: My good friend, the noted painter John Van Horn, is quite pleased with his new portable GPS. He uses it for finding job sites, and thus it is tax-deductible. But he is especially happy with the ‘Bar Locator’. "Doesn’t matter where I’m at," he boasted, "I always know where to go when I’m thirsty." So do we, but there are too many good saloons to mention here (see NOTE below). All are friendly, all welcome your business, and each is special. All (that we’ve been to) serve most-excellent bar food, including tasty burgers, sandwiches, curds, rings, etc. OK, lately I’m partial to The Junction Pub. I really like the Jumbo Shrimp (Hi George!), the steak sandwiches, and the Golden Tee machine. If you’re golfing, bring in your score card and get your 2nd drink free. I also expect Mike or Lori to buy me three beers for printing this wonderful review. (‘Snuffy’s Still’ does the same golf card deal…I’m just saving that bribe for next time).

UPDATES: Speaking of GPS, we now return to Gary ‘GPS’ Salavitch, aka ‘Mr. Vodca’ (sic), who was profiled in the first column this summer for getting lost while driving his golf cart aimlessly for hours, apparently unable to find his seasonal site, which was about one minute away, if you actually knew where you were going. Friends determined that Gary needed a GPS on his golf cart, and a fund-raiser was held, bringing in a grand total of $1.53. Luckily, the same good friends responded to Gary’s plight by finding a ‘sort of’ GPS device left out as trash and it is now installed on Gary’s cart. You yourself probably have many friends in this same condition, so go to and check it out. Hopefully, friends of Mary Atella will also pitch in to help her, as she was reported to have lost her car somewhere between the Junction Laundromat and filling up her gas tank at Kwik Trip, a total distance of 39 feet as the crow flies (or Mary taking a shortcut).

And speaking of Drinking & Dining, please remember to be safe. Mrs. Scoop and I take turns so as to get home safely, and so should you. Or you can do what Dean and Phil do. When out and about and it’s getting fuzzy, they order a pizza. As Phil puts it: "Hey, if we’re drinking and it gets late, neither of us want to drive drunk. So we check the time and order a pizza to go. We specify delivery to our campground, but first a ‘pick-up’ here at the bar. So we go with the pizza."

Says Dean, "We tip well for the ride."

Adds Phil: "Yeah, but then we have to carry this crazy pizza all the way from the front gate. Last time, I was lucky to save three slices. We traveled over slippery slopes." (Scoop says: the road to their respective sites are paved and smooth…and level).

On a rare serious note, if in any way you might have had one too many, take advantage of the Rock County Tavern League ‘Safe Rider’ Program available at all Tavern League Member saloons. You will get a ride home if you need it. It’s free. Ask the bartender. And tip well. Sorry, no pizza included.

NOTE: Give me two weeks from the publication of this issue (8/3), then go to for a link to info on other great saloons such as Klub Bub, Scoreboard, Owl’s Club, Countryside, Shooters, The Cove, Snuffy’s Still, and more; other great restaurants such as Milton Family Restaurant, Liberty Station, Squeeze Inn, and more; and also my favorite pizza joints. Need your pet kenneled while you’re camping? Check it out two weeks from today!

Enjoy fully the amenities of your campground, buy commodities and tasty beverages on site, but when you need to venture, always check the Camper’s Courier for ads. Have your computer-literate kid check the ‘Net when you get home and plan for your next adventure. And Hey!...Let’s be careful out there!


                   Gary and his new GPS                                            Photos (and mischief) by Gorno








The two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just passed. Mrs. Scoop and I were in Long Beach (between Biloxi and Gulfport) and New Orleans the February before Katrina struck, and again this past March, a year and a half later. Here’s the thin slice that we saw, before and after. Please note that this is just what we saw...

We went in early 2005 for Big Daddy’s funeral (see Scoop: The Gambling Voodoo Blues). My father and mother had purchased a nice two-story house as close to the Gulf as you could get: the beach, Highway 90, and then the house. Across a cul-de-sac, one house back, were their neighbors and close friends, whose names I’m not going to mention, since I’ll eventually put this column on the Internet, and they don’t need repercussions.

The funeral started our already-planned vacation there on a very sad note, but we decided to continue on. We ate a lot of po-boys down a ways at The Cajun Crawfish Hut, hit some casinos, then went on to New Orleans. This was in February.

Fortunately, my mother had come back to Wisconsin for the summer. Katrina hit the following August, and on Labor Day weekend Blackhawk Campgrounds organized a relief mission to Long Beach. A 27’ RV with a slideout was donated, and the campers at Blackhawk rushed out to buy items to fill it with every imaginable needful thing: food, Handi-Wipes, clothesline, toilet paper, clothing, even games and stuffed animals for the children. Dave’s Ace Hardware here in Milton generously gave, at cost, coolers, tarps, and more essentials, enough to stuff the dually truck hauling the RV to overflowing.

Tom Whitney of Blackhawk had been in constant touch with the anonymous neighbor (OK, let’s call him ‘Sam’). Sam had help evacuate the residents of the Long Beach neighborhood, and was working from a base camp at a friend’s house up in Tennessee. It was as close to Long Beach as you could get without running out of gas. (Sam was also smuggling gasoline down to those remaining in Long Beach. Without gas you couldn’t run a generator if you had one, but the National Guard wouldn’t let the fuel in unless it was in an ‘official’ truck. Probably correct policy in most cases, but things were different. And I think the price of gas had suddenly risen. Razor wire and checkpoints had been set up, but Sam got through).

The priest who had done the service for Big Daddy was Father Louie. St. Mary’s church was demolished, but Father Louie continued to help his parishioners via bicycle, peddling to his flock in 95 degree heat and dangerous humidity. (And no offense, Father, but you were, just like me, a wee bit out of shape). Thus, Tom Whitney also donated a moped for Father Louie. And I, knowing that Father Louie, being a true Irishman, might be in need of a sip or two, made sure a few bottles of fine whiskey were stashed amongst the Band-Aids and flip-flops. To the best of Sam’s knowledge, Father Louie never fell off the moped once.

Tom had enough room for a sandwich and a thermos of coffee in the cab of the dually. He delivered the RV and supplies to Sam in Tennessee, and from there Sam got everything down to Long Beach, including the RV, which would be his home until he rebuilt. And this is a good time to mention something to you at Blackhawk Campgrounds and Dave’s Ace who gave so much: the people cried when the donated supplies came tumbling out. Just to have something to wipe the sweat from their faces or dry their clothes on or to see their children hugging a Teddy Bear was a true gift. They thank you, and every single thing you gave made a difference to a specific person.

And now Mrs. Scoop and I were back, early March of 2007, first stop Fairhope AL, where Mother Scoop had relocated. We arranged to meet Sam and his wife at the RV, and then go out to dinner. Sam had emailed pictures, but the destruction along Hwy 90 to Long Beach was eerie: a washed-out cemetery, seaweed and debris 15-20 feet high in the remaining trees (the water level of Katrina), a McDonald’s sign over a bare foundation. A favorite casino, Treasure Bay, which I liked because it was a replica pirate ship moored in the Gulf, was gone. The inland hotel part looked like an abandoned warehouse, plywood over most of the windows, although workers were on-site. A souvenir shop that had a tugboat next to it, a neat gimmick because the tug had been washed ashore almost that far by Hurricane Camille, was gone. Strangely, the tugboat had stayed put. And further down the line I would find The Cajun Crawfish Hut mere rubble ready for the gravel pit.

We couldn’t get in the cul-de-sac and had to go down a few streets, and then detour further inland about three blocks and cut back. President Bush had been on this street two days earlier, giving a speech and watching a resident hang an American flag. I’m not talking politics here--I’m just saying that if you saw it on the news, that was the ‘good’ part of town. At least most of the homes were still standing. As we passed, people were replacing moldy insulation and finishing new siding on a garage. Two or three RVs were still on empty lots, but no toppled tombstones or demolished churches. Then we came up the cul-de-sac.

Big Daddy’s house was gone. We knew it, but now we saw it. Mrs. Scoop burst into tears, and my mother held her. Only the front pillar supports had remained after Katrina, lonely brick sentinels, and Sam had had them knocked down. He had also used his own money to have most of the debris removed from there and the adjoining house. This was because—surprise!—replacement and debris removal money was still being contested by insurance companies.

Sam came walking up with a 30# LP tank he was filling for an elderly neighbor. She needed it to run the generator that powered her RV. Sam and his wife were still living out of the Blackhawk RV, now going on more than 18 months after Katrina. He too had some remaining columns. They were from a room addition he had built himself. They still stood, Sam said, because he had put rebar all the way up the columns. Other than that, there was only a bare foundation with short, twisted pieces of reinforcing bars jutting up. Sam had put red warning tape on them. Past the columns were a firepit and a wooden bench Sam had suspended from the columns. "We sit out here at night and watch the sun set," said Sam. "It’s the most beautiful sight in the world. And we’re not leaving. We’re going to rebuild."

San had to run PVC pipe from the RV to the nearest sewer inlet, fifty feet away. He also has a shed with PVC pipe elbowed into the main drain tube. In the shed are a washer and dryer, where Sam’s wife does laundry for the neighbors who still have no water. And across the cul-de-sac, there is still no water, nor electric or sewer. For some odd reason utility work has been stalled, as are building permits. Rumors sprung up that some connected people were trying to get the folks along the Long Beach coast to give up and sell in hopes of secretly buying up the properties and becoming partners in a casino or a condo development (after Katrina, Mississippi passed a law allowing casinos to move inland, up to 800 feet. They no longer had to be on the water). Regardless, newspaper archives tell that the Mayor and City Council and the Commission were dragging their collective feet up until at least a year ago. And—another surprise!—it’s kind of difficult to get insurance now.

It was hard finding a restaurant for dinner. There was nothing left on the Coast.


New Orleans wants you. And it detests FEMA. The T-shirt I bought says:

I Drove My Chevy To The Levee

And The Levee Was Gone

Most of the other Katrina shirts can’t be mentioned here. And the derogatory FEMA shirts are definitely off-limits.

When you come in as a tourist you don’t see the ravaged areas, like the lower Wards. You do see, along the Highway, trees snapped off mid-section, and you wonder why it hasn’t been cleaned up. Then you see ten more miles of broken trees. You cross the long, scary bridge over Lake Pontchartrain and take the convoluted twisty-turns to the French Quarter, and you are safe. You don’t have to see the tents and the squalid conditions unless you look down as you get back on the Expressway.

So I can’t tell you anything about that, although now they have Katrina tours along with the Voodoo and Ghost ones, and you can see for yourself. What we saw was the same French Quarter as last time: still slightly seedy yet glamorous, still smelling in places like sewer gas (it is built on a swamp), and always interesting in so many different ways: lunching at historic Galatoire’s, where the well-dressed waiters continuously fed us freshly-toasted loaves of bread while we ate sautéed trout and shrimp entouffee, real blues on Frenchman Street (better and more relaxed than Bourbon Street), the French Market, beignets, gumbo, street acrobats and palm-readers, surprisingly good po-boys at seedy corner bars. Only one restaurant we wanted to go to was still closed for remodeling, and the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) was still rebuilding its food court.

We stopped at Harrah’s for just a few hours, and are still getting flyers 18 months later, for free rooms and meals. As I said, New Orleans wants you back. Mrs. Scoop and I stopped at a Tourist Info place while strolling back from the Market and got a map and asked a few questions. The gentleman was very helpful. As we were leaving, he looked at us and said: "Thank you. Thank you for visiting New Orleans. Please tell everyone you know that we are back."

UPDATE: ‘Sam’ expects to move into his new house as of this reading. He finally got his permit. He has real sewer now…put in just last month. He’ll keep the swing in the yard to remember. As far as I know, there are still no utilities just across the cul-de-sac, but no casino or condo developments either. Sorry, connected people.

It took my mother about a year to get her Flood Insurance money, a program underwritten by the Federal Government. It took 12 months to get some money for the contents of the house. She had Allstate. She went to arbitration six months later. Fortunately, Sam was there to help, and after three more negotiations, she got another portion of what she should have gotten way back when. She did get $2,000 from FEMA shortly after Katrina, which surprised her.

The Cajun Crawfish Hut reopened further inland, but owners Gus and Donna vow to rebuild on the Coast. One restaurant that did rebuild is The Waffle House. At least you can get breakfast in Long Beach again.

And now…fun news:


It’s never too late in the season for runaway golf carts. Mike Caulfield was visiting his niece Annmarie at his brother Jerry’s site. Jerry’s place is close to a garden triangle that holds flowers, shrubs, and a totem pole. Mike had his toolbox setting on the front seat of his golf cart because he was on his way to put a new starter in his boat. As Mike explains: "My daughter Meghan accidentally knocked the toolbox off as she got off the cart. It landed right on the gas pedal, which released the brake and powered the cart forward. I, my other brother Jack, Meghan, and (son) little Mike ran chasing after it. We just couldn’t catch it in time.

"It plowed right into the triangle. Luckily, the cart missed the totem pole, but it did land right on top of a big bush. I could drive forward and I couldn’t go backwards. It was stuck!"

It took seven people to heft the cart up and carry it to even ground. Mike has promised to always carry the toolbox in back from now on, or at least travel with an entourage of strong people.

UPDATE!!! Well, as of a month ago (Sept. '07), according to my Mom, The Waffle House is still not open for business. It's been rebuilt, all right, but there seems to be a small problem in opening: the city has yet to hook up the water and electric lines. Maybe soon, huh?


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