By Jess Utz 

Through destruction to “the plantation”

Jess Shut Up


The family and I headed out for camping last week near Republic. It was an awesome example of nature’s power as we drove through the Keller and Republic areas. I can just not do justice in words to what the area looks like following the big storm July 20.

I have heard from people that live in hurricane and tornado areas that it is hit—and-miss, referring to what neighborhoods and whose houses are destroyed. It is very similar in how the wind storm took areas of trees out of the ground and laid them on houses, cars, driveways, highway and power lines. Some trees looked as if they were twisted upwards giving the trunk a spiral fracture and leaving a ten foot high stump. Others were ripped from the ground, roots and all, laying them over like pickup sticks.

Great kudos have to go to everyone who responded and continue to work to get power restored and trees removed. As one person told me, “It’s not over yet; as soon as the next large wind storm comes, we will see how many more come down that are just barely standing now.” He is right. There are hundreds, if not thousands of trees that are permanently bent in the direction the wind whipped and others leaning against their neighboring pine.

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

I was worried that our campground would be closed when we got there, like many of the others we passed along the highway. But ours was open and in fairly good shape. Only a few trees down in the campground itself.

The other worry was that our Plantation, (as we nicknamed it) would be damaged and our precious purple jewels would be destroyed. But, to our relief, the crop was plentiful and unharmed. It appeared even the bears had not been there yet. So the picking contest commenced. While the kids swam, fished and made bows and arrows, the plantation workers began, turning their hands a purple haze as teams competed for the coveted prize of “The Most Huckleberries Picked.”

Alas, my team fell short by two pounds and Hannah and Mike prevailed. Rumor has it Hannah had three pies baked within 24 hours of returning home, proving again that they are the Huckleberry Dream Team. One other contest to note was the “Biggest Red Neck Competition.” To no one’s surprise, a future state champ and his team of red necks won hands down.

It’s always a great time getting together with family and friends, reuniting and reminiscing of great times of the past and creating new memories that will be looked back on for generations. For example, I am sure that we will all remember the campfire waxing that one person received to “HIS” chest. We will also remember the tripping stump that we all knew was there but that we continued to trip on time and time again. One more memory will be of a certain nephew who worked on his bow for hours only to crack it the first time he tried to bow it; it ended up 30 feet up in a tree. We will also remember Sophie’s first camping trip.

The worst part of camping is when its time to break camp and head home. It is always bittersweet. It is almost too difficult to push the clutch in and head back towards home, work, bills and all the other stresses of everyday life. But at least we have stories and berries to remind us of the great weekend. Oh yeah, a certain couple has a prize too (I am sure they cheated). And one person has an almost bare chest to remind him.

So get out there and enjoy nature. It is worth it, and you will create lifelong memories. Just stay out of the plantation.


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