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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

From the Midway: Exploring our local treasures

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Well, by all indications this summer is winding down but you still have a chance to go and enjoy the next couple of weeks. One suggestion that I would encourage people to do is to go out and check out some of the Cherokee County Parks.

There are 20 parks located in Cherokee County, some are just perfect for a picnics, while others can accommodate a longer stay. My personal favorite is Martin's Access. For years I have enjoyed camping there.

Back in the early 90's groups of us would come down to Martin's Access for a weekend. It was the perfect getaway from the Lakes. You may wonder why we would need a getaway from the Lakes. Many of us worked in the service industry and by the end of the busy tourists season we would get burned out dealing with overbearing tourists.

So it was our chance to spend a little time away from that environment. We would pack up our tents and stock our coolers and head down south. Once we arrived at Martin'sAccess there was always a sense of pride about showing off the park to people would had never been there before.

The wide-open spaces and the tranquil setting that the park has sitting next to the Little Sioux River is fantastic. We would eventually get a fire going and gather around and listen to music, every so often somebody would have a guitar and give a private concert underneath the stars. They would play the biggest hits of the day and it goes without saying that New Kids On The Block was not part of the play list.

The best part about camping at Martin's Access was the people you would meet there. Other liked-minded campers would come over to your campsite and share a beer or two with you. On one of these chance encounters, I met a family that was there with a couple of horses. One of the horses was a miniature pony and had a custom carriage that sat two people. The owners would give rides on the carriage and also let people ride the big horse as well. This was very popular with the kids who were there.

No money changed hands, no alternative motives on behalf of the family. It was them sharing what they had with the other people at the park. That has been the main theme while camping at Martin's Access. Many times we would be sitting by the fire and people who came driving through the park would stop and chat for a while.

One night we were again sitting by the fire when a couple of gentlemen appeared from the black of night on horseback. They were riding around and moseyed over to see if we needed any more firewood. The said they worked up at Barnes Ranch and would be back in a little while with some more wood.

About an hour later the guys came back with a full truckload of wood, enough to get us through the night and possibly most of the winter. There again is another example of people going out of their way to make other people feel welcomed.

I also recommended that if you get a chance, grab a canoe and spend a day on the Little Sioux River. There are several access points to the river and you can make your trip as long or as short as you want.

These types of adventures often bring unexpected occurrences. A few years ago, while canoeing down the river. We came around a bend and there in the middle of the river stood a yellow Port-a-Pot. How it got there I'll probably never know but thank god it wasn't occupied. Now that would make an interesting story if it was.

Mike Leckband
From the Midway