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July 23rd, 2011 Somerset, WI | The Suck Zone

July 23rd, 2011 Somerset, WI

Posted on July 27th, 2011 by Chris White.
Categories: Chase Reports, Outdoors.

With both upcoming skepticism and excitement for what could have potentially been one of the best chase days of the year for MN with storms initially convecting on one run in one spot, the next another, etc.  I had decided to retreat to something more relaxing tubing down the apple river with 90,000 drunk teens to twenty somethings along with a few of us (Kathren and I, now don’t get me wrong I took my laptop/el etc with me and only pulled it out of the trunk once).

The swear words were the same as I remember them when I did beer bongs, nothing new, maybe the jello shots and Hershey squirts but, I have seen them recently.  It was similar to the girls gone wild advertisements on TV in the early AM but more of a ‘people gone bad’.  I heard the F-word (‘safesite’) 92,352 times, I heard people puking, you had to watch your step on the way to the restroom or you would step in it.  I saw a guy passed out, I paused and checked on him, he was still warm, had a pulse, and was still breathing, his friends assured me he would be alive for his wedding, it was his ‘bachelors party gone wild’.  I forget the sign the posted on him the lipstick drawn all over him was red.  I wondered multiple times for every extra tube they catch down river where did the body go?

I found myself trapped not in the twilight zone but, the springer zone.  It was odd. I pre-registered for the U2 pre-sale, by the time the site responded they were gone, undecided on the pricy tickets I could have done the general admission but, imagined myself stampeded by the crowd while 2″ hail was falling or something(not sure why 2″ hail came to mind at the time, I try and avoid large GA events in confined spaces).  Anyhow after checking stubhub.com last time around (before the re-schedule to the next year) and this year they must have had 200 hits from me.  I almost shelled out $500 for 2 tickets.

I found a deal for camping and tubing the Apple River, I had always regretted not going when I was in college but, looking back on it now I probably would have died, one of the nameless bodies pulled out of the River.  I pulled the trigger sounded like fun, when we arrived the booth babe asked if we wanted to be away from everyone, we said heck yeah, arriving at our site we found the river kind of cut off from us so we requested something closer (also, next to a culvert with a 5 foot storm drain…steel pipe).  Anyhow we ‘pitched a tent’ and stuff then got wet on Friday as people were flying past us on their tube’s.  The river has a serious current and decidedly determined the river flows North versus South just like the Minnesota meeting up with the Mississippi.  It was quite a strong current without a tube and movement downstream, I don’t think I could swim upstream from that spot but, could easily cross back and forth as I made my way downstream.  Another group approached us and we engaged in ‘talk’, eventually they asked for a little shove and offered me a beer bong as a favor (2 beers), I didn’t see them open the cans and pour it, having witnessed hazing at fraternity’s I declined the kind offer.  In fact we brought no beer or alcohol of any kind nor consumed any all weekend.  After the push off I almost went down river with the tubes fighting my way back to where I was still curious to how many bodies they find a year.  How does the Somerset Police cope or the St. Croix County Sheriff’s office deal with it?  Money I suppose.  I saw a full sized glacier mountain truck delivering ice to the campsite Saturday morning, I think many of the local domestic beers make a stop as well.  The owner had maybe 300 campsite’s and on Saturday they had well over 1000 people, just one of many campsite’s along the river.  These were all the people who could not get or appreciate U2 tickets.  They would crap as many tents and vehicles into the campsite as possible.

Friday night we had chicken and onion foil meal’s over the campfire.  Saturday morning I woke up to a guy puking at the site next to us for about 10 minutes around 5:45.  At 6 I made my way out, the campsites were about 16-18 feet wide but long so each one was able to accommodate about 5 tents and a pop-up.   Many of the campsites had expanded.  I fired up the fire.  I made coffee, Kathren made pancake’s.  As the fire was going out the morning MCS that had developed in NW ND/MO had found it’s way into Wisconsin.  We had everything packed up, jumped into the tent (for safety versus the car’s Faraday cage safety for lightning).  Anyhow the tent was fantastic for round 1 of the storms.  Nothing notable happened, wind, an inch of rain, lightning.  Anyhow it passed and we grabbed our tubes and were out on the Apple River.   Now you have to be really drunk or stupid not to know how much ‘junk’ is flowing into this river (besides the contributions of 5,000 people).  But, I have to admit I had a great time, absolutely relaxing.  Even though we heard foul language everyone we spoke to personally was very nice even though on more than one occasion I heard the question ‘want another beer’ followed by ‘nah, I have already drank a case I am good for now’.  We had towering CU downriver (to the North) which was really cool to watch just floating in a tube chasing it.

Arriving at the ‘end’ or at least the bus to transport us to the top of the river I was really amazed at how much liquor and beer one could bring onto a bus.  We had to wait while the bus driver refused to let 5 girls get on with a ‘glass’ bottle of liquor and insisted on seizing it after he distributed what remained between them.  Good for him, they took their 64 oz coffee mugs of liquor and proceeded to open the cooler and grab beers for our journey to the top of the river to float back to our campsite.  When we arrived he made some kinds of announcement regarding ‘tips’ are appreciated, so the girls showed him their ‘tips’ perhaps they mis-understood him.  I loaded and unloaded all the ‘tube’s’ refusing to ask or seek any ‘tips’, quickly I went through all my options fixed income, oil, commodity, index ETF’s, tech stock’s, time was up all I could come up with was ‘move to Canada’, I mean it’s not like I carried a canoe bag or anything, just my drivers license and a $20 so they could ID my body and $20 for the person who reported my body in a zip-lock bag.

We set sail at another huge campsite at the top of the river ‘Rivers Edge??’ and set sail for another 90-100 minutes downstream to reach our campsite.  We passed many campsites both on the way down and from the top back to our campsite and each time I though, what a goldmine along with the ‘liability insurance’ questions, the town’s economy, the probable dysfunctional law enforcement, and all the other ‘tips’.  Imagine what it would be like to be the one liquor store in the village of ‘Somerset’.  Anyhow, walking into the local holiday, grocery store, etc, I could see how the local economy of 1556 people fed off of the 90,000 weekly visitors during the summer.  Subway, DQ, Holiday, not so much forced to use more mainstream prices but, lots of customers in the summer.

As we cast off I now see towering CU to our South, cool round Duex.  We float down and come upon sandbar’s of ‘people gone bad’ material, groups of 300+ people going crazy walking up and doing Hershey shots(she insisted, he yelled for help, here comes a guy running out of nowhere into the water with a bottle of Hershey’s syrup.  I loved sociology and cultural anthropology in college if I was to go for the masters this is where I would do my thesis.

We get back to our campsite, the 16 foot wide campsite next to us was filled with 6 tents and a dozen people.  The cell to our South was taking on some decent structure for a while but then went kaput’s on us.  We were wiped out from the laying in tubes floating down a river or perhaps the sun took it’s toll?

When we woke up we gradually decided not another 3.5 hour round trip or the 1.75 hour trip downriver if we made it after 6pm they would return us directly to our camp.  We returned the tube and prepared dinner.  We cooked everything over the fire, no grill grate, I constructed a grate from 5-6 steel marsh-mellow/weenie roasters thingie’s.  I used hardwood charcoal for the fire it took a while to get going without a chimney starter or lighter fluid, lot’s of blowing, think blast furnace.  Hardwood charcoal makes a nice 800 degree fire hotter than regular charcoal it burns quicker and leaves almost no ash compared to regular charcoal and is relatively much easier to start.  This time a half pound of ground turkey, spices, potato, onion, carrot, and tomato soup (well I had tomato soup on mine).  We both ate like 2 pounds of food perfectly done.  In hindsight, had we placed the foil directly on top of the coals it would have limited the airflow eliminating the need the ad-hoc grill grate.  Again all the food was wonderful, I built up the fire with our remaining wood trying to burn it all in anticipation for round 3 of the storms wondering how the U2 concert was unfolding.

As for round 3 we were perfectly positioned for the storms once again.  Once again I ruin a perfect camping experience by whipping out the 4g router in the middle of nowhere getting a 3 bar 3g signal and firing up GR3 on the 3.3 lb netbook in the middle of nowhere.  Cells were spawning out of the Twin Cities metro the first cell would pass to the North of us, the second cell appeared to be aimed directly towards us with a fairly large VIL blob at a decent altitude.   We sat and watched the cell to the North approach and pass.  Then came the cell to the South which just got bigger, and bigger, closer and closer.   We put out the fire just before the rain started.

We were in the tent just as buckets of water were being tossed from the heavens.  Lightning left and right.  I told the campers next to us were probably okay in the tent’s for the hail (he asked) but, the only safe place to be was in a vehicle for the lightning.  I totally love being in a tent in a thunderstorm (so long as their are 90,000 other targets more likely to be hit than me and a hill with tall trees just SSE of us.  Anyhow it was still going when we fell asleep still wondering how the U2 concert was going.

It rained.

I did some minor searches on the Internet and I don’t see a huge number of Somerset Apple River drownings.


Comment on July 27th, 2011.

Somerset is THE biggest tourist trap in the entire midwest (especially Float-rite park and their subsidary parks). The cops are corrupt as hell there and they are in business with the campgrounds to scam as much money, and bully any non-locals they feel like. I HATE that place!

Comment on July 27th, 2011.

We did get an excellent deal(it was like 10x less expensive the the U2 concert, yet still….), nice weather during the tubing (sunny, hot). I would be interested in other places to go tubing. I still can’t figure out the name of the place we stayed. It could have been float-rite.

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