Archive for Sunday, May 27, 2001

Crowds gather at lakes hed here and here

May 27, 2001

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Saturday the Overland Park resident gathered with several friends at Clinton State Park's campground No. 1 for three days of camping and fishing.

"I'm just happy to actually get a bite," Johnson said as he went about setting up a tent. "I'm not looking to catch anything in particular."

A few yards away, John Ellsworth, the man with the bass boat that Johnson and other friends would employ in their fishing, was wondering about the effect gusty winds would have on the outing.

"We're getting ready to go out but the lake's a little bit choppy," the Kansas City, Mo., resident said. "We're going to give it a try."

Ellsworth and Johnson were among thousands who swarmed to area lakes to celebrate Memorial Day weekend. The utility service areas of Clinton's two state park campgrounds were nearly 100 percent full, park manager Jerry Schecher said Saturday afternoon. Areas without utility service were 70 percent full, he said. That would mean about 400 campers, he said.

Six other campgrounds are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and they, too, were expected to be nearly full, general manager David Rhoades said Friday.

Others visited the lake not to camp but to enjoy a picnic or fish for the afternoon.

Clint Maddox and his wife, Tammy, Eudora, were showing their two daughters, Brittaney, 6, and Breanna, 3, how to cast fishing lines off a rocky bank. The wind and the choppy waves weren't making it easy.

"It's pretty rough," Clint Maddox said. "They're just trying to get the hang of it."

Except for the winds, which were probably keeping the number of boaters down, the weather was almost perfect, Schecher said.

"We've had no disturbances and no problems," he said. "We actually tend to have fewer problems in this weather than we do when it gets hot and crowded."

Campers and others visiting the lakes are encouraged to be as specific as possible in letting friends and relatives know where they are going to be.

"A lot of times we get calls from people who need to find somebody and all they know is that they are at Clinton Lake," said Dave Rhoades, the general manager for the Corps of Engineers' operations at the lake.

Lakes aren't the only places for water lovers this weekend. The Lawrence Aquatic Center opened Saturday but some who ventured into the water came out thinking the weather was a little too cool for swimming.

"It was really cold," said Michael Scott, 12, Lawrence. "You'd freeze the first five to 10 minutes you were in the water and then when you got out."

-- Staff writer Mike Belt can be reached at 832-7165.

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