Lake Wapello, a family tradition

More than 55 years -- thatâ??s how long 88-year-old Elsie Simpson has been coming out to Lake Wapello State Park.

She has since carried on the tradition to her children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

â??I can't remember when we havenâ??t come here. Through my youth, my childhood -- I just canâ??t remember not ever not coming here,â?? said Rick Simpson.

The Simpsons have upgraded their camping style through the years. They first started out with a tent and now they have moved to an air-conditioned camper.

The Lake Wapello Campgrounds have since upgraded, as well.

â??Itâ??s far better than it was when we started down here. I think it's a great place to camp. They got electricity; you can run down, have water not too terribly faraway -- not so far as you can run a garden hose if you have to. The bath house is always clean and I think itâ??s a very nice facility. You got the Bait House and the concession running up and going again. They got the lake repopulated again with fish. I think it's an excellent facility out here,â?? said Simpson.

The family said they see a lot of the same people at the lake year after year and they all know each other by name.

And one thing people enjoy most about the lake is:

â??The quiet and the peaceful -- you know it's just it's real nice. Weâ??ve been doing this for nine years here at the Lake Wapello,â?? said Kennath Schwanke, Lake Wapello Campground Host.

Schwanke is the campground host and is the man to go to with any questions or concerns campers may have about the park. He said the park provides a great family-like atmosphere and is safe and quiet.

However, Elsie Simpson may have been one of the only people to witness something not so quiet and safe years ago.

â??A bear had gotten off and went wandering through Lake Wapello. And so my mom did have a sighting of probably the only bear thatâ??s ever been in the park at Lake Wapello,â?? said Simpson.