Saturday, July 26, 2014

On The Road Again - Lac Du Flambeau

Destination “Up North” Lac Du Flambeau

For us summer has always meant at least one week of vacation “Up North” in northern Wisconsin, often referred to as God’s country.  We think of “Up North” as any town north of Wausau, Wisconsin. This week we are camping for six days in Vilas County on the Lac Du Flambeau reservation at their campground on Flambeau Lake. It’s about 1,200 acres with musky, northern, bass, walleyes and panfish.  Our drive up here did bring back memories of over 40 years of making this journey “Up North” for vacations with more great memories than I could ever put into words. So glad we have pictures to help us remember those wonderful experiences. We are camping about 10 miles from my wife’s parent’s cottage that was sold about five years ago. We haven’t been “Up North” since. I didn’t realize how much I much I missed being up here until we drove through Wausau. I have also heard that any place north of Wausau is thought of as being “North of the Tension Zone”.

No set plans for this week. We will probably visit many of the towns that are within 15 to 20 miles of our campground just to see how they have changed. It may be hard to decide which ones to visit in the next couple of days. We are right on the border of Vilas and Oneida counties and may visit Eagle River, Minocqua, Manitowish Waters, Boulder Junction or St. Jermain. It’s summer “Up North” and there is something going on almost every day. We could attend art shows, quilt shows, gem shows, food fests, museums and an endless number of tourist attractions. I might even fish from shore in a couple of different places. Oh yes. I forgot to mention that that “Lake Of The Torches” casino is less than a mile from our campground. Hope we win enough to pay for our next adventure. We do whatever the “Spirit” moves us to do in the morning when we get up. Some days we just enjoy relaxing in the campground reading a good book or playing a board game.  I might even get inspired to write.

Setting up camp next to our new neighbors went perfect, including setting up the new screen tent that we got the day before we left on this journey. It’s a Gander Mountain 12’ X 12’ Vista Dome Screen tent that went up in 10 minutes and is so much nicer than the heavy canvas one we had 35 years ago. We did put it up in the backyard the day we got it so we wouldn’t look like it was our first day camping when we got to the camp ground. We met our nearest neighbors as we were setting up and they have a Jayco trailer also so we had something in common to start the conversation. They are both Native Americans from Green Bay, WI. where we once lived.

Friday morning and we woke up early to very bright sunshine reflecting off the lake and right through our shades. I’m sitting at our dinette table, having my first cup of coffee, with a perfect view of Flambeau Lake as I write this. Life is good!

We played tourist in Minocqua this morning and Lauralyn ended up with new moccasins and a book and I got washers for a leaky water connection. Had lunch, an ice cream cone, isn’t it nice being our age, at one of the drive-ins that we had gone to during our many years of coming up here.  We got back to the campground about 3 pm and just enjoyed the peace and quiet and that wonderful sound of loons on the lake. Can’t explain it, but it’s just so relaxing up here looking at the lake, reading the Lakeland Times and looking forward to another great day tomorrow. They made a study and for some reason people are more relaxed when looking at a lake, stream or ocean. I would have to agree with that one.

Saturday we woke up to gray and cloudy with the promise by weather people that it would not rain and they were right. We drove about 40 miles to Eagle River to attend an art show. It only took about an hour to see everything and Lauralyn did find a perfect opal ring. We ate lunch at Soda Pops, a malt shop type restaurant that Lauralyn remembers eating at for the first time when she was probably 10 years old. They have about 75 different kinds of soda and old fashioned phosphate sodas with almost any flavor that you could think of. I had a meatball sandwich that was made with cranberries, sour kraut and brown sugar and was great but really different. I chose a Dog & Suds rood beer because I worked at a Dog & Suds during high school and my first year of college.  Tasted just as good as it did in 1964. We played tourist in Eagle River also enjoying all that the shops had to offer. A sandwich sign in front of a jewelry store said “Thank You Vets” so of course we had to go in. A man, about our age, was selling Navajo jewelry and Lauralyn picked out a bracelet with two kinds of turquoise, lapis lazuli and oyster shell set in a very pretty silver setting. I found a small fold up Coleman table that we can use to put our small gas grill on or our two burner propane stove when we choose to cook outside.

We took time today to check out a different campground in Eagle River as long as we were there, but the sites were too open (no trees), too close to each other or near storage buildings. Then we stopped at Arbor Vita, the town right next to Woodruff to check out another campground and this one turned out to be even worse than the one we had just been to. Way too crowded for us and they just didn’t seem very friendly. Checked these two off our list of possible campgrounds and once again realized you can’t believe everything the campground listing says it is and of course the brochures picture only their best sites. This is why we try to check places out before we make reservations.  We will check out three more campgrounds next week and hope we have better luck, although we do like the one that we are in right now. Red sky at night, sailors delight. Well we saw beautiful red sunset tonight so we should see a very nice day tomorrow. We plan on going into Lac Du Flambeau tomorrow. It’s about three blocks long, but has some shops and a Native American museum. We will then make a donation to the Lake Of The Torches casino and hope we win enough to pay for this week’s adventure or maybe even two or three more. I’ll let you know tomorrow how we did.

Had a leisurely Sunday morning which began with Sausage, bacon and blueberry pancakes and a great view of the lake from our dinette window. Had my third and fourth cups of coffee in the screen tent. What a view of this lake. We looked at our calendars and decided to come back for a week in September. We were hoping to visit Waswagoning Indian Village today, but found out they are only open Tuesday through Saturday so we will have to do that the next time we are up here.

We did go into down town Lac Du Flambeau, about three blocks long, and were very surprised at the improvements that have been made in the last five years. They now have sidewalks and curbs that allow you safely walk to the casino about a mile away. Downtown now has a small six store mall that was closed on Sunday. We stopped in their grocery store to get a WI State Journal and a couple of things we forgot for dinner and then I spent the rest of the morning reading the paper and Lauralyn continued to work on a knitting project. Can’t get much more relaxed than that. After lunch I went out on the pier that was built for the handicapped but anyone can fish on it. It’s only a half mile from our campsite and extends about a third of the way out into the channel between the lake we are on and Lake Pokegamma where the casino is located. You could actually take your boat from our campground to the casino if you wanted to. Only caught one small bluegill but the wind was blowing right into where I was fishing. I’ll probably try again on another day. After another great meal on the gas grill we went to the casino and made a donation.

Woke up to a cloudy hot muggy Monday and decided to road trip, in the air conditioned SUV to check out two more campgrounds but only one would due in a pinch. We are really spoiled with the one we are in which has larger sites. One that we looked at the trailers were so close the pull outs from one were only a foot from their neighbor. Very few children here because they don’t have all the extras that children need today to keep them busy. Very quiet and very peaceful. Riding in the car was so nice and cool that after lunch we decided to visit Mercer, “The Loon Capitol of the World”. They had a quilt shop with a big sale sign so we had to stop.   Lor ordered a pattern for a small quilted sign for the trailer just before we left on this trip and found the perfect material to make it with on sale. Another store down the street had a tuned wind chimes that we thought would be perfect in the screen tent and it is.

We kept hearing weather reports of heavy winds, one inch hale and thunder storms so we decided to take down our screen tent and put the awning up before we had dinner. After dinner we once again donated to the Native Americans in Lac Du Flambeau. Yes, I do know that people very seldom win at casinos, but it comes out of our “entertainment fund”.

Can’t believe it’s Tuesday already and we have to go home tomorrow. The rain was predicted to be here after midnight, but didn’t arrive until 5:15 am and only lasted an hour or so. We did have very strong winds today though so I’m glad everything was put away early. We road tripped to Bolder Junction because we used to camp at Big Lake there many years ago and they were having street sales and a strawberry ice cream social. They also had a flea market and I found connectors that clamp onto the screen tent material on the sides and corners that you can put a stake through to hold down the bottom flaps on the inside. You almost have to have a screen tent to know what I’m talking about. They were having a raffle of a restored 1947 wood canoe which was just beautiful. Then we realized it was as old as us, two 1947 babies. I asked them if they could restore me, but only back to 20 or so.

Lor also realized she has been coming up here for over 60 years. Checked one more campground near Bolder Junction, Camp Holiday on Rudolf Lake, which will be our 2nd choice when we want to come this direction for R&R. If you don’t know what R&R is ask a Vet.

I was emptying the tanks one more time this afternoon when I got stung again by a ground hornet. They came back and sprayed one more time and felt very bad about it. This is just part of camping and Mother Nature. I did get everything packed so we can be out of here by noon check out time. We treated ourselves to a very nice dinner at the Polecat and Lace restaurant in Minocqua. Best steaks and dinner out that I’ve had in a long time. Gets four stars from me.

I usually hate the thought of leaving, but not this time. We will be home for four days and then we are off to Chippewa Falls, WI. for a week. We will play tourist, check out more campgrounds, I’ll get a chance to fish and we will tour the Leinenkugel’s Brewery. Leinies Honey Weiss. One of my favorites. We’ll also be returning to this campground for a week starting on September 17th.

Until next time when you find us on the road again.
Added note: We often stop at Veteran's monuments. The monument is in Mercer the Loon capitol of the world. Biggest loon in the world too. Hope you enjoy the pictures.