Brad & I recently enjoyed a super short and sweet vacation up north to take in the wonders of the north woods. We caught up with friends and stayed in our long time familiar rental cabin.
taking a break from the fire, on a quiet evening with furry friends
(rolling kitten in front of door)
We haven't been to our home away from home but once, since we moved. Our travels north started as a birthday present for Brad, 10 years ago. We fell in love with the area, our visits quickly increased to 4-5 times a year.
One of my favorite things to do is soak in the vast beauty of the Nicolet National Forest.
Horses came up with us in June & October, and we rode snowmobiles multiple times in the Winter. Depending on snow, and always around Valentines Day. If you are a long time blog follower, you might remember some of our overnight horse trials and triumphs. This is the only place we've glamped with horses. We had dreams to increase traveling and trail riding with our horses, but that went to the bottom of the list when we purchased our land. Maybe some day.
We made many treasured memories up north over the years! Some of my favorite revolve around this lookout...
Oconto County used to be WI's best kept secret, but the secret is out. The only October reservation we could make was during the week. Spur of the Moment Ranch is experiencing their best year/s, they are heavily booked year round. I am very happy for them, it is well deserved. They are a great family!
We have gotten to know each other well, share many laughs and go out to eat together etc. When we headed back home on a Friday, weekend reservations were rolling in non-stop.
We had tentatively planned on bringing horses with us, but I am SO glad we didn't!! A few months after our last trip, 100mph straight line winds hit and severely damaged the area. Forever labeled as the July 2019 derecho. I/we had completely forgotten about it.
What we saw was shocking, and very sad. It was such a beautiful area :( Allllll those trees, up rooted or snapped in half. For miles and miles. 100's of thousands of trees. I guess the structure of the ground has been saturated and destroyed, any little wind and more trees topple over.
You know the saying, out of sight out of mind. Well, it is in my mind now and we didn't even see the worst of it. They are hardy people, with a strong work ethic. The area came back from tornado damage years earlier, and will eventually rebound from this storm as well. It is an aging population with limited resources that depend on tourism. Every single family restaurant/bar is for sale. It is going to take around 10 years to restore the large damaged section of the Nicolet Forest. Even then, it will never be the same.
Treasure every moment, you never know when things might change.
Instead of the horses or snowmobiles, we brought our not so little Tank with us. He was a puppy last time he stayed at the ranch. Tank travels like a dream, and slept the entire 3.5 hour drive.
We took advantage of our one full day, and squeezed in as much as we could ~ and still relax.
In the morning, we headed out south towards my favorite trail that does not allow motorized vehicles (except in the Winter).
to get to anywhere, you have to take the multi use trail
It is an old railroad bed, if you head north it goes all the way up to Michigan. Not a fan of riding it horseback. Some areas have steep sides with no where to go if your horse decides to take issue. On the weekends, it is a sure bet you will come upon groups of four wheelers. We have never had a problem, they have always been respectful but there is a first time for everything.
and added more signage
It is (or was) a beautiful windy less traveled path, with sections of birch. The orange, yellow and reds are absolutely stunning! We were there within a week or less of peak color. The reds are typically further into the forest. With every bend we took, we found more tree/s blocking the trail.
We ducked, and climbed over and around them. The fallen trees seem to increase in size, the further in we got. All the down trees would have been impassable with horses, without pulling them to the side. The first one was doable, the ones that followed would have required chain saws and/or ropes. Photos don't do a good job of showing size.
more down trees
you never know what you might find, like a pile of white cushion stuffing
Then we came across this unpassable mess. Much worse than it looks. I tried to find a way to walk around it, but the woods are thick annnnd we turned around. We had hiked far enough anyways.
high and thick blockage
complete with a snapped large tree waiting to fall on your head
my happy (wet) feet
early evening fire thoughts
The familiar huge horse eating rock Koda had to befriend over the years, has not changed. I'll never forget that first overnight learning trip when Koda and Nemo were four, it wasn't all fun. Koda's paddock was beyond the rock...I missed having our horses enjoy the fire (and trails!) with us.
this damn tree hangs over the fire pit
and has been dropping crap on my head for years
We come home with remnants of it tucked in our clothes, camp chairs etc
Some things never change.
We made new campfire friends (not residents)
The very young grey kitty looked a lot like our Leo. The sociable calico was about 3-4 months.
We are really proud of how Tank handled everything!! The dog friendly ranch is a bustling place these days, compared to our quiet homestead. Regardless, we already have a Winter trip planned. They assure us snowmobile trails will be cleared. I hope it snows for everyones sake!! They barely had any snow last year, we never made the trip up. At home we got snow, but in little amounts. We won't ride on questionable trails and never made it out on our sleds last year. I look forward to riding snowy trails, they are SO much better and breathtaking up north!!