short and sweet

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.

orses 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... 

Koda & I at the lookout (2014)


Koda overlooking the Nicolet
full color trees, as far as the eye can see

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.

Here it is! Interesting, they re-numbered all the trails
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.

leaning trees

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.

at least it didn't drop a kitten on me!!

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.

I don't know what to say, other than she hissed and spit fire

the small broken Ash cabin angel has survived all these years

heading over to see the resident horses/mini donks in their dry lot

Tank posing on the rock
(2 yrs old)

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!!


Grey Horse Matters said...

Looks like you had a nice trip and break from the everyday jobs at home. It’s a shame about that storm and all the damage it did to everything and everyone. I hope it snows and you get to ride the trails. I love Tank, what a sweet boy.

Shirley said...

It's always good to have a little getaway!
Tank is certainly well named! Glad he was a good boy.
That fire face.... burning demons are ya?
That's a lot of wind damage. Probably a good thing you didn't bring the horses!

Linda said...

What an absolutely stunning place! That photo of you and Koda at the lookout is really special. Yes, owning a horse property does make it hard to travel, but it’s just nice to get away and experience something new and wonderful here and there.

Val Ewing said...

Oh that had to be wonderful! I have been to that area but don't recall much about it since I was a Jr. in High School and nature was not on my mind.

Tank is a beautiful dog.

aurora said...

There is no place I would rather be than our homestead, but it felt good to reconnect with people & places we care about. Laughter is sooo good for the soul, and we laugh/ed together a lot. Plus I got heartfelt parting hugs, that made the whole trip worth it. You can't feel that at a distance.

As far as the "burning lady", Shirley lol! I didn't pick out the wood, nor did I start the fire. I just noticed the face. I know, I am weird. I have one name in particular tho, I could certainly have given it ;)

Tank came with his name. It fit, so we kept it. The breeder theme's the litters. I recall one of his black lab siblings was Grenade. Spoken for, or we would have brought home two puppies (that pup would have gotten renamed, way too cute to called a grenade). Tank is a special dog, we are smitten.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Nice for you to get away! So that rock eats horses! :)