While I have been coming to the Northwoods for only the last 7 years or so, the bulk of my visits are in the warm weather months from Memorial Day to Thanksgiving. Two years ago I started to try to make it a tradition to come up in January after the New Year and experience the beloved, “Snow Mobile Season”. While I won’t go into a bunch of facts, (because I don’t know them) Eagle River and the surrounding areas are well known as the Snowmobile Capital Of The World. There is something like 500 miles of trails and the trails are cared for by various clubs in the different towns on a volunteer basis. From what I gather, it’s A LOT of work and truly a labor of love. As luck would have it, the last couple of years in the Northwoods have been snow duds. There wasn’t enough snow one year for me to experience going out on the trails and last year, I was only able to ride along as a passenger because as an inexperienced driver, it wasn’t safe for me to be driving.
This year, I decided I was going snow or no snow. I was going to explore the Winter Wonderland Northwoods scene, by sled or by car, whatever it took. I was seeking the most Northwoodsiest experience possible. I was not disappointed. Here are seven ways I embraced all the Northwoods feels.
- Snowy Winter Forest Walks
To start, there was snow! Plus it was wonderfully cold! Call me crazy but I love the cold crisp winter air. It makes me feel so invigorated, plus a morning walk in icy cold air, gets rid of any residual cocktail hour effects from the night before. If you follow me you know I have been learning about the Nordic practice of Hygge and nothing is more Hygge than starting your day out in a forest of pine trees, in pure white powdery snow. Each morning, I got up, had my cup of coffee and took the dogs on a nice walk through the woods and out onto the frozen lake. I can’t think of a better way to start the day.
2. Heated Things Up
I spend my summers at the lake helping split and stack logs for the winter months. As a city girl, nothing was more satisfying than knowing my hard work from the Summer was helping me stay warm this winter. It was so very Hygge to start a fire and work while gazing out at the frozen beauty of the lake. I definitely took a couple of moments to really appreciate the beauty of this and so did Barkley.
3.Explored The “New To Me” Bar Scene
Truth be told while I’ve been to a lot, and I mean a lot, of bars up North, there are even more I have not been to. I read about one that I was dying to go to and this trip we made it a reality. The bar was at Bauer’s Dam Resort in Conover, WI. It was everything I had hoped it would be. Situated on a gorgeous lake, with a gorgeous deck filled with bird feeders that were visited by an amazing array of birds, it was heaven! If you would have told me ten years ago that I would be thrilled by sitting at a bar drinking an Old Fashioned and Bird Watching I would have laughed hysterically. But that’s exactly what I was, thrilled. The people who owned the bar couldn’t be nicer and the “regulars” were just as friendly. If I wasn’t hooked on this place already, there was no turning back when the owner brought a tray of hot chocolate decorated with whipped cream and sprinkles to a group of snowmobiling men (who were delighted). It was like being in a real life Hallmark movie.
Original Tipsy and I spent a perfectly pleasant afternoon having some cocktails and chatting with a older gentleman who was surprisingly a mutual White Sox fan. I haven’t even mentioned the Chicken & Dumpling Soup! The menu boasted Homemade Soup and I just had to try it. It was delicious and comforting and I can certainly see why they sell it by the gallon.
4. Stayed Home
In the Summer months we are always out and about. Swimming, fishing, riding the ATV’s, going out to dinner and more. This trip, one of the days was pretty cold, like pretty damn cold, so we decided to hunker down and stay at home. This was one of the nicest days of my trip. We ate leftovers, watched tv, read and later that night I played bartender and made us some Old Fashioned’s and a Frozen Rumchata Milkshake. I can’t tell you the last time staying in my PJ’s all day felt so good.
5. Aprés Ski, Without the Ski
I had never been to Ski Brule a Northern Michigan Ski Resort with a Incredible Ski Lodge. I knew it was going to be a good day when a random stranger at the bar convinced us to do a Shot Ski. Here are my parents, Me and some guy named Pat taking down a Blackberry Brandy ShotSki!
There was something so wintery about sitting at a bar, sipping a Moscow Mule and gazing out at the ski slopes. Original Tipsy said that the Bloody Mary was really good too! Great Views, Decent Food, and a Fantastic bartender with just the right amount of sass. I can’t wait to go back here.
6. I drove the Snowmobile!
I have to admit, I was afraid. It seemed a lot scarier than it looks or felt when I was riding as a passenger. Snowmobiling is no joke. But once I felt a little more comfortable there was NOTHING like the feeling of riding along the trails. The snow, the trees, the streams. It was nothing less than paradise. I can’t wait to go back and do it again. Plus I feel like the helmet look suits me!
7. Visited a Real Life Ice Castle
I had heard of the Eagle River Ice Castle but I had never visited it myself. I don’t know why this is, perhaps it was a weather issue in years past. You can read all about the tradition of the castle here. But the amazing facts about it that I do know, is that it takes about 700 man hours to cut the ice from a local lake and build the castle. It’s been going on since 1933, and this year over 2100 blocks were used to build the castle. It was truly mind blowing to see this being built and seeing it finished. Truly a selfless act to build this for no other reason then to bring happiness to others.
It’s hard for me to explain the way you feel when you visit this area. The best way I can begin to explain it is that you always feel like you are home. We all live in a transient world but when you’re here you feel like you belong. You also feel nostalgic for a time that you probably didn’t even grow up in but wish you did. I have been lucky enough to visit a lot the last seven years, and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of everything there is to do and see here. I enjoy finding “new to me” things each time I am here but most of all I enjoy spending time with my family. The Northwoods leaves you no choice but to work together and spend time together, in a good way (most of the time). I highly recommend a visit here, it will change your perspective on “paradise” and I guarantee if you come once it won’t be your last.
For more information on visiting the area, click the links below.