Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

The projects, chores, and life of a family-owned, Northern Wisconsin resort.


For the past week the guys have been busy finishing the deck on the office.  With the help of a few around the resort the project got finished


John Thompson helping Steve get the right pitch the ramp


Lots of talking, a few beers, a few old stories told, a few beers, a few nails pounded, a few more stories told…  you get the picture.  In the end it turned out great and everyone had a good time helping





Just down the road from the resort the Flower Family has opened a Little Free Library.  Check it out if you are walking along the road.  Kim will keep it going til mid August and then will put it away for the winter until they come back in the spring



Little Free Library’s are popping up all over the United States.  You borrow a book and return it or return it to another Little Free Library around the county. The website for them is at  You are welcome to leave a book as well if you have one to leave.  Nice idea and say hi to Kim if she stops and says hi as you are checking out her library


The Ament Family, Nathan, Jamie, Noah and Charlie shared with me their pictures of walking our blue trail through the woods to Kitty Springs.  Thanks to Charlie and Noah for humoring their mom and going along on the walk without complaining (much)


Heading down the trail slaying dragons and monsters with their sticks as they go


Watch out for monsters in the woods


Nothing better than checking out the deer stands along the trail to get a birds eye view of the monsters in the woods


Hi Mom…. we will be fine… really…



Meanwhile back at the resort, Charlie and Noah’s grandma was teaching Mack the wonders of sweet potato treats.  Mack has no idea they are good for him and fat free.  Molly was not letting him in on the secret either

Thanks to the Ament Family for sharing their pics and braving the bugs to go down the trail


This blog entry is dedicated to Paul and all the clowning around he has done over the years.

The retirement of the Titanic pontoon boat has not been too traumatic, everyone has found a new spot to enjoy on the “new” boat by the white dock

I keep thinking everyone will enjoy the shade this boat has with a canopy but I should have known better, the pulled the canopy back



Sitting on the dock and catching up is what it is all about.  Jackie and Steph just missing their wine glasses


Warm weather fishing with Ed and Ejay



Paddle boating and escaping the grown ups who can be so embarassing..



No afternoon is complete at the beach without a sandcastle or 2



Diane and Elaina contemplating dinner at Jacobi’s after a day at the beach… ohhh what to have

Petite garlic stuffed tenderloin, with grilled walleye would be Diane’s pick

Elaina agrees with her mom on garlic stuffed tenderloin, but she adds in coconut shrimp to make it perfect

That is the first night, the 2nd night is the good old stand by of, Honey Pecan Chicken.

All sounds good to me, no cooking, and a perfect day at the beach with friends



This perfect day at the beach has been dedicated to Uncle Paul.  No summer would be complete with out “A Little Something We Call Clowning Around”



Every Friday is the beginning of the emotional roller coaster of the resort.  We say goodbye to one group and toast a wonderful week or 2 on Friday night with one group



The melancholy realization that in 51 weeks we will do this again but week number 52 is the fastest of the entire year.  This downward roller coaster of saying goodbye to everyone Friday and Saturday morning is followed quickly by…



Very happy campers in their best good shoes ready for a week of fun with family and friends.  I love these shoes!



Then after the hellos come the requests.  Pam was very disturbed by the small wine glasses in Wildflower and requested a larger one for her to enjoy her week.  I have something in the storage room for everyone you just need to ask



Wine glass and a fan for the first really hot week of the summer. The box fans have not made it out of storage for the few hot days we have had.  Pam was sure she would need one this week



Then there is everyone adjusting to the different pontoon boat next to the white dock.  There are rumors that they may sneak down to Craig’s house to have one long sit on the retired pontoon boat.  Then again they seem to have found their spots on the boat



John had to test out the new bouncy chair at the beach.  He would like Bill Scully to know he agrees this is now the best bounce on the beach



Then the food comes out followed by wine in big glasses…  somehow both days the goodbyes and hellos always involve good food and good wine.



Then there are good old dogs who are just happy to be back at the lake enjoying the view



Emma has found her spot for the next 2 weeks til the emotional rollercoaster of goodbyes and hellos start all over again



With the cool weather this week, Steve headed off on a Mercer adventure.  Mercer is about 40 minutes from the resort on Hwy 51.  It is a unique small town that boasts the worlds biggest loon.  Clare the loon greets you as you come in to town.  Mercer is also known for having a Loon Calling Contest every year in August.  Someone I know… has won it a few times…  not saying who

IMG_4908Mercer is also known for this train museum.   Stop in and tour the caboose.  The loon and the caboose are as far as many folks go…. but if you know where to go…..  there are a few more things to see and do


Downtown Mercer… where to go what to see.  There are no fancy restaurants that I know of, instead several Food/Bar hang outs.  The one we recommend is the Around the Corner Pub.  Search around and you shall find it around the corner



The Wampum shop is easy to find and an iconic shop downtown for everything that you would think you would find in a 5 and 10 from the 60′s and 70′s  fun to just explore around the store.  Next door is the true treasure Aunt Esther’s Attic.  Steve did not remember to grab a pic of the outside of the store.  Here is the link



What do you find at Aunt Esther’s.  Cool and unusual things is the best way to describe it.  Things you would find nowhere else.  Here is the description from their website and I think it sums it up

WELCOME!  If you like things funky, unique, playful, profound, old, new, or in-between, then you will have a great time perusing the rooms at Aunt Esther’s Attic.  We are located in beautiful downtown Mercer, WI ~ the heart of the northwoods, and loon capital of the world.


Visit our fashion boutique, where we have a large display of 2012 spring/summer scarves, jewelry, handbags and gifts.   We also have vintage and retro bracelets, necklaces, rings and brooches.  In addition, browse the antiques, where you will find a collection of teacup sets, books, housewares, small wood furniture pieces, depression glassware, lamps and swags, linens and primitives.


Are you interested in bottle trees and yard art?  We have a large  selection of welded bottle trees and other yard art, as well as colored bottles for your bottle tree.  The artful, crafty and ancient practice of reusing and recycling is alive and well at Aunt Esther’s ~ as seen in arts and crafts displayed by local artisans. 


Aunt Esther’s Attic ~ the coolest attic on the planet. 

Your treasure is waiting…



One of the best parts of Aunt Esther’s Attic is their scarf and hat cave.  Everything is hand made



Someone I know peeking out of the cave.  Truly unique things to be found



What is a cool shop with The King of Rock?

So if you find yourself with a cool week or you are in need of cool things head North to Mercer and check out what they have to offer



This is one of my favorite panoramic views.  It has been rainy and the old steps look neat in the rain.  It has been a cool few days but folks are still happy to just be in the woods


Gloomy quiet lake.  Very unusual for July.  Looks like the weather will be improving after today


Quiet lonely beach


Even though it has been rainy the lake levels have been slowly going down.



Lillies of the Valley



I have had folks asking about how our new deck is coming along.  The guys are getting there.  They still need to get some permanent stairs and railings on the left side of the deck.  The right side is just about done and looking good.  It will be a nice gathering place for guests to get together

vacation july 2014 black's cliff resort 148

I had this great baby loon photo shared with my by Laurie Mohr.  She has gotten the best pic so far of our loon family on the lake.  Kudos to Laurie for sharing this great picture.  She also caught this amazing duck picture below.  Thanks for sharing Laurie

vacation july 2014 black's cliff resort 094


It has been a cool week but the flowers are still blooming and guests have been finding other ways besides swimming to keep busy



We do not mind the cooler weather as it lets us get some projects done.  The office building has gotten a new deck in the last week.  Katie’s loon circle was on the deck waiting to be hung as well



Seating rail was also added so folks have plenty of places to sit out at the building



Now time to hang the loon.  The artist was on hand to approve of where and how



Steve getting it just right



Little more direction from the artist, Katie from the ground



Yeah it is done!



Love it!!!  Katie is going to be making smaller circles that she will be selling.  I have heard otters, moose, bears and more loons mentioned as possible inspirations.  I will be showing her next projects as she gets going on them.

Moral of the story:  When your sister the artist calls and says she wants to make you a surprise for your new building always, always say YES!



In other looney news I would like to share this picture from Kim Flower of our new baby loon on the lake.  Kim did not have her good camera, just her Iphone to take this pic of the new family on the lake.  Thanks so much Kim for sharing this great news!  Hopefully more and clearer pics of the baby loon to follow


The guy who took down our big pine last week sent me some more pictures from up above that I wanted to share.  This one is neat looking down at Wigwam with the crane coming down the driveway.  Gives you a birds eye view of the resort we do not get to see


View from the pine looking out at the lake



This picture makes you think twice about becoming a tree climber.  The chainsaw is hanging off his belt.  Great views but I think I will stick to the ground

As I type this we are having another thunderstorm.  Lake levels were starting to go down, but with this latest storm I am sure they will be right back up to lapping the beach




Happy 4th of July.  We got an early start to the festivities with our annual horseshoe tournament at Hilltop.  Just about the entire resort was entered



The ringing of shoes… or the ringing of trees being hit could be heard.  Some are better throwers than others



Intense competition playing to 11



Roy Tungett the originator of the tournament could not make it this year and passed the torch to Tom Hixson.  Tom bravely took on the task as Roy would approve.



Some came to play just to see what improvements were made to the traveling trophy.  This year it got rainbow pompons added to the shade. What a marvelous thing everyone should have in their front window



Some came for the new drink at Hilltop the Kaubashine Cooler.  A mix of 6 rums and several juices.  Highly recommended to enjoy any tournament you find yourself in with a 1st place prize pictured above



I was quickly out and enjoying a Kaubashine Cooler, that left Troy to represent for the Gibson Family



Exact measurements were made to make sure the correct points were credited



Eric took out Troy in the Semi Finals.  Eric was thrilled to make it past Troy but was sadly taken out in the next round and his name will stay on the plaque for another year



The finals came down to Buck vs Rich



Carrie vs. Katie



In the end Katie and Buck won the match and it was time for everyone’s favorite part, the presentation of the awards



Tom Hixson put on a show that was equal the quality of the prizes and would make Mr. Tungett proud.  Tom has carried on a proud family tradition of leading out events at the resort that was started by his father

1958 Mr Hixson Camp Director


Here is Mr Hixson senior from 1958.  What is the story with this outfit?  I am not sure… but the apple does not fall far from the tree



Yep the proud Hixson family tradition calling forth the gods of Horseshoes….  Maybe next year Tom can dig up the outfit his dad was wearing in the previous picture



The Horseshoe angles came forth to greet Tom



Being pelted with horseshoe dirt is a yearly tradition and something some of these kids look forward to each year


The 2nd place weiners…. whinners



Katie and Buck getting their Pole Dancer shirts they will wear with pride



To go with the lamp this year the eagle prize was also given out.  Katie is eyeing up the lamp with all sorts of ideas on how to improve it.  Never give an art teacher in the summer a challenge like this to improve the lamp



Proud to be Pole Dancers



19 years of the tournament and ready to do it again next year for the 20th year



Back at the resort it was time for the 4th of July picnic.   Everyone made it down with their dish to pass and meat cooked at 5:30



Mack loves picnics


We were also able to get a picture with our 2nd cousins Mary and Julie who were up for the week.  Their grandma Kay was Maynard’s sister.  Great to spend time with them and Kay, Martha and Maynard are smiling down for somewhere knowing we were together again minus Laurie this summer



Katie also brought over her secret project.  She has been working all week on this to bring over to hang on our new office.  I can’t wait to see it hung up.  Katie is considering doing more of these or different animals if anyone is interested I can put you in touch with her.  It is great to have artists in the family who like to experiment on things and bring them over.  Katie’s husband Bryon is our totem pole maker.  Between their art and Steve’s they keep the resort looking great with their creations