Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

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

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Pipa above is at the resort for the first time with her grandparents.  She was getting ready to go out bluegill fishing with her grandpa and dad.  She was putting style into fishing on Lower Kaubashine.



Pippa was of going in the pink canoe and determined as anyone to catch a big fish!



We had a good storm last night and that ment time to bail the boats out.  Jake is ready to go back to college after helping bail half of the lake out of the boats this morning



Gonna be a great warm end of summer day at the resort

1958 Craig raking


I have been of course historically corrected on this picture.  Craig let me know the bedroom on the right was enclosed by him.  It used to be a small porch that held the ice, ice box.  Back in the day when ice was used to keep fridges cold it was stored on the back porch.  I am also guessing there was a station on the porch for washing dishes.  Correction made.  He also confirmed that Jack Thompson was who was pictured at the cook out pic from yesterday


It has been a cool and slightly wet week.  Perfect for working on the wood pile.  Late summer is time to get the wood pile built back up



The resort is full but the large families have left giving it a feeling of quiet.  Starting to feel like fall for a few days before Labor Day Weekend brings the big families back for one last summer horrah


The Bodden family enjoying their 3rd trip to the resort and a game of Chinese Checkers.  The kids barely managed to make it the last hour before arriving in the car.  Very happy to be back for their 3rd year


The socks are starting to build up again for the Fall and Christmas season.  I know the demand for Christmas presents and folks that want warm feet for winter is just around the corner.  The sock machine has been cranking them out trying to catch up after the summer craft fairs and resort guests who dwindled my supply down.  This week I was working hard on the No Wool you see in the back 3 rows.  After The After Loon Delight craft fair at the beginning of August those 3 rows were dwindled down to 5 lonely socks left in the No Wools.  The No Wool socks are 100% Acrylic and great for folks who think they are allergic to wool or just want a cooler sock.  They come in tons of colors, mostly bright ones but there is also some calm browns and cranberries in the selections.  Top row is size 6 – 7 1/2, 2nd row is 7 – 8 1/2 and 3rd row is 9 – 10.  The front row is my 50 percent wools size 6 – 7 1/2   See one you want a better picture of or size just email   I ship them out as well for usually 5 dollars a shipment.  All the socks in the picture are 18 a piece

1958 cooking steaks with mr thompson, herl

Pic from the old file.  The caption said the picture was from 1958 and Mr Thompson was in the picture along with Maynard.  Maybe someone in the Thompson family can confirm if this is Jack Thompson or not

1958 Craig raking


Craig raking around Kaubashine.  Kaubashine has changed a bit over the years.  This pic was taken before they added the foundation around the cabin.  It used to be a 2bdr.  Where you see the green line between the windows is the addition.  The first bedroom used to be a 2nd screened in porch.  I am not sure what year the 2nd porch became a bedroom, if the Keith’s did it before 1946 or if Maynard did it when they bought the resort.  Craig probably knows the answer and will text me shortly after I hit publish this blog entry.  Answer probably coming tomorrow



I was biking down the Bearskin trail last night and noticed a splash of color on the trail amongst all the green



Brilliant reds giving a hint of fall around the corner



I found this old pictures of the playground before it was a real playground.  Thought a few would get a kick out of it

1958 Jergens and Prices


Fall is still a ways off and til then we will try to enjoy the last few days of summer as we have for years

1958 Group watching


Time to sit back like Maynard above and enjoy the sun

Craig made a correction on my blog from yesterday.  The french windows I pictured the other day actually predate my grandfather and go back to the Keith Family who did the first addition to our house adding the dinning room and kitchen area in the 30′s.  My grandfather added the basement and that is what the pictures yesterday showed.  My feelings on the french windows have not changed and a month from now we will be dragging the heavy storm windows out of the basement and going up two precariously placed ladders to put them back in place for winter.  The joys of living in an almost 100 year old house



Mark Jepson asked me last week if he could use his metal detector in the swimming area.  We had no idea what he would find.  Mark found there is a lot of stuff that has dropped in the lake over the years



Showing off his metal detector that is his hobby in his spare time



Some of the treasure found



The find of the day was this Mercury Dime from the 30′s.  He found it right by the steps into the water



His collected junk and loot for the day.  Mark is ready to come back next year and see what else he can find



I spent some time painting out old windows on our house.  These old French Windows are some of the last in the resort.  They were installed in 1959 by my grandfather.  I have a love/hate relationship with these old windows.  I love the look of them, but the painting maintenance and the bad insulation they provide in the winter make me grumble.  However there is something heart warming about painting and recalking the same windows your grandfather did.  Recalking… with puddy is an art form I learned from my dad.  You can not own old french windows without the skill of being able to calk them.  Keeping up with the old windows I will continue, it is worth it on a warm summer day when we open them.  Makes you forget the cold winter days when they are drafty… or dragging the old, huge, heavy storm windows out of the basement in the fall and putting them away in the spring.

1959 View of back of house


Same windows for 1959 when they were installed along with our septic system

1959 septic tank


Nothing thrills a member of the Black Family quite like installing a new septic day.  It was a party in 1959 and will be this fall when Muskie and Bayview get the latest in septic technology.  Windows and septic parties… somethings never change

1960 Platform for fishhouse

Speaking of never changing..  any idea what this is being built in 1960?  It has not changed much to this day

1960 Fish house-2


Another hint of the building under construction in 1960

1960 Fish House

Answer to the question is the Fish House when it was brand new

1963 Steve Semmelmeyer down at lake


Ta- Da- somethings change but many more remain the same even if they are old and drafty.  Steve Semelmeyer on the main dock with a Mercury Dime in his hand dropping it in the lake to be found this year

cropped per template

The picture above is of the Sweet Family taken a number of years ago in front of Bayview “their” cabin.  The Sweet Family this summer marked their 27th year at the resort.  It was one of the hardest years for the family as they lost Dick this year from a battle with Melanoma.  Judy wondered about returning to the resort without Dick but the resort, Bayview and the friends they see have become such a part of the family that there was no question they came back.  It was not easy to return without Dick, but it was a good visit for the family.  In returning to the resort I mentioned to Judy another widow who came a week after loosing her husband and wrote a wonderful entry about feeling connected to her husband and family at the resort and maybe she should take a look at what the other lady wrote.  Judy came into my office a couple of days later flabbergasted, she had read the journal entry and realized the other widow was someone she knew from Madison and they had never discovered they shared their favorite vacation spot

Through this story of the 2 widows and the connection to the resort it got me to thinking.  There are so many families that make up the resort.  So many folks who go in and out of the screened doors, kids laughing in the driveway, reading or napping on the swinging beds.  I thought it was time to take a year and share the stories of who makes up this place we call “Black’s Cliff”  So once a week I would like to make a blog entry of as many families as I can and tell their stories, how the came to the resort, how many years they have been at the resort or the Minocqua Area, what is their favorite things to do.  I hope you enjoy this new journey the blog will take you on discovering who else is in the Black’s Cliff Family outside the week you are here.  There are some very interesting characters you will discover


The first couple to come through my door on this new endeavor was Jan and Alan Pierce.  They started at the resort 20 years ago, after a fire at Mercer Lake Resort destroyed the cabin they were staying in.  Al and Jan along with their friends Linda and John Wrobel spent many fall weekends and winter weekends exploring the Minocqua Area while staying at the resort.  Al and Jan loved it so much they built a house and are now part time residents.  They still stop by the resort to say hi and revisit the place they had so many good memories sharing with their dog Riley who they lost recently.  Riley learned how to swim off our dock


We go from two families of 20 plus years to the Jepson Family who enjoyed their first year at the resort.  James, Tyler and Faith loved swimming in a clean lake.  Their last experience at a resort was a swimming area full of weeds.  They were thrilled to discover how wonderful it can be to swim in a lake.  Pinball and tether ball were also some of their favorite things to do.  They hope to be back next summer for year number 2 and many more to come


The Wiederhoeft family enjoyed their 3rd year at the resort in Muskie Inn.  They love the area it is perfect for everyone to meet at gathering from Milwaukee, Madison and Wausau.  Sleeping on the swinging bed with grandma, smores, swimming and fishing are all top of the list for this family.


Another newbie to the resort was the Olson family.  If their dog Jada has anything to say about it, it will not be their last.  Renee graduated in the same class in high school as Troy in Menominee and was talking to Troy’s nephew at the high school about the resort his uncle owned and luckily we found a place for them this summer.  Everyone survived the Zip Line


Now on to the Eddy Family.  The Eddy’s started coming 14 years ago.  The grandma of the group Barb organized the group and booked 2 cabins which has now become 3 cabins.  They are up to 21 members but sadly lost Barb a few years ago.  Grandma would be thrilled to see the tradition she started with the family is continuing without her.  I am  missing a few members of the family, they are a hard bunch to get all in one place



How do you cook for a group this size?  Lots of brats… lots of brats

I hope you enjoy sharing and learning about everyone who makes up the resort.  Without all these great families and couples the resort would not be here

Thanks to the Sweet Family for inspiring this weekly tradition I hope to continue.  Barb and John, Bill and Leslie, who I missed getting pics of this week, I will get you next year.  Might take me a couple of years to catch everyone.  Hope you enjoy the journey of the families with me


Loon 3

These loon pics were shared to me my the Rotter family who was up for the first time last week.   They caught these amazing pics of our loon family on Lower Kaubashine.  Thanks to them for sharing, the pictures are amazing

Loon 2


Loon 1


I had a cancelation on Craig’s 2bdr Blackwood for August 23 – Labor Day if anyone is interested I will rent it nightly or weekly depending on the nights you are looking at.  Call for Details.  Norway is still also open Saturday August 30th and 31st


Atchison caught this great bass on the lake this week.  I also heard he released it and it has been hanging out under the white swimming dock.  Nice fish!



Other people not on vacation this week have been busy working on the wood pile getting the winter wood in the shed.  Never say there is nothing to do at the resort or you are sent to the woodshed.



In other news, a certain dog I know stole his owner’s roast beef sandwich off the picnic table in broad daylight.  He also had not had a bath in awhile and smelled like the bottom of the lake.  Hopefully his roast beef stealing days are over, and he does smell better after a bath



It was a beautiful still quiet morning at the lake.



It was one of those mornings where everything is so clear you can see out and through the water



Eyeballs are watching from in the water.  This bass was making sure I came no closer



Same bass.  Small mouth… large mouth… I am not sure but it is a bass



Bluegill hanging in the shallows



When I was a kid we would search out lake clams like this.  They are through the shallows and fun to find



Raft looking eerily quiet



Quiet mornings on Lower Kaubashine, something to bottle up for cold winter days when we all need a dose of summer



Nothing like sitting in a green chair with your pink Disney fishing pole, pink shoes and your grandpa, and learning to fish.



Disney fishing pole number one fishing pole for the under 10 crowd.  I have seen a muskie get snagged by a Mickie Mouse pole a few years ago.



Bailing out the boats a tradition that has not changed over the years



Steve and Troy have been busy on their next projects



New pallets for the blue dock are coming soon



The elder statesmen of the resort Dave Black and Craig Black sharing some chocolate chip cookies as they over see the new project.  Dave has spent the week back at the resort from Delaware where he lives with his wife Georgia and his boys Dave Jr and Chris and their families.  Always  nice to spend a week with Dave back in the Northwoods


Craig and Dave back in the day with their elder statesman, Maynard.  Maynard taught them everything they know

Gutchow pictures 56


Maynard would be happy to know today what he started back in 1946.  Not sure what he would say about pink Disney fishing poles


The sunsets have been great the last week.  I caught this one last night where the road meets the water.


I had a couple of pics left over from the end of last week.  Every year there is a competition to see how many Thompson’s can fit on the raft.  I missed the biggest gathering of them, but this is about medium capacity for them.  When all 4 corners of the raft are under water they are happy


John bringing down drinks for everyone


No summer is compete until I have a picture of Tim Michael floating on his raft in the lake.  These are some of Tim’s favorite moments of the year.



Til next year when we do it all over again.  See you then