Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

The projects, chores, and life of a family-owned, Northern Wisconsin resort.
The Point in fresh snow

The Point in fresh snow

We had about 4 – 5 inches of fresh snow come down in the last 24 hours.  The extreme cold left and the snow moved in.  It is perfect winter days to play outside, plenty of snow and not so cold

View Looking at Hilltop

View Looking at Hilltop

I had the below emailed to me.  I have seen different versions of this and it is good for a chuckle and many ways true

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65 above zero:
Floridians turn on the heat.
People in Wisconsin plant gardens.

60 above zero:
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Wisconsin sunbathe.

50 above zero:
Italian & English cars won’t start.
People in Wisconsin drive with the windows down.

40 above zero:
Georgians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats.
People in Wisconsin throw on a flannel shirt.

35 above zero:
New York landlords finally turn up the heat.
People in Wisconsin have the last cookout before it gets cold.

20 above Zero
People in Miami all die.
Wisconsinites close the windows.

Zero:
Californians fly away to Mexico.
People in Wisconsin get out their winter coats.

10 below zero:
Hollywood disintegrates.
The Girl Scouts in Wisconsin are selling cookies door to door.

20 below zero:
Washington DC runs out of hot air.
People in Wisconsin let the dogs sleep indoors.

30 below zero:
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Wisconsinites get upset because they can’t start the snowmobile.

40 below zero:
ALL atomic motion stops.
People in Wisconsin start saying…”Cold enough for you?”

50 below zero:
Hell freezes over.
Wisconsin public schools open 2 hours late.

What are those orbs in the snow outside of Kaubashine

What are those orbs in the snow outside of Kaubashine

Walking past Kaubashine these beautiful orbs caught my attention.  I had to stop in and see how they were made

Closer View

Closer View

I realized someone had taken the idea of ice candles we made in buckets to a new level.  What would make them round like this?  Most blog watchers have seen us fill up buckets of water and place them outside over night to make Ice Candles or Illuminaries.  My curiosity was up

Secret Answer

Secret Answer

Mary the ice orb queen had seen our ice candles on her trip a few years ago and did a little investiating on the internet and came up with this new and improved version of our idea.  She had never found a bucket that she was happy with the shape of, so looking around came up with this neat idea.  She used a heavy duty helium ballon the type they put in balloon arrangements and hooked it up to the kitchen sink

Expanding balloon

Expanding balloon

Mary was using green balloons but only brought these pink ones up on vacation.  Look like any body part to you:)  Sure looked like the title of this blog entry to me

Filled and ready for a snowbank

Filled and ready for a snowbank

Tied off and ready to sit outside for about 12 hours.  I suppose for those in a warm climate a freezer would work as well.  Martha Stewart eat your heart out

Hence the title of the blog entry

Hence the title of the blog entry

I would love to know what the people in Shamrock think of the army of pink looking orbs that look like a certain body part. that are surrounding Kaubashine.  Now you know the rest of the story of nipples on ice

Winter is here

Winter is here

Take the beach steps at your own risk!

Poe negotiating the steps

Poe negotiating the steps

Poe and his claws managing to make it up the stairs.  Little does he know he is headed in the wrong direction we are heading down to the collllld lake for some pics.  He is headed in the direction of the woodstove

Sunset at -10

Sunset at -10

Very cold sunset.  We went down to -30 during the night with windchills below -40.  School was finally called off, too cold to snowmobile to school

Crazy Icefisherman

Crazy Icefisherman

Icefishing with a view of the snowmobile trail.  Not sure if there is someone frozen in the shack and I am not going to walk out and check

Time to head up!

Time to head up!

Poe letting me know it is time to head up to the house.  Walking quickly through the snowed in hockey rink.  Too cold to shovel the rink let alone play.

What to do in the cold?  Get the axe out, put the wool mittens and warm yourself twice.

Pile growing

Pile growing

After depleting the woodshed the last month, the guys thought it was time to add to the pile

The boss stopping in to give his 2 sense

The boss stopping in to give his 2 sense

Craig stopped in with his new eagle eye to give his opinion before going back to his woodstove.

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Cold morning wake up

Cold morning wake up

Temps this morning at 7:30.  I hear it is going to get much colder and have even heard -25 Thursday night and that is without the windchill

View out the window this morning

View out the window this morning

When you get sunrise pics and views off the deck, it means there was nothing going on yesterday and I am searching for blog pics for those that need to escape to the woods for 5 minutes

Light snow came down last night

Light snow came down last night

About 2 inches came down last night enough to make the drive home on 51 a challenge.

Steve is coming by today so I will have to see what interesting projects they find to do at -1 to put on the blog tomorrow.  Then again there is a 2,000 piece ocean puzzle out on the table that makes a cold day go by quickly

Very Frozen Lake Superior

Very Frozen Lake Superior

We headed up to Washburn this weekend along Lake Superior, where some coach decided it was a good idea to sign up for a basketball tournament in January.  Grumble Grumble…..  The sights along the way made up for a early morning drive.  I took this picture just outside of Ashland, Washburn is on the far shoreline.  I did not see any cars out on the big lake but lots of snowmobiles

Artesian Spring

Artesian Spring

During a break in the Basketball action, we wandered around Washburn which has some very interesting history.  We headed out on a Geocache adventure to find this Artesian Spring.  Did not bring the water jugs to fill, but we did taste the water and it was as cold as it looks.

Where do the trails lead?

Where do the trails lead?

Where does this trail on Lake Superior lead?  I don’t know and happily stayed in the warm car.  I do know I would not be the first one to blaze the trail.  We hope to return to this area a little later when the ice caves are accessible.  Basketball ended up in 4th place out of 8 and got to play a team from Duluth that I am sure were recruits from the NBA….

New Trail Groomer

New Trail Groomer

Cross County Cruisers just purchased a new groomer for the snowmobile trails.  I figured there were a few nonsnowmobilers out there that just might wonder what a trail groomer looks like

John the Groomer Guy, Aka Steve's neighbor by Life Spring

John the Groomer Guy, aka Steve's neighbor John the hardware guy

With a hot coffee from Steve, John was hopping to pull out the new groomer and show it off.

At a cost of 165,000 dollars this moving marvel heads down the Bear Skin at a whopping 6 – 11 miles an hour tops.  It knocks down all the bumps making the trail smooth.  Going from one end to the other of the Bearskin takes 8 hours of volunteer time.   John says the only scary moments are going over the bridges where there is no room for error.  Snowmobiles no better than to try to pass the groomer and patiently wait for him to pull over

OUT OF MY WAY

OUT OF MY WAY

The feel of power and heading towards Hwy 51.  John quickly pulled the plug on the fun

Not sure what this backend is called.  I do know Maynard used to do the same thing with our driveway dragging an old bed frame around knocking down the pot holes with the truck for less than 165,000 but John’s Groomer has heat, shocks and looks like fun to drive

Ever heard the country song International Harvester?  I think it could be John’s theme song with a few word changes from hauling and cutting hay to plowing snow.  Just wave at the man up in the tractor

Poe and I had a few minutes to kill and a camera so off we went to see what we could see around the resort.  Started out by Shamrock where the squirrels have several winter burrows.

Deserted resort and light snow falling, eerily quiet.  We started to keep an eye on the tracks in the snow.  My guess is the bunny under the boat shed made these.  Poe showed no interest

Squirrel tracks were much more interesting to Poe.  Watching the tracks you could tell there was quite a chase going on of one squirrel after another up the tree

View of the woods acorss the road.  Insert sound of light snow falling

View of the woods acorss the road. Insert sound of light snow falling

What could make this track

What could make this track

Looks like the track of Big Foot and all I am armed with is a camera…..

Yeah Big Foot........

Yeah Big Foot........

Big Foot with a fluffy tail who likes to bark especially at the City Cleaners and UPS Drivers

Are we done yet?

Are we done yet?

Ok I posed for the Blog…. I even tried to be Big Foot what more do I have to do to go in by the fire

Cold Morning

Cold Morning

Temps went subzero last night and it was hard to head out the door this morning.  All the smoke stacks were chugging out smoke this morning.

View at the Elementary School

View at the Elementary School

How do you know it is winter and the trails are in good shape?  Check out the parking lot at the K – 8 elementary school to see if they kids are snowmobiilng to school.  There are about a dozen or so kids and a couple of teachers that snowmobile everyday to school.  Beats a yellow school bus any day of the week.

Cold view off the hill at sunrise between Norway and Holiday

Cold view off the hill at sunrise between Norway and Holiday

Why no picture down at the lake of sunrise, because this is the view from my car with the heater running on my feet.  I will do a lot for a Blog picture but walking down to the lake at minus degrees is not one of them

Another view from the car

Another view from the car

Now on to the January News.  All the spring, summer and fall confirmation letters went out in the mail yesterday along with the January News letter.  Since there is a pretty big annoucement in the newsletter I thought I would share it with blog watchers so they are up on the big news.  There is one paragraph missing but you will have to wait for the letter for that info in your mail box, there is a reason for this and you will have to ask Craig why there is a good story behind it

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Happy New Year from the Northwoods

Wow what a year we have all been through. It is nice to start thinking of summer and the things that don’t change in this crazy world, slamming of screen doors, soaking up the rays at the beach, hours spent on the lake searching for the perfect fishing hole, swing on a swinging bed with a good book and time spent with family around a campfire. 2008 brought so many worries, financial stress and changes someone told me, time spent at Black’s Cliff is the one constant that they rely on in their lives as families have done for over 90 years.

We have gone through our own good and painful changes ourselves. In the hope that families that have come for generations or only for a few years will be able to come to the resort this year, we have decided to join the world in tightening our belts and have not raised our rates. It was a tough decision for us as not all our expenses have frozen, but we felt it was right. We hope this makes it a little easier for families afford their escape from the crazy world we live in.

One of the biggest changes in the resort happened behind the scenes in 2008. Craig and Lynnette wanting to have the resort continue in the tradition it has as a family run business all in one piece have handed down ownership of the resort to Jenny, Katie and Steve. Most resorts like ours have cashed in and disappeared to condo ownership. We are happy to announce that the resort has now passed to the next generation of Blacks who will continue to keep the wood chopped and fires burning. Most will not notice any changes, but Craig and Lynnette will now happily leave the 2 am septic calls to the new owners. Don’t call Katie for septics but it is now up to the next generation to keep going what the Keith’s started in 1918, Millie and Maynard Black bought in 1946, sold to their son Craig Black in 1972 and has now passed to Jenny, Katie and Steve and their families.

The next big change, started last fall and will continue over 5 years. Craig’s favorite rolled roofing that covers every roof in the resort has gone through such a reduction in quality that Craig, Steve and Troy have decided it is time to put the tar bucket away and try shingles. Bear Den was the first roof to change last spring and Red Pine’s roof is sitting waiting to be put on next spring. The main house and Kaubashine will hopefully be shingled by late spring or summer. The expense of doing the entire resort at one time was not a option so we will be picking off the roofs as needed the possibility of having a cabin with half shingles and half rolled roofing is very high. That is what we call part of the charm of coming up North, if it was perfect like the Hilton what would we have to talk about.

In mid July one of the nicest additions to the resort was added between Muskie and Birchwood. The Schmelzer family asked to build something in honor of Jack Schmelzer, who passed away last year. After putting our heads together and consulting The Great Architect, Craig, a design was decided on for a landing at the top of the hill with a wonderful view of the lake that I know Jack would have loved. Char and the entire resort that week spent a wonderful evening toasting Jack on Jack’s Landing. When you come to the resort take a moment to enjoy the view that Jack would have been honored to share with everyone. Thanks to Char, Ken, Karey, Jimmy, Danny, Anne, Bill, Sam and Katie for all their hard work during their vacation to make Jack’s Landing possible

Lots of time was put into a few other projects. Jenny’s landscaping project continued all summer right up to the first freeze planting new trees, ferns and adding new trails. The goal of this project is help bring back the quality of soil around the resort, control erosion and keep Jenny’s out of trouble. Craig and Troy spent a week in December installing a new energy efficient window in Birchwood’s lakeside bedroom. Guests in Birchwood will enjoy the better view and airier feel to the room. A couple of afternoons were spent taking down mature trees around the resort. I will not mention the cabins hit in the process and please do not ask.

As 2009 rounds the corner we hope that Black’s Cliff will remain the constant in your life that makes the time spent away from the resort and the Northwoods worthwhile.

Jenny, Troy, Jake, Ben and Grant

Katie, Bryon, Conner, Max and Sam

Steven and Jen

Craig and Lynnette

Front Slope

Front Slope

We took some time this weekend to head over to Camp 10 downhill ski area about 40 minutes from the resort between Rhinelander and Tomahawk.  I had heard of this for years but never done it.  Most folks head up to Ironwood and Hurley for down hill a little over and hour away. Camp 10 in smaller with 2, TBars, chair lift and towrope on the bunny hill.  For a family just starting out who does not need to loose kids all over a hill and wants a economic way of going skiing this was perfect.  It was only 27.50 for adults and 18 for rentals (kids were cheaper but I can’t remember the price).  Up North it is 41 a day and I think 28 for rentals for adults.  It was also a much closer drive.  It is not Colorado, but with 3 kids just learning it was enough to have them asking to go back on Sunday

TBar

TBar

They have a chair lift but parts of the hill and only accessible by the old fashioned Tbar.  If you have never done a Tbar it is an adventure in skiing.  This is the easy way to go up, with someone your same size.  Try and tall and short person and it gets very entertaining.  Cheap and close family entertainment.

We have another little bigger hill about an hour away called Ski Bruel that is also priced less than the hills up north and fun for a family.  For skiers that want variety and bigger hills and don’t mind the extra cost Powder Horn, Indian Head, BlackJack and White Cap are all a little over an hour away and as close to Colorado as we can get in the midwest

I know if we go again this winter and I am being begged about we will go to either Camp 10 or Ski Bruel