Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

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

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The lake is getting closer and closer to going out.  I am not sure if it will make it completely by this weekend but it will be close

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There are ducks out in the mist in this picture but hard to see.  The first ones to return for the spring

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We have been busy getting started on spring clean up as soon as the snow clears off.  Steve got started on Muskie’s roof cleaning it off

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Steve and Troy knocked down lots of trees over the winter around the resort.  This one landed on Birchwood’s picnic table but lets not talk about that…

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Negotiating the truck around one of our biggest piles of snow left to clean up the road to Eagles Nest

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Here is the road to Eagles Nest with about 5 trees across it that they dropped over the winter.  I had been tripping over them for 2 months collecting maple sap from the Eagles Nest trees.  I am happy to see the road opening up

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In other news, Troy and I have our first horse racing game complete and ready for sale.   This is one of the best family and group games we have played.  We played it in November and decided we could make our own version of it and sell it in the gift shop.  We have had friends and family from 2 – to 90 play this game.  It moves along quickly.  As long as you can roll a die and count to 12 you can play.  Kids love moving he horses along the track and rolling the die.  Bring your pennies and borrow our game out of the office.  We dare you to get hooked on this fun game

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We have put a lot of time into designing and materials for this game.  We will be selling it for 75 dollars a set.  All hand made in Hazelhurst not China.   Or just borrow our game out of the office to try while here.  Remember to bring your pennies

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This is a fun scarf I just finished for sale in the office.  It has been in production for 9 months.  Every night as I finish socks I have tied up scraps into a ball.  This scarf is made up of mostly 12 inch pieces of yarn tied together.  Someone told me this scarf tells a story.  A story of socks made.  If it is still around next winter I may just keep it

We have cabins open this weekend.  Come watch the lake melt with us.  We have a few June openings and I have made some of them nightly.  I will consider nightly rentals on the rest of them with a 4 night minimum.   Give a call for details

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Troy and I took off Sunday afternoon on a short car adventure to see some water falls with the spring melt.  We left at 11 am so did not want to do an hour plus trip up to Hurley and Ironwood area.  Instead we picked two water falls in the Mercer area 40 minutes from the resort.  

We stopped on the way in Manitowish at a friends convince store.  The Hogan family owns and operates a wonderful store in Manitowish.  They sell gas, groceries, small restaurant, and a well known meat market all in one place.  And if that is not enough they have a Fischer Price Toy collection that is amazing to see.  Their son Liam tore up the pool with Grant at the state swim meet this last year.  If you stop by the store be sure to say hi to Liam and the rest of the Hogan Family who all work at the store

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Here is their small restaurant area.  I hear it is the local coffee hang out in the morning.  There are some mean games of cribbage played on these tables.  

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Here is their sandwich menu.  The Lakeland Swim Team loves the sandwiches and took some with them to power them through the state swim meet

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They are all made out of the Hogan Meat Deli

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They are known for their spectacular bacon

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Yummy brats

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And amazing rib eyes

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They also carry a wide variety of Wisconsin made products

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My favorite though is the Fisher Price collection.  Katie and I played for hours in our childhood with our Fisher Price sets.  They have one of the biggest sets in the state of Wisconsin.  They rotate the display this is only half of it

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Now on to the water falls.  Here is the first one just north of Mercer at Lake of the Falls County park.

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Mack came along for the ride.  We were hoping to see some fish maybe jumping in the falls for the spawning season but the water temp was not high enough yet to get them moving

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The falls were sure flowing though

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We headed over to the 2nd water fall the Shay Dam fall to the east of Mercer.  It was not as impressive as the Lake of the Falls but worth the drive.  The narrow bridge that goes over the water fall with not a lot of guard rails was not Mack’s favorite in the picture

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Mack trembling and looking through the small guard rails wondering when we were getting back in the car.

It was a nice trip away from the resort

We are slowly getting rid of the snow around the resort.  Hopefully tomorrow we can start some raking.  The lake is going out around the edges.  I will get some pics up tomorrow

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We are slowly melting the lake.  It is nice to see some open water for a change.  We still have a ways to go but warm temps are in the forecast

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In the meantime while we wait for the snow to melt we have started painting.  The ski shack at the lake got a fresh coat

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Mack was soaking up the warm rays being the first sunbather at the beach in 2018

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Steve and Troy were finishing up the remodeling touches on Birchwood

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Trim going on the new windows

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Steve headed to Norway for his next project with his friend Darby.  Some who read the blog will remember Steve meeting up with Darby on a ski trail this winter in the middle of Lake Katherine.  Darby has a hard time keeping his shirt on for pictures that go on the blog

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The new over hang over the steps of Norway.  Ever since we remodeled Norway we always intended and discussed changing the stairs and putting up a small roof.  Well it is finally happening.  No more slippery wet steps at Norway they will be covered

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It will be a very nice project to cross off the list

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In other news around the resort, Troy and I finished making our maple syrup.  It was not a good year for sap and we only made about half of what we usually do.  The weather just did not cooperate to get a good sap run this year.  There is a reason folks call maple syrup brown gold.  6 quarts is 2 months of cooking and hauling buckets of sap.  We will enjoy it on pancakes all year

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In family news, our youngest son Grant had his signing ceremony at the high school signing his letter of intent to swim at Saint Norbert College next fall.  Can’t wait to see this kid ripping up the new pool at Saint Norbert.  Til then it is time work out at the woodshed and swim the lake.  We are very proud of his accomplishments and can’t wait to see where it leads him.  His brother Ben is also at Saint Norbert and is a life guard in the pool unless his brother talks him back into swimming.  We are waiting to see where Jake and Michelle land with their teaching jobs yet for next fall.  All of them could be in the Fox Valley next fall

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All of this is very exhausting for Mack to keep up with.  He went from sunbathing at the beach to cooling off in the remaining snow banks

Resort dogs life is exhausting

 

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The snow is finally melting the last few days.  We had a lot to melt so we still have a substantial amount on the ground.  Enough to stop any ideas of spring clean up around the resort.  Here is the walk way to the beach

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Here was our wood pile a week ago

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Here it is this morning

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Heading down to the beach the lake is still pretty white.  We are going to be in the upper 50’s and flirting with 60 all week so hopefully the melting goes fast.  The tilt of the sun now you can feel the extra warmth and longer days

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Shoreline starting to get gray

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It was thick enough I felt ok stepping out but did not go far from shore

Will the lake be open by the fishing opener?  Not sure it is going to be a close call on that

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Birchwood in the melting snow today

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The maple trees are flowing today and we got our old cooker going.  We have been collecting maple sap since the last week of February off and on with the temps.  The big flow of sap though will be today or tomorrow and we are ready to cook it.

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Still a lot of snow to melt

Our low spring rates starting at 135/night will be in effect up to Memorial weekend and for the week after.  We still have a few June openings if you are interested give a call

June 2 – 9th Birchwood and Holiday 975 and 1550/week

June 9 – 15th 6 nights Blackwood 2 bdr

June15 – 22 Blackwood 1275/week

June 16 – 23 Shamrock 3bdr 1665/week

June 23 – 30th Wigwam 3 bdr 1665/week

June 22 – 29th Red Pine 4 bdr home 2620/week up to 10 people

 

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It has been a long few days.  We received a foot and a half of snow on top of the foot or so we already had on the ground.  The birds were staying near the feeder.  We have migratory birds coming in right now and I think they are ready to head back south

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In between digging out for 2 days we worked on our new horse racing game.  Troy had 44 horses cut out to complete 4 games.  We got them painted up over the weekend.  They just need a coat of varnish yet. 

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Here he is completing the game board.  He was drilling holes for the horses to move along the track

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The guys also got some cabin work done.  They put new counters in Shamrock

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Someone forgot the sink hole again…

While they did this I have gotten almost all the cabins spring cleaned and blankets washed ready for May visitors.  Many resorts in our area are not year round and do not have the ability to turn on water until the frost is out of the ground.  There are going to be a lot of resorts struggling to get open by even mid May.  We are lucky not to have to worry about that.  Getting the resort cleaned up from leaves, docks and boats in, and painting done is going to be our nightmare.  Our lake is far from going out and the rakes and paint brushes are collecting dust at the moment

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More importantly Mack is wondering where in the world is he going to poop.  He was not thrilled with the new snow

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We did get it all cleaned up but it sure was a lot of snow for April.  I read that we received more snow in April so far than in December, January and February combined

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View off the hill this morning.  The lake is going nowhere.  50’s though are seen this week and through the end of the month.  We have not even finished maple syrup season.  Our trees have run here and there but the big flow has not happened yet.  When the sap flows this time it is going to be fast and furious and then done

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The last pile of wood for the house for winter.  Come on Spring!

So never fear those with May reservations we will be open.  We may be running around when you are here getting things going that are usually done in April so hang in there with us this spring and grab a paint brush if you are bored

 

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Mack:  Hey Penny, no bacon today it is slim pickings in the begging department.  Nobody around the resort

Penny:  Ok big guy we got to talk to Mother Nature….  this is unacceptable!

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The deer agree with Penny and Mack… unacceptable

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The only thing going on is when ever I turn my back the guys have the tools out and are making a mess in a new cabin.  Restawhile was next on the list

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Really Troy this outside kitchen idea will work.  People will love the airy kitchens…

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Ummm no…  much better inside

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Yes Steve everyone who stays in Restawhile would like to have their bathroom sink back please

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Here is the finished Birchwood plus a few tools

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I did steal the varnish bucket from the guys  and headed to the office for some community room beautification

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Eagles Nest trees have been waking up and producing a little bit of maple sap.  We still need the warmer temps to get things really flowing.

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Ice out is still a long ways off.  We have more snow coming in for the weekend before we finally see some better spring temps

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The snow is very slow to melt this year.  It is causing us to be very behind in our outside spring clean up.  So instead we have headed inside to get projects done

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Steve was busy measuring for new counters.  Birchwood bathroom and kitchen, Shamrock and Restawhile kitchens are all getting new counters

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Birchwood before

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and now with new counters

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New windows in Birchwood getting varnish

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It is much better than working outside

The office is also getting some finishing touches with the varnish bucket

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If this is a view you like give a call we have cabins open!

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Picture sent by Steve of Penny enjoying the snow we got today.  Penny might be the only one enjoying it.  2 snowstorms with 6 – 10 inches each in 4 days is not the April we had in mind

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More snow coming down and this was the view we had today.  The lake is nowhere near going out

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So instead it was better to stay inside and varnish the new windows in Birchwood

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Maybe the snow will melt by July…. maybe…..

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Troy and I left for a few days for a short trip to Door County to meet up with Jake and Michelle while the resort is quiet

Eric and Chris came up to watch the resort with their wives and families.  While we were gone they had fun with power tools and Birchwood.  I left Steve with the resort checkbook and he had plans…… Eric and Chris love to remodel… what could possibly go wrong with them all working together….  answer…. Nothing went wrong….. until we got back and they took out chain saws on the trees…. but that is a story for another day.  New picnic table for Birchwood is no on order

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When we left Eric was busy taking apart things in the bathroom

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Chris was getting started on the windows while Steve was busy with the checkbook

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Meanwhile we had a good few days away in Egg Harbor and Fish Creek with Jake and Michelle. Wine and cheese were on the top of the list.

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When we came back they were burning things in the fireplace

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One of my requests was a window that would open in the corner which they did

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New kitchen windows that are easier to open but they best was yet to come…

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New dinning room windows!.  You can crank them out instead of putting wood in to open them up.  Also they are easy to clean.  The old wind0ws were so hard to take apart I am embarrassed to say how often they got washed.  The view out these new windows is amazing!

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Here is Eric’s project.  New floor in the bathroom.  We ordered the same floor for the rest of the cabin coming next week. Also a new sink in the bathroom, new sink in the kitchen, counters and a new front door.  Birchwood is shinning with the improvements I think all will enjoy but it keeps the Birchwood charm.

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Now to find that new picnic table after a birch tree landed on the old one…

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Lake is still frozen…. it is going to be a late ice out this year

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I had these beautiful pictures of Bond Falls in Watersmeet shared with me by Linda and John Wrobel who took a trip up to see them in the spring melt.  It is an awesome time to head to see all the great water falls within an hour and hour 15 minutes of the resort

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Thank you to John and Linda for sharing your trip with us!

Bond Falls is beautiful anytime of the year but spring is my favorite