Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

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



We had a very special wedding at the resort this week. Schuyler and Maritza were going to get married next week in Chicago.  Only 4 people are going to witness the wedding with a small family reception after.  All Schuyler’s resort friends and family were at the resort so there was a suggestion that lets have it at the resort before you go home.  Everyone brainstormed and 1 hour later we had a wedding  Who needs to plan for a year and put all sorts of money towards it.  Our resort family pulled off an amazing family event full of emotion and meaning with amazing people to witness and be a part of the event.  

Tom Hixson the grandfather of the groom escorted Maritza down the stairs


The wedding guests in green chairs


Eric Peterson preformed the ceremony.  He was ordained a few years ago and happened to be on the dock when the subject or preforming a wedding in an hour came up.  Schuyler waiting for the bride to come down.  Who needs a year to plan a wedding?


They got a military salute with oars and paddles in honor of their service to the country.  They are headed to bases an hour and a half apart after another more formal wedding next week.  The lovely hat on her head is from my wedding 27 years ago.  It was quickly found in the attic

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Grandparents Tom and Murry Hixson with front row seats.  As the ceremony went on the cake was cooking in Muskie’s oven


Our happy couple at the alter with all the need with friends and family close by


Eric Peterson also makes rings and he had some beautiful wooden birch rings that Miller the ring bearer brought to the couple


Whats a wedding without a kiss?


There was an Old Fashion toast to the couple


And the cake got done just in time!  Congrats to Schuyler and Martiza   Wish we could all be with you next week when you do the official vows.  Just goes to show what folks can pull together in an hour.  It is not about how fancy the wedding is in a big church but who you have around you.  Be careful what you suggest while sitting on the dock at the resort.  Next thing you know before dinner you are married






We had a great 4th of July at the resort.  It was different with COVID19 and trying to keep up social distancing at the resort.  In town most things were canceled except for the fireworks including the parade.  Kelsey pictured above loves the parade and it is one of her favorite things on vacation since she was little.  Our resort guests knew this and asked me if we could do something special to surprise Kelsey when she arrived.  A small Black’s Cliff social distance parade.  We thought about it and planned it and each family came up with their own float and we had a parade and Kelsey was thrilled


We had a grand marshal, Rich Snodgrass who loves the parade almost as much as Kelsey


Rich led it out with his grandson, Miller as our kiddie parade participant


We had our active military guests leading out the parade. Salute to them from Marines, Army and Air Force Reserve

Schuiler Hixson, USMC and his new finance Maritza U. S. Army (Congrats to them on engagement and love the ring!)

Conner and Marlaina Thompson Air Force Reserve

We thank them for their service and it was an honor to have them in our parade


The Hazelhurst fire department sent over a truck.  It made it feel real as the fire whistle went through the resort.  Big thank you to the fire department for joining in.  Kelsey due to COVID19 could not ride in the truck with them but would have if she could have.  


We did not have just one fire truck we had two of them.  Thanks to the Hazelhurst Volunteer Department for their service to our community!


Our parade was ready to step off keeping distance between groups


Our horse shoe tournament leader Tom Hixson, The Great Oh No, lead out things after the firetrucks


Mary Ellen and her sister Anne came down with their float.  It was great to have so many neighbors add in


Sarah our parade organizer kept everyone in line


We even had a beauty pageant winner, Miss Black’s Cliff


Through the resort we went making two loops before parading down the road to Hilltop


Our Gator picked up Kelsey along the way with her dad Bob


Steve of course had his own entry in the parade, a home made cannon.  It rolled down the road


Another float of steve’s was rolled down the road.  His daughter Bella with friends had spent last week painting the decoration on


Mack was not left out


Most entertaining was the Camp Agawak girls.  This dance routine was a sight to see that will not be repeated and had to be seen in person


Down the road to Hilltop we went


Katie and her friend Julie were the back of the parade with the horses.  No parade is complete without horses


Once at Hilltop we all enjoyed Root Beer Floats served safely in plastic glasses compliments of Tom and Mary Ellen.  Paul and Pam Zaremba were happy to pull over after pushing the wheel barrow and riding bike in parade.  Parade would not be complete without our old wheel barrow entry.  Paul spent a lot of time pushing this wheel barrow delivering wood back in the 70’s and 80’s.  The bond between Paul and the wheel barrow is of legend


I would like to thank everyone who took the time to enter and float and put spirit into the day to make Kelsey and everyone feel a little more normal on this special day.  It really showed what makes it so special to come to the resort and get to know your neighbors in the other cabins.  A community working together can accomplish so much.  I hope our country can find the same spirit in the coming months


From our family bubble to yours we wish everyone a Happy 4th of July! 

We were only missing Bex, Grant’s girlfriend who was working


Summer is officially here and the flowers are blooming

Indian Paint Brushes


Lots of hellos in the driveway as folks arrive and talk about the crazy year we have all had


We had a delightful dinner at the Minocqua Brewery.  We got our food curb side and headed over to the town pavilion across the parking lot and each family got a picnic table.  Perfect for a big group that wants to talk but yet have some space.  Most restaurants do not seat more than 6 at a table so this was our answer to a great night out to catch up on the year


First days mean blowing up the floaties


Putting the floats in action


It was fun seeing these three together at the raft.  Enjoying great moments together as a family we do too during the summer.  These three reliving their times on the raft after a busy Saturday helping clean cabins and blow off roofs


Blue skis and summer ahead!

Currently we are booked till August 21st and that is a good thing!  Thankful for our repeat and new guests who have put their confidence in us to have a safe space for them to step out of their houses and do a little traveling to our corner of the northwoods

We are doing one change for fall.  Reservations in the fall starting Sept 7th and probably all winter as long as COVID19 sticks around we will need to start a cleaning fee to cover our extra cleaning costs.  Starting September 7th 2 bdrs will add on 50, 3bdrs 75 and 4 bdrs 100 per visit.  We are adding cleaning staff and hours to fall with all the turn over we do.  It is quite a work out.  We call it the Rona-work out.  This will enable us to keep up our cleaning standards through the off season.  


But till then it is time for summer!


Care free days swimming to the trampoline.  The squirrels made a nest in our old trampoline making holes too big to repair.  Our new one arrived this week.  Just in time for some lake fun!




We also had a delivery of a new pontoon boat.  We are trading in our big 28 foot boat for this one.  Steve said last fall it was the last time he was going to launch the 28 footer putting the tail pipe of the truck in the lake as he hoped to not get stuck pulling it out.  This one is the right size to launch at Hilltop


So it is a happy day at the resort things are looking and feeling more normal.  We run the resort just like always but with a mask in our pocket, hand sanitizer at the ready, bleach spray close by and 6 feet apart and it is working


Yep a pretty happy picture!


As Aunt Debbie says “Love from Wisconsin”  


We have had some beautiful days at the resort this June.  Summer is here to stay and we are enjoying it


This picture of the Lewis’s sums it up folks are ready to just sit back and relax and soak up the quiet after all the turmoil of the past few months

We have surprisingly or maybe not surprisingly, had very few cancelations.  The few cancelations that have cropped up in the main summer months have been in our bigger units where 2 or 3 families were coming together who had not had exposure to each other and where not ready yet, or folks that were flying in.  

Right now we do have Red Pine July 31 – 7th and Bear Den August 7 – 14th at 2780/week for up to 10 people.  Both have their own docks and own driveways.  Perfect spots to social distance and not have common areas to worry about.  


Troy and I did wander out to Otto’s Beer Garden.  We felt comfortable with their sanittableation and being outside.  Servers do not have masks on but there was a nice breeze and tables were spaced apart


Beer cheese soup and a pretzel


Many of our guests are sticking to the resort and not going to town much compared to other years.  So keeping the kids busy doing things safely at the resort instead of running to town has been a change.  Amy who makes the soaps in the bathrooms that many of you have enjoyed the last couple of years has started a weekly soap felting class.  She brings in her large variety of goat milk soaps in different scents.  Each family got their own table spaced apart to take instruction from Amy how to separate the wool, pack it around the soap, add in some spice of color and then felt away!.  Younger kids did better paired with an adult.  9 and ups and adults did their own bars.  It was fun to see all the combos everyone came up with


Gillespie Family separating and layering their wool


Lots of fun!


Keeping busy hands busy.


Even dads got pulled in who never thought they would be crafting on vacation


When told to mash things this guy was all over it 


Finished product starts to come out of the bags


The school essays on what did you do on summer vacation will involve soap this year


Just plain cute


Little Miss Penny was proud of her accomplishment and ready to wash her hands!


The new favorite thing this summer is movies on the playground.  With our new speaker system it is perfect way to enjoy movies!  Last night it was Disney’s Onward.  Bring a blanket, popcorn and enjoy!  We will be doing this as much as people want.  Twice a week or so depending on requests from groups.  The screen gets better the darker it is but the kids fall asleep the darker it gets so we have been starting a little earlier with the young kids movies.  How many times will be show The Great Outdoors this summer with John Candy?  I might have it memorized by the end of the summer


Bella and Grant up in the high seats.  What movie theatre has seats like these?

Time to enjoy Summer 2020 in new ways we had not thought of before


Summer is here the red boat is in the water!


Jake playing around with the steering but we got it going.  Ready for its 64th summer skimming across Lower Kaubashine


Its fawn season.  This baby looked minutes old getting across the road


Not very steady yet on its legs


Safely across with mom


Lake front is mostly ready


Our water tramp meet a sad fate at the hands of a nesting squirrel.  I ordered a new one that is coming this week.  Not sure how a water tramp fits in with COVID19.  Hoping lots of water keeps virus off of it.  Not much we can do to sanitize it or the raft.  Lesson here is wash your hands and use our hand sanitizer at the beach!


We had a fun delivery at the resort from Amazon.  Mack was trying to figure it out.  It was Ben and Grant’s idea.  Talking about how a drive in theatre would do well this summer but there is not one in the Northwoods.  Well lets make one!  They along with Bryon helped me come up with some awesome selections for movies at the playground


Troy and Bella trying to figure out the directions and waiting for Ben our master of movie ceremonies to come to the table


Video screen set up


John Candy’s The Great Outdoors was our first movie of the summer.  It was good but we were missing the audio equipment that is coming this week.  The speaker on the projector was just not cutting it for the real movie experience.  We can’t wait for Indiana J0nes or Pirates of the Caribbean this summer on the playground.  Get your movie selections figured out we plan on playing them at the playground with social distancing and bring your own popcorn and comfy chair or blanket. 


Aunt Debbie and I had a delightful outside dinner at Anthony’s Restaurante in Woodruff.  They have great outside seating and sanitize everything and paper menus.  Something I have not found at all restaurants in the area.  I had the chicken alfredo my favorite, Debbie had the seafood alfredo and Troy had his favorite Walleye Picatta topped off with a moscow mule 

Check out Anthony’s for a great summer dinner!  I have a short list of places I recommend in the area that are doing good practices for cleaning and outside seating or carry out.  Don’t ask me about indoor seating as our family will not be doing any indoor restaurants this summer.  We will be hunting out all the outdoor and great take outs.  We will also list off great hidden spots to take your food and enjoy outside at picnic tables.  We have a few secret spots

We can have a fun summer even with COVID19 just needs some smart changes and creativity to find fun new ways of enjoying the Northwoods without spreading any cooties

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Mack is getting the hang of this social distancing thing.  His ice fishing buddies Jimmy and Fritz went floating by in their boat and Mack I swear knew them from a distance. He misses nosing Fritz’s pocket for sausages.  Social distancing is hard on a 10 year old resort dog but he is doing it


Sharon and Tom in Bear Den shared this pic of the baby deer daycare center that got opened for one day.  Momma deer for some reason thought leaving her new born under a green chair for 8 hours was a good idea.  Tom and Sharon watched over the fawn from a distance all day hoping momma was coming back.  Baby deer are typically like this hidden among ferns in the woods by moms during the day while they eat.  Moms come back do not touch fawns like this or they become orphans.  Kudos to Tom and Sharon for letting nature take its course


Mom came back about 7pm 



We have been getting a lot of work done around the resort yet.  Ben and Ali painting the green boats.  Ali likes to paint them and Ben has informed me this is his last year painting them.  We shall see LOL


Troy getting the oars ready to go


My COVID19 update does not say it but we are basically sanitizing twice once with the disinfectant spray and once more with bleach water as we dust and wipe things down

We are this week reducing the number of utensils in the cabins.  If you are missing anything I will have things over at my office building.  When we are sanitizing everything and a cabin has 10 spatulas, 2 can openers, 2 ice cream scoops and 8 pancake flippers it is time to reduce the number of items in the kitchen  No worries you will have everything in your kitchen just not duplicates of everything.  We are making it easier for us and you to keep everything clean with less to worry about.  


We had this amazing cupcake platter brought as a treat for us by Lori Bowers.  It was quickly eaten


Social distancing cup cake appreciation!  Thanks Lori and Holly!


Back to work painting the playground for Grant.  He is eyeing up getting the red boat in but we told him no red boat till the big pontoon is sprayed and cleaned.  We have kept our 28 foot pontoon that we were thinking about selling at least for now.  Steve is itching though to do some trading in of pontoons…. he is eyeing up deals and as long as the resort is doing ok in a few weeks we just may buy one if the deal is right stay tuned


The phones have been extremely busy filling up our few cancelations that have happened. .  My desk has fallen a bit behind with time on the phone and sanitizing cabins.  Time to get to it!

We still have a few nightly openings up to June 13th,   Bear Den 4 bdr June 23, 24 and 25 and Norway 3 bdr June 27 – July 4th.  After that we are currently booked out till August 21.  People are feeling pretty good coming to a resort vs. a motel with shared hallways and common areas.  

Back to my bleach bucket no desk work today

In the past I have been flexible with our check in and check out times in the summer as long as we could be. This summer due to needing to have as much time between groups to let the cabins air out, be disinfected with spray, cleaned and sanitized a 2nd time with bleach water we will have to stick to 3pm check ins and 9am check outs. This allows us to get the cabins cleaned properly and safely for our cleaning crew and guests. We are also spending extra time sanitizing common areas and need to have the extra time to do this without guests arriving. We hope everyone understands and see you at 3 pm


We had visitor again at the resort.  It was not a raccoon.  We will be asking everyone to not leave any food out at night in garbage cans or around camp fires.  We need to make our visitor with her cubs not feel to welcome.  We will be asking everyone to bring their garbage directly to the dumpster and not leave in cans by cabin until our hairy neighbor moves on to greener pastures.

We have had a couple of families call us that are just not comfortable traveling at the moment even with precautions taken so we have had a few cancelations pop up. Here is the list at the moment

Nightly rentals open up to June 13th check website for details or call 3 night minimum

June 19 – 26th Bear Den 4 bdr home 400/night or 2780/week. We will consider nightly rentals for this week with a 4 night minimum

June 26 – July 3rd Red Pine 4 bdr home 2780/week

June 27 – July 4th Norway 3 bdr 1880/week

July 11 – 18 Wigwam 3bdr 1765/week

Give a call with any questions on the cabins 715 356 3018. Our cabins are double sanitized and ready to go!


These guys were loving the fishing during spawning season.  They both did really well fishing
Nice big bluegill
Amy and Katie learning how to sanitize a kitchen COVID 19 style.  All silverware is being run through bleach water including cooking utensils.  All cupboards wiped sprayed with disinfectant before crew comes in plus wiped with bleach water as well.  Double sanitation.  We do not have time to wash the dishes, glasses and pots and pans.  We are leaving behind bleach with instructions on cap full of bleach to a gallon of water for guests to sanitize what they are using
We are bleaching our microwave, stove, coffee maker, dustpan, dish drainer, ice cube trays, cutting boards, toaster, grates on the stove….  I am developing a list of this stuff that is done that will go on your fridge so when you come in you know what was sterilized 
WE CAN DO THIS!  Safely and carefully
Getting the blue dock in before Memorial Weekend
They even got me out on the dock to help.  There were comments about pushing me in
Ben took on a little water going too deep
Hard to get out of the water when your pants have 100 lbs of water in them
I stayed dry is the quote from Steve!
New screen door at Muskie up and ready to go for the weekend
Mack is probably the biggest disliker of COVID19 due to having his roaming curtailed.  He is surviving and going on walks around the circle
He has managed to sneak out a few times.  I have apprecaited everyone working with me not touching him no matter how pathetic his looks are



Our exciting news.  Our middle son Ben graduated from Saint Norbet College this weekend.  We tried to make it as special as we could for him graduating from home


Insert Pomp and Circumstance.  

His graduation walk has been delayed to August 29th but we were taking the pictures now

He graduates with an accounting degree and minor in finance.  Now to find a job!


Graduating Northwoods style with mom and dad.  How many socks equals 4 years at Saint Norbert?  A lot


Getting congrats from his brothers.  Jake is teaching Biology in Green Bay at Preble High School.  Grant is home for the summer and headed back to Saint Norbert in the fall for his Junior year.  I still have socks to make this summer.  Now though with just one in college part of every sock sale is being donated to The Lake Land Food Pantry along with getting Grant though school


We had fun with the neighbors on the road with honks all afternoon


Now that graduation is over time to get to work.  Getting the docks in


Who got the leaky waders?


Grant sporting his Corona hair.  No asking mom yet for a buzz cut.  


Two heads are better than one


I picked up our first batch of hand sanitizer at the distillery.  It is 30 dollars a gallon but well work it.  We will be putting a container in each cabin and in a few spots around the resort.  Keeping the cooties away!


My new friend is also a bucket of bleach water and my gloves.  You will see these with me a lot this summer as we work hard to keep the surfaces around the resort germ free


We had a visitor this weekend.  Momma bear and her cub.  She was stopping by for our bird feeder.  We have put the bird seed away but I ask everyone to be careful leaving any food outside over night for awhile.  She and her cub got into our dumpsters as well.  


Baby bear had scampered up the big white pine while momma had a stand off with Troy and his flashlight