Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

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

We lost a great guest and friend this week, Dan Christian. After a long battle with cancer, Dan passed on Monday.

Dan started coming to the resort with his parents, Wills and Lou Christian. I looked back in our records and I can’t find their first year which means its far back. I remember as a child Wills and Lou arriving with all their kids whose names all started with D, Dennis, David, Dale, Dan, Dawn, Didi and Doug. A fruit basket arrived at our house from Lou, and lots of fun sounding noise as they all unpacked the car. The Christian family over every generation I have known, have known the art of laughter and love. Over the years the other siblings have returned here and there but Dan, and his family stayed regulars. The sound of laughter from his family echoes over the generations from Wills and Lou.

Dan was a Girl Dad, before they were a thing. He was surrounded by girls at all times and they kept him busy and he loved it.

I remember all the Cabbage Patch Dolls that got unpacked from the car with these three. The giggles, pink sand buckets, pink swimsuits, and lots of floaties. All unpacked, used and dragged up and down the beach steps each day by Dan and Steph.

My favorite memory was one day at the beach. Many times guests don’t know the last names of everyone at the resort. Steph was at the Perch and I think it was lunch time. She yelled “All Christian Girls Upstairs!” Quite a few people at the beach that day had a moment to analyze their relationship with god. Three little girls though knew mom meant business and up the steps they tromped with dad right behind

If you ask anyone who has vacationed with them over the years in the last week of July what they love about Dan and Steph the list will be long, On top of the list would be their devotion to one another. They always had arms around one another with Steph’s head tucked under Dan’s chin. They fit together like a puzzle. The love and laughter you heard from Dan and Steph, along with a sparkly in their eyes for each other was what we all want in life. Add in 3 giggly girls and eventually spouses and grandchildren and you can imagine the noise on Saturday when they arrived. It was always a good noise.

Dan and Steph were quick to call me when they heard about my own cancer battle. Over the last few months, Dan and I have exchanged chemo and cancer stories and support on our good and bad days the last few months. I told Steph last week as things were not looking good, to tell Dan I would promise to fight as hard as him to defeat the beast of cancer.

In his last few years, Dan would brew up a batch of Black’s Cliff beer he would bring on vacation. This batch was named after the bear we had to chase out of the resort a few years ago

Our condolences go out to the entire Christian Family over the loss of Dan from your entire Black’s Cliff family.

We had 10 inches of wonderful snow blanket the northwoods. It is so pretty in the pines!

Steve was quick to get everything plowed out while Troy and I got shoveling duty. I got a new plug in power shovel that is light, kind of a like a small snowblower I can do one handed

Folks ask how I am doing and I am getting to the end of chemo. My right arm though due to having 44 lymph nodes removed I will always have to be careful of for the rest of my life due to Lymphodema. So you will see me doing things a little different like with the small power blower. Thanks to everyone who has been so understanding and supportive during this time. You will also notice a small stutter in my speech or pauses. I am hoping that goes away with chemo brain fog

Wigwam after Steve almost plowed it in

Summer deposits are due by January 20th for returning guests. If you have not sent yours in or have to cancel please contact me

I had forgotten to put in our January letter. Our rate increase we spread over half into the cabin rate and half into a cleaning fee. The reason we charge a cleaning fee is to give our 2 week guests a break that we have not done before. Cleaning expenses were one thing that went through he roof between laundry and our cleaners. It was crazy how much things went up this year and we had to make a tough decision. I understand for some this is going to impact their reservation and vacation. It is the worst part of my job when we have to make choices like this but our goal is to keep this resort going into the future when so many others are condoing and selling. It is sad each year the number of people who stop into the resort to see it looking for a new place to go because their resort they go to is selling and they have lost their vacation home. We plan on not doing that thus tough choices

We are considering April opening up cabins for folks to stay for free, who would like to help us open the resort for a few days or a week…. We are up for ideas. We ask folks to put in from 9 ish to 2 ish and the rest of the day is theirs to do fun things. We have raking, painting, putting in docks, building projects with Steve, splitting wood….. If this might interest you get ahold of me by email.

This picture sums up why I enjoy living up north. We headed out with the family to enjoy a candle light fat tire bike trip through the woods on the zip line trails. The trails were beautiful at night gliding around the turns by candle light. Our local bike club organized the event. Just beautiful and great way to enjoy winter

We had some warmer weather that brought our snow pack down a little. Oogie and I headed down the trail before we got 3 – 5 inches of snow today. The woods were perfect to walk in thanks to our holiday snowshoers packing down the trail

The trees melted but are still all bent over from the Christmas snow. They all look like they are sleeping

Oogje was off chasing 2 does that ran across the swamp as we came up the trail. The deer laughed at the silly golden who had any ideas of sneaking up on them in the swamp

Over the holidays we had one day that 3 goldens were at the resort all from Harvest Time the breeder who I got Oogie from. The lady in the middle took one look at Oogie and knew he was a Harvest Time dog. Oogie and her dog are classic Harvest Time with their noses and Harvest Time smile. It was fun to see the 3 of the cousins play

Fresh snow is falling as I type. Summer confirmation letters went out in the mail today. Expect them in your mail box soon. Due day for deposits is January 20th. Please let me know your plans for summer as soon as possible. We start to get lots of calls after the holidays. Hope everyone can make it

Til then lots of winter fun to be had. Our skating rink and snow shoe trails are open, and fireplaces are blazing. We have lots of cabins open for January 7th weekend. Martin Luther King weekend we are booked out. After that the weekends are filling up. Time to enjoy winter!

So far storm has not been too bad. We got 6 inches of light fluffy snow last night. No winds so far but that is supposed to change tonight

Oogie out trying to catch the snow from the snow blower. He thinks its a great new game

Best purchase of the year is a Toro electric snow shovel. I can use it with one arm. My other arm I can’t lift with due to lymph node removal in August. So this was a great purchase

If you have a hard time or limited mobility with a shovel check it out! I love mine

Snow in the pines

Woodpile blasted with snow

Took a walk down to the lake

Oogie still a little hesitant stepping out on the lake He learned his lesson after a couple of falls in the cold water.

Only one way for a pup to learn

Did not take him long to head out exploring

The snowmobile trails are opening Friday. I am not sure when they are going to mark the lake for the trail.

We will be getting our rink going as soon as the storm ends

We had a couple of cancelations. Check out the availability chart on the website for up to December 27th if you want to escape the relatives and the storm calms down

I have debated sharing my health issue on the Blog. Most of our guests who have visited from early August until now have heard. I am currently 1/2 way through treatment and feel it is time to share so everyone understands as they visit why I may be tired, wearing a mask or sporting a new hair style with lots of hats. August 8th I was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. I am doing ok and and as long as I follow my treatment plan I stand a 90 percent chance of it not coming back. Triple negative is the most aggressive of the breast cancer so they are putting me through the wringer with treatments to get rid of it the first time. It did hit 2 of my lymph nodes and that is what made it stage 2.

I have made it through the worst of the chemo the first 4 treatments back in late September through October. They were brutal. Now I am on an easier chemo weekly every Friday until the first part of February. I get a month break and start 30 rounds on radiation mid March until April 26th. That is going to make me very tired. 

Going through this and recovering is going to be a long process. Getting my endurance back in the spring and summer will be a process. The beach steps will be my work out. An electric bike to keep up with Troy is in my future as well. My hair has started to come back in this easier 2nd round of chemo. Stay tuned for my new looks this summer. What color and how curly?

As long as my doctor says I am immune compromised with chemo I will be careful about exposure to all the germs. You will see me greeting people outside and dropping off bills to cabins. If you are in anyway sick with a sniffle please warn me before meeting up in the office. Bronchitis has taken me 6 weeks to gt over. I will open the office/sock shop and either limit it to 2 people at a time or have folks shop and I will total after and settle up in the bigger community room. My online store is shut down for Jenny’s Sock shop but I will text pictures of socks that are done if you want me to ship any. Making socks is my therapy through this but I am making less of them just when I feel like it.

All that being said, I am ok if folks ask how I am doing. I just hate surprising guests with this bad news on their first day of vacation. I have found it easier if they know ahead of time.The support and encouragement we have received from everyone has been amazing. Especially all the survivors out there sharing their story. As I become a survivor I will be here for anyone going through this awful journey please reach out. I have found nobody goes through this alone.

Early detection saved my life. If you have not gotten checked out make it a New Year’s resolution Breast Cancer and Prostate are the easiest cancers to cure if caught early. Mine was caught on a regular mamogram. Thanks again to everyone who has visited the resort the last few months and has been so understanding of the situation as we have struggled through hopefully the worst, diagnosis, surgery and chemo. Now we have 7 more weeks of chemo and radiation ahead. Makes us realize how important we and the resort are in so many peoples lives, its been heart warming

Jenny and Troy

We got some beautiful sticking snow last night about 10 inches. It made for great pictures around the resort as we shoveled out

Oogie was having fun checking out all the thick white stuff outside. We bought a new electric power shovel and he was trying to catch the snow as it flew

One of my favorite pictures of the day

There is nothing like snow in the pines

Trails across the road from the resort. The small pines bending into the trail The first person down the trail will have quite an adventure clearing the way

Lower Kuabahine winter wonderland drive

We love it when we have guests from Oklahoma that have never used a snowblower and want to try it out. We have plenty of places to try it out

Oogie trying to figure out what in the world that strange machine is throwing snow at him

Love the sleeping look of the boats under a layer of snow

Picnic table shows about what we have on the ground now. This snow was heavy and wet and will make a great base for the trails in the area

Ice fishermen say there is 6 – 8 inches of ice on the lake.

Things look like they are shaping up well for a great time in the Northwoods for the holidays playing in the snow. We are currently booked December 26 – January 2nd. Birchwood is open up to December 26th and Red Pine does open up one day earlier than the rest of the cabins on January 1st. Starting January 2nd we have lots open up to January 13th if you are looking for a post holiday escape. We are full for Martin Luther King Weekend but most weekends after that we have several open. Time to come up and play in the snow!

Wintery

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It has been really starting to look and feel like winter. I heard from an ice fisherman that we have 6 – 8 inches of ice on the lake

I wait a bit longer to venture out on the lake. I heard a few walleye’s were the reward for early ice fishing on the lake

Boats hibernating for winter

Smack talk about our Christmas Eve family ice hockey game has started. Can’t wait til we are all flying around on the ice with hockey sticks in hand

Before Christmas and dreams on hockey gold…. there is work to do. The guys cleaning up the last of the wood pile. Steve plows snow into this area so it needed clean up before the big snow on Wednesday this week

Turning our wood splitter sideways was Steve’s go to, to getting the big ones split

I have been trying to get a walk in the woods everyday. This is the Valley of Darkness on the red trail

Magical almost Christmas sparkly snow.

Birchwood is still open up to December 26th and our first openings after that are January 2nd. Weekends in January and February are filling up

It is getting a bit Wintery looking

Oogie would like everyone to know we got some great snow to play in

He also would like to report the ice is not quite safe as he took a very cold ice plunge next to shore. We think he might have learned a lesson in staying off the ice for awhile yet

It was a heavy wet snow that clung to the trees

No sun today to capture the ice in the trees

Definitely a pretty snow

We currently have openings up to December 26th. Beware the only cabin open December 23, 24 and 25th in Birchwood. The rest of the cabins are booked. If you were thinking Christmas don’t wait. Our next opening after the 26th is now January 2nd

We have plenty of cabins open on most weekends in January and February but they are slowly booking up. Martin Luther King weekend we only have Bayview left

I am spending this afternoon typing up our Summer 2023 rate sheet. I hope to get working on the Summer 2023 confirmation letters soon.

Beautiful quiet time to come up and enjoy the woods before Christmas

I was a little under the weather this week so pictures of our deer hunters and Thanksgiving guests did not happen like usual

Sunrise just before the big hunt

The Evan’s family has been hunting with us for 20 years or so. They hunt the land across the road and got a nice 8 point buck this year

Congrats to them!

The Pryzybl crew have been with us almost as long. They hunt down by Kitty Springs. No deer this year but lots of fun as usual

I missed catching our other hunters but lots of good memories made at the Cliff opening weekend

Chris and Amanda Moran practicing their wreath making skills with Steve’s crimping machine before heading back home for Thanksgiving

Thanks to both of of them for helping us get so many projects done over the last couple of weeks. The Office/Sock Shop expansion, Shamrock’s new deck and the new pink trail

Back to watching the lake freeze over.

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving

Looking at spending Christmas with us, we have Birchwood and Bayview open up the the 26th. Our next opening is January 2nd over the Holidays.

We have plenty of cabins open from this weekend up to Christmas if you want to escape at the lower rates. Come see the resort during the quiet weeks up to the Holidays and enjoy the quiet while we watch the snow pile up

We have been talking for about 3 years of expanding the office into the old sauna. First we needed to build an area for our cleaning supplies which we did last fall. Next was the new sauna arriving and putting in our electric car chargers. We finished those projects in August

Now it was time to convert the sauna to being part of the office/Jenny’s Sock Shop. First step was cutting out a new window. How to do that? Chainsaw!

Popping out the bay window

Finetuning the cut

Yep that went as planned

Here it is with its new window in. They also added a small window in the side of the old sauna

This is the old changing room of the sauna. This room will be filled with items from Steve’s wife Jen. She does beautiful crafts and it will be fun to see what she fills this room with. She has been hard at work on needle felting

Many remember when Steve and Jen had an antique store in town. Jen, enjoys recreating old things into treasures. Lots of neat things will fill this room

The old sauna with a new floor and trim. The back wall will be filled with my old knitting machines on display. The rest of the room will be Amy’s cabinet of soaps and lots of socks. Everything that has been in cabinets in the community room are headed into this room. That will allow more room in our open community room for tables with games and our foosball table to return

View from current office. Notice the two new door ways into the new rooms

I hope to have things in the rooms by this weekend

Other projects going on are at Shamrock. Steve and Chris rented a stump grinder and got to grinding. The new deck on Shamrock is taking shape. There will be some flattening of the grill and fire pit area bringing it to be more level with deck. There is a roof coming to this deck similar to Holiday and Muskie.

In the meantime it is back to the fun of a machine and grinding up a stump

Earlier in the week we had the semi annual tetherballl mother daughter tournament between Anita and Jessica. Always entertaining and gathers an audience. I will not say who won but we can see who put out the most effort

Oogie found out what the live trap gets used for. The red squirrels, when it gets cold make the mistake of seeing if our basement is their winter hide out. Troy objects and out comes the trap for relocation. Oogie was fascinated by this development

As the days stay cold and Thanksgiving and Deer Hunting approach we start to wonder if the ground is going to stay white. I know the water at the lake is getting the thicker and stiller look it gets before freezing

If you are interested in Thanksgiving we still have Norway and Red Pine open