Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

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


Cooler temps have made for some great campfire nights.  We got our budgie pie makers out with white bread and fruit pie filling, blueberry, apple and cherry.  Cherry is my favorite


Cooking my cherry pie with cinnamon and sugar topping


The Michael Family happy to all be together.  No corona cooties in this picture just happy grandkids thrilled to be with Grandma and Grandpa after everyone tested negative.  Lots of peace of mind in this picture and for now no need to social distance with the family!  


The Eberle and Rynearson crew enjoying their own fire


Everyone else in the resort was happy to grab their bubble of people and head to the playground for The Great Outdoors


The sock machine has been whirling.  


Grant and I have continued to be busy putting all the socks on to  

The Sock Shop and the resort both got an Instagram account this week.  If you are on Instagram or Facebook both of them are on.  Instagram is a new thing for us.  A pretty resort picture goes up each day and on the Sock Shop you can see what is made each day.  Things are always changing in the Sock Shop.  I have yet to add my hats and scarves but all the socks and almost all the fingerless gloves are on the site.  I have already shipped out a few orders.  You can choose local pick up too if you want me to save something for an upcoming visit to the resort


After all that a strawberry margarita outside at El Tarasco Mexican Restaurant was a great way to celebrate after lots of hard work was done online and off


A few year ago a guy and a gal met and had three girls.  Dan and Steph brought Jaimie, Melanie and Laurie to the resort since they were babies.  Dan’s whole family enjoyed summers at there resort even before the girls came along.  Dan’s parents, Wills and Lou Christian started the the tradition with their kids before these girls were even a glimmer in their dads eye

They have enjoyed their time at the resort every summer.  Through Cabbage Patch Doll days, teenage drama, marriages and now the next generation.  

During the year of COVID I think it is important to see families making the changes needed to enjoy time together.  Each week I see families quarantining or social distancing so they can enjoy time together either close or 6 feet apart


Melanie and Laurie loaded up with their girls with husbands and Luca in another car on their way to the resort!

They had quarantined the best they could to enjoy time with grandma and grandpa

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Jaimie and Nathan coming from their corner of the US also quarantining getting ready for vacation with their boys

Vacation would be different but everyone was coming together.  Maybe not hugging and maybe 6 feet apart but together none the less in their favorite spot that everyone learned to value just a little bit more with what they all went through this year


Grandma here we are!


All the sacrifice to stay cootie free to visit grandma and grandpa is worth it for this picture


Steph with happiness in her eyes enjoying her grandkids


Family pontoon boat ride was a high light


Auntie Jaimie with Nyla.  The smiles say it all.  Value this time 


Nathan giving directions to Holly to drive him.  This was a huge moment for Nathan to give up the drivers seat…


But worth it to get this picture of him and Brad cruising around the lake

There were many skiing firsts.  First salomns, first skis, and first times driving the boat.  All an important time in 2020 to make the rest of 2020 bearable


Time at the dock with coffee and the sunrise… with a sister or 2


The smile after conquering the fear of muskies to swim across the lake.  Way to go Melanie!   Just swim fast and the muskies won’t nibble on your toes


Go Melanie go!  Her first swim across the lake ever!  Never to late to do something you have wanted to do for years

Makes 2020 good memory!


Great rides in the red boat!  Beats rush hour around New Orleans any day!


Social distancing with others at the lake.  The Berchtold family stopping by to talk with everyone.  Boats were the perfect way to social distance with folks not in the family.  


Dogs just don’t get social distancing….


So congrats to the Christian family for finding their way through COVID 19 to still enjoy time together.  We have all learned times like these are to be valued and will help them get through teaching reading to a 1st grader, figuring out how to get a trumpet to not to exude respiratory droplets, what travel trailer to buy to visit family, how to get a college up and running in COVID, not to have nightmares of muskies chasing toes through the water, are among just a few things that will challenge this crew as soon as they leave to return in 2021

See you again in 2021 for another summer of memories.  May everyone’s trip around the sun till we meet easier after a week on Lower Kaubashine

This is just one families journey coming to the resort that I see every week.  Everyone has their own comfort level and bubble of people in their COVID circle.  I am sharing their journey but there are many more I could that are just as special.  Vacation is different in many ways but in many good ways just the same you just have to fill in the blanks safely 


We were happy to have family arrive for a visit.  Mark and Kathy Lammers stopped in.  It was a treat to spend time with them during these times.  Mark flew from Seattle and was happy to enjoy a few days in the midwest visiting family and escaping COVID.  They broke out my moms canoe paddles from storage with Steve and Bella.  Everyone had a Trudy paddle to go canoeing with.  Now to get the canoe


Mark and Kathy forgot how heavy the Mad River Mama was to carry.  The canoe stays in storage at Steve’s house and comes out for special occasions, and this was one of those occasions.  Mark and Kathy spent many an hour in this canoe plunging through rapids with my mom steering.


Down the shoot it went


Worth braving airports in a mask for these moments on Lower Kaubashine with family and the Mad River Mama


Mark grew up with me driving skiers with the red boat back in the early 80’s.  Mark is one of the few I turn my steering wheel over to to have fun driving the boat through the waves.  Mark’s smile says it all.  Driving the red boat shaves off at least 20 years


We may not be 16 anymore and whipping each other around the lake skiing throwing rooster tails but we sure had fun driving the old boat together again.  By the time we made it back to shore Mark was taking the boat to full speed and jumping waves.  Kathi was reminiscing her own famous red boat story involving a yellow polka dot bikini but that is a tale for another day…..


Til we meet again…. keep your paddle wet and your canoe pointed into the wind

Family is what it is all about!



The road in to peace and quiet 


We have had some beautiful rainy mornings


Storms at night, followed by raccoons fighting at night last night kept everyone up a bit last night


Fishing has been good.  The Frisch and Temple families have been doing some great crappie and musky fishing


Working on my inventory for my new online store for my sock shop.  Check out the PayPal has been hooked up along with credit cards for shipping and local pick up.  People can now shop from their cabins or homes or stop at shop in person with a mask on.  If I pull things out of the shop on to the deck I am fine with people shopping without masks one group at a time.

Keep an eye on the shop, I am adding things each day.  Right now about 2/3 of my stuff is on the website


Back to the lake 


No words needed.  Social Distancing at its best


Every week we go through pictures like this, Saturday morning kids saying goodbye to the lake looking sad and wishing 51 weeks would pass quickly until they are here again


Those sad pictures are quickly followed in the afternoon by happy kids like Finley wondering how fast everyone can unpack before he can get to the beach or the playground.  Saturdays are a whip lash of emotion around the resort.  Especially this year where everyone values so much time spent with friends and familes even if they have to keep up the social distancing at the resort.  Value all the time you can is what we have all learned this year from COVID19   


Mack has been socially distancing from guests for the summer until…… his buddy Kelsey arrived.  Kelsey and Mack have had a bond since the first year we got him.  She yells his name and he perks up and goes running to her.  It is an amazing bond between the two.  He remembers her over the year and immediately picks up where they left off.  Kelsey is one of the few outside of the family who has gotten to scratch his ears this summer


There is no way I could keep them apart even if I wanted to, which I don’t.  


For those with bigger groups who want to go out together we have discovered the Torpy Park Pavillion.  Each family group came with take out from the restaurant of their choice at 6pm.  Each group had a table spaced apart from other families.  Everyone has their COVID bubble and they sat with their bubble but we could all talk and enjoy company outside under the pavillion.  One group had Minocqua Pizza, another had fish fry from Tula’s, and Troy and I had mexican from El Trasco complete with a margarita

Figuring out new traditions to vacation safely is what it is all about


COVID is changing many things.  My sock shop is going online.  Grant has been helping me enter all the inventory and within a week it will be live to order or buy things.  You don’t realize how many yarns I have worked with until you have to enter each one.  Grant is learning how to set up an online store, good experience for a business major to do.  

So far we have heard he is headed back to Saint Norbert August 24th.  It will be sad to close down the Black’s Cliff dorm room but he will be ready to go after suddenly coming home in March to try to do online college classes with the resort internet.  Believe me, he has tried to see if there is faster internet in our location and what we have is what we get.  

Stay tuned for the launch of


Troy and I have made our own investment in ourselves in June.  We have spent 4 months disinfecting cabins keeping up with COVID.  We decided we needed our own get away to explore the Northwoods.  We know what it takes to keep cabins safe and clean during COVID and decided we are not sure everyone else is doing things to our standard around the country.  If we were going to travel we needed our own digs.  So we headed off, did our research and we have a new toy.  We have been having the time of our lives each week taking a short trip for 24 hours away from the resort.  We leave whichever of the boys is home in charge with Steve and Bella and down the road we go.  Our trailer is just 16.8 feet and can fit in all sorts of small campsites.  Its perfect for us and we plan on taking many short trips this summer and some longer ones in the off season.


Our latest adventure took us down the paved bike trails of Boulder Junction and Sayner.  These trails are amazing and only 30 minutes from the resort.

We will share over the next few weeks other little hidden gems we find that you can travel to easily from the resort. 


But now it is back to work keeping the Northwoods cootie free.  This is the mister we use to spray down gh 

We appreciate all the thanks you’s, compliments and help we have received from our guests this summer helping us keep the resort safe for everyone.  If we all do our part we can get back to normal!  Keep your hands washed, Masks on if closer than 6 feet to others, spray behind you with our disinfectant we leave around the resort and we will all stay healthy



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