Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Northwoods Get-Away Recap June 17, 2015

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 6:44 pm
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This past weekend Matt and I packed up my Escape, for our second get-away to the northwoods of Wisconsin. Our agenda was quite simple: a little work and have a lot of fun.

Work consisted of mowing the lawn, finish staining a lower portion of a new kitchen cabinet and cleaning. The fun part included exploring a new brew pub, going to our favorite breakfast place and visiting a well known Wisconsin brewery.

The new place we’re happy to add to our favorites list is Aqualand Ale House in Boulder Junction. The brew pub boasts their own four specialty beers as well as a nice mix of craft beer from the Midwest. Matt and I both ordered flights and a few appetizers. Their homebrews and food were delicious. My favorite brew was a cream ale, which we ended up getting a grumbler of to take home. We had a great time talking to the bartenders and are already planning to visit them again in a few weeks.


Flight sampler at Aqualand

If we’re only up for a few days or a week, we always make sure to enjoy a breakfast at Cafe Holiday located in Hazlehurst. My parents discovered this gem a few years ago and it has become a family staple. Matt always orders a full biscuits and gravy breakfast meal served with two eggs. And for me, it’s the stuffed cranberry-apple french toast with a side of hashbrowns extra crispy. My mouth is already watering from writing about it.

Our last favorite stop took place on the drive home. Often we’ll stop in on the way up or down in the little Swiss town of New Glarus, Wisconsin, home to New Glarus Brewery. Once we arrived at the brewery, Matt literally jumped out and headed straight for the beer depot to see if any of the recent brown sours were still available. Luck was on his side because they were! With our haul secured we ventured out to enjoy a Belgian Red straight from the tap on the patio with Porter. Best rest stop ever.

Porter hanging out on the patio at New Glarus Brewery

Porter hanging out on the patio at New Glarus Brewery

We’ll be back up north in another few weeks for much of the same. A little work and a lot of fun. I think that’s going to be my new motto for the summer.


Summer Vacation Recap: The Northwoods August 13, 2014

Sorry for missing last week readers, but I was off the grid. Yes, there are still places where people choose not to have internet access. One such place happens to be my parents’ lake house in northern Wisconsin.

We spent a glorious week eating, drinking, relaxing and working. Matt’s best friend also came along for part of the trip. I love having the chance to show off my favorite little northwoods town. I’m pretty sure he had a good time, I know I did! Here’s my top ten list from this trip.

  1. Enjoying morning coffee on my parents’ new deck. It’s amazing how adding three feet can make such a difference!
  2. Picking out a new kitchen countertop and backsplash for the cottage with my mom at Home Depot.
  3. Porter jumping out of the boat in the middle of lake, successfully freaking out Matt and I. (We’re ordering his own PFD.)
  4. Rolling out of bed early to take advantage of a morning kayak trip around our lake.
  5. Catching a snowshoe baseball game.
  6. Winning a raffle ticket prize at snowshoe baseball…a delightful banana boat from the Korner Drive.
  7. Watching Matt’s face brighten with glee when my dad’s new tractor arrived.
  8. A delicious dinner at Little Bohemia. Order the prime rib, you will not forget it!
  9. Fishing off the dock.
  10. Hitting up our one of our favorites, Minocqua Brewery, for a sampler paddle of brews and appetizers.

35 more days until we’re able to go back. Not like I’m really counting or anything…


First Trip Up North June 4, 2014

Escaping to the Northwoods of Wisconsin in late May/early June is one of my favorite annual trips. The area isn’t busting at the seams with tourists, lakes are a little too cool to go swimming, summer vacation homes are just starting to air out and you can easily find a parking spot downtown. Which makes it quiet and peaceful, the last few moments of calm before the whirlwind of summer hits.

On our way up from Chicago we normally hit up a few breweries to help break up the drive. With Porter in tow this year, we decided just to go to O’So Brewery in Plover. Their location is immediately off the highway and they boast an outdoor area where we can enjoy our drinks (mine was called Picnic Ants, a Belgian Saison, Matt got a black IPA, oh and we got a growler of their dopplebock, Dominator) and have Porter with us. I love dog-friendly places!

O'So Brewery

What we did each day was dependent on the weather and the mosquitoes. Saturday we spent enjoying the outdoors, ever thankful for a stiff breeze to keep the bugs away. We started off with breakfast on the deck followed by walk to a nearby lake to teach Porter how to swim. Grabbing a stick we started off slowly introducing him the water and gradually threw the stick further and further away from the beach. He figured it out quickly and before we knew it he was doggie paddling and jumping off of the dock. Porter is going to be a great water dog!


We headed back to the house for a light lunch and then went into town to pick up some supplies. “Supplies” is a keyword for beer, cheese and brats. We picked up some of my favorite brats, pizza brats, from our local grocery store for dinner.  And they were very, very tasty.

Sunday the rain rolled in so we played ball inside the house with Porter to burn off some energy in the morning. Then it was time to earn our stay by replacing two shower heads in our bathrooms, cleaning, and organizing the rest of the cottage. It was the perfect rainy day to putz around and get rid of old stuff.

Around two in the afternoon the sun came out.Grabbing our fishing poles, citronella candle, bug spray, beer and Porter (not to be confused with beer, but yes we did name our dog after a style of beer), we headed to the dock. Thankfully there was a good breeze on the water and the bugs stayed away. Unfortunately the fish did too. Matt got the only catch, and even that was a little disappointing. Ready to forget our fishing expedition we were ready to drown our sorrows with beer at one of our favorite brew-pubs – The Minocqua Brewing Company.

Our orders usually don’t change much. For starters it’s the beef carpaccio and/or cheese curds. The main meal is usually one of their fantastic burgers. This time around we did do the beef carpaccio, Matt enjoyed his black and blue burger and I had an amazing beef and brie sandwich with sweet potato fries. As for beer, I ordered their seasonal, which was a citrus hefeweizen. Matt decided to sample a few…the hefeweizen, the red ale and porter. And yes, we took home two growlers, one of the hefeweizen and one of the porter.


Monday came all too soon, it was time to head back to Chicago. Our next trip back up north isn’t scheduled until August but I have a feeling we might try to sneak up another weekend in July. There is no other place quite like it.


First Northwoods Fix June 5, 2013

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 10:34 pm
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This past weekend Matt and I took a long weekend to head up to the Northwoods. We had four items to accomplish during our stay:

  1. Stop at New Glarus Brewery for a six order pick-up (they really need to start distributing in Illinois)
  2. Cut down a tree (for our wedding centerpieces)
  3. Purchase and prep replacement deck boards for installation on our pier
  4. Fish

Luckily we got #1 taken care of on the first day. It’s become a tradition to stop at New Glarus, Wisconsin on the ride up. We hit the brewery first. Grab our sample beer, take the self-guided tour to see what’s changed since last year, check out the gift store and then pick up our to-go beer. Once that’s done we head into town for lunch at Swiss restaurant for some German style food just like mom makes. It’s a fun way to break up the drive and see a little of small town America.

#2 I was a little nervous about, mostly because of the weather. The forecast all weekend called for a 50-50 chance of storms. Not exactly ideal weather for getting your lumberjack on. Fortunately on Saturday, it didn’t rain until the very end of the day! We even received lumberjack training from my neighbor who cut down the tree for us.  Then Matt and I disassembled the tree, removing branches and and splitting the tree into smaller sections. Next step was to apply anchor seal to lock in the tree’s moisture to help preserve it.

#3 Matt’s first trip to Pukhall lumber was on Sunday. He was like a kid in a candy store. Granted, I was too, but we managed to contain ourselves. We came for 40 four-foot sections of deck board and left still with plenty of room in Derek. We headed back to the house and set-up shop in the garage. In order to help my cousin with the installation, we drilled in some pilot holes. Oh, shucks, we got to use power tools. I was able to use the drill press and Matt used a hand drill, together we had the boards complete in a few hours.


Playing with power tools!

#4 The first day we arrived we went fishing right off the dock in between a few thunderstorms. Matt had a few nibbles on his line but nothing bit. Luckily for me, a small mouth bass decided to chomp on my hook. Not wanting to settle on a score of 0-1, Matt wanted to go fishing our last night up at the lake. We headed out on the paddle boat for close to 2 hours and caught no fish. But I guess that’s why we’re going back up in July so he can even the score 😉


Fishing off the dock


Camping in the Apostle Islands August 8, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:48 pm
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Sorry I missed my post last week. In my defense, I was in northern Wisconsin with no internet access. Now back in civilization I can tell you a little about my wonderful vacation. Matt and I went to visit my parents in the northwoods last Sunday. They left in June, so it was great to be reunited with them and enjoy my mom’s cooking, my dad’s laugh, and of course our lovely view of the lake.

While we were in the northwoods, we decided to take advantage of our location and go even further north to camp in Apostle Islands. We left on Wednesday morning, enjoying the ride. Matt actually drove up in my car due to a slight wrist injury that occurred while mounting our sea kayak on Derek (my Ford Escape). Plus I don’t think he or my dad trusted me to drive with a tandem kayak on the top of my car and go the speed limit.

We stopped for a bite to eat and a flight of beer at South Shore Brewery in Ashland, Wisconsin. Matt had a delectable black bean burger with sweet potato fries and I enjoyed a Reuben with barbeque waffle fries. The food and beer was very tasty. With our bellies full we continued on for another 30 minutes until we arrived at Bayfield. We boarded the Madeline Ferry with Derek and enjoyed a short 20 minute cruise to Madeline Island.

Madeline Island is the largest of the twenty-one Apostle Islands and the only island with private residences. The normal population on the island is about 450 but during the summer months is known to swell over 1,500! Once back on dry land we went to the local watering hole – Tom’s Burned Down Cafe. Yes, Tom’s actually burned down in 1992 and decided not to rebuild but leave everything as it was and just add planks. It was kind of like Jimmy Buffett meets a trailer park. The ambience was great, drinks were cheap and people were very friendly.

Next we headed to our campsite at Big Bay State Park. We had a perfect half-shaded spot with beautiful pine trees. Our REI half dome plus tent went up in no-time, so we decided to explore around the camp ground. We found a gorgeous bay and went swimming in the crisp 67-degree water of Lake Superior. The water was clear as glass. We played Frisbee and took a walk around the bay before heading back to camp. For dinner Matt made some delicious brats from a local meat market by my parents. Can you guess what we had for dessert??? S’mores!

In the morning we decided to take the kayak out to the public launch on the island back in “downtown”. Enjoying calm waters, we did an easy 2 mile paddle along the southwestern side of the island. After our morning exercise we went back and packed up camp. We then went into town to grab coffee, a scone and muffin from a local bakery to enjoy on the ferry ride back to the mainland.

Matt and I both decided that we wanted to go back and definitely for a longer time. There is a lot to do on the island and more places to explore on foot and on water! Time to start planning next summer’s vacation…but until then enjoy a few photos below!


Up on the Farm June 12, 2012

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:05 pm
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This weekend my friend Lei and I took a road trip!  Grass is Greener Gardens {the CSA Karla and I belong to} was holding an open house this weekend for any of their customers who wanted to stop by and see the farm.  Karla unfortunately couldn’t make it, but Lei was able to go and we had a great time down on the farm.  I should really say ‘up on the farm’ because it’s located in Wisconsin.  Our drive was a little over 2 hours and was really beautiful once we got out into the country.  We had perfect weather and once we got there we had a private tour of the farm.

We made it!

We got to see the bee boxes, baby chicks, grown hens and roosters, turkeys, lambs, not to mention all the beautiful growing produce!

They also have a super cute dog- Rufus

And a very friendly kitty named Boris

Everyone there was so welcoming to us.  They fed us lunch, answered our questions, and chatted with us into the afternoon.  Lei was the perfect choice to bring along because she has a lot of interest in non-conventional farming.  In fact she did her Masters project on agriculture and I visited her exhibit last year.  You can read about it here.

I really enjoyed our time on the farm.  I think it’s so cool that I got to meet the people who produced the food I’m eating {turns out I even used to know one of the farmers- we went to high school together! Small world huh?}.  It makes me that much more impressed when I get my delivery to know that only FIVE people are doing the farming and they provide food to over one hundred families.  To top it off, they are doing it in a responsible way.

Having a delivery of new food every week is really pushing me to be sure to use everything and try new things.  We receive produce every week plus a dozen eggs.  I want to make sure we use all that we have and don’t let anything go to waste.  After the first delivery last Tuesday I set to work that night using up some eggs.

I did this all without a recipe, which is impressive for me.  I basically made little quiches without knowing it.  I preheated the oven to 350 and used my Misto {pretty much a cooking spray without all the fake stuff} to spray four muffin cups.  I whisked four eggs and a little bit of whole milk together {remember I have no measurements because I did this on the fly}.  Then I cut up some green onion, and garlic scapes and placed them in the bottom of four muffin cups.  I threw in a sprinkling of shredded cheese and some pieces of turkey and then ladled in the egg mixture until each cup was full.  Then I baked them for 15-20 minutes until they were all puffed up and a solid consistency.  I ended up taking two to work for my breakfast.  I really recommend this because it filled me up until lunch time {something that never happens…I’m always hungry at 10AM!}.  You could make a whole dozen very quickly and store them in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to eat them.  Definitely a great way to use up those eggs!  Now can anyone help me with a creative recipe for beet greens?


Sleepy Summer Vacation Spots August 10, 2011

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 5:00 pm
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Last week I took my “normal” week of vacation to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Back in the day, I used to spend the entire summer enjoying the fresh air, swimming, going to the range, and of course shopping. Now as an adult, I’m lucky to have one week to escape to my beloved lake house.

One of my favorite things that my family and I did this year was a day trip to Bayfield, Wisconsin. Located in the northern tip of Wisconsin on Lake Superior, Bayfield is known as the gateway to the Apostle Islands.

We stopped in at a very helpful tourist information building and picked up brochures galore about the ferry ride, local shops, restaurants and boat rentals. Since my mom and I were in the lead, we checked out the cute boutiques first and left my dad to explore the used bookstores. We met up at the Rittenhouse Inn and enjoyed a delightful lunch.

Bayfield looking out from our ferry

After lunch, we made a beeline to hop on the ferry to Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands and the only one with commercial development. We landed at La Pointe, on the island and walked to the history museum. My dad and I are both into history, so it was no surprise we spent about two and half hours exploring the different buildings. My favorite part of the museum was the interactive shipwreck finder that listed all of the recorded wrecks in Lake Superior. My dad, however, may argue that the involvement of local townspeople in the Civil War exhibit was the best part instead.

Mom and Dad outside the History Museum on Madeline Island

Next, we walked around the island in search of ice cream and meandered through a few of the local galleries and shops. Once we had our ice cream we sat on the dock and enjoyed the view of boats sailing off into the sunset. And before we knew it, it was time to board our ferry back to the mainland.

Bayfield and Madeline Island are definitely fun places to visit. Next time I go, I’m totally renting a kayak and exploring some of the caves on Lake Superior and hitting up a few wineries. Alas, I think that might have to wait until next summer but now I have something to look forward to!


Favorite Place October 14, 2010

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 1:40 am
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In case you were wondering, the Leinenkugel advertisements are true. There is something magical about the Northwood’s of Wisconsin. It starts with the air, crisp and clean with a hint of earthy delight that goes straight to your toes no matter the season.

In the summer, hummingbirds zip by with their fellow sparrows and gold finches racing around treetop to treetop. During the fall, a myriad of reds, oranges and yellows leave a breathtaking reflection in the water that even Monet would kill to paint. In the winter, chipmunks scurry leaving the smallest tracks in the snow I have ever seen. Spring brings back the life once hidden under four feet of snow; green grass, fawns, and my personal favorite – fishing.

In the 70’s before my parents were even married, my father and Opa (grandfather in German) bought a piece of land in the Northwood’s of Wisconsin. The property is in the shape of a pie piece with the largest portion abutting a small, fortyish acre lake. Atop a hill sits a little yellow house with a wrap-around deck built by my parents, grandparents and the help of a few aunts, uncles and neighbors.

There is no other place I’d rather be than sitting on that deck. I can count on our neighbor’s dog to visit, usually leaning on me with his tawny eyes pleading for a scratch behind his ears. I’ve got a cup of tea or beer – pending what time it is during the day.  My feet are propped up on the railing and I’m basking in the sun thinking about all the great memories I have made up at the lake.

It’s the place my Opa taught me how to fish, where I learned how to drive a car, won a few basketball tournaments and made my first s’more.

The lake house holds traditions like snowshoe baseball every Monday night with my Dad, shopping the Boardwalk with my Mom or going to the local Lion’s Beerfest as a family.

It’s a place that I want to share with people important in my life and a spot where I am looking forward to taking my own family. Even though I’ve been to many exceptional places in the world, the lake house will always be my favorite.

What’s your favorite place?

My favorite place in Northern Wisconsin


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