Almost An Island - Happenings in the Presque Isle Area

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Crab Lake Vintage Cottage Tour
Posted on Jul. 09, 2012

I know, I know, it's been weeks since I've posted.  Life has been incredibly busy up north, especially if I'm going to even attempt a few hours AWAY from the office.  All I can offer you by way of apology is a steady stream of scenes from the north I've been stockpiling, starting with photos from the Annual Vintage Cottage Walk, hosted by the Presque Isle Heritage Society.  This year was a tour of Crab Lake, beginning with the MacLean cottages, Bill Judd's Crab Bay Camp, and Norway Point, one of the first residences on Crab Lake built by the Schroeder family, now known as the Chron-Martin property.  Crab is one of the most beautiful lakes to be seen anywhere, and what a treat to tour some of these old residences!  All are scened from Crab Lake, including the awesome two-story treehouse on the MacLean property, nestled among 200+ year old hemlocks.  Now THAT is what I call location, location, location!







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Protecting the Nest Egg
Posted on Jun. 05, 2012

Beautiful night for kayaking last night, the waters were very still and with the sun setting later there is more time to be on the water.  My son and I were paddling around the North Crab island last night, and a very persistent loon was making all sorts of ruckus in the water next to us.  As we got closer to the shore I learned why, and cripes was I happy to have my telephoto lens with me!  Pictured is either mom or dad attending to their nest - loons are advanced creatures that share equally in child rearing - laying still as can be, so much so that we thought it might be a rock at first glance.  We quickly backed away so as not to disturb the parents-to-be, but not before I snapped a quick picture.

june2012_025.jpg  may2012_003.jpg


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The Finish Line
Posted on Jun. 04, 2012

A busy weekend in the northwoods for our family...starting with my niece Isabelle's 8th grade graduation on Friday.  The oldest of my mother's seven grandchildren, Isabelle carried on the Johnson family tradition by driving to herself to her own graduation, albeit not too far from where we were celebrating at the Carlin Club.  She is the raven haired beauty in black, and that's her younger cousin Aidan happily pictured in the middle.  My niece going to high school is hard enough to believe, that my son will soon follow suit is impossible!  They will be among the "tundra kids", those whose bus rides well exceed an hour...unlike the Minocqua "city" kids.  The tundra kids are also the ones that tend to go absent during hunting season.


Then Saturday morning it was down to that very high school to watch my daughter race in a 5K, she has been training with Girls on the Run all spring.  She'spictured with her running buddy Aunt Sarah (wife of brother Cal) who helped her reach her goal of "not walking" once.  I'm super proud, especially so because I HATE running, deplore running, always found running the mile in gym to be the worst day of school.  Between running the 5K and going under water without holding her nose, my daughter has already surpassed me in strength and talent - my work is done!


On Sunday morning we had a baby shower at my house, for Rose Byrnes who is due to meet her new bundle of joy in July.  Is Rose Byrnes my sister?  Not exactly, she's my ex-husband's wife but more importantly to me she's my kids' wonderful stepmom, and she is bringing a new baby brother into their lives.  Into all of our lives, really, and it's more wonderful than weird that I am so excited for her I threw her a party.  35 women descended upon the quiet of North Crab Lake yesterday, and with the help of a wicked champagne punch (virgin for Rose) and a few colorful shower games we were all laughing so hard our cheeks hurt, remembering our own baby stories and trying to prepare Rose for "what to expect".  I suspect she is so ready to cross her own finish line that we didn't scare her off.


By the time we cleaned up the last bit of wrapping paper I was too beat to get out into the kayak like I had planned, so instead I put my feet up on the deck and watched the sun setting over the lake.  Despite all of the noise coming off of our deck, our neighbor Bill Moersbacher caught a few nice walleye that afternoon while his wife was at the baby shower.  They were nice enough to invite us down for a shore lunch style dinner, one I enjoyed throughly.  Not only because I didn't have to catch it, clean it or cook it, but because it was with good friends who every time they come up north, remind us of how fortunate we are to live in the northwoods.  With the party planning behind me and the school year almost finished too, I'm ready for the next race!  Just not one where I actually do any running...




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Summer Has Begun!
Posted on May. 30, 2012

First off, apologies for not writing sooner but I've been saving up so much this one will be a novel. The properties are beginning to pop under contract around here which keeps us hopping as well, not to mention lots of great new listings coming onto the market.  The uptick in sales is a trend I love to see, but also the prices on newly listed properties seem to have taken into account what we've been experiencing in the market over the past four years.  That and the fact that borrowing money is incredibly affordable (fixed rates well under 3%) equals a wonderful time to be a buyer.  If you're looking for a real steal, check out our Brown Beaver Lake lots offering five acres & 250'+ feet of frontage, for $39,900 each!  We also have new listings coming up on Presque Isle, Carlin, Harris and Oxbow Lakes, including a log home that I am absolutely in love with...romantic interior, private setting, and owned by a fussy husband who has groomed the property so beautifully that I could move right in.  Just seat me next to a crackling fire in their sunken pit overlooking the lake, hand me a cold class of pinot grigio, and I'm good to go nowhere.


The weather has been pretty typical for this time of year, everything from frost to 85 degree weather to wind storms and beyond, all within the same day usually.  We had a heckuva wind storm last week, this downed tree pictured on E Armour Rd left me just enough room to squeak by and get the kids to school.  The musky opener was last week, and the warmer than average temperatures have meant a more active start to the season.  My 12 year old had one hit while crappie fishing, a big old girl that he is hoping to be ready for next time she appears.  There were more trailer rigs than regular vehicles in town last weekend, and everyone seems happy to be back on the water, whether by motor or muscle power.  The Lady Yakkers kayaked past my deck the other day while doing the Crab/North Crab/Armour/Horsehead Lake trail, and let me just say they earn their name, lol, I heard them clear as a bell.  We did some yakking of our own, pictured is our view from an excellent sand beach we found in front of a state-owned island on Armour Lake.


I do love this time of year, as friends and part time neighbors come back up north.  We live at the end of a road where the only other people are second home owners from Illinois, so most of the time we have the place to ourselves.  Memorial Day Weekend is always the exception, and this past Friday when we returned from fishfry at Bent's Camp, our neighbors lights were on for the first time since last Labor Day.  I've spent the majority of my life living at the end of long gravel roads, so the sound of a lawnmower humming or screen doors slamming is actually kind of neat for me, as is the sound of Tommy Martel knocking at the door to ask if my kids can come out to a real neighborhood!  But actually the first sound I heard was Stu Martel's motor rumbling at 6am on Saturday, after being away since Labor Day he was obviously eager to have another meet & greet with the fish of North Crab.


What else can I tell you...Skids is having a sale on moccassins, my daughter and I each got a new pair over the weekend, red for her and tan for me.  While in Boulder Junction we enjoyed our first Chicago dog at Mag Dog Jake's,  and we also were sure to make it to Skyview Monday night for the first Mexican night of the season.  Then Tuesday night wing dings at the PI Pub, and once you're past humpday the up north eating extraveganza continues with two-for-one prime rib back at Skyview.


In other news, Peggy was late for floor time today, while driving the grandkids to daycare this morning they came upon a baby porcupine whose mom had been killed by a car.  The little guy was huddled by his dead mama and shooting off his mini-quills when they came near, but after securing some gloves Peggy and kids got him into a cat carrier and they took him to the Northwoods Animal Hospital.  Turns out he is about two months old, and although very dehydrated he will live a long & happy life, sure to come back at some point and nail one of our dogs in the face with his fully grown quills, at which point we'll be making another trip to Northwoods Animal Hospital.  Ah, life is cyclical....


Also pictured is Mabel, who has been enjoying accompanying me on property tours, as long as the sunroof is open! 








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Posted on May. 18, 2012

It's a beautiful day in the northwoods...76 and sunny and the forecast is for slightly warmer tomorrow.  I for one CAN'T WAIT to spend some time on the water this weekend!  While kayaking a few days ago, the kids and I found a sandy swimming beach off of one of Armour Lake's state owned island, and tomorrow I'm packing the picnic basket, fishing poles (and camera) but leaving my cell phone behind...ah the perks of living where others vacation.  Pictured is a photo I snapped while exploring, check out the view I will be enjoying on Saturday!

Lots of people are up north this weekend, the warmer temps have jump started fishing season and there are fishing rigs everywhere...more boats and trailers than regular vehicles.  Our neighbors Bill and Amy are up north this weekend, and we'll be fish frying tonight at Zastrows.  Hopefully I'll have several fishing photos for you on Monday, enjoy the weekend!



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Opening Weekend
Posted on May. 16, 2012

I've been meaning to post since opening fishing weekend, which I'm ashamed to say was almost two weeks ago...  technical difficulties have suddenly ensued with the photo uploads, but after a meeting with my computer guru this morning plans are in the making to upgrade the blog so readers can receive new post alerts and comment as well...perhaps then I won't feel like I'm talking to myself, LOL!?

My kids were out bright and early on opening day, and have had the fishing bug ever since.  It's getting harder and harder to keep them in for homework after school when the pier is soooo close, but soon school will be out for summer.  We can't wait.  Until then Aidan and Grandpa Jack had fun fishing the Presque Isle Walleye Tournament last trophy fish but a good time was had by all.

Pictured are Aidan and Estelle with their first catch of the season, a Presque Isle Lake bass.  Also pictured is my brother Adam with an opening day walleye from a few years back, a real whopper!

kids_fishing.JPG  pi_lake_walleye.jpg

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Goose Crossing
Posted on May. 02, 2012

It's been a lot of playing catch up after returning from the 4th grade class trip to Madison, where we had a whirlwind of fun and learning...I have pictures waiting to be uploaded but they're down on the to-do list.  We don't have the lush green yet like Madison does, but I can report that while the trees haven't fully bloomed, BOTH of my kids went swimming last night, the earliest ever.  This is never a planned event - it usually starts with some fishing or exploring at the shore, then a little wading, then before you know it my kids have are stripping down to their underwear and daring one another to be the first to leap off of the dock.  It made my heart happy to hear the splashing of water again down at the lake, although they came back up to the house with blue lips and goosebumps and needed to be corraled into a hot bath before dinner.

I tried getting a photo this morning while waiting for the traffic to clear on E Armour Road.  Not the kind of traffic you may be thinking of, this was a momma and poppa goose crossing from a small pond south of the road into Armour Lake on the north side of the road, not a very long walk for us humans but I imagine care must be taken when you're tending a herd of baby geese.  The chicks were a bright lime green color, tiny and fluffy and all marching in a line, and by the time I managed to get the camera view to pop up on my cell (stupid smart phone!) Mom and Dad had hustled the eight chicks over the shoulder of the road, and onto the forest ground where they blended perfectly with the newly sprouted blades of grass.  Hopefully their coloring will keep them free from predators as they make their trek into Armour Lake today.  Whatever your religious convictions may be, its moments like this that affirm my own belief that a wondrous intention exists in the natural world.  As I am busy updating blogs, websites and putting properties onto the MLS at my office, I'll be thinking of that little family and their trip to the lake, and wondering what kind of traffic I'll see on my way home.




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Rain, Rain...
Posted on Apr. 25, 2012

On the one hand, it's been a quiet couple of weeks in the northwoods, although our little office has really been hopping with sellers wanting to be on the market before the selling season begins, and happily there are buyers wanting to enjoy their new getaways in time for summer. 

At home there is always a lot of raking and weeding and cleaning and everything else that needs attention after the snow feels like I've been going on all cylinders (sp?) lately!  I was down in Chicago for a couple of days seeing family, Wauconda area to be more exact, and the sheer amount of choices - places to eat, drink, shop - always amazes me.  But I did my best, we enjoyed chili wings at Lindy's Landing and mussels at an Italian places called Gianni's that was awesome. 

I do like the big city lights once in awhile, but truth be told I'm pretty happy to be home.  Last night there was just a silver crescent of a moon and many bright stars, and the lake was so still it held the reflection of it all just perfectly.  Yesterday was a good day, a nice couple closed on a sweet lake cottage in the morning and they were nearly giddy with the excitement of it all, and in the afternoon I attended my first track meet at North Lakeland School as a parent.  The last track meet I had been to before that was as a knobby-kneed eighth grader but Coach Dan is still there, he even gave me a yell to "Pick those knees up Johnson!!!" for old times sake.  It's my son's first year on the team, and gosh I loved seeing that kid tearing down the track, the wind in his hair and a huge, unabashed smile on his face...pretty much the best thing a mom can lays upon.  The night sky reflected upon North Crab after everyone has been tucked into bed was a pretty close second though, just about the perfect way to end a day if you ask me.  Nothing I could get a picture of, mind you, you'll just have to imagine it for yourself. 

Tomorrow I head back out into the world to travel with my daughter's 4th grade class to Madison; where we will visit the capital, go to the zoo, tour botanical gardens and much more.  But as always, I know I'll be happy to be home sweet home when it's over.

Pictured below is the last of the sun before it started raining this morning, but we needed it.



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Just Go Already!
Posted on Apr. 16, 2012

Around here they say if you don't like the weather, wait twenty minutes. This is true for Wisconsin in general, but even more so in the Northwoods. Following is a diary of my early morning thoughts today as I experienced a wide range of weather while bringing Mabel (dog) out to potty. Wait, wait... why am I BRINGING my dog out and not LETTING my dog out, you ask? After all, I live on five acres at the end of a gravel road and there's not much traffic to worry about. What the heck kind of flooty tooty dog do I have anyway. Well, we take Mabel the goldendoodle out (on a leash no less) because she is afraid of just about every noise sudden activity you can imagine, of which there are plenty in the northwoods. The leash isn't on so she doesn't run away, it's on so she doesn't run back inside. If left to her own desires she'd pee in the comfort of our bedroom, thank you very much. Anyhoo, after a somewhat restless night of lightning and a few bursts of rain, Mabel was whining to go out bright and early this morning, so out I went. Following were my thoughts:

6:03am Wow, it's warm out here. A little brighter than usual this early in the morning too. Maybe it will be a sunny spring day after all... perhaps sandals will finally be in order I think it's finally safe to put the boots away. Hmm, the wind is picking up. Was that a tree snapping? Great, now Mabel's spooked. No way she's going to pee... I'll have to hit her reset button by coming back out in a little while. Oh well, not so bad to have to come out twice with nice weather like this.

6:35am On second thought, that sky looks a little more green than yellow, and where is the sun actually? Whoa, this is NOT sandal weather. Need to rethink footwear. And the sky is definitely green, actually it's dark green, and this wind... jeez it's freezing out here Mabel better hurry up and do her business, I'm freezing my huppa off out here... finally she's sniffing, she's circling, she's assuming the position, come on come on. Seriously, sudden sheets of rain!? Not even a warning drop? Oh come on Mabel, don't hesitate, it's just rain you are a dog for pete's sake aren't you... quit pulling the leash Mabel, don't you understand the sooner you go the sooner we go in and get out of this torrential rain? Oh h-e-double hockey sticks, I'm getting soaked, we'll try again in a few minutes.

6:59am The good news is Mabel finally peed, the bad news is that it was in the snow. Obviously the boots will have to go into storage some other time....I think Mabel has the right idea as to how THIS day is best spent. Come on winter, just go already.


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It's a Beautiful Mor-nin'...
Posted on Apr. 14, 2012

Oh my word, it is a lovely morning in the northwoods.  We got some rain last night but the sun broke through a few hours ago, and it's like everything was scrubbed clean and new.  The lakes are positively glistening, there's a sweet smelling breeze and the birds are twittering away.  As I was driving to work today Hwy B looked like a wet black ribbon winding its way through a spring wood positively on the brink of bursting into summer. 

I love this time of year, when every morning seems to offer up a subtle surprise to those looking to notice.  The hardwoods are just beginning to bud, and what was a bare, grey forest of bark yesterday is softening to a lime green haze today, but that is also fleeting, soon the woods will be thick and lush with a deep green again.  Then the lakes will seem even bluer than they already do...this year I'm planning on flying Old Glory off the end of our dock.  My husband says we'll look like summer people if I put a flag up but I don't see that as a good enough reason not to, heck it might be fun to feel more like a summer person.  Except if I was, I'd be missing the slow journey into the next season that is being offered up to me each morning, and I wouldn't like that.  Summer is right around the corner, but getting there is half the fun.

Pictured are maple trees (or so I believe from my fourth grade leaf book) ready to bud.

leaf2.jpg BudShots161.jpg


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