It has been a while since I have blogged. Things have drastically slowed down here at Wilderness Bay, but we manage to stay busy!! We have our new Fall hours in place which has allowed us to close the store at 6pm and eat dinner before 9 pm which is a nice luxury. The biggest news… we have Sunday afternoons off! It almost doesn’t feel right to have a few hours where we are not working. It is amazing what you get used to… We have used this time to leave the resort as a family!! We took a trip to Bond Falls, we have gone out to lunch and watched football and eat burgers… things that people do on weekends. It has felt like a special treat to have this opportunity.
Dan has been doing some fall projects, covering boats, putting a snow plow on an ATV, mowing leaves. He had someone come to look at the boiler to see the cost to replace it. If any of you have been reading our blog since we started, you might remember that the boiler caused Dan to have many sleepless nights and caused me to cry a few times. We want to see if we can replace that beast before the snow flies.
It has been chilly here with frost, and cold rain. Today is the perfect day for football, chili, your favorite sweatshirt and a pumpkin spice apple candle to be burning all day. I love fall and everything about it. It has been gorgeous here with the leaves changing. My drive into work early in the morning and early evening provide me with two breathtaking views. The morning sun casting down on the brightly colored leaves, just starting to shine on the lakes as the steam evaporates off the water. Sometimes the orange and yellow leaves are spiraling down to land on the wet pavement. The deer are out munching on their breakfast. Sporting their new smooth sleek tan coat that matches the bark on the trees perfectly. The other day, two fawns were following their mama, scampering across the wet pavement and one slipped and fell like Bambi on ice. I waited patiently for him to get back on his spindly legs and catch up to mom. On my journey home, the afternoon sun is warm. I drive with my sunroof open. There is nothing like the smell of warm leaves… and I love the sound of them crunching under my wheels. When Juls rides with me, I make her put down her I pad to look out the window. I told her,” people pay to come here to see this beauty, and we are so lucky because we live here.” Her reply, “yep, it’s pretty..” and back to the I pad .. I am not sure this beauty has the same effect on Juls as it does on me but I want to share it with her because it’s so special to me.
The leaves are past their prime and are falling at a rapid rate with the wind and rain today. We have heard both snow and 60’s in the forecast for the week….we will probably have both because that is what happens up here!!
We had a great September of bookings in the cabins and now things have started to slow down. It is our first season, so we are learning, but there has been a dramatic slow-down in the store. We will have to figure out how to stock so we are not wasteful and throwing money away. We still want to be available but want to figure out what makes sense for our hours etc. It is a learning curve. Kind of scary to go from being so busy we could barely chew our food because we had a customer to get to etc, to being able to write this blog uninterrupted down here while I work in the store. Finding the balance is key. We have been saying that since we got here.
The new septic system has been hanging over our heads like a black cloud. We just want to get it started and be done with it. However, there is so much that goes into it and so many players involved. We knew it had to be replaced when we purchased the resort but did not realize how difficult the entire process was going to be. There are engineers, test digs, health department, and last but not least neighbors. For a place this size, close to the lake, in the woods with hills, flushing the toilet cannot be taken for granted, lol. It will all work out, somehow. It is one of those things, that is not on our timing but at the mercy of all players involved. It has probably been the biggest stressor thus far in our journey.
We got to get away last weekend to visit our daughter Jen, son in law Mike and grandbaby Amy. Our friends Tricia and her hubby Tony held down the fort here. Without their help, important breaks like visiting family couldn’t happen. We are so grateful for their help. Time spent with our family, especially our grandbaby, have to stay a priority to fuel our souls and fill our hearts with love. Then we can come back refreshed to deal with things like boilers, a problem boat motor, and new flooring in the cabin kitchens.
A friend of mine recently asked me, “is this more than you guys thought it was going to be?” That is a loaded question. Reflecting back to move in day to now, there has been such a mixed bag of highs and lows. The unload of the moving trucks in the zero degree temperature, watching all of our belongings come off the truck making a split second decision if stuff goes to storage or in our much smaller new home… We had to store so much! We downsized considerably as we live upstairs in the lodge, which used to be considered a cabin rental. It is now our cozy home, with about 1/3 of the décor we had in our home in Iowa.
There are things about our experience thus far that I would not trade for the world. A few of those being, a chance to build our business together with my husband. A chance to have our son come and help us for four months who ended up being a huge part of the success of our summer. Meeting so many really awesome customers and guest who have stayed here has been rewarding. We are anxiously awaiting the return visit of some of our new found friends that will be coming back next summer to stay with us. Hearing all the really nice things people have had to say about what we are trying to create here, keeps us motivated and driven.
There have been tears, I am not going to lie. The days when the heat did not work when we first moved in. The issues with the septic system. The times when we felt totally overwhelmed. One night I came home from working 12 hours in Iron River at the hospital, (so after the commute, I had been gone for 14 hours and was exhausted. ) I got home and was helping Dan close up the store. I was hearing about boat issues, the problems of the day that had popped up here while I was at work. I was vacuuming and crying at the same time, and I said to Dan, “we can’t do this.” He loves it when I have those mini break downs. But, you pause, breathe, go to bed and know tomorrow is a new day, and things will be ok. We have to stay at it, day after day because we were open 7 days a week, 12 hours a day…which turned into 14-16 hour days. But, there is a huge sense of accomplishment. We don’t settle. Every guest deserves the same experience as our very first guest that stayed with us. If we are tired, we buck up and carry on. We support each other. It always seems, when I am feeling down, Dan steps up to the plate and vice versa. We are a team. We are learning.
It is such a gamut of emotions. We have grown together. We have started to get a routine. We take turns letting each other sleep an hour extra here and there. We decide as we lay down at night, who is going to let the puppy out at 330am. Dan said to me, “why does Stu always need to go out so early in the morning?” I find this funny, because he asks me this same question nearly every day. My answer, “Hon, Stu has never once told me why, I asked him and he did not answer, it was weird.” Lol…
We are only just beginning. Over all, we do love it… our first season was more successful than we anticipated. The good far outweighs the bad. It is scary and exciting all at once. Finding the balance of work, business, my nursing job and keeping our family first and foremost as our priority is tricky. But we are making it work. There are lots of laughs and sometimes just quiet hugs. We have had tremendous outpouring of support from our family. And the relationships we are building with our guests, customers and community here in the Northwoods has been really fulfilling. We have so many ideas and things we want to do to make Wilderness Bay even better! We have hopes and dreams for this place. Team Hance is ready for our first winter season. Bring on the hunters and snowmobilers!!
Wilderness Bay Lodge and Resort is a family oriented facility located in Watersmeet, Michigan on Thousand Island Lake within the Cisco chain of lakes. We offer snowmobiling and ice fishing in the winter months and game fishing for muskie, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie and bluegill in the spring, summer and fall months. We offer waterfront cabins, snowmobiles, boat rental, a candy shop and convenience store where you can purchase hunting and fishing licenses. We pride ourselves on being family oriented with the desire to a place that you will call your home away from home. New owners Dan and Laura Hance are excited for this opportunity. Dan comes to this resort with thirty years of experience within the hospitality field and Laura will continue nursing with over twenty five years of knowledge and experience within the health care field. Dan and Laura want their love for people, their work ethic and combined talents to make Wilderness Bay their dream come true. We look forward to hearing from you!