Michigan Fishing Resorts | Cisco Chain | Wilderness Bay Lodge & Resort |Laura – Good Morning From Wilderness Bay!!


Good morning from Wilderness Bay!! It is a beautiful crisp morning here on the lake.  Yesterday, not a cloud in the sky.  I was out playing catch with Stu (our pup) and stopped to listen to the silence.  I looked up and an eagle was soaring above.  I love watching Eagles because it appears they soar wherever the wind takes them, but they are always moving with a purpose in their mind.  (ie to swoop down to eat our cat.)

It has been so long since I have done a blog, I am another year older! I celebrated my 50th bday in November. Dan planned an incredible weekend in Minneapolis, full of fancy restaurants and a spa day arranged for me.  We stayed at a gorgeous hotel. Our friend Tricia held down the fort at the resort with Juls. She has been a Godsend, without her help we could never do these get -aways and they are so good four us. We went mid -week as the resort was full with a family reunion on my actual birthday. Little did I know the family was MY FAMILY!! Dan managed to completely surprise me!

All my brothers and sisters, their spouses, and my mom and dad were here when we got home from our trip. They came from Chicago, Minneapolis and Rochester MN. We did a progressive dinner and moved from cabin to cabin which was really cool! (A great idea for any one looking for a fun thing to do with their family or friends here at the resort.) We had a tailgating party out in parking lot with a bon fire and a tent and burgers on the grill.  My dad put together a “slide show” which is something we did frequently in my home growing up.  We would all gather in the family room and watch slides from our childhood.  My dad would bring down dixie cups of pop for the five of us kids.  Each cup would have one ice cube in it. Some of you reading this might not even know what a “slide projector” is. But my dad brought the old screen and projector with him here to the resort. The smell of the screen is even special to me. Dan planned all of this without me knowing any of it.  I was spoiled rotten that week, and I loved every minute of it.  I felt so loved.  I don’t like this aging business, and to be honest I fight it quite a bit. BUT, I am blessed beyond belief and life is precious. I need to remember to be grateful for every year I have on this earth.  Not everyone gets that opportunity. 


50th Birthday

Jane, Suz, Laura’s Dad “Gumbo”, Laura, Laura’s Mom “Polly”, Bill, Mary Clare

It has been slow here at the resort.  The store and our bookings have slowed to an uncomfortable pace. Everyone that stops in the store, assures us that “this is what happens up here.”  We get that, but it is still a bit scary. We still open the store every day at 8am, ready for business.  We want to be here, be present and ready for our customers.  Some days we only have one customer which is a drastic difference to our busy summer season.  But, we are building our business, and if that one customer had a good experience here that is what matters.  Customer service has been our number one priority since the day we opened.  It will continue to be so.  We want anyone that walks through our doors to feel welcome and important, because they are to us.  With out that one person, which hopefully leads to more people, we couldn’t be here to live out our dream.

Part of “our dream” was to have heat that works without getting up at 2am to go add water to the boiler as Dan did all last winter.  Remember one of my very first blogs, I talked about a crying spell as I woke up to no heat but the ability to see our breath.  The dog had puked five pounds of jelly beans.  Well, several thousand dollars later, if the dog pukes again, I will be cleaning it up in the warmth of our home.  Wahoo!! It took two 14 hour days for the guys to install. They worked non stop… Interestingly enough the name of their business is “STOPS.” They were great guys and did a really nice job.  So now we have heat and sleep… a very nice combo with a very large price tag. 

Our friends have a beautiful home here that they recently purchased. They were kind enough to give us the wood from their kitchen floor that they tore up.  Dan will be able to put new flooring into two cabin kitchens and our own bathroom with this wood.  It is gorgeous and will bring a beautiful richness to the cabins.

The new septic system is still in the design plans but still on track to have it started as soon as ground thaws! To say it will be nice to get that done and put behind us is an understatement.  It is quite and undertaking to put a brand new septic system in for an entire resort.  All the while being mindful of nearby neighbors but trying to figure out how to make it work for us and the survival of our business.  Nurses don’t have to figure out that end of pooping.  It is all new to me.  Thank God Dan is knowledgeable about this kind of thing, I don’t get it…  but I will make it look cute when it’s done with some decorative touch!

We did have some groups of hunters come through!! Some used to stay here at Wilderness Bay and stopped into see what we have done with the place.  We hope they keep comin’ back!! Our friend Dick Bories, who I don’t know very well yet seems to be a really good man to the core. He has a following of sorts. Dick used to teach, and some of his former students have been coming up here for years.  A group of his friends set up a hunting camp nearby.  Talk about a man cave! A tent complete with stove, beds, heat, etc.  They had good luck and got some nice bucks!! They were staying just a couple miles down the road from us! We had a promo here that whoever the first person was to show us proof of gettin’ a buck got a Wilderness Bay hat.  Well Dick sent his wife with pictures, so that qualified. He is now the proud owner of one of our hats.  As always, Dick, wear the Wilderness Bay gear responsibly and act in a respectful manner while wearing our attire. (just kidding of course.)

Praying for snow!

We are praying for big snows to get some snowmobile action! When it snows here, it is literally like being in a snow globe, you know the kind with little pine trees in it that you shake and abnormally large flakes surround the globe?? That is exactly what it is like here. Not a sound to be heard except the sound of the snow crunching underfoot.  On my drive to work, I don’t turn the radio on. I take in the beauty as I drive in silence.  On a recent morning, I drove by a ton of little baby pine trees, the smallest ones in front and they got bigger as the rows went back.. for some reason, it struck me that the big ones were like their parents and the babies were “Christmas trees in training.”  The little trees were weighted down with wet heavy snow.  The sun was peaking through, and the big trees stood proudly behind the little ones.

Holidays are coming!

The main lodge is decorated for Christmas.  I’m not going to lie and say I don’t miss decorating our beautiful home in Iowa, complete with stockings hanging on the fireplace mantle.  However, we have turned our cozy little home into just that .. I had a vision of how this place might look at Christmas when we first moved here.  I wanted those fresh pine “kissing balls” strung with red velvet ribbon down the span of the front porch of main lodge (our home.) Well, when our daughter Jen was here, we drove to Minocqua to get them. My excitement was squashed as I found out they were $42.00 apiece!! I can’t get home and tell Dan I spent $170.00 on balls!!! Lol. So, Jen, (who is like Martha Stewart,) and I went to Walmart and got supplies to make them!! Dan, went out into the woods and collected downed branches for us.  Four hours (and lots of laughs later, all four balls made for a total cost of $32.00! I LOVE them and gives me a smile when I see them as we had fun making them together.

 Our tree is up, stockings hung creatively, and our North Pole village glows warm at night.  We have not gotten that out in years, because it’s a pain.  This year, our granddaughter Amy is coming so Dan put it up just for her.  There is always candles burning smelling of pine and peppermint. Dan always cooking something that smells amazing. ( I screw up minute rice, so I don’t cook much, but I have been known to bake just for the smell of it..)  When the kids walk in the door, I want them to be hit with smells of home.  One of my favorite things to do as a mom and wife, is to make our home inviting, warm, comfortable and cozy. I want my family to know that no matter what is going on their lives, that when they come home, they will get refueled with love and laughter and the beauty of the Northwoods.  Really, I want that for our guest too, except I won’t kiss them on the forehead when they get here….

Juls is one of Santa’s special Elves….

Our oldest daughter Jen, her hubby Mike and granddaughter came and surprised us for Thanksgiving.  Drew came from Minneapolis completing our entire family being together.  I have to tell you, I love nothing more that that.  I am so blessed. You know how people ask, if you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one thing with you?? I’d take my family.  Like any family, we have been through trials and tribulations, some that were so tough, I wasn’t sure we would all laugh together again.  But as always, our core love prevails. I cherish the love, the laughs, and the hugs more than I ever have. 

Drew and Jen

Amy’s first sled ride!

Dan’s turkey cheeseball for Thanksgiving with Jen making fun of him.

Nature Note!

On my nature note, the loons have left the lake!! Yay!!! I watched them every day, as a mom, I was so concerned they wouldn’t make it out of the frigid water.  They were small and looked scared.  In all actuality, I’m sure they were just fine, and knew exactly what day they were planning on departing.  All the juveniles were having their last hurrah before going to be with mom and dad. Had all the fish to themselves, livin’ large. We have also had red fox sightings.  An otter was swimming lazily in the bay before the ice came in. The deer have been munching on our older potatoes from the store.  I walked out the other day, and there was a doe, crunching on an entire potato.  Do you know how loud that was, her cheeks full, moving back and forth, chewing with her mouth open.. drooling.. I love animals.. they appreciate the little things in life so much.

If you are looking for a get away to be immersed in serenity during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, come visit!! We would love to have you.  Calling all snowmobilers, readers, puzzle doers, snowshoers, ice fishermen, or just plain snugglers.  We have what you’re looking for!! Come stay with us! We welcome you with open arms.  I will even serve you warm brownies fresh from the oven. 

Our family here at Wilderness Bay wishes you and your loved ones, a happy, safe holiday season.  May it be filled with joy and love. Be good to each other and remember what is really important in life!!



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!





  • Janet Evans 12/04/2017 at 3:35 pm

    Dan, Hi from a former Snyder friend. I love reading the blogs and am so very glad you guys are living your dream! Take care and stay warm!


    • Wilderness Bay 12/06/2017 at 5:02 pm

      Janet, Thanks for reaching out!!! We appreciate the support!! Happy Holidays to you and your family!! Dan


  • Don 12/04/2017 at 3:38 pm

    Great, love you guys. Wish you great success. Happy Holidays. Love you Juls.


  • Anonymous 12/04/2017 at 5:45 pm

    Greetings from your neighbors…the Tuttle’s. I am overdue to come down now that the summer season is over and we are in a bit of lull before the winter fun!
    Love the “kissing balls”. I was amazed at the price also and had to reinvent them ! Will have to send a picture! Can’t wait to drive by and see yours. I head that way next week. I love your stories of family and pure joy of observing nature, up here behind the “pine forest curtain”. I travel a lot and have not tired in my 5 years of many miles of the majestic beauty!
    Happy Holidays and welcome to the “50’s decade”.
    Kathy Tuttle


    • Wilderness Bay 12/06/2017 at 5:04 pm


      What a special treat to see you today. Thanks so much for the flowers! The girls will love them!! (I do too!)
      Appreciate you being such a great neighbor!!
      Dan (Laura and Juls too!)


  • Marion Bories 12/09/2017 at 10:37 pm

    Laura, I knew you were talented, but I just discovered your blog (website), and now appreciate your writing skills…very well done 🙂
    Marion Bories


  • Lori Ferguson 12/14/2017 at 11:45 am

    Absolutely love your blog! Laura, you are doing a beautiful job of communicating the warmth and hospitality of your new venture. I would LOVE to come up for a long weekend to see you guys and experience the beauty and serenity of the UP. Workin’ on David. Sending the entire Hance family so much love this holiday season….xo


    • Wilderness Bay 12/19/2017 at 4:25 pm

      Thank you so much Lori!! That sure means a lot to us especially coming from you!! Merry Christmas!


  • Suz Baldus-Strauss 12/15/2017 at 7:34 am

    All I can say is…anyone reading your blog gets a peak into who you and your family really are. The humor, love and gratefulness is threaded throughout your story. I love you guys and am proud of the way you hang together and follow your dreams. Blessings your way! Your sister, Suz


    • Wilderness Bay 12/19/2017 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks so much Suz!! You and Joe have been some of our biggest fans and we appreciate the support! Merry Christmas!! See you soon we hope!!


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