Michigan Fishing Resorts | Wilderness Bay Lodge & Resort |Laura (and Dan) July is HOPPIN’! We got our Beer and Wine License!


Hello from Wilderness Bay! Things are hoppin’ here! The cabins have been filled with guest! Nothing like pulling into our place and seeing a line- up of boat trailers! That’s our kind of parking lot! There have been lots of camp fires under the bright stars.  At one point every fire pit down the row was fired up! Boat motors can be heard coming and going and then shortly there -after the smell of fish frying as I am walking by one of the cabins.  One of our guest from the Meyer family let the “big one get away”…it was their last night here.  I did offer grief counseling but he declined.  The fisher men and women have been having some good luck though!!

I will get to my nature update straight away as I have a big resentment I am harboring… THE DEER ATE ALL MY POTTED FLOWERS. I feel better already for venting. But seriously, they even ate the hanging plants on our porch! The nerve! I have a vision of deer in stilettos (so they can reach the higher pots,) traipsing back and forth across our porch like they are at a buffet at the Golden Corral. Our resort deer has been visiting each cabin at night eating watermelon rinds, strawberries and hot dog buns.  I do believe it is the same one that “attacked me” late one night while I was taking the garbage out.  He ran at me and I threw the garbage bag and told Dan I was just assaulted by a deer…

We were out with our friends on a sunset pontoon ride the other night and saw six loons together! We turned the motor off and watched them. I love when they go under the water and then pop up like it’s a surprise party every time they surface!!  Juls was doing her “loon calls” which sounded more like a bad actress dying on a soap opera.  The loons answered back!! It was great and Juls was proud of her new found talent.

I will end my nature section with the mosquitoes! Remember that “Off” bug spray repellent commercial in the 70’s?  A man stuck his incredibly hairy arm into a clear plastic box full of mosquitoes and none of them landed on his arm because he was wearing “Off.” I think those mosquitoes in that box had to be sedated! The mosquitoes here in the Northwoods do not care about bug repellent, they are immune to it. Sometimes after I let the dogs out at night, I check my teeth to assure I don’t have mosquitos in my teeth!

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The “Septic guys” were here to assess the grounds and go over ideas and plans for our new septic system.  It will be so nice to get this done and under our belts… no pun intended. We are in discussion with our surrounding neighbors so as not to infringe on them.  We are trying to be conscientious all the way around. It is vital that we get our new septic system in to continue to have our guest enjoy the total experience while they are here, and for me to be able to flush the toilet with reckless abandon!!

We had friends come to visit from Clive Iowa! Kendi is Juls’ Godmother. We were nurses together 18 years ago and have remained close friends.  When we get together, no matter how much time has passed, we pick up right where we left off.  A true sign of a good friend. We are such good friends, we both decided to have a baby the same week and were in the hospital in labor at the same time! Actually, I stretched that, it was a coincidence, lol. Juls loved seeing her good friends Sheridan and Carter.  We had lots of laughs, good food, (including Iowa corn,) a sunset cruise and s’mores around the fire pit.  I even went off my low carb diet to eat a flaming marshmallow! It is not summer until you’ve eaten a chunk of burning sugar! For my next gig, I might be one of those people in the circus that puts those flaming poles in their mouth.  We all felt a bit empty when our friends left.  They know us to the core, and they’re just easy to be around.  We are blessed to have friends like The Powell family.

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Juls and Drew have been working hard in the store every day! Juls helped a man get some minnows the other day.  He wanted “a dozen,” She gave him “12 dozen.” That’s a bit of a difference. Drew asked her, “Juls, how many are in a dozen?” her reply, “oh, I don’t know.” Juls is a great sales person. The man was so sweet, he paid for them. We ended up making it up to him later in the week. Drew is working on a more professional brochure for us! We were impressed with his mad skills! It has been so great having him here to help us.  He is doing a great job as Juls job coach too! He is so sweet and patient… Juls called him a “hard ass.” I am pretty sure that Drew has never been called that in his life.

We have been getting all kinds of nostalgic candy in “Juls Sweet Shop.” Candy cigarettes are flying off the shelves.  As a nurse and a mom, I found the need to put a disclaimer on the box that says “kids, don’t smoke the real ones, only the candy ones.” I love that the kids (and adults acting like big kids,) are coming in here and we are starting to recognize repeat sugar eaters!! I am hoping they remember Wilderness Bay and “that cute candy store that had the big glass jars full of colorful candy!) When I was a kid we went to a resort in Minnesota every year. “Leech Lake Journey’s End.” I still remember the lodge store.  I would get some change from my parents and go up to the lodge and get a pack of “Juicy Fruit.” I will never forget that.  Those are the kind of memories and traditions, I hope we are making here.

We are starting to get some bookings for next summer!! These are families that want to come back to Wilderness Bay!  Some of them are guest that are re- booking after staying with us this summer. Some are previous Wilderness Bay guest (before our time) that have met us and want to give Wilderness Bay a try again! The resort had been closed for a year and a half when we bought it.  We sent out letters to previous guest, informing them their vacation destination was re-opening under new ownership.  We did get a handful of calls from that mass mailing.  I have to say that our prayers are being answered that people are re booking for next year and some guest want to come back to the place they had “come for years.”  We get comments like, “we are so glad you guys are open again…” We have been welcomed with enthusiasm and excitement. People really want us to succeed and “see us make it.” We are still working just as hard as the day we moved here.  We have gotten very kind compliments and good reviews on Facebook etc.  We still read every one… when I get home from work, the first thing I ask Dan ,Juls and Drew is “how are our guest doing?”, “did anyone catch any fish?” We truly care about their entire experience here, from the moment they pull into the driveway until they leave and the dust from the gravel driveway settles.  Sometimes I wonder if we will care about every single detail like this years down the road…it takes a lot of energy and hard work.  I think we will… It’s just how we are. We are committed to making this work and have put our heart and soul into it!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this everyone!! Total strangers have come and introduced themselves and commented on the blog. We appreciate your time, your thoughts, your comments, and your kind hearts.  Someday, I would love to get every single person who has read this blog together in a big group to personally thank them for caring so much. It would be fun to have everyone wear a “Wilderness Bay T-shirt” and get a drone pic from above as we all hold hands and form a circle around the entire resort. This is how my minds works, I am a sensitive mush who appreciates kindness and compassion and big dreams. The pic idea is far-fetched but it makes me smile to picture that scene in my mind.  It is people just like you that help make this dream a reality. It means the world to us and our entire Hance family. 

PS from Dan:  We got our Liquor License on Friday afternoon!  You may think we are making a big deal about alcohol and I guess we are.  It took us 5 months of gentle prodding, help from an awesome employee of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and finally support from Rawley at State Rep Dianda’s office to get it across the finish line.  The state of Michigan does not make it easy for you to sell beer and wine!  When you are the only convenience store on the Cisco Chain of Lakes which has 15 lakes, one bar/restaurant and a lot of thirsty boaters, fishermen, and vacationers it’s hard to see people come and leave empty handed knowing they will jump in their car and drive 20 minutes in to town.  On top of that, our summer season only goes from Memorial Day to Labor Day and when half of that sales opportunity just slips away, you can’t get it back!  This is just another piece of the puzzle that contributes to our livelihood.  I hadn’t even started unloading the truck and we had our first customer!

My next biggest hurdle is navigating through the Septic System design and construction.  The Upper Peninsula Health Department has had our Resort on their radar for years.  Previous owners had danced around the project but never got it done so we are determined to see it through.  There are very strict guidelines on what you can and can’t do and you must be 75 feet from any water source.  Having a creek flowing through the middle of our property doesn’t help much!  We are thankful to have a good working relationship with our neighbors and are hoping to find a good solution that has a positive outcome for all involved.  

We still have so much to learn about the resort business, but I cannot tell you how much it has meant to us to have so many people compliment us along our journey.  We must be doing some things right.  What I can tell you is how awesome it is to have my partner, my best friend and mother of my kids by my side.  I allowed our 25th Wedding anniversary to go by with little fanfare.  I hated that I didn’t do something more special for Laura, but it has been one of the busiest times in our lives.   (Although, I guess buying a resort is quite a bit of fanfare….)   I’m so fortunate to have someone so special in my life.  Like any marriage that lasts this long (many don’t these days), we’ve been through numerous ups and downs but the ups far outweigh the downs!!   I love watching Laura with our kids and now it’s extra special watching her be Grandma Toots to our granddaughter Amy.  For years, Laura kept asking me “why can’t we just do something together”….. we would talk for hours about our passions and what it could be like if we just found something we could do together and put the effort into OUR THING instead of somebody else’s.  So here we are, and we are doing it together.  You should see her in the store with our customers….she makes them feel like they made a great choice just walking through the door.  I wish I could do that.  She’s patient with me and brings the softer female touch into the resort that makes it feel more like home.  (Every cabin gets inspected by her before a guest arrives.  Laura always puts something a bit special in each cabin to welcome each arriving guest.)  She is still working 36 hours a week as an RN for a steady income and insurance and then comes home to help at the resort.  That’s a huge commitment.  I’m so appreciative of her and what she does every day.  I love you T.

One last tidbit…..I was working on the other side of the creek this week when I heard Laura yelling for me.  She had run out of the store for some reason.  When I finally came down, she said she couldn’t go back in the store because there was a mouse running around.  I asked her where Smokey Joe Jones was because THATs HIS JOB!  When I went in the store, he was definitely on the prowl.  Within minutes, Smoke caught the mouse!!  He’s been earning his keep around here!  He goes out every morning and inspects the grounds, hunts a little (got a feisty red squirrel a couple of weeks ago that terrorizes our bird feeders), visits our guests (even in the cabins if they let him in), sleeps a lot, and then at 7pm almost religiously every day, comes into the store for the night.  He may be fat, but he’s a cool resort cat.    






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!


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