Michigan Fishing Resorts | Wilderness Bay Lodge & Resort |Laura – Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day from Wilderness Bay!! Big day here, Dan is sleeping in! That might not seem like a big deal but it is the second time since January that he has slept past 6:15! It’s pouring rain today. I didn’t even wake him to tell him there was water dripping from the ceiling in our stair well. I grabbed rags and buckets and took care of the situation myself. It will still be dripping when he wakes up and he will be more well rested to deal with it.

I do feel that God hand picked Dan to be the father of my children. He is everything I hoped my kid’s dad would be. He is a man of integrity honesty and loyalty. He is not afraid to cry when he’s happy or sad. He has taught our kids that you can “choose to be victim or choose to rise above and grow from the situation.” He is goofy and funny (not as funny as me of course.) Dan’s work ethic is over the top, (he’s killin’ me trying to keep up with him.) He is truly the kindest man I have ever met. He won’t even put something back on the wrong shelf in the grocery store! His unwavering love for me and our kids is a constant. We are so blessed to have him.

I had arranged for a fishing guide (our friend Bruce) to take Dan, Drew and Juls out fishing this am….. well, it’s 50 degrees and the rain is coming down in sheets. So that didn’t happen. As Dan and I always say, “it’s the thought that counts.” We rarely get a chance to get on the lake, so this was going to be a nice break for Dan and the kids. It never did stop raining today. How is it, that mosquitos are able to fly in the pouring rain and navigate a perfect landing near my ear in a torrential rain? Apparently “80% of the bat population has died due to a fungus.” As terrified as I am of bats…. I do appreciate their dedication to their mosquito diet. I miss them… yep I said it, I miss bats.

For the first time, since opening, our resort was full this week!! The parking lot was full of cars with license plates from various areas. Canoes on top of cars, boats behind trucks… so exciting! Our guest have been great! It is so fun getting to know them when they stay for a few days. Alec and his little sister with the blonde ringlets, going into Juls’ sweet shop, loading up on their free gumballs. Chris, coming down to the lodge store every morning to play with Stu… Talking to our guest to see hear the highs and lows of fishing for the day. At night the smell of smoke from the fire pits wafted up through our window. I looked out at the warm glow of lights from the cabin windows. I couldn’t help but wonder if people were playing cards, or going to bed early in preparation for the next morning fishing trip to catch the one that got away. I could hear laughter and easy conversation carrying across the lawn. Boats lined up on the docks, rocking gently, resting up for the next lake adventure. We had a family of four generations passing the Wilderness Bay tradition down to their children. Yep, this is what we had hoped for…

And although there was a gorgeous double rainbow last week, it has not been all rainbows. We are tired. We don’t have the leisure of taking the afternoon off or sleeping in on the weekends. There are constant projects to do. Our brand new cash register crashed. We got a replacement but everything in the entire store has to be re-entered into the system. Drew was a huge help to Dan today in the store helping with this tedious job. The rain is causing the lawn to grow like crazy. Mowing takes half a day if Dan’s allergies don’t kill him first. The cabins need to be turned over frequently as we get busier. Our conversations revolve around how many dead minnows were in the bait tank, how I couldn’t sort and rinse leaches because they stick to me. I am constantly calling Dan on the walkie talkie for assistance in the store. This cash register business is definitely rocket science for me. It comes easily to Drew and Dan… I think I talk too much. I love to talk with the guest and I can’t talk and figure out what
department the pickle relish and bug spray come from AND press buttons all at the same time. I better not quit my nursing job.

We knew this would be hard work. We are not afraid of hard work! We so badly want every guest that walks through our doors to feel welcomed and enjoy their experience with us. We are continuing the fresh flowers in the cabins and welcome bag of gummy worms for the fishermen. We do a quick walk through right before the guest are due to check in, straightening pillow cases, picking up a blade of grass off the carpet, fluffing pillows on Adirondack chairs… I want them to walk into peace and tranquility. I know some fishermen might not care, but I do. I once saw one of those shows about guest service at a five start hotel. It was mentioned that you should make every guest feel like they are a VIP because that is what they deserve, no matter what. That has stuck with me.

We have had old friends from the Quad Cities come to visit. Some of my nurse friends and their spouses and Michelle’s mom Grace Ann who cracked me up. Dan’s long time friend and collegue Deb( from Stoney Creek Hotel where Dan worked in his previous life)and her husband Dan and their friends. Our friends Karen and Matt with their son Jackson and Karen’s dad Ken came and got a chance to really get away from their daily grind. They floated on the pontoon on their backs, looking at cloud shapes, their most important decision of the day being what the clouds looked like. Karen is a gifted photographer, her hubby Matt an incredible videographer. We are anxious to see the pics and videos they took while they were here.

We have made new friends like the Lowe family who reminded us a lot of our families. I actually felt a little teary when they left. We plan to start a “brag board” of sorts that can be admired for years to come. Pics of our guests and their “huge fish.” The Cizek father and son duo who grilled out every night and shared some laughs with us. The Saltarelli Boys from Chicago who cleaned their cabin before they left.

We want to hear their stories, where they are from, what fish they caught, what they do in their “real lives” when not on vacation. We want to meet their kids and grandkids and see pictures. We genuinely care. We have met so many kind people. We have even had some nice comments and reviews on Facebook from the guest that have stayed with us so far. That means the world to us, it truly does. We hang on every word and it gives us motivation to keep doing what we’re doing.

I must sign off as our 9 week old puppy “Captain Stubbing” aka “Stu” still needs to be let out during the night around 2am. He might not really, but we still set our alarms to take him out. He has not replaced our Golden, Cosby, that we put to sleep five weeks ago today… but he has filled our hearts with joy. He is a ton of work but so worth it. He’s the talk of the area and people come to meet him. He and Juls’ dog, BoBo, and our “resort cat“, Smokie Joe Jones, get a lot of love here when people come in. They have become a part of the resort, people expect to be greeted by them. It is so cool how animals connect people with their unconditional love.

Thank you for reading. If you are reading this, you took time out of your busy life to support us. We are thankful and humbled. Each and every person reading this has had a part of our lives in some way or we hope will become part of our lives. When someone comes into the store and says they have been reading our blog it means the world to us!! Please also check out our Facebook page!!! Wilderness Bay Lodge and Resort! We are getting nice reviews!!
PS, I forgot to mention I saw my third bear! The biggest one yet… Laura 3, Dan 0, Juls 0, Drew 0. I must be some kind of bear whisperer.



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!


  • Mary Orth -Beth's mom 06/20/2017 at 2:17 am

    Sounds like you are working very hard to make everything perfect as possible! So glad for the new puppy and great comments you are receiving. Brice shares your blog and I enjoy keeping up with your family!


  • Sarah 06/22/2017 at 12:27 am

    It looks and sounds beautiful Laura! Your hard work is paying off. I hope to someday be able to visit. We are not avid fishermen but we dabble and would love to see what you and your family are putting so much time and love into. Hugs to all of you!


    • Wilderness Bay 07/05/2017 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks for your kind words Sarah!


    • Larry 07/07/2017 at 9:27 am

      Laura, I loved reading your blog, and I’m so happy that there is someone running that resort again. For a minute we thought of buying the place when it closed and becoming resort owners, but, needless to say, that didn’t happen. I could totally see myself doing that and loving every minute of it!

      Though we have never stayed at Wilderness Bay (we have been staying at the Vacationland resort for 25+ years) we did frequent the store for bait and snacks daily. We are headed up in a few weeks for our annual pilgrimage to the great North woods and now that we know you’re open, I’ll be sure to stop in and say hello.

      Good Luck with the Resort!


      • Wilderness Bay 07/07/2017 at 12:51 pm


        If you want to stop in and work for a day, we’ll give you a taste of the resort life as owners!! There’s never a dull moment and always something to do! That being said, we are enjoying the experience, love the setting and are having fun meeting so many great people.

        Definitely come and see us! We’d love to meet you!
        Dan and Laura


Leave a Comment