Attack of the Family Vacation Photos: Part Two

We’re officially back from vacation!

The bags are unpacked, the laundry has been done, the ‘fridge has been decontaminated and refilled, the dietary freedom has been curtailed,  my GoogleReader has been Feedlied—what’s up with that?—the passive-aggressive cat has been somewhat mollified, I’ve caught up on most of my soaps blogs and webcomics,  and the kids have both had their traditional post-vacation bouts of what Terry Pratchett calls “the dire rear.”

Aaand I’ve manage to organize most of the rest of our vacation photos, most of which came out beautifully, because I didn’t take many of them.

You know what that means:  we may be home, but y’all aren’t out of the woods, yet.

So to speak.

In fact—she says, in one of the clumsiest segues of her career—Watson and Jane and I, who left home a day early in our scouting vehicle, hadn’t quite reached what would become our end of those woods, when we encountered the town of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, which is not only populated with very nice people and superlative librarians,* but with creatures like this:


This is a Hodag.  Or at least an artist’s rendition of one.  These things—by which I mean the renditions, thank heavens—are everywhere up there.

One of them guards the City Hall, and one guards the public library.**  Others are painted pink and purple.  It’s the high school mascot and emblazoned on the local water tower.  There’s a Hodag Country Music Festival with an impressive line-up.

It’s awesome.

But from the POV of a weary traveler passing through lands unknown for the first time, seeing these as-yet-unidentified smiling creatures appearing at random in a relatively small town had me thinking Stephen Kingly thoughts until we knew the story behind them.

There’s a whole spiel on the tourist-oriented website, but according to the people I asked, the Hodag was originally a hoax by Eugene Shepard, who claimed to have found a dead one in 1893.  When that went over well, he told everyone he’d trapped a live one, which he displayed in dark rooms for pure profit—until he heard that actual scientists were planning to examine the creature.  He immediately confessed, but the Rhinelanders came to embrace Hodags as their own local legend.

Or that’s what they said.

Maybe they just want to keep the remaining Hodag pack safe from hunters and biologists?

knew those weren’t loons we heard . . .

Ahem. Sorry.  Moving on.

Eagle River, the nearest town to where we stayed, has its own local attractions, including this place:

All Things Jerky

This isn’t false advertising, by the way.  They have bison jerky and alligator jerky, antelope jerky and maple duck and ostrich and every kind of game I cared to think of, including kangaroo—which may not seem exotic to those of you who are reading this tomorrow from the other side of the cow world, but is plenty odd to those of us over here in yesterday, who still think of ‘roos as animated welter-weight boxing experts who put Sylvester Cat off mice for life.

The place even has Larvet Worm Snacks, which I thought topped the weird list*** until Mom showed me what she bought:

Jerky two

Leave it to my mother to come out of a place that features a “Mug o’ Meat” gift pack with vegan jerky.

Of course, her daughter came out of a high-end jewelry store with a stone duck she visited twice before daring to ask the price,*** and so has little room to talk.


But he’s a lovely little stone duck, with cowrie-shell wings, who deserves an owner who will dust surfaces before taking photos of it, but we can’t always get what we want.

Unless we want a stone duck from a lovely little shop in Eagle River.  Which we absolutely did.

Duck Too

There are other things for sale up there, like homemade multiferous comestibles:^


And even homemade wizards:^^

Wizard of the Cabin in the Woods

This particular gentleman stands in front of our Cabin in the Woods, and was a clear sign that we’d made the right choice.

But the real local attraction is the natural landscape, which is gorgeous by day or by night—or by the 4am light of the Supermoon:^^^


Agreed?  Agreed.

There. You’re off the hook.

For now . . .


*I didn’t get to find out first hand, but several residents and summer people told us how cool that library is and how friendly and helpful the librarians are.  So if a Rhinelander stumbles onto this post, go give those people kudos and a tax levy, ’cause by all reports, they deserve it.

**Oddly enough, the Visitor’s Center is guarded by a cow painted like a globe.  In the Midwest, I’d consider this a commentary of the international importance of agriculture.  But up there, the first thing I thought was Hodag bait.

***I have no idea what the going rate for little stone ducks might be, so I might have been rooked instead (see what I did there?), but by that time I was in love and had enough cash, which is pretty much the definition of tourist, so I was only fulfilling my complicit economic responsibility.  Right?  Right.

^Which are not, as you might guess, chocolate-covered iron rations—try the jerky place for those—but are instead a vast array of pure, old-fashioned, hand-crafted yumminess.  If you escape with a single pound of fudge . . . and maybe a truffle assortment . . . and arrive back at your Cabin in the Woods with more than a half-empty box to show for it, you’re a stronger person than I.

^^But not an audio copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which Watson and I wanted to play for Janie on the drive back in the hopes she might become as addicted as we are try reading the books, and which could not be found on CD—under the circumstances, digital was problematic—for love or money in either Eagle River or Rhinelander.  I’m thinking the Hodags are involved somehow . . . 

^^^My husband gets credit for this photo, and for not waking me up when he went out to take it.  Talented man.


Attack of the Family Vacation Photos: Part One


Watson and I sneaked/snucked/snacked over to the Mocha Moose Cafe this afternoon so I could get my Internet fix* and she could get a caramel macchiato.

I know it’s Poetry Wednesday, but I’m pre-empting it this week because the only poem that comes readily to mind** is a canine-centered parody of Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” that I heard once and no one needs that.***

Instead, I thought I’d share a montage of the vacation so far, with—and I can see your surprise from here—commentary.

I know I joked about the wilds of Wisconsin, mostly because no one told me exactly where we were going, but our Cabin In The Woods is actually a nice-sized cottage on the waterway between Eagle and Otter Lakes near Rhinelander, “Home of The Hodag,” about which more later.

Cabin in the Woods

The interior is sort of Hunter’s Eclectic:

The Right to Arm Bears

Or, as Watson put it, “Vegan Nightmare,”^ but underneath the fur accents, it’s a great place.

The place does come with a wonderful writing spot.  I owe  seven pages to the glider to the right of the swing—and to a generous application of Deep Woods Off, I won’t lie.

Writing Spot

There’s a great view of the river from there,^^ and If I’m very still, the chipmunk who lives in the tree to the left will come down and investigate the firepit, until I do something dumb, like lift the camera to take a picture of him.

But I can still see boats of all types passing through on their way to and from the lakes.

Pirate Ship

Jada The Dog likes to share the spot with me, though she wishes we hadn’t left her outdoor dog bed back home:

Please Send Dog Bed

She’s been enjoying the outdoor smells—checking her pee-mail, as Janie says all too often—and receiving a daily foot massage, while Sunny entertains her with a display of modern dance and bubble-wand mastery.

Dog Massage

It’s a dog’s life, isn’t it?

But we humans  are having our own kind of fun, too.  We rented a boat yesterday—pontoon, not pirate—and went out on a three-hour tour of the various lakes.

Slow No Wake

The First Law of Vacation.^^

Some of the boats tend to ignore these and zip through our waterway, regardless, inspiring the new family saying:

Don’t be a waker!

Works on all kinds of levels doesn’t it?

Here’s a requisite landscape shot, which never does much for anyone unless it’s  taken in Hawaii, but it’s my blog and it was a stunning day, and this is only one  of the thirty or so I took,  so there and count yourselves lucky:


The kids had their own idea about what constituted a stunning sight:

Ice Cream Shop

Don’t take any wooden eagles!

Seriously.  The owners don’t like that.

Wooden Eagle

The area is called Eagle River, and the motif is, unsurprisingly, everywhere.  But they call it that for a good reason—right across the waterway in front of my writing spot is a bald eagle nest.  I’ve seen them swoop into the trees from overhead—again, stunning.

We also had our first bonfire the other night.  My Dad, the Eagle Scout Leader, built the fire after a few false starts.


Success!  And popcorn!

Mallow Bomb

Mallow Bomb!

Smore Yum

That’s what I’m talking about.

And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to take a page out of Watson’s book—not literally, because it’s from my library and checked out  on my card—and watch a little scenery between long, slow blinks.~

Watsons Nap


*My phone allows me to check my e-mail and occasionally check blogs, but gets testy when I try to reply or comment, so if I owe you one or the other, my sincere apologies—I’ll try to get to everything before the family notices we’re missing we have to get back.

**Not entirely true, but I’m saving the other for next week, because it deserves its own post.

***In case I’m wrong, it’s the one that starts, “I think that I shall never pee/on anything as lovely as a tree . . . ” and degenerates from there.  Google the rest, ’cause I’m on the clock, here.

^We were going to put a drip pan under the bear’s mouth as a joke, but thought it might freak out Sunny.

^^Except for this one young tree that I would cut down in a minute if this were my property and I didn’t feel so terrible for even thinking things like, “I’m all for the environment, but it’s blocking my view.”

^^^I’m planning on finding one of these for the couch back home, because my kids still have no respect for the sanctity of naps.

~While my kids—according to my husband, who is texting me images as I type—are out enjoying themselves in their own way:

Oh Fudge   Pop Stand