A November 2004 trip
to Hayward by SFPhotocraft
Quote: Uncle Rick claimed to have found the perfect spot in North America. He raved about a little lodge in Wisconsin. He wanted to get our whole family to book the lodge over Thanksgiving. We did and this was one Thanksgiving that felt like a Hallmark card come to life.
The area is full of history and legend, from its Native American heritage to the 1930s, when this area was a favorite hideaway for mobsters, like Al Capone and his gang. There is even a museum dedicated to the days when Capone and his boys were here.
Of course, fishing rules these waters. The lakes in this part of the country have given up record muskie, walleye, and perch. Opening day of the fishing season here is like a holiday, as fishermen from all over the country appear to fish area lakes.
Don't just think of Sawyer County and Hayward as a summer spot. There is plenty to do and see here in the fall as well. The fall colors of these woods compete with those in New England. Bus and car loads of leaf peepers have discovered this part of our country and the brilliant colors of fall here. This time of year is becoming very popular.
In winter you can cross-country ski, snowshoe, tube, and of course, ski. Telemark is the most popular ski resort in the area and is only a short drive from here. You can also just relax with the solitude of the season. Get a room at Spider Lake Lodge and enjoy your favorite book by the roaring fire. Watch the stillness of the lake and the woods as a deer makes its way through the snow. This is what relaxing is all about.
Hayward is a cute town with lots to see. There is great shopping, from candy to cabin decor. The bars and restaurants are friendly and welcoming. Don't pass up a delicious beer joint burger at Angler's. There is a small-town movie theater here as well. There is a lot to do or nothing at all to do in the winter - it's your choice!
Also, the The Lumberjack Festival is held here each May. Lumberjacks from around the globe complete in Sawbucking, the Underhand Chop, Power Sawing, Speed Climbing and everyone's favorite - Log Rolling. Don't miss this fun event, but be warned that space fills up fast at local lodges during this time. Book early!
The main highways are fine and like anywhere else. However, some of the roads leading in and out of the lodge areas are small and gravel. They are in good repair, but deserve some extra driving caution. Also, be on the look out for wildlife; you share these roads with deer, elk, and even an occasional moose!
Milage to Hayward
From Duluth - 70 miles south
From Minneapolis - 140 miles northeast
From Chicago - 400 miles northwest
Hotel | "Spider Lake Lodge (Part 1)"
Spider Lake Lodge was everything I could have expected, plus a lot more. It's a 1929 timber-fishing lodge built on a scenic piece of Spider Lake, which is about 12 miles east of Hayward. The lodge is right out of the Adirondacks.
From the moment you step inside, you step into one of the most perfect northwood's lodges in the country. Jim and Craig, the hosts, ran a successful furniture and design business in Minneapolis and packed it up to buy this spectacular piece of lake property and turn it into one of the best bed-and-breakfasts in the Midwest. Their design background shows in every detail and every corner. During the whole stay, I was constantly coming across a new sign or a new corner.
The lodge has two great rooms, each with a fireplace, cozy sitting areas, and game tables, and all with stunning views of pristine Spider Lake. The public areas are comfy and inviting, the kind of place you want to take a good book and feel your surroundings while a fire crackles in front of you.
The guestrooms are on two levels. There are seven rooms in all, and each has a northwood’s theme, like my favorite, the Bear's Den, or others like Moonahanis or Let'r Buck. The Bear's Den is the most fun, with a huge bearskin rug thrown over the bed and a collection of Mountie prints on the walls. Dudley Do-Right would be right at home here.
Two of the rooms downstairs have a shared bath, but all the others have private bathrooms. Some of the rooms have small gas stoves that are similar to fireplaces in the room. Several of the downstairs rooms have wonderful private balconies that look over Spider Lake. These rooms are smaller, but the wonderful balconies are a wonderful place to sit in the evening and watch this picture-perfect lake and sunset.
We had the entire lodge and were able to be a bit messier and spread out in the public areas. However, the lodge is so inviting that, even when filled with strangers, it's the type of place everyone comes together around the fireplace to talk, relax, mingle, and make new friends.
Jim and Craig are charming hosts. I enjoyed Craig's enthusiasm in telling a story. He had some interesting tales about the history and legends of this area and only he can do those stories justice. If you're lucky, you can coax him into telling a few of the stories of the 1920s and 1930s, when Chicago mobsters used the Hayward area as a secure resting place.
Continued in Part 2
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 16, 2004
Spider Lake Lodge
10472 West Murphy Blvd.
Hotel | "Spider Lake Lodge (part 2)"
During summer, Spider Lake is magic; the regulars arrive, as do tourists, wanting that pristine summer lake experience. This time of year can't be beat! However, a word of warning—book early. This area is extremely popular, and Spider Lake Lodge fills up quickly.
The season is stretching into fall as more people are discovering the phenomenal fall foliage in this area of the country. The colors rival New England, and more leaf-peepers are making their way here to observe the brilliant colors. Again, book early, as this time of year is getting more popular.
So what about winter? You many ask, what does one do in the middle of Wisconsin in winter? A whole lot, or nothing at all, would be my answer. You can make it whatever you wish.
Telemark is not far away, and here you can ski. Okay, I admit it's not the Rocky Mountains, but the hills are fun and offer some thrills. Besides downhill skiing, they offer cross country skiing, tubing, and snowshoeing.
However, on this trip, we chose to stay near the lodge and took short, and scenic walks around the shore of the lake. We stayed in and played cards, board games, and Chinese checkers. There was a roaring fire in the fireplace every night, and to have a glass of port and catch up with family was a perfect few days in the woods.
We booked the whole lodge over Thanksgiving, and there are definite advantages to taking over the lodge. You can spread out a little more than you can if you only have a room booked. The biggest plus was that we had use of the wonderful industrial kitchen that is normally off-limits to guests. The kitchen was a dream come true for cooks. There was ample counter space for a whole gang of cooks to chop, slice, mix, and roll. It was great to have space for the entire family to be involved in the meal-making.
The lodge has seven rooms, or eight if you use the one behind the kitchen. This is easy to fill up with a family, college friends, or co-workers. I highly recommend the experience of taking over the entire lodge with your group. As a matter of fact, Thanksgiving was such a success that I have reserved the whole lodge again for my 50th birthday in May, when friends will gather here to enjoy this great lodge.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 18, 2004
Restaurant | "Angler's Tavern and Bowling"
Anglers is just such a place. It's a long, narrow wooden bar with tables. Neon beer signs hang all around the bar, as well as record-winning stuffed muskies. Even at noon on a weekday in November, the place is hopping. There is not an empty table to be found! The bar stools are all filled. The locals know where to find their burgers.
We were lucky because we had reserved the four bowling lanes that adjoin the bar. Yes, this bar also has four bowling lanes, in case you get bored while nursing that beer. We had our day-after-Thanksgiving family bowling tournament, and everyone had to wear a silly hat while bowling. I saw a few heads turn as this family of 18 arrived, all in crazy hats, to take over the lanes. The best hat was worn by the 82-year-old matriarch of the family—a SURF NAKED baseball hat.
We started with lunch at the tables above the lanes. We had wisely reserved the whole room. Most of us ordered the delicious burgers and, of course, topped those off with delicious local Wisconsin cheese. The rest of us got the all-you-can-eat fish special. Most places around here have Friday fish specials. I expected a local fish like a walleye, but this was Icelandic codfish. The fish was good; in the Midwest, they batter the fish with a fluffy beer batter that is similar to tempura batter. But it was disappointing that the fish was not local. However, the burgers in no way, shape, or form disappointed; they were every bit as delicious as you would imagine.
The bowling went well, and our waitress kept our Leinenkugels filled (or, as they call it here, Leinies). Don't miss the chance to sample this delicious local beer when in Wisconsin.
The locals often looked in to see what these nuts from the Twin Cities and California were doing on their lanes with stupid hats. We had a blast, and even if you don't plan on rolling a few frames, the food here is worth the trip. Also, the prices for food, drink, and bowling will please you—these are NOT big city prices. It's a typical Midwest beer joint with truly outstanding burgers.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 20, 2004
Anglers Bar and Grill
10547 S. Main St.
Hayward, Wisconsin 54843
When you walk in, you will be greeted with slightly mature Scandinavian women with heavy Wisconsin accents. The counter is filled with homemade cookies, donuts, and brownies. They are not short of inventory, as there are plenty of choices. Having nothing low-fat here, these all have plenty of butter and sugar in them.
We were lucky this trip, as it was the day after Thanksgiving and the first batch of Christmas sugar cookies were out and ready to sell. How could we leave without getting a bag full? We happily walked down Main Street in Hayward chomping on sugar cookies just like grandma use to make.
The best deal here is a loaf of fresh homemade bread sold for only $.50 a loaf. These are certainly NOT L.A. prices! How could we not buy a loaf at this price? We still had a lot of turkey left at the lodge to make turkey sandwiches!
No trip into Wisconsin is complete without tasting some of the local cheeses. It's not called the cheesehead state for nothing! The bakery also has a large counter filled with cheeses. Most of these cheeses are locally made. My favorite is the Wisconsin Cheddar; it's mild, but has a great taste to it. You can ask for samples here; there are a lot of cheeses to pick from.
This is the kind of place that I remember growing up in rural Minnesota. Every little town had a bakery like this one. Sadly, most of them have now closed to make way for big chain stores who sell factory-made baked goods. However, little Hayward still has one of the best in the area. It's high on quality and low on prices. Let’s hope it stays around for a long, long time!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 19, 2004
Hayward Bakery and Cheese Shop
10565 Main Street
Hayward, Wisconsin 54843
Truth is, we had driven into town early to devote an hour to the Fishermen's Hall of Fame before our bowling outing. We were disappointed to learn the Hall of Fame closes for the season on November 1st. So we had an hour to kill when we noticed, a block down the street, a sign for Wildlife Museum and headed over to it.
When we drove up, we were surprised to see beer signs and a bar, but also a museum sign. Okay, so what was it a bar or a museum? Well, honestly, it was both!
When we entered, we found ourselves in a bar; it was 11am, and about a dozen bar stools were filled with mostly men in hunter's garb, nursing beers. We asked about the museum and the bartender perked up, the rest of the bar looked up, and all assured us that the museum was well worth our time and money. It felt like the whole town was surprised someone was actually biting at the bait to pay an admission fee into the back room of taxidermy. We had no idea what to expect next!
We paid our admission and were buzzed into the back room. I had expected the worst and was ready for a campy experience with some stuffed animals while the whole bar was having a good laugh at those silly city people who just got suckered into the museum.
It was pretty good. The room was much larger than I had expected and had more displays. We had just spent time at the Natural History Museum in New York and the Field Museum in Chicago, and the displays compared to their exhibits. This exhibit only showed local wildlife and some Arctic wildlife, but it had a lot to offer. As we were the only ones in the museum, we were able to get close and even touch the bears, deer, wolves, elk, and moose that were on display. The scenes were not cheesy (okay, maybe the two fishermen were a little cheesy, but that was it). They not only showed local wildlife in the forest but also had some fish that had been caught in nearby waters. The huge muskies were very impressive.
The kids were very interested in the museum, and we ended spending about 45 minutes looking at the exhibits. This was not what I had expected, and it was far better displayed than I had imagined it. When we left through the exit, we were back in the bar. Almost everyone at the bar wanted to know what we had thought—did we like it? I think there was an honest pride in this little local wildlife museum in a bar....or is it the bar in the wildlife museum? Oh, whatever, it was worth the visit.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 20, 2004
Wildlife Museum and Bar
15708 West County Road B
Hayward, Wisconsin 54843
Attraction | "Tremblay Sweet Shop"
This shop is massive and full of candy of every type—baskets fill the walls, and racks fill up the middle section. Off to one side are white marble tables with young ladies busy making fudge. Again, I was surprised—here it was November and well past the prime of the tourist season, yet Tremblay's was full and very busy.
We gave the kids the unfair task of taking a white paper bag and each filling it up with ten pieces. Decision time! Do they head over to the wall of salt water taffy or head for the racks and racks of Christmas candies, or do they just go for an old favorite like Swedish fish?
This was a great stop, and we loaded up for our car trip home. We sampled the fudge, and it was delicious. I am not a huge fudge lover, but the different varieties here were fun to look at and sample. I was impressed by how clean the store was and how friendly the young ladies working behind the counter were. They reminded us not to be shy and to feel free to ask for any samples we may wish to try.
I guess I am happy that Tremblay's is not nearer to my home—this place could become a habit. We left with our white bags full of goodies, all comparing our picks and selections. We all were kids in a candy store.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 21, 2004
Tremblay's Sweet Shop
10569 Main St.
Hayward, Wisconsin 54843
Uncle Rick and Aunt Mary Lee have raved about Spider Lake Lodge all year. It's the kind of place that they sneak off to any chance they get. So when Rick came up with the idea to book the entire seven-room lodge for our family, it sounded like a plan.
On Thanksgiving, we awoke in this peaceful and scenic setting. Our tradition is to take a morning walk. It was actually warm—well, warm by "November in Wisconsin" standards, at about 43 degrees. So we bundled up and marched down the road.
The woods were quiet and peaceful. Most of the cabin owners in this area and shut up their cabins and were spending their holiday elsewhere. All the leaves had fallen off the trees, and there was a bare feeling to the woods. We spotted two young does running in front of us. It was hunting season here, and deer somehow know during this time of year to flee from people and leave quickly. The lake just had a thin coat of ice over it and was beautiful. The ice was too thick to boat on, but too thin to walk on. The boys quickly discovered, however, that when you threw a piece of ice over the flat surface of the lake, it would make an echo, and the reverberating sound could be heard across the lake. We enjoyed our walk; the air was fresh and clean and the woods so quiet. We were caught off-guard when we encountered another family coming down the road taking their Thanksgiving walk.
The only thing more communal than sharing a meal with friends and family is making a meal with friends and family. We were thrilled that Jim and Craig (our lodge hosts) allowed us full use of the marvelous lodge kitchen. Normally, the kitchen is off-limits to guests, but as we had the whole lodge, rules were dropped. It was the type of kitchen a cook dreams about. It was huge, with a big industrial stove, lots of counter space, and a big sink.
We all pitched in and had the luxury of all being in the kitchen at once. Everyone was chopping, slicing, stirring, and mixing. We all laughed, told stories, and helped the youngest generation learn the secrets of old family recipes. It was a moment I will never forget. I loved the fact that we could all help and there was room for everyone. Whether it was peeling a potato or mixing the pumpkin pie, everyone had a job, and everyone pitched in.
The table was set—Jim and Craig had lined up the breakfast tables to one long table along the back window of one of the great rooms. We had a wonderful view of Spider Lake, which seemed so still, calm, and peaceful. We served our meal buffet-style from the kitchen counter. There was plenty of food for everyone. Everyone had brought up one favorite recipe to make, and this year, we had the biggest turkey I could remember. We laughed, told stories, and everyone told what they were most thankful for in the world. Then, of course, everyone went back for seconds. The meal lasted almost two hours and seemed like a lot less. We were all full, happy, and thankful.
While the rest of us let our food settle, the boys wanted to play a round of football in the front. They moved outside, and Jim started a fire in the fireplace. Suddenly, Patrick came rushing in with the news of the day: "It's snowing!" Sure enough, right on cue, the first snowfall of the season was starting. We all came to the door and watched big, thick flakes fall from the heavens. We teased Jim and Craig that everything was so perfect, but arranging a Thanksgiving night snowfall was just over the top.
We came back in and ate our pies around the fire. It wasn't long before a game of Texas Hold ‘Em got started, and everyone joined in. Yes, Thanksgiving Wisconsin-style was perfect.