The Northwoods of Wisconsin
City of Festivals, hundreds of lakes, acres of woods and land still owned and controlled by the Native American population.
By Chloe Bell, Beloit College.
Wisconsin: home of cheese, milk, cows, and farms. It’s the birthplace of Laura Ingalls-Wilder and Milwaukee, it’s largest city, is called the city of festivals. Weekends dedicated to music and culture compose an entire three months worth of incredible opportunities.
I’m a true Wisconsin girl. And any true Wisconsinite goes “Up North” at some point during the summer. To translate, the north is the part of Wisconsin left mostly untouched by settlers. The woods are expansive, the population is sparse, and the nature is priceless. That means: no malls, few restaurants, no internet, and no cell service for miles.
I love Northern Wisconsin. Mostly because of the nature. Hundreds of lakes, acres of woods, and isolated land still owned and controlled by the Native American population near Lake Superior. I love spending summers in a cabin on a lake. The atmosphere is the best medicine for stress; whether it’s reading a book on the pier, fishing with my dad, or just sitting and listening to the chirping birds, the chasing squirrels, and the water lapping at the sandy shore.
While being so isolated is great for the mind and soul, sometimes you just have to get out and interact with other people. That’s when you go “into town.” I love that term. “into town” literally means going to the closest town with more than a bait shop and a bar. The largest and closest to most vacation homes in the north is Hayward, WI. It’s a cute little town with a touristy street, the necessary grocery store, and gas stations. The main street includes a library, restaurants, T-shirt shops, and a book store (which is my personal favorite). The busiest shop is always the candy store. This old-fashioned store has all of the candy you thought was discontinued sold by weight, and homemade fudge which you can watch being made through a large window in the middle of the store. It’s always a struggle moving around in the shop as people are literally shoulder-to-shoulder searching for candy as if it was the last change to eat for days. To be fair, it sometimes feels like that when you’re isolated on your lake for a little too long.
Regardless, getting back to the cabin on the lake is always a relief. There’s just something so unique and calming about the place. Even if there are cabins on either side of you, it’s like being in your own little bubble for a while. Up North it doesn’t matter how big your house is, how many things you have, what music you listen to, or even how smart you are. What matters is you and your connection to nature. Being in this part of Wisconsin reminds me how simple life can be. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and realize that what you might be stressing about really isn’t all that important. You become excited about the little things. Too often we stop commending ourselves and others for overcoming the smaller obstacles in our lives. We forget that obstacles, whether large or small, should always be celebrated.
For me, the best part of my summer so far was watching my dad hook his first Muskie in almost thirty years. His face was bright and beaming and it had been a long time since I had seen him that excited. I was so proud of my dad and his accomplishment. But mostly, I was proud of how proud he was of himself.
To me, going to Northern Wisconsin is an integral part of my summer. It’s a chance for me to reconnect with my family and get away from the stresses of everyday life. It reminds me that the little things are just as important as the big moments in your life, and that, sometimes, being proud of, or excited for, someone else is even better than focusing on you. The accomplishment of finishing a book, catching a fish, driving a boat, or just enjoying and exploring nature is second to none. I know others may have a different idea of “vacation,” but what I have learned over the years is that sometimes reflecting and relaxing are just as important as discovering new things.
I love Northern Wisconsin because it allows
me to appreciate my roots. I love being a girl from Wisconsin and I am proud of who I am and where I come from. Sure, I may wish to live in New York, or Vienna one day, but I will always long for the woods and the lake and be ecstatic when I am able to visit home.