Sandy Points Blog

Gone Swimmin'

We “flipped the fish,” our OPEN/CLOSED sign on the front of the shop, at 4:15, turned out all the lights, and headed for the lake. Mother Nature is having hot flashes these past couple of weeks and the Northwoods hasn’t been its usual cool retreat. It’s been sweltering.

Squaw Lake was like a warm bath and I sat in it for nearly two hours—long enough for my fingertips to wrinkle up like prunes. They tingle as I type. Although it wasn’t my first time in the water this season—I’ve water-skied a couple of times—it was my first swim. The kids were so excited to see me in my suit and in the water, they didn’t care that they’d already showered and put on clothes for the evening. They put on their still damp suits and splashed around me, begging me to rate their handstands, watch their somersaults and flips. Boy do I remember being their age and spending countless hours in the lake. Nothing gave me greater joy.

An eagle flew overhead at one point, so close we could see the details of his bright, yellow beak. Then, not thirty feet away, his talons opened and he scooped a 12-inch fish right out of the lake. It was such a smooth, quick move, and witnessing it made us all scream with delight. I’ve seen eagles do this before, but never at such close proximity. Talk about a feeling of great joy. Wow!

Last day of July . . . summer is going far too fast.

Fishing Freaks

There are so many things to do at Sandy Point Resort, swimming, boating, water-skiing, playing disc golf, volleyball, basketball . . . and, of course, there’s fishing the waters of Squaw Lake. My girls, Willow and Camille, are now HOOKED.

Their favorite “cabin booty” (stuff left behind by the guests) has gone from frozen popsicles to refrigerated worms. They sniff out live bait like pigs hunting for truffles, and have learned to bait their own hooks and even, after too many trips to the dock by their dad, unhook their catch. Large mouth bass and small (smallies), perch, sunfish, and the occasional Northern have taken the bait. They believe they’ve dialed into all the lake’s hot spots. The best is just under one of our rafts, one close to shore known to them as the “white dock.” Our guests marvel at their skill, as they alternate between casting and diving in to cool off.

How do they go from barefoot, Northwoods fishergirls to fully-clothed, desert-dwelling schoolgirls in less than 24 hours? Our alarm will go off at 3AM and I’ll take them to the airport. A few hours later, their climate will change completely as they start school four days behind their classmates. I remain at the resort running things solo for eight days, before Mike and I switch positions. Never an easy time of year. And the most difficult thing? Watching my kids say good-bye to another wonderful summer at Sandy Point.  

Off Season Rates Now Apply

Off Season Rates Now Apply


Power's out

Power’s Out
After 15 years of stormy weather in the Northwoods, power outages come with some degree of predictability. A tornado watch and high wind warnings have been in place all day and the sky has been a never changing palate of Doppler radar possibility. One minute it was clear blue—not a cloud in site. The next minute, ominous and bulbous gray puffs block light and made it look more like early evening than early afternoon. Rain drops the size of Kennedy half dollars fell for about two minutes and then, I’m not kidding, thirty seconds later, the asphalt of our driveway showed not one sign of moisture due to the sun’s unmitigated rays.

Earlier today we went around the property and checked the feasibility of all our generators, and since then, we’ve been waiting for the power to crap out. It happened, according to one of my old-fashioned electric clocks, 22 minutes ago.

The weather up here in the Northwoods can be an unpredictable neighbor. It’s always there—always a factor. Today high winds are wreaking havoc. After witnessing my husband gather up our tattered, wind-battered shore station cover this afternoon, for which he coincidentally ordered a replacement earlier today, I also helped him move the remnants of a giant poplar tree from our next-door neighbor’s property, an abandoned home currently on the market. Already dead, the four-foot trunk blew down and blocked the driveway to both our homes. A chainsaw will need to come in and do the rest of the work. Meanwhile, I sat in the hot tub at six, with a glass of wine and one of Victoria Houston’s Northwoods mysteries in hand, and kept one eye on a giant poplar tree swaying precariously in the wind. What, I wondered, would I do if I heard a snap and witnessed the top of the tree coming in my direction? Would I drop the paperback in the bubbling water and hurl my naked body over the side and toward shelter? Or would I freeze—deer in headlights style—and allow the rough branches to pin me to certain injury? Would the glass of wine spill into the bromine-laced stew of the tub? I even neurotically imagined my obituary: Northwoods Author Pinned By Popple, Naked and Smashed.

Aah, the familiar roar of the generator has just begun. My husband must believe we’re in for a long-haul outage, which could mean anywhere from an hour to four days. Soon our resort guests will stop coming over asking if they can flush their toilets or get hot water, as all the generators fill the air with the sound of the steady purr of a fleet of outboard motors. We’ll be making a few trips into town for gasoline, but we'll do it because we know what it takes to keep city-folk happy. And what's that?


The Dreaded Cancellation

Fourth of July week is upon us, which means two things: non-stop fireworks and the grinding engines of rented jet skis churning up the waters of Squaw Lake. Both noises are equally annoying and drown out the peaceful music of our neighbors, the Birds. The good news about this week is that our resort is host to a family that’s been with us for some 13 years and we’ve come to know them, their children and grandchildren, as our Fourth of July family.

Each year we typically turn away 50-plus callers looking for accommodations for our nation’s birthday holiday. This is why it was a particularly sharp stab to the gut when on Friday morning I learned of a last minute cancellation in one of our cabins. Thankfully it was our least expensive cabin; however, a hit is a hit when you only have 14 weeks to make your income for the year. I went wild posting it on the Internet, using the front page of our website and resort association to which we belong. I sent out a mass e-mail to the association members indicating the cancellation. I'm happy to report my efforts paid off. We managed to rent the cabin to a young couple from Milwaukee looking for a last-minute escape. Whew!

Today, however, I’ve received a slew of e-mails from fellow resort owners advertising their cancellations for this month. One indicated three no-shows for this week. THIS WEEK—the most popular of the summer. Ugh! What is going on? One of our workers, a painting and staining expert who comes around whenever he’s in need of cash (knowing we’re always in need of a fresh coat of paint or stain), told me he once worked at a resort in New Mexico that charged guests full pop in advance for holiday weeks/weekends and had a no-refund policy. It was food for thought.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t feel right charging people for a stay they didn’t have. But “non-refundable deposit” means non-refundable deposit. I’ve always given guests the opportunity to reapply their deposits toward another stay, but after this second last-minute cancellation of the season, we’ve decided to rework our policy. Now we’ll only allow a reapplication of the deposit IF we’re able to rebook the cabin. And those who cancel less than two weeks in advance will forfeit the deposit entirely. I don’t want to go through another scramble like I did during the 24 hours of June 29-30.  The e-mail lashing I received from a too-little-too-late-to-get-the-available-cabin inquirer alone was worth the $150 deposit paid by the original potential guest. He insisted he “booked” the cabin when he called the first time to ask a few questions about the opening, when in actual fact, he asked us to “wait 10 minutes” while he spoke with his friends and said he would call back. We gave him half-an-hour before booking it with the next caller, who had a credit card in hand for the deposit. The first guy never called back. He did e-mail though. Boy, did he e-mail. It was just another case of people hearing only what they want to hear and accusing us of not knowing how to run our business. I’d bet a $150 deposit this dude has longer than 14 weeks to make enough money to stay afloat.

Whistle, light, pop! Another firework and I’m out.
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