Oct 10, 2016

Enjoying Boulder Bay, Wisconsin

Boulder Junction is called the “Muskie Capital of the World.”
 What’s a muskie, you may wonder. “Muskie” or “Musky” is short for muskellunge, a large relatively uncommon freshwater fish native to North America.  It is the largest member of the pike family. Muskies are highly sought after by fishermen because of their explosive strikes and rugged fights.  If you want to catch a prize-winning muskellunge then Vilas County is the place
for you. Recently John and I were in Boulder Junction, one of the small towns in Vilas County, Wisconsin. John went muskie fishing but, alas, no muskies.  John’s boat landed two fish while not far away a boat with three women caught 32 fish.   John can attest to the fact that Vilas County has over 1300 lakes, 73 rivers and streams because he went on a flight-seeing plane ride – he didn’t count them but said the county is dotted with lakes. Even though no one caught a muskie people are sure to catch something. The county has some of the best smallmouth bass, walleye, trout, and pike fishing.  

I am not into fishing so I explored Boulder Junction, just one of the
unique small towns in Vilas Co. Wisconsin.  I was surprised at the number of shops displaying the work of talented artists within walking distance of my hotel, Boulder Bear Motor Lodge, with Buskus, a large taxidermied black bear, in the lobby
and live deer in the yard. My first stop was at Penny Mykytka’s shop. Her leather creations are a work of art. Check out her golf bag.  She also has items on consignment and a caged Caribbean monkey that she and her husband take walking about town. 

My next stop was Moondeer & Friends Gallery with European, Asian, and contemporary fine art from over 100 artists was great but I was most intrigued by the antiques used to hold
and display the artwork especially the huge 18th century dough box from a castle in Germany. For antique huntes there are a couple antique stores in the area. What was once a lumber company has been repurposed into shops including Firemouth Pottery where Bill Karafa’s displays his
work along with that of several other artists. The hand carved owls at Wiley Miller’s Art Gallery are so lifelike that I was waiting for one to blink. His work has been featured on magazine covers. Outside his son, Jeff, was carving a large bear with a chainsaw. I am amazed that anyone can do such great work with a chainsaw. 

The Outdoorsman Restaurant is a one-of-a-kind eating place. I
decided I was on vacation so I could have one of my favorite foods for lunch – rhubarb pie! It was delicious and while eating I enjoyed watching the goat outside in what Amy Wheeler calls her “Miracle Farm.” Besides goats she raises chickens and rabbits she grows her own herbs. The restaurant features “farm to table” items made from scratch. One of the outside buildings is called the “wash house” because it was near the railroad tracks and during the lumbering days arriving lumberjacks could go to wash up. 

The vitality of Boulder Junction is incredible considering the population is less than 1000. Most of the shop owners visited the area as children but spent most of their life in a city. They have decided to leave the stress of a metropolitan area for the serenity of Vilas County.