Girls Weekend Away: Minocqua Style!
It was a spontaneous email. In late October, my college friend Jen sent out an email to the college gang proposing a girls’ weekend in December at her family’s spacious lake house in Minocqua, Wis. (in the beautiful Wisconsin Northwoods, between Sayner and Rhinelander). Only our friends in Colorado, Idaho, and Indiana couldn’t make it. Amazingly, the rest of us didn’t have a conflict. (I say amazingly since, of the nine who RSVPd yes, we have 15 kids among us.) I took this as a sign that we were all over-due for a girlfriends getaway.
When I left, my four-year-old was crying and my 18-month-old was on the verge of crying. Did I feel guilty? Maybe a little, but as soon as I backed down the driveway, I announced to my friend Jodi, “I’m free!” I didn't even mind the four-hour drive—216 glorious miles of uninterrupted travel. You forget how nice it is to travel without kids until you travel without kids!
We took the scenic route along Highway 8—through Taylors Falls, Ladysmith, and Prentice (and a whole bunch of unincorporated towns), rather than taking the more-busy (and less interesting) route from I-94 to 29E. Driving through these interesting small towns, and past massive stands of evergreens, made the ride enjoyable (forget “Mom! I have to go to the bathroom!” or “Are we there yet?” every 15 minutes). I found myself unwinding more and more as the drive went on. I have always enjoyed “girl” time with my friends, but now that we’re getting older and many of us have kids, it seems like a necessity rather than an indulgence.
Jodi and I arrived at the lake house at 9:30 p.m. (the last two to arrive, our friends from Minneapolis, Eau Claire, Green Bay, and Milwaukee were already there). On a normal Friday night I’d be ready for bed by 9:30 p.m. This was not a normal Friday night. The night was still young! We reminisced, laughed, and looked through old college photo albums (did we really wear that?!). The laughter continued until the wee hours of the morning. Wine may have been involved.
On Saturday we relaxed (no one expected us anywhere, to do anything!), then went shopping in Minocqua’s quaint downtown, with block after block of wonderful independently-owned shops. Minocqua’s nickname is the “Island City” because downtown Minocqua sits squarely in the middle of Lake Minocqua, crossed by two bridges. It’s a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer months. According to their website, “Almost surrounded by water, Minocqua is the ideal resort-area town. Popcorn and fudge-scented air hums with the buzz of speedboats and the putter of pontoons. Giggles and shrieks ripple from Torpy Beach, a popular park and playground along the main street. And families meander in and out of shops and gather around lakeside tables.”
But alas, the temperature was 17 degrees, so there would be no outdoor lakeside dining today. We thought about going cooss-country skiing at Minocqua Winter Park (there was a lot more snow up there then there is in the Twin Cities), bandied about the idea of going on a guided snowmobile tour, and looked into touring the Three Lakes Winery (one of these years I’d love to go to Warrens Cranberry Festival and do a Marsh and Winery Tour), but instead, we had cocktails at Otto’s Beer and Brat Garden before heading over to the Minocqua Brewing Company for dinner, where we enjoyed live music in the upstairs lounge once we were done eating. We spent quality time catching up, then ended the evening dancing at T Murtaugh's Pub across the street.
My only complaint is that the weekend went by way too fast.
If you’re contemplating a girls’ weekend away, just schedule it. Don’t wait. I returned home with my “mom” battery recharged—excited to see my family and ready to take on the busy work-week and chase after my two boys. It was just what I needed before diving into the crazy holiday season.