Camp Soldner on Beaufort Lake

August 30, 2007 -- Camp Soldner on Beaufort Lake near Three Lakes, MI

Allow me a paragraph or two to get everyone caught up with our travels. My last post was on ... and got us to Colwell Lake, a National Forest Campground in the Hiawatha National Forest near Shingleton, MI. The reason for being at Colwell was the annual Soldner (Dar's nee) Campout, which involves a lot of family members and their kids and friends... this year, a group of about 25 people. This is where I took the water skiing pictures and where Dar proved she still has her original teeth. Having this much family in one place for over a week, 24/7, can cause stress. But for the most-part the group was well-behaved and there were no fist-fights at all this year.

On Thursday, August 16th, we moved from Colwell Lake to Camp Soldner, Dennis and Laura Soldner's (Dar's brother and sister-in-law) camp on the shores of Beaufort Lake, about a 110 mile drive. Down south, in Wisconsin, we call this a cottage. Here, it's a "camp". I'm sure there are good reasons for this local-ism... maybe a remnant from the past when groups of loggers or hunters called their places "camps". Regardless, the place is unpopulated and unspoiled. The closest well-stocked grocery is 25 miles away. Luckily, the closest bar isn't far, maybe 2 miles away up on Hwy 41. It's called Stump's Bar and we're almost always the only patrons in the place when we stop by for a burger. We can get only two broadcast TV stations... an NBC affiliate and a PBS station, both out of Marquette. However, we have little desire to actually watch any TV. All this isolation and basic living is the charm of the place; it's what makes it unique, what gives it it's character, what makes it the perfect place to unwind and get your head screwed on straight.

Camp Soldner is located on the western shore of the lake, so our view is facing almost due east. Morning sunrise is often an experience as both the direct sun and it's reflection off the lake shine directly through our windshield and into the length of the bus like a searchlight. I would make good use of a welder's helmet when making that first pot of coffee. The property has a very nice house, a separate wood-fired sauna and shower, enough trees to shade most of the property all day long, and plenty of relatively level open space. There's a sandy beach, a dock, and a small armada of boats, including a ski boat, sail boat, pontoon boat, canoe, kayak, paddle boats, and a few others that I can't remember right now. There's no shortage of floating hardware here.

The lake is 460 acres of very clear water surrounded by large hills that add to the feeling of isolation. It's about a mile long and a mile wide, with a peninsula running down the center from the north. Often the surface of the water is like glass, as the high hills surrounding the lake can block breezes. Pontoon and small fishing boats dominate, but this time of year you seldom see one running on the lake. There are about 50 dwellings on the lake and I'd guess most are second homes, so for the most part, they're unoccupied, especially during the week. I don't think there are too many places left in the US where it's possible to be this alone -- at least in this kind of setting. This is such a dramatic change from the congestion and traffic of the Chicago area. Our plan was to spend two weeks here and resume our travels after labor day. If it weren't for the impending severe winter it'd be easy to stay longer.

During our time here at Camp Soldner, we've enjoyed various travels and experiences around the Western U.P. I'll post more detailed accounts of some of these in the next few days. But for much of our time, we've just luxuriated in the peace, beauty, and isolation of this lake setting. I've been reading a long Jeffery Archer tome and the lake has been well-explored by both Dar and me. We've taken hundreds of photos as there always seems to be something new to see. We have both Bald and Golden Eagles on one end of the bird spectrum, and hummingbirds on the other. An array of other wildlife runs throughout this area including coyote, fox, bear, deer, and moose. We've enjoyed some wonderful evenings watching the sun set, often with Bill and Nancy our nearest neighbors at Camp Soldner. They're from Georgia and spend the summers at their lake home here.

Fall colors, at first barely noticeable, are now unmistakable. And the nights have been very cool -- often in the 40's, once in the mid 30's. With the exception of one badly needed rainy day, the weather's been mostly clear with highs in the 70's.

When we leave here next week, we're hoping to see some friends in Northern Wisconsin for a few days as we work our way over to near Burnsville MN., where we'll spend a few days with Jim and Sue, our neighbors when we used to live there. After that, we hope to rendezvous with my brother and sister-in-law at a campground near Devil's Lake WI for a long weekend, and then back to our hometown of Beaver Dam WI, where we'll be for a couple weeks at the end of September.


Slightly Better than Most