Nicolet Forest After Dark

forestSome of my greatest adventures in life have been traveling with my sister, Sandy. She hates to be bothered by maps, instructions, or directions.

We had rented a cabin in Eagle River, Wi. The “girls” were taking too long to get ready, so Art and Michael said they would go on ahead and open up the cabin. They said they might do a little fly fishing to get warmed up. We promised we would be close behind them.

Sandy was driving their van. She was pulling a trailer loaded with all our vacation goodies. In the van was Sandy, Lisa, Michelle, Grandma Is, me (Aunt Judy), our son Matt and Sandy’s dog, Annie.

We left later than we expected (surprise, surprise) and decided to stop in Rhinelander for a bite to eat. As we left the restaurant, I asked Sandy if we needed gas to complete the trip. She said no, the gas tank still showed half full. I asked one more time as we pulled on the highway. Sandy assured me we were fine.

I was surprised because the van pulling a trailer wouldn’t get very good gas mileage, but on we went. As we left Rhinelander, it started to rain. Since it was late, at least 10 PM, the road was very black and there was not a star in the sky.

Sandy had “sort of” directions and she said that the guys had agreed to watch for us on the road into the cabin to help direct us in. As we continued North, we had trouble finding our turn to head to the Eagle River Cabin. We finally found what we thought was the turn off the main road. We proceeded to enter the Nicolet National Forest.

We drove up and down the road where we thought the guys were supposed to be waiting to direct us. They weren’t there. The van began to sputter and the next thing we knew, we were out of gas. We pulled over to the side of the road to plan our strategy. This was before we had cell phones. They sure would have come in handy.

About this time, there was a horrible stink in the Van. Baby Matt had messed his pants. I started changing the very messy diaper. This was back in the day when I had acrylic nails. Not very practical with a 15-month-old still in diapers. Matt began to wiggle and the next thing I knew, I had baby poop under my fingernails. The van was hot and steaming. I lost it and punched the back of the van seat. Lisa and Michelle both flinched because they were afraid that I was taking out my frustration on Matt. I finished changing the diaper and still Matt was not happy.

He hated being hot. Sandy offered to take him outside to cool off. She wasn’t out there long because she and Matt proved to be Mosquito bait for very hungry Wisconsin Mosquitos. We finally got Matt asleep and tried to decide what to do next.


y could find their way. After they had been gone awhile, Grandma Is asked if we thought that was a good idea. Too late now. Shortly after Grandma asked, we heard rustling in the brush. The two girls and the dog came charging out of the woods. They said they had been almost run over by a moose or a caribou. They explained that it was so dark, they couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces. We were just very glad to get them back in the van safely. Luckily this ended our talk of alien abduction and other horrible possibilities. Back to square one.

Sandy and the girls decided that Lisa and Michelle would take Annie and see if the

Our next adventure started when a car full of drunken guys pulled up next to the van. They asked if we were having trouble. Without thinking, Sandy said we were lost and out of gas. They said they would go on ahead and send someone back for us. Luckily, we dodged another bullet. After sufficiently lecturing our driver about the safety of all of us, we tried to think up another solution.

I was sitting in the seat behind the passenger seat. As I looked down to ponder our situation, I noticed a brochure sticking out of one of the over-night cases. I picked it up and found there was a map to the cabin on the back of the brochure.

We mentally retraced our steps and figured we were less that a mile from our destination.  Sandy said she would set out at first light, following the map. We had figured correctly. Sandy found the cabin after walking the mile in a pair of dress flats.

When she arrived, Art was sleeping. He had told Michael that he was sure we would show up before long. This was Michael’s first experience with one of our adventures and he was less than calm. He explained to Sandy that they had looked for us as they said they would until it became so late and rainy that they went back to the cabin. Michael was very worried that something horrible had happened to his family. Art encouraged him to relax. Michael, and Art set out with a gas can to rescue us. We were ecstatic to see them.

The story of the Night in the Nicolet Forest has been told many times and has become a part of our family history.  Several versions have been shared.

Who is Judy

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