The Happy Hooker and Getting Loonie

Our five days in South Dakota were over before we knew it, and before long, the RV wheels were rolling down the road heading toward our summer destination in northern Wisconsin. It was the third week in June and with severe storms coming and going throughout the Midwest, we opted to move quickly and not linger along the way. We also decided to stick with Interstate roads where feasible. We were on a mission to get to our summer home as soon as possible and avoid getting caught on the road in one of those nasty storms.

Whenever we travel through a major city, we try to plan on doing so on a weekend morning in hopes of avoiding any rush hour traffic or other heavy traffic. Although the drive through St. Paul, Minnesota on a Saturday morning was uneventful, I think the next time we drive through the area, we’ll take the truck/bypass route (494 to 694 back to 35E).

Driving I-35E through St. Paul, MN

Once we made it to Hayward, Wisconsin, Al’s sister met us at the local Walmart so she could help direct us to her and her husband’s place, our home for the summer. We were really glad we followed her to the house because our GPS was just a smidgen off. Normally that’s not a problem with just our truck, but when pulling an RV things get a little more difficult especially when the roads are densely wooded and there’s no spot big enough for us to turn around.

(To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image)

The Happy Hooker

After a relaxing first day at our new RV campsite, it was time for some summer fun. High on our agenda was visiting the Happy Hooker. A few miles down the heavily tree-lined road from our RV site on private property is a cute little store called the Happy Hooker Bait and Tackle shop which is like an old fashioned country store that has a little bit of everything.

In addition to a large selection of fishing tackle & bait, they have gasoline, ice, beer, liquor, clothing, gifts, groceries, and most importantly … bug repellent. Just about anything you might need in a pinch with the convenience of not having to drive the thirty-minutes into the town of Hayward.

It was here that Al and I purchased our Wisconsin fishing licenses for the summer. Yep, the Happy Hooker is all about fishing. What did you think I was talking about?

That first week back in the Midwest took a bit of adjusting. First off, the bugs. Boy, I’d forgotten how annoying mosquitos are and as much as I tried to stay away from the harsh bug repellent, that first tick bite had me grabbing a can of spray-on Deep Woods Off. Yeah, bring on the “Deet“.

How many lakes does Wisconsin have?

Water recreation during the summer in northern Wisconsin is huge and the state is home to more than 11,000 lakes. With approximately 1 million acres of lakes to choose from, it’s no wonder that folks from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas flock to their favorite lake for a summer vacation, or better yet, they actually own a second home on lakefront property for regular weekend getaways. Who doesn’t dream of owning lakefront property? (Ok, maybe those of you who prefer oceanfront property πŸ˜„)

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, our family summer vacations were always spent at a campground on a picturesque lake, usually in Wisconsin. One of our family favorites was on the Chippewa Flowage just outside of Hayward, Wisconsin. We had a popup trailer at the time and my dad had a fishing buddy that would regularly join us so he could bring up our boat.

When my sister-in-law and her husband moved up to Hayward, Wisconsin, from northern Illinois, I couldn’t wait to visit them and revisit some of my childhood stomping grounds.

This was the campground beach where my brother and I spent most of our time playing when we weren’t learning to waterski. Still looks like a ton of fun today! Our little sister was too young to join us without mom nearby. Revisiting was rather emotional for me as thoughts of fond childhood memories flooded my mind. Oh, how I wanted to call my dad to let him know where I was, but that wasn’t possible. It has been just shy of a year since his passing.

Getting Loonie

All that water not only provides a great deal of recreation, but it also provides a water source to an abundance of wildlife. When Al and I decided to spend our summer in northern Wisconsin, high on my wishlist was capturing a nice image of a Loon, one of my favorite birds. Not only are they a beautiful bird, but their sound is so unique. There’s nothing like a quiet morning on the water in a canoe listening to their calls.

Although we no longer own a canoe, we do have a pontoon boat at our disposal this summer … perfect for lake cruising and fishing. During one of our boat rides, I noticed something white in the tall grasses near the shoreline. Initially, I assumed it was a plastic (Walmart) bag and directed Al to get near so we could retrieve it and dispose of it properly. Before getting too close to shore and possibly getting the boat prop tangled in weeds, I used my camera’s lens to zoom in and confirm that it was indeed a plastic bag.

Surprise, surprise, surprise! It was not garbage but rather a nesting Loon. To say I was giddy with excitement would be an understatement. Al turned the boat so we wouldn’t get near the nest and disturb the beautiful Loon. Loons only have one or two chicks and the last thing we wanted to do was stress the mama and cause her to leave the nest.

Al slowed the boat and for the next ten minutes, we cruised by her a few times. With my 600mm zoom and a little crop in processing, I was rather pleased with a few of my images. For the first couple of weeks in July, every outing on the boat included a slow cruise past Lily the Loon.

We knew hatching time was near when her partner was easy to spot. Normally loons dive when a boat gets near them, but one evening, it appeared Papa Loon was becoming very protective and refused to dive or get out of the way of boat traffic (which is thankfully rather light around here). This forced boaters to go around him to avoid potentially hitting him. Most boaters, like us, slowed down to capture a few photos of this rare treat. Guess I’m not the only loonie one around here.

It was thrilling to have Mr. Loon swim right alongside our boat.

Trivia; The $1 Canadian coin is nicknamed the “Loonie” – derived from the picture of a solitary loon on one side of the coin. Canadian’s have the coolest currency. Eh!

More wildlife sightings

Although my encounters with the Loons have made every mosquito, fly, and tick bite worth hanging out in the northwoods, I encountered another wildlife first. I’ll save that for a another post.

For the latest and most up to date info on our travels, be sure and follow me on Instagram @ livelaughrv

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72 thoughts on “The Happy Hooker and Getting Loonie

  1. Wow, Ingrid, Wisconsin reminds me a lot of New Hampshire. We have a loon on our pond, too and just love to watch him. No nesting pairs, though, our little lake is just too small.

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    1. Don’t you love hearing his call? Or is the loon quiet because of no partner? Every morning and evening (and sometimes during the day), I hear the loons … a sound I’ll miss once we leave lake living behind come mid September and head back to the desert southwest.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We miss it, too, when we go to FL. He definitely calls…it’s beautiful, but haunting.

        We will be staying in the SW not this winter, but next. Any suggestions where to stay warm? We will do some traveling to see the NAT’L parks, but not until spring and early summer of 2021. We will be in SW 2020-2021.

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  2. Love Hayward! My grandparents owned a cabin up there in the 1940’s-50’s in the Northwoods Beach Subdivision, which I believe is not part of the Indian reservation. We were located just one block from Grindstone Lake,…Ask Charmy if she knows that lake. Of late, we have been many times to Treland’s Resort and know Jan and Harold Treland very well…The ideal set up would be to Winter in Florida or Arizona and spend summers in Hayward!! In our dreams..Hugs to Al’s sisters!!

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    1. Treland’s is only five minutes away and I’ve been meaning to get over there, but time is getting away from me. You would love Char’s place. We’re definitely enjoying lake life and are already planning on returning next summer. Great place to hang IN THE SUMMER! Darla and my daughter will be visiting at the end of the month … will pass along hugs 😊

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  3. Aside from bugs and GPS hiccups, I’d say your summer looks wonderful, Ingrid! Your pics are gorgeous as always and you and Al seem to be enjoying RV life! It would be my dream to live near a lake so I could just walk out and throw my SUP or kayak in and go! Thanks for sharing your map, too, I love to view the course!

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    1. Thanks Terri … you would love it here. When the neighbors visit their property on weekends, they are always out on the water in their kayaks and SUP. Such fun! I’ve started adding those maps as much for me as my readers. It serves as a reminder to me where we stopped and the route we took as some of my traveling years seem to blend together … ah, could it be old age that I can’t remember one year from the next? Never πŸ˜†

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We traveled Wisconsin one summer for a couple weeks and had a wonderful time. Sounds like a beautiful location you have for the summer. Good to family in the right places and a boat. Love, love your woods/lake reflection photo. And the loon photos are gorgeous!! Glad you got your reward. Too bad the east has so many darn mosquitoes. Of course the wet spring has brought them on big time. It is the ticks that concern me the most, though. Keep that Deet on and be careful with the darn ticks.

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    1. Yes, the whole thought of ticks was freaking me out and I did all kinds of research. The one tick that bit me was young and hadn’t attached firmly, but I still put it in a baggie just in case I reacted to the bite. Then it could be tested for Lyme. Along with all these beautiful lakes and lush forests is moisture. So bugs and humidity come with the territory. Fortunately, the mosquitoes tapered off mid-July. But the beauty of travel is we get to return to AZ and dry out. I’m loving the diversity!

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  5. Looks like a wonderful place to spend the summer. In VT we would encounter Loons as we canoed, so much fun to canoe with them all around. We know all too well about the bugs of the midwest, sure will be glad to be in an area where they aren’t. Love the name of the bait shop!!

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    1. I’ve been thinking of you guys and your canoe. This summer I’m missing ours and regretting selling it, but sometimes ya gotta set priorities. Fortunately, the bugs aren’t bad anymore making our time here even more enjoyable.

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    1. Thanks Jim. Yeah, next time we’ll go around St. Paul, but we wanted to kind of see the skyline and figured on an early Saturday morning traffic wouldn’t be an issue. No need to travel that way again.

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  6. You are a snazzy hooker πŸ™‚ and a great loonie picture taker. I never get a decent picture because they are always in the middle of the lake.’ lucky you.
    Now for that mosquitoes.., you did arrive at their peak life. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

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    1. Yep, a boat was most definitely needed to capture those loon images. By arriving the third week in June, we were ripe for those blood sucking bugs. Fortunately, as we entered into July they tapered off and aren’t a big problem any more. Our summer is going by way too fast! Ashton will be joining us for a week at the end of the month πŸ˜ƒ

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  7. Wow, such a beautiful place to spend the summer. Your pics of the loons are beautiful and they are so pretty. Seeing them reminds me of the movie “On Golden Pond” where the loons were out and singing in the night.

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    1. Thank you! Early mornings and late evenings is when they seem to be most vocal and their sound adds to the landscape like no other place I know. We have enjoyed our summer immensely!

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  8. Awesome post! Such a pretty part of the country. Thanks for sharing! Margaret was born in Wisconsin and Neal went to grad school in the Twin Cities. Always nice to make a return visit to the Midwest!

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    1. This is our first time returning to the Midwest for such a lengthy stay. Normally we visit for a week or two. So, we weren’t sure how we’d feel about spending our entire summer here and dealing with humidity and bugs again. Living in Colorado and then Arizona has really spoiled us, but we’re having a fantastic summer…. not that I would move back πŸ˜† Great place to visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Years ago we considered buying a house on Okanagan Lake but decided against it because it’s just to depressing in the winter, beautiful in the summer, cold and grey in the winter. Lucky you getting up close and personal with the loons.

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    1. My sister-in-law and husband are dealing with just that. They love living here six months out of the year, but the winters are brutal especially this past winter. They have a couple more years of working and then they’ll be able to head south for the winter. Yes, I was lucky seeing the loons. Very special!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I just love your loon photos and the story about papa lion protecting the nest. I’ll be anxiously awaiting your next post to learn about your other wildlife sightings. On another note, we used a Thermacell to help keep the mosquitoes away when we were in Alaska.

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    1. Our South Dakota friends introduced us to the Thermacell. If we come back in June again, I think we’ll pick one up. Once mid-July rolled around, the mosquitos tapered off and weren’t as much of an issue. That papa loon was very bold and interesting to see. Spoiler alert … a bald eagle!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It looks and sounds like you’re in a fabulous location, Ingrid. Beautiful pics, too, as usual! About five years ago in New Hampshire, we launched our kayaks on a pretty little lake located at the end of a Forest Service road. We – and a family of loons – were the only ones on the lake. Between their haunting cries and the fact that they are, at times, elusive, loons seem almost magical to me. You and Al are such good outdoor enthusiasts, working hard not to stress the wildlife. Good for you – and for your loon family! Enjoy the rest of your Wisconsin summer!

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        1. Magical! I like that and perhaps that’s the best description for the loons. Nothing like being on the water in a canoe or kayak slowly paddling. As much as I enjoy a boat, the engine noise has a tendency to interrupt the experience. Sounds like you had a wonderful experience in NH. We are indeed enjoying our summer! Thank you 😊

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  11. It sure looks and sounds like you picked the perfect spot to be this summer, despite the bugs. Such a beautiful and peaceful lake, and on family property. I actually had no idea how Loons look like and how pretty they really are. So, thank you for sharing these special images. The birds are magnificent! I’ve only seen them from far away and certainly never managed to photograph them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not normally easy to photograph loons. They usually dive as soon as a boat nears. So this was special. Fortunately, the bugs were less of an issue the further into July we got which is making me happy. This is a beautiful spot to spend the summer and we’re considering a repeat next year.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There are few things I miss about living in the Midwest but you touched on a few … loons, water, greenery, and lake living. Can’t have waterfront property in AZ which is a bummer. But then again, AZ doesn’t have the rainfall and lakes. Trade-offs!

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  12. Do you remember Xaviera Hollander, The Happy Hooker, who offered a different kind of bait? A couple of my friends moms got into reading Hollander’s books in the early 70’s when they first came out. We boys, in our early teens, would sneak the books and read them out loud to each other. We laughed a lot, got a bit of education, and some reading skills out of those books. The Happy Hooker bait shop sounds like a really cool place. I love your loon photos.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. After my comment I was curious about what she was up to. She’s married, has a bed & breakfast in Holland, and is still happy.

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  13. Hi, Ingrid,
    Your bird pictures are what first attracted me to your website and you haven’t let me down yet. The loon with his wings out is a fantastic photograph. I also loved the still water image. Three years ago we had a wonderful time in the Apostle Islands of northern Wisconsin and stayed in a lighthouse on Lake Michigan near Two Rivers. Great state for a relaxing vacation. Enjoy and keep the camera handy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A few weeks ago, we visited Bayfield for the day. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the greatest so we took a pass on a boat tour around the Apostle Islands. We’re still hoping to do that this summer, but since we are talking about returning next year, it may need to go on the return list πŸ˜ƒ

      Glad I could provide a few bird images. It has been a challenging summer for me in the photography department, but a fantastic summer nonetheless!

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    1. As time goes by, my travels have a tendency to blend together. So, the map is as much for me as it is for my readers 🀣 Wow! That loon encountered had to be cool. Oh, how I wish we had a canoe at our disposal this summer. Nothing like a quiet paddle first thing in the morning!

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  14. I so enjoyed visiting Wisconsin with you in the summertime, Ingrid. This state is where I lived in my youth, and I, too, have memories of summer lake visits. It’s so lush there in the summer, everything is emerald green. And how extremely thrilling to get to watch the nesting loon pair. Excellent photos, as always, and I appreciated the map too — quite an adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do remember that you grew up in Wisconsin. The landscape is vastly different than what we’re surrounded by in the west. My daughter, who grew up in Colorado, is fascinated by the lush landscape which I always took for granted growing up around it.

      It’s been a fun summer returning to a place that holds fond memories. My adventures continue!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Not much better than lake life in the summer, although I wouldn’t like your mosquitoes! For some reason (we’re not looking a gift horse in the mouth) we aren’t bothered by them here. Lots of bats and martins perhaps, who knows, but it makes life much more pleasant!

    I loved your Loon captures! We had an adult and a juvenile with us for awhile but they seem to have moved on.

    Enjoy the rest of your beautiful summer, it seems to be moving more quickly this year….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lake life is the best! And yes, the summer is moving by rapidly. Not sure how that happened πŸ˜ƒ. Fortunately by the third week in July, the bugs let up and most days I can run around without needing any Deet.
      I just love those loons! We’re already talking about returning next summer. At this rate, I’ll never make it to the PNW, the one area in the U.S. that has eluded my travels 😏

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    1. Yes, our phones are NOT working at my sister-in-laws place. However, I am able to text via iPhone to iPhone. It’s been interesting being disconnected most of the summer. Email does work via house internet. Even our hotspot won’t work. 😊

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  16. You had me at Loonie!

    We collect Loons! We have collections at both homes. One day I’ll share the story with you as to why we collect them.

    We have seen some at Washington Island but too far away to get a picture.

    This just made my Sunday Morning! I may ask you for a print… to add to my office collection!

    Gorgeous captures!! ❀️

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    1. I did not know about your loon collection. You’ll need to share it with me (bet it’s at the lake house?). And of course, you can have your pick of loon images. I would love to share. Enjoy your summer Sunday 😘

      Liked by 1 person

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