After being locked down in our home for two and a half months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had the opportunity to travel 4 hours, 250 miles (400 kilometers) north to Minocqua, Wisconsin in Oneida County to stay at Brian and Pam Marmes’ magnificent 4-season T-Bird Getaway rental home on Minocqua Lake.  For many reasons, this was a wonderful experience.  The beautifully appointed 1570 square feet (146 square meters) 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom home was acquired, gutted, rebuilt with the most inviting furnishings and decorations, including an electronic trash can.  Located on the lake with an available 22-foot pontoon, kyacks, paddleboard, barbeque, firepit, makes for an enjoyable stay.  Reservations can be made through this link: https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p1808883vb

The cottage comfortably houses a family of six.  Located directly on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes for fishing, swimming, and recreational activities, and a short drive/bike ride to walking/biking trails, ice skating and much more.  The home is located close to grocery stores, and the one we visited is significantly larger than any in our home environment.  I enjoyed the convenience of the Wi-Fi connection, Keurig coffee maker, TV, and everything about this family-friendly home.

My daughter’s review: Brian was friendly and easy to communicate with. The home is in a perfect location in a quiet, pretty, bay with beautiful views, but also close to town and hiking/biking paths.  We were thrilled with how spotlessly clean and new the house is. It is newly updated, and everything is so well done from the kitchen and bathrooms to the comfortable beds. There are so many considerate extras – like k-cups next to the Kuerig and shampoo/conditioner in the shower.  We loved the availability of the kayaks, bikes, lawn games.  Highly recommend and we would stay again!

Oneida County was formed in 1887.  Current population 35,470.  It was named after the indigenous Native American Oneida tribe, one of the six nations of the Iroquois, comprising Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora.  Oneida County has a total area of 1,236 square miles (3,200 km2), of which 1,113 square miles (2,880 km2) are land and 123 square miles (320 km2) (10%) are covered by water.  Most people visit Oneida County to enjoy its lakes. In particular, tourists flock to Minocqua, a town of nearly 5,000 people with a summer population of around 15,000.

Minocqua and the neighboring communities of Arbor Vitae and Woodruff—are filled with over 2,300 sparkling blue lakes, streams, and ponds. They adjoin the mighty Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest.  Locals and visitors can enjoy an incredible array of activities, both onshore and water.  The Minocqua area features supper clubs, shopping, cafes, ice cream stands, outfitters, real lumberjack shows, the oldest amateur ski show in the United States, museums, and gaming.

Our drive north on a Sunday presented around 70 campers traveling south, as families returned from the Northwoods after taking a break with many schools closing for the summer.  With portions of road construction reducing lanes to a single lane in each direction, it caused miles long slowdowns for the southbound traffic.  We returned home on a weekday starting our journey at 10:00 am and did not endure the same frustrating experience.  AAA (American Automobile Association) provides me with motor vehicle insurance.  To receive a small break in rates I use an app on my iPhone to monitor my driving.  The average American scores 74 points.  My reading before this trip was 82.  To keep the peace with my wife, I decided that I would not exceed the speed limit by even one mile an hour.  My vehicle has adaptive cruise control, allowing me to slow down to the vehicle’s speed in front of me, helpful if I cannot overtake due to road works or heavy traffic.  At each stage of the journey, I adjusted the cruise control to the prevailing speed limit.  Driving on the open roads and highways, I was fascinated to see that I was overtaken by almost all trucks and other vehicles, and had very few reasons to pass other motorists.  Driving the speed limit in single-lane construction zones, showed the long line of cars behind me.  There were two benefits to my driving defensively.  I discovered that I had a range of more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) on my tank of fuel, and I scored 93 on my AAA app.  It reflected a driving time of 4 hours 16 minutes, for a distance of 254.4 miles (409.4 kilometers).  It begs the question, why do we have speed limits if they are not honored by the majority of motorists?

If you are looking for a great vacation spot, I highly recommend Minocqua, Wisconsin, and especially the Marmes’ cottage.