Minocqua owes its cool name to its first inhabitants, the Objibwes, who set the tone for the tiny north woods community by calling it “noon rest.”
Last Saturday I enjoyed a lovely noon rest in Minocqua, a truly charming town that once consisted of 29 saloons, two hotels, two general stores, a small market and 15 homes.
Perhaps the disproportionate number of saloons led to another interesting historical event, the devastating fire of 1912 during which the whole town burned to the ground while, “a group of men tried to stop the fire by setting dynamite, but their plan failed,” according to the chamber’s website.
That lumberjack mentality still keeps things lively around those parts, evidenced by Cruiserfest, an annual snowmobile festival.
Cruiserfest 2014 coincided with my accidental visit, so I wandered down to Lake Minocqua to take a look. The juxtaposition of 2000 snowmobiles on a frozen lake to my right, and the Gilmore Girl-esque town to my left disoriented me for a bit. (Though that could have been my body’s attempt to digest the rich deliciousness of the crème brulee hot chocolate I’d just enjoyed at the Great Northern Coffee Shop. It also could have been the exhaust from 2,000 idling snowmobiles.)
In any case, the whole scene intimidated me a little, so I took a few pictures and scurried back up to the town, apparently just missing the bikini snowmobile race, helpfully described on event literature as “for females only.”
Mulling the affront (no one had even mentioned the bikini race to me, much less recruited me to participate, which might have been fun had I worn a bikini…ever…in my life), I spent some time in the tonier area of Minocqua, Gaslight Square, a 1920s style indoor mall.
I wrapped up my visit with a tasty stop in the Minocqua Brewing Company, which sits just off highway 51 on Lakeshore Drive in Minocqua. You can’t miss it. Unless you’re my daughter Katherine, who drove right past me. Twice.
I really enjoyed my Saturday stop in Minocqua, though next time I visit I’m bringing my cross country skies…and a bikini.