A noon rest, a bikini jest and Cruiserfest

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.

Cruiserfest 2014 attracted more than 2,000 sleds this year, a fact I overheard while laying low at the Minocqua Brewing Company. Ice conditions were perfect, though, if you've ever heard ice shift on a frozen Wisconsin lake, you'd be a little nervous too.
Cruiserfest 2014 attracted more than 2,000 sleds this year, a fact I overheard while laying low at the Minocqua Brewing Company. Ice conditions were perfect. (Although, if you’ve ever heard ice shift on a frozen Wisconsin lake, you’d be a little nervous too.)
This vintage sled boats a 2014 autograph "Happy Trails ACL and ACM." I thought it looked pretty cool.
This vintage sled boasts a 2014 autograph “Happy Trails ACL and ACM.” I thought it looked pretty cool and now I want to know who ACL and ACM are.
This sled freaked me out.
This sled freaked me out.
Tractor snowmobile
This guy showed up with a cool tractor sled, a handy trailer and an animal pelt on his head.
The poor, frozen, Thirsty Whale has been serving lake visitors for more than 100 years.
The poor, frozen, Thirsty Whale has been serving lake visitors for more than 100 years. He still looks pretty chipper under all that snow.
Polecat and Lace intrigued me, but after the bikini snub I thought I'd better save it for my next visit.
Polecat and Lace intrigued me, but after the bikini snub I thought I’d better save it for my next visit.
Over the river and through the woods
Snowmobiles raced over and under the bridge on a perfect (read freezing) February Saturday.
I found lots of treasures at Gaslight Square, a 1920s style thankfully indoor mall.
I found lots of treasures at Gaslight Square, a 1920s style thankfully indoor mall.

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