Sandra Scott Travels: The Muskie Capital Has Much To Offer

Welcome to Boulder Junction

Welcome to Boulder Junction

Last week I asked: Where is the Muskie Capital of the World?

Boulder Junction, Wisc.

Welcome to Boulder Junction
Welcome to Boulder Junction

Boulder Junction is called the “Muskie Capital of the World.”

What’s a muskie, you may wonder?

“Muskie” or “Musky” is short for muskellunge, a large relatively uncommon freshwater fish native to North America.

It is the largest member of the pike family.

Muskies are highly sought after by fishermen because of their explosive strikes and rugged fights.

If you want to catch a prize-winning muskellunge then Vilas County is the place for you.

Moondeer & Friends Gallery
Moondeer & Friends Gallery

Recently, John and I were in Boulder Junction, one of the small towns in Vilas County, Wisconsin.

John went muskie fishing.

But, alas, no muskies.

John’s boat landed two fish while not far away a boat with three women caught 32 fish.

John can attest to the fact that Vilas County has more than 1,300 lakes, 73 rivers and streams because he went on a flight-seeing plane ride – he didn’t count them but said the county is dotted with lakes.

Take a flight-seeing plane ride
Take a flight-seeing plane ride

Even though no one caught a muskie people are sure to catch something.

The county has some of the best smallmouth bass, walleye, trout and pike fishing.

I am not into fishing, so I explored Boulder Junction, just one of the unique small towns in Vilas County, Wisconsin.

I was surprised at the number of shops displaying the work of talented artists within walking distance of my hotel, Boulder Bear Motor Lodge, with Buskus, a large taxidermied black bear, in the lobby and live deer in the yard.

My first stop was at Penny Mykytka’s shop.

A golf bag at Penny Mykytka’s shop
A golf bag at Penny Mykytka’s shop

Her leather creations are a work of art.

Check out her golf bag.

She also has items on consignment and a caged Caribbean monkey that she and her husband take walking about town.

My next stop was Moondeer & Friends Gallery with European, Asian, and contemporary fine art from more than 100 artists was great.

But, I was most intrigued by the antiques used to hold and display the artwork especially the huge 18th century dough box from a castle in Germany.

For antique hunters there are a couple antique stores in the area.

Wiley Miller’s Art Gallery
Wiley Miller’s Art Gallery

What was once a lumber company has been repurposed into shops including Firemouth Pottery where Bill Karafa’s displays his work along with that of several other artists.

The handcarved owls at Wiley Miller’s Art Gallery are so lifelike that I was waiting for one to blink.

His work has been featured on magazine covers.

Outside, his son, Jeff, was carving a large bear with a chainsaw.

I am amazed that anyone can do such great work with a chainsaw.

The Outdoorsman Restaurant is a one-of-a-kind eating place.

Fresh is key at The Outdoorsman Restaurant
Fresh is key at The Outdoorsman Restaurant

I decided I was on vacation so I could have one of my favorite foods for lunch – rhubarb pie!

It was delicious and while eating I enjoyed watching the goat outside in what Amy Wheeler calls her “Miracle Farm.”

Besides goats she raises chickens and rabbits she grows her own herbs.

The restaurant features “farm to table” items made from scratch.

One of the outside buildings is called the “wash house” because it was near the railroad tracks and during the lumbering days arriving lumberjacks could go to wash up.

Lodge bear
Lodge bear

The vitality of Boulder Junction is incredible considering the population is less than 1,000.

Most of the shop owners visited the area as children but spent most of their life in a city.

They have decided to leave the stress of a metropolitan area for the serenity of Vilas County.

Travel Trivia Tease™: What state produces the most cranberries?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!