Woodworking again: A tale of two hostelries

By Dave Wood, with apologies to Chas. Dickens
Posted 9/21/23

It was the best of inns; it was the worst of inns, two hostelries where we had to bed down as we recently traveled the upper Midwest. Let’s start with the best place to go in our entire …

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Woodworking again: A tale of two hostelries


It was the best of inns; it was the worst of inns, two hostelries where we had to bed down as we recently traveled the upper Midwest. Let’s start with the best place to go in our entire experience as travelers who often stay at mom and pop resorts, rather than “going for the gold” at the chains that advertise constantly on national TV that spaces are available.

I speak fondly of “My Last Resort,” in tiny Mikana, Wis., a few miles north of Rice Lake and hard by the metropolis of Haugen. We’ve been staying at Barb Dirkes’ four-cabin plus condo venue for many years and it just keeps getting better. Barb remodeled them years ago and keeps dolling up these comfortable cabins. Each has two bedrooms, a modern kitchen, a bath with tiled shower, a spacious deck, and a manicured lawn. Barb’s daughter-in-law Lisa runs the show these days and does the same great job that her mother-in-law did in the past. Lisa is usually there to greet you when you arrive, as a lawn mower buzzes up and down the spacious yard that fronts the canal that leads to the dam that creates beautiful Red Cedar Lake. This year we noticed new roofs on the boat houses that accompany each dwelling and provide shelter for one’s own boat or one of the pontoons for rent (kayaks for free.)

A few steps away is a convenience store and bait shop, and a decent restaurant/bar just across Highway 48 that features live entertainment on weekends.

But wait! There’s more, as the hucksters say on TV. Here are a few extras My Last Resort offers.  a Weber grill, a firepit for each dwelling, free wood for your personal firepit, a fish cleaning room and freezer, a portable deep fryer if you want to stage a fish fry, large kettles in the storeroom, all manner of games, like Jarts, which Lisa and a long-standing guest demonstrated to us in the dark of night using electrified Jarts and goals. Exciting! There’s a reclamation room if you forget to take something home. One year we left a bottle of cheap Scotch in the cupboard.  When the bottle inexplicably disappeared, Barb replaced it with a bottle of fine Scotch upon our return the following year.

One of the most amazing items that sets My Last Resort apart is the BIG BOOKLET created by Barb, which includes all manner of information about the area, including the menus of the best restaurants in the area, with prices, and maps of the region. It also includes a listing of available TV stations (including NETFLIX) and what they’re good for!

Three of us stayed this year in cabin 2. The tab was $140 per night, plus 5.5 percent sales tax. If you want it for a week for two people, it’ll cost you $825. Interested? Call 715-651-7345.

There’s always a downside to travel and here’s our nomination for the past several trips we’ve taken. Chain motels. This year’s nomination goes to the Super 8 of Osseo, Wis. It was built after I-94 came through and that was ages ago. Osseo’s Super 8 shows its age. Everything is worn. Tiles in the bathroom are not non-stick. The bedsheets are worn and shabby, the card keys didn’t work past day 1 (“Yeah, they’re finicky,” admitted the clerk). The breakfast was okay, if you like teeny mushy Danish rolls, wrapped in impenetrable cellophane, floppy toast, weak coffee, and dry cereal.

And this is what grates on me like a rasp on a lemon peel. No BIG BOOK, as they offered at Barb’s Last Resort. Nada, nothing. No menus, no prices, even though we know that Osseo has some fine eating places (no, definitely NOT the Norske Nook!) Super 8 offers Direct TV, but no guide to what’s available. So one must scroll through the menu, channel by channel, only to discover – time and again – that the channel of our choice was not subscribed to by Super 8. The cost tells the story: $10 MORE per night than My Last Resort. Mom and Pop seems like a no-brainer. Whaddya think? I know what I think. I hope the Dirkes family of Mikana never joins up with a chain!

Dave would like to hear from you. Call him at 715-426-9554.

Woodworking again, Dave Wood, My Last Resort, Super 8, hotels, travel, opinion