Checked Off the Bucket List: Spending a Family Reunion in 110-Mph Winds

This past weekend was supposed to be a family reunion of my husband’s mother’s relatives at the family cabin in northwestern Wisconsin. I was hoping to come home with my brain packed with memories that looked all sparkly and fun, kinda like this photo I took from a family gathering several years ago:

Instead, they look like this, all broken trees, sweat, mosquito spray and hard work.

Yeah, so the family reunion didn’t really go as planned, thanks to a shitstorm with 110 mph winds that swept over the region on Friday night. A group of us  was happily stuffing down fried walleye at a tavern about 15 miles south of the cabin, relatively clueless about the gigantic storm, when suddenly the power went out. Then we looked outside, and saw tree trunks bending  left and right like see-saws. Uh-oh. Sirens blared, and we started wondering what the hell was going on. Tornado? A new form of Wisconsin hurricane? The End Times?

Our cell phones didn’t work, so our information was limited to speculation from drunks at the bar and locals rushing in and out of the tavern. We never got clear info on what was happening and what to do (should we take cover somewhere?), only worsening our anxiety. We finally decided to leave, and head toward the cabin. As we drove, we could tell the storm damage was heavy, with trees snapped in half every few feet. Eventually (and carefully) we arrived at my husband’s parents’ cabin, where we found a huge birch tree blocking the entrance, so we had to park on the road. Our stomachs collectively crawled up to our throats as we hiked down the long forested driveway, not sure what we’d find at the end.

But we were lucky — while trees had fallen in very inconvenient ways, they had spared the cabin of any major damage. Whew. We spent the night in darkness (and no water — fun!) at a local hotel, and returned Saturday morning for a massive clean-up effort. The menfolk began clearing the massive tree trunks, and the ladies emptied the fridge of soon-to-rot foodstuffs and prepared for our major change in plans. I took photos. And tried to keep my feet from being sawed off, having only packed flip-flops and water sandals in anticipation of a relaxed, swimming-filled weekend.

By Saturday afternoon, we had cleared away most of the debris, and spent a couple of hours on the boat, in the lake, before we all packed up our stuff and headed back to the Twin Cities. We also snapped a group photo, by the freshly chainsawed big ole oak tree that blocked the middle portion of the driveway:

7 thoughts on “Checked Off the Bucket List: Spending a Family Reunion in 110-Mph Winds

  1. Martie says:

    Only you could make me cry with laughter at your tragedy. At least you can check this inconvenience off you bucket list!

  2. Steven says:

    Surely that wasn’t *actually* on your bucket list! LOL! I live in the area (River Falls), but was lucky enough to be traveling out west while this storm came through. I wish I could say this is rare, but it seems like we get these wicked storms quite often.

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