At ease, time out, slack off, ease up, chill out, take it easy, give it a rest. In other words, relax! That’s what you’ve come here for, isn’t it? That could mean a lazy flick of the wrist in search of pan fish or an intense afternoon hunting the elusive musky. It might mean hitting the water for a boat ride, or revving up the snowmobile for a little high-energy sport. Or, say, a cozy snooze on a quiet afternoon. Whatever you choose, you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and rested up, right? It’s what you came to the Northwoods for, and now that you’re in the heart of it, you might as well live it to the max.

Whoever said the best things in life are free must have been relaxing in the Minocqua area. One of the great things about “up North” is the ratio of lakes, forest and sky to everything we call civilization. There’s a whimsical hierarchy of activities here. When the blackberries turn from red to black, you pick ’em. When snow falls, you catch snowflakes on your tongue. When loons venture near the pier or a deer appears outside the kitchen window, you drop what you’re doing to watch. An eagle soaring overhead warrants interrupting anything. The shout for a game of horseshoes or an afternoon ski is the closest thing to a command — but only if you really feel like it. Summer or winter, a calm day under blue skies trumps all. Let your days be guided by the disposition of sun and breeze, the proximity of wildlife, and by who’s in the mood for a game of cards or a stroll down to the lake to see the stars.

Night falls gently here. Light grows faint on the horizon and stars begin to twinkle overhead. in summer, resident loons, just a shadow on the lake in the deepening twilight, call taps with their haunting wails.  in winter, owls hoot a throaty signal that dusk is upon us. in a few hours, the sky is dense with stars, the Milky Way a gleaming arc of white. With a little luck, you’ll see the Northern Lights or maybe a shooting star or two or ten. Or create your own magic lights with a campfire.

This area has one of the highest concentrations of lakes in the world, the product of many millennia of glacial scouring. Plenty of open water invites energetic water sports and year-round fishing, and thousands of natural inlets and bays offer privacy and quiet for wildlife watching. State and national forests cover much of the area, promising abundant foot, bike and ski trails that wind through stands of red and white pine, birch and maple, and the occasional field of prairie grasses. Many of the old logging roads and rail corridors of the Pinery days have been transformed into easily accessible recreational trails for year-round use.

No matter how you define relaxation, sleep refreshed and let your ‘alarm clock’ be the laughter of loons, the mellifluous cries of migrating Canada geese, or the cheerful chatter of chickadees. The Northwoods wake-up service costs nothing and has restorative properties beyond anything money can buy.