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Connecting Buyers and Sellers in NW Wisconsin

By Jean Hedren | Agent in Gordon, WI
  • NW Wisconsin Fall 2014 bucket list

    Posted Under: General Area in Wisconsin, Entertainment & Nightlife in Wisconsin, In My Neighborhood in Wisconsin  |  September 15, 2014 8:50 AM  |  11 views  |  No comments
    NW Wisconsin Fall 2014 Bucket ListNW Wisconsin Fall 2014 Bucket List
  • Things to do in Douglas County, NW Wisconsin: The Bird Sanctuary

    Posted Under: General Area in Douglas County, In My Neighborhood in Douglas County  |  September 14, 2014 7:58 AM  |  25 views  |  2 comments

    Things to Do in Northwest Wisconsin: The Bird Sanctuary

    If you’re looking for things to do here in Northwestern Wisconsin, you should know about the 4,000-acre Douglas County Wildlife Management Area (DCWMA). On some maps it also appears as the Douglas County State Wildlife Area. Around here, most people just call it “The Bird Sanctuary.”

    Here’s a quick overview, courtesy of the Friends of the Bird Sanctuary. To learn more about the Bird Sanctuary, you can visit their website.

    The Bird Sanctuary map

    Things to Do

    First, you should know The Bird Sanctuary isn’t just for birders and wildlife watchers. It’s also a great place for picnicking, berry-picking, hiking, backcountry skiing, and snowshoeing.

    On their website, the Friends of the Bird Sanctuary also mention that this is a great place for “wildflower observations.” That’s a nice way of saying you can look and take all the photos you want, but please don’t pick them. Some of these wildflowers, even if locally abundant, are apparently quite rare.

    The North Country Hiking Trail runs through The Bird Sanctuary, and you can also hike on lots of other trails. (Please check back for future blog posts about the North County Hiking Trail.) Horseback riding is allowed on designated trails.

    (Tip: Whether you’re hiking or riding, the Bird Sanctuary’s open terrain can be a good place to escape summer’s mosquitos and deer flies. You’ll still encounter a few, but not quite as many as you would in the nearby woods.)

    Although none of the hiking trails within The Bird Sanctuary are designated for biking, its the paved and dirt roads are great for biking. (Some of the sand roads, however, are quite soft.) Nearby, you’ll also find lots more roads and trails.

    As part of their educational outreach, The Friends of the Bird Sanctuary sponsor an annual series of fun programs and outings, many of them with a hands-on outdoor component. They’re led by wildlife biologists, naturalists, historians, and other experts from around the region.

    If you’d like to watch shartail grouse dance in April and early May, you can reserve the ground blind that’s positioned right nest to their dancing grounds. It’s free of charge, and a rare opportunity to watch this fascinating courtship ritual.

    For a modest fee, you can also rent The Bird Sanctuary clubhouse for an event of your own. It’s a popular venue for summertime wedding receptions, birthday parties, and other events. Be sure to make your reservation well ahead of time.

    Why This Habitat is Different

    The first thing you’ll notice is the wide open spaces. The Bird Sanctuary is one of the our region’s final remnants of grassland savanna—small stands of pine and oak sprinkled through open grassland, with a few clumps of hazel and aspen thrown in for good measure. Until the arrival of European settlers, naturally-occurring fires created an ever-shifting mosaic of these grassland clearings, which are sometimes called “northern pine savannas” or “northern oak savannas.”

    Early settlers didn’t think much of these places. They called them “barrens.” Over the years, as newcomers plowed fields, planted trees, and suppressed fires, these open areas gradually disappeared. These grasslands—and the wildlife they support—once covered over a third of Wisconsin. Today fewer than 40,000 acres remain, and 4,000 of those acres are right here in the Bird Sanctuary.

    Many species depend on this unique ecosystem, and much of what little remains is in isolated pockets too small to maintain the genetic diversity that’s necessary for species’ long-term survival. Northern Wisconsin has only a few remaining contiguous pieces of grassland savanna that are as large as the one preserved here.

    The Bird Sanctuary also happens to be a great great habitat for humans to explore. For directions to the Bird Sanctuary, click here.

  • Stick-built, log, and timber frame homes

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Wisconsin, Design & Decor in Wisconsin  |  September 12, 2014 9:15 AM  |  31 views  |  No comments

    Stick-Built, Log, and Timber-Frame Homes

    This post is in honor of the stunning 3BR 2 BA custom-crafted timber-frame lake home I’m listing in Barnes, WI. It’s on crystal-clear, 55’ deep Bony Lake, which is part of the Eau Claire chain of lakes and connected to Middle Eau Claire Lake by a navigable channel. 

    Timber frame home on Bony LakeTimber frame home on Bony Lake

    Just what’s the difference between stick-built, log, and timber-frame homes? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each construction method? Are all log homes really log homes? And what’s the difference between a log home and a timber-frame home? What about homes that combine elements of both construction methods? For a quick overview, keep reading.

    Here in North America, nearly all homes are now built with light-frame construction that employs dimensional lumber, usually 2x4s or 2x6s. It’s a technique that allows builders to efficiently and economically enclose a large space with less material. You’ll sometimes hear these homes described as “stick-built,” especially when they’re being compared to mobile or modular homes.

    The term also makes sense when these conventional construction techniques are compared to log or timber-frame homes. Compared to logs and timbers, those puny 2x4s and 2x6s are just “sticks.” But put enough of them together in the right way, and you get a strong, durable structure that’s relatively easy and economical to build. So it’s no wonder “stick-built” has become the default residential construction method in much of the world. Sometimes it’s just called “normal” or “conventional” construction.

    Still, here in Northwestern Wisconsin we do see a fair amount of log and timber-frame construction. Some examples are older, relatively modest homes that were built before these designs became newly fashionable. Most, however, are high-end lake homes whose owners chose these construction methods because they appreciated their aesthetics and craftsmanship. Apart from cost, these building techniques have very few disadvantages—and often some real advantages that go way beyond aesthetics.

    But the first thing you should know about log homes is that many of them aren’t really log homes. They only have log siding. It’s shaped like half of a log, and it could be exactly that—half of a log that’s been sawed lengthwise. Or, it could be a thin veneer of wood over a foam core that’s lighter and more insulative. Not that there’s anything wrong with either method; these are fine stick-built homes with very attractive siding. From a distance, or even up close, most people won’t notice the difference.

    Purists, however, may opt for a home whose outer walls—and maybe even some interior walls—are built from actual logs. Real logs, carefully joined together and placed one on top of the other, are more than just decorative. They’re structural. The same construction method the pioneers used to build their tiny log cabins has now been adapted to the construction of luxury lake homes that are far more spacious. Although the logs are larger and builders use giant cranes to lift them into position, the basic concept is the same.

    Log homes can be beautiful, solid, stable, energy-efficient, and built to last. They do cost more to build than a stick-built home of the same size. But for buyers who appreciate the result, it’s worth every penny. Aesthetically, these homes have a special appeal. And spatially, their interiors typically feature much larger open areas than you’d see in a stick-built home. Because the outer walls and large beams do more to support the structure, the interior needn’t be interrupted by as many load-bearing walls.

    All these statements are equally true of timber-frame homes, which are generally built from squared-off beams that are much heavier than 2x4s or 2x6s. Typically these structural elements might be 6” or 12” thick, with a square or rectangular cross section. When it comes to exterior walls, timbers are simply squared-off logs. But true timber-frame construction also features interior posts and beams as major structural elements that make possible an especially open, airy floorplan.

    (The lake home featured here is a great example of that. It includes timber-framing on the outer walls, but also timber-frame structural elements that are visible on the interior. Its outer walls are built with long timbers that have a 6” x 12” cross-section, and at the corners they’re connected with dovetail joinery. Some interior beams are even larger, and that made possible an especially open, spacious floorplan.)

    For a more rustic look, these interior beams are sometimes left rounded; that’s one of those places where the lines between log and timber-frame construction might blur a bit. Traditionally, timbers were carefully fitted and joined together with large wooden pegs, similar to the mortise-and-tenon joints in furniture. Although that’s still done today, you may also see joints that are reinforced with steel gusset plates and giant bolts.

    In practice, many homes include log walls and timber-frame construction. ( Hmmm... If the outer wall is built from timbers, but each timber’s outer face is left rounded, then is the wall built from logs or timbers? And what about log homes with an outer face that’s been squared off?) And for most interior walls, of course, these homes still use traditional stick-built construction. Other homes are mostly stick-built, but include a few beams and timbers whose purpose is both aesthetic and structural. So again, sometimes the lines between these categories can blur a bit.

    For a great example of a home that incorporates true timber-frame construction both inside and out, check out this stunning, custom-designed luxury lake home on Bony Lake in Barnes, WisconsinCrystal-clear, 55’ deep Bony Lake is part of the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes, and is connected to Middle Eau Caire Lake by a navigable channel.

  • More lake home for your money, check out hidden corner of NW WI

    Posted Under: General Area in Douglas County, Home Buying in Douglas County  |  September 11, 2014 8:15 AM  |  14 views  |  No comments

    More Lake Home for Your Money, Check Out This Hidden Corner of NW Wisconsin

    I’ve helped connect buyers and sellers all over Douglas, Bayfield, Washburn, and Sawyer Counties, and I’d be glad to show you properties in places like Hayward, Spooner, or Superior. But I’d especially like to tell you about my home neighborhood in southern Douglas County, western Bayfield County, and northern Washburn County.

    This area includes communities like Gordon, Wascott, Barnes, Minong, and Solon Springs. It features dozens of deep, clear lakes that are great for fishing, boating, paddling, or wildlife watching. They include the Eau Claire chain of lakes, the Minong FlowageWhitefish (Bardon), the Gordon/St Croix FlowageUpper St Croix Lake, and Lake Minnesuing.

    This quiet, undiscovered corner of Northwest Wisconsin is a great place to get more for your money. In many cases, the same dollars will get you more home, more cabin, more shoreline on a clear, deep lake, or more acres of great hunting land.

    What’s more, we’re closer than you might think. And for most buyers coming from the Twin Cities, Eau Claire, or Duluth, we’re closer than more well-known destinations like Cable or Hayward.

    Minneapolis to Gordon, Wascott, Solon Springs, BarnesTo Gordon, Wascott, Minong, Solon Springs, Barnes - NW WI
  • The Secret Passageway from Bony Lake to Middle Eau Claire Lake

    Posted Under: General Area in Wisconsin, Home Buying in Wisconsin, In My Neighborhood in Wisconsin  |  August 12, 2014 9:54 AM  |  26 views  |  No comments

    The Secret Passageway from Bony Lake to Middle Eau Claire Lake

    This is the first in an occasional series of blog posts answering an important question: “Sure, the map shows a connection between the Eau Claire lakes. And the fishing guidebook says there’s a ‘navigable channel.’ But can I really get there from here?”

    When you’re looking for a lake home or cabin, this can be important information—especially if you’re interested in a chain of interconnected lakes like the Eau Claire lakes in Wisconsin’s Douglas and Bayfield counties. These secret passageways mean you may be able to live on a smaller, quieter lake—or even on a gently flowing river—and yet still have easy access to a larger lake nearby. It’s fun to explore new lakes without the hassle of loading your boat on a trailer, and the next lake over might be just around the bend and under a bridge.

    But how easy is it to get there from here? The answer, of course, is “it depends.” First, it depends on the size of your boat. How much water does it draw, how wide is it, and how tall is it? If your boat has an awning or visor, can it be folded down? In some cases, the weather and the time of year can even make a difference. If the water is too low, there won’t be enough water to float your boat. Too high, and you may not have quite enough headroom under a bridge. So your mileage, as they say, may vary. Keep your speed down, and proceed with caution.

    Although we’ve scouted these routes by canoe, most are navigable in a fishing boat, a small to medium runabout, or even a pontoon. If it turns out that one or two are not, I’ll let you know. In some photos you’ll see larger motorized craft moving under a route’s lowest bridge or through its narrowest narrows. You’ll also be able to tell a lot from the size of the boats pulled up alongside the docks in these channels.

    Channel between Bony Lake and Middle Eau Claire LakeChannel between Bony Lake and Middle Eau Claire Lake

    I’m beginning this series with the connection between 191-acre Bony Lake and 902-acre Middle Eau Claire Lake in Bayfield County, WI. I’ve just listed this beautiful timber-frame lake home on Bony Lake, and not everyone knows about the secret passageway between these two lakes. If you’re looking for a luxury home on the Eau Claire chain of lakes, then this one should definitely be on your list. (At the moment, I also have other homes available at a range of price points on LowerMiddle, and Upper Eau Claire Lakes.)

    So here it is... The no-longer-secret passageway from Bony Lake to Middle Eau Claire Lake, complete with photos. At most water levels it’s navigable by canoe, kayak, fishing boat, and small to medium-sized runabout. Some stretches are shallow, so proceed with caution.

    Starting from the southwest corner of Bony Lake, head into the outlet shown at the beginning of this post. The channel widens out, and then you’ll pass under highway 27. Sone thereafter, you’ll be able to glimpse Middle Eau Claire Lake through the trees. The final stretch is through a short breakwater that prevents erosion and helps keep the channel open. It’s a little like the shipping channel at Duluth’s Canal Park, but on a slightly smaller scale.

    IMG_0549IMG_0544  IMG_0568  IMG_0557 IMG_0556 IMG_0553

  • Getting to the northwest corner of NW Wisconsin

    Posted Under: General Area in Wisconsin  |  July 20, 2014 7:01 AM  |  35 views  |  No comments

    This quiet, undiscovered corner of northwest Wisconsin is closer than you might think. It’s also a great place to get more for your money.

    Although I’ve helped connect buyers and sellers all over Douglas, Bayfield, Washburn, and Sawyer Counties, I’d especially like to tell you about my home neighborhood. It includes communities like Gordon, Wascott, MinongBarnes, and Solon Springs—plus dozens of deep, clear lakes that are great for fishing, boating, paddling, or wildlife watching. Some of the larger, better-known lakes include the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes, the Minong Flowage, Whitefish (Bardon) Lake, the Gordon Flowage, Upper St Croix Lake, and Lake Minnesuing.

    Here in this quiet, undiscovered corner of Northwest Wisconsin, you’ll generally get a lot more for your money. In many cases, the same dollars will get you more home, more cabin, more shoreline on a clear, deep lake, or more acres of great hunting land.

    And for most buyers coming from the Twin Cities, Eau Claire, or Duluth, we’re actually much closer than more well-known destinations like Cable and Hayward. We’re a little farther north, but not nearly as far east.

    Here’s how it works: From nearly anywhere in the Twin Cities, the fastest way to reach this part of northern Wisconsin is to take 35 north and turn right at Hinckley. At the WI border MN 48 changes to WI 77, which you’ll continue following eastward to Minong. From there, it’s another 3 miles to the Minong Flowage, 9 miles to Whitefish Lake, and 24 miles to the Eau Claire Lakes.

    To Gordon, Wascott, Minong, Solon Springs, Barnes - NW WITo Gordon, Wascott, Minong, Solon Springs, Barnes - NW WI

    But even though this is also the fastest route to Hayward and Cable*, from Minong you’d need to keep driving east for 28 more miles to reach Hayward, 43 more miles to reach Cable, and farther still to reach the most popular lakes in either of those two areas. (Here in this part of northwestern Wisconsin, you’re also likely to find a better value and enjoy a shorter drive than you would if you settled for a location in northern Minnesota.)

    The bottom line: We’re closer than you might think—about 2 hours 30 minutes from St Paul or Minneapolis, 2 hours 20 minutes from Hudson or River Falls, 1 hr 45 minutes from Eau Claire, and 60 minutes from Duluth.

    *An exception might be if you’re driving up from eastern suburbs like Stillwater, Hudson, or River Falls—and maybe even Woodbury. Then, even though you’ll be traveling two-lane roads that pass through several small towns with stoplights, you’ll want to head east on 94, then northeast through Wisconsin. But even by that route, Minong, Wascott, Gordon, Solon Springs, and Barnes are all closer than Hayward and Cable or about the same distance.

  • Welcome to the NW Corner of NW Wisconsin

    Posted Under: General Area in Wisconsin  |  June 22, 2014 8:24 AM  |  72 views  |  No comments

    Hello! My name is Jean Hedren and I’m a Realtor® with Edina Realty. I live in this beautiful northwest corner of Northwest Wisconsin. I hope to introduce you to this wonderful and diverse part of the state, and to provide essential information about the lakes, rivers, and communities of Gordon, Wascott, Solon Springs, Barnes, Minong, Spooner, Hayward, and other area communities. Our area is rich in history, recreation, business opportunities, and extraordinary natural beauty.

    Visit my website www.JeanHedren.com
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