We boarded the 'ferry' (a big pontoon boat) in the middle of the afternoon and motored across Red Cedar Lake to the boathouse. Pulling up to the spot, you know you are being transported to a place far from your everyday routine.
We climbed the hill and walked across the lawn, stepping over the engraved plaque in the ground telling you that you have reached the Island of Happy Days.
Originally built in 1903
as a retreat for the wealthy Stout family and servants, they would pack up and spend the three months of summer on this beautiful island, as a retreat from bustling Chicago. Besides the vast main lodge, which houses the dining room, sitting area, offices, banquet areas, and many private rooms, there are many cabins dotting the island, that were built for the man's children and then their own families as they grew older.
Walking the ancient floor, you can almost hear the footsteps of happy children bounding in from outdoor pursuits. The vast lawn on the south side of the island is a croquet court, sitting in the adirondack chairs you can almost see women in white dresses and big hats knocking the balls through the wickets as the breeze from the lake blew their skirts about their legs.
The main island has a walking path around the perimeter, you can take a small bridge to the island next to it for a lovely walk down to the very tip.
The only structure on that island is a small cabin, complete with fireplace and wicker chairs.
We spent our first night in a gorgeous, newer room in the Shore Lodge. This was my favorite part of that room (oh how I want something like this in my own home someday....):
It was a large, expansive room with a huge comfy bed, fireplace, shelves full of books, wonderful sitting spots for cuddling in with one of those books, a small area with a mini fridge and coffee maker, and lots of windows to take in the view of the lake. Heaven. We were lulled to sleep that evening with all of the windows open, and the sound of the lake gently lapping the shore.
But the next morning, we were awoken at 7 am by the sounds of construction in the room underneath us. Many of you know that we have been dealing with the giant construction project in the field across from our house all summer, so that is NOT what we wanted to hear on our little get away.
We stopped at the office on our way to breakfast, and they apologized profusely. Many of the rooms on the island are privately owned, so the staff does not always know when they will be doing construction- they kindly agreed to move us to another spot. (This whole area pictured below is actually part of our rooms!)
Moving to the Main Lodge was a great idea,
and our room had all of the charm of bygone days with some modern conveniences.
We now had our own private deck,
a full kitchen,
and lots of little spots to quietly read or pass the time. I only wish we had had a full week to really enjoy this space!
Since it rained the entire full day we were there, we did get to enjoy much of what our new space had to offer.
We had no internet connection, I had no phone service, and we didn't watch television. In our busy lives, I personally think it is so important to disconnect every now and then. We enjoyed the island so much, even in the rain!
On the night of our anniversary, we enjoyed a delicious gourmet meal and then headed back to our rooms. I had brought photos from our entire 32 year relationship; from first dates, to honeymoon photos, to Charlie as a baby. I had started a scrapbook I had hoped to finish for our twentieth anniversary, then I thought maybe for our twenty fifth, but that didn't happen. It's okay, we loved going through the pictures just as much. Oh my handsome husband, he still makes my heart skip a beat!
The next day dawned bright and sunny, the grounds were vibrant and full of flowers.
Several varieties of hydrangeas could be found everywhere.
Here is the bell tower, I am guessing the original purpose was to call everyone in for meals when the Stout family lived here.
The architecture of the building was modeled after Adirondack lodges.
Mike relaxing outside the boathouse, protected from the rain.
The second level of the boathouse had a pool table, comfy chairs, and jigsaw puzzles always in progress. When the sun shines, there are water bikes, canoes, kayaks, and fishing poles. There is always something to do if you aren't one to sit and relax!
You can read more about this fabulous place here: http://stoutsislandlodge.com/
The next morning dawned bright blue and sunny, with wispy white clouds stretching across the sky.
It was a little chilly, but perfect for a walk on the island connected to the main island by a little bridge.
The iron work was home to many spiderwebs, it was almost like a mini art show!
We found signs of visiting beaver,
and peeks of autumn color.
It was so quiet and peaceful, I felt all of life's stresses just melt away.
Here is the boathouse we could spy through the trees,
we knew shortly we would have to board the ferry to head back to reality. But we took our time, and shared the camera, and took in all of the fresh air and quiet that we could hold.
It reminded me of times Mike and I took motorcycle rides to quiet places when we first dated, minus all of the nervousness of a new relationship!
While we were only able to get away for a two night stay, it was the perfect outing for this time in our lives. And I can see why the family called it their "Island of Happy Days". Get there if you can!
(This post was just my way of sharing a wonderful place, I was not reimbursed for telling you about Stout's Island Lodge.)