Month: July 2005

Floating Logs and Bogs beat JetSki’s

We started the day with a family worship service and then commenced the day’s fun. Jim, Bill, and I went to check out a JetSki that was for sale in town, but
after an hour we gave up, not having made any progress.

So we all went swimming in Little Lake instead. Yesterday we had drug out two floating logs, and today we added two islands of floating bog. After several hours of island bog wars, log rolling contests and swimming around we were all exhausted and headed in for dinner.

Floating logs

On the way in Andrew concluded, “That was more fun than a JetSki.”

After dinner we sat around and watched slides from Langewood in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The woods had changed far more than the cabins or their contents.

Langewood Pioneers

There is a photo album here with pictures from the beginning of Langewood. This one stood out from the others. Who camps in a vest and tie?

Quote of the day:
“Just think, a hundred years ago all this was black and white.” – Andrew

Today Annie discovered the lake and drank about half of it. Click on the photo for a video of the process.

Annie at the lake

Annie fulfills her destiny

Annie is a Miniture Pincher – Yorkshire Terrier mix, bred to hunt rats. Here at Langewood the abundance of chipmunks provides her ample opportunity to fulfill her purpose in life. Only she’s a city dog and hasn’t developed her hunting skills.

This morning while she was hot on the scent of one of the chipmunks that live near the cabin she had an embarrassing encounter with her quarry. While her head was down, one darted right past her within six inches of her nose. She didn’t realize what happened until it was out of range, and it happened so fast it surprised her and made her jump back. It was very funny. Rather than discouraging her, it motivated her for the next two hours. In fact every minute she has spent outside she has spent hunting chipmunks. She is a happy dog.

Almost Everyone

Almost everyone who has an interest in Langewood was here tonight for dinner. Only the Schmidts in Paducah were unable to make it. After dinner a few of us headed back to Little Lake for some fishing at dusk. No luck tonight, though. The bats were the only ones catching anything.

Little Lake

Visitor or veteran, the best thing about Langewood is Little Lake. Surrounded by our land and fed by underground springs, this clear, deep lake is completely private. Bordered all around by 30 feet of Wisconsin bog, the only swimming or boat entrance is the dock on the southeast bay. The largemouth bass fishing is good, and we know all the spots where you can usually get one. Before the advent of the single Langewood shower, Little Lake was also the Big Bathtub, and back in the 70’s local rumor had it that Langewood was a nudist colony.

This land was logged at the beginning of the last century, and some of those virgin timbers are still floating in this lake, having never made it to the lumber yards. I grew up having log rolling contests on these huge things, and now Andrew and Audrey have done this, too. I don’t know why they don’t rot. One corner of the lake has a sunken boat from some time before I was born, but that is almost completely gone now. The floating logs remain. There are several chunks of floating bog, too. If the wind doesn’t blow them to your side of the lake you can always drag them back with the rowboat (if you can find them) and have your own floating island to swim from for the day.

As much fun as Little Lake is, it has a dark side. The bottom is black, and this makes the water look black, too. When the light shines at certain angles you can see into its depths, but you can never see the all the way to the bottom. You can never touch the bottom either – unless you are very brave and can hold your breath. At just 25 feet from the shore it is already 12 feet deep. At 50 feet from the shore it’s anyone’s guess how deep it really is. In order to find out you have to drop down deep into the cold water. The deeper you go, the colder and darker it gets. After 15 feet it’s too dark to see anything, and the chill of the water seeps into you. If you keep swimming down into the darkness you sink into the soft black silt on the bottom. The silt layer is two feet thick and could hold any number of dead bodies thrown in the lake by some Chicago area gangster who needed a secret place to drop off his latest hit job. If you get through the silt you might hit the sandy bottom. But I wouldn’t know. The layer of dead bodies in the silt has always stopped me.

Langewood vintage

My great grandfather and his son built most of the cabins here at Langewood sometime around 1930. Later on the effort cost him his life. After WWII he was installing electricity onto the property and had a heart attack, but at that time this part of Wisconsin was still remote and there was nowhere to go for medical help. He died in one of Langewood’s cabins.

During the late ’30’s my great grandparents and grandparents, Bill and Helen Lange, ran a summer resort in these cabins and named the place Langewood. They had regular customers who spent the summers here and relied on my grandfather as an informal fishing guide. To this day the cabin walls are covered with his fishing maps drawn for Langewood guests. They are also covered with animal skins, antlers, fishing lures, and old guns that give each cabin a rustic lodge feeling.

In fact, just about everything in these cabins is the way it was back in 1940 or 1950. The cookware, the gas ovens, the wood-burning heater stoves, one refrigerator (yes, it still runs), the cabinets, the kitchen hutches, dressers, beds, etc. There is a collection of vinyl records, a pump organ, a cabinet full of old games, a cellar full of antique tools, tackle boxes full of lures my grandfather used, and a wood rowboat that is still in great shape. It’s like living in a museum. Everything is a working antique.

Of course, if you grew up here, as all of us Hertzlers did, you don’t see this. It’s just Langewood.


Today we arrived at Langewood, our ancestral vacation land. My great great grandparents purchased this land in northern Wisconsin almost 90 years ago. Six generations of our family have enjoyed summers here. My grandparents spent their honeymoon here and lived off this land during the Great Depression. My parents took their honeymoon here, and almost 17 years ago, Cathy and I did, too.

On this land are five cabins; one with a shower and an indoor bathroom, two others with just running water, and two that are used for storage and the occasional rodent winter shelter.

If you grew up here, as I did, this all seems normal. If you came for a visit, two things would stand out most about Langewood, the outhouse and the vintage.

The outhouse is a two seater. My great grandfather had a sense of humor.

Langewood WeehoosIt is still used to this day, and if this isn’t interesting enough, consider that this same outhouse, having withstood the rigours of Wisconsin winters and summer storms for about 75 years, experienced *rebuilding* two years ago after being the unlucky landing pad of a falling tree.

It’s not in heavy use, mind you; I had the privilege of initiating it for the season upon our arrival. I made my journey to the “Weehoos” in the dark with a warning from Mom to watch out for the black bear that was sighted in the area a few days ago.

Using an outhouse is something everyone should do, but if you’re a girl it would be better to try during the day.

Cathy, having participated in this unique family vacation spot for over 16 years, decided she has made her last trip in the dark to the Weehoos. We’re staying in the cabin with the indoor potty.

I’ll tell you more about the vintage tomorrow.

Orlando storms

I took this picture about an hour after the previous one (in the pool). Storms in Orlando come up suddenly and violently, and they drop a ton of rain. Aside from the hurricanes that occasionally pass through here, I really miss these storms in Budapest where it rarely rains at more than a steady drizzle.

This blog is running on fumes lately.

Looking forward to this summer trip I thought I’d have plenty to write about and photograph. This is certainly true, but my posting frequency is dropping pretty low. I’ve concluded that’s because I’ve lost all structure in my life for the last few weeks. My normal home, schedule, environment, etc. is all different now, and I don’t know when to do what, including blogging.

When we get back to Budapest in August I imagine I will resume writing again on a more regular basis.

Our Emerging Church

Our church situation has always been interesting. It seems we always belong to a church that isn’t in our city.

Two years ago on our last Sunday in Orlando we joined University Presbyterian Church where we had attended for two years.

A year into our stay in Budapest, the Associate Pastor of UPC and his wife, our good friends the Pucketts, decided to plant a daughter church, Christ Kingdom Church, in a community near our house in Orlando. We are all behind this effort.

So now that we are back in Orlando for a while we have attended Christ Kingdom Church services on Sunday evenings. But we’ve also given ministry updates at University Presbyterian Church and our original church in Orlando, Circle Community Church.

In a way, this has been the best of all worlds, as we have seen all our friends at all these churches on this visit!

Andrew and Audrey back from camp

Andrew and Audrey had fun at camp, but we didn’t get too many stories out of them at first since they were so exhausted when they got home.

The best one we heard so far was about the Smack Down Wrestling Match in the boys’ cabin.

They took every mattress in the cabin (10) and constructed a wrestling ring out of it; two mattesses thick on the bottom and the rest of the mattresses on their side around the edges. Then it was a free-for-all. Sounded fun.

One thing hasn’t changed; traffic reports

American radio is obsessed with traffic reports, yet in all my adult life I have never found them accurate or useful. Today was a perfect example of this.

“There’s a wreck in Waterford Lakes,” the report began, “at Alafaya Trail and the 408. A car is blocking traffic.”

At the moment I heard this report I was sitting at Alafaya Trail and the 408. I could see a half mile in all directions, and there was not a problem to be seen anywhere.

Josh, Meagan, and Molly

This is what happens when you have your first baby. No one is interested in you anymore, they just want to hold your new baby.

Our friends from our first year in Budapest, Josh and Meagan Adams, now live in North Carolina, and we were able to see them and their new baby, Molly, as they passed through Central Florida on their way back home from a wedding.

It was good to see them again!

photo of Josh, Meagan, Molly, Cathy, and Jerry

Back in Orlando

We drove back into our old neighborhood again tonight and had dinner with friends. It’s good to be back in Orlando again. The weird thing is that it feels like we just got back from our usual summer trip to St. Louis.