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Joe Brandmeier grew up in Fond du Lac and made trips north with his family each summer. Those trips north inspired his book of quotes and photography, ‘Up North – Reflections, Moments & Memories’. / Contributed photo


Joe Brandmeier has been in love with Wisconsin’s Northwoods since he was a kid growing up in Fond du Lac. His family would pack into their station wagon and head to Joe’s grandfather’s cabin in the Nicolet National Forest.

The trip north was filled with six screaming, unbuckled kids. A ‘DQ’ stop was the only carrot that could be dangled with any behavior-modifying result. The journey was punctuated with their arrival and all the fishing, swimming and exploring that made up their stay.

As a kid, Joe remembers the cabin having a ‘creepy’ quality to it. But the sound of a mouse or two scratching around while he tried to sleep wasn’t nearly enough to dampen the fun, and trouble, he and his siblings enjoyed.

The cabin still stands and Joe’s family assembles there several times each year. Each visit for Joe, who now lives in Minnesota, includes a few moments inspecting the carved names that cover the wood at the cabin’s entrance. His name, carved in high school, is still there, along with names and initials that reach back nearly 100 years.

It’s those days the Brandmeiers spent at the cabin which have inspired Joe to assemble a collection of photos and quotes into a book all about heading ‘Up North’. The photos in ‘Up North – Reflections, Moments & Memories’ are all Joe’s. The quotes come from friends, family and historical figures. Many of the shots were taken right here in Wisconsin. A few photos from as far away as Alaska are included. And, of course, a shot of Joe’s grandfather’s cabin is included.

When I heard about the book and first exchanged e-mail messages with Joe, I pointed out that while he grew up making the trip north from Fond du Lac, I made the exact opposite trip south to my grandparents’ place in West Bend each summer. And my eyes point more south than north even to this day.

But after spending some time flipping the pages of Joe’s project , maybe it’s time to put a trip north for my family in the books.

Brian Otten blogs about his experiences in the outdoors. Brian is the content manager of If you have questions about the site, you can reach Brian at or 715-845-0702.

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