By Maureen Post Special to Published Apr 25, 2009 at 4:24 PM

ST. GERMAIN, Wis.-- There are few destinations like Wisconsin's north woods. Packed with interconnected lakes and dense evergreen forest, Milwaukeeans have been heading "up north" for years of family vacations and sporting weekends.

Year round, tourists travel Hwy. 45 north to a land dedicated to hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and boating. It's a destination known simply to natives by a cardinal direction; referring to a region hundreds of miles wide yet denoting one specific vacation voyage.

On a recent trip "up north", with our family cottage under construction, we stayed for the first time on a different lake in a rental home.

I worried the experience would somehow not be the same. Now, I worry that we've been spoiled.

Located on Little St. Germain Lake, 1000 Pines Lake Home is incredible. The property includes two buildings: a main vacation home and an adjacent guest house located over a free standing garage. Originally built in the 1960s, a two story addition and remodel plus the guest house were completed 10 years ago.

"We love it up north. We've had great family memories since childhood and we hope that our place can provide some of those same great memories for other families and generation to come," owner Steve Wiersema says.

From first glance, the main house reflects Weirsema's family focus. Three bedrooms and a loft plus two full baths ensure room for the entire family. The large kitchen boasts a central island and stools, the ideal arrangement for guests to leisurely chat and cook. Likewise, the dining room table is set family style, easily seating eight to 10 people.

The house somehow manages to combine old with new; maintaining the quintessential nostalgic feel of a northwood's cabin but adding the ease and luxury of modern amenity. The log cabin interior is decorated with outdoor themed fabrics and photographs; a stack of board games, outdoor fire pit and in-house book and movie collection add key "up north" characteristics.

"We're from the western suburbs of Chicago but have been vacationing in the area for 40 years. We started off in Minocqua back in the 60's when it was laid back and not so busy. About 10 years ago we moved to St. Germain because it reminded us how nice Minoqua was back in the day," Weirsema says.

You could come for the week and never have to leave. The finished basement entices with pool, pinball, small scale bowling and a racing video game. Sliding glass doors lead down to an extended pier, in water trampoline and screened in gazebo. Up top, a large driveway transforms into a basketball court surrounded by a yard filled with deer and bird feeders.

Every inch of the house is covered with windows. Sunlight pours in through floor to ceiling windows in the great room; revealing expansive views of the lake, tall pines and occasional bald eagle or loon.

Over the garage, the studio style guest house is a combined living room, kitchen and bedroom; creating a cozy nook separate from the main house. Despite an all in one combination, the guest house has a full kitchen, queen bed and convertible sleeper sofa. An attached bathroom provides visitors with privacy and convenience.

Unable to visit the cottage we've known for the last 30 years, 1000 Pines Lake Home was more than a welcomed replacement.

1000 Pines Lake Home is a four season rental; available for hunting, snowmobiling, fishing and swimming seasons. Visit the Web site for further details.

Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.