A Day in the Life
At 7:30 a.m. on a typical summer day in Sayner and Star Lake, things are still quiet, but not for long.
At Sayner’s Mobil Express Station and Star Lake’s General Store, fishermen are topping off their boat tanks and filling their coolers with ice.
Meanwhile, a cluster of four women are power-walking down Sayner’s Main Street. Sayner shop owners at Traditions and Rustic River Cabin Outfitters are washing windows and watering plants in preparation for the day ahead. A woman singing songs in French whizzes by on her bicycle, bound for the Sayner bike trail. Sayner’s Plum Lake Library doesn’t open until 10:00 a.m., but there are eight cars parked in the lot with drivers hunched over their laptops, taking advantage of the library’s free Wi-Fi.
In Star Lake, Bill Hintz of Hintz’s Star Lake Lodge is busy collecting herbs from his vast gardens in preparation for the evening menu selections at the resort’s restaurant.
The food is already cooking at Sayner’s Junction Café, where the owners are frying eggs and flipping pancakes like crazy for the morning rush.
Down the street at GreenWeavers, staffers are opening the clothing boutique early for customers who made a special appointment to shop for dresses for an upcoming wedding.
Meanwhile, locals and vacationers have stopped for a cup of gourmet coffee at Sayner’s Corner Store before renting their bicycles for the day.
Live wells of fish
As the morning grows warmer and turns into mid-day, local guide Mike Errington is helping a group of fishermen wrestle live wells of freshly caught fish into vehicles. He directs the happy but hungry men to The Sayner Pub, which is packed with customers gobbling ½-pound cheeseburgers, sipping beer and Bloody Marys, and asking about the evening’s upcoming entertainment.
Tonight, Tuck Pence — a local musician who belts out requests and tunes from a vast repertoire that includes the Marshall Tucker Band, the Eagles, Johnny Cash, John Prine, and his own songs –begins playing at The Pub at 8:00 p.m.
At The Junction Café, a daytime, outdoor band called Cloud 10 is filling the streets of Sayner with the sounds of the blues and rock ‘n roll.
Meanwhile, shoppers in downtown Sayner are bustling from store to store, stopping to drop bulging shopping bags in their cars before hurrying to the next shop. One woman is walking out of Traditions carrying a huge mirror while another is leaving Rustic River Cabin Outfitters with an easy chair securely strapped into her open trunk. Still another leaves Pastimes with a new custom-framed painting.
Picnickers are spread out in the park and the Crystal Lake picnic area, and now the bike paths are filled with every imaginable type of cycle, including those built for two and sometimes three.
At Weber’s Wildlife in Sayner, families have gathered for an afternoon of fun at the bar and restaurant, while their children are allowed access to a unique petting zoo, complete with alpacas, llamas, deer and peacocks.
And at the Star Lake Store and Sayner Corner Store, hand-scooped ice cream in generous quantities is dripping everywhere, but mostly into the mouths of happy customers.
Later, as shadows grow long and the sun begins its reluctant progression toward the West, the doors open at Vinchi’s Hillside Inn in Sayner and at Stillwaters in Star Lake. Dinner patrons eager for pizza, fresh walleye, home-cooked ribs and more fill the restaurants ’parking lots. Other hungry customers at Hintz’s North Star Lodge restaurant, are enjoying jumbo shrimp and pan-seared Ahi Tuna while watching the sun set over gorgeous Star Lake.
And other, early-dinner eaters have already moved on to watch the Plum Ski-ters perform an amazing, often daring, water ballet on skis on Plum Lake. Soon after, the setting sun turns the lake a perfect plum color, which is how Plum Lake got its name.
Then, when the moon is high and the stars dance and shoot across the clear skies above, the sounds of classic and country rock begin to drift from Weber’s, The Sayner Pub and Danny’s Bar in Sayner. Invariably, the music blends with the sounds of lively talk, laughter, and an occasional whoop.
Finally, after the last drink is downed, the last car door is slammed and the last whoop is whooped, Sayner and Star Lake — nestled among some of the richest woodlands and beneath some of the most breathtaking, starry skies in America — rest quietly. For five or six hours, that is.