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Out of the Woods

Howdy, Neighbor. People have been telling Phil he’s a good storyteller for a long time… so we are trying something new and pretty-much non-sales Just sharing occasional sweet stories, tall tales, and life lessons learned around these parts. Northwoods Notes are a new, semi-bi-irregular peek into the heart and mind of Phil Frasier… you can read or listen… whichever you prefer… and you are receiving a copy because you’re a current customer of Frasier’s Plumbing and Heating, Inc. We think you’ll like them, but you can unsubscribe any time by clicking on the link at the bottom. But we hope you give us a chance!



When I was fourteen, my brother Dan and I went water skiing with Joe Langlois.

Joe was a professional skier… both on water and snow. He could ski forwards, backwards, barefooted, and everything in-between.

Joe was the guy who skied in the country’s largest shows. And here he was out on Clear Lake on the Fourth of July teaching us how to ski.

We were having a blast. But, off in the distance, a storm was brewing.


This wasn’t your typical summer storm. The sky looked like it was about to release the kraken.

We needed to get off the water pronto. The only problem… we had lost a ski. And it was a BIG lake.

Now, at this time in our young lives, Dan and I didn’t really believe in prayer. But Joe did. His faith ran deep. So he told us to bow our heads and pray for wisdom in locating the lost ski.

And wouldn’t you know it, not too long after “Amen,” we found the missing ski.


Joe, Dan, and I made a mad dash to the boat ramp. We made it out of the water… just barely.

As we hauled Joe’s Glastron boat down Highway 47 towards Rhinelander, the storm was blowing us all over the road.

Trees were down everywhere. Power was out for what seemed like forever. Folks didn’t really own generators back then.

The “Thunderstorm Downburst” ripped through the northern part of the state. Sawyer, Price, and Oneida counties were the hardest hit.

The anemometer at Phillips airport recorded 100 mph winds before it blew away. The same thing happened at the Rhinelander airport.

The path of destruction was 166 miles long and 17 miles wide. When the dust settled, it caused more than 24 million dollars in damages.

That was July 4th, 1977.


Ten years later, in 1987, that same storm helped me drag a deer out of the woods in Sawyer County.

It was 11 o’clock at night. And this was before the days of GPS.

A lot of the trees that had blown over in the storm of ’77 were still down. And I knew those trees were pointing northeast. So if I crossed over those trees, I would hit the trails and eventually find the road to take me home.

Without those downed trees, I would’ve been lost in the woods in the middle of the night.

The same storm that threatened our lives in 1977 helped save my life ten years later.


The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Stay safe this Fourth of July…and if you get lost, just follow the trees.

Take care, neighbor. Take good care.

P.S. – Thirty years before I shot my buck in Sawyer County, my dad shot a big 9 pointer. 


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