Fast as a Whiskey Shot, Everything Changed

Back in mid-2020 we had it all figured out. (Ok, fine, we had the semblance of a plan.) That plan was that we’d both quit our full time jobs to finish construction of The Branch (ugh, building a house in 2021) and look into other opportunities to serve visitors to Elk County. Jeremy gave his notice first, because his constructions skills are far superior to mine. I worked through December 31 and helped with construction and cleaning The Sapling on the weekends through the Fall. Soon, we’d have 2 lovely vacation rentals for Benezette visitors to choose from.

We’ve always had our eyes out for potential new In The Sticks Cabins locations and so when a farmhouse built in 1864, with roughly 4 acres sat on the market for a while, we went to check it out. With 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a huge eat-in-kitchen addition and a super cool barn, we couldn’t say no. (Though, looking back on the slightly sloped second story floors, carpeted bathrooms and coal dust stained carpets, I’m pretty sure we were being over ambitious.) And so, then there would be 3 In The Sticks Cabins. We closed on the farmhouse in November of 2020, knowing full well that it needed some love.

The updated plan was that I could work on removing carpet, painting walls and replace electrical devices at the farmhouse. Jeremy would work a part time “real job” over the weekend. Through the week, he could work on The Branch (which was a concrete slab and some 2x4s at this point) and whatever I couldn’t tackle at the farm.

The beginning of The Branch

Jeremy’s family was instrumental in giving what is now The Willow an In The Sticks Cabins vibe. His Dad was a huge help with removing carpet and trim so that his Mom and I could get paint on the walls. His sisters and our nieces and nephew even helped paint. (Seriously, there was so much painting.)

We painted walls. We painted doors. We painted countertops. We painted kitchen cabinet hardware (and then ended up not using it). We painted chairs. And lastly, after every light fixture in the house had been replaced and I still couldn’t find one I liked for the dining area, we painted the existing fixture. Where it hung. I taped newspaper to the walls and ceiling and had Jeremy’s sister hold an old shower curtain up while I climbed a ladder and sprayed. (It turns out there’s limited photographic proof of this, which is probably for the better.)Jeremy would have stopped me had he known what I was up to. But in the end, it turned out great. (Though, I still want to replace it if I ever find the perfect fixture.)

It took us about 4 months to get The Willow ready to welcome guests. Renovations in the sticks are not for the faint of heart.

We really designed The Willow with families in mind, since ours was so integral in getting it ready. The downstairs master is perfect for grandparents, while 3 bedrooms upstairs sleep an additional 9 people.

Our nieces and nephews always fight over who will get to sleep in the closet bed. It is absolutely the kids favorite (and perfect for adults who like a dark place to sleep with some serious privacy)! This room has 2 full size beds and a single, making it the perfect room for cousins and siblings to bunk up in.

The last thing we needed to do was fine tune the outdoor spaces. There was no path to get into The Willow from the driveway, so Jeremy constructed the most beautiful set of outdoor stairs (not before our niece, brother-in-law, and I, all slipped down the hill). We also turned the side yard off of the kitchen into a rock-io (a patio, but made out of rocks) to create a fire pit area.

We’re so glad we’ve had the opportunity to share The Willow with other families who are exploring in Benezette. It’s a great home base for groups who are looking to see the elk, hike, fish, or check out The Elk Country Visitor Center (which is about 15 minutes away). Head over to our availability page and make your reservation now!

She’s Got It All

We’re big believers that a vacation, getaway, weekend trip, whatever you want to call it, should be easy. Grab a few people you like, throw some clothes in a bag, some food in the cooler and off you go. (Jeremy will laugh his head off when he reads that. While we may believe that, he knows that I can’t roll like that. I’ve got lists of food to pack, clothes to pack, sites to see, things not to forget. But I’m working on that. One day.) And so we built and outfitted our Benezette rental cabins to support that idea of an easy escape from the day to day.

When you arrive at The Sapling, The Branch or The Willow you’ll begin to see what “fully equipped” means. The spacious driveways have room for at least 4 cars or a trailer so you can bring your ATVs, UTVs or snowmobiles (or race car if you’re like Nicholas Racing and haul it around with you.) at all three of our properties.

At The Sapling & The Branch, we’ve installed wide ramps that make access to the front doors of each of these cabins super easy (shout out to The Accessible Hunter for this suggestion)! We do want to make it clear that not all of the door ways are wide enough for wheelchair access (specifically, the bathroom). You’ll also find 4 chairs on the porch at each of these properties.

Once you’re inside your cabin you will find the usual furniture including
A dining table & chairs
A couch, side tables, conversation chairs & some throw blankets

But as with a good outfit, it’s the accessories that make “fully equipped” a thing.

In the kitchens of each of our cabins, you’ll find:
Cookware (a large pot, small pot & at least 2 frying pans)
Serving & Prep Supplies (platters, mixing/serving bowls, a baking sheet, a pizza pan, cutting boards, measuring cups [dry & wet], measuring spoons, serving/cooking spoons, a can opener, wine bottle opener, pizza cutter, ice cream scoop, colander, tongs, a whisk, ladle and a flipper)
Silverware (including steak knives & prep knives)
Dishes including: (Thanks to Dena for giving us her mother’s collection of Pfaltzgraff, The Village pattern. We love it so much, we [and our friends & family for us] have started collecting it [at reasonable prices] and you’ll now find it in all of our cabins.)
Dinner Plates
Drinking Glasses
Wine Glasses
Coffee Mugs

We’ve included a full size coffee pot, toaster, microwave and marshmallow roasting sticks because we believe these are kitchen essentials.

New for 2023, you’ll find a sample size of Bugling Brew Coffee from the Benezette Coffee Company, from Elk Life in all of our vacation cabins. This is their number one selling coffee flavor, we love it and hope you will too!

Lastly, you’ll find a roll of paper towels (and a roll of unpaper towels, you choose what to use), pot holders, dish drying mat, hand towels, dish cloths, sponges (in a tip out drawer thanks to Judy & Donny), dish soap & hand soap.
I should mention the junk drawer. You’ll find one in each cabin in the kitchen. I can’t speak to what you’ll find in them. I’ve seen pens, paper, batteries, nightlights, can coozies, letter openers, ping pong balls, charging cables and other junk drawer appropriate things.

In the kitchen we do not supply, but you may find:
Spices including Salt & Pepper (I’m pretty sure there’s at least 10 salt & pepper shakers in The Sapling.)
Cooking Spray, Cooking Oil
Coffee Filters (filters is another things folks tend to leave behind)
Drinking Water (in The Sapling & The Branch only. We’ve tried to fix it. It can’t be done. Please don’t hate on us for the things that were done to our land before it was our land.)

In the bathrooms we’ve stocked you up with:
Septic Safe Toilet paper (generally 2 rolls, but based on length of stay)
Bath Towels
Wash Cloths
Hand Towels
Washable Make Up Remover Cloths (please use these, make up and moisturizers are hard on our towels & sheets!)
A Bathmat
Hand soap
A Plunger (Thank George & Judy for that suggestion. They swear they didn’t need one, just thought it’d be a good addition!)

The bathroom of The Sapling

You may find, but we don’t supply, shampoo, conditioner, body soap or toothpaste.

All of our beds are made with sheets, quilts, pillow cases and pillow shams that are laundered between guests. You’ll find at least one extra blanket in each bedroom.

Lastly, at all of our properties, you’ll find a rockio (you know, a patio made of rocks) with a fire ring. We supply a starter rack of fire wood for use during your stay. There are chairs on each porch that can be taken to the fire pits, 6 plastic ones at The Willow, 4 metal ones on the porches at The Branch & The Sapling (and a bench already at the fire pit at those 2 locations).

You bring clothes, food and basic toiletries. We’ve taken care of the rest. If you’re ready for some Elk, Cabins & Campfires, click here to make your reservation!

So Let’s Get to The Point

How has it been more than 3 years since I’ve written a blog post? Oh! I know! We’ve had a global pandemic, renovated a 4 bedroom farmhouse in Weedville that was originally built in 1864 (with a random school bus abandoned in the woods), and built a new 2 bedroom cabin in Benezette (that we meant to build in 2020). We met a really cool race car driver and started sponsoring a race car, and then, we spent two busy Rut seasons running 3 cabins by ourselves! Right. That’s kept us busy!

We have been so blessed to have guests that have stayed with us through all of that excitement. I’ve been surprised to hear that a lot of you have read all of the blog posts (Deb W, Tim F, Andy L, Dad, Edgar, I’m looking at you [and, thanks for reading!]) and want to hear more about the adventures of remodeling an old house, and building a new one with supply chain issues. While some of it I’d rather forget (carpeted bathrooms and 20 week lead times for doors and windows), it’s all turned out great (at least we think so based on our returning guests!).

Over the next few months, I’ll be blogging about these projects to give you a behind the scenes look at just how glamorous building, renovating and renting vacation cabins can be. I hope you’ll enjoy our stories as much as you enjoy our cabins and as much as we enjoy hearing your stories when you rent an In The Sticks Cabins cabin.


We’ve been promising ourselves that when the cabin was rented, we’d take some time to go do tourist stuff outside of Benezette. I’m perfectly happy sitting on the front porch (which is why The Sapling has such a great porch!) and enjoying the quiet. But, we’ll expand our horizons so we can share the best experiences with you! (You’re welcome!)

Saturday we headed to the Kinzua Bridge to check out the power of mother nature and the reported, stunning views. The bridge was partially destroyed in an F1 tornado in 2003, but a section was turned into a skywalk in 2011. It’s 301 feet high and extends 600 feet out into the valley. The train tracks remain in the center of the skywalk until the very end.

The husband had no fear and walked on the track and looked down to the bottom of the valley. At the end of the walk, they’ve installed glass blocks so you can look straight down (yeah, no thanks). The husband held my hand so I could stand on the glass and look down (again, you’re welcome, I really took one for the team there).

There are several different hiking trails with varying difficultly. It was crowded (and surprisingly hot) so we will go back to check out the trails another time! We highly recommend the trip!

We also headed down some dirt roads to check out Shagger’s Inn pond (although, turns out it’s a shallow water impound [fancy!] and not a pond). It’s a nesting site for Osprey, but it’s the wrong time of year. It’s only about a 20 minute drive so we may take the kayaks out there to explore more.

Until next time – we hope you’ll come stay in Benezette and check out the surrounding areas soon!

I’m on a Boat!

We’ve got more than just elk viewing!

Well, I was. On Saturday morning-ish. The husband and I have not been putting our kayaks to good use in the past 5-9 years (roughly). So, with great weather in the forecast, we decided to take a tour of the Bennett’s Branch of the Sinnemahonig Creek.

I originally wanted to start behind the Benezette store and head to the bridge by the Driftwood Saloon. The husband and I thought this was a great idea. However, my sister-in-law (SIL) and the little niece decided they were going to join us. They were hesitant about such a long trip. Upon further research, we realized it was a 9 hour paddle. So, we took a shorter trip.

Less than 10 minutes into our trip, we saw a small elk herd on the side of the creek. Imagine our excitement to see a bull with non-typical antler growth. This guy’s antlers grew straight out! I’ve heard of him (Bullwinkle) and a bull that is supposedly his father (Handlebars).

Some online research tells me that Non-typical antler growth can be caused by genetics, hormone levels or injury – so the thought that this guy is the progeny of another straight out antlers bull isn’t out of the question!

On Friday night while we were out for an evening cruise, a bear ran across the road in front of us, and right up an apple tree. We were shocked to see him there again on Saturday night. This time, he had a friend (a raccoon)!

To round out our weekend full of wildlife – we had a nice little elk crew in the yard on Sunday morning. It was a great weekend and they’re just going to keep getting better. I’m certain I heard two bugles (the husband says not), and with Elk Expo coming up this weekend, that means it’s almost Fall, ya’ll!