Monday, February 23, 2015

The Coolest Small Town in America


We have had a bit of the cold spell this past week.  Most nights the temperature has gone down into the minus twenties.  Needless to say, we are talking about absolute temperatures without wind chill.  I realize that people out east have no idea about the cold here but we do become a little smug about it.

One of the nicest things about the cold weather is how beautiful everything looks.  Clear skies and bright sunshine are welcome in the winter..  Heavy snowfalls are also good but they can be very dark and dreary.  Snowfalls also need warmer temperatures.  Who knows which is the best?  It probably depends as much on my mood as anything else.

Grand Marais has become involved in a little contest sponsored by Budget Travel magazine to find the coolest little town in America.  I would encourage all of you to vote for Grand Marais. You can vote up to once a day.   Here is information on how to vote:

“The lead for Grand Marais on Budget Travel’s “America’s Coolest Small Town” contest is down to under 3% this morning.  Please vote for Grand Marais.  You can vote daily until midnight on February 25.  Let’s not let a town in Virginia beat Grand Marais!


To skip the ads, just click on the link to the site in the upper right corner of the first screen.  (One vote per day per IP address is allowed.)

Ask your friends to vote, too.”

The deadline for the contest had been extended to March 4th.  It is important that you remember to vote every day.

Wolves have been especially active.  There has been a deer kill for three nights in a row around the lodge.  There must be a large number of wolves around because the animals disappear overnight.  I seem to remember that it takes one deer a week to feed a wolf.  By next fall we will be in a season to increase the number of deer.

Reservations for next summer seem to be coming in steadily.  If you have specific dates or cabins in mind, give us a call so we can hold them for you.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Winter Weekend


We are back from what I hope is our last short trip this winter.  Robert’s boy, Zach, is now officially 15 years old.  I am not sure how it all happened.  My favorite story about him occurred when he was about 2 and down with me for breakfast.  Zach was helping to clear the table when we were done eating.  He dropped a small glass which bounced once and then cracked to pieces on the second hit.  He looked at me and said, “Now I’m in trouble.”  Well what grandmother could do anything but laugh.

Our trip home from Missouri was great on Monday.  We had a full load inside and outside the truck with a ton of hickory for Don’s smoking.  The driving the first day was wonderful – clear skies and almost no wind.  Tuesday was horrible driving.  The normally 3 ½ hour drive from Minneapolis to Duluth took us 6 hours.  There was lots of traffic, snow and wind.

Of course, the snow dropped 6-8 inches on the Gunflint Trail.  The result is ski trails that are in wonderful condition.  We have had guests out all weekend even though it was cold.  The skiers have been joined by snowmobilers and fishermen.  It is a holiday weekend and everyone has headed up here for winter sports.  The cold outside temperatures have made the lodge seem more warm and cozy than usual.  Add in Mark’s live keyboard and you would think you were at a ski resort.

Last week some guests had quite an experience.  They had come up from Texas to see the deer.  One night they were up late watching a movie.  A deer ran past their cabin.  They looked out the window to see a large pack of wolves (12 by actual count) taking down one of the deer.  It is a once in a lifetime experience with both good and bad feelings.  We all know that the wolves need to eat deer to survive.  On the other hand you can’t help hoping that somehow the deer could get out alive.  It didn’t happen.  The wolves and crows all go their dinner that night.  The situation had no right or wrong but most of us hate to see the deer die.

The birds are coming into our feeders on a regular basis.  For some reason a flock of redpolls has been hanging around.  Although common to this area we don’t usually get them at the feeders.  Who knows why they have decided to stop.  A  pine martin has also decided to eat off the feeders.  Bruce thinks that there is a second one around.  While the first one is eating, he keeps looking toward an area off to his right.  Maybe we will have a whole family in the area in the spring.

While in Missouri I bought our seeds for the vegetable garden.  It was 70 degrees there and I was getting the itch to plant.  Naturally it will be a bit before those seeds get into the ground here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Back at Tucker Lake


The trip home from Tobago was easy.  Lee picked us up at the airport and the next day we drove home.  Of course, it was a shock to our system.  In Tobago the lows were 75 degrees and the highs were 85 degrees.  The first morning here it was 30 below!  Slowly we are getting warm clothes out and ready the brave the elements again.  I shoveled a little yesterday and filled the bird feeders.

Attached are a few pictures that I could not figure out how to get on in the Tobagp blogs from Bruce’s iPad.  The first picture is the bay where we had a picnic lunch on the all day snorkeling trip.  Our boat is anchored right in front of you.  Then we have Bruce snorkeling.  Finally we have Bruce feeding a mot mot bird at our dining table.  With everything open the birds come in all the time.  This bird was particularly pretty with its colors and interesting tail feathers.

 
 
 
 
One of our favorite times during the trip was dinner time.  I am sure you are not surprised to hear that.  While we went out for dinners, we also cooked in a lot.  Our entre of choice was fresh fish.  Our first time buying from a street vender of fresh fish was an experience.  The man wanted to charge us too much and then wanted to charge to fillet the fish.  Bruce almost died and the vender could not believe us when we just took the fish home.  Bruce had brought his fillet knife and in a couple of minutes, the fillets were ready for dinner!

Bruce either grilled or fried the fish.  I made a couple of different sauces and the sides.  We also talked with a fruit and vegetable vender.  He told us how to buy plantain and how to cook it properly.  That was a big success.  Hopefully I will be able to repeat the process at home.

Zach’s birthday is coming up so we are off to Missouri this weekend.  He is part of his school’s robotics team so we will be able to see that also.  If it is like the Grand Marais team, they are building a robot to stack boxes.  An additional project is bringing home hickory firewood for Don’s smoking.  We will take one of the trucks down and fill it to the brim with firewood.

Going to Missouri has another bonus.  We take two days to make the trip.  That means we have to spend one night in Minneapolis each way.  So we will get to see Grant and Mae.  On Thursday they have gymnastics lessons.  Each of us will spend half the lesson with each child.

Have a good weekend.  I know that we will.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Still in Tobago

Although our days in Tobago arecoming to an end, we have had a chance to see a lot of the island.  One day we hired a guide/driver for some birdwatching and a visit to the rain forest.  That was not our best decision .  We knew more birds than he did.

Another day we went out for a day of snorkeling and fishing.  Bruce and Patty had three stops with a good variety of coral and fish.  Lunch was on the beach of a small bay.  The trip out was interesting as we were going into six foot waves.  We had a lot of bouncing.  Coming back in we trolled a line with an artificial lure but no luck.

Of course, we have driven all over the island.  There are several beaches close to our house for Bruce and Patty to do a little snorkeling.  Just give me a book and a chair and I will watch the gear.  One day just as Bruce and Patty were coming in, music announced that the ice cream truck was there.  We all got ice cream bars.  It reminded me of the Good Humor trucks tha came around the neighborhood when I was growing in Chicago.

Another day we drove to a bay just up the coast.  From our porch we could see fishermen putting in seine nets.  We drove by the bay just as about 15 people were pulling in the net.  There were a couple hundred small white fish that were pulled in.  One of the women told me the fish were sweet but very bony.   The net also held two turtles.  Each was about 12-18 inches in diameter.  They were released back to the sea.

Last Sunday we drove to Englishmen's Bay.  After a picnic lunch, Bruce and Patty spent an hour snorkeling one side of the bay.  Then we all walked down to the other side of the bay.  It was  nice outing.

Yesterday we went on one of our rare evening outings.  There was  steel band contest for the entire island.  We had been warned that things like this often start late.  We came a half hour early and it started a hour and a half late.  We only saw four bands of the small class but each one had about 25 people playing.  There were lots of people to see the bands and we had a great time.

On Thursdaywe start home.  We will let you know what is going on in the north woods.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tobago

Greetings from Tobago!  We made it down here last Saturday.  We left for the Minneapolis Airport at 3:30 in the morning.  Our first flight left for Miami at 5:30.  Then we spent 6 hours in the Miami Airport.  That airport is more like a shopping mall but I am not very good at malls.  Finally we took off for Port Au Spain, Trinidad.  Things were VERY slow going through customs and we got to our hotel at 1:00 a.m.  The next morning we took a short flight over to Tobago.  The car rental was easily accomplished and we were on our way -- driving  with the British system on the wrong side of the road.

Our house is lovely.  On the top story is combination living room and dining room with a full kitchen.  The porch overlooks the pool and the sea.  Our bedroom is also upstairs.  The whole upstairs opens up to the breeze and the sound of the waves.  I took a picture with this iPad and will try to attach it but we are into a learning experience with all this.

The first several days were rainy and we just were lazy.  Afternoon naps and early nights brought us back up to speed.  The last few days we have been driving all over the island.  One day we bought fresh dolphin or mahi mahi.  Bruce as quite insulted when the seller wanted to charge is $8.00US to fillet it.  Naturally Bruce had brought his own fillet knife to do the job.  It was a wonderful meal.

Tomorrow our friends the Feeneys join us for the next two weeks.  Stayed turned for the next installment

I can't get the picture on but Patty will help when she gets here.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Starting the New Year


The holiday season is over.  It has been one of our busiest times.  Some of it, I am sure, was due to the way Christmas and New Year’s fell during the week. New Year’s Eve we had about 100 people for dinner.  That is a good number for us.  So tomorrow (Sunday) things will settle down a bit.  Everyone on the staff will take a deep breath and get some days off.

On New Year’s Day Don and I went out to see how thick the ice was.  Here is a picture of him in his dry suit ready to go.  I have a 150’ line attached to his waist.  Everyone says that there isn’t much I can do if he starts to go down.  His suit will keep him dry and floating until help can come.  Luckily we have not had to face that issue.
 
Just out from the dock we had about 10 inches of solid ice.  We then progressed in 150’ increments.  By the time we got 750’ out, the ice was 4” thick.  Tonight the temperature is supposed to drop to 27 degrees below.  That will help tighten the ice up and make more ice.

People ask us all the time, “Is the ice safe?”  All we can do is report what was found when and where we drilled holes.  Because of the way everything froze on Gunflint this year, we are fairly confident that east of us the ice is not as thick.  As a result we will continue to tell people it is OK to walk along the shore but not to go out into the middle of the ice.

Snow is coming down fairly steadily as I write this.  The forecast is for 100% of heavy snow.  Who know exactly what that means.  The next couple of days will have lots of time devoted to plowing, shoveling and grooming.  It is unbelievable how much time it takes to clean up after a snow fall.  Every step and every porch has to be shoveled.  Every road, path and car park has to be plowed.  That means moving a lot of cars.  It is one of those jobs that as soon as you get it finished, there is more snow coming down.

Of course our resident animals love it.  The other day during breakfast a pack of wolves was seen on the Canadian side of the lake moving to the west end.  As soon as I said something, the entire dining room moved to the windows for a good look.

And it is just not on the ice that we see wolves.  Neighbors down the lake commented that they had been awakened the other night by a wolf howling right outside their house.  They couldn’t see him but they could sure hear him.  It is a sound that brings out feelings from deep in our past.

 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

WE HAVE SNOW!!


Right now I have the three most exciting words to tell you – WE HAVE SNOW!!  Cook County is one of the few places in the state with snow.  Our ski trails are groomed and tracked.  People are out all over.  It is a wonderful time in the woods.

The ice on the lake is not really reliable yet so we have been advising everyone to stay off the lake.  The temperature has gone down today.  It was 20 degrees this morning and 11 degrees when I came home about 1:30 after lunch.  The cloud cover is gone and the sun is out.  If it gets cold tonight, the lake will probably freeze up a bit more.  We will test it before anyone really goes out.

We also have wolves.  There has been a pack of 7 wolves coming down from the north side of the lake.  Yesterday we saw them on the ice around the point at the west side of Gunflint.  Sheryl got some nice pictures of them and here is one.  Later in the afternoon we saw three of them out on the ice just sitting and looking around.  Being on the lake gives them a good chance to look for any deer out on the ice.
 
Speaking of deer we have not seen a lot of them.  Our biggest group has been 7 animals.  We must be in a rebuilding year.  Last winter was really cold and filled up with lots of snow.  In March there was a storm that dropped 20 inches on us.  No matter how much corn we put out, it makes it hard for the deer to get enough feed.  Eventually the tide will turn and we will have fewer wolves and more deer.

I am sitting here typing and waiting for Lee and Eve and the kids to arrive.  They will be spending a few days with us.  The kids are already signed up for dog sled rides.  I am all prepared to play games and read books.  Then we will take a few minutes to bake a birthday cake for Mae.  I will get her to help with the baking and decorating.  Her birthday present is wrapped and hidden.

Life at the lodge is busy.  This week in between Christmas and New Year’s is one of our busiest times.  Because the days are short everything is compressed into a fewer daylight hours.  Coming into the lodge at night is like a fairy tale with all the decorations and the fireplaces going.  Even those of us who have seen it over and over, still get caught short sometimes.

Bruce and I hope that all of you had a good Christmas and are looking forward to a very happy new year.   

 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's Ice Time Again


Gunflint Lake finally froze over on the night of December 17th.  There was a section in the middle of the lake that just would not skim over.  Here is a picture Sheryl took on the morning of the 17th.  You can see the open water.  As a result every time we got a little wind, we would lose a little ice.  Finally we had a night with below zero temps and no wind.  That is all it took.  Now we can start to make ice.

For the past ten days we have had signs up all over warning about unsafe ice.  In fact a measurement by the dock showed that we had only a couple of inches.  All the incoming guests are told to stay off the ice.  We are not quite paranoid but it is close.

Imagine our panic this morning when we saw 1 skier and three dog sleds going down the ice.  They were about 50-75 feet from shore and going down to the west end.  Then around lunch time we saw two of the dog sleds going back to the east end.

So how do we know when the ice if safe?  Years ago Charlie Cook or George Plummer (two Native Americans who lived on the north side of the lake) would come over to tell us the ice was safe.  I am not sure how they determined this but we always waited to get the OK from them.

Today Don Kufahl and Bruce will decide when they are absolutely sure the ice is safe.  Then they wait a couple more days.  Don puts on his dry suit and gets an auger.  We tie a 50’ rope around his waist and he starts walking out.  Every 50-75 feet out he will stop and drill a hole in the ice to check its thickness.  We want at least 6” of solid ice.  While the testing is going on, a crowd (well 3-4 people) gather in the lodge to watch and help if needed.  Luckily help has never been needed.

A some years ago, two snowmobiles came off the public landing and started out towards Cross River Lodge (old Borderland).  One of them slowed down as they got to the north shore.  That machine went right through the ice.  Eric Thompson was still at Borderland.  He ran down with a long extension ladder and pushed it out to the man in the water.  As soon as the man grabbed the ladder, Eric pulled him in.  It just luck that Eric was there and knew what to do.

Even when the ice is frozen over 6”, there are still dangerous situations that can occur.  When the temperatures get really low (20-40degrees below zero), at that point the ice starts to expand but the shoreline will not let it expand enough so a press ridge explodes straight up into the air.  It can be 5 feet tall.  Water flows up and then freezes over.  

Sometimes, however, the pressure ridge goes down.  The water quickly skims over and looks solid.  If anyone walks over it for the next few days the ice will break and the person will go through.

Ice can be very dangerous so be sure to check with locals before you go out on it.

 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

'Tis the Week Before Christmas


Christmas is coming and we are getting ready at the lodge.  Most of the decorations are up.  The tree in the lodge looks wonderful.  It is hard to show it off with this daytime photo but here we are.  Out on the Trail by Birch Lake, Daryl Popkes and Tom Leddy have lit up their tree with white bulbs.  It looks great as we come up the road home.

Gunflint Lake is not frozen yet.  There is about a one mile section from Heston’s east that is still open.  We just need some cold weather and no wind.  No sense is fussing about it as there is nothing to be done.  Mother Nature has her own plan and she will not be hurried.

The animals in the area are doing very well.  Fred smith reports that there is still a lynx haning around the Mile O’Pines Road.  He probably comes down our way too but we just haven’t seen him.

Guests last weekend had a lot of moose sightings.  On Friday night about three parties saw a cow and a large calf around seven miles below us.  The two animals must have hung around the road for quite some time.  All these parties saw them over about a two hour period.  In all cases the animals stayed around enough to give a good view.  On Saturday Bruce and I drove down to Poplar Lake for a party.  We saw the cow and calf both coming and going to our party.  There is also a big bull moose between Mayhew and Birch Lakes.  Again people have had wonderful views of the animals.

Let’s not forget the wolves.  In spite of a hunting season,  around 8:00 a.m. last Saturday everyone in the lodge could see a pack of 7 wolves come over from Canada.  They must have started at the Pines and then went down the lake to the west.  I am sure that they will be hanging around looking for dinner during the winter.

I have my bird feeders full with friends coming in.  Bruce has a metal box for bread for the Gray Jays and Blue Jays.  When he puts food in, Bruce bangs on the edge of the box.  As soon as he moves on, there is a steady stream of birds to take their share.  Soon the box is empty.

It is pretty warm out now but due to cool down next week.  I am ready for a big snow storm.  Eight or ten inches would be just fine.  Of course, Bruce will not be too happy about it if he is out dragging in our Christmas tree.

Lee, Eva, Grant and Mae are due up here on the 27th.  There should be a good snowfall for them to be out playing in.  They also want to take a dog sled ride.  We will see how the snow comes.

 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Into the Christmas Season


We are home from a great trip to Missouri for Thanksgiving.  Robert, Miranda and Zach are doing well.  As expected, Zach is getting really tall.  He can now wear his Dad’s shoes – size 12!  They have a new puppy who loves everyone.  Her name is Remington and she has endless energy.

We hit all our favorite stores to go shopping and one auction for Bruce.  The big steal was a Tupperware container of Legos for Grant and Mae.  The container was about 12 inches wide and 18 inches long and 24 inches tall.  It took the two kids about 2 minutes to get into the container.  About the only control Grandpa had was that they did not spill the tub all over the floor.  It was a good buy that will keep them both occupied for hours.

Returning home was like going into winter.  Most of the lakes are frozen over.  Gunflint is ½ frozen.  With the full moon, all we need is clear skies and no wind one night.  The next morning Gunflint will be frozen over.  Since the ice went off the lake late in May and is now going on the lake early in December, 2014 will have one of the shortest periods of open water in a long time.

Now that Thanksgiving is past, it is time to get serious about Christmas.  Most of the presents are bought or ordered or, at least, decided. 

Yesterday I started on Christmas baking.  I bake 10 kinds of cookies and make plates for each staff member.  Lee, Eva, Grant and Mae will be here on the 27th so they need cookies too.  Bruce feels he should have snacks each night.  All in all it is a lot of cookies.

Today is the day to start on Christmas cards.  I love being able to print mailing labels and return labels.  Then I can devote all my writing time to sharing messages with friends and family.  We send out about 100 cards so it takes a bit to write to everyone.

The staff Christmas party is December 17th.  It is always a nice potluck.  We will have steamed shrimp for appetizers and prime rib for the main meat.  For a gift exchange each person gets a $25 gift and we all pick in order.  Mandy is in charge so all is well organized.  It is a pleasant evening for everyone.

The final job is to plan Christmas dinner.  Today at lunch I think we decided the main entre.  Since it is just Bruce and I, we don’t want anything too familiar.  It has to be a little festive.  We will see as there is still plenty of time to decide or change our mind.

This weekend we start decorating the lodge.  The weather is supposed to be sunny on Saturday. Outside lights and trees will be put up.  John will have a crew making wreaths for cabins.  Bonnie will have trees to line the drive and the front patio each with white lights on it.  Inside there is a big tree for the lounge and one for the dining room.  Bruce loves buying stuff to decorate the lodge so there will be new things all over.

Even if you are just in the area, stop in to see us.

Monday, November 24, 2014

I AmBack


After a busy summer when I did no blog writing, it is time to get back into the swing of writing to you all regularly.

During the early summer it was cool and rainy followed by sunshine.  This meant a bump crop of strawberries and blueberries.  Bruce and I picked (on hands and knees) 16 cups of wild strawberries.  Every berry went into jam.  Blueberries have been made into jam too except for a supply kept in the freezer for pies, scones and pancakes.  I thought there were not too many raspberries but we still ended up with 36 jars of jam.

The lodge was busy for most of the summer.  Right now we are in that quiet time between fall color and the holidays.  It may still officially be fall but the snow is coming down while I write as if it is winter.  We have also had some cold weather that is more like winter than fall.  Who knows what the rest of the year will bring but right now we are on the way to good skiing conditions.

Hunting season is just over and deer are starting to come down to the lodge.  Apparently the does and young ones know that no one is hunting them.  Meanwhile we have the meat from a nice forked buck in our freezer.

Bruce and I took off for three weeks.  We went to Tanzania on safari with three other couples  We saw the most game in our lives.  One thrilling moment was being in our car while a herd of about 200 elephants walked past on all four sides.  It took 25 minutes and we loved very minute.  Another day we saw a mother lioness bring her four young cubs out to play.  You can imagine how cute those fat little cubs were.  Each day was filled with surprises as game appeared when we least expected it.  Who would think that a dung beetle could be so interesting?

After the safari Bruce and I took off for a week in Paris.  We rented and apartment and walked all over the city.  Our estimate was 4 miles a day.  Our days were divided between museums and monuments and street fairs and shopping.  Of course, the main events each day were lunch and dinner.  All those wonderful starters were our favorites – escargot, mussels, French onion soup, pates and foie gras.  It is a good thing we walked every day.

Now we are home and about to go down to Robert, Miranda and Zach’s for Thanksgiving.  I have been warned to prepare for a big surprise.  It seems that at 14 years of age, Zach is now up to 6 feet tall!  I have no idea how those kids grow so fast.

One of the highlights of the fall was the birth of our first great-grandson.  Tanner and Molly’s son, Oliver, just takes our breath away.  Aren’t you supposed to be “old” before a great-grandchild is born?

The lodge has just a couple cabins open for Thanksgiving.  Christmas and New Year’s are almost full too.  It looks like we will be ending the year with a bang.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The End of June


It is that in between stage.  We are not quite as busy as we would like and we don’t have quite as much staff as we need.  As a result I am remembering more things about operating the computer than I want to know.  More staff is due to come soon which will be nice.

Last week must have been turtle moving week on the Gunflint.  I saw three turtles wandering on the dirt roads.  I assume that they are either laying eggs or have just finished laying eggs.  Now we will all just watch for little ones to appear.

Our road construction is coming along very well.  The flag men tell us that they will be done by Fourth of July.  Even the gravel part is smoother than our pavement was.  Of course all this gravel is really doing a number on my car.  It is filthy but I am not washing it because one trip will put me right back where I am now.  I had to wash my license plate with water so it could be seen.

We are getting close to the annual canoe races.  They are held on the third Wednesday of July.  If the weather is good, there will be a 300 people here.  The first race, the long distance, starts at 6:00 p.m.  In addition to seeing all your friends and neighbors, this is a good place for dinner and goodies.  The homemade goodies go quickly so don’t be late.

We have had two days of sunshine and does it feel good.  My garden is popping out of the ground.  In a week or so, there should be a little baby lettuce ready to eat.  The rhubarb is ready for a second cutting.  Basil, chives and parsley are also ready to be harvested again.  The potato plants are almost three feet high.  My big hope is that the strawberries will be ripe when Mae and Grant are here.  They will really enjoy picking and eating them.

Fishing has been particularly good lately.  The guides have been having good luck with every kind of fish.  Last night in the dining room we cooked up enough walleye appetizers for a big party of 11.  There was not one piece of fish left.  When you eat fish that was swimming in the lake three hours ago, you realize how important it is to get fresh fish.  A friend of mine said that when she goes to buy fish, she just asks for the freshest fish they have.

The partridge chicks are still tiny but we are seeing them on the side road regularly.  Last night Bruce had a covey of 4 on his side of the road.  They are really cute as momma guards while they scamper across.  Sunshine is really good for them too.  If we get too much rain while the chicks are small, they can get sick and die.  It is not a good thing.

 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Normal Blog


By this last Tuesday we reached a milestone in the year cycle of my garden.  Everything was planted.  There were no seeds or plants waiting to go in.  Everything had been weeded at least once.  Now all I have to do is water and wait for plants to grow.

The past few days have been quite rainy so I didn’t even need to water the gardens..  On Thursday the wind and rain blew hard and steadily.  Friday was fairly nice and sunny.  Then on Saturday the rain started in again.  Today it has been dark and rainy all day.  I think tomorrow it will clear up and we will have some good weather.  Meanwhile the rain has caused everything in my garden to pop up. My onion sets grew 4 inches. All we need now is some sunshine to help them grow.

Fishing had been really good.  The guides have caught several large walleyes.  After taking a picture these big fish are returned to the water so they can breed another year.  The guides hold them in the water and massage them until the fish is ready to swim off.  Really and honestly those 2-3 pound walleyes are much better for eating.

Bass have been going up onto the beds.  Then they really are little hungrier and are fun to catch.  Lake trout are still in relatively shallow water and biting well.  We have even seen a few northern come it.  Northerns eat very well but most people don’t like them because of the y-bones that run down the fillets.  The guides fillet the fish and then cut the fillets into long strips.  The middle strip has all the y-bones and is thrown away.  The other two strips are cut into bit size pieces.  They fry up nicely and it is like eating popcorn – once you start, you can’t stop until they are all gone.

April has been overwhelmed lately with boxes of gifts coming in for the trading post in the lodge.  Counting, pricing, and arranging everything is a huge job.  Of course, Shannon is there to help with the work.  Shannon and Marilyn also take up a lot of the telephone answering.  Dave is there to help with everything but it keeps all four of them busy.  There is not a lot of slack time at the front desk.

Our new summer staff is coming in steadily.  Each and every one of them is welcomed with open arms.  We have been operating with not quite as many workers as is comfortable.  When the new ones come, it always takes time to train them but it sure is good to get a little more help.

All the summer activities – horseback rides, canopy tours, fishing, canoe trips, etc. are in full swing right now.  But most of all we have an influx of kids who have dreamed about endless hot chocolate all winter long.  Cookies are also high on the list.  I saw a boy once with four coolies stacked together.  He was just taking a bit down all four of them at one time.

BREAKING NEWS:  On the way to the lodge tonight we saw our first momma partridge with what looks like a brand new brood of chicks.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

We Are Asking For Your Vote


 
Bruce just got word that Matt Brinkman from WCCO in Minneapolis is conducting a contest to find the best zip line in Minnesota.  There are several names on the list including ours at the Towering Pines Canopy Tour, Gunflint Trail.  So we are asking you to follow the link below and vote for us.  Don’t get us confused with Kerfoot Canopy Tour, Henderson.  That one is run by our son, Lee Kerfoot.  So here is the link:
To give you another hint to vote for us, the picture on the link was taken at our canopy tour.
Thanks for your vote.
 
 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Summer is Here


We have spent the last two weekends at graduations.  Brian’s son, Sam, drew us to California.  This fall Sam is on his way to the University of San Francisco where he is entered into a 4-year nursing program.  It was great to see him with a plan in mind for the future.

Last weekend Shawn’s daughter, Emma, took her place in the graduation march.  We get her for the summer as a server in the dining room.  After that Emma is off to St. Thomas University where she plans to major in business.  Like her cousin, it is great to see her moving forward.

During all this time, the seasons continued to move forward here at Gunflint.  Spring was gone.  The leaves are out and it seems like summer.  The leaves on the trees look really great.  I think we are finished with evening freezes.  That means it is time to start planting.

We planted a few things before the graduations.  They survived cool weather.  The green bean leaves were munched to nothing by what we assume was a rabbit.  They are growing more leaves but it put them back.  After I am finished with the blog, I will be going out to plant more flowers and vegetables.  There is a nice breeze so hopefully the bugs will not be too bad.

We had an interesting happening over on the Round Lake Road.  Just as you make the sharp left turn before the public landing, there is a small creek that comes in from the right and goes through a culvert to the Cross River.  It is so small that I think most people never see it.  That all changed the other day.  Somewhere above the creek there must be a beaver dam creating a pond.  With all the heavy spring melt and rains, the dam gave way over night.  Suddenly there was a flash flood taking out the road and rushing into the Cross River.  This brown mess of mud and dirt ran into Gunflint Lake.  It also ran into the water system of Cross River Lodge.  Their faucets were giving out brown water.  It all clears up in a day or so but at the time it is not nice to deal with.  Also the county had to come up to rebuild the road and put a new culvert in.  Even beaver engineers make occasional errors in judgment.

Speaking of rebuilding roads, about 6 miles of the Gunflint Trail is being rebuilt by our side road.  I think that section of the road has been rebuilt once in the 46 years that I have lived here.  You can be sure that it really needed some help.  The spring frost heaves slowed us all down.  I will not miss them at all.  It is surprising to see all the new culverts that are going in.  I suppose that will take care of the spring bumps and dips.

This is all you are getting.  My garden is calling me.