Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Welcoming John and Mindy

It is the end of another season at Gunflint.  The leaves are quickly turning and fall is here.  This is also the end of our time at Gunflint Lodge.  As many of you know, we decided to sell the resort several years ago.  It is something that is easier said than done.

First we had to emotionally get over the fact that our life was moving on.  Then finding the buyers was a project.  We searched to find a buyer who would feel as we do about the lodge.  John and Mindy Fredrikson have really fulfilled our hopes.

This couple were raised in the Midwest and then moved out east as Mindy worked as a lawyer for Delta Airlines.  They came with their son Jack to be active owners of the lodge.  Bruce and I were pleased to sell to a family rather an investment group.  This is turning out to be a wise move.  They are moving in to truly make Gunflint their home.

Bruce spent about two months working with them about the operations at the lodge.  I think you will find that much as remained the same.  As they worked planning packages for the next season, Bruce found that already John and Mindy had ideas to contribute.  They will, of course, make changes but we did too.  We all knew that Bruce was never against making good changes so he was happy to see new ideas coming from them.  After all, we didn’t have a monopoly of how to run good resorts.

The managers have pretty much stayed the same so you will see familiar faces as you visit us again.  Bruce and I are not here but we still live in the area about five miles from the lodge.  In fact we hope that many of you will visit us at our home.  Just a phone call will let you know we are there and it will also give me a  minute to pick up the house.

Personally this change has been a great relief for Bruce and me.  You always hope to sell to people who share your goals and we feel that John and Mindy do.  It has also enabled us to do more of the activities that you all come up here to do.  We have done more fishing and eaten more fresh walleye than in years.  It has also freed us up to travel a little bit more and know that the lodge has successfully passed into new owners hands.

As usual, we hope that you will visit Gunflint soon.  It will always be a special place in our hearts with very special guests who spend time with us.  John and Mindy seem to already find that it is a special place on the Gunflint Trail.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Open Water Seaason

Bruce just called home.  We are now into open water season!  Traditionally we follow the stages noticed by our long time mailman Don Brazell in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Don drove the Trail delivering mail for many years.  He noticed that if the North Brule River was flowing freely on a given day then one week later the smaller lakes went out.  In another week the larger lakes like Gunflint went out.

According to that plan, the ice should have gone out on Gunflint around the first of May.  Yesterday the ice on Gunflint Lake was really black but there was no wind to blow the ice out.  This morning we had a strong east wind storm.  Rain was coming down steadily and the temperature was sitting right around 30 degrees.

It’s almost 11:00 a.m. now.  It’s still raining and the east wind is strong.  Ice is starting to accumulate on the branches of trees.  Usually it takes a northwest wind to move the ice out.  Well everything is different this year.  That east wind just blew the ice out.  Bruce said it just flew out in a matter of hours.

So start planning your fishing trip cause the ice is gone.  The walleye season opens in Minnesota on May 14th.  I can already taste those fish frying in our frying pan.  Lake Trout will also be open in Minnesota.  We like to grill trout fillets.  There is nothing better than freshly caught fish for dinner.

Of course, there are many other signs of spring around.  My bird feeders are emptied as soon as I fill them.  Spring birds are back like red-wing black birds, ravens, crows, purple finches, etc.  Everyone is hungry.

Also the last couple of days I have walked to the Trail (2 miles round trip), I have heard partridge drumming their mating song.  They have been on the road.  The other night Bruce and I drove home.  There was a partridge right in front of us on the Tucker Lake Road.  He fly off but not very far.  We backed up a couple of feet and there was the partridge on a branch looking in our car window!

Ducks are also around.  Many of them keep going north but the mallards are here to raise their broods.  By the beginning of June we will have lots of little ones on the beach at the lodge.

When I was in town on Thursday, there was a loon in the bay at Grand Marais.  I imagine that loon will be flying up here pretty soon.  There is nothing nicer than to lie in bed at night and hear the loons calling.  It is when I know we are really at home.

So you can go to bed tonight and imagine the waves splashing up on the shore of Gunflint Lake.  It’s a bonus that those of who live on a lake get every spring.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Snow Again

Last week’s snow has almost melted.  I was able to walk the Tucker Lake road for about 1 mile without getting mud all over.  All that changed last night.  We got abou2 inches of snow and it is still coming down.  Tomorrow we have a chance of rain/snow and then sunshine.  It is just that time of year when the weather changes every day.  All we really want is sunshine and melting temperatures.  Once Easter week is over, there are very few guests so we don’t have to worry about snow conditions.

The purple finches are still around.  The snow must have covered up all their feed.  That leaves my feeders as their source.  We are going through sunflower seeds like there ie no tomorrow.  They are also squawking at each other constantly.  Luckily it is cold enough that the windows are closed so I don’t hear them all the time.

Tomorrow is Easter and we are having a small buffet at the lodge.  I am going down in the morning to make deviled eggs.  We (I) must have them for the buffet.  The only question is whether I can make them in a large quantity any more.  It will come back to me.  After all the years we had deviled eggs on smorgasbords, it is amazing that the recipe isn’t on the tip of my tongue.

I just came back from managers’ lunch at the lodge.  The Tucker Lake side road was covered with a wet, slippery snow.  I at one point it upped my speed just a bit and felt the back tires slide over.  By the time I got to the main Gunflint Trail, it was wet and free of all ice and snow.  Coming back the Tucker Lake Road was starting to melt as the temperature was up above the freezing point.  This all just the temperature changes that makes driving so much fun at this time of year.  Luckily it only last for a short time in the spring.

Bruce is out in the workshop with a “project.”  He got some containers that fit onto a rack on the wall.  Into them he is emptying all his cans of different types of nails and screws.  The idea is that once he has the time, he will have all his tools, nails, screws etc. organized for projects. 

One of the first projects is new (pretty) trellises for my garden.  We need them for the green beans this summer.    We eat beans for about 6 weeks when they are at the peak of freshness. 

In fact I am starting to plan the garden out.  The first thing to get in is spinach.  It will grow up quickly and I may even get a second crop in.  With new snow on the ground, it all sounds pretty good.  Hopefully this is our last snowfall and it will melt quickly.



Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring Activities


Bruce, April (front desk) and I spent a long last weekend in Minneapolis at the gift show.  Hopefully we bought enough enticing things to tempt you to make a purchase or two.  It was two days of looking and two days of buying.  I don’t even want to try to total how much we spent.  It adds up quickly.

The trip had fun highlights too.  On Saturday night we went out to dinner with Grant and Mae who graciously brought along their parents.  We all laughed at the chef who cooked on a hot plate right in front of all 8 of us.  When the oil got hot and sprang into flames, the kids could feel the heat from the flames.  It was so much better than having to sit still while waiting for dinner to come.

Another highlight for Bruce and I was Penzey’s Spice store on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.  I had made a list but it was really long because we had not been there for a long time.  Then I left the list at home.  So we had to walk through everything.  It all fit into a little basket but the price wasn’t little.  We will use every grain of the spices.

There was one place that was recommended to us and we didn’t get there.  In St. Paul on University & Hennepin is Surdyks.  It is a wine and cheese store.  I am told that they specialize in the stinkiest cheese there is.  I looked them up on the internet and they are on my list for the next trip.

We got home on Monday to snow banks that had shrunk to nothing while we were gone.  The side road from the Gunflint Trail into our house was down to gravel and dry.  It was really nice and we both felt that spring was coming.  Little did we know that by Thursday morning we would have 13 inches of new snow.  I had an early appointment in town but could not go because the mile out to the main trail was not plowed until the middle of the morning.  Bruce could not get out either so he cleaned the snow up in our yard.  The banks there are up to five feet now.  It would be really pretty if this was November.

Of course, the birds are really starting to come with all the snow.  All day I seem to have a great number of purple finches attacking the bird feeders.  When I am done with this, it will be time to go fill all the feeders.

Also we appear to have one pregnant pine martin.  I have not seen her but that is Bruce’s opinion.  Between birds and pine martins we seem to be feeding the whole neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Longer Days and Sloppy Snow

March blew in yesterday.  The morning gave us a thunderstorm and rain.  By afternoon the main Trail was free of snow and ice.  Driving home during the afternoon and evening was nasty because of the fog.  Both Bruce and I did it at different times.  It wasn’t fun for either of us.

The good part of the day was that we still had two feet of snow in the woods.  Some colder weather is coming and our guests will be out skiing again.  And of course, we are all remembering Marches in the past.  Those were the years when the snow was really going and it was almost gone except we got a storm that dumped two feet of new snow on us.  No matter happens, we will enjoy the fact that within several weeks real spring will be here.

Besides snow or rain or whatever, March is also bringing us longer days.  The extra hours of daylight are a true blessing.  I don’t even mind have a hour’s less sleep as we spring forward into daylight’s savings time.  Our longer days will just keep moving onward until the 21st of June when we start going the other way.

Bruce and I and April (from the front desk) leave tomorrow for the annual gift shop buying show.  April has done all the hard work.  She has inventoried, read catalogs and made her lists.  The gift shop at the lodge without the clothing doesn’t seem very big.  The three of us, however, will spend a day and a half just looking at the various show rooms.  Then we will spend an equal amount of time buying from various venders.  If you have ever been on a business trip for Bruce, we will spend every minute working.

The best part of the trip will be Saturday night.   That is the night we go out to dinner with Lee, Eva, Grant and Mae.  I love to see my children and their spouses but, like all grandmothers, it is the grandchildren who are always to stars of the show.  It is so hard to realize how much they know and grow.

I thought about this just the other night.  Like many of you I am getting the family organized through Ancestry and their Family Tree Maker.  Pictures are very meaningful.  I just saw two pictures that really hit home.  Each picture had one of my grandmothers holding me the day I was baptized.  It’s hard to see me in that little baby.  And have I lived up to all the hopes that those two women had for me?

It is getting a little colder outside.  My thermometer reads 30 degrees.  The rain yesterday and the colder weather today have pretty well cleaned the snow off the roofs.  The Tucker Lake Road from the Gunflint Trail to our house is just a mess off slush and soft snow.  Somebody hit the snow bank very hard.  Bruce asked if I did it.  Luckily I had not come close to the bank.  It is a matter of knowing when to drive very very slowly in the sloppy snow.


Saturday, March 05, 2016

The Season of Change Starts

March is here and it seems that all the weather has changed.  The sun is in a different position regarding my living room window.  It can be -22 when I get up at 6:00 a.m.  By late morning the temperature is now in the teens.  The snow on the roof is melting steadily.  Snow on the ground is melting until about 4:00.  Then it gets that granular quality as it starts to freeze again.  Soon it will be covered by an inch of new snow.

It’s hard to believe that all of this can happen in just a day but it does.  The change will occur for several days in a row.  Then we will have just melting.  The snow shrinks.  The ice starts to turn gray.  Now it is time for serious melting.  The warm weather of late March feels like summer temperatures.  When these same temperatures hit us in May, it feels like winter is back.  It is why these months are unpredictable and always changing.

Meanwhile my thoughts are turning to planting the garden.  Can I grow just 3 cabbages?  That is really all we can eat.  And which kind of tomatoes should I try this year.  My goal is to just get a reasonable bunch of delicious, home-grown tomatoes with that vine-ripened flavor.  Green beans seem to be solved.  Blue Lake have worked really well that last two years.  Oh but let’s not forget about beets.  Also Yukon Gold potatoes do really well here too (baked ones are for dinner tonight).  Yellow onions were great.  We ate every one.  There is plenty of time to day dream about the garden.  I usually don’t plant until June 1st so everything is protected from a late frost.

Back to what is outside my window today –pine martins are here almost every day.  I think there are about 3-4 living around our house.  Even with their distinctive markings I still can’t really decide how many are around.  One thing is for sure -- they love sunflower seeds.  They also love any bones or scraps from the dining room table.

Two days ago there was an otter hanging around.  Between our house and the lake is a small valley and then a little ridge.  You can’t see the lake but it is just on the other side of the ridge.  I was upstairs and spotted the otter on the little ridge.  They really are beautiful and graceful animals.

There has also been a few rabbit tracks in the snow.  Those we can do without.  Two years ago we started some green beans in the house.  I planted them in the garden and we left for two days for our granddaughter’s high school graduation.  When we came home, a rabbit had eaten every leaf off the plants.

Birds have also started to come home.  Right now the purple finches are all over.  Soon we will have lots of colorful birds.  The spring is when there seems to be a great variety of birds just flying all over.  There will be new ones to spot every week.

So we are in the season of change.  I’m ready for it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Quick Story of Winter

Many of you know that Gunflint Lodge is for sale.  Just to keep the record straight, we have not sold.  If a sale is finished, we’ll let you know.

It’s almost March and I don’t know where January and February have gone.  It has been a strange winter so far.  Gunflint Lake did not freeze until January 4th.  Even now we do not have a lot of good ice.  What we do have is slush!  The east end of Gunflint seems to be hit the worst but you can find slush almost anywhere on the lake.  Most of the lakes are in the same shape.

We have had a fair amount of snow.  The side roads are very narrow.  No one is driving them very fast just in case another car is coming at you.  Also as things warm up, the roads are very slippery.  It is another good reason to go slowly.

Moose seem to be coming back.  Above is one of Sheryl’s pictures from just a week or so ago.  Momma seems awfully heavy with one (or maybe two) new moose waiting to pop out.  We have a bunch of moose around the Seagull-Sag area.   There is also a big buck moose near the “Octagon” house on Loon Lake.  Around Birch Lake and the Laurentian Divide, moose have also been reported.  You and your vehicle are never going to win by hitting a moose so slow down.

The deer population on Gunflint is very sparse.  We always have ups and downs in deer depending on how many wolves are in the area.  For the past couple of years we have had 2 wolf packs on the lake.  Now that the deer are down, the wolves with start to look someplace else for dinner.  In a couple of years the deer population will recover and the wolves will move back in.

Bruce and I spent a good portion of January and February on vacation.  This year we picked the island of Faisel which is one the islands that make up the Azores Islands of Portugal.  We rented an apartment for three weeks and explored the entire island.  The first two weeks were walking all over the main town of Horta.  The last week we had a car and drove all over.  Here is a little of what we learned.

In 1957 they had a volcano that started out to see and worked its way in for 15 months.  The lava flow eventually covered and destroyed the main fishing villages for whalers.  We spent  quite a lot of time going through the underground museum that was built to tell the story of the volcano.  Eventually the island lost 35 % of its population who moved out as a result of the volcano.

Up on the highest peak of the island was also the remains from a volcano thousands of years ago.  The town had built a hiking trail around the rim which was about 3 ½ miles long.  Bruce tried to walk part of the rim one foggy, windy, muddy afternoon.  The wind was so strong he was almost blown off the rim even though he was using walking sticks.  The next day we came back to beautiful blue sky.  He walked up about 1000 feet to some communications towers we had not been able to see the day before.  At the base of the towers was a gravel road to them.  We drove up on this little road to look down into the hole.

During World War II this island was a stopover for planes being ferried from the U.S.  It was also a main stopping point when the first trans-Atlantic cable was laid.

Most of our time in Horta was spent learning the rhythms of the people who lived in town.  We both like to watch what is going on around us.  There was also plenty of time to pick a restaurant for dinner, play three games of cribbage daily and sleep late in the morning.

As much as we enjoyed the trip, it’s good to be home.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Getting Ready for Christmas

Sheryl took this picture after lunch the other day.  It is one of the Christmas trees we have lining the front patio.  Look carefully and you will see that the lake has no ice on it.  We are wondering if the lake will freeze before the first of the year.

Today is our day for snow.  It is coming down fast and thick.  The tracks from Bruce’s truck as he went to the lodge are all covered over.  I think I will be driving very slowly down for lunch at the lodge.

Well, I made it home from lunch.  Bruce was right behind me.  He spent an hour or so plowing the driveway.  I guess the snow was really heavy but it looks nice now.  I shoveled a little around the edges and filled the bird feeders.  We have four good sized feeders and they are emptied by the birds in 2 or 3 days.

When I came back from the lodge the other day, a very unusual sight greet me in the distance.  There was a pack of 3 lynx going across the road.  I never did get a really good look at them but I could tell from the way they moved that it was lynx.  Seeing a group like that is such a thrill.

The other night we had our annual Christmas party.  With only 30 employees at this time of year, it is a small low key event but we all seem to enjoy it.  We supply the prime rib, shrimp and cheesy potatoes.  Actually our main food company, Upper Lakes Foods,  gives us the meat and shrimp for which we are truly grateful.  After dinner we all play a gift exchange game.

My Christmas presents are either in the mail or ordered to be sent.  It is a great point to be at this time.  Now I can to start to enjoy this season.  We are going to our friend Bev’s for dinner after Christmas services at church on Christmas Eve.  I’m bringing a frozen cranberry salad.    We’ll drop it off at her house before going to church.

Christmas Day will just be Bruce and I at our house.  No one on the staff is working.  We pack up and deliver meals for all the cabins so they can cook their own meals.  We also plan it so that no cabin leaves and then has another party check in on Christmas Day.  This means we won’t have any cabins to clean that day.

The week between Christmas and New Years is one of the busiest for the entire year.  Unless the temperatures really drop, the lake ice will probably not be safe but there are lots of ski trails that will be open and ready to go.  Also the deer are starting to come in.  They all remember to eat out of your hands.

One more week before the big day.  Get your projects done and then just relax and be thankful for all we have.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Christmas Is Coming

Bruce and I have just returned from a couple weeks on vacation.  We spent a week on a cruise in the islands of the south.  Most of the time was very relaxing – sleeping, reading, cribbage, eating, etc.  After a very busy summer, it was good to just do nothing.

Then we spent a week going down to Robert and Miranda’s in Missouri for Thanksgiving.  Zach was there too and he seemed to have grown several inches more.  I expect that he will be taller than his father eventually.  He wears a size 13 shoe at 15 years of age.   It was a very pleasant visit.   Miranda is wonderful about finding places to visit around Kansas City.  This year we attended the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit at Union Station.  Robert is in charge of finding bar-b-que places for meals and supplies for Bruce’s smoker at home.  After watching the weather forecasts, we left a day early and avoided a lot of snow coming home.

Here is what came two days after we got home.  It is wet, heavy and about 5 inches deep.  This picture was from the front porch at the Tucker Lake house.  The lumps in the lawn are the new rock garden that we will plant next spring. Today is two days later and much of this has melted.  The hazy is morning fog coming in after the snow.  We are having a very mild winter so far.  It is probably the El Nino effect.

I am slowly getting into the Christmas list.  Things are ordered.  Christmas cards are waiting to be written.  The most important thing is cookies.  I always make a plate of cookies for each staff person for the annual party.  Today I brought over a bunch of the necessary ingredients so the project can start tomorrow.  I always try to bake when college and professional football games are on.  You know that anything important will be repeated several times.  So by this time tomorrow my kitchen will smell good but be a mess.

This weekend is a first Christmas decorating weekend at the lodge.  The maintenance has already started to put up the outside lights.  With the warmer weather, this project is much easier than when the wind is screaming in across the lake.  Most of the guests will spend their time decorating inside the main lodge.  Over the years we have accumulated many decorations to give holiday cheer to the main rooms.  By lunch everything will start to sparkle.

I filled my empty bird feeders right after getting home.  It always takes a couple of days for the birds to realize we are home.  Chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays and gray jays have already found us.  Grosbeaks take a little longer but they will soon start to eat their way through the sunflower seeds.  It is amazing how much life they add to the outside of the house.

The final job right now is to finish buying and shipping presents and the get a tree for the house.  With just the two of us for Christmas, we don’t decorate as much as years ago.  It will be just enough to give the house a holiday feel.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

September is Here

September is here.  After the busiest August ever, we are all ready to catch our breath.  Our occupancy rate was 92% so there were not a lot of empty cabins during the month.  High room counts are both a blessing and a curse.  The housekeepers always seemed to have lots of do.  Luckily everyone from dock boys to outfitters to gardeners helped them.  Head housekeeper Jesse did a great job keeping them all organized.  At the end the money is nice but you wonder if you will live through it.  Monday night was one of the first nights during the month that Bruce and I did not go back to the lodge after dinner.  We just sat.

As fall comes everyone is seeing more animals on the trail.  Many of them do not seem to be in their normal habitat.  Dave at the front desk has seen a lynx as he drives to work for three mornings is a row.  Wife Bonnie says take a picture but Dave says it is too dark that early in the morning.  Down at the dock we have had a blue heron hanging around the past couple of days.  Neither Bruce nor I can recall ever having one here.  They are fun to watch.  Bruce and I also saw a wolf down by the South Brule bridge as we drove to Duluth early one morning.

This is also the time of year when we finish up some of the summer activities.  As the kids go back to school, Joey’s fishing fun will end.  Next Sunday is the last barbeque for the summer.  As soon as it gets a little cooler pizza Tuesdays will stop.  In fact as it cools down, fewer and fewer people will be eating on the patio.  Outside eating is a blessing for only a couple months of the year in northern Minnesota.  The standup paddle boards and small kayaks will get put away as the lake gets colder.  Berry picking is basically over.  We did not have a lot of berries this summer.  I never figure out why but am grateful for those that we do get to pick.

Speaking of picking, my garden is exploding.  Green beans seem to be the big winners this year.  The trellises they are growing on are almost ten feet tall.  Blue Lake seems to be the kind that grows best for me.  Also my onions and potatoes are producing huge crops.  I will be giving stuff away just to use it all.  It takes a long time for two people to eat the potatoes from an 8 foot square bed of them.  Lettuce is also hanging in.  The lodge is using lots and lots of my parsley.  I made some pesto from the basil crop.  That will taste good during the winter.

The other thing that we are starting to see is the color change.  Yellows are appearing in the shoulder shrubs.  The maples are starting to turn red.  That is not a big deal because we don’t have a lot of them.  Next week the poplar and birch will start to turn.  Then everything brightens up.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Totem Pole

Schools are staring and we don’t have as many children here.  Our big family are giving way to couples for the fall season.  Cabins are all full but not with as many people.  It is a little relaxing to slow down a bit.  We all need the break.  The weather is a little cooler which also helps.

I thought you might enjoy the story of our totem pole in the lodge.  It is one of those things that Bruce’s parents picked up to decorate the grounds and then we moved it inside.  So here it is:

This really ought to be called the “Wildwood Lodge Totem Pole.”  Before most of us were around thee used to be a resort on the west end of Seagull Lake called Wildwood Lodge.  It was started in 1931 by Andy and Sue Mayo.  They built the resort into a fine business.

In December of 1948, the folks on the Gunflint Trial decided to put out a tabloid called “Call of the Trail.”  It was four pages long and had stories about the various resorts and people living on the Gunflint trail at the time.  The section devoted to Seagull Lake contained the following article:

            “Wildwood Lodge is situated down at the west end of Sea Gull Lake about six miles by water from the Landing.  Last year the Mayos had a young man working for them who had a distinctive artistic frame of mind.  He worked during his spare hours on a full sized totem pole.  Completed it now is some twenty feet high, a mass of grotesque figures in brilliant colors and topped by a large carved bird with outstretched wings.  On each wing is painted a large door key.  The answer we like.  In the midst of our winter, this bird sits up there on his lofty perch and calls out, “KEY – KEY-KEYRYST IT’S COLD.”

In the early 1950’s Andy and Sue decided that they had had enough of running a resort.  Rather than sell the property they just stopped doing business.  After continuing to live at the resort for several more years, the Mayos sold to the Isaak Walton League in what would later become an expansion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Since the Izaak Walton League bought only the land, the Mayos sold the contents and buildings separately.  Bob and Marge Cushman bought the main lodge, disassembled it, towed it down the lake and reassembled it for their main lodge at Sea Island Resort.  Bruce remembers going out to Wildwood by boat with his parents during the contents sale.  On a whim, Bill and Justine bought the totem pole.

The Kerfoots transported the totem pole by boat across Seagull Lake and then down to Gunflint.  After giving it a fresh coat of paint, the totem pole was erected between the trading post building and the parking lot.  Today that would be in the southwest corner of the parking lot.  A small flower garden filled with peonies and iris was right in front of it.  Until the trading post building was replaced in 2001, that totem pole was the center post of many pictures taken by guests and visitors.

After almost 60 years of life and numerous paintings, our grand old totem pole has been retired to an easier life.  The harsh winter winds and summer rain are too much for her now.  She got a new coat of paint and moved into the warm climate in the main lodg where we think she still has many years of life. 


Saturday, August 08, 2015

Fruits of the Season

Last night was a zoo at the lodge.  We served about 160 people.  My job was to fill in as needed.  Eventually I ended up selling a fishing license.  It turned out that I had sold this gentleman a license last year and he lived in the town I grew up in – Arlington Heights, Illinois.  When I moved there in 1948, the town had a population of 10,000 people.  It was surrounded by corn fields.  Now all those fields are gone.  Arlington Heights is surrounded by towns named Rolling Meadows, Hoffman Estates, Prospect Heights.  The little two-lane backtopped road (Hwy 53) we used to drive to my aunt and uncles in Glen Ellen is now limited access with who knows how many lanes.  O’Hare Airport was a converted Army field with one small terminal then.  Further out about 25 miles from Arlington Heights was Barrington,  Illinois, where Bruce’s mother had been raised just 40 years earlier.  Somehow we all got together at Gunflint Lodge.  Who would have guessed when my family moved out from Chicago in 1948?

My garden is exploding.  The plants are huge and fruit and vegetables are almost ready for eating.  Yesterday I picked 8 red raspberries.  Today I picked a cup which we will eat for breakfast tomorrow.  We have had two red tomatoes.  If all the green tomatoes ripen, we will have 20 lbs of them.  My green peppers are about 2 inches long.  Eggplant has flowers on it.  Zucchini has yielded two nice ones.  I will be making zucchini bread soon.  My second crop of spinach is also ready to be picked.  I am going to make basil pesto next week.  Potatoes may even be past the new potatoes stage and into bakers.  Bruce and I will never be able to eat everything so I will give it away.  I wish you all lived closer so I could share it with you.

The lakes have been giving up their harvest too.  I have walleyes and lake trout in the freezer.  Bruce and I will be feasting on that too.  There is no sense in letting the fish dry out in the freezer when we can be eating it.  Walleye seems to be perfect fried but we think lake trout is best grilled.  I may even make some chowder with the lake trout.

All of this food tastes best when we eat on the screened in porch.  Tuesday is the third of my porch potlucks for the summer.  About 25 of us will gather to share some great food and great company while a nice breeze blows in through the screens.  We used to eat outside all the time at the Florida house.  In Minnesota this kind of dining is reserved for a few short months.  We try to make the most of it.

Not to put a damper on this nice tale of summer, but our days are already getting shorter.  Full daylight does not come until 7:00 a.m.  By 9:00 p.m. it is dark outside.  The leaves on the side of the road are turning yellow.  We all know what this means but we will enjoy every day of summer we get.


Saturday, August 01, 2015

Highlights of the Season

It is August today – unbelieveable!  The next four weeks are going to fly by if for no other reason than we are full of guests.  Many of them come practically every year.  It is like old home week for them and us.

July was the week we had Robert and Lee with their families visiting us.  In fact I am washing the sheets from Robert and Miranda’s visit as I write this.  As usual, every bed in the house is getting changed.  Miranda is always busy.  As a result many projects I have overlooked are now done.  They were also able to spend time fishing and blueberry picking.  The walleyes and blueberries went home with them.  I am hoping that they will bring back memories of Gunflint each time they eat them.

Lee and Eva spent 10 days with their children reminding us how active young children are.  We did get through almost all their requested activities during the visit. Othe family members haae been here.  Shawn’s daughter Emma is a waitress in the dining room.  Brian’s son Sam is a host with lots of other jobs to fill his time with. Bruce’s sister Pat and her husband, Jim, spent a few days with us.   One of my cousins was here for fishing with his son and grandson.  It was good to see them.  Seeing family during the summer is a great Minnesota tradition.  Walleyes and blueberries are also traditions.

During July and August, one of the most popular spots around the lodge is the patio overlooking the dock and swimming area.  Any warm day or evening will find it busy with guests from breakfast until dark.  Eating or just sitting outside can only happen a few months out of the year in northern Minnesota so the patio is a real treat.  That is what Lee and Eva thought when they put it in.  Everyone enjoys just watching the activity around a dock area.  Parents enjoy comfortable chairs to watch their children play at the beach.  No one really does much.  They just sit and look around.  Ducks, seagulls and eagles also add a bit of activity to keep your attention.

August, of course, brings summer to a close for us.  With the coming of Labor Day, we will see an end to children.  They will all be back in school.  It is amazing how far reaching this change of guests is.  The dining room will see much smaller parties.  The volume of cookies and hot chocolate will significantly go down.  Most high chairs will be put in the back room.  The ducks will gradually take back the beach area but corn will not be given to the ducks quite a liberally without children around.

One of the things that Bruce and I enjoy the most about our guests at the resort is how they change.  Summer is families.  Fall is for adults especially those who love to hike.  Even the late fall of October and November brings people who like their special charms – the first snow fall, walking through noisy leaves, crisp mornings.  By December and through March our guests are thinking more about the winter activities – cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, short days, cabins with fireplaces, etc.  Then in April some melting is evident.  The ice is black and we count the days until open water.  May’s open water brings fishing.  Days that seemed wonderfully warm at 35 degrees in March are frigid in May.  When summer comes, our guest cycle starts all over again.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Canoe Races and Family Vacations

My garden is starting to produce!  So far I have harvested parsley, chives, 2 kinds of lettuce and broccoli.  The picture is of Bruce standing next to my green beans.  We are going to have a lot of them.  Next to the beans are tomatoes.  I hope to have some ripen but they don’t usually do too well for me.  Sometimes I wonder why I even try growing them.  Behind Bruce is a long bed of raspberries.  They look really  good.  Pretty soon we should start to see little red berries.

The lodge and outfitters are really busy now.  Families are here with kids and grandparents.  It is great to have them running busily around the property.  Many of the families have been with us for years.  It is fun to see kids grow up.  They surprise us every year with how much they have grown.  Soon it is time for college and weddings and grandchildren.  Life is fun.

Last Wednesday was time for the annual canoe races.  They have been held on Gunflint Lake for over 25 years.  In addition to the actual races there are sloppy joes, calico beans, hot dogs, homemade bars, pop chips, etc in the food tent.  The raffle goes all night with great stuff to take a chance on.  There is a silent auction and several live auctions.  Bruce and I got a beautiful wooden depth map of Gunflint Lake.  It is the kind of thing you never could buy in a store.

My job the last few years has been to sell raffle tickets.  There is one raffle for the various gift items and then the grand raffle for a Wenonah kayak.  You cannot imagine how busy we were selling tickets.  There were 3-4 of us working on it and people seemed to be just throwing money at us.  We could hardly keep track of who was getting what.  The smart ones are the grandmothers who bring their return address mailing labels.

When the night is over, it is time to go up and count the money.  This year we set a new record.  The Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department got about $20,000.  That is not too bad for just a little event.  Of course it takes lots of people to put in lots of time.  Chris Steele from Seagull Lake headed up the event.  He did a great job.

Pretty soon Bruce and I will go back to the lodge for Sunday BBQ.  He carves and I stand around talking.  Don smokes the ribs, salmon, and chicken over hickory from Missouri.  Tonight we have just about 150 people in camp.  There are a few clouds in the sky but it is supposed to be a beautiful night.  After the guests have eaten, we will feed the staff.  The BBQ starts on Memorial Day weekend and ends on Labor Day weekend.  When it is over, I can’t eat ribs again for several weeks.  Restaurants just don’t do them as well as Don does.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Family Visits

What a beautiful few days we have had around here.  Last Sunday night we had a loud, crashing thunderstorm.  It was wonderful!  On Monday through today we have had some great days.  Lee and Eva and the kids have been out and about.  Some friends of theirs are here and the two families have been out every day.  Probably the only thing we have not gotten done on the kids’ list is camping.  We will save that for next year.  I don’t know how Mae and Grant have kept up with the older kids and adults but they did.  Of course, with everyone so active we have gone through a ton of food.  It is a lot more than Bruce and I go through when we are alone.  A little extra food is a small price to pay for having everyone around and having a great time.

One of our most unusual times was with Tucker, the golden lab.  He is about ten now and seems to be a perfectly normal dog.  One of the people who take care of him when Lee and Eva are gone claimed that Tucker could sing!  In fact they even sent a video of him doing it.  Last night we decided to test Tucker out.  We all sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  After a few barks, Tucker started to howl along with us.  We all laughed so hard but he loved it.

Tucker was the star of our dinner last night in another way.  We ate outside on the porch because it was such a good night.  After dinner were sitting around playing Old Maid.  Suddenly Tucker makes a lunge for the screen door.  He had seen a squirrel on the porch.  After two lunges, he was through the screen and after the squirrel.  By then the squirrel was on his way.  We were all in shock watching Tucker as the squirrel sped away.

Today is going to be an outside day of work.  First the kids and I will fill the bird feeders.  Then we are going to cut the weeds that have grown up along and through the steps.  The kids particularly like that because it involves using tools – the clippers.  We need to give a very strong safety talk before starting the work.  Then the kids will water the garden while I weed.  All in all it is a fun day of projects outside.  Isn’t that what summer is all about?

We can tell the families are at the lodge.  Yesterday Bruce was sitting on the patio having a business discussion.  It was late in the afternoon.  The dock area was filled with people in kayaks and on paddleboards.  Younger kids were playing in the sand.  Adults filled the chairs as they watched the boaters and younger kids.  It was a perfect end to the day.  For those of us who live here all year around, these are the days we remember in January but right now it is time to just enjoy them.