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.    

Thursday, May 22, 2014

More Stories From The Past


Here are just a couple announcements I have been asked to make.  On June 7th at 10:00 a.m. there will be a gathering of friends to remember Dennis Todd at the Conference Center at Gunflint Lodge.  There will be a video shown of his life.  Coffee and cookies will be served.

Then on June 14th there will be an informal memorial service in for Eleanor (Mat) Matsis at the Conference Center at Gunflint Lodge.  It will be at 2:00 p.m.  Coffee and cookies will be served.

As of the 19th, the ice was officially off Gunflint Lake.  It took a bit to leave but it is nice to have open water.  Remember I told you that we had ice on the 18th up to the big point just east of the Lodge.  No one could get through it.  Then that night, it all went.  When the time is right the ice can go in an instant.

We have had some really nice rain this week.  With a couple of days of sunshine, I expect that the leaves will start to appear.  It is when we get what I call a green haze over the trees and it only lasts a couple of days.  Then we get the lime green leaves which darken into the deep green leaves of summer.  It is fun to watch.

Even though summer is here, you might enjoy an excerpt from Grandma Spunner’s diary.  It is from December 12, 1932.  Grandma writes “Justine and Gowan attempted to go for the mail at Shultzes and had a terrible time – ran out of gas both ways and had to walk and did not get home until 2:30 a.m.  Dad and I sat up for them.  About zero to 14 below at night.”

A couple days later Grandma writes some more about Justine’s experiences getting to town and back.  On December 14th , “Justine went to town after supplies – very cold.  She drove down in 3 hrs. and staid all night with Jene”  Then on the 15th we hear “Very Cold.  30 below and drifting some.  Justine drove home from town alone with supplies.  Shoveled for 5 hours down around the Pines.  Everyone on line calling up about her and Mr. Gapen sent men to hunt her.”  Eventually she made it home.  It makes our trips to town look pretty easy.

The other night my bird feeder attracted quite a bunch of birds around dinner time.  They included blue jays, purple finches, gold finches, Baltimore orioles, red-breasted grosbecks, gray jays, chickadees, nuthatches, hummingbirds and various gray and brown birds.  The thing that really got my attention was how colorful it was around the feeders.  With the birds zooming in and out, there were constant bits of color all over.  It was wonderful.

It is time for grandchildren to graduate.  Bruce and I are off to California to see Brian’s son Sam get his high school diploma.  Then next weekend Shawn’s daughter Emma graduates from high school.  It is hard to believe how quickly they grow up.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Just A Nice Week at Gunflint


Today’s picture is another one of Sheryl’s.  She sent it to me for identification.  Of course, I didn’t know what it was.  Bruce and I worked with our Roger Tory Peterson book and found out it was a Yellow Headed Blackbird.  What made it difficult is that the picture shows a real yellow head but the description talks about it being a yellow-orange.  Also the white markings are matched in the picture.

Had our first hummingbird in today.  Bruce says it was a male but can’t tell me why.  At any rate it is nice to see it back.

Jon Schei has been doing really well fishing on Gunflint and Seagull.  Even with the ice not completely out he has managed to get trout, walleyes, and northern in the last few days.  The biggest northern was 43 ½ inches long and the trout ran up to 8 lb.  We got one fillet from the trout and could not eat it all for dinner the other night.

The west end of Gunflint is clear of ice but not the east end.  We were out today exploring.  When you get down to the east end of Gunflint there are broken pieces of ice floating everywhere.  It is amazing how noisy they are as they bang and grind against each other.  All we need is a northwest wind.

Our morning adventure was called exploring.  Before we left it was called fishing.  We each found the bottom numerous times and I lost a spinner but there will be no fresh fish for dinner in the Kerfoot house tonight.  It was wonderful just to be on the lake after a long winter.  When we have open water, it is hard to imagine what an iced over lake is like.  When we have ice, it is equally hard to imagine what open water is like.

The new staff housing is finally ready to be occupied.  Everyone on the staff helped in the end but Sheryl is the one who kept us moving along.  It has been a long pull but these 16 rooms were badly needed.  One of the first buildings we can get rid of now is the OD (Outfitters Dorm).  Bruce thinks it is over 50 years old so we really have gotten our money out of it.  Bonnie already has plans for the space it sits on.  She is going to turn it into a place to wash canoes after trips.  We always do this but it was at one end of the building and always in the way.

Bruce and I are getting into gardening.  He has cleaned up the raspberries and strawberries.  We started some plants in the house.  Today the green beans and zucchini went into the garden.  The tomatoes are not quite ready.  Yesterday the seed potatoes were buried.  I worked on the flowers by the front of the house.  My day lilies and peonys are coming up nicely.  Bruce protected them all winter with a mound of snow.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day At Gunflint


Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.  We are having a pretty good day at Gunflint.  Sheryl sent me this picture of sunrise on Gunflint Lake.  As you can see, we still have ice.  My hope is that the ice will be gone by the 15th.  A huge wind storm would help that happen.  A northwest wind would push the ice down the lake and out.  One more sign of spring is that the ice is gone on Lonely Lake.  On Tucker Lake we just need a little wind for the ice to be gone.  Pretty soon you will see me out there blowing.

The new staff building is almost finished.  Monday and Tuesday should be the last days for the plumbers, electricians and carpenters.  The carpet is down.  Now it is time to hang the curtains, clean the dust out, fill the kitchens and put in furniture.  Sheryl is going through the building today making her list of what we still need to buy.  Generally it is a bunch of small stuff that mounts up – clips to hang shower curtains, hangers, odds and ends of small kitchen stuff.  Someone will have a busy time in Duluth to pick up all this stuf.

If is clears up this afternoon, I hope to get into my garden again.  Each day I haul some dirt for the beds where things are packed down.  The first day I moved 8 wheel barrel loads.  Yesterday it was only five when I tipped the fifth one over and had a few choice words to say.  Then I spent time weeding the incoming plants.  Today I hope to get the strawberries organized.  There are also the day lilies in front that need a little weeding.  My three rhubarb plants are coming up quickly.  I also need to clean out the grasses that are growing in the chives.  That is a mess every year.

The birds are still eating us out of house and home.  Most of the juncos have moved on north.  The flocks of them have degenerated into a bird here and there.  The goldfinches have completely changed color for all practical purposes.  They provide a beautiful splash of color in the pine trees.  Yesterday I filled my hummingbird feeders and put them out.  I know it is a little early but we will see what happens.  We have been seeing a steady number of partridge on the side road.  Bruce wants to keep them healthy until hunting this fall.

I am still working a transcribing Grandma Spunner’s diary.  She must have been out of town for a couple of weeks and Grandpa Spunner took over the writing.  I could see the difference in handwriting immediately.  His was much easier to read.  The tone was also different between the two of them.  Grandma always talked about how beautiful the weather or the day was.  Grandpa would just comment on the awful weather.  Of course, as we all know, there is not much that is pretty about snow in April.  I must be about half way through the diary.  We will see what happens.