Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Today we have an east wind storm with a combination of freezing rain and snow coming down. The weather is nasty enough that Tucker and I decided to not walk this morning. I am sure that Tucker thinks the weather is perfect but you are talking about a dog who loves to roll in the snow. In fact just last week he went (willingly) for a swim in the lake.

So today we are sitting inside looking out. From this vantage point it is fun. The lake is rolling and covered with whitecaps. It is definitely not boating weather. Gunflint is so deep (over 200 feet in places) that it is one of the last lakes in the area to freeze. Many of the smaller lakes are frozen over now. Gunflint usually freezes over between the 10th and the 15th of December.

Snow is intermittently coming down. Sometimes I can see the far shore and other times it disappears in the falling snow. We have just a dusting of frozen stuff right now. Everything is iced over and slippery. It’s nice that we don’t have to drive anywhere today.

After lunch I think we will start a fire in the fireplace. The fire not really needed for physical warmth. Today it provides a spiritual warmth that no electric heater can match. The living room will be so hot after dinner that Bruce and I will fall asleep in front of the TV for sure.

With any luck we will wake up tomorrow with several inches on the ground. At this point it will be the beginning of our base for the cross country ski trails. Hopefully we will get lots more in the coming weeks. There is nothing better than lots of snow for Christmas.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Friend Visits

We are having very warm weather for this time of year. It was 38 degrees this morning and overcast. Bruce thinks is supposed to rain. I am hoping it will hold off until evening when the weather cools down and we will get snow instead.

In our home the earth is filled in on the exterior walls up to the bottom of the windows. It is like so many of our cabins. This extra insulation really keeps the house cozy all winter with very few drafts. It also cuts down the heating bills.

This morning I walked into my office where there is a large west-facing window. Who should be running right along the window but Freddy the Fox. I ran into the bedroom and watched him go along the bedroom window. Then he turned the corner and appeared across another bedroom window. I ran down the hall to see him go into the back yard by the bird feeders. He was moving pretty quickly -- must have been on the hunt.

We have lots of squirrels around too. Sometimes Freddy will chase a squirrel but with no luck. Behind the rock walls in our garden, the squirrels have built lots of little dens. The first sign of Freddy and they scamper into one of the dens.

At this time of year the fox are beautiful. Their fur is thick and their white tails stand out straight and thick. They must be really soft to feel. We are torn between putting bits of meat and bones out to attract the fox and thinking about when Tucker visits. Tucker likes the scraps too. He has already lost one tooth because he chews the bones so hard. At this point our grand-puppy comes first.

It is wonderful to live in an area where we can easily see animals in their natural environment. My children never got really excited about zoos. Why would they get excited about a scraggly moose or wolf in a zoo when they saw magnificent ones in the wild?

The Kerfoot family had a wonderful Thanksgiving and we hope that you did too.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday Afternoon

I am just like many other Americans today. Bruce and I are about to sit down and watch the last half of the Michigan/Ohio football game. I'll start the fireplace and find some snacks. After the game we are going down to Lee and Eva's for dinner.

I can remember days when TV was not as available as today. When Bruce and I were first married, we had a directional antenna that gave poor reception from two stations in Thunder Bay. It didn't work very well in the summer because the leaves on the trees interfered with reception. We did, however, get enough reception to watch Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. All the guests gathered in our home to share the moment. I also remember feeling very left out when we could not receive "Roots."

Our next venture into TV came with a Betamax -- you remember those as the alternative to VCR's. Our friend, Ron Malina, in Chicago would copy a bunch of movies and programs for the boys. They would watch them over and over and over again. At that time I think I could recite the entire dialogue from "Top Gun."

Eventually dishes made their way up the Gunflint Trail. Ours was 13' in diameter and gave very good reception. When we first hooked up, I remember being on the telephone with a salewoman. She told me to turn the TV on while she contacted the satellite. In just a couple of minutes we had a clear picture. I was amazing to me that I could be in Minnesota talking to a woman in Atlanta who was talking to a satellite above me.

With our irregular schedule, the greatest channel in the world was CNN. We could come home at anytime and get daily news. After a bit, we learned to fall asleep after one or two rotations of the same news. Robert's wife, Miranda, stayed with us the year before they were married. She learned the same trick.

About that time we passed a milestone in our life. We bought a brand new TV. Previously we bought used TV's. When the only way to turn our current TV on was with a pencil, I argued for a new one. Both boys were in school and I figured we ought to be able to afford one. Finally Bruce agreed to go to Sam's where we picked up whatever they had.

Today we have the little dish that gives us more channels than we care to watch. We tried to sign up for local channels earlier this fall. The only two white pines on the southern side of our home blocked the local channels. The white pines stayed and we will read local news in the paper.

We find ourselves watching less and less TV. I still like to watch football in the fall but only if it is not good weather. Otherwise I'm outside. Satellite TV reception does make us feel part of the country again but we have lost the desire to follow weekly programs. Books, magazines, and newspapers are more interesting. Also Rachel Ray on the Food Network. Last night we saw her cook Thanksgiving dinner for eight in 60 minutes. It looked good, too.

Well, the second half is about to begin. Talk with you later.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Home Again

After 5000 miles of driving, Bruce and I arrived home last night. Our own bed felt pretty good. In spite of all the driving, it was a wonderful trip. We got to visit with old friends and brought home some great display material for the Chik-Wauk Museum. We will be home until after Christmas now.

It seemed like the neighborhood prepared a special welcome for us. The new white snow on the ground looked particularly nice. Bruce was dying with the heat in Brownsville so he really appreciated the snow. It is late enough now that this snow may be here all winter.

Driving up the Trail in the late afternoon, we saw two critters cross the road some distance ahead of us. They looked like ponies. We finally figured out that they had to be huge wolves. One was completely black. Both were the biggest wolves we had ever seen.

This morning Eva, Tucker and I took our morning walk. Coming back a beautiful bald eagle flew overhead and landed on top of a snag just off the road. The eagle sat and watched us as we walked past. They truly are magnificent creatures.

Today we will fill the bird feeders and see what comes in. A squirrel and a chickadee stopped by during breakfast to remind us that the feeders were empty. Bruce will also put out some suet to draw them in. I don’t expect to see any deer until the hunting ends on Sunday. Then it will be time to put out some corn and see what happens.

It is good to be home. I will catch up on all the goings on and let you know what is happening here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Weather in the Woods

On the 2nd we had a great crew up at the lodge for our first fall work weekend. They got lots of projects done and really helped us get ready for the winter. If you are coming up for the second work weekend, don’t worry, we will still have some other projects to complete.

Since my last posting we have gotten nothing but progressively warmer weather. On the 3rd it got a little warmer. Many guests checked out of their cabin, but stayed on the property to enjoy the perfect hiking weather. So we handed out orange vests and they enjoyed the afternoon. Everyone who is in the woods right now is wearing orange because deer hunting season has started. We have a large collection of orange vests for all of our guests to wear anytime they are in the woods during this time of the year.

The 4th and 5th slowly kept warming up enough that we started to actually plan some warm weather activities for yesterday and today. So we have been taking advantage of these last couple of warm days to paint our property sign, get more rocks for the fireplaces we are building in the cabins we will be renovating all winter, or doing other odd jobs to help prepare the resort for the upcoming winter season. Additionally we are building new staff housing right now so the construction crews are really taking advantage of the warm weather to get the outside work done as quickly as possible, knowing that eventually the temperature will start to drop again.

This warm spell has convinced us that it feels more like a warm spring day then one of the last days of fall. With all of the snow days we had been getting prior to the 40’s and 50’s of yesterday and today we had been getting out our winter jackets, boots, gloves, & hats to make sure they would be good for another season. But now with the warm weather we are looking around for those light jackets again.

Sometimes Mother Nature really has all of us confused.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Just a "Dusting"

Eva and I were enjoying the 31st when we got a knock on our door. Surprise, surprise we had one batch of trick-or-treaters. The key word is “one” batch. It was a total of 8 kids. So we let them take as much of the candy as they wanted because we knew it would probably be the only group of kids stopping by.

When I was growing up and we went trick-or-treating at the neighbors (all of the neighbors were resort owners), we used to always get the “big” candy bars. As a kid when we got the “big” candy bars it was a little bit of a downer because we really wanted the “little” candy bars that were made for Halloween. So Eva and I made sure to have plenty of the “little” candy bars for the kids. Plus we had to save a couple of these treats for us…because they are so small they can’t be bad for you, right?

After the kids had left I noticed that they had been wearing winter boots underneath their costumes. That reminded me of the Halloween of 1992. October 31st of 1992 we (my brother Robert, my best friend Aaron, Aaron’s Sister Tracy, and I) were driving home late from town. On the drive home it started to snow. About ½ of the way home we stopped the car to see how much snow was on the road. We all piled out of the car and determined that it was “only a dusting” and had nothing to worry about.

We made it home that night without any problems. The next morning we awoke to almost 30” of fresh snow, so much for just a “dusting”. The best part of November 1st was the phone call from the principle telling us that school was canceled for the day. Yes! A snow day! Unfortunately we had to shovel out our resort so we didn’t get much of the day off from school, but it didn’t matter because we were “snowed out”.

When Eva and I woke up on the 1st we didn’t see snow like November of 1992, but we did have a “dusting” of snow on the ground. I guess 2” is better than 30” because you don’t have to shovel out the resort in the morning.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

On the Road

I am going to give you a vacation from my blogs. Tomorrow Bruce and I leave on a driving trip. I look at it as a mixed blessing. We’ll see lots of people but also have lots of driving.

Tomorrow we drive to Minneapolis in two vehicles. I have our car to drop off at the dealer for tires and minor repairs. The car’s computer needs some maintenance because it talks too much to us. Bruce is driving our big red van loaded with stuff (including a motorcycle) left by employees from 17 years ago.

By Sunday we will be in Destin, Florida with just one vehicle. Rick and Beth will drive over from Ocala to pick up their stuff. Bruce will teach some classes at an annual outfitters convention. I’ll attend some classes.

Wednesday we drive to Harlingen, Texas. There we will fill the van with some furniture from the old Chik-Wauk Lodge on Saganaga Lake. Ralph and Bea Griffis, the last private owners of Chik-Wauk, are donating this furniture to the new museum. I think the van is going to be filled to the roof.

Our last stop will be in Omaha, Nebraska, on the way home to see some guests who have become great friends of ours. Both of us are looking forward to seeing them. Then it is straight back home. We should be home on the 14th if all goes well.

Neither of us have really tried to figure out the total mileage of the trip. Luckily we travel well together. It’s our waistlines that we are really worried about. Traveling all over does tend to put the pounds on.

Of course, I can’t close without the inevitable note about the bird feeder. Last week we had a cardinal at the feeder! This is nothing new to anyone living in Grand Marais or further south. It is, however, the first time I have ever seen a cardinal up here. Even Bruce has only seen one once or twice. The bird must have been well and truly lost. One of the neighbors down the lake saw him at her bird feeder. He hasn’t appeared again so he must have figured out which way is south.

I’ll talk with you again in a couple weeks.