As of this morning the fire was 75% contained on the U. S. side. I am not sure about the Canadian side but think it is starting to cool down also. We still have firefighters around the lodge but many are on their way home. They have really done a marvelous job for us.
The people in the Seagull/Saganaga area are still under evacuation notice. I heard a rumor that they will be allowed home on Tuesday. Certainly these people have had the worst of it. Many lost their homes. One business, Superior North, was lost. Wilderness Canoe Base on Seagull Lake lost over 40 buildings. Now Century Tel is saying it will take 4-6 weeks to get these people telephone service. I have not driven up to see the area for myself. I do, however, know lots of the people who live at that end of the Trail. They will rebuild and triumph over this setback.
A group that deserves special thanks is our Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. Every one of them has put an extraordinary amount of time and effort into keeping us and our structures safe, sometimes at great risk. They are the ones who provided the local knowledge to all the Forest Service people coming into this area for the first time. So when you see one of these people, be sure to personally thank them. A lot of us would not have homes without their efforts.
Lee had a symbolic event occur first yesterday and then today. When I left on Thursday, Lee reached up and took down Justine’s portrait from over the dining room door. It evacuated with me. I looked longingly at her canoe but there just wasn’t time. On Friday, Lee and Bruce brought the canoe to town. For those of you who don’t know, this canoe is an Old Town that Mom paddled beginning in 1929. Last year we had it professionally restored to all its glory. I don’t normally get excited about things, but these two things were special. So yesterday, the staff put the canoe back in its moose hide straps on the ceiling. Today Lee climbed the ladder and re-hung his grandmother’s portrait. Gunflint Lodge is up and running again. I can’t help but believe that Mom would have been very proud of Lee and Eva. Certainly Bruce and I are.
The Red Paddle Bistro opened today and I believe we have cabin guests coming also. Yesterday and today, the lodge staff worked like dogs getting everything ready. Every cabin was cleaned. The main lodge was cleaned and put back to its normal furniture setting. The kitchen positively shines from all the cleaning. It was great to smell all the food aromas from the kitchen again.
We are also getting back to normal spring chores. Ronnie Smith, our head gardener, kept 5 of us busy today planting over 100 shrubs and trees. We also spent time preparing the flower beds. Flowers and more trees arrive next week. Jason Merrill and his staff worked on getting the water to the stables hooked up again. That means the horses will be arriving soon. Bonnie got a new staff member today. She is ready to start outfitting for canoe trips. Bruce is ready to start building his fireplaces in Cabin #23 and #22.
Even the animals around us are relaxing a bit. Mother Fox gave us a glimpse of her four new kits. There may be more but that was all we saw. They were out sunning in the afternoon. The gimpy fox was here for a handout. Two loons were swimming just off the dock and a pair of mallard ducks appeared. In a few weeks we should have babies around. Did you know that ducks are one of the few animals who do not feed their young? From the beginning ducklings must get to water and feed themselves. Don’t ask me what other animals don’t feed their young.
Eva’s mother, Nancy Kurz, is here to help. Her father, Gary, was here last week helping us. Tonight Lee, Eva, Nancy, Bruce and I will celebrate with dinner in the Red Paddle. We are truly thankful to be eating in the lodge again.