Times flies when you are having fun like we do at Gunflint so I am a little late on this blog. I could try to justify myself by listing what I have accomplished this past week but it is not that exciting. Let me just say that not much has changed in the Gunflint neighborhood this week.
Now that the fires are out, we have received quite a bit of rain. As usual this is a mixed blessing. The ground is now thoroughly soaked. The pine trees planted over Memorial Day weekend have gotten a great start in their new locations. The lake level has risen and will continue to do so. We may even get the fire ban lifted which would be nice for canoeists.
However, the only thing that is growing well in my garden is the weeds. I have even taken to weeding in the rain just to get the job done. The patio project has slowed to a crawl. The slate that is in looks wonderful but there are still lots of rocks to be put down. Even though I know we need rain, I do get tired of gray days.
The animals seem to be doing well. Mother Fox has moved her young from the crawl space under Justine’s house to a new location. No one has seen them for over a week. Mother and Dad are still appearing at our house for handouts each day. Bruce’s latest gifts are some minnows he froze for the ice fishing he never got to. I have been giving them last year’s partridge over Bruce’s objections.
The cabin remodeling is really coming along. Today Bruce expects to have everything but the slate on the top of the hearth finished on his last fireplace. He can’t wait to get that project off his back. Five new fireplaces went into cabins this year. I am sure that Lee will find some more places for fireplaces this fall.
Reservations are coming in steadily for the summer and fall months. We have some extra pressure because there are lots of crews around working on the repair of telephone lines from the fire. Accommodations at this time of year are tough for them to find.
People up at the Seagull/Saganaga area still do not have phone service and may not have it until mid-July. A shared line has been activated into the fire station on Seagull Lake but that isn’t much.
Special thanks should be given to Verizon for setting up emergency cell phone service on the Trail. Their engineers were up quickly to survey our terrain which is terrible for cell phones. They added some stuff (that’s a technical term I won’t explain to laymen) to the top of the Gunflint Lake tower. Then they put up another tower on Saganaga where Frank and Patsy Shunn’s home used to be – it was burned. I have been at Shunn’s and know that from that location you can see the high cliffs behind Gunflint. Mom and Patsy used to talk to each other by CB radio. This service does not absolutely reach everyone but it is a great improvement.
Now the question arises as to whether this should become a permanent service. There are pros and cons to it. The Gunflint Trail community has always prided itself on being set aside from many of the intrusions of modern life including cell phones. Not everyone visiting this area agrees with that point of view. Cabin owners may wish to be able to use their cell phones from home rather than paying for a land line phone they only use during several weeks in the summer. Some guests just can’t live without their cell phones.
Even those of us who live here would like cell phone service sometimes. Years ago I took Robert and Lee into the swimming pool in Grand Marais for pre-school swimming lessons. These lessons were held at night during the winter months. Often Bruce was gone to sports shows and there was no one at home. I never had any trouble on the road or with the car but it could have been interesting if I did. There is the no man’s land between the Trout Lake road and the Bearskin road. It would have been nice to know that I was only a phone call away from help.
Then we have to talk about the BWCAW. Do we want people talking on cell phones while on a wilderness canoe trip? Does it become a matter of public safety? No matter what kind of cell service we get, there will be blanks in the reception. What happens to the person who really needs help but is in a blank spot? There are no easy answers to these questions.
Cleanup of debris from burned homes is now in full swing. The county had to set up a special area complete with all the necessary permits to receive the debris. The Forest Service has reopened areas for homeowners to deposit vegetation that they clear from around homes. We are all getting another lesson in what defensible space around a home means during a fire.
Finally and most importantly, I have been given permission to make an announcement for Lee and Eva. The end of September they are expecting their first child. As you might expect, we are all thrilled. I am sure that this new grandson will be as perfect as our other six grandchildren are.