Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Remembering Peggy

The Gunflint Trail lost a dear friend this month. Peggy Heston, from Heston’s Lodge, died at age 94. Peggy and her husband started up here in 1944 from Chicago. They built a fine resort which has remained in the family and is now run by her grandson and his wife.

Last Sunday, Bruce and I attended a celebration of Peggy’s life. Some of the things we do today, we learned from Peggy. Perhaps the one that is the most familiar to all our winter guests is that we feed the deer. Peggy was the first one to do it during the years when she ran the resort alone after her husband died. The deer were pets for her. They had names – Pretty Boy, Prince and Goldfine. A little collection pot on her counter helped pay for some of the corn. Today I took a little break and watched the deer feed outside my window. Thoughts of Peggy filled my mind.

As you might imagine, Peggy and Bruce’s mother, Justine, interacted on many occasions. Our favorite story has to do with driving lessons. Peggy never learned to drive. When she became a widow, Mother decided to give Peggy driving lessons so she could be more independent. In the back of Mom's mind, I believe it was unthinkable that a person could not just hop in the car anytime and take off.

As is sometimes the case with two feisty ladies, neither of them saw any need to go through the formalities of a learner’s permit. After all, they were just going down a few back roads. Everything worked out just fine until one winter day. Peggy was driving on the main Gunflint Trail approaching our junction. It is a well known fact that the safest way to make the turn onto our road in the winter is to be going slowly enough that you can take your foot off the brake before you turn. At the wrong temperature, most of us who live here can attest to the fact that you will go straight into the ditch if you still have your foot on the brake.

Well, along came Peggy and Mother. They were going fairly slowly and Mother “knew” she could react quickly enough to save any situation. Well, Mom couldn’t react quickly enough to keep them out of the ditch. They went way in and did considerable damage to the car. The next problem is that the driver (Peggy) was not a legal driver. The only way Mom’s insurance would cover is if Mom said she was the driver. It was not fun and Mom took a lot of kidding about her driving that winter.

Especially since I have been collecting stories for the “A Taste of the Gunflint Trail” cookbook and now the historical society, these pioneer people really get my attention. The general thought is bewilderment that I could have been so stupid to ignore all the wonderful stories they could tell me.

When Robert was in high school, his English teacher assigned the students a writing report. They had to go out and interview some of the “gray hairs” in the community. No one really approached the assignment with much enthusiasm. How their tune changed after the interview. Then no one could believe what these gray hairs had done. Now I think about the stories Peggy could have told.

Before I close, there is time for a short commercial break. For those of you who are moaning about the lack of snow for good skiing or snowmobiling, the various trails on the Gunflint are in excellent condition especially after this week’s snowfall. We may not have a two foot base, but all the rocks are covered, the trails are freshly groomed, and the woods are a delight to be in. February is a great month up here. We don’t get the extreme sub-zero temperatures and regular snow keeps all the trails in great shape. So give us a call and make plans to come up.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Winter Woods

It’s another Saturday in the woods at Gunflint. We got an inch of snow last night and had some earlier in the week. As a result all the ski trails have fresh snow and freshly laid tracks. The small snow showers occurring throughout the day are just fun to be out in.

The temperature is about 15 degrees today and windy. Who cares what the wind chill is. We only count the absolute temperatures. On windy days like this, skiers in the woods are protected from the wind by the trees. Bruce and I have trouble relating to the East coast weather forecasters who talk about “frigid” temperatures of 20 degrees. You need a minus sign before that number to get frigid temperatures.

Yesterday John Silliman went skijoring with his dog, Rudy. This activity involves people on skis being towed down the lake by dogs on a harness. The ice conditions are perfect. Both Rudy and Tucker just love it. It was 4 ½ miles long. If John goes by himself with both dogs, they will go twice as far.

Today the lodge is just humming with activities. There is a group of about 40 AFS students here for the day. They will experience all those activities that we love in the north woods: snowshoeing, cross country skiing, dog sledding, etc. It’s fun to hear the various accented versions of English being used.

Of course, our guests are out in the woods enjoying the ski trails. They will try to avoid any low hanging branches. Just touching a branch today will send snow right down the back of your neck. Burr! Later in the afternoon we will see red-faced skiers stopping by for coffee and hot chocolate to warm themselves up.

I noticed that Jenny Hughes’ massage schedule was pretty full for the day. Apparently there are a few guests who wish to let Jenny relax their weary bodies after skiing. It sounds good.

Snowmobilers are out on the lake today too. Most of them are just going out for some fishing. Years ago Bruce and I used to snowmobile into Tuscarora Lake for lake trout fishing. We would bring some hot dogs to cook over an open fire for lunch. It was a fun day in the woods. That is basically what our snowmobilers are doing today.

The ice conditions are excellent with little or no slush. As a result we even have a few fishermen who have driven their cars out onto the ice. You park your car so it blocks the wind. If you get too cold, just start the car and warm up.

Later tonight the dining room and bistro will fill with happy guests. Each one has found their favorite way to enjoy a winter day in the woods. If the ski clears, a few will walk out onto the ice. Just looking up will give them the greatest star show on earth.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A New Visitor

Once again we are having a beautiful weekend on Gunflint Lake. Although the temperature was just below zero this morning, no wind made walking very pleasant. Now it is blue skies and sunshine. I can hear the snowmobiles of fishermen as they zip by on the lake.

For those of you who envied my fresh trout dinner, you shouldn’t have. Bruce got skunked. Hopefully he will try again this weekend. Bruce also got checked for his fishing license by a game warden. Oops, that’s conservation officer now. This is the first time that Bruce has ever been checked. Apparently they had a nice chitchat.

When I was waiting for Eva and Tucker at the road last Sunday morning, I glanced toward Gunflint Pines. There crossing the road was a wolf. I couldn’t see it really well because my glasses were at home. I usually leave them home on really cold days. Even with my blurry vision, it had to be a wolf. The legs were too long for a fox. Also the tail curved up and a fox’s tail is straight out. It was the first time I had seen a wolf while walking on the road.

Later on Sunday I made some chicken stock from bones and vegetables. On a cold day it really smells wonderful throughout the house. I always put the strained out pieces for the animals to eat. The theory is that it’s better to feed an animal than fill a garbage can. Not to mention that we like to see who comes in.

So Bruce and I are sitting eating dinner that night. The animal feeding spot is visible from my kitchen window. Of course, in the dark it is still hard to see. An animal came in but we couldn’t tell exactly what it was. Pretty soon both of us have our nose to the window and our hands trying to shade out the kitchen lights. This animal was really jittery. We soon saw why. It was my wolf from the morning.

The wolf appeared to be about a year or two old. While not big, he seemed very healthy. His coat was good and he didn’t look skinny. We wondered why just one animal was coming in. Wolves live in packs so why were we getting a lone animal? Our only conclusion was that perhaps such a young animal was not big enough to get adequate food from a group kill. He must have smelled the cooling vegetables and come looking. At any rate, his visit was a first for us.

We went over to some neighbors for the night and left shortly after seeing the wolf. By the next morning, practically every scrap of food was gone including all the bones. I had put in at least 5 pounds of bones plus lots of vegetables. The wolf really had homemade chicken soup. I wonder if that is a comfort food for wolves too.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Another Cabin Story - Running Water


Today we got another couple of inches of snow. The ski trails were in great shape before the snow, so now we have to go out and groom the trails again. If you are planning on coming up here this weekend you should have perfect trails!

Speaking of this weekend, we are hosting this Winter's first Dog Lovers Weekend. We have one more planned for this winter. Because this is a popular winter package we decided to offer it to our guests this spring. Here is the link to the package details. We don't have the spring dates posted yet but they should be up around the end of the month. http://www.gunflint.com/packages/pkg_dog_lovers.htm

Here is our featured Cabin Story for you. This one is about how we got running water. Enjoy.

Putting in Indoor Plumbing at Gunflint.

[This information comes from talking with Mat and Bruce trying to put the sequence of plumbing in order.]

Sometime prior to 1952 a well was hand dug by the Indians (Bruce thinks). Then they hired someone to drill a well. It went to a depth of 50’ and tapped into surface water over the rock shield. The well would be used until the late 1970’s and was located in a pump house on the southeast corner of the main lodge parking lot.

This water had a high iron content both in solution and ionized, which led to several issues. The first problem was that the ionized iron could not be filtered out but it would precipitate out especially in hot water. All the sinks, toilets and showers would quickly become covered with a deep rust-colored layer of iron. The only way to clean them was with a product called Vani-Sol. It was basically a hydrochloric acid solution that ate into anything it touched. Staff had to be careful to not get burned with it.

Another problem was with washing clothes and towels. The iron stained everything rusty. As a result for years the towels at the lodge were gold rather than the traditional white of hotels. Also all the white sheets were sent to Grand Marais to be laundered and ironed there. Personal clothing was very difficult to keep from stains. Finally all the china and glasses in the dining room were stained with rust and had to be periodically cleaned.

The third problem was more amusing than of substance. At that time Gunflint did not have a liquor license. Guests would often get ice from the lodge and take it to their cabin for a pre-dinner drink. When bourbon was mixed with the ice and ionized-iron water, it turned the drink black. The taste was the same but it looked very dark.

These three problems would remain until the well was no longer used. That occurred in the late 1970’s when the well no longer had the capacity to supply all the water demands of the lodge. At that time the lodge switched to taking water from the lake.

The plumbing equipment Justine installed was quite different from what we use today. For the first job she had gone with a plan to Montgomery Wards and they had figured out what she needed. Mom tells this story in her book but does not go into the details of the actually pipe, etc. The water pipes were all 1 ½” lead pipes that were connected by threaded fittings. The drain pipes were 3-4” cast iron that were connected by fittings sealed with oakum and hot lead. All in all, cutting, moving and installing plumbing was much more difficult than today.

Handling the wastewater from sinks, showers, and toilets was done by meals of septic tanks just like today. The septic tanks, however, were hand dug into hardpan. Also the tanks were only 55-gallon barrels with baffles welded on for the intake from the cabin and the outgoing liquids. The liquids were drained into a hand-dug pit from with they were absorbed into the ground. The pit had a wooden cover over it.

Another part of the installation of indoor plumbing was the purchase of a large 2500-gallon redwood holding tank. The tank was placed between the side-road and mother’s cabin. During the summer it was kept full and the cabins were gravity supplied with water from that. Each spring when the tank was filled for the first time, it would take several days of leaking before the redwood boards would swell up and not leak. The use of this tank was discontinued when the lodge switched to the lake water system.

1952 – That summer was Mat’s first summer at Gunflint. She was the dishwasher and seems to remember that the main lodge had water in the kitchen. If that was the case there was also a shower in the basement of the lodge that was accessed by a door on the north side. This shower was used by both employees and guests. It was also used by Ferdinand the cow as a cool place to stay during the hot summer (according to Justine’s book.)

During the fall of 1952 it appears that a water line was dug from the main lodge to Mother’s cabin by the Joe Blackjack and that house was plumbed. The digging was through hard pan and must have been really tough. Both Bruce and Mat recall saying that they were so proud of the new bathroom that they did not put a door on it for a bit. Bruce also says that it may have been that the door just did not get built for a time. This water line was only dug to a depth of 4’ and would freeze that winter since no one truly realized how deep the frost line went.

Also during that fall and spring water was extended to the Trading Post units and Cabin #3. Bill enjoyed carpentry and would build the room. Justine would do the plumbing with some assistance from Mat.

Much of the winter of 1952-53 was spent in Panama City, Florida. Justine, Mat, and the three kids were down there the entire time. In fact the kids attended school for a time in Panama City. Bill was in Florida intermittently.

1953 – The big event of this summer was the burning of the lodge in late June. The rest of the year and the following winter was spent building the new lodge. After the fire, Cabin #5 was moved from it’s original location in front of the lodge to it’s final location between the Trading Post building and Cabin #3. Presumably it was connected into the running water system as a result of the move.

That winter Justine bought a house on Maple Hill for the family to live in. The kids could go to school in Grand Marais. She built a workshop in back. That was where she and Mat built the dining room furniture for the lodge.

Bill Kerfoot, who had been deeply involved in 8th district Republican politics was appointed District Collector of Customs after Eisenhower was elected. He worked in Duluth all week and came home on weekends.

1954 – Mat and Bruce think that the rest of the cabins got running water during the fall of 1954-55. Water was extended from Cabin #3 to Cabin #4 below it and across the creek to Cabin #2 and Cabin #1. Then they put water into the east side of camp, which was Cabins #9, 10, 11, and 12. Cabin #10, 11, and 12 were the three original cabins which had been purchased with the resort in 1929. Bruce remembers digging the holes for septic tanks for these cabins in 1954.

Today we really take running water for granted but back in the early days it was quite a challenge to install it in the lodge or in the cabins.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fresh Fish

Today is the opening of the winter lake trout fishing season on Gunflint. Cold weather and some snow last week have finally gotten all our ski trails up and running. In fact, it was quite cold this morning. I had -15 below on the house this morning. It was one of those walk mornings where I put on every layer of clothing available.

Fishermen were not anxious to get out on the lake early this morning. The ice is safe but not quite ready for vehicles to drive on. At these temperatures, you really have to dress warmly and not leave any exposed flesh when riding a snowmobile. I can see several ice houses on the lake. We have also heard machines going past us on the lake.

Even though Bruce and I do not get out fishing much, I still look forward to the opening of the season. By now frozen fish are not my favorite. We really are snobs about the fish we eat. The opportunity to have fresh, caught-today, fish happens regularly during the summer. Dennis Todd, one of the lodge guides, stops by often with fish. Also we generally do well when we do get out fishing.

Another favorite time for fresh fish is on a canoe trip. Last year we caught just enough for dinner during the afternoon. When your dinner fish was swimming in the lake two hours earlier, it is the best of all possible meals. Another way to serve fish on a canoe trip is for appetizers.

Years ago we used to fly into Canada on fishing trips with 4-6 adults and 10 or more children. We would go out fishing about 9-10:00 in the morning. The kids all learned to drive boats. Each boat was told how many fish to bring in. Since the kids all had licenses, we could catch more than enough for our meals. About 3:00 we would come in from fishing. The meal prepared then was our big meal of the day. It always started out with fish appetizers that Bruce fried over an outside open fire. It was unbelievable how many fish those kids could eat. Sometimes Bruce would spend an hour frying enough fish.

Even when we travel to other parts of the country, we look for small local restaurants that offer fresh fish. Going south to Florida, we need at least one catfish dinner. Once in Florida there is grouper and snapper and shrimp and everything else to pick from. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

When we travel overseas, there is calamari, and clams and mussels to pick from. On a trip to Turkey we had whole fish baked in a cocoon of salt. During the baking process, the salt hardened until it had to be removed with a hammer at the table. After removing the salt, the skin was peeled back to reveal steaming hot, melt in your mouth, fish. Because the skin prevented the salt from touching the fish flesh, there was no excessive salt taste.

But right now my mouth is ready for fresh lake trout. I will have to kick Bruce out onto the lake tomorrow. With a little luck we can have stuffed and baked trout for dinner. I just make a bread dressing seasoned with onions, celery, salt, pepper and a little poultry seasoning. For fish I also add a chopped apple to the dressing.

Think about us Sunday night about 6:00 p.m. The fish should be just about ready to come out of the oven.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Gunflint Stories

Hi Everyone,

If you have stayed with us recently you know that we have a new Gunflint Story every day at the front desk. The stories usually relate to the history or something interesting that has happened here. I thought I would share one of them with you today. I hope you enjoy the story.

Through the Ice!

One of the most terrifying winter events is to go through the ice. On a cold winter day Justine decided to take a snowmobile ride down to North Lake. She drove across the lake to see if Butchie would come along. Butchie had a cold and decided to stay home. Justine went down the lake alone. She went into Little Gunflint, over the portage and down to the rapids between Little North and North Lake. But the ice wasn’t safe along the edge of the rapids where she tried to cross. Both she and her machine went through into the frigid water. Everything was soaking wet. It was well below zero. Justine did not have any dry matches with her.

Luckily the snowmobile was an early model. The seat was connected to the motor by a large pin. Justine took the pin out separating the machine into two parts. She hauled each part out of the water and onto solid ground. Then she put the two parts back together. Now was the moment of truth. Would the machine start up again? It did and Justine took off for home as fast as possible. She almost made it out of Little Gunflint and into the main lake when the snowmobile stopped running. Justine’s figured the water had finally gotten into the carburetor. There was nothing to do but start walking. As wet and cold as she was, Justine had no chance to walk all the way home but she kept on moving.

Meanwhile, Butchie was at home and starting to worry. What if Justine had gotten into trouble? Who would help her? Finally, she couldn’t stand it any more. Butchie put on her outer clothes, started up her snowmobile and took off after Justine. When Justine first heard the faint motor sounds, she thought she was imagining things but after a couple moments Justine could see a small dot on the lake slowly moving towards her and getting bigger. The only person it could be was Butchie.

Butchie quickly saw the mess Justine was in. First priority was starting a blazing fire. Justine took off all her wet clothes to warm up by the fire. The wet clothes were also arranged around the fire to dry a bit. Butchie shared a layer of her warm, dry clothes. After Justine had dried off and warmed up some, they gathered up the still damp clothes and headed for home.

Justine later said that only after going through the ice, do you truly learn to respect it. We might add that sometimes Justine was a slow learner as this was her second experience going through the ice.

Well I hope you enjoyed the true story. Have a good weekend.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cabin Renovations

We have rambled endlessly on and on about the cabin renovations (trust me the maintenance guys are sick of me asking when the cabins will be finished). Cabin 21 has been finished for a week or two. Cabin #20 is very close to being finished. Here are the pictures of what # 21 looks like and hopefully what #20 will look like in a couple of days.

If you have stayed in these cabins before you might remember white popcorn like ceilings. Well those have been panelled over with knotty pine wood. We added more lights and fans in the cabins. We also put in fans in both the walkin shower and in the toilet room.

Below is the new showers we installed. They have 4 or 5 shower heads at different heights to make sure all of your body gets clean. The showers are really cool.

Below is the new rock fireplaces that we built with native stones. Dad spent about 8-10 days working on each fireplace. These are also really nice. We make sure there is lots of air going into the fireplaces so when you close the doors they will have enough oxygen to burn for a long time. Plus we have been buying more hard wood which will also burn longer and hotter.

Below is the new King beds with new linen. The beds are very comfortable!

We have had fewer people using all of the kitchen amenities (like the stoves and ovens) so these new kitchens have the basics (Microwave, freezer, refrigerator, and a sink). Of course you will find glasses, plates, silverware, a wine/bottle opener.

Well I hope you have enjoyed seeing the cabins. We are currently planning on renovating #22, 23, & 24 this spring so we will have 5 cabins newly renovated for this summer.

Have a great evening.


Monday, January 08, 2007

new year, new snow, new blog, new cabins

Hi Everyone,

Mom is gone for the week so I'll try to keep you informed about what is going on at your place in the woods. First off, let me wish you a happy new year. I know we are 8 days into the month, but since this is my first time blogging this year I want to say it. When I logged in to post today the website asked me to update the version of blogger I was using...hence the new look. I hope everyone likes it. I tried to pick a look that is pretty similar to the old template. One of the nice things about the new template is that we were able to get rid of the advertising on the top of the blog.

I had received in invitation to tryout the new blogger and accidentally put the ads on the top of the blog. Then I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the ads...so they stayed there until this version of blogger was rolled out. So now we are 100% ad free (except for our shameless links to our websites and packages).

Also I want to say "Thank You" for all of the loyal readers out there. We are constantly amazed at how many people tell us that they read our blog. Once a week someone tells me they have been reading the blog.

Last night we got fresh snow. We got between 1-2 inches. So we were out grooming today and the trails look great. We have all of the ski trails open, the dog sled teams are running daily, and the snowmobile trails are open...oh and for the kids of all sizes and ages you should know that the sledding hill is in great condition! If you are looking for snow, I think we are the only part of the state with enough snow on the ground to participate in winter activities. We have a total of about 8" in the woods right now.

Today was one of those classic MN winter days. It was about 15-20 degrees outside. We had a clear sky and it was really bright outside with the sun reflecting off the snow. It was a beautiful day.

Last winter we regularly say wolves on Gunflint Lake. This year we are starting off the same. For the past week or so every morning a lone wolf is out on the ice between Gunflint Lodge and the point in front of the lodge roaming around the lake. So if you would like to see the wolves while you are up here just come early for breakfast (before 9:00 AM) and you should be able to see him on the lake between Gunflint and the point.

Speaking of winter wildlife, a couple of days ago we were driving home from Grand Marais late at night and we saw 7 moose on the drive home. It was fun to keep counting every time we saw another one. The last two were a pleasant surprise because they were outside of the primary moose zone (the primary moose zone in my mind is between the North Brule and South Brule bridges).

You have heard us talking about the cabins we have been renovating. Well with this new version of blogger I have figured out how to add pictures to the blog (at least I think I have). So I'll try to run into one of the renovated cabins and snap a couple of pictures and post them to the blog so you can see what they look like.

Have a great day.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Morning Walks

Eva and Lee are attending a Wedding Show in Minneapolis. That leaves Bruce and I to take Tucker on his morning walk. It is a little different when we go.

The first thing is that I always seem to be trying to catch up with Bruce. As a boy, he learned to walk in the woods with Charlie Cook and George Plummer. They only had one pace no matter how much they were carrying. Bruce is the same way and I am always telling him to slow down.

Also Tucker gets lots and lots of sticks thrown his way by Bruce. He and Bruce communicate in a slightly odd manner. If Bruce says, “Sit,” Tucker drops the stick. Who knows how they worked that out. Anyway Bruce is a better thrower than Eva or I. He sometimes tosses the stick in the woods. Plowing through snow for a stick is one of Tucker’s favorite things to do.

With the warm temperatures I have been enjoying one of my Christmas presents. Lee and Eva gave me some ice claws. I just pull them over my boots and have wonderful traction on the slippery road. Except for a little snow on top, the road is pretty much ice. It has been sanded by the county but it is still easy to slide around. And coming down our driveway to the house at the end of our walk is just treacherous. So I will be giving these ice claws lots of use this winter.

The deer have really been out on the back road. Yesterday Eva and I counted 11 deer between the senior Bakers’ home and the road. Tucker is getting very good at just looking at the deer and not chasing them.

We also saw a one antlered deer. He had already dropped the left antler somewhere. I told him to just bang his head on the ground and let that right antler fall off. He didn’t listen to me.

Bob Baker, Sr., has taken this one step further. He built a new feeder to hold corn for the deer. The feeder is built in such a way that any time an antlered deer eats corn, the animal knocks his antlers on the small roof over the feeder. If the antler is at all ready to fall off, it will be knocked off. I understand that this has been successful a couple times this winter.

On our trips to Tanzania, we have seen many antlered animals. We talked about our deer and moose with our guides. These guides just can't get over the fact the our animals shed their antlers every year and then grow new ones. None of the animals of Africa do this.

Down at the lodge they have been seeing a black wolf on the lake right in front of the cabins. It is my guess that this wolf is eyeing our corn-fed deer. Although I hate to see a deer kill, it is part of the natural order of things around here. Neither the wolves nor the deer have any special rights according to Mother Nature.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Snowmobiles and Slush

Happy New Year to all of you!

We got about 3-4” of wet heavy snow yesterday. This morning it was clear and cold with every branch covered with snow. The lake had swirls of snow mixed with bare ice. A blue sky and bright sunshine turned our woods into an unbelievable world. Better yet, the groomers are already out packing and tracking the ski trails.

Looking at the ice with snow on top brought the subject of slush to my mind. This is not the stuff you drink. It is what is formed when new snow lands on the frozen lake. A surprisingly small accumulation of snow adds lots of downward pressure on the ice. Eventually the ice cracks and water comes pouring up forming a layer of slush. This slush is usually insulated from the cold by a layer of dry snow. As long as that dry snow is not disturbed or blown off, the slush will not freeze. The slush does not affect the structural integrity of the ice but it does other things. For example, slush and snowmobiles do not get along well.

Many years ago we had a family with two young teenage girls staying with us during the winter. The girls really wanted to try snowmobiling. Bruce arranged for them to borrow his mother’s Polaris Playmate. For those of you unfamiliar with snowmobiles, this was one of the smallest ever made. Bruce figured the girls could drive it on the lake and not get into any trouble.

Naturally, the girls found the only pocket of slush in front of the lodge. They got stuck and panicked thinking they were going to sink into the lake. Both jumped off the machine and ran towards shore. Then they realized the machine was still running so one ran back to turn the key off! Next stop was our house where they expected to be in big trouble. Bruce just smiled as he put on his coat. They watched in horror as he walked to the machine, started it, and drove it home. Then he sat down with them and explained what had happened.

Usually getting a snowmobile out of slush is not so easy. Robert and Lee put that same Polaris in the slush in front of the lodge another winter. Bruce wasn’t home so it was my job to help get them out. It is important to realize that you cannot leave the machine in the slush. Since the insulating layer of snow is disturbed, the snowmobile and slush will freeze together. Then you have to chip it out.

I knew all this but the machine was still in a big pocket of deep slush. What we did was to turn the machine on its side and clear all the slush from the track and boogie wheels. Then we turn it on the other side and did the same thing. Next we held up the back of the track and raced the motor to spray out more slush. That slush goes all over the person holding the track up – me. Finally we tried to drive the machine out of the slush but it just bogged right back down.

Now we repeated all of the above steps. It was a very tiring and very wet process. This time, however, we brought in branches and wood to prop the machine up out of the slush. Then we made a trail through the entire slush field back to the shore. The plan was that overnight our trail would freeze into a solid ice trail. Hopefully we had cleaned the track well enough that the machine's track would not freeze up.

The next morning an apprehensive trio (the boys and I) approached the snowmobile. It started fine. With a little burst of gas, the track started turning. Whew! Now it was just a matter of driving the machine home. We were all relieved and not a little proud of ourselves for solving the problem.