Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas

There is nothing like the holidays to get one behind on schedules. Here I am a day or so late with the blog. We are at the better late than never stage.

Last week Don and Jacob went out to check the thickness of the ice. Here they are all dress up to go. They are checking it several weeks earlier than last year which is good news. The thickness of the ice ranged from 5 to 10 inches, another good thing. The bad news is that we have snow on the ice which is leading to slush on the ice. If anyone is planning on traveling across the ice, be sure you know what the slush conditions are on that particular lake. Later in the day after Don and Jacob came in, we noticed two deer following the guys’ path on the lake. The deer went to each drilled hole and took a drink of water.

One of my favorite slush stories happened right in front of the lodge. Bruce’s mother, Justine, had two small Polaris Playmate snowmobiles. As boys, Robert and Lee rode out on the ice in front of the lodge. Eventually, they put one of the snowmobiles in a slush pocket.

Of course, Bruce was gone somewhere that day so Mom and I were down helping the boys deal with the slush. We weren’t 100 feet off the shore but what a mess. They were in about a foot of slush. Now slush doesn’t freeze until the insulating dry snow on top of it is disturbed. Obviously a snowmobile disturbs the dry snow. This means that you must get a snowmobile out of the slush before it freezes in for the winter.

The first step is to get the snowmobile above the slush. We piled firewood under it. Lifting the machine was no easy task as the slush in the track added lots of weight to an already heavy machine. Once you get the snowmobile up, the next job is to clear the track of all slush otherwise the track will freeze solid. So first we dug out as much as possible with our hands. That’s a really fun, warm job. Then we started the machine. Two of us held the back end up so the snowmobile was resting only on its front two skis. A third person then runs the machine at full speed so any remaining slush was shot out the back. The lifters have to stay off to one side if they don’t want to get covered with spitting slush. The snowmobile is then lowered onto its dry stack of firewood. If there had been a couple of strong men there, they would have pushed until the snowmobile got to shore but we couldn’t do it. So, then final step was to make a path through the slush disturbing the dry snow until we got to shore. This was left to freeze overnight. As we left the machine, all four of us were tired and soaking wet.

The next morning we started the machine up and drove it to shore. It was put in a heated garage to thaw out all the remaining slush. Luckily we just had to deal with a small machine that was close to home. Putting one of today’s big machines in a slush pocket on a remote lake is a real problem. The boys and I alone would not have been able to get the machine out and home.

Last week we had a first time experience at Gunflint Lodge. After running the place since 1929, the Kerfoot family does not often have a first time experience at the lodge but this was such a time. One night in front of the fireplace Dave got down on one knee and asked Melissa to marry him. He had planned it all in advance and knew it would really thrill her. The next evening I caught up with them and here is a picture of the newly engaged couple.

They were both still glowing from the night before.

Everyone seemed to have a good Christmas at Gunflint. As many staff as possible made it home for Christmas. That meant that many of them were driving or flying back on the 26th to be at work on the 27th. They shared the roads with guests who were also coming up to Gunflint. Right now we have an almost full resort with people out exploring the woods all around us. The dog teams are giving rides. Guests are out snowshoeing everywhere. The ski trails are great. We even had a few flakes of snow coming down about an hour ago. The dining room is busy as the fireplaces merrily blaze away. For those of us who love the resort business there is nothing more fun than a houseful of happy, busy guests.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas is Coming

We really have the Christmas feeling at Gunflint. The last two weekends the lodge and grounds have been transformed with lights, garlands, wreaths, and Santa’s. This is a picture of Mrs. Carroll putting the finishing touches on a garland and lights over the door leading from Justine’s to the main lodge.
During all our decorating the fireplaces have been going and Christmas music is playing. Of course, Don saw to it that we had plenty of cookies to give us enough energy.

The 13th was a special day. Here is Bruce on that day which happened to be his 70th birthday.

The old boy isn’t quite ready for a cane but there might be a few extra gray hairs. He says that his gray hair is a badge of honor and that he has earned every one of them.

On the 14th the heavens opened and the snow came down. It started about noon and just kept going. By the time we had clear skies again, 14 inches had covered the ground. On top of our 6 inches, that gives us a pretty good base for the ski trails. Monday was the digging out day. Between the plow, three snow blowers and lots of manpower, everything was shoveled and cleaned by Monday night.

It is a good thing the cleanup was finished on Monday. Tuesday morning we woke up to temperatures of 24 below zero. That is absolute with none of that wind chill stuff. Although it was cold all week, now the temperature is up into positive territory. The warmer air is to be expected because the forecast calls for more snow tonight. That is the way it is around here in the winter. The temperatures are either below zero or the snow is coming down.

With all the snow both kids and our animal neighbors are enjoying themselves. We had a bunch of small children sledding down the hill past the lodge and onto the dock. The hill is just perfect for small children.

Another great slider is the otter I saw at the dock. He would run a few steps and slide on his belly. We think he may be living under the dock. The otter is a little confused because he keeps going into the dock house. He must be looking for some minnows.

Of course, we also saw some wolves on the lake over by the point just west of us. They like to curl up on the ice and watch what is going on. What that really means is that they are keeping track of any deer movement on the ice. Two were on the ice that day. During the winter the wolves are very visible as they move across the ice.

The deer have been coming in for some corn, banana peels, and grapefruit rinds. One of the does is quite interesting. On the left side of her head just below the eye and to the side of her nose is a hole 1-2 inches in diameter. On the human we might think it was in the area of her sinus. At any rate this hole goes all the way through the bone. When she breathes, steam comes out. There is frost on the hair all around it. The hole is fully healed and she is quite healthy looking otherwise. Our guess is that it might have happened in a fight of some kind.

This last picture is a “guy thing.”

Our friends Ron and Pat Malina from Florida have been visiting. On Saturday the guys were sent out to cut down a Christmas tree for the house. Ron was given two cameras to record the event. They went out and got a great tree. As they were walking down the driveway to the house, Ron’s hand brushed the cameras in his pocket. They had forgotten to take a picture. So the two guys walked over to the trees bordering my garden and took this picture. They were going to pass it off as being taken where the tree was just cut. Of course, they were laughing so much that the true story came out.

If you have been having trouble getting us on the telephone, it is not that we don’t want to talk to you. For the last two weeks we have been experiencing “intermittent” phone service. That means more no service than good service. By now Century Tel has given us so many explanations that no one knows what the truth is. At any rate, we seem to be up and running now but who knows what will happened in an hour. Because our internet is satellite, you can always get us that way – most of the time. When you live at the end of the road, these modern conveniences work only when they want to.

All of us here at Gunflint wish you and your families a very merry Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ice Is Here

Last weekend was our first decorating weekend. We had a great time starting the decorations in the main lodge. I forgot how much “stuff” we have to put up. There is one garland with lights that goes over the west windows and the north windows in the main room. It took four of us to get it up and secured. Of course, all the garlands are artificial now. Our tree, however, was still cut on the property. Because there is so much natural light coming in the windows, the tree always looks its best at night. It was a fun Saturday project. Here is a picture of part of the process.

Tomorrow we will finish the lodge and also do the outside decorations. We have between 40 and 50 people who will be working on it. Then on Sunday we will put a tree up in our house. Bruce has to go cut it down. These times bring back memories of earlier Christmas seasons.

In the 1940’s Justine and Bill were struggling to make a living amid the aftermath of the Depression and the very real presence of World War II gas rationing. To remind guests that we were still here, they used to send boxes of pine boughs and pine cones. Bruce says that each box had to have 5 different kinds of boughs. My guess would be that they were white pine, red pine, cedar, balsam, and jack pine. Bruce was only a little kid then so his specific memories are not too good. He does, however, remember the entire family participating in the gathering and boxing. Can you imagine the wonderful smells that would fill a house when the box was opened?

Another big event that happened this week was the freezing of Gunflint Lake. On Saturday we were all thrilled to be decorating a Christmas tree inside the lodge. Outside a nasty northwest wind was whipping up the lake. We had one white cap after another. Also the lake was steaming because the water was warmer than the air. All that moist air blowing around made it just miserable outside.

Sunday morning we woke up to dead calm and clear skies. About ¾’s of the lake in front of us was frozen over. The north ¼ was steaming to beat the band. By lunch time that last quarter was frozen.

All that was left was a hole between us and Moosehorn. I tried to take a picture of that.

While we were eating lunch that skimmed over. The east end of the lake was still open but it was frozen by the 9th.

I particularly love the months when the lake is covered with ice. It is such a contrast to open water that you have trouble remembering what no ice is like. Another thing I like is that ice is not a constant. It is continually changing. Right now we have had some cold nights that are busy making ice. It was 14 below this morning at my house. But yesterday morning we had 3-4 inches of new snow. That snow insulates the ice and slows down the making of new ice. Our best case scenario is to have about a week of cold, still days and nights. This will produce 4-6 inches of good blue ice as a base. If we get lots of snow before this base is formed, the ice is frozen and we get “slush ice” which is not nearly as strong as blue ice. So right now we probably have a little of both. On Saturday someone told me that we are scheduled for a big snowfall. We will see what happens.

Of course, years ago the formation of blue ice was much more important than now. In those years everyone harvested the ice for their ice house to provide refrigeration in the coming summer months. As soon as you could walk on the ice, the perimeter of the field was marked out. The next step was to keep the ice clear of snow by shoveling or sweeping it. Without any insulation from the snow, the ice formed fast. About 12-20 inches was the thickness goal. Mom said that Gunflint froze latest and so was always the last to have its ice harvested.
On Gunflint the harvesting usually occurred between Christmas and New Year’s. This is often one of the coldest times of the year. Using either a hand-saw or a Rube Goldberg power saw, the ice was cut into chunks and popped out of the water with giant tongs. A dog team pulled sleds of ice blocks to the ice house on shore. There it was carefully packed. The edges were insulated with sawdust or sphagnum moss. I can only imagine what a cold wet job that must have been.

Today I sit inside my toasty home with well-below zero temperatures outside. Clean blue skies and sunshine make it beautiful. We will have another fire in the fireplace tonight. I think it is a good night for homemade chicken soup for dinner.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Holidays Are Here

I got home from Missouri on Monday and Bruce got back yesterday. Bruce had a meeting in Duluth he had to attend. As expected, we had a great time. The star of the show, Zach, lived up to advance billing.

Our first event was going to the Kansas City Chiefs football game on Sunday. They lost miserably to the Buffalo Bills. We, as this picture shows, had a great time tailgating before the game.

Robert and Miranda and friends do it every home game. By now they have it down to a science. At any rate this was a first of many over-eating adventures we had during the trip.

Monday we drove down to Appleton City to deliver a motor to Dennis Todd, one of our guides. We came home with a smoked chicken, homemade pickles, and homemade pickled okra. I generously gave the okra to Miranda and Zach. They both love it.

Also got home in time to pick up Zach at school. Every day after school he stays for a program run by the YMCA until Miranda or Robert pick him up at 6:00. Miranda had left authorization for us. Once we showed an ID, we were on our way. That meant the grocery store as I was cooking venison for dinner. Grandpa and Zach also found a few treats to bring home. We picked Zach up Tuesday and Wednesday too.

Thanksgiving Day was really an eating event. There were 11 at dinner and everyone ate too much. Miranda fixed most of the excellent meal. The rest of us concentrated on staying out of her way and setting the table. At the end there were enough leftovers to do it all over again. We worked on those leftovers throughout the weekend. It was a sacrifice but tried hard to eat them all.

Friday was the Science City at Union Station. Here is a picture of Zach and his father rerouting water to float balls in different directions.

The two engineers loved it all. They also landed airplanes and flew helicopters. I tried to take a picture of Zach riding a bike across a tight rope 20 feet off the ground but the picture didn’t turn out. After the museum and lunch we went shopping. What else do you do the Friday after Thanksgiving?

Saturday was really Bruce’s day. We drove south and joined Nick and Sandy (Miranda’s parents) at an auction. Bruce loves auctions and doesn’t have much chance to participate in them up here. Needless to say, he filled the car with treasures. After lunch today Jason Merrill, head of maintenance, and Bruce divided the spoils. The workshop now has an abundance of screwdrivers, sand paper and I don’t know what else. The finale to Bruce’s auction was a late lunch at a wonderful barbeque spot – another Missouri favorite of his.

Things are about the same at Gunflint. We had 125 people for Thanksgiving dinner. There is now about 3 inches of snow on the ground. The last few days have been cold and windy. The two otters are still hanging around the dock. I had four deer in the yard this afternoon. They ate all the bread I had put out for the birds. Tomorrow, they will get the rinds from our morning grapefruit.

Like many of you, tonight we start the rounds of various Christmas parties. I am working on cards and ordering gifts. Next will be baking those favorite cookies that have been requested. Robert and family will be here on the 26th. He has already put in his dinner orders.

It is a busy time of year but certainly one of my favorites. Be sure to take time to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the season.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Home Sweet Home

It really feels good to be home! The beach and warmer weather is great but Bruce and I are really tied to this spot of earth. At this time of year we have a fire in the fireplace every night. Here is a picture of the other night.
From the accumulation of ashes, you can tell that we use it lots and lots. When we build the house, there was a very short discussion about putting in a gas fireplace. With gas we would not have to gather firewood or split it or stack it or bring it into the house. There would not be a mess of pieces of dirt and wood on the carpet. But we also would not have the smell of a wood fireplace or the sounds of a wood fireplace. The decision was obvious to both of us.
When I took the picture, the two chairs we fall asleep in were intentionally omitted. Between the warmth from the fire and the lack of anything worthwhile on television, it is easy to doze off a bit. Crossword puzzles and Sudoku help to keep us awake. Also many nights the television is not on. When we were first married, our only television was two poorly received stations from Canada. You better like Hockey Night in Canada if those stations are all you get. All the news was Canadian too. As a result, we really got out of the habit of watching the tube. We both read a lot and occasionally play a game of Scrabble. The won/loss record is about even.
This time of year is also deer hunting in our area. Here is a picture of Bruce butchering our deer.
We both enjoy venison and have several favorite recipes for fixing it. Bruce does the major cuts. I do the trimming and wrapping. This year we switched to one of those vacuum sealers. The birds also enjoy it when we cut up venison. I put all the scraps out for them. So yesterday there were Canada Jays, Blue Jays, Hairy Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers and Ravens in feeding on the scraps. It beats putting all that stuff in the garbage. We don’t have a dog to get into it all so this works well.

We are getting some cold weather. Yesterday it was about 24 degrees but we had a cold northwest wind coming in over the lake. It felt like well below zero. We also got a dusting of snow and then a little more snow overnight. Today it is 15 but it doesn’t feel nearly as cold because the wind is not as strong. The ponds are pretty much frozen over and the small lakes should freeze soon. Gunflint will not freeze until into December. It is too big and too deep to cool down very fast. Today the lake was steaming so it is cooling down. The steaming happens when the water is warmer than the air.

Tomorrow Bruce and I are off to Missouri to spend Thanksgiving with Robert, Miranda, and Zach. While it will be nice to see the older ones, make no mistake – Zach is the star of the show. I have been thinking about things we can do with him. We will be home on Dec 1.

These may not be the best of times but Bruce and I still feel we are very lucky with where we live, with our extended Gunflint family, and with our children and their families. We hope that your life is as blessed as ours.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Few Days on the Beach

As you can see from the picture below, Bruce and I exchanged the wind in the trees for the surf on the sand.


We spent last week in Panama City Beach attending a convention of outfitters from all over the country. It is a group that we have belonged to for over 20 years. I really can’t remember not belonging to this association. Our days were filled with seminars, speeches and meals. We caught up with what others had experienced during the summer. Most of them had a pretty good year. Since they are all on rivers, the rainfall and water depth have a lot more affect on their business than on ours in the Boundary Waters.

Of course, with any convention there were some recreational activities planned. Here is a picture of Doug and Patty Shannon on our canoe trip.

It was down a creek that turns into a river and only about 6-7 miles long. Bruce and I always seem to be in the front of the group. We are so happy to have any current at all and no wind in our face. Even our slow paddling keeps us moving along quickly. There are not rapids because Florida is flat. We did see fish in the water, several springs where water comes up from underground, and turtles. There were very few birds for reasons we don’t understand.

On Wednesday we played golf with Doug and Patty and our other friends, Tony and Diane. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from that day. Just believe me when I say that Bruce and I are both horrible golfers. We did play golf with this group two years ago but that has been our only other golfing experience in 40 years. The women played together and the men were in front of us. We played a game called “Best Ball.” Everyone played from the position of the best shot in the group. The women’s group was not into keeping any kind of score. It was fun to be outside (not in air conditioning) and walking around.

Speaking of walking around, Bruce and I actually got to walk on that beach in the picture. I was out three times and he went with me twice. There is really something wonderful about walking on the beach. We didn’t see anything particular. Our feet were in the water and our clothes got wet. The sun was in our eyes for half the walk. We didn’t talk too much because the surf was loud. There were no rocks and just a few men fishing in the surf. Maybe we liked it so much because it is entirely different from our water experiences here at Gunflint.

One day ten of us rented a pontoon boat. We slowly went out to a place called Shell Island. The beach there was very wide and flat. It also had a fair number of shells. Bruce and I are great shell collectors. We don’t get anything special but it gives us a purpose for walking. This time we brought home about 4 dozen shells that I am washing. Eventually, they will be used to hold appetizers for dinner one night. Not only will we enjoy the appetizers but it will remind us of walking on the beach. That would be a great memory in January when it is 40 below here.

After lunch on the boat, we had some sandwiches left. Here is Bruce feeding the seagulls.

They would take it right out of his hand. My camera skills are not good enough to catch the moment when the seagull plucks the bread but you get the idea.

On the way back to the marina we were exceptionally lucky. A pod of dolphins came swimming up around us. They jumped and rolled under and around the boat. We just stopped and watched. Again my camera skills were not up to capturing the moment. We used to see dolphins on a regular basis when we had a home in the Keys. It is one of my favorite sights on the water.

Another jumper we saw were several manta rays. These rays were about 2-3 feet across in size. Down in the Keys they would be 5-6 feet across. They are just wonderful to see popping out of the water.

As with any Kerfoot trip, we managed to find several good restaurants. The oyster season has just opened in Florida. One night the four guys in our group ate eight dozen raw oysters. None of the women were really interested. We concentrated on shrimp and grouper. Now I am concentrating on the bathroom scale.

It is good to be home. Today is overcast with temperatures in the low twenties.

Thursday, November 06, 2008



I don’t know where October went and even November seems to be running by us. We have had some nice days, some cold, rainy, miserable days and some warm, rainy days.
Below you will find a menu that we finally settled on for the Wine Weekend. I forgot to include it before. Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal.
When I was first married, our cook was Aggie Jackson. She had learned to cook in logging camps and worked at Gunflint for many years. She always said that it didn’t matter what people said about the food. The real question was whether or not the plates came back clean. Well, I can tell you that the plates for this meal were clean. So here is the menu:
Clam Spread with Crostini
Spinach Timbales with Fonduta
Asian Vegetable Soup
House Salad with Grated Fresh Beets and a Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing
Cheese Topped Walleye and Marinated, Grilled Shrimp
With Steamed Asparagus
Sorbet Medley
Chateaubriand of Beef with a Choice of Blue Cheese Sauce or Bearnaise Sauce
Mashed Potatoes with Chives, Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Bits
Roasted Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Carrots and Onions
Dilly Bread
A Flight of Desserts: Chocolate Bread Pudding, Apple Tart and Pumpkin Cheesecake
Now I am researching for the Chocolate Lovers Weekend this winter. You can’t imagine the dishes that can contain chocolate. We will have fun trying some of these recipes.
Last Sunday was one of those miserable fall days we get sometimes. It was cold and rainy. Bruce still has a little draining to winterize cabins for two summer home owners. Sunday he decided to do the last one. He had been worried that the water might freeze in the cabin. So here he is just starting his project.

Draining water systems used to be quite a project here at Gunflint. Virtually every cabin, the main lodge and the outfitters had to be drained. After all these years, Bruce has it down to a science. You start by turning off all the electricity to the cabin so the electric hot water heater will not burn out an element. Next you disconnect the incoming water. Then you open up all the water faucets and flush the toilet. Any water left in the tank and bowl of the toilet is sponged out. A hose attached to the hot water heater drains that outside. Don’t forget to pop the heater’s pressure relief valve so all the water drains out. Next step is to pour one cup of antifreeze in every drain, the toilet bowl, and the toilet tank. If you have done it all correctly, next spring you just need to attached everything together and start it up.

If you have missed something, things get a little dicey. Probably the worst place to break a line is when that line is hidden behind some paneling or in a shower. The only thing to do is to start taking everything apart until you can get to the broken line and repair it. About 35 years ago we had someone other than Bruce drain the cabins and lodge. They did not do a particularly good job. The following spring it took Bruce two weeks to put the water in rather than his normal two days. The air was a little blue during those weeks.

Monday and Tuesday were surprisingly warm days. So Bruce and I spent a little time driving around looking for those little partridge. Monday we got skunked but on Tuesday we managed to find one. Here is the mighty hunter with his bird.


It will make a great dinner for us.

On Saturday Bruce and I leave for an outfitting convention in Florida. We won’t be back until the following Saturday. The outfitters at the convention are lots of old friends. In addition to Bruce’s talks and seminar, we will spend some time socializing. On Sunday we go canoeing on a Florida river. The real fun day will be on Wednesday. That is the day that we have been talked into playing golf. If you need a good laugh on Wednesday, just think of us making fools of ourselves on the golf course.

I’ll try to write again on Sunday or Monday when we get home.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Winter Is Coming

We knew it was going to happen sometime soon. Even so, it was a bit of a shock to wake up to a dusting of snow on Monday morning. Snow at this time of year doesn’t last but it is a reminder of things to come. Then on Wednesday the temperature was down to 20 degrees. I had to go to town. All the ponds along the way were iced over. Even Little Iron Lake had a skim of ice on it. When I can home in the mid-afternoon, there was still ice on the ponds and Little Iron. This morning was a different story. The temperature was 38. It was sunny and even the wind felt warm. It appears that we are going to have several warm days over the weekend.
Fall chores continue to move along. Here is a picture of Jason moving the main dock over on Wednesday morning.
The entire dock was covered with frost and looked quite white. This job is always done on a glass calm lake. Jason said that it is just a slow ride over.

Another fall chore is to protect our greenery from the winter feeding habits of deer. As many of you know, we have lots of deer coming in for corn during the winter months. Sometimes we can have upwards of 40 deer in the front yard. They also like to browse on the bushes and trees that we have planted. So we try to cover them with burlap or chicken wire each season. Last year the Tamarack down by the creek in front of Cabin #3 took a beating. So this year Ronnie Smith, our head gardener, was taking no chances. Here is a picture of what she did.

That is chicken wire five feet up the trees. In case you are wondering whythe pine tree Tamarack is yellow, here is the answer. Tamarack are the only pines to turn color and lose their needles every year.

Bruce and I have gotten out a couple of times for partridge hunting. Last Friday was pretty good and we got three birds. (We ate one on Sunday with wild rice and acorn squash.)Today was so wonderful that we went out. I even brought my camera to take a picture of our results. That must have put a hex on our efforts. We got nothing more than a nice ride which isn’t all bad.

Have you ever wondered where the Gunflint rocks in the main lodge fireplace came from? They are not found anywhere else around here. Paul Weiblen from the University of Minnesota Department of Geology and Geophysics recently sent me an explanation of the rocks. It is an amazing story that is hard to believe.

About 2 billion years ago, a meteorite 10 miles in diameter hit the earth near what is Sudbury, Ontario. That’s about 500 miles east of us. It formed a crater more than 150 miles wide. In the process a large cloud of ash, rock fragments, gases and molten rock (known together as ejecta) rose into the atmosphere and spread around the globe.

Our share of the ejecta got sandwiched in between the Gunflint Iron Formation and the slate of the Rove Foundation. The next step was when some magma (part of the Logan Intrusion) seeped into the rocks. The true ejecta of our layer contains accretionary lapilli. These are small concentric rings that were formed by repeated layers of ash and melted rock droplets.

Another interesting part of this was the speed with which scientists theorize this event reached Gunflint Lake from Sudbury. The fireball would have been here in 13 seconds. It would have been hot enough to ignite trees and cause third degree burns. In another 2-3 minutes earthquakes strong enough to collapse buildings would happen on Gunflint. In another 5-10 minutes the airborne ejecta would have covered Gunflint Lake with a layer 1-3 meters thick. After about 40 additional minutes an air blast with wind speeds up to 1,400 mph would reach Gunflint. In an additional 1-2 hours the area would experience a huge tsunami.

Since I have clearly plagiarized these last three paragraphs from the article, here is a website that will give you more information: www.unb.ca/passc/ImpactDatabase. It is to a website that describes 174 meteorite impacts world-wide. This one is listed in North America and named Sudbury.

Next time you are in the lodge, take a good look at the main fireplace and think about where it came from.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Projects

It is a beautiful fall day today. We have a south wind and the temperature is probably in the high fifties. I never look at a thermometer so that is a guess on my part. All of us are starting to get the itch to start fall projects. Dave Schudy is out today cutting up firewood. He said the phone is not too busy and he just wanted to be outside. Steve Gibson from the dock is also at the woodpile. He is splitting the firewood. Here is a picture of the two of them.
Dave is in the back with the chain saw. Steve is at the splitter. The red truck is backed in close so Steve can just throw the split wood into the truck for delivery to cabins.
I saw them up in the outfitters parking lot when I took this picture.
It is of a 24’ Voyageur canoe that we just bought for next summer. The canoe can hold about 10 people. It came with paddles and the little shed you see. Next spring we will move the whole thing down closer to the dock. I have never ridden in one of these canoes so that is something to look forward to.
On Tuesday the horses left for the winter. Mandy and Jacob have been busy cleaning everything up for winter storage. Yesterday I found them in the outfitters. Every saddle is washed, oiled with Neatsfoot Oil, and stored in a plastic bag. Today they are working on the saddle blankets. They both are people who have a place for everything and everything in its place. During the winter Mandy will be a server in the dining room and Jacob will help with outside chores and in the kitchen.
Jason Merrill, our head of maintenance, has lots of projects too. Today he moved the smaller dock across the lake. We store the entire dock in one piece back in a bay where the wind can’t get to it and the ice just melts out around it in the spring. Here is a picture of Jason pushing the dock across.
We push the docks just like you would a barge. The first time we tried to pull them and almost pulled the entire dock apart. After this weekend, Jason will move the main dock over too. That dock is so large that it is only moved on a day when there is no wind and the water is like glass.
The birds seem to be getting ready for winter too. This last week we have seen the snow buntings migrating through for the first time. The hummingbirds are gone. The loons are pretty much gone too. You still see an occasional one but they aren’t calling on the lake any more.
We are even seeing a few more partridge. If Bruce and I could get out hunting, we might even have a partridge dinner. As with most families we have a favorite fall dinner with the partridge. It starts with slow roasting the birds in the oven with cream of mushroom soup covering them. I wonder how we ever cooked before Campbell’s came up with cream of mushroom soup. Then we must to have wild rice with mushrooms and onions. The final addition is acorn squash baked in the oven with a little butter and brown sugar added at the end. I am ready to start eating now.
Bruce and I were in town last night for a political meeting. Not my favorite but we have to participate, I guess. At any rate we drove home after dark. We saw three fox and four skunks. Luckily everything was well off the road. I hate to come across dead skunks because the whole road stinks. The skunks should be about ready to hibernate soon.
As soon as I finish with the blog I am going out to harvest carrots and potatoes. Those two are about all that is left in the garden. We will be using some of them for the wine weekend dinner on Saturday night. I know I will be filthy after the harvest. It seems the only way to get potatoes is to get on your hands and knees and dig them out. Carrots are a little easier but not much. I will bring them down to the lodge along with the acorn squash, butternut squash and onions for the dinner. Whatever is not used Bruce and I will eat over the winter.
So by the end of the day, all of us will have made a good start on fall projects.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sheryl and Bonnie's Trip, Part 1

Daughter Shawn and I spent last weekend in Minneapolis. We exhibited at a bridal show in the convention center. It is a great way to make contact with people looking for a honeymoon location or a wedding spot. Here is a picture of our booth there.
We talked out heads off and hope to get a few folks to spend some time with us next year. There were even a few parents who were looking for a place to get away after the wedding.

This weekend Bruce is off to New York taking Grandson Tanner to visit colleges. They will visit 4 different schools over the weekend. As of last night (Friday), two were good and one was a dud. The dud looked good on line so I guess that is why you try to visit the actual school. It will be fun to see where he ends up next year.

One night we went down to town for dinner with friends who own one of the bigger resorts on the North Shore. It was interesting to note that they had been so short of help this fall that the wife and all managers were making beds on some days. Here I thought that just happened at Gunflint!

We also made an unexpected purchase. Sometimes things just appear that you have wanted but never found at a good price. We bought a 24-foot voyageur canoe for use in the naturalist program. I think it will be great fun for groups to take out on the lake.

The rest of this blog is devoted to the first installment of Bonnie and Sheryl’s trip. This starts on the first day of their trip and I am just going to let Sheryl tell the story:

Whoa! What the heck is that up ahead? Well, it looks a little like white caps. Where did that wind come from all of a sudden? Why is the wind coming from the west and the south at the same time. No singing the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, it’s too early in the trip. Okay, let’s pull over and look at how we’re going to get across this crazy mess. Realize now that we are traveling north to south across a very wide part of Pickerel Lake. If you’ve been on Gunflint Lake on a windy day you’ll understand, and know this was way worse (or better if you’re the whitecap!) Pickerel Lake is 17 miles long from east to west, the wind is from the south and the west and we’re trying to head south. The map shows a small island that possibly a feather could hide behind, that’s a couple hundred yards, then a slightly larger island called Lookout Island, then two islands that look like mismatched earlobes. Later I would think this was my brain that had finally separated! We make it to each of these islands, paddling hard, sometimes on the same side of the canoe which is not normally recommended, and finally get in a somewhat sheltered area between these two lobes since the map DISTINCTLY shows navigable water between them. Guess what…nice white sandy beach, some old moose poop and then a big swamp. This is the first map error we make notes about. So we paddle back out into the crazy lake and make our way around this island, definitely do NOT want to camp yet, its only noon! We make our way toward a campsite and notice some guys fishing, they’re in Canadian canoes (no licenses displayed), and paddle on toward the site. There are two canoes, two more guys, looks like they’re packing up camp. Just as we round the bend we notice lots of bare skin on two more guys!!! I will admit, it was plenty warm to be sunbathing and I sure hope they used sunscreen on the more tender areas they had exposed. Polarized sunglasses must not work on naked men, I checked with and without the glasses on and there was no difference. We kept on going, Bonnie lost her first hat to the wind and it sunk immediately. It was her favorite hat! We finally made it to a narrow spit of land where there was some current pushing us back the way we came. There was also a campsite so we decided to pull over and wait out the wind. It was 1:04 pm and we really wanted to be off this lake. Our map showed only about 2 more miles to our first portage to Bisk Lake and we were definitely getting there for sure! You know how it is when the adrenaline is pumping and you just want to keep moving? We ate lunch, walked around the campsite, looked at the pretty rocks in the water, marveled at the white caps pounding onto shore, tried napping, studied the maps both upside down and right side up, walked barefoot in the sand, chased some squirrels…It’s about 2:00 now and I’m getting antsy. Bonnie can somehow manage to nap. While I’m up by the fire grate chasing squirrels, I notice through the trees some canoes coming our way. We’re prepared to give up the site since we have no intention of staying here tonight. As the canoes approach I recognize the insignia on the boat, and I recognize the paddlers as the same guys from the last campsite. Wouldn’t you know it, they’re still naked! These guys rented their canoes from an Ely store that sells outdoor gear, apparel, rents canoes, and is located on a corner on Main Street. I won’t mention the name in case they don’t allow naked canoeing in their rental boats. I hid in the trees, but managed to take a few photos for posterity (no pun intended). Finally at 2:45 we decide to get moving, sink or swim is our motto!

Here is the picture that Sheryl took.
I am not sure if it will be censored or not. Next week I will give you another installment from their trip.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Flies

Fall weeks seem to speed by. Our cabins have been filled with guests enjoying the fall colors and looking for moose. This week has been particularly successful on both fronts.

It appears that this weekend will be the peak of the fall color. Here are a couple of pictures I snapped right on the lodge grounds. This first one is of the maple tree right next to the naturalist’s board across from the lodge entrance.
During the summer months it is over shadowed by the big spruce but this is the time of year when the maple really comes alive. We planted this tree when Robert was 4 years old and Lee was 2 years old. That makes them 31 years old.

The second picture is of the Euonymus bush by Cabin #6.
For obvious reasons, the common name of this shrub is Burning Bush. Again it is rather unremarkable all summer long. When the leaves change, it is transformed into spectacular color. Our neighbor, Fred Smith, told me about this bush and I’m glad that I listened.
Up and down the Trail every view is filled with the varying shades of red and yellow leaves. Yesterday we had a really strong northwest wind. There were lots of white caps at the dock. I expected to see lots of colored leaves being blown off the trees. But surprisingly, there were very few leaves in the air. The leaves must just not have reached that magic point where they release from the branches.

This morning we had calm winds but it was still overcast. The lack of wind was a real blessing as several parties were scheduled for an airplane ride to spot moose. Rides in small planes are not fun with lots of wind so it was good that the wind cooperated. Unfortunately, the moose did not cooperate for the morning flights. The last two afternoon flights were for two grandparents who had brought their two grandchildren up for the Moose Madness package. They saw seven moose. The 10-year old granddaughter informed me at dinner that she spotted one of the moose herself. It was fun to hear her tell the story.

One of our parties in the bistro tonight was a property owner on Poplar Lake and her siblings. I was asked by one of them to say hello to Dr. Chuck McCarthy. Apparently Dr. Chuck came up here 60 years ago and worked for Bruce’s mother, Justine, when he was 15 years old. He was a city boy and learned about the northwoods from her. One of his stories is about jacking a cabin up to level it. In those days the foundations on many of our cabins heaved as the moisture in the soil changed. Someone would have to periodically jack the cabin up or down to level it again. Mom instructed this young man to put a marble in the middle of the floor. The moving marble would tell them which corner to jack up. When the marble stopped moving, the cabin was level. Bruce just confirmed that this is what his mother used to do and that it was quite effective.

The animals in the forest continue to re-appear as the number of people on the Trail diminishes. Several guests have spotted otter off the dock. Bruce and I saw an 8-point buck in our driveway one night last week. Some guests went looking for moose this morning. They didn’t see any moose but they did see a bear and a red fox. A bald eagle swooped past my bedroom window two mornings ago. The pair of coots is still hanging around with the mallards. None of these spotting are any big deal but they continually remind us of the birds and animals who share the forest with us. They also remind me of how lucky I am to live here.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Picture Blog

This is the picture blog. I had my camera handy plus others contributed some pictures.

It has been a really busy week which I why I am late in writing. Bruce and I spent Wednesday in Duluth running errands. While we were gone, one of our repeat groups of ladies from Wisconsin checked in. I don’t even want to count how many years Always An Adventure has been with us. Here is a picture of this year’s group.


Starting on Thursday, John Silliman had planned a full schedule of activities for the group. Even Bruce and I got to take them out a few times. They went fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, wolf calling, moose calling, horseback riding, massaging, and more things than I can remember. Of course, we always left time for meals. One of the ladies was out with Dennis Todd fishing. Here is a picture of her catch, a nice 30” walleye, which was returned to the lake.


Thursday night also gave us our first frost but not too hard a frost. So Friday afternoon, Bruce and I spent an hour getting in some vegetables from the garden that we didn’t want to freeze. Here is Bruce with the butternut squash and the spaghetti squash.

I think there are a couple zucchinis in there too. He also rooted around the overgrown pumpkin patch. I thought we had a couple dozen but he found about 50! Finally we spent some time gathering green tomatoes. They will ripen quite nicely in the garage.


It was a good thing we spent the time harvesting. Here is what we woke up to Saturday morning.

The thermometer by my kitchen read 28 degrees. We were glad that everything was safely inside. All that is left to bring in are the carrots and potatoes. There appears to be a bumper crop of both of them.

Jenny Hughes, who does our massages, had an interesting experience this week. Jenny has been spending some of her time on a hunting stand trying to shoot a bear. She hasn’t had much success with the bear. However, she has done better with the moose. The other day a big bull moose came up to stand right beneath her stand. Apparently Jenny was quiet and still enough that he didn’t realize she was there. Now Jenny is not going to shoot the moose but she still has to balance a rifle in one hand and her camera in the other hand without alerting the moose below. Here is one of her pictures from the moose meeting.

That is Jenny’s leg in the picture. At the last report yesterday, the bear have still remained quite elusive.

Sheryl and Bonnie have been busy with housekeeping this week. They still promise me stories and pictures from their canoe trip.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Before starting in on the week’s happenings, I need to say hello to Annette Cozzi. Annette is the mother of Annie who works on the front desk. Annie says her mother really enjoys the blog so, “Hello, Annette. We are having a beautiful fall day today and wish you we here.”

One of the great things about running a resort is that you get to share special moments with your guests. This is a picture of Dave and Donnie Harvey who celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary with us.

Bruce and I have known them every since their sons worked for us about 25 years ago. We took a trip hiking in Nepal with them in about 1988. Since then we have gone to Bali, Tanzania, and Turkey with them. Of course, there have also been many trips up to Gunflint. They always come to fish and spent three days out with Dennis Todd. Their picture has appeared in several of our brochures with impressive strings of fish. I think they limited out on everything during this trip. At any rate there were two baskets of fish fillets to go back to Indiana. Take a minute and join us as we celebrate the marriage of two wonderful people.

It is getting to the end of the season for our birds and ducks that fly south. The hummingbirds are gone from my feeder and everyone else’s. The feeders will be drained, washed and stored for next summer.

I talked with some guests who had an interesting experience with loons on Tucker Lake. Tucker is very shallow in some places. These folks were paddling through a shallow area that was in bright sun. They looked down and could see the loons swimming underwater. It was an adult and a youngster. The adult would catch a fish and give it to the youngster. It might have been a fishing lesson. At any rate our paddlers watched the underwater activities for over an hour. The wife is especially enamored with loons so it was really exciting for her.

So now we have a picture of some fat old lady (me) feeding the ducks.

A couple weeks ago I told you how the mallards were just starving as they prepared for the long flight south. After lunch Bruce and I went down to the dock to get a picture of the mallards eating out of his hand. It didn’t work that way and I became the model. Anytime we walk down, the ducks are right there hoping for a handout. They all march up ready to eat out of your hand.

Kind of hanging on the edge of the mallards were four ducks I didn’t recognize. They were smaller and gray with white beaks. A few minutes with the front desk bird book helped identify them as immature American Coots. Even if they had been mature, I would not have known them. It is the first time we have seen them on the dock.

Yesterday there was a single merganser hanging out with the mallards. Usually we see flocks of 10-15 mergansers at this time of year. They have a very distinctive way of bobbing through the water and all diving together. Who knows why this one was alone.

Even as we think about all the birds and ducks flying south, many of them stay with us all winter long. One of my favorite is the Gray Jay. We used to call them Canada Jays but I guess the politically correct name had been changed to Gray Jay. They are also known as Whiskey Jacks and Camp Robbers. I recently read an article about them and found out some interesting facts. The Gray Jays mate for life and build their nests very early in the spring. The eggs hatch early and the young can survive temperatures down to zero and even a snowfall. We think of the birds as voracious eaters but actually they are getting food to store in caches all over the woods. It must really take a lot of food to keep these (or any other) bird alive during our winters.

Next week I am planning on including a few pictures from Sheryl and Bonnie’s canoe trip. They had a great time and are just bursting with stories to tell.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fall Activities

Like all weeks, this one has been busy. Over the weekend, we hosted BOW (Becoming an Outdoor Woman). Between students and instructors there were about 90 people. This picture shows a fishing seminar held on the patio of the lodge.
The classes are divided between one third fishing, one third hunting and one third other outdoor recreations. Of course, everything was topped off with some wonderful meals from our kitchen. With any group, we always seem to go through lots of food.
I think part of the reason people are hungry is due to the fall weather. It is just a little bit cooler and we are starting to eat some fall foods. One of the entrees for this group was pot roast. We also roasted some vegetables one night. Wild rice added to the fall feeling.
The views outside are definitely starting to look like fall. Our maples are turning red. The poplar and birch are just giving a hint of the yellows to come. I think our peak of fall color should be in 10-14 days. How long it lasts really depends on the winds. If we have some calm weather, the leaves stay on the trees for a long time. Of course, the day eventually comes when we have a good strong wind. The leaves are in the air constantly. Then you can walk through the woods and kick the small piles of fallen leaves. I remember doing that as a child and still love to do it.
There has not been a frost around here yet. We had a little up on top of the hill but my basil survived. I am hoping to get out and harvest the basil today. I pull the plants and cut off every single leaf for pesto. The pesto freezes really well. A little pasta, some grilled chicken, parmesan cheese and walnuts combined with the pesto makes a wonderful winter meal. Only problem is that we tend to eat too much.
It is also time to harvest other produce from the garden. The acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash are ready. Pumpkins are just about there too. It is time to bring in the parsley plants and dry them for winter’s use. Carrots, onions and potatoes will hold for a bit longer. This has not been a good year for tomatoes. The yellow tomatoes are doing the best. Cherry tomatoes have just started to ripen in numbers. Only one red tomato has come out of the garden yet. It was just too cool during most of the summer.
The full moon is just past its peak. What a beautiful harvest moon it has been. I watched the huge yellow globe come up last night about 8:30. Along with the harvest moon, our days are getting shorter. The days get about three minutes shorter every 24 hours. One it gets a little colder, we will start another fall and winter occurrence – fires in the fireplace. One of the best parts of living in an area with distinct seasons is that each season brings you special treats to enjoy.
Last night was one of those special treats. Bruce and I went down the lake to Campers’ Island with a bunch of neighbors. There we had the last fish fry for the season. Our plates were loaded with fried potatoes, baked beans, fried walleye, salad, corn bread, watermelon, and cookies. I am trying to attach a very short video of the event to this blog. It's not quite center correctly but that will come next.
video
The best part of the video is that you can hear the fire crackling and the fish frying. I am sorry that you can’t smell the fish and the fire. Everyone went home just groaning from overeating.
I am still “in training” on the front desk. Yesterday I learned how to enter inquiries into the computer system. I still have not totally mastered the art of taking reservations, checking people out, or checking people in. We had five checkouts today that I was going to learn on. When every one of them was checking out, I was on the phone, selling something in the store or talking with other guests. At least I can remember my passwords now. By next summer I might be totally conversant in the front desk computer. Then it will be time to move into the dining room and bar. Richard, our head bartender, is waiting to teach me how to tend bar! It is going to be very interesting.
Yesterday I was able to do one activity that hasn’t changed. We needed someone to take people on a pontoon boat ride. Ten guests and I took off at 2:00. I still knew how to drive the boat. Talking and telling stories is something I have never forgotten to do so the 1 ½ hours passed quickly. At least no one went to sleep. The dock boy was called away so I had to dock the boat myself. Hadn’t forgotten how to do that either.
It really was a wonderful day to be out on the lake. We went across to the north shore to look at where the fire burned in May, 2007. It is amazing to see how much growth has already occurred. Now there will not be giant red pines for a number of years but there is a start. Bruce remembers watching this same shore line grow when he was a boy. A fire swept through in 1936 just two years before he was born. He remembers that it looked kind of “scraggly” for several years. That is what we will have too. By the time I came here in 1964, the north shore was a fully grown forest. It never entered my mind that the forest has burned just 28 years earlier.
I’ll keep you up-to-date on the progress of fall color. It is my favorite time of year.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rainy Days

It is a rainy day today. We even have a little thunder and lightening. Some fishermen stopped in this morning to buy Canadian licenses. I asked if they had good rain gear since they were going out on Saganaga for the day. Not only did they have their rain gear but they had forgotten their sunglasses. Sounded like they were subconsciously prepared for today.

Last weekend was fun. We had a wedding for 80 people here. I took a quick picture of the beginning of the ceremony.
The bride was paddled into the dock. In this picture she is just about ready to be helped out of the canoe. I held my breath but there were lots of people to help her. Getting out of a canoe against a dock can be a little tricky especially if you are wearing a wedding dress. The ceremony only had a little rain on it and then everyone went up to the conference center for the reception and dinner with dancing after.

Now that there is not quite a much activity around the dock area, we are starting to get the mallards hanging around all the time. It is quite a large flock and they are hungry! They are not the only hungry birds around. The flock has caught the attention of a bald eagle. He likes to sit on top of one of the cedar trees just to the east of the sand beach. The mallards are diving into the water and plainly uncomfortable while the eagle is around. We haven’t seen him take a duck yet. I am trying to keep my camera in my pocket to get a picture. The other day I ran down to the house to get my camera but the eagle was gone when I got back.

Other animals are starting to make their presence known. Don has seen both bears and a wolf walking down from his apartment (on the back hills) in the morning. He said that the wolf was very large and healthy looking. We won’t be seeing any deer around until after the hunting season and after the lake freezes. I saw a fox the other day but it wasn’t Gimpy. I keep watching for him. The hummingbirds are going wild drinking all my sugar water. They must be storing up for the long flight south. All the flowers in the yard and the feeders really attract these little beauties.

Speaking for flowers, now is the time when we plan and order next summer’s flowers. Ronnie Smith (our head gardener) and I met today to review the order.

It always takes a long time because we both love to talk about what we are going to do in the various beds around the lodge. In addition to ordering flowers for us, we also order flowers for any of the neighbors who are interested. One of my favorite days is just before Memorial Day when the truck brings in our order. Several neighbors help sort it out and everyone picks their stuff up that day. It is just beautiful to see the order come in.


Don, Bruce and I also entertained a visitor from our major food supplier, Upper Lakes Foods. Jay likes to keep us current with all the new offerings. As usual he had some interesting items. I ate too much especially since we went out to dinner afterward!


This weekend will be busy. We have a group of 90 women here. They are participating in a program called BOW or Becoming an Outdoor Woman. It is put on the state DNR. The women take classes on various subjects such as fishing, cooking fish, orienteering, etc. They are usually a great bunch of instructors and students. At any rate we will be busy housing and feeding everyone. I will try to remember to take a picture or two.


Have a good weekend yourself.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Days Go By

Time always seems to get away from me before I get the next blog written. So here it’s over a week and I am just getting around to the next installment.


Labor Day weekend was beautiful but a little too hot and humid for me. When the weather gets like this, Bruce and I enjoy sitting on the porch with iced tea in the afternoon. In fact, here he is.


Our guests, on the other hand, were just loving it. The many of them were eating outside on the patio. We all know that these beautiful, warm days will not be with us much more. Especially in the evening hours, people just seemed to luxuriate on the patio before, during and after dinner.


Bruce wants me to put a commercial in this time and here it goes. For the past year we have been developing a Planned Unit Development (PUD) comprised of the cabins on the west side of the lodge. You can’t imagine all the hoops that are jumped through for this. At any rate we have finally completed all the legal requirements and fulfilled all the regulations.


Starting now we are offering 1/5th shares in several of our cabins. You buy it for life and pay a monthly maintenance/taxes/insurance fee. A 1/5’s share means that you get to use your home every fifth week throughout the year. We have a schedule of exactly which weeks this means for several years out. Two weeks each year are set aside for deep cleaning. If you are not using your week, the cabin goes into our regular rental pool with you getting a share of the cabin rental.


As you can imagine, there are lots of details to this project and lots of questions. Bruce, as a newly licensed realtor, is handling it all. You can e-mail him at bruce@gunflint.com. He is available by phone during the day at 218-388-2294 and at night at 218-388-0876.


Meanwhile, I am learning to work the front desk again. Last Saturday I learned to sell pop! What this actually means is learning how to put the sale into the computer. I am slowly coming up to speed on our computer system. Pretty soon I hope to be able to take a reservation. Almost any questions that guests and visitors ask, I can answer or at least make up an answer (who is going to question me?). These darn computers are another thing. Pretty soon I will have it down.


Another project is testing recipes for the Wine Dinner. This is Bunny Mills, our baker.
A little later today we will be making “Mediterranean Twists.” They may appear instead of crackers with the soup course. It is all a matter of testing until we get the right combination of tastes. Needless to say, we have lots of volunteers to be the testers!

Outside our windows, fall is definitely coming. The hot, humid temperatures moderated with rain last Tuesday. My garden is starting to die off but the tomatoes still need to ripen. They will probably finish turning to red in the garage. Garlic, green beans and pea pods are done. The last of the raspberries are in the freezer. We are starting to harvest a few potatoes and carrots for a meal but they need to stay in the ground and grow some more. The same is true of the eggplant and jalapeno peppers. Our zucchini, however, is growing huge. Besides the kitchen, all the neighbors have gotten their share.


I have made zucchini relish several times. One time was really a disaster. In the morning neighbors and I cut up the vegetables and set them to soak until evening. We went down to Trail Center for dinner. Upon coming home, I put the jars in the dishwasher to warm up. The vegetables were drained and washed. The sugar, vinegar and seasonings were added and everything was turned on. I went down to the office for just a few minutes to work on the blog and promptly and totally forgot about my cooking relish. Bruce discovered it smoking away. Not only was the relish and pan destroyed but the ceramic glass top of the stove was slightly melted. What a mess! For the next batch I sat in the kitchen during the entire cooking time.


Time to put on my staff shirt and go down to the lodge. It is going to be a quiet day but those are also good learning days.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to Writing

As you all know, I have taken a sabbatical this summer from the blog. Well, September is here and I have to start writing again so here we go.

Bruce and I got away for a 3-night canoe trip with our friends Tom and Melissa. Because it was such a short trip, we decided to base camp on Saganagons. We went over Silver Falls and then Dead Man’s Portage and found a perfect camp site. With two days to relax, that is pretty much what we did. The first day we canoed into Wet Lake. The bass were biting pretty well so we got an easy dinner. The next day the guys got a northern and a couple small bass. That became dinner too. I cannot tell you how good really fresh fish tastes.

This was our first experience base camping. After a busy summer, we really enjoyed it. You are out there in the woods and can’t do a thing about any problems at home. Bruce and Tom’s big project of the day was to find the “proper” kind of firewood for our cooking fire. Bruce particularly likes beaver wood or pieces of drift wood for his cooking fire.. Melissa was able to spend two hours one night getting the perfect sunset picture. With digital cameras you can just keep clicking. The picture below shows us getting breakfast one morning.
Melissa is trying to capture the mist on the water. Bruce is our cook – oatmeal with all the fixings (walnuts, craisins, raisins, and brown sugar). As a treat we carry in one fresh orange per couple per day. I sat one afternoon and just watched the clouds go by. You can imagine how often I do that at home. It’s probably as often as you do.

Once we got home is was truly back to work. Bruce is working full time at the lodge and I am helping here and there. We always loved our day job so this is fun again. Of course, it helps that we have a really great group of managers. The one thing that we particularly enjoy doing is talking with the guests at night during dinner. So if you are here for dinner, expect to see us.
Another project has been planning for some upcoming special weekends at the lodge. For example October 23-26 is our Wine Weekend. Quite a bit of planning goes into it. This picture shows some of the early planning.
Jessica Mizia, our sales person from The Wine Company, brought a selection of wines for us to sample. Bruce and I along with Don and Marilyn spent four hours on this little project.

As with any block of time at the lodge, we had lots of interruptions. Don is a member of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. He got called away for an hour or so to fight a brush fire on the Mile O’Pines Road. We had a new girl working as a waitress so I tried to watch and give her directions. Then there were several homeowners who stopped in for dinner. We would talk with them for a bit. A group of four men walked in for dessert. They were going on a canoe trip and wondered if Bruce Kerfoot was still around. Bruce walked over to talk with them. Pretty soon they were talking fishing. Bruce had to go down to our house to get them a sample of the latest and greatest bait – GULP. These are artificial leeches kept in a special solution that smells great to fish. Occasionally Marilyn would have to answer computer questions from Chris at the front desk.

I am sure that Jessica thought we were crazy but such is our life. We sampled about eight different wines and talked about entrees that they would “pair” well with. Like anything else, you gotta learn the lingo for wine dinners. Pairing refers to matching wines with food. We didn’t seem to drink that much – all those bottles are still pretty full. Even so, I slept well last night.

It is good to be talking with all of you again. I’ll be keeping you current with all of the goings on at Gunflint Lake.

Friday, May 23, 2008

what is going on at Gunflint Lodge recently

Hello-

Since my mom last blogged about the Gunflint Green Up there has been lots going on. First the fishing season opened. Dean Janke e-mailed us a couple of pictures that we are going to post. This picture was taken on the 12th, which was considered the first day that the ice was "out" on Gunflint Lake.



Since we started this blog by talking about the fishing I will give you an update on how it has been so far this spring. The reports from the guides is that they are catching "hogs" (a hog is an official fishing guide term on the Gunflint Trail...it means any walleye longer than 28"...28" is considered a trophy walleye) on a daily basis. I will get a couple of pictures from Jon Schei's digital camera so you can see some of the walleye he is catching. In the mean time here is another picture from Dean...only his fish are a couple of lake trout.



One of our managers at the front desk, Dave, was out fishing with his dad the last couple of days. So when he came in this morning for today's motor permit I got the low down on the last couple of days. Just by seeing the smile on his face I knew he had caught a couple of good sized fish...the only question was how many and how big. Yesterday they caught two "hogs", one over 29 1/2" and another at 28", plus several smaller walleye around 14-18". Dave reported that they did not catch a ton of fish, but everything they caught was either decent sized or a "hog".

We have had lots of new staff arrive in the past 10 days or so. John Silliman, our head Naturalist, has been taking them on a property/history tour of the resort. You can see their faces go from shock to smiles as John fills them in on the rich history of the resort and some of the crazy things Grandma did when she was running the place. After a couple of days of training the new employee's eyes look confident and ready to handle the next guest's request.

As we have more fish reports come in we will be back in touch with pictures so you can see how our guides are guests are doing.

Have a good memorial weekend.

Lee

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Great Weekend

Last weekend was the Gunflint Green Up. What a huge success! Things didn’t seem too promising on Friday. By dinner time there was a steady rain. Luckily the huge tent set up in the outfitters parking lot was kept the dinner dry.

The tent saved us lots of problems because we could feed over 300 people at the time in it. It had heat. It had lights. And it was dry. As the rain continued during the night, we all got a little concerned for the next day.

We really didn’t know what to expect when the morning dawned with snow on the ground, but it melted by late morning and the sun came out. Even with the snow on the ground, people appeared ready to plant. Not only were they ready to work but they were going to have a good time doing it. Especially as the day got nicer, I heard many people remark how great it was to be out in the woods.

I planted over by Round Lake. Part of my planting crew was two troops of Girl Scouts from Grand Marais. Here I am talking with some of the leaders about where to plant.


Even though these were young girls, they worked very hard. If any of them were my grandchildren, I would be quite proud. Not only did they keep at it but they sang while they worked. A favorite song in the morning had to do with drinking sassafras tea. It is one of those songs with a short verse that you sing over and over until your voice gives out. Here is a picture of one of the girls planting a tree.


Another thing that kept these girls going was an abundance of food. They seemed to eat their lunches in mid-morning. Then about noon, they gathered at the Ham Lake Public Landing. The leaders spread two large tarps on the ground and everyone sat to eat all the food they had brought in addition to their lunches.

On Saturday night almost 400 people were served dinner in the tent. Everyone appeared to have had a great day. Not only did they find lots of people to share their experiences with but they also found many of their neighbors who had also been out planting. In the end there were over 50,000 trees plants by over 400 people.

On Sunday the Ham Lake Run was held. It started from Gunflint Pines and ended up at Trail’s End. There was the full length race and then a shorter race that started further up the Trail. About 140 runners participated. The weather was cool and dry for the race. Those who know more than I do felt it was perfect. Here is the start.


Both the tree planting and the half marathon race were successful because a lot of people who worked hard all winter to plan. Nancy Seaton from Hungry Jack Outfitters headed the Gunflint Green Up and Sue Prom from Voyageur Canoe Outfitters headed up the Ham Run. A great deal of support especially in the tree planting came from the U. S. Forest Service. Without their help and their willingness to think out of the box, these events could not have happened.

Lots of other spring events are going on around here. The juncos are migrating through on their way north. We will see them again next fall. The robins are everywhere as are a large assortment of song birds. Some of the smaller lakes have lost their ice but Gunflint is still hanging in there. The ice is very gray and rotten looking. I get the feeling that a strong northwest wind would take it out in a day. Sure hope so because fishing season opens on Saturday.

As is often the case with one of us, Bruce was awake and wandering around the house the other night. He heard an animal crying and went to look out the appropriate window. In the yard were three either brush wolves or coyotes. There were two adults and one smaller one. Because of the darkness, he was unable to identify them exactly but it is not something we see very often around the house. We did have one come down the drive last week but that has been it for the winter. So, a little excitement in the middle of the night.

Next time I write the ice will be off the lake and we will be fishing again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gunflint Green Up

It’s been so long since I wrote that I am almost embarrassed. In my defense, I have spent the last two weeks fighting a rather nasty infection. I’m finally over it and back to normal.

All around me spring has been bursting out. Well, that was after we had two snowstorms that Mother Nature surprised us with. One dropped twelve inches of snow and the other was only four inches but it blew all over. After several warm days with sunshine and wind plus a little rain last night, much of the snow in the open places is gone. We are on the winning end right now.

While Bruce and I have been out exploring with spring fever, we have seen lots of pairs of bald eagles. Mostly they have been feeding on the road kill that comes out as the snow melts. He is one of them I managed to get a picture of.




Of course, the pair of red fox is hanging around for any food that they can beg off of us. Yesterday, both Gimpy and the Mrs. were in the yard. Gimpy had a few words to say when he thought the Mrs. was taking too much food. This morning they were both back at different times to see what we had.

You can also see in this picture how much snow has melted around the house.

One day Bruce and I stopped just past the road the Moosehorn. This area had been severely effected by the Blowdown. In April of 2000 (the first spring after the Blowdown) it was just depressing to look at the bare, gray area.

The Forest Service did a great job cleaning up the downfall and replanting with red pine. A year or so after the planting they did a “release.” Young pine trees have to fight with the broad-leafed plants for their share of sunlight. Often the pines get killed because the broad-leafed plants block the sun. In this case, the Forest Service sent in crews to cut away the leafed plants and “release” the young pine to sunlight.

Now it is about 7 years since the original planting. You can see what a beautiful grove of trees is coming up behind me. There are trees 4-5 feet tall and looking very healthy. My grandchildren will see tall pines in this area.




Which brings me to the Gunflint Green Up. As we all know the Ham Lake Fire burned not only some of these replanted areas but also mature stands of trees. In 2007 there was a small spontaneous gathering of people to start the replanting of our forest. If you have been reading the Minneapolis or Duluth newspapers or listening to the radio, you know that this year there is going to be a huge tree planting party on the anniversary of the Ham Lake Fire.

Spear-headed by Nancy Seaton at Hungry Jack Outfitters, a group of people has been planning this event all winter. Their goal is to have 500 people plant 75,000 trees on Saturday, May 2nd. When they settled on these goals, everyone took a big gulp. Well, it looks like the people are coming and the trees will be waiting for them.

Right now there are almost 400 people signed up to plant. Local residents are organized to lead planting teams, distribute trees, hand out lunches, park cars, and serve dinners. Everyone expects have a very successful tree planting event. Even with this many people, we can only plant a small portion of the burned over area so next year we will do it again. And then the next year too.

If you would like more information or to sign up, go to http://www.gunflintgreenup.com/. All the necessary information is on that website. It is going to be a great event where the community of those who love the Gunflint Trail will come together to give the forest a helping hand. I hope to see you there. You will know me because I can’t plant anything without getting filthy dirty. I can’t wait!