Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fire at Hungry Jack

In spite of a couple of snow falls this last week, we are starting to get spring fever. The snow has been several inches that gave a wet, sloppy road for a day but that is about all. This morning the temperature was 19 above with clear skies. By later this afternoon we will have some melting. The south-facing roof of our home is pretty well clear of snow.

Unfortunately, I have some bad news to report today. On Wednesday afternoon the main lodge building at Hungry Jack Lodge burned to the ground. Although the fire department responded quickly, the building was full engulfed in flames when they arrived. The department was there all night to make sure that nothing else caught on fire. Here is a picture of the building taken the next morning. It is not a pretty sight.

All of us here at Gunflint and along the entire Trail are feeling for Forrest Parsons, the owner of Hungry Jack. If anyone reading this has a reservation or knows people who go to Hungry Jack, pass the word along. All of the reservation records and guest files were lost in the fire. I can’t imagine the nightmare of trying to recreate that information. If you can help, be sure to call Forrest at 218-388-2265.

This is the time of year that animals seem to come out more. The other day Bruce and I were stopped at the junction of our road and the main road on our way to town. I noticed an eagle soaring above. As we watched it settled onto a branch where another eagle was perched. We seem to think that eagles mate for life so this is probably a pair waiting for spring just like us. Naturally, I didn't have the camera with me.

Our fox are back with us too. Gimpy appeared at our house this morning. So, Bruce and I are going through the freezer to see what we can give him. As with any chest freezer, ours has stuff at the way bottom that can be tossed.

Yesterday afternoon some deer appeared out my office window. Bruce could not resist the chance to feed them. Here he is. Although the picture doesn’t show it well, he is actually scratching the ears of the deer who is eating.

Of course, we are also starting to think about the garden. While we were on vacation last fall, the dozen day lilies were received for us. We kept them tightly sealed and in our cold garage all winter. A week or so ago, I got them out and potted them. Next stop was in front of our south-facing kitchen window. This picture shows you how they are doing now. It really brightens up the kitchen and they will go well in the garden in June.

Today I plan on starting some basil in the house. It is one of my favorite herbs for cooking. As in years past, four flats of basil will arrive with flowers the end of May. Most of that is used in the lodge kitchen all summer long. I wanted, however, to try growing some from seed. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Even on the Gunflint, spring is slowly coming. We are all anxiously waiting for its arrival

Friday, March 21, 2008

Maybe Spring Is Coming

This is supposed to be a quiet time of year but we are keeping pretty busy.

Last weekend was the “Run for A Cure.” It is a dog sled run to collect money for breast cancer research. The 30-mile race started on Gunflint right in front of Gunflint Pines. Everyone was encouraged to dress in pink. So here is a picture of Mark Black – all 6 foot 7 inches of him.

Eighteen teams participated in the run. The day was perfect. It all started out with a pancake breakfast at the Pines which we also enjoyed. The race started about 12:00 and finished down at Trail Center in the late afternoon.

Did you know that we have a 9-hole golf course on Gunflint Lake this winter? A man who works along the North Shore loves to golf which isn’t generally possibly up here in the winter. As an alternative, he comes up to Gunflint and camps each weekend on Campers’ Island down the lake during the winter lake trout fishing season. Fishing isn’t quite as good as golfing but it is better than nothing.

Well, our friend still likes to get a little golf in. So, in the bay immediately west of where Crab Creek comes in, he smoothed the snow and built a 9-hole golf course. It’s for irons only and I am sure he uses colored balls. The lake trout season is closed now so the course is closed.

I told you that Bruce had good luck fishing on North Lake. As a result three couples of us decided to go down on Sunday for the last day of the season. As soon as the women were included, we had to plan a picnic lunch. The guys don’t get into that quite as much as we do. Sunday morning we headed out on four snowmobiles. It was a perfect day – blue skies and no wind. In fact the only thing wrong with our day was that the fish were not biting.

It took us about 30 minutes to reach North Lake. Bob had brought his power auger so drilling holes was no problem. Melissa took off to take pictures of the frost on the shoreline. Photography is her passion more than fishing. The rest of us settled down to try to attract some fish. Here is a picture of me sitting on a snowmobile chair. You can’t see my hole but it is just within an arm’s reach.

Bob quickly got three bites but couldn’t bring them in. Bruce also got a bite but nothing came of it. After a couple of hours we decided to move to another location. We all moved and got settled in. It was lunch time. I had something playing with my line. Finally it bit and I brought in a four-pound northern. Sharon also brought in a six-inch lake trout. Then everything stopped.

We moved to another spot but still not luck. Finally we went back to our original spot and still nothing was interested in our bait. By 3:00 we were ready to go home. The day had been beautiful but the fishing didn’t match.

Travel on the lake has been really easy with no slush and good solid ice. Even so, there always seems to be someone who can’t figure things out. One night last week Bob and Sharon noticed a car driving all over the ice. The next day Bob and Bruce passed the car. The driver had tried to drive through a snow drift. He got stuck so badly that the middle of the car was held up by the drift and all four wheels were off the ice. He was shoveling when they went fishing and still shoveling when they came. So time later in the day he got the car off the ice.

Finally, we had a surprise inspection of our canoes yesterday. Here is a picture of the inspector hard at work.

I know that Easter is close because some bare patches of ground are starting to appear along the side of the road. Our road is bare. The deer are trying to get a meal from any the brown grass that has appeared.

Have a good Easter weekend.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Bruce and I have been back a few days from a great trip to the Florida Keys. We spent the first week in the Marathon area with three other couples. Here is a picture of our Keys style dinner. It seems to me that night we were having fresh shrimp.

Most of the week we did all the tourist things. We went fishing on a party boat. Our group of 8 caught about 1/3 of the fish for the 35 people on the boat. We took them home and ate every last fillet. We went out to Looe Key snorkeling one day. The weather was perfect and we saw lots of reef fish in the clear waters. Of course, we did a little shopping up and down the Keys. One night we made it to Mallory Square to watch the sunset. Here is what that looked like.

As I am sure you might suspect, we managed to get in lots of meals in the fine restaurants of the Keys. Some were tried and true places we have eaten in for years and others were new ones. Only one night we were disappointed with our meal. I was able to eat fresh fish every night.

The next week we spent with our friends, Ron and Pat, at their home on Cudjoe Key. Bruce went diving every day. Although the lobster remained generally elusive, he still got some plus spearing fish that appeared on the dinner table. The last night not only did we have fresh fish but Ron’s stone crab traps produced enough for appetizers.

Now we are home for several months. It feels good to not be running all over on trips. Of course, the computer and the office work have been calling my name rather insistently. I am feeling caught up today.

Bruce managed to get out fishing on North Lake a couple days. Here is a picture of his catch the first day.
The lake trout was on the dinner table that night as a feast for four. The next day he got 2 more trout. One fillet was smoked. One fillet is for dinner tonight and two more went into the freezer. I have a new recipe to try on the trout tonight.

Reading the last few paragraphs, you would think all we worry about is eating. Well, when you are trying to take off the winter pound gains, everything you eat had better taste extra special good. Plus, I enjoy trying new recipes.

On Bruce’s fishing days one of the guys had a camera that you can submerge in the water to watch the fish approach your hook. Even at 40 feet, the picture was as clear as a bell. Bruce found it just fascinating to watch the fish come up to the baits. He said it was amazing how many fish came up without biting. I suppose that will be the next toy to enter our house.

The deer have been coming in on a regular basis even though we don’t have feed out. Now is the time that we can really see how pregnant the does are. There was one in the other day who must be carrying twins. Last year’s offspring was still hanging close to her.

Tomorrow there is a dog sled race starting at Gunflint Pines. They are going to have a sourdough start. It means that the mushers have their dogs tethered as they would for the night. The mushers are in their sleeping bags with their boots off. When the race starts, everyone jumps out, puts their boots on, attaches the dogs to the sled and takes off. It should be fun to watch. If you are in the area, the race starts at noon. Parking will be tight so get here early. For those who can’t be here, I will take some of my prize-winning photos (?) for the next blog.

That’s all for today.