Saturday, September 26, 2009

It Really Is Fall, I Think

It is hard to believe that September is almost over. Part of the problem is that we still have not had any cold weather. Last night Bruce and I even ate dinner with the kitchen door open. We have been leaving the windows open in our bedroom every night. I am getting ready for a really nasty day so that I can have a fire in the fireplace.

Speaking of fires, our wood-fired oven is progressing along. Here is a picture of how it looks now with a batch of insulation around the oven.

Today Bruce started putting the face rocks on the base. He will work his way up and put a couple ton of rocks on it.

Yesterday morning Bruce got impatient like his mother often did. He decided that the oven was far enough along that we could try to bake some bread. In the afternoon I made up my favorite recipe for flat bread. The guys kept a fire going in the oven all morning and afternoon. About 3:00 p.m. I went down with my bread rounds. We put some more wood in to heat the oven up. Eventually the bread went in. It cooked just fine but I think the oven was not hot enough. At any rate our first attempt was not a dismal failure. I will keep you up to date on our progress.

I think fall color may finally be coming. The poplar are starting to turn. The ash have turned yellow. One day I may get out for a hike in the woods myself.

There are, of course, lots of other signs that winter is coming. I saw my first Junco migrating through. The hummingbirds are gone. Haven’t seen any snow buntings yet but they will come. My wood pile is growing bigger. Jason and Lance are cleaning and checking all the heaters in our cabins. Summer staff is leaving and we are spending more time in the kitchen helping out with a little baking and dishes.

Sheryl Hinderman and Bonnie Schudy are out on their annual canoe trip. They left last Monday morning and will return sometime after 10-13 days. This year they went south to Frost Lake and then west on the Frost River. Somewhere in there they got on the Lousy River and then it was north to almost the middle of the BWCA where there are some old growth trees. At the time they left, the girls were not sure how they were coming east again. I will get a full report once they get home.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sheryl says that I have to publish a retraction. They did miss us at the lodge! Anyway that's their story and they are sticking to it.

It’s fall and we are into new projects. Our fun one for this year is to build a new outdoor cooking area just to the right (as you face the lake) or east of the patio. The smoker we use for ribs is going in there but it will be a new one. Ours has given over twenty years of service and the bottom is finally burning out. Then there will be an area to do outdoor walleye fries. But the fun part is that we’re building a wood-fired oven. I am already looking for cookbooks and accessories for the oven. Bruce just rolls his eyes. Bread is no big deal and neither is pizza. But how about prime rib or whole chickens? I think that we can be trying stuff during the winter or at least the fall and spring.

Bruce and I spent a wonderful afternoon on the lake a couple days ago. I am ashamed to admit it was my fish time on Gunflint Lake this summer. As you know, we are working on opening the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center next summer. One of the exhibits is going to be a dry aquarium with stuffed fish from our lakes. A neighbor sacrificed himself to spend the summer catching these fish. Now it was our turn. We needed some driftwood to make the lake bottom look more real. The pieces had to have a bend and be about four feet long on one side. So Bruce and I had to slowly drive along the lake shore looking for the perfect pieces. We never found this perfect piece but we did find lots of possibles. It was a glorious way to spend a fall afternoon.

On Saturday the partridge season opens up here. I brought some 410 shells home yesterday. Bruce and I love to go hunting. I think much of it is because we love the woods in the fall. While we were in Estes Park, I bought a new game cookbook. It has all sorts of recipes for Hungarian grouse, ruffed grouse and chukars. I have been in a rut cooking partridge so this will give me something new to try. Our much loved partridge recipe is cooking them in cream of mushroom soup with wild rice and baked acron squash as sides. It is a very traditional fall meal in the Kerfoot household.

Obviously cooking is on my mind this week. As things get slower in the dining room, I start to get interested in cooking something new for Bruce and me to eat. As good as it is, nothing on the lodge menu appeals to me right now. After a summer of eating and smelling it, I’m ready for a change. If we find some good recipes, they may appear on the lodge menu this winter.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Our Western Trip

We got back from Rocky Mountain National Park on late on Monday. The last three days have been spent getting back into the swing of things around the resort. We did have a wonderful trip although at times I wasn’t sure I would live through it.

Our base of operations was Idlewilde By the River in Estes Park, CO. You can look them up at their website It was a great place for us. Not the least of its charms was that our cabin was ten (10) feet from a mountain stream that burbled along 24/7. One of the guys had good luck catching some 2 lb. trout in the river. One day sitting by the river we saw wild turkey on the other bank.
Our first day we got acclimated. That means driving around in a car to try to figure out things. The picture of the elk was taken that day. We must have seen over 100 elk just that first day. In addition there were mule deer. Tom and Melissa really had everything planned for us.
The second day was a hiking day. Four of us started at the top of a trail with one car and the other four started at the bottom of the trail with another car. It was a four-mile hike between the two spots. Luckily Bruce and I were in the downhill group. The very worst was the end of the hike down some stone steps that a man with very long legs had built. I made it (what choice is there) but it was not pretty.
On day three it was time to do some uphill hiking. We went two miles up (about 750 feet vertical) and two miles down. As long as I could stop every 2 blocks and catch my breath it was okay. Coming down there was thunder approaching so we made a quick trip of it. There were no stone steps so I did better.
Day four was the killer. We climbed 1100 feet over three miles and then back down again. Here is a picture of part of the trail. (Don't ask me why I can't move the picture down.) We saw the most glorious alpine meadows and lakes. It was worth the hike but my legs were pretty rubbery on the way down.
Although I moan and groan about the hikes, I would not have missed them for the world. Unfortunately, the vast majority of visitors to the park never take a hike. If I can do it as out of shape as I am, most visitors can do it. We also met two very interesting people on our hikes. One day it was a blind and deaf woman who was doing the same hike we were. On the last hike we met an 80-year old woman who was doing the hike alone.
Don’t think that hiking is all we did on this trip. It would not be a Kerfoot trip if we didn’t find some great restaurants and an awesome donut shop for breakfast. We also checked out several park visitor centers. And let’s not forget the gift shops. We go in with pencil and paper to write down the companies we like. Then when I get home, I look them up on the internet and you may see the items in the gift shop next summer.
All in all, it was a great trip. They didn’t seem to miss us at the lodge. We came home to Indian summer weather. It is positively my favorite time of year. The leaves are just starting to turn so there is lots of fall color yet to come.