Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sugar's Adventure

We had a great Thanksgiving at Gunflint. Don Kufahl and his staff prepared a meal that left us all staggering. There were just over 100 guests plus the staff which brought us up to about 130. Sheryl took a few pictures of the various sections of the buffet table. The one that stopped everyone first was the dessert table. We had Chocolate Bread Pudding, Apple, Cranbery, Walnut Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pecan Pie and Pumpkin Pie. I noticed that many guest had two desserts. Bruce and I ate one dessert with our meal and then took one home for later.

Later ended up being later than expected. This weekend Bruce and I are dog sitting for one of our neighbors. Sugar is a Great Pyrenees or something like that. She is big (80-90 pounds), white, deaf and old. We are sitters of choice because our house has a heated garage attached to it. When I came down to change my clothes before the dinner started, I let Sugar out. She just wanders around the house for a bit and then comes in. After letting her in, I left to be the hostess with the mostess.

When I got home, it was already dark out. I let Sugar out immediately and went back in the house to prepare her dinner (dried dog food with a little watered down Gerber chicken and gravy) and refill her water. Then I went out to bring Sugar in. She was no where in sight. We decided to wait a bit because she might have decided to walk around a bit more. Remember she is deaf so you can’t call her.

After 1 ½ hours, I have been all over the yard several times. I have gotten the flash light out to check the greenhouse, all the gardens and down by the lake. There is still no Sugar. Panic has not quite settled in but it is close. Finally Bruce goes out and looks all over. He gets in the car and drives around. He goes up to the stables and walks around there. By 10:30 Sugar is missing. Bruce is sure she will be fine. I have imagined every horrible thing that could happen – broken leg, heart attack, wolves, etc. but there is nothing to do. We go to bed.

At 3:30 in the morning, I am up prowling around the house. I have turned on every outside light looking for Sugar. No luck. Now I can’t go back to sleep. So I take my book and go into the spare bedroom to read a bit. Bruce wakes me up at 6:00 and Sugar is still missing. As soon as it gets light, he is out walking all over looking for her. By 7:45 he had to leave for an appointment in town. I take a shower and get ready to start looking.

Meanwhile over at Gunflint Pines, Shari Baker lets her dogs out. They immediately start barking up a storm. She looks out onto the open entryway and sees a big white dog sound asleep. It’s a cold Sugar. Shari calls the lodge and they call me. I walk over because I was going to have to walk Sugar home. I can’t get her into the truck. Shari gets her into Shari’s compact and home we come.

Sugar doesn’t want to go into the garage yet. So I follow her as she takes a little stroll around the yard. Finally we get in and I open the door to the house. After some water and food, Sugar decides to nap in the living room. I couldn’t just put her in the garage so I left the door between house and garage open. A few mice might find there way in but at least Sugar will be warm. We can always trap the mice. Sugar seems fine after her grand adventure.

Bruce and I are taking a little driving trip starting Sunday for two weeks or so. We are going out to New York and Ohio. Then it is down to Harlingen, Texas, with stops in Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Omaha, and Minneapolis on the way home. Who knows how many miles this is but we have six audio books and satellite radio. I should be home on the 14th and will write again then.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Welcome to the Construction Zone

The construction picture was taken just a couple of days ago but is already out of date. The picture is of #26 with the roof rafters on. It now has the roof boards on too. I believe on Monday they will start with tar paper and shingles. Meanwhile #27 had the main cement pad poured on Friday. It was 40 degrees this morning so that is “curing” nicely. Bruce is thrilled to have all the cement poured for both cabins. Although there is nothing to show, the septic system is fully installed so we won’t have to do anything with that in the spring. Next is to put the manhole in for the water service. Looking at all that is done on the new cabins, it’s hard to believe that the fire was on October 23rd just one month ago.
This weekend we had our first package devoted to showing people how to smoke meat. Only two people participated but they had a ball. As shown in the picture, Don and Bruce worked with them smoking ham, turkey, prime rib, salmon and pork ribs. They are each taking a smoked turkey home for Thanksgiving dinner. Last night they all sampled the smoking results. Nothing came back on their plates so it must have been good.
This is the last day of deer hunting up here. Slowly everyone seems to be filling their tags. Some of the stories associated with hunting are most fun. The best one is from our neighbor, Bob Baker, Sr. Bob was sitting on his elevated stand the other day near where he had cleaned a small buck several days earlier. Suddenly A female wolf and five pups appeared beneath him. Even though there was only a smell left from the blood, they all smelled it and then quickly checked out the entire area for any sign of deer. Bob figure this mother was teaching her pups to hunt. They were all larger than she was but if I was responsible for feeding five pups, maybe I would take a couple pounds off too.
Our Thanksgiving dinner is filling up nicely. Right now we have almost 100 people coming. On Monday we will make a quick trip to town for those last ingredients. There are always some unusual items that we don’t normally carry. They are often times the things that make a recipe special.
Speaking of special items, has anyone ever heard of pomegranate molasses? I found this recipe for ground lamb that is cooked with onions, eggplant, tomatoes, spices and pomegranate molasses. Once the meat mixture is cooked, you put it onto rounds of unbaked bread. The edges are folded up leaving a hole in the center. Then the entire thing is baked. It sounds good to me but I can’t find the molasses. Since I don’t even know what it tastes like, it’s hard to substitute. Bruce says just put some molasses with some pomegranate juice in but I am a little more anal than he is. Let me know if you have any information on this.
Those of us in the Gunflint family wish you and your families a very happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 13, 2009

One serial story is ending and another continues. Except for the door, the wood fired oven is finished. It looks good. Bruce is happy to have it off his plate. Our main food supplier, Upper Lakes Foods, has a man on their staff who has experience using these ovens. He is going to come up and give us some instructions. It will probably save a great deal of frustration.
The second picture is the new building. You are looking at Cabin #26 and Cabin #25 is at your back. Even now this is an outdated picture. Cavallin Plumbing has been in and put down all the septic and water lines that will go under the main slab. Those have been inspected and approved by an inspector. Today the sheets of foam insulation that go under the slab are being put in. Then Cavallin is here to put the heating pipes in that will be part of the main slab. Tomorrow (no rain, please) the main slab for Cabin #26 will be poured.
Just past the forms for Cabin #26, the two septic tanks have been buried since this picture was taken. Today the lines are being dug to the mound system that will be the end of the septic system. On Monday, the guys will start putting up forms for Cabin #27’s footings. Then the process for #26 will be repeated for #27. Bruce and I are hoping for warm temperatures and no rain for about 10 days. Then the cement work will be finished.
There are, of course, other things going on around here. Last weekend was our first work weekend of the fall. About 40 people helped with all sorts of outdoor chores. The weather really cooperated to make it a fun day. There are three pictures of these workers all though I could have had many more. The projects accomplished included, splitting firewood, splitting kindling, stacking firewood at the lodge and cabins, putting away outdoor furniture, wrapping shrubs in burlap, and washing windows. Another group comes in this week and we still have a list of projects.
Deer hunting has been slow around here. Part of it is due to all those wolves people keep seeing. The wolves appear very healthy and a smaller deer population is the result. The warm weather has also slowed the hunt down. There is no snow on the ground to help with tracking. Bruce went out one day and saw two deer (does which he can’t shoot), an eagle, a fox and some ravens. Our neighbor, Bob Baker Sr., saw a mouse and a squirrel the other day. However, his grandson, Jaret Baker, got a nice 8-point buck.
Thanksgiving seems to be racing towards us. The menu for the lodge’s dinner is planned. We have about 80 reservations between cabin guests and people staying in the area. It is going to be a fun day.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Construction Mode

I feel like I am writing a serial for the movies. As you can tell from the picture, the fire site is pretty well cleaned up. Even today it looks better than this picture. We have also got Planning and Zoning approval for two new cabins. New #26 will be a one-bedroom romantic cabin similar to 4, 5, and 6. The difference is that it will have two queen beds in it. We have had requests from couples who prefer two beds but like the romantic cabins. New #27 will be a three-bedroom cabin similar to #9. It is going to have an entertainment room with comfortable seating and a big TV for viewing movies. It will also have an outside hot tub like we put next to #9 this summer. Both cabins will have gas fireplaces (surprise!). We are also trying in-floor off-peak heating for both units. Our goal is to have both these units finished by June 1st , but we probably wouldn’t start taking reservations for occupancy before June 15th. That may change some as the construction moves along. They will start pouring cement next week so keep your fingers crossed.
The top picture is our wood-fired oven. It is almost done. Bruce has about two hours work to finish the outside rocks. Jason Merrill is almost finished with the roof, chimney coverings and door. The antler sticking out of the right side is from an elk antler that Bruce had in our garage. I think his mother had it and who knows where she got it from. It will be used to hang the tools on.
We made some pita bread the other day in the oven. Of course, the main issue now is learning how to manage the fire and get the oven hot enough at the proper time. We needed 500 degrees for the pita bread and the fire was slow. So when it came time to bake, we had too big a fire. The result was some ash on the bread but it tasted good, rose properly and got brown. Raspberry bushes produce huge berries when they are fertilized with ash but I suppose that has nothing to do with bread. As you might guess the fire was just about perfect when the cooking was done.
The deer hunting season opens around here on Saturday. We don’t get many outside hunters but some of the locals enjoy going out. Bruce plans on going out on Sunday. Between the two of us, we can eat close to one deer over two years.
The weather today is just about perfect for early October. This weekend is the first of two fall work weekends. We are just about full for both of them. It’s a good thing because there are lots of chores to be completed.