Friday, December 31, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
If you look back at our website, you will see that Bruce is offering a piece of jewelry when you make a reservation for Gunflint Lodge in May, 2011. The immediate reaction is the same one that Dave at the front desk had – “What is this? How did Bruce decide on a website called www.loveofpretty.com to supply the jewelry?”
Now it is time to think about helping your children. Bruce and I are proud to say that our daughter-in-law, Eva, has launched this site with her friend, Sarah. Sarah designs and makes the jewelry. Eva takes care of the rest of the business. This is a brand new venture for each of them. Many of you know that new ventures are started on a shoe string. As parents it is our responsibility to make that shoe string stretch a little further.
With this in mind, please take a minute to look at the website at www.loveofpretty.com. The holidays are almost upon us and one of their pieces might work for someone on your list who still needs a gift.
Fashion is not my strong point but I know my family. Eva would never be involved in anything that was not top quality.
I think this qualifies as a 60-second commercial.
Monday, December 13, 2010
This cold weather looks absolutely beautiful from my window looking out. There is a real sparkle to the snow and ice. I am ready to send Bruce out for the Christmas tree. We have a favorite story from years ago when Bruce went out one Sunday to cut a tree for the house. I am at home making Christmas cookies when suddenly the power goes out. My immediate thought was, “He couldn’t have.” But he did. It was the most expensive tree we ever had.
Adam Treeful, who has guided many of you for fishing, is now running a team of sled dogs for rides. I went out with him about a week ago. It is such great fun. Saturday and Sunday many of our guests went out with him and everyone had a great time. At the end, it was hard to tell who was the most tired: Adam or the dogs. Both dogs and trainer always go through this early fatigue while they get in shape.
Bruce and I were gone most of last week. We went near Chetek, Wisconsin, for the annual meeting of six Minnesota resorts who belong to the Distinguished Lodges group. It is a great time to share our successes, failures, frustrations, and surprises after a busy season. It is truly amazing how similar are summers are.
After a couple days there, we flew to Salt Lake City for the annual convention of America Outdoors. This group is primarily made up of rafters, kayaks, dude ranches, canoers, etc. Many have lodging as part of their operation. We have known lots of these people for years. They come from all over the country. Again it is a great time to share our summer experiences and to get new ideas.
My big new project (as a result of these two conferences) is to learn Facebook. I am a little intimidated by it all. So if any of you are looking for friends or have so helpful suggestions, I am ready to listen. I think I have signed up as Susan Kerfoot but it was so long ago that I can really remember. Once I figure out my personal page, the next step is to figure out a page for Gunflint Lodge. So spend a few moments, folks, and help educate me about Facebook.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
The next major stop was Tuscany and our villa. I think everyone enjoyed being in a house rather than a hotel. We stopped for wine tasting and house tours at vineyards. We went to a local weekly fair. We spent time in Siena and Florence. We ate at Trattoria Za Za which was good and we bought their cookbook. We also got stuck in an elevator in the parking lot for about an hour.
Our last stop was Rome. I dragged everyone around to the major sites to see – catacombs, churches, piazzas, fountains, and museums. We attended a Papal audience. We climbed to the top of St. Peter’s. We spent 5 hours in the Vatican Museum. We walked all over and averaged probably 5 miles a day of walking.
Needless to say, we ate every kind of pizza and pasta there was available. We also ate venison in Switzerland. We picnicked in the Alps as we walked down a valley and at the top of the Gottard Pass as we drove through. We ate gelato in Rome and chocolate in Switzerland. It was all great fun made even better by sharing it with our friends.
Time was not standing still at Gunflint while we were gone. In fact winter is almost here. Our first couple days home were windy and rainy and miserable. Today it is cold (25 this morning) but the sun is out. I noticed that Jason has the plow truck plugged in each night and the snow plow is right behind the truck ready to be put on immediately.
The animals are anticipating winter too. Snow buntings are migrating through. Snowshoe rabbits are changing color. The ones in my yard have white feet and white bellies. I understand they also have a white edge around each ear but I missed that.
As things are a little slower here, the staff is taking some vacation time. I have to look are a written schedule to figure out who is here on any given day. Our weekends are busy but mid-week is slow. We are closing the dining rooms a bit so that deep cleaning can go on in the kitchen. It is hard to clean the stove exhaust hood if you are trying to cook.
Reservations are still coming in strongly, especially for the winter. Both of our fall work weekends are full. Thanksgiving is filling up with cabin guests and locals coming for dinner. I haven’t really looked at Christmas and New Year’s yet but they will be busy too.
So Bruce and I are enjoying some home-cooked meals and evening down time but we will be ready to welcome you all this winter.
Friday, October 01, 2010
Yesterday was the last day of the lake trout fishing season. It was windy, overcast and generally nasty. So, of course, we decided to go fishing. After lunch we piled on a few layers of clothing and topped it all off with our rain suits. The sky and the water were both black. We went across the lake to a reef that is almost out of the water due to the low water level. First we tried jigging but that didn’t do anything. Next was to troll some rapalas. I got a bite but it snapped my line taking my orange lure. Then I had another bite on our last orange rapala. The fish spit that one back at me. Finally I landed a nice lake trout. We trolled a bit more with no luck.
Down the lake we went to try a couple of other spots. Still no luck. Back we came to our original spot. It was Bruce’s turn to catch three in a row – one bass and two lake trout. It was time to go home. Bruce caught the most fish but I got the biggest. We ate the bass for dinner and had enough trout to put in the freezer for seven meals over the winter. That is something to look forward to.
Our guests this weekend are a great bunch a ladies called Always an Adventure. There are 32 of them. They have been out exploring all over the countryside. Yesterday John took them over the to hike the Centennial Trail. Today 6 of them went with him to Stairway Portage. Meanwhile the others have been out kayaking and hiking some of the trails in the back basin. Two of them took a boat out for a little fishing this morning. It is great fun to see them all our enjoying fall in the woods.
I have been sneaking back to the house to do washing and planning the packing for our trip. We will be leaving on Tuesday, October 5th, and drive to the Cities. Then on the 6th we fly to Milan and meet our friends. They are all flying out of JFK in New York. It was going to cost us $1000 (I didn’t add an extra zero) each to fly out of JFK. Needless to say we are flying out of Atlanta. Each night I am reading my guide books.
My mouth can already taste all the wonderful food. Patty Feeney, I already have the Trattoria Za Za in Florence marked on my city map. Patty has heard that it is a great place to eat in Florence. I will let you all know.
So don’t expect anything from me until the end of October. I’ll give you a blow by blow account of our trip. There will be some unexpected adventures to tell you, I am sure.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Across the lake behind Cross River Lodge (formerly Borderland) a large stand of maples is making an appearance. Bruce and I assume that it is a bunch of trees growing up from the blowdown in 1999. They are now big enough for us to see.
Last weekend the partridge hunting season opened. Bruce and I have been very successful as we wander on the back roads looking for birds. Yesterday I even got two birds with one shot. The second bird was perfectly lined up with the first and I never even saw it. On Sunday we had our first partridge dinner with wild rice and acorn squash. Unfortunately, we either got a really tough old bird or my timing was off. The meat was tough! I was so disappointed. Maybe I have forgotten how to cook.
In the annual cycle of seasons, the coming of fall months mean that winter is not far away. I like winter but around the resort there are lots of projects that have to be finished before snow hits the ground.
My garden, pitiful as it was, got a last hit. The basil was cut and taken to the kitchen to be made into pesto and frozen for winter. The parsley was also cut and put in my dehydrator for the winter supply of dried parsley flakes in our house.
Up at the stable Mandy and Justin are washing all the saddle blankets. With a chance of frost, they leave the water running a bit so it won’t freeze overnight. Mandy also received a load of hay to carry us through next summer until a new crop is ready.
Jason and Lance have been busy winterizing everything. This week’s project was to pull all the pumps from the fire protection water system. They will be stored in a heated garage all winter. Then all the hoses are drained. I also noticed that the plow is now sitting in front of the workshop ready to be put on the truck as soon as needed.
Ronnie and Rick are working on the plants. All small trees and shrubs get wrapped in chicken wire or burlap. It doesn’t look very pretty but it saves the trees from deer until we get taller trees. Ronnie has also finished the plant order for next spring. Some of the neighbors will add to that order.
Firewood is the project of the dock staff. They have almost everything cut and split that we have on hand. Now it is time for the new loads of firewood to appear. It comes in 8’ lengths. Jason and Don cut it up and the dock staff splits it. The final step is to store it down behind the lodge and around each cabin.
Ski trails are getting their fall mowing. When you have to make two or three passes over every trail, it takes a bit of time. Jason has gone over the trails first to take out the windfalls that always occur.
Through all this the kitchen just keeps putting out more meals. The Red Paddle Bistro and Justine’s have been busier than ever. During slow times we are cleaning everywhere in the kitchen. Freezer supplies are going down to the lower levels of winter.
Up at the outfitters the last parties are coming in. All the food is being stored in mouse-proof containers. Sleeping bags are hung open for the winter. Air mattresses that are usually rolled up spend the winter lying flat. Soon all the equipment will be covered with plywood. The cross country ski equipment and snowshoes will hang against the plywood and be stacked on shelves..
As I write today a northwest wind is howling outside. My thoughts turn to Bonnie and Sheryl who are on their annual fall trip. This year the trip started at Beaverhouse Lake on the north side of the Quetico. They took with them a new fancy GPS that sends us a signal showing where they are. Our e-mail said they spent a couple of days on Quetico Lake. Yesterday they were on Snow Lake. Hopefully the wind will continue to be at their back.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
There was an interesting visitor trying to get in our window this past week. For several nights I have heard something scratching at the bedroom screen right by my head. My response is to generally close my eyes tighter and pull the blanket up higher. Bruce, on the other hand, wants to see what’s going on. The other night he finally saw the animal. It was a bat trying to get in. Needless to say, I was not very pleased with this news. In my mind I know that our screens will keep the bat out but there is always a chance. So for the next couple of nights I kept the window closed. All that happened was that the cool breeze was kept out.
Bruce and two of the guys are starting to put a slate top to the porch on the lake side of our house. It is a big project because the pieces of slate are so heavy. Sometimes I think it takes three of them to lift the slate in place. Once this job is finished, a fire ring will go just outside the porch roof. Then the question arises as to how much we will actually use the fire ring. We are pretty good about sitting out on the porch for a break on a hot summer afternoon. Will we actually sit outside at night and look at a fire? Only time will tell.
Our winter brochure goes to the printer’s this week. Bruce puts it all together and then the managers look at it for corrections. Sheryl is good about finding spelling errors. Marilyn wants to make sure that all the packages are evenly divisible by the number of nights in the package. So a three-night package must divide evenly into three. Everyone has a chance to make suggestions and corrections.
Although we don’t have a lot of winter reservations, we do have considerably more than last year. If it is a good snow winter, we expect to be very busy. Watch online in a couple weeks and the winter rates and packages will start to appear. Some of you will be getting the new brochure in the mail. On a hot day, it almost cools you down to take a winter reservation.
Just like my last blog, I am thinking about vacation time. Of course, we have six weeks of work before leaving but our trip is pretty well planned. We fly out October 6th for Milan. Our first stop will be a short week in Switzerland near the Jungfrau glacier. Then we will drive south to a villa in Tuscany for another week. Finally we will spend a week in Rome before flying home. Three couples from earlier trips will be joining us. When I am tired, thoughts of the vacation keep me going.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
In spite of all the activity around the lodge, we still seem to have animals visiting. A loon family with one chick is frequently seen just off the dock area. Mallards are, of course, consuming more than their share of the corn. This morning I did notice a chipmunk with fat cheeks who must be cleaning up any leftover corn.
One of the neighbors drove past the lodge on her way to blueberry picking at about 8:00 a.m. the other morning. Standing right in front of the fire hall was a large healthy wolf. She stopped to watch the animal as it casually walked off into the woods. We forget how many animals are around us.
On Tuesday we did our maiden voyage serving pizzas for lunch. I made them in the wood fired oven. It was fun. I am amazed at how quickly the pizzas cook in there. It only took about five minutes. With an oven hovering around 500 degrees, things cook fast. You have to watch the pizzas continually to make sure that the crust does not burn on one side. We were able to make several kinds so most everyone who ordered had their favorite. The next step is to figure out some more variation to the toppings.
People are still out picking blueberries. The peak is past but they are still available in some of the more protected spots that ripen later. Bruce went out yesterday and picked almost a gallon in about an hour. The raspberries are over. Even in our garden, the leaves on the bushes are turning yellow.
This is the time of year when the leaves along the shoulders of the road are also starting to turn color. It is a reminder than fall is coming. Another reminder is that our days are shortening. It is dark by 9-9:30 and not fully light until 7:00. Although I like winter, the short days are not my favorites. In December it will not be fully light until 8:00 a.m. and will be dark between 4:30 and 5:00.
Bruce and I are planning a fall trip with three other couples. We will spend a week in Switzerland and two weeks in Italy. Don is already worrying about what menu ideas we will come home with. I, on the other hand, can’t wait to try some new foods. When we are tired in August, the fall trip sounds really good.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
The first day we got a tow from Tuscarora Outfitters to Hook Island. Then we paddled to the ranger station in Cache Bay. Long time Quetico Ranger Janice Matichuk issued our permit, reminded us of the rules and gave us some tips on campsites. Next we crossed Cache Bay, portaged around Silver Falls and went up close to the mouth of the creek that leads into Blackstone Lake. Bruce caught a nice walleye that we had for appetizers before dinner.
The next day we took off down the creek. After 4 portages and three beaver dams, we made it to the lake. A day’s travel like this has gotten more difficult in the last few years. Even trying to go light, each couple has three packs and a canoe to carry over the portages. One of our problems, of course, is that we like to eat a certain number of heavy things. At any rate we were all pretty tired when we got to our campsite. We slept very well that night.
The next two days were spent doing not much of anything. Tom and Bruce were sent out on the hunt for fish for dinner. We had fresh fish the next three nights. Eating fish that was swimming in the water just hours ago makes you realize how important freshness is to the taste of fish. We eat every kind of fish – walleye, bass and northern. Didn’t try to any lake trout but they would have been good too.
One day we almost lost our dinner. Tom and Melissa paddled over the check out another campsite. Bruce and I elected to take a nap. Our fish for dinner were left on a stringer tied to a shrub next to the water. On the way home, Tom and Melissa saw a big bird standing near the fish. It was a bald eagle and he was eating our northern! Because the stringer was tied to the bush, the eagle could not fly off with the fish. Even so he managed to eat most of the northern. Bruce and Tom had to go out and catch a couple more fish for dinner.
Melissa enjoys spending her time taking pictures around our campsites. I have been writing a story for my youngest grandson. Some very amateur pictures will go with it to give him an idea of our trip. Our social calendar after dinner is generally filled with a competitive game of Yahtzee. That is about as long as we can stay awake.
We came out another way. It had four portages but no beaver dams. All eight of our portages were difficult because they are rarely used. They are narrow and rocky. They go across creeks and into mucky areas around swamps. Coming out is not so bad because we have eaten most of our food. As difficult as the trip may be at times, we are already planning for next year.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Our friends, Ron and Pat, from the Florida Keys are visiting us for a week. After the necessary trip to Chik-Wauk, we spent some time picking blueberries. The result is that on Friday Pat and I made 29 jars of blueberry jam. On Friday we made 16 jars of strawberry/rhubarb jam. Strawberry/rhubarb is Ron’s favorite jam. It is a great start on the summer jam season.
In fact, we now have enough blueberry jam for the winter. The rest of the blueberries will be frozen for pies and pancakes. Bruce is our pancake maker. He puts together banana, blueberry, walnut buttermilk pancakes. With real maple syrup, they are to die for. It is always a real treat when pancakes are on the breakfast menu. Of course, like everyone our age, cold cereal is a more likely breakfast entre.
Bruce and Ron drove down to Clear Lake, Iowa. This is where we meet Robert coming north with Zach to spend some time in the northwoods. In addition they picked up granddaughter Emma in Sandstone, Minnesota. Emma with be with us for two weeks learning how to bus dishes in the lodge. She will do a great job.
Today Emma and I went raspberry picking. We got enough to make one batch of jam. That’s eight jars of jam. By February they will really taste good. You may be wondering how Bruce and I eat so much jam every year. The answer is that we don’t but our friends and kids do. We raised two boys who felt they were abused if we ran out of homemade jam in April. I brought my real estate agent in Florida some raspberry jam one year. She gave me the empty jars back with a note saying, “I’m empty.”
Making jam is not hard. I just follow the recipes for cooked jam that come with Sure Gel. I have my favorite enamel coated iron pot that I always use. My one trick is sealing the jars. The first step in making jam is to put the clean jars in the dishwasher and turn it on. Then I make the jam. The warm jars from the dishwasher are filled and placed back in the machine. When all the jam is made and the jars are filled, I run them all through one full cycle of the dishwasher. Everything is totally sealed. I do the same thing when making applesauce in the fall. The only time I don’t do it is if I am making pickles which have to cook for a bit in the jars.
So now you know all my jam making secrets. It takes some time but in the winter, it tastes wonderful.
Friday, July 02, 2010
Chik-Wauk was started in the early 1930’s by Ed and Art Nunstedt. Along with Russell Blankenburg they built a road into the property on Saganaga Lake from Seagull Lake. During the winter of 1932-33 they built their second lodge, a log structure with a rock porch. The log part of the building burned before the first guests stepped in but the porch was saved.
During the winter of 1933-34, they rebuilt the lodge with Saganaga granite rocks. This building served as the main lodge of Chik-Wauk until it was sold to the federal government about 1980 by Ralph and Bea Griffis, the last private owners of Chk-Wauk. Ralph and Bea used the lodge as a summer home until their health no longer allowed them to stay on the Gunflint Trail.
For several years the Forest Service struggled to find a use for the building. Finally they encouraged and supported a group of local people in establishing the Gunflint Trail Historical Society. The society’s goal was to turn the building into a museum and the grounds into a series of hiking and nature trails.
The museum focuses first on the land and lakes of this area. Then it talks about the major population groups of the Gunflint Trail: prehistoric peoples, Native Americans, voyageurs, miners, loggers, businessmen and residents. The nature trails explore the surrounding woods. They take you up into areas recovering from the 2007 Ham Lake fire. There is an excellent wildflower walk exploring the nearby woods. There is also an ADA trail.
The museum is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is an admission charge of $2 per person or $5 per family. The admission charge is waived for members of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and their guests. Parking is available on the property. There are picnic tables. A map of the hiking trails and a guide to the wildflower trail are also available.
Anyone who has spent much time on the Trail will enjoy this museum. There are many opportunities to learn more about the people who have lived here over the years. When you make your next trip to the Gunflint Trail, be sure to plan a visit to the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.
Like all societies, suddenly this one has many plans for the future to help tell both the natural and cultural history of this wonderful area. As we work on those, it is enough to have the museum completed and open for you to visit.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
I have had a rather fun project lately. Out 2 ½ year old grandson seems to like all the “boy toys.” So I have been writing him stories about Grandpa working with his bobcat or when the horses arrived at the stables this spring. The stories and pictures are transmitted via the internet but I have not had a chance to read them to him myself. That’s about to change. I printed out the pictures and text for the latest story and put it into a 3-ring binder. So I will get to read “Grandpa Goes Minnow Trapping” to him myself when we go visit. Just so you don’t get overly impressed, writing for a little boy consists of one or two sentences per page. I think any of you could do it.
The Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center has been pulling me away from Gunflint Lodge these past couple of weeks. There were two weeks when our design firm, Split Rock Studios, was installing all the exhibits. Now we are working on a three page checklist of things we are responsible for. Every day one more project gets finished. The projects range from cleaning to installing computers to touching up paint to bringing in custom made benches. As things get totally finished I can’t help but think about the literally hundreds of people who have worked on this over the last five years. The grand opening is July 4th.
The new cabins are getting closer and closer to being finished. The list of what needs to be finished is pretty short. It is a good thing because one of them is occupied June 9th and the other June 10th. Of course, we always get excited as new cabins come on line. Since 1968, every cabin but one has been replaced and two of them (#2 and #9) have been replaced twice.
Last week we baked bread on the new wood-fired oven on Friday and Sunday. Each time we seem to get a little better at it. Learning to control the fire and bake everything at the right temperature is a project. It is also an accomplishment to avoid burning one side of the bread. Our next step is to try some pizza which will appear once a week on the lunch menu. I don’t think we are up to throwing the dough in the air yet but it should taste good.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The guys are already tearing apart the kitchen as they clean everything. I am making some soup at my house for managers' lunch tomorrow since Don is turning off all the gas in the kitchen. It will take about a week to clean all the exhaust hoods, ovens (5) and burners (10). Meanwhile all the walls and ceiling tiles are being washed. Once the walls are clean, Don has 3 gallons of white paint waiting in his office.
The front rooms are also getting torn apart. Mandy and Kacy cleaned most of the main room but the dining room still has to be done. Also the floors of both have to be finished. In Don's office is some extra hard wax. After it goes on, we will let it harden for a couple days before walking on it.
I don't know if I want to wish you can still see some wax or not when you come up this summer. If you can see the wax, that means it held up really well. If you can't see the wax, that means we have been really, really busy.
At any rate, I have to get my own house clean today. When Bruce and I get back, it is nice to come into a clean house. The spring cleaning bug has really bit hard.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Sometimes I think that you must get tired of reading about the ice going off the lake. Why does it hold such a fascination for me? Perhaps because it is such a sharp division between winter and summer. All winter the ice is on the lake. It is hard to imagine what open water is like. The reverse is true during the summer. Most of our guests have never seen the lake with ice on it, ice that is thick enough to drive a truck on. When the ice is off, it is truly time to get geared up for summer business and activities. So we are all ready for fishing, families and canoe trips.
Meanwhile, with this nice weather everyone is getting the urge to go out hiking. Bruce and I hiked the Centennial Trail off the Kekekabic Trail. We started on the Round Lake Road and hiked up the trail. There are several nice viewing areas as you climb up. At one point you could see the ponds on the Round Lake Road below and the stable and hay barn at Gunflint in the distance. Once we reached the Kek it was pretty much downhill back to the road.
The Forest Service has also marked and cleared the trail up to the old Gunflint Fire Tower. It is about ¾’s of a mile off the Kekekabic Trail. One day Bruce and I will take off to walk that.
These various trails in the woods are great to get out on during the spring. Our two best walkers are Bonnie and Sheryl. They like to go in the late afternoon. I heard that their next hike will be on the Canadian side of the lake.
We used to have a cross country ski trail called the East End Trail that ran on the old railroad grade of the Duluth, Port Arthur and Western Railroad. That’s the one that came from Port Arthur (now part of Thunder Bay) along the north shore of Gunflint, across a bridge over the narrows and into the Paulson Mine. Walking on the Kek you can still see several of the test pits that were dug searching for iron ore. All they ever found was taconite which could not be refined at that time (1893).
This railroad was also used for logging on the U. S. side. It crossed over to the U. S. side near Bridal Falls. On the east side of the falls you can still see the railroad trestle. It was made by piling up logs on top of each other until the road bed was high enough to get over the hills on the south shore of Gunflint. It is not what you expect to find while exploring the woods. Actually there are several roads and hiking trails around that were originally railroad grades. Another one is the Gunflint Narrows Road. When the museum up at Chik-Wauk opens, we will have them marked on a large map of the area.
Bruce and I are taking off for 10 days. It’s time to see grandchildren and other parts of the country. We won’t be home until the 22nd so don’t expect to hear from me.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Before I write anything else, I need to assure everyone from Harlingen, Texas, to Cloquet, Minnesota, and parts in between that Bruce and Sue are fine. It has just been really busy around here. Thankfully, the lodge has been overflowing with guests and meals. Then it is tax time – one of my favorite projects of each year. But the real change has been the Chik-Wauk Museum. As many of you know, Bruce and I have been working with a huge group of people to get this museum open. Everything is coming together but there are lots of last minute details. One big one is making sure that all the names of people are spelled correctly. Another project is the little pieces of text that have to be added here and there. That means I have to write many of them. So be patient with me and eventually I will get blogs out.
The news around here has been the weather. It is unseasonably warm. In fact our snow and ice conditions are where they normally are in the middle of April. None of the ski or snowmobile trails have good snow on them. We have had rain in addition to the warm temperatures and those two have reduced the snow to almost nothing. Here is a picture of my garden. There is just no snow.
On the lake the ice depth has been reduced from about three feet to two feet. Last weekend fishermen were still driving vehicle on the ice but I don’t expect that to happen this coming weekend. Spring ice is very unstable and unreliable. You can be standing on solid ice but a foot to one side is rotten ice and you will go right through. This is because the ice melts by honeycombing with vertical shafts of air. How much honeycombing is in a particular area depends on the currents in the water. All in all, this is a good time to stop going on the lakes.
In spite of the lack of snow, we still have lots of guests coming in. In fact we are practically full this week. On Monday and Thursday we don’t have a cabin open. The dining room has been particularly busy with guests and people just visiting the area.
Last weekend the Mush For The Cure, a fund raiser for breast cancer research, was schedule. The snow and ice were such that no race could be help. Instead the organizers set up an obstacle course. Everyone had a great time. The group raised $28,000 for research which is a huge accomplishment. We were very proud of the fact that Adam Treeful, our fishing guide/cook, was number four on the list of top money raisers. Our dog musher, Don Decker, had his own method of providing dog sled rides. See the picture up above.
Finally I have a picture Sheryl took the other morning. The fog makes it look like we are on the edge of the world. You can just barely see the ice house further out.
Friday, February 12, 2010
This weekend looks like it is going to be really busy. The cabins are full. I can already hear fishermen going out on the lake. In addition to our guests there will be lots of visitors in for lunch. The entire staff gets into it when we are this busy. The lodge just hums. We are very lucky to have a group of people working for us who get as excited as Bruce and I do when there are guests all over the place. It is just more fun when it’s busy.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Thurs, 2/4/37 The day of the Hook En Cow shindig – we did not go down, aired the dogs & did some errands. Out to Ed’s folks for supper.
Fri, 2/5/37 Parade in evening
Sat, 2/6/37 Contacted Bradley & aired the dogs – Final parade in evening. Went to St. Paul Hotel to meet Paul
Sun, 2/7/37 Drove back from St. Paul with all the puppies & sled in a small blizzard – Only had to air the dogs once – Had lunch in Duluth
Saturday, January 30, 2010
You can imagine how many times we answer the telephone here at the lodge. So last Sunday night I picked up the phone and gave my line, “Gunflint Lodge, this is Sue.” Someone on the other end gave his name and then said, “Do you know Ben Gallagher?” Well of course I do. He is the man who bought an island in Magnetic Bay in the early 1920’s (before the road to Gunflint) and turned it into a lovely summer home. Bruce and I have lots of stories about Ben and his wife during the almost 50 years they summered here.
Imagine my surprise as I listened to this man tell me that he was working on a book about Ernest Hemingway (The Ernest Hemingway) and guns that he had owned. Investigating letters in the Hemingway collection at the JFK Library at Harvard, he came across some letters from Ben Gallagher to Hemingway. Apparently the two of them had known each other in Paris during the late 1930’s. Ben was working for a U. S. Bank in Paris and would hunt with his friend “Hem.”
One letter written in July of 1938 reads like Hemingway was planning to visit the island. Unfortunately a lightening fire destroyed the main cabin. Ben, his wife, Mama (with the accent on the last syllable), and the servants were leaving to go see what had happened and to start rebuilding. They hoped to have things in shape for Hemingway’s visit in September.
What brought the researchers to us was the ending of the letter. There Ben gives the address of where to write to him – Gunflint Lodge, Grand Marais, Minn. Roger Sanger, the caller, found us on the internet and decided to make a call. Probably only Bruce or I would have been able to help him.
We have all heard about everyone being three degrees of separation for anyone else. Well, I am TWO degrees of separation from Ernest Hemingway. So there!
Monday, January 18, 2010
The lodge is quite busy with guests. Last night we got a new snowfall which was welcomed by everyone. We have sunshine today and the lake is just glistening with the new snow. As I sit writing, I can hear an occasional snowmobile going by on the lake. Ski trails are in good condition. With the warmer temperatures, people are out and about each day.
Adam Treeful works for us as a fishing guide in the summer and a cook in the winter. Especially during the winter, he just has to get outside. This fall he built a dog sled. The idea was that his dog, Mick, could be trained to pull the lead. Now he has corralled the house pets of other employees to help pull the sled. So Monster (Jason’s dog), Rudy (John’s dog) and Moose (Mandy’s dog) are now sled dogs. The picture is of Adam with the new team. The next step in this process is to add four dogs owned by Mark Darling on Saganaga Lake. With a team of eight dogs, Adam plans to enter into the Race for The Cure later this winter.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
We are in full swing with winter right now. The last week or so there has been a full moon that is just wonderful. You could walk in the woods at night without a flashlight. Living in a rural area we get to appreciate the full moon more than in a city because there are not so many man-made lights all over. Of course with the full moon comes cold weather. Over the weekend it was very still at night with no cloud cover. Our lowest morning was 31 below. That is absolute temperature not wind chill.
With all the cold nights, Don, Jason and Lance went out checking the ice Monday. Don had on his fire department cold water immersion suit. Lance and Jason had the end of a 150’ rope tied to Don’s waist. About 100 feet out they drilled their first hole. The gurgling water startled them all but the ice was 14 feet thick. After about 150 feet they had 9” of ice. In the middle it was 3-5” which is technically safe. I should emphasis that they only checked directly in front of the lodge. We are not sure about the thickness of the ice on any other part of Gunflint Lake. With the cold temperatures we have been having at night, the ice should be safe soon. Our philosophy is to decide the ice is safe to check and then wait a week. After we have tested the ice and determined that it is thick enough, then we wait another week. I can’t blame the guys because they are the ones who have to do the rescues.
With ice on the lake, the deer are coming in fairly steadily. Deer are much more willing to come in when they have a frozen lake as an escape route. Down at our house several come in each morning. We have one four-pointer who has discovered a great eating spot by my kitchen window. I am about to try feeding him corn from my hand. Don’t worry about scurvy because my deer eat all the grapefruit skins – one less thing in the garbage. They also have good potassium levels from banana peels.
The new cabins are coming along fine. They both have roofs and shingles on them. There is insulation in #26 and some on the outside. The heat systems (in floor heat) are being installed. All in all, things are coming along really well on that front. By early June they will both be ready to rent.
Speaking of summer, our August reservations are particularly strong for this time of year. We have between two and three times as many reservations as we did at this time last year. It may be that the economy is picking up a bit but I prefer to think that people are remembering how wonderful a summer week in the woods is. Virtually every other summer month has more reservations than last year at this time. It is going to be a good busy summer.
Just before Christmas Rich Johnson from Upper Lakes Foods, our primary food supplier, came up to give Don and I lessons in pizza making for a wood-fired oven. For some time Rich worked the wood-fired oven at Palamino, a restaurant in the Twin Cities. Of course, it was quite cold out so we started warming the oven the night before and kept a fire in it overnight. Rich really gave us a good review of how to manage the fire, how to not get ashes on the food, how to make the pizza, how to cook it, and how to not make a mess. Once it starts to warm up (read March or April) we will have more practice sessions. By the time we are finished the staff will be sick of pizza.
In a couple of weeks the Chocolate Lovers Weekend will be here again. It occurs January 22-24. The kitchen staff has not let me in on the menus yet but I am starting to diet in advance now. After that weekend, we all can’t face too much chocolate for a bit.