Wednesday, January 06, 2010

After the Holidays

With the holidays and one thing and another, I have neglected my blog writing responsibilities. It is time to get back on schedule.

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.