Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fall Is in the Air

As August is drawing to an end, our heat wave has finally broken. We have had a lot of warm and even hot days this summer. The warm days don’t bother me as long as it cools off at night. Unfortunately, we have had several nights that have not cooled off. I think those hot nights are now a thing of the past.

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

Summer Days at Gunflint

It is hard to believe that we are almost half way through August. Just like July, it has been a very busy month. In particular we have had lots of large families every week. It is good to see them all having fun. With our warm weather, the kids have been living in the lake. Every day the small kayaks and the yellow tubes are out all over. Parents and grandparents have been sitting on the patio just enjoying watching the activity. With warm weather the patio has also been a favorite place for dinners. No bugs, cool breezes and the setting sun make for wonderful eating.

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

An Annual Canoe Trip

Bruce and I spent last week on a canoe trip with our good friends Tom and Melissa. This year the destination was Blackstone Lake in the Quetico Provincial Park. We were gone for six days. It was a difficult trip in and out but just wonderful during the three nights we spent on Blackstone.

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.