Friday, October 29, 2010

Back In The Door

It is good to be back home again but we did have a marvelous vacation. We spent four nights in Lauderbrunen, Switzerland, and loved it. Our hotel was into the fourth generation of family ownership. Naturally we got to talk to the current generation and see some of the back of the house operations. Many of their issues are the same ones we deal with. The valley they are located in is spectacular. There are three glaciers at the end – the Jungfrau, the Monch, and the Eiger. We took trains up and walked down. All too soon it was time to move on.

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

One Foot Out The Door

We are in the midst of the peak of fall color. About the only thing that hasn’t turned is the tamarack. Tamarack are the only pine trees to shed their needles every fall. The needles turn a beautiful yellow/gold color. With all the wind we have been having, I am not sure how long the leaves will remain on the trees. A few have already blown off but there are still plenty hanging on to the branches.

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.