Friday, December 31, 2010

Time To Start Another Year

We had a nice snow day yesterday. It started out not so good. The temperature was 35 and we got rain off and on for most of the morning and afternoon. By late afternoon, we got down to 32 degrees and then it started to snow – a wet, heavy snow. The trees held onto every snowflake until they looked flocked. Overnight we got about 6 inches of new snow. It was really nice to see.

This morning everyone was out cleaning up. Don and our dishwasher, Jon Prasil, were shoveling. Bruce pulled rank and got to drive the plow truck. Luckily he didn’t hit anything or Jason would have given him a hard time.

I tried to at least shovel the front steps but the shovel got taken out of my hands. So I went home for a few minutes late in the morning and got to shovel the twenty feet from the drive to my door. As a child, I used to shovel the driveway all the time. Sometimes I did it at night or even early in the morning before school. It is kind of like cutting the grass – both are things I enjoy doing but rarely get to do now.

Don and I went out to check the thickness of the ice the other day. As a fire department member he has a bright yellow dry suit he puts on. Then we attach a 50 foot rope to him. I hold the other end of the rope as if I was walking a dog. There is a radio in my pocket to call for help if Don goes through. We have never had to use it.

At any rate we found that the ice is quite thick and solid. Generally there was 10-16 inches of solid blue ice. At one spot where there was a crack, we only had 6 inches but that is still plenty thick. The fact that the ice was solid blue meant it was a strongest kind of ice. Sometimes we have an accumulation of slush ice on top which is not nearly as strong. Of course, there still could be weak spots where a spring hole comes up. It is hard to realize that the ice changes constantly during the winter.

At the lodge we have been particularly busy. In fact, it is difficult to tell where all these people are coming from. Tonight is also going to be busy. We don’t make a big deal about New Year’s Eve but the dining room is packed. At about 10:00 p.m. John Silliman will have a bonfire in front of the lodge. That’s our big celebration. I haven’t made it to midnight in many years.

The phones have been particularly busy with reservations. If you are planning a winter trip to Gunflint, be sure to call us as soon as you can set your dates. I don’t know if it’s the economy or us, but it is going to be a very busy winter.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night before Christmas

Those of us who live in the northwoods are ready for Santa. All our cards and packages have been sent. There is a steady stream of incoming cards and packages. Christmas trees have been cut in the back lot. At our house we have an “organic” tree – it’s from the grove of trees between our garden and the side road. Yesterday Bruce put on the lights. My job is the ornaments. It is one of our better efforts.

Meanwhile at the lodge we have a lots of guests coming and going. Most of the pre-Christmas guests left on the 23rd. Nine new parties checked in and most of them will be with us through Christmas. When they leave, we will have the New Year’s guests. It is all great fun since many of them are repeat guests.

There will be nine at our dinner table on Christmas. Tom and Melissa from Tucker Lake with Melissa’s sister and brother-in-law will be there. Sheryl from the lodge will come down. Our two Jamaican girls, Crystale and Ashenna, will also join us. I had to warn them that Christmas food is pretty bland by their standards. Bruce says that Norwegians (me) think salt and pepper are exotic spices.

In our house we always eat Christmas dinner around 1:00. This dates back to when Butchie and Charlie, our Native American neighbors, would join us. They always liked to be home before dark so an early dinner gave them plenty of time to be sociable. It was always fun to have them for dinner. As you may know, neither of them could read or write but they had perfect table manners. One time I saw Butchie elbow Charlie and tell him to use his salad fork. They learned by watching us and there was never a miscue. We always sent them home with fixings for sandwiches that night.

In fact, I enjoy a leftover sandwich about 8:00 p.m. almost as much as I enjoy the main meal. There are only 9 of us for dinner but we have a 20 lb. turkey just to make sure that there are plenty of leftovers to send home with everyone and still leave some for me. I will make enough dressing, and mashed potatoes to feed an army. Bruce carves and does the gravy. Melissa brings the cranberry relish, green bean casserole and chocolate pie. Sheryl brings rice pudding. The girls are bringing cornmeal muffins. I love Christmas cookies and that is the problem so I don’t make them anymore.

Of course, all four of the kids will check in during the day. I’ll call my sister and my good friend Bev in Grand Marais. It’s Bev’s fault that I am here at all but that story will have to wait for another day. There are two different versions of the story depending on whether Bruce or I am telling.

At any rate, Bruce and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Commercial Break

Occasionally it is time for a commercial break. This is my time.

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 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 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

Winter Wins

Yesterday, the last barrier to winter collapsed, or rather tightened up. The lake is now frozen everywhere. It was about 12 below the night before last and 15 below last night. We would like several more nights of below zero to give the ice a good start. If we get snow too soon, the snow insulates the ice and it does not get thick quickly. The general rule of thumb is to wait for a week to ten days before testing the ice. If there is any question, we just wait a little longer. No one is anxious to go swimming now.

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

Home Again

I skipped a week of writing. Last Tuesday Bruce and I drove down to the Twin Cities and the next day we flew to California. It was time to see how our three grandchildren out there were growing up. As might be expected, they had grown much more than we expected and not just in height. It is such fun to see how each of them is developing their own personality.

Thanksgiving morning we participated in a run for the hungry. This is a longstanding event that raises money for the local food shelf. About 35,000 people bought bibs for the 10k run, 5k run and walk. Needless to say we were in the walking group which was pretty much a stroll due to the number of people. The best part was that later in the day we could eat a great Thanksgiving Day meal and truly enjoy it.

On Monday we flew back to Minneapolis and drove home. It rained all the way to Poplar Lake. Once we got over the Laurentian Divide, it was snowing. Our snow conditions are the best they have been in years. For Thanksgiving we even had some groomed trails. It is just lovely out. I understand that later in the week the temperature is supposed to get below zero. If the wind dies down, the lake could freeze. We will see what happens.

Above this blog are two pictures. One is of the meeting of a yellow lab and a deer with the pane of glass between them. Wouldn’t you love to know what was going through their minds? The other picture shows the lake and shore as it is now. My thanks go to two guests who sent us the pictures. I am always willing to put someone else’s pictures on the blog.

The rifle deer hunting season is over. My neighbor said that during the season he had not seen one deer in his yard. The day after the season closed the bunch of deer came in. How do they know it is safe to come in now?

Bruce went out one morning for a little deer hunting. I reminded him to bring home the heart and liver if he got a deer. He said this was just to look around and he probably wouldn’t see anything. Well, two and a half hours later, he had two deer! Neither one was big. They were both just nice eating size. That night for dinner, he had part of the heart and I had part of the liver. A pile of fried onions topped off the meat. Since then we have had several meals of chops, roasts, and burgers. It is a treat for both of us.

As the holiday season comes along, our calendars are full of parties. Most of the presents are bought and just need to be wrapped shipped. Christmas cards are staring me in the face. They will be done over the weekend. Bruce has to get out and cut down a tree. I am anxious to get it up. The living room is so much warmer with the lights from a Christmas tree.

Tonight we are joining our neighbors for dinner in the Red Paddle. Every Wednesday we try to get together at some place for dinner. The meals are good but the friendship is better.