Sunday, June 19, 2011

Running through Summer

Now that the summer is in full swing, I am having trouble finding time to write. This is turning into one of our busiest Junes ever. There are no complaints but it does keep us all running.

Last night the kitchen and the lodge staff hosted a wedding reception. So Saturday morning all the furniture in the lodge was replaced by banquet tables and chairs. That afternoon, Marilyn, Don, Kacy, and I spent three hours cleaning and setting the tables. Meanwhile the kitchen was busy preparing the appetizers and dinners. By 4:15 the guests were back from the wedding. The reception lasted until midnight. Most everything was prepped for breakfast on Sunday morning. Today the last of the wedding items were put away and the lodge furniture was returned.

Today is the busy day for the housekeeping staff. All the cabins checked out and they all check in again tonight. A few had to leave early which gave the housekeepers an early start. It usually seems that the last cabin to leave is the first cabin to arrive. We were lucky with this change over. The first cabin to leave (and get cleaned) was also the first cabin to arrive.

Of course, no matter how busy yesterday was, there is still a full slate of meals to serve today. Don, on very little sleep, is busy smoking meats for the barbeque tonight. Everyone is busy cleaning and rearranging the lodge. By tonight they will all be ready to get some sleep. It will be quiet in the staff housing.

Fishing has been good lately. The guides have helped their guests find a lot of large walleyes. Lake trout are slowly moving into a little deeper water. Smallmouth bass are moving of f the spawning beds and appear ready to eat again. Rick has started fishing fun for the children staying at the lodge. He always seems to find fish for them.

All of our staff have arrived for the summer. They seem to be a very pleasant group. It always helps that there are so many people here from the winter and previous summers. They help all the new people learn their way around. On Friday we had our first general staff meeting. At 6:00 a.m. on the patio, none of us were too wide awake but everyone was present. Each manager had a few words to say. Bruce had a few more words to say.

This coming week is busy. I believe that the cabins are almost totally rented. Guides are close to being fully booked. The outfitters has lots of groups going out. We see many of them in the bistro for their first hamburger at the end of a trip. This summer they are also buying lots of malts and shakes – a new addition to the menu.

In a couple of days we will have the longest day of the year. That means that each day will be several minutes shorter. I am always ready when it gets dark early.

Monday, June 06, 2011

A Most Interesting Family

There are often stray canoe parties who stop by the lodge for provisions, help, a bed or a meal. Yesterday we had one of the most unusual parties stop in at the lodge.

Geoff and Pam are two Canadians who are canoeing from coast to coast in Canada. He is a geologist and she is in logistics for a natural gas pipeline. When they stopped here, their traveling companions were 20-month Jude and a huge dog names Taq.

Their trip started in 2007 in Victoria with a 1000 mile paddle up the west coast of Canada. Then they portaged 30 miles across the coastal mountains of Canada. The canoe was put on a two wheel stand. Geoff, Pam and Taq each had a harness to pull as they went across the mountains.

Their next step was to paddle 300 miles up the Frazer River – that would be paddling into the current the entire time. Flood waters made them break this paddle for a month. At the end of the Frazer River paddle was a trip across the Rockies. This was a 60-mile portage. Once again all three of them towed the canoe loaded with gear.

After their son, Jude, was born they paddled an eastern leg of the trip. He was young and they were uncertain as to how that would go with Jude. Because of some big water in Manitoba, that part of the trip will wait a bit. A month ago the four of them started east from Kenora, Ontario. They hope to paddle to Lake Huron this summer.

So yesterday they stopped at Gunflint. Their reservation was for a canoer cabin. Pam looked at it and felt it was OK but not what she wanted. So they moved into Cabin #7 with two bedrooms, a hot tub, and a washer and dryer. They ate the BBQ last night for dinner plus breakfast and lunch today. Pam said it was like being on vacation to stay here.

They are very organized on this trip. With one canoe, a huge dog, a small boy, and all their packs, there is not a lot of spare room. They take sensible precautions: hats, sun screen, a throw rope. There is a plan and they will make it.

In many ways the most interesting one is Son Jude. He is not the least bit shy. He wants to look at your shoes and show you his. He rides in a backpack in the canoe. When he is ready to get going, he tries to climb into the backpack. Jude loves the portages because there is so much to explore on them. Pam says that when they stop for the night, Jude tries to paddle in the canoe. You just know that the woods and waters will always be a part of him.

If you want to read more about this young family, their website is That’s my next stop on the web.