Friday, August 26, 2011

It is almost fall!

Today I actually have TWO pictures for the blog. It is truly amazing for me.

One is of Jason Merrill who is in charge of our maintenance. He is taking a month’s vacation to go to Alaska with his brother. Bonnie took this picture of him before he left today. The two figures he is holding are Bonnie and Sheryl who will be going in spirit with him. We know it is going to be a great trip for the two guys. We just hope the lodge doesn’t fall apart without him. Luckily Lance is here to keep everything in running order.

The second picture is a loon nest. Really it is an artificial nest that one of our members donated to the Chik-Wauk museum. This fall the nest (made of recycled plastic pop bottles) with be anchored out in the Chik-Wauk bay. The live plants in it will continue to grow and it will be ready next spring to host a pair of nesting loons. We had an artificial nest out this spring and successfully had two chicks born. The advantage to this nest is that it will be able to be in the water year around. So in the spring we will all look for the pair of loons who will use it for their young.

It is easy to tell that September is almost here. The brush along the roadside is turning color. There is a fall feel to the air. Also the poplar firewood smells like fall to me. Much of our staff is going back to school. We have more coming but the ones who are leaving were so good.

I am ready for that first fall night when we put a fire in our fireplace. Bruce and I have a fire in the living room almost every night in the winter. At one point we considered putting in a gas fireplace. Luckily we came to our senses before doing it. Bruce likes to split the firewood by hand with his mall. We save any cedar trees and birch bark for kindling. In fact we even save the little branches from the trees for kindling. My job is to keep the wood box full. It is not a big job. For father’s day Bruce always gets a huge load of hardwood from Shawn and Bob. Combining that with our birch, poplar and cedar keeps us going all winter long.

September and October look to be exceptionally busy. Our weekends are virtually full. It is going to be sometime in November before things start to slow down. I can remember when any business we got after Labor Day was considered a bonus. Now we expect to be busy with fall color guests during all this time. It is almost like we just started to have fall color twenty years ago. Suddenly people seemed to realize that fall was a great time to be in the woods.

So catch your breath and get a second wind. Fall is about to hit us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lobster Hunting

Bruce and I are back from our Florida getaway. The waters around Cudjoe Key are minus a few lobster. Here is Bruce and Ron with one day’s catch.

On August 5th the lobster season opened in Florida. We got up for our usual early morning start – 10:00 a.m. In our defense, diving has an extra consideration down in the Keys – tides. So you look at the local paper to get the tide schedule for Key West. Then you have to adjust this for the tide schedule where you will be diving. Of course, this will all change the next day.

Off we went on our first day to an area called the “Coral Heads.” It is outside and on the open water which makes this not my favorite spot. I have terrible motion sickness but Saturday was calm. Bruce and Ron put their dive gear on and take off. Ron got 4-5 the first dive but Bruce was in the Dead Sea. The second dive was in a place called Lennie’s Hole or Shark Alley depending on who you are taking to. Bruce got a couple lobsters and Ron also got some. We ended up with 11 lobsters – not very good for the first day. We also ate four of them so not too many went into the freezer.

Our second day was much better. We brought in 22 lobsters. This was only two under our limit. However, we did so much running around that we ran out of gas. Luckily Ron gets help from Sea Tow and they brought us five gallons of gas. We left at 10:00 a.m. and got home at 7:00 p.m. Did I mention that I also get sunburn when out lots?

The best part about the second day was that we got in so late, we had to go out to dinner. Eating out is one of the great joys of a Keys visit. The variety and scope of restaurants is somewhat better than Grand Marais. The day we flew in our first stop was a late lunch at the Half Shell Raw Bar for Conch Chowder and Oysters Rockefeller. But this night we went to Mangrove Mamma’s. Bruce and I had a Mahi Mahi fish sandwich that was huge. We forced ourselves to finish it just to be polite. We had three other meals out.

Another thing that we do is look for new recipes for lobster. Steamed or grilled lobster is great but we get enough to try different things. On this trip we adapted a crab cake recipe to make lobster cakes. It was a great success. What really topped off the meal was Pat’s homemade Key Lime Pie. She makes the absolute best pie and we all look forward to it.

Friday came too early in our vacation. We flew home with a good supply of lobster tails. Many of them were given away to our kids and managers but a good supply found their way into our freezer. They make wonderful treats during the winter.

Life at the resort was busy while we were gone and it is still keeping us hopping. Both September and October are very heavily booked. Even November is starting to fill in. Meanwhile I will dream with lobsters dancing in my head.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

August Already

Just a quick hello to my friend, Jean O., in Minneapolis. I hear you had a fall but are on the way to recovery. Bruce and I wish you a speedy road to good health.

It is family vacation time. Our guests include children of every age group and temperament. With the warm weather, these kids are drawn to the waterfront as if by a magnet. Kayaks and canoes propel them on the lake.

There is nothing more fun than watching a 6 or 7 or 8 year old child don their life vest and get into a kayak for the first time. After a few simple instructions, they are off. And then there is the moment when they realize that they can make this craft go anywhere they want. There is no stopping them now.

Picking wild berries is another enlightening experience for young children. Who would believe that those small blue or red balls on a bush can be eaten and Mom doesn’t even care. Add to that the joy of eating your first blueberry pie made from berries YOU picked. If you decide to make jam with those berries, next February these kids will remember where they picked every berry in the jar.

Speaking of jam, the Kerfoot pantry is building up its stock for the coming winter. To date we have 12 jars of wild blueberry, 8 jars of wild strawberry, 7 jars of strawberry rhubarb, and 9 jars of raspberry. The strawberries are finished but there are still lots of blueberries and raspberries to harvest. Bruce and I have also been feasting on huge helpings of blueberries and raspberries on our cold cereal each morning.

It is hard to believe that we are now into August. I know that May was just last week. The beginning of August is what I consider the midpoint of our summer season. At the end of August all the kids will be back in school. We will be filled with adults of all ages who generally come up for the fall color.

Fall is a time I particularly love. By then the pace seems to slow down a bit. I might even get to watch a couple of football games on television. The temperature also cools down. It quickly becomes time to close up the garden for the season. The yellows and reds of fall are just icing on the cake.

On Thursday Bruce and I are taking off for a week. The lobster season is opening in Florida. For over 30 years Bruce has matched wits with those tasty critters. Just as we put up jam, we also like to have some lobsters in the freezer for the winter. Of course while we are down in the Keys, there are a few restaurants to visit. Our plane arrives in Key West at 1:20 – just in time for a late lunch. So don’t expect to hear from me until the 14th or 15th.