Monday, September 26, 2011

September Events

We had three weddings at Gunflint in September. They were all quite different which made it fun for us. Here is a picture of one of them. Weddings are good business for Gunflint but we are all glad when the last one is over. Perhaps the biggest effort goes into moving furniture in and out of the main lodge. Yesterday as everything came back to normal, we all heaved a sigh of relief.

With no weddings Bruce is now freed to go back to his first love – tearing out old buildings to make room for new buildings. This year we are removing our oldest canoer cabins at the outfitters. They will be replaced by nine very small individual canoer cabins. Although the guests will still use the outfitters shower house, the cabins will have four beds, insulation, heat (for May and October), ceiling fans, refrigerators, gas grills and screened porch. It will be a nice upgrade for our canoeing guests.

So here is a picture of Bruce on his backhoe tearing out buildings. Today he is down working on the foundation pads for the cabins. We need nine and don’t want them to be in just a straight line. Ronnie Smith (our gardener) and I have been working on shrubs, trees and flowers to help with the landscaping next spring. It is always fun to have new projects.

The Pagami Lake fire in Ely continues to smolder. As of today the Forest Service has it 53% contained. Yesterday the planes worked hard to put out flaming hot spots. The tally is 267,000 gallons of water were dumped on hot spots just yesterday. Realistically, the fire will not be totally put out until the snow flies. There is nothing like a layer of snow to melt into those hot spots and finally put them out.

This last week fall color has hit the Gunflint Trail. We had rain (whoopee!) for several days and then the sun came out Saturday afternoon. I celebrated yesterday by working on my iris bed. Got everything dug up, the soil roto tilled, everything respaced and planted. Today I will work on planting some new irises I just got. Of course, last night I paid the price for crawling in the dirt. Out came the Advil bottle.

The fall color is only one of the changes around us. Although I still hear loons at night, there does not seem to be as much calling. Saturday I saw a flock of snow buntings on the road. They just migrate through our forest on their way south (or north). The partridge season is open but we have not gotten out nor have we seen any birds. There are lots of bunnies around the house but they have not yet started to turn white. They start with their feet so I will be looking carefully.

My garden is pretty much finished. I still have to dig up carrots. I will also cut all the parsley and dry it for winter use. Hopefully I will have time to pull out all the dead plants to clean things up for next summer. Pulling them makes me think of all the great fruits and vegetables we got from the garden.

October comes Saturday. Where did the summer go?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fires and a Trip

The BWCAW has been making lots of news with the Pagami Fire. Having been through fires, I don’t envy anyone going through it now. Except for a little smoke several weeks ago, we have had no effects from the fire. According to today’s press release, the fire is now 19% contained. Yesterday we had overcast, drizzle, and rain all day. I am sure that this really helped with the containment. Today is clear so the planes can fly again. This will add more space to containment.

There was a small (7 ½ acre) fire up by Seagull Lake. The Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and the Forest Service jumped right on it. Without their great work, it could have become a big problem. The equipment that the GTVFD brings is these fires is partially paid for by receipts from the canoe races in case you are wondering why we do those races year after year. It took 2 ½ days to get the fire dead out. Remember this fire the next time canoe races come along.

I have missed most of the fire news because Bruce and I were out of town. We went with our friends Tom and Melissa to explore the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Five nights were spent in a rented house in Brevort which is just out of St. Ignace. Then we took two days driving back along the south shore of Lake Superior

The first day there we took the ferry out to Mackinac Island. After lunch we rented bikes for the 8 mile ride around the island. Don’t let the happy faces of Bruce and I on our tandem bike fool you. Our marriage would not survive another tandem bike ride. I can only see Bruce’s back, I can’t steer, and I can’t brake. Letting go of control is not something I do easily or graciously – Bruce calls it whining! After the bike ride, we visited all the fudge shops on the island.

Other days were spent exploring the area and hiking. We hiked 2-4 miles each day. The trails were easily but I still huffed and puffed my way along. Surprisingly we never met anyone else hiking on any of the trails. Even though most of the tourists were gray hairs or honeymooners, I would have expected there to be some hikers.

Driving home we stopped at several spots at the Picture Rocks National Shoreline of Lake Superior. My favorite spot was the Log Slide. The entire lake shore was made up of sand dunes that rose 300 feet above the lake. During the logging of white and red pines in this area, the huge logs were sent down sand chutes to the lake. It took a log 10 seconds to make the 500 foot trip! Needless to say, we did not climb down to the lake there.

I also learned a new bit of trivia – Mackinac Island is located in which of the Great Lakes? It’s Huron which I never would have guessed.

Friday, September 09, 2011


Luckily our guests keep sending me the most amazing pictures. This one comes from Jane and Tom Fischer. They took this from their canoe as they paddled across Gunflint. As they said, there is almost a surreal quality about this picture.

I don’t have a lot of time to fix dinner tonight. Bruce is going to suffer with the last of the fresh broccoli and sliced tomatoes to accompany the lobster from Florida. I do feel pretty rich when we get to eat a meal like this. Of course, the garden produce won’t be with us much longer.

Last Sunday was a pie and ice cream social at the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. They had 300 people go into the museum and went through 30 homemade pies. Five gallons of ice cream went on top of the pies. Even so about 30 people came after every piece of pie was gone. Who knows how many pies we will need next year. My staff was disappointed when I brought home empty pie tins. I will have to make them a blueberry pie one day soon.

Once again I am writing before the weekend because it is going to be really busy. Tomorrow we have a wedding for 150 people. Tonight is the groom’s dinner for 58 plus regular dinner being served in Justine’s and the bistro. Don organized everyone to move furniture out and banquet tables in. As the owner my job is to sweep the floor. Tomorrow I get upgraded to setting tables. Bartender Kacy has been folding “bishop’s hat” napkins for much of the afternoon. After breakfast on Sunday everything will be moved back to normal.

Our final wedding is on the 24th. It is only for 50 people so it should be much easier. That will end the weddings this year at Gunflint. We love to have them but they are a lot of work.

Once again Bruce and I are sneaking away for a few days. This time it is with our friends Tom and Melissa to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We are renting a house on the north shore of Lake Michigan. There are lots of hiking trails and we also have a trip to Mackinac Island on our agenda. Sleep is another thing on my agenda.

I am going to stop now so dinner will be ready when Bruce gets here. We will be home on the 19th and I’ll write again then.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Animal Sightings

This coming weekend looks to be very busy for us so I thought I best write the blog early. Holiday weekends are always extra busy but this time we have a wedding for 125 people to keeps us going.

Jean Johnson from Carlton, Minnesota, sent me the above photo of a lynx. Jean and her family were visiting us during July. This is really an exceptional picture taken at the Narrows between Gunflint and Magnetic. You can see the international boundary marker on top of the large rock at the right. In all the years I have lived here, I have never seen a lynx. We hear more and more stories of people sighting them but this is far and away the best picture I have seen. It looks like a magnificent animal.

Bruce and I were driving to the lodge one night last week. Right by cabin #27 a wolf walked across the road in front of us. The animal was very tall and thin. His fur was short. We could not decide if he was shedding in preparation for a winter coat or not. There was not an ounce of fat on the animal. Naturally, I did not have a camera with me.

As fall approaches, we are starting to get the garden ready for its winter rest. Tomatoes are ripening and going down to the lodge. I also plan on just dicing and freezing some for winter use. Carrots are big enough to be used and are sweet and tasty. Parsley will soon be picked and dried for winter. Basil is not as pretty now so I will start to use it up too. There might be enough broccoli for one more meal but don’t hold your breath.

There will be plenty of room in the freezer since I am finally getting all the frozen raspberries out to be made into jam. Also 10 cups of blueberries are going into pies for the Chik-Wauk Museum’s Taste of the Gunflint Trail this Sunday. Don’t worry; we still have plenty of berries for winter pancakes, etc. I always have enough blueberries for the winter.

As of this weekend, our guest mix changes. Gone are all the children with school starting. We have lots of adults between honeymooners and senior citizens. The next two months are extremely full with reservations. In fact don’t plan on a weekend trip until well into November. Everyone seems to be coming up here which is great for us.

We are doing a little outside work on our house. On the lake side we are putting in a grassy, open area with a fire ring. I think that this will primarily be used for s’mores when grandkids are here. Somehow I can’t see either of us sun bathing in the afternoon.

Have a great holiday weekend.