Monday, November 28, 2011

In Between the Holidays

Thanksgiving has come and gone. We had about 150 people for dinner including our staff. Don and his crew did a great job with the menu and with exceptional service to all our guests. At the end of the night we were all stuffed.

Two of our neighbors on the side road, Roma and Peter, came down for Thanksgiving dinner. As they were driving down, Peter looked in the rearview mirror. Behind him on the road was a huge wolf. He particularly noticed the big bushy tail the wolf had. Compared to when I first moved up here, we see a huge number of wolves. I was living here for several years before I saw my first wolf.

All our snow melted early last week. Then on Saturday we got four inches of new snow. It is beautiful. Adam has been out grooming the dog sled trails. Jason has been out grooming the ski trails. It was a wet heavy snow that packed down really well.

Gunflint Lake is still totally clear of ice. Even the bays have not started to freeze over. With temperatures in the 20’s, we need colder weather to get the water closed to 32 degrees. As it is, the lake has not even been steaming much lately.

This week I participated in an event I rarely do. My friend Melissa helped me sew a doll for Granddaughter Mae. Mae loves her dolls and I got this insane idea that a good grandmother would make her one. One of my friends advised me to make two sets of clothing so Mae could change the doll. I just groaned.

Looking on the internet I found a pattern for a doll that was sized to wear preemie clothing. It was my salvation. My friend Bev took me shopping at JoAnn’s Fabrics. Bruce came too and followed us around for an hour or longer. Bev made sure that I got everything.

On Monday I was over at Melissa’s and ready to get this project going. The pattern called for stretchy fabric. Melissa quickly named the fabric “stretchy shit” as I struggled with it. Finally we replaced the stretchy stuff with muslin. Life proceed much more quickly and pleasantly after that.

It took all day but the doll is almost finished. I still need to draw on the face. That is almost as difficult as making the doll. I am fairly good with words but not drawing. It is going to take some practicing. Luckily Mae will only be two on her birthday. I hope she likes the doll. I think that this will be my last sewing project for a bit.

Bruce and I leave next Sunday for a national outfitting convention in Reno. The convention is only three days long but it takes us two days on each end to get there and back. Sometimes living up in the woods can be a pain.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The picture above is of a large moose track. We have a two part story revolving around this track. Yesterday morning about 7:00 a.m. Kevin Walsh yells at Sheryl to come out. There is a small bull moose swimming past the lodge dock to the west. They grab Sheryl’s camera and hop into her truck. The plan is to meet the moose at the public landing and get pictures. The moose does not cooperate and gets out of the lake in front of Cabin #11. As they came back, the moose must have heard them. He disappears by Cabin #9. There was no chance of a picture.

This morning Kevin’s hunting partner comes to get me. They have discovered tracks by the outdoor hot tub for Cabin #9 and near Cabin #3. This is the picture of one those tracks. There are also tracks of a smaller cow moose. The guys seem to think that the big bull drove off the smaller bull to keep the little guy from the cow moose. It sounds as good as any other explanation.

For most of the morning Gunflint Lake has been steaming. This occurs when the lake water is warmer than the air temperature (I had 7 degrees at my house.). The steaming means that the lake is cooling down in anticipation of freezing. Usually Gunflint freezes during the first ten days of December. A night with clear skies, a full moon, and no wind usually is needed to freeze the lake. We will see when it freezes this year.

The lodge is now in our winter mode. Fires are lit in the two fireplaces each night. Bruce loves to come in and add more wood to each fire. If it is a cold morning, we start them even earlier. On Friday and Saturday, Mark Darling comes in to play his keyboard during dinner. There is nothing that warms a room more than some mellow live music. Of course, the lodge also looks welcoming because of the soft yellow glow from the room lights in contrast to the black night outside. We are now getting dark around 5-5:30 p.m.

The kitchen is not mellow right now. Preparations have started for Thanksgiving dinner. With the staff, we will be having about 150 people. Four huge turkeys are thawing. Two 40-pound bison roasts are also thawing. Several hams will be smoked. Don starts smoking all this meat in the wee hours of the morning. It has to be ready to serve at noon. In addition Adam, Hudson, Dan and Curtis will be preparing an assortment of side dishes and desserts to fill everyone’s hollow legs.

From all of the Gunflint family to your families, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. Just like you, we are very thankful for all our blessings.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The End of Fall

Bruce and I are home from a long driving trip. We visited family, attended conferences, and checked out other resorts. It was 4500 miles of new things to see. My own bed felt good that first night. Now I am in the midst of putting everything away and washing clothes. Another pleasure is to eat some home cooked meals. Restaurants are fine but we get tired of them. With so much restaurant food, the bathroom scale was not my friend.

There has been some snow while we have been gone but most of it has melted. Last Thursday we had three parties check out after fresh snow. Two of them ended up in the ditch going home. This is a common occurrence after the first slippery snows of the season.

Here at Gunflint we are into that gray time between fall color and snow. Some of the smaller lakes on the Trail have already frozen over – Swamper and Iron Lakes are two of them. Gunflint Lake is nowhere near freezing. In fact this weekend one of our guests took a sauna and then plunged into the lake. He said the lake was warm but I don’t believe him.

It is deer hunting season. Bruce hopes to get out this coming week. Our traditional meal the first night after Bruce gets a deer is pan fried heart for him and liver for me. Meanwhile more interesting stories are coming in about other hunting experiences.

Perhaps the most unusual came from our neighbors. Father and son were out hunting one morning. Suddenly a doe came running at full speed in front of them. Before they could catch their breaths, eight wolves came chasing the deer. It was quite a thing to see. We rarely see wolves actually chasing deer. Many hunters tell me that these unexpected happenings are some of their favorite parts of hunting.

My rabbits around the house are still changing color. They now have white feet, white ears, and a white belly. The back is still brown but that should change fairly soon. Bruce thinks they would be good for stew but I keep saying that I am not cooking them.

Yesterday we had our winter hay delivered. Mandy always buys enough hay in the fall to get us through until next year’s crop comes in. Because our hay barn has only three sides, the deer often find it a great place to feed all winter long. As the picture above shows, Mandy is set on outwitting the deer this year. There is a wall of hay stacked to the roof. In front are obstacles to any feeding from that side. By spring we will see who won – Mandy or the deer.

As I sit here typing, the sun has disappeared behind some clouds. In the west it looks pretty gray. Perhaps tonight will be the night we get out first snow that stays with us all winter long.