Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What is a typical day?

Once again the days seemed to have flown by. This is turning out to be the busiest month we have ever had. That means we don’t really have enough staff so the managers having being filling in more than they usually do. It also means you can never count on what is going to happen next. Yesterday was the perfect example.

Monday is Dave’s day off so Marilyn is on the front desk alone until 2:00 in the afternoon. I usually come in to help her. Monday’s are always busy with people getting fishing licenses, new guests with questions, the phone ringing with more questions. You get the idea. Marilyn is much better than I am on the front desk but I can answer more questions than she can about the area.

So it is almost 2:00. The place is a zoo with guests, people for lunch, riders for horseback and lookers. All of a sudden Bruce appears to ask if I am ready to go. Go where? It seems we are driving down to Lutsen Resort to get some plans for their staff housing. We are going to build new housing this fall. It is really hot out so a drive in an air conditioned car sounds pretty good. Also it is a good chance for us to just talk for three hours. Off we go.

An hour and a half later we are at Lutsen talking with Nancy about what they did for staff housing a few years ago. After about 20 minutes we are back on the road home. In Grand Marais we stop at Dairy Queen and also gas the car. The ride home seems easy and we should make it for me to be the hostess at dinner.

Just before we get to Trail Center, there is a truck in the ditch. While going off the road, the truck hits one of the green boxes that splice together the main power line. The box is burning and there is a piece of line sticking up in the air. No sign of the driver, but the truck did not roll over. We will meet the ambulance and fire truck as we continue home. The driver was OK but probably a little shaken up.

The next issue is that this accident took out power for the entire trail. We know that Don is in one of the emergency vehicles we passed. At the lodge soups are slowly heating on our gas fired stove. Salads and cold sandwiches will round out the gourmet menu for the night. Paper plates come out of storage. There is some light in the lodge as we have a special circuit that is cut off from the main line. We start serving meals. Five-gallon buckets are stacked in the entryway for lake water to flush toilets. Dave has a key to open the cash register so Bruce goes to find him. Meanwhile Sheryl finds her key to do the same thing. We are functioning for dinner.

Just as Bruce gets back, he and I and Adam walk down to Cabin #5. Adam is going to marry a couple and we are the witnesses. Luckily it is not a long service but it is nice.

About 8:00 p.m. the power comes back on. We start to fire up the electric appliances in the kitchen. This takes about 30 minutes. Now we can serve the bistro menu to those who have not eaten yet. Things are still a little chaotic but the worst is over. As usual the staff adapted and pulled us through.

Around 8:30 Bruce and I go home. I had made some soup for dinner. That was about all we were up to eating and it tasted very good.

You just never know what is going to happen during the day at Gunflint.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thanks to Hundreds of Volunteers

For the past week, hundreds of Cook County residents have been involved in the search for a local man who appears to have been lost while blueberry picking. It has been a long and frustrated job for everyone who has participated. Using a grid pattern, over 500 acres of land have been walked once, trice and sometimes three times. Sitting reading this, you might wonder how an eighty-year-old man cannot be found.

If you have seen the country, all questions would be removed. It is right in the heart of an area that was affected by the 1999 Blowdown and the 2007 Ham Lake Fire. There are blown down trees, burned tree trunks, and 4-6 foot brush everywhere. In addition there are granite rocks, cervices, and caves. Added to this is extremely wet conditions that make for slippery footing. Every step must be carefully considered. To give you an idea of how thick the brush is, three searches came across a moose in the brush. Everyone looked at each other and then went their separate ways. We wish the searchers well and give them our thanks for such hard work.

Yesterday Bruce and I took a couple hours off to go blueberry picking with two of the guests. We motored over to Magnetic Lake and found a small open spot amidst granite rocks. The area was covered with blueberries and they were huge berries! We have never seen them so big. Many were as big as domestic ones. Of course they have a lot more favor. I spent two hours this morning cleaning and freezing our berries. Tomorrow I will make a blueberry pie for us all to share.

When we got home, everyone was thankful that the trip was accomplished without a stumble or a fall. None of the four of us are as agile as we once where. Between climbing out of the boat, up the rocks, over half burned trees, down cervices to the big ones, back up again, then down into the boat, not a single berry was lost. What a wonderful way to spend a couple hours. I will remember this when my Grandson Grant calls to remind me to make more blueberry jam.

The middle of August is not here yet. Even so the days are a little shorter. The nights are a little cooler. The shrubs along the side of the road are starting to turn color. We still have weeks to go before fall color is upon us, but these shrubs are the first signal that summer is coming to an end. Except for one week in July, it has been a cool summer with steady patches of rain mixed with sunshine. It is why the blueberries are so huge.

Now the raspberries are ripening. I made nine jars of jam yesterday. These jars will help answer Granddaughter Mae’s questions about when we pick raspberries. At three she just sits and picks and eats. That sounds good to me.

Friday, August 02, 2013

More Berries

The last week to ten days has been really busy so I never did get around to the blog. Now is the time to catch up.

Sheryl sent me several pictures including this one of a baby mallard. The babes and mothers are feasting on corn from all our guests.

Family reunions have hit us. No matter what the size and ages of the families, they still have a lot of people at dinner. Then last night after we had already turned down two groups of 14 who called, a group of 16 walked in. With them standing in front of you, it is hard to turn them down. Naturally there was a little rain so they could not eat outside. There was a period of about 30 minutes when every table and every bar stool was full with people waiting. I know this is good but at the end of the night, it is also tiring.

Also at this time we have kids all over the place. It really puts pressure on the kitchen staff to keep those cookies coming out. Someone saw one boy take four cookies and stack them up. That way he could just bite out of all four of them at a time. Occasionally the hot chocolate machine is “out of order” while we wait to get more hot chocolate delivered. None the less, I have parents of children them me how their kids talk about cookies and hot chocolate all winter long. We are glad it makes an impression.

Bruce took off for a couple of days with Son Brian and his three children. They went over and camped in Red Rock Bay for three nights. Fishing was tough but Brian did the best with a crawler harness. Even so, they only got 1 walleye. Bass and a northern filled them up for dinner appetizers. They did hit a bonanza for blueberries. I had made 30 jars of jam and they brought me enough berries to make another 30 jars.

Bruce and Grandson Sam had an interesting experience. They stopped to look at an empty campsite. The canoe was pulled completely out of the water onto some rocks. The two guys were in the back picking blueberries at an unbelievably rich site. Suddenly they heard a noise. The wind came and picked up their canoe and dropped it (right side up) into the lake. There went the canoe floating down the lake. Sam had to bushwhack for about ¼ mile along the shore until he could call Brian to come and get them.

The raspberries are starting to ripen up. A small bag of them made it back from the canoe trip. I had them on my cereal this morning. My oft repeated story is that when I sit down with the first bowl of wild raspberries, I think about the ½ pint container of berries that sell in the store for $3-4 with no taste at all. It is then that I know that my life is truly rich.