Monday, January 20, 2014

Animal Encountes Everywhere

This last week was another snow week.  On Wednesday and Thursday we got several inches of new snow.  It has been many years since we have had snow banks as high as they are now and there are several snow months still to come.  On Friday after everything the newly groomed, the entire Gunflint Trail was glorious.  Our weekend guests knew they had stepped into a winter wonderland.

It seems in the winter we have lots more animal sightings than in the summer.  I always feel that winter is when we truly know that this forest is shared with all the resident animals.   The new animal this year is lynx.  One of the neighbors spotted a lynx chasing a squirrel.  Both animals were distracted by the car.  The lynx recovered just a couple of seconds quicker and he caught the squirrel.  Our squirrel and rabbit population had gone down as the lynx population has increased.

Sunday morning the guests in Cabin #2 had a surprise.  They stepped outside their cabin to walk down to the lodge for breakfast.  Who should be on the road to greet them but a lynx.

Of course, not all is sweetness and light with our animal population.  The guests down by Cabins #17 and #18 woke up Saturday morning to find a freshly killed deer outside their windows.  They had not heard anything.  The kill was so fresh that at 7:30 in the morning the animal’s remains were still steaming.  Sunday the staff dragged the remains down to the lake.  I am sure that it is almost gone today.

On Friday one of our guests checked in all excited.  When she was six years old, she had seen a moose in Wyoming.  Since then she had never seen one.  Driving up the Trail on Friday she saw five moose.  You can’t imagine how excited she was.

Our neighbor Dave Tuttle also had a close encounter with a moose.  He was driving home in his pickup with the plow on it after dark and south of Swamper Lake.  Suddenly he realized that the black lump in front of him was the butt of a moose kneeling down to lick the salt on the road.  Dave couldn’t stop so he headed for the center of the road.  There he can react to the way the moose moves.  By an inch he missed the moose but now his truck’s rear end is sliding an may hit the moose.  Dave steers out of it, doesn’t hit anything and stays on the road.

The fishing season for lake trout opened on Gunflint Lake on Saturday.  We had a fair number of fishermen out in front of the lode.  It seems like people were getting fish.  I talked with a family who got five trout on Extortion Lake.  They worked for them walking down and up the big hill to get to the lake.

Great progress is being made on the new staff housing.  It is a huge building with 16 rooms.  Each room can accommodate 2-4 people and has a bathroom and kitchen.  For seasonal staff it should work out very well.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Perfect Winter Weather

It has warmed up around here.  Early this week was supposed to be the worst state wide.  Our worst was the week before.  Now we are sitting in the mid-twenties.  We should be getting some snow with this warm weather but nothing is happening.  At least the furnace in the house has stopped running forever.  The ski trails are in perfect condition with plenty of snow.

Today is the day of lynx sightings.  When I drove over to the lodge for lunch, I spotted a lynx at the top of the Gunflint hill.  He was just walking across the road and was not concerned about the car coming.  After lunch I walked to the car to go home.  Two guys had just come in by snowmobile from Grand Marais.  They had seen the lynx as soon as they got on the lake by the public landing.  Both of them were really excited about it.  Of course, we have been seeing tracks all over the place.  It really is a thrill to see these cats.

Over at our house, Lee and Eva’s dog Tucker has been vacationing with us.  Last summer Tucker tore his ACL.  With two small children in the house, he was forever moving around.  Things are much quieter on Tucker Lake.  This is especially true when Bruce and I are at the lodge.  Tucker just sits and sleeps.  We have not seen him limping at all.  When it is time to go outside, he just bursts out the door barking loudly.  Bruce and I can’t figure out if he hears something or is just barking to announce his presence.  It is good to have a dog around but hard to take care of him when we leave.

We spent a few days early this week meeting with five other resorts.  It is a great time to share our experiences from the summer.  Also everyone seems to have new ideas to tell us.  Bruce has a good sized list of things to try out at Gunflint.  Some work and some don’t but you only need one thing to work for it to be a worthwhile meeting.  Also we find that our problems are usually the same ones others have.  You don’t feel quite so stupid when we all have the same issues.

We are going to a conference on canopy tours in Orlando.  Lee and Eva are also going for their canopy tour.  They are bringing Grant and Mae.  That just means that I will never see much of the conference.  You know where I will be – Disney World.  Grant wants to see Pirates of the Caribbean but he is not sure what it is all about.  Mae is going to see the Little Mermaids Sea Shell tour or something like that.

I remember the first time we took Robert and Lee to Disney World.  Robert got lost on Huck Finn’s Island.  He thought we had gone and he took the ferry back.  Bruce and Lee were scouring the island for him.  I look across the water and saw Robert.  Like any good mother, I yelled at the top of my voice for him to not move until we got there.

There will probably be some adventures from this trip too.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Animals and Weather

Our good friend Kevin called today. He complained that I wasn’t writing enough blogs because we were traveling too much. So, this blog is for Kevin.

Our biggest news is the weather. Mother Nature has taken control again. The past several days have been cold. This means morning temperatures of -30, -35, -40, and -30. I am not talking about wind chill. These are absolute temperatures. Luckily there was no wind on any of these days. It warmed up some each day but nothing to brag about. We have large south-facing windows in our house and the sun did a great job of raising the living room temperatures.

Our guests are a hardy lot. They were out skiing, dog sledding and walking during the entire time. Bruce even had one of them tell him that at -13 it was really nice outside. Luckily we don’t have any fashion patrol around here. The only fashion was to wear as many layers as you could fit on.

This morning it clouded over. The temperature was zero at 7:00 a.m. So, of course, it started to snow and the wind started to blow. There is so much blowing wind that it is hard to tell exactly how much snow has fallen. We will see what happens tomorrow. It will be time to start plowing and shoveling.

Chris and Lance, our two maintenance men, were the heroes during those cold days. Cabins and cars all froze up. Except for one car that sprung an oil leak, the two guys got everything working. At those temperatures just surviving outside is an accomplishment.

Bonnie’s housekeeping staff were another group of heroes. There is no joy in hauling sheets and towels all over to keep cabins clean. The past two weeks have been exceptionally busy and the girls have been putting in some long hours. Bonnie has been out working right alongside of them.

Our other big news flash is that animals are out all over to be seen. One of the neighbors stopped by and bought all our cards with a picture of a lynx on them. She had just seen a lynx on the road and wanted to tell all her friends about it. There is a family of lynx hanging around our side road.

Lance drove into town with recycling the other day. Right in Grand Marais at the water tower, he saw a wolf. It was a big, black one. Everyone in town should be watching their small dogs when those animals are outside.

About ten miles outside of town Heidi, our bookkeeper, saw a bobcat when she was driving up this morning. It had a smaller bobcat with it that Heidi thought was under 50 pounds. We were not sure when bobcats are born or how fast they grow.

All these other animals make our moose, deer and snowshoe hares seem pretty boring. To our guests, however, they are just as wonderful to see. It is hard to beat a deer eating corn out of your hand.

Happy New Year to all of you!