Monday, February 23, 2015

The Coolest Small Town in America

We have had a bit of the cold spell this past week.  Most nights the temperature has gone down into the minus twenties.  Needless to say, we are talking about absolute temperatures without wind chill.  I realize that people out east have no idea about the cold here but we do become a little smug about it.

One of the nicest things about the cold weather is how beautiful everything looks.  Clear skies and bright sunshine are welcome in the winter..  Heavy snowfalls are also good but they can be very dark and dreary.  Snowfalls also need warmer temperatures.  Who knows which is the best?  It probably depends as much on my mood as anything else.

Grand Marais has become involved in a little contest sponsored by Budget Travel magazine to find the coolest little town in America.  I would encourage all of you to vote for Grand Marais. You can vote up to once a day.   Here is information on how to vote:

“The lead for Grand Marais on Budget Travel’s “America’s Coolest Small Town” contest is down to under 3% this morning.  Please vote for Grand Marais.  You can vote daily until midnight on February 25.  Let’s not let a town in Virginia beat Grand Marais!

To skip the ads, just click on the link to the site in the upper right corner of the first screen.  (One vote per day per IP address is allowed.)

Ask your friends to vote, too.”

The deadline for the contest had been extended to March 4th.  It is important that you remember to vote every day.

Wolves have been especially active.  There has been a deer kill for three nights in a row around the lodge.  There must be a large number of wolves around because the animals disappear overnight.  I seem to remember that it takes one deer a week to feed a wolf.  By next fall we will be in a season to increase the number of deer.

Reservations for next summer seem to be coming in steadily.  If you have specific dates or cabins in mind, give us a call so we can hold them for you.





Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Winter Weekend

We are back from what I hope is our last short trip this winter.  Robert’s boy, Zach, is now officially 15 years old.  I am not sure how it all happened.  My favorite story about him occurred when he was about 2 and down with me for breakfast.  Zach was helping to clear the table when we were done eating.  He dropped a small glass which bounced once and then cracked to pieces on the second hit.  He looked at me and said, “Now I’m in trouble.”  Well what grandmother could do anything but laugh.

Our trip home from Missouri was great on Monday.  We had a full load inside and outside the truck with a ton of hickory for Don’s smoking.  The driving the first day was wonderful – clear skies and almost no wind.  Tuesday was horrible driving.  The normally 3 ½ hour drive from Minneapolis to Duluth took us 6 hours.  There was lots of traffic, snow and wind.

Of course, the snow dropped 6-8 inches on the Gunflint Trail.  The result is ski trails that are in wonderful condition.  We have had guests out all weekend even though it was cold.  The skiers have been joined by snowmobilers and fishermen.  It is a holiday weekend and everyone has headed up here for winter sports.  The cold outside temperatures have made the lodge seem more warm and cozy than usual.  Add in Mark’s live keyboard and you would think you were at a ski resort.

Last week some guests had quite an experience.  They had come up from Texas to see the deer.  One night they were up late watching a movie.  A deer ran past their cabin.  They looked out the window to see a large pack of wolves (12 by actual count) taking down one of the deer.  It is a once in a lifetime experience with both good and bad feelings.  We all know that the wolves need to eat deer to survive.  On the other hand you can’t help hoping that somehow the deer could get out alive.  It didn’t happen.  The wolves and crows all go their dinner that night.  The situation had no right or wrong but most of us hate to see the deer die.

The birds are coming into our feeders on a regular basis.  For some reason a flock of redpolls has been hanging around.  Although common to this area we don’t usually get them at the feeders.  Who knows why they have decided to stop.  A  pine martin has also decided to eat off the feeders.  Bruce thinks that there is a second one around.  While the first one is eating, he keeps looking toward an area off to his right.  Maybe we will have a whole family in the area in the spring.

While in Missouri I bought our seeds for the vegetable garden.  It was 70 degrees there and I was getting the itch to plant.  Naturally it will be a bit before those seeds get into the ground here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Back at Tucker Lake

The trip home from Tobago was easy.  Lee picked us up at the airport and the next day we drove home.  Of course, it was a shock to our system.  In Tobago the lows were 75 degrees and the highs were 85 degrees.  The first morning here it was 30 below!  Slowly we are getting warm clothes out and ready the brave the elements again.  I shoveled a little yesterday and filled the bird feeders.

Attached are a few pictures that I could not figure out how to get on in the Tobagp blogs from Bruce’s iPad.  The first picture is the bay where we had a picnic lunch on the all day snorkeling trip.  Our boat is anchored right in front of you.  Then we have Bruce snorkeling.  Finally we have Bruce feeding a mot mot bird at our dining table.  With everything open the birds come in all the time.  This bird was particularly pretty with its colors and interesting tail feathers.

One of our favorite times during the trip was dinner time.  I am sure you are not surprised to hear that.  While we went out for dinners, we also cooked in a lot.  Our entre of choice was fresh fish.  Our first time buying from a street vender of fresh fish was an experience.  The man wanted to charge us too much and then wanted to charge to fillet the fish.  Bruce almost died and the vender could not believe us when we just took the fish home.  Bruce had brought his fillet knife and in a couple of minutes, the fillets were ready for dinner!

Bruce either grilled or fried the fish.  I made a couple of different sauces and the sides.  We also talked with a fruit and vegetable vender.  He told us how to buy plantain and how to cook it properly.  That was a big success.  Hopefully I will be able to repeat the process at home.

Zach’s birthday is coming up so we are off to Missouri this weekend.  He is part of his school’s robotics team so we will be able to see that also.  If it is like the Grand Marais team, they are building a robot to stack boxes.  An additional project is bringing home hickory firewood for Don’s smoking.  We will take one of the trucks down and fill it to the brim with firewood.

Going to Missouri has another bonus.  We take two days to make the trip.  That means we have to spend one night in Minneapolis each way.  So we will get to see Grant and Mae.  On Thursday they have gymnastics lessons.  Each of us will spend half the lesson with each child.

Have a good weekend.  I know that we will.