Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ugh, More Snow!

Winter returned today.  The forecast was for a “wintery” mix.  To me that means sleet and rain.  To the weatherman it meant 3 inches of snow!  That was not welcome.  I know tomorrow it will all be gone.  Don reminded me that we got 20 inches of snow last April.  I don’t want that either.

Birds are starting to really come back.  We have some of the reddest purple finches that I have ever seen.  Maybe they get redder just before mating.  At any rate, they are quite beautiful.  They are also very, very hungry.   My feeders are always empty and the suet is gone.

We have been watching single deer wander across the lake one at a time.  There have also been single wolves wandering around.  I just hope that they don’t meet.  Ice fishing ends in a couple of days so no one will be on the lake.  It will be interesting to see if the deer keep out on the lake or at least away from the wolves.  We will only be feeding them another week or so.

The staff has also noticed some does are heavily pregnant.  They think that these does may have twins.  It will be about a month before the young ones are born.  I just think about how my back hurt during those last weeks of pregnancy.  In fact, my back hurts just sitting here.

So I never got up to see the Northern Lights.  Or, at any rate, when I did look, there was nothing to see.  Interestingly, a couple days later we were watching the news.  There was a program about several unusual natural events that were now happening.  One of them was usually strong northern lights.  Usually our northern lights appear as if they are lights from a city just over the horizon.  We all know there is no city and these are just faint northern lights.  So I am guessing that the lights Chris saw were part of this unusually strong display.

One of you wrote asking if I have pictures of northern lights.  Unfortunately, I don’t.   You are asking a person who doesn’t really take pictures.  When we were gone to Tanzania and Paris for 3 weeks last fall, I look about 20 pictures.  There is too much to see for me to remember to take pictures.

This last weekend was our Books in the Woods weekend.  This year our writers were Lorna Landvik and William Swanson.  We usually have about 30 participants who come for the seminars.  It is very interesting because you get a chance to really interact with the authors.  The group sizes are never more than 12.  It gives everyone the opportunity to ask questions without being part of a multi-hundred group.  The proof of the pudding is that several people made reservations for next year.

Speaking of reservations, summer reservations are coming along very well.  Canoe trips will be really busy this year.   

Friday, March 20, 2015

Gifts, Northern Lights, and Lynx

We got back from the gift show on Tuesday.  It is held several times a year at the Umaga Center in Minneapolis.  We usually go to the March show because it features gifts for resorts.  It takes us 4 days.  The first two days are spent looking at all the showrooms and temporary booths.  As we go through a list is kept of things we may be interested in buying.  The last two days are spent placing orders by reviewing each place on the list.  Things are always added and subtracted.

The one who knows the most about what we have is April from the front desk.  She has reviewed our catalogs and orders from last year.  Then she looks at what it left.  It is nothing we could not all do but April actually does the job.  Also she gives us the viewpoint of another generation.

The point of all this is to remind you to save your money.  Plan to spend some time and money in the gift shop on you visit here.  I am sure there will be something on the shelves that you just can’t live without.

Monday Mike from the front desk drove down the Gunflint Trail.  Near the Tucker Lake Road he saw a large lynx.  We never saw lynx here when I first came up.  Within the last 5-6 years they are regularly seen on the South Gunflint Lake road.  Also we have seen a dwindling population of snowshoe hares.  I must admit that my garden and I do not miss rabbits.  Squirrels and chipmunks are bad enough but rabbits can really make a mess of the garden.  They especially like new leaves on green beans.

A couple years ago I put in this blog a wonderful picture of a lynx at the Gunflint narrows.  One of our guests took the picture by being at the right place with a camera at the right time.  Look back at the blogs a couple years ago to see this magnificent animal.

I was talking with Chris our bartender today.  Last night about midnight he looked out his window so see some northern lights.  He said that they just exploded across the sky.  The lights swirled and the colors changed.  By the time he got a jacket and went out with a camera, they were gone.

So, I have decided to look myself tonight.  Of course last night was a clear sky and tonight will probably be overcast.  Then there is the question of waking up without waking Bruce.  That is almost impossible so we will both be shivering looking out the north windows.  Next week if I don’t write about northern lights or have a picture of them, you will know that the whole thing was a disaster.  Don’t ask what happened.



Sunday, March 08, 2015

Trout Derby

It’s trout derby time on Gunflint Lake.  Each year the snowmobile club puts on fishing contest for trout.  It is often on Gunflint.  On Thursday they plow are large circle so cars can drive out onto the lake and park for fishing.  By Sunday the ice on the plowed area is even thicker than before.  Right now we have about 30 inches of ice on the lake.  Some years I have seen people bring large motor homes onto the ice.  One year someone even landed an airplane on the ice.

Prizes are given for the largest lake trout registered between 11:00 and 2:00.  But this is more than a fishing contest.  It’s a large Grand Marais winter picnic.  Families come up for the day.  The kids are riding around on snowmobiles while the adults are visiting.  The snowmobile club cooks up fish burgers, hot dog, brats and hamburgers for a lunch.  There is an open fire to warm  up at.

Below is a picture of in front of cabins 4, 5, and 6.  In the this one you can see the corner of our dock house as I am looking over the picnic area.  If you pivot 90 degrees, there are trucks and cars on the plowed road.  Each one hopes they are in the sweet spot for a nice lake trout.  Even if you don't win, it makes a great dinner.

Of course not every fish derby is as nice as today.  Last year it was 30 below and windy.  It’s not much fun standing out in that. Years and years ago the man plowing the road did not plow a big enough circle.  There were so many cars in a small area that the ice was pushed down.  Water started coming up through the fishing holes.  By the time everyone was off the ice, some cars had water inside them.

Tomorrow there will not be a car out here.  If it is windy, all signs of the road will be blown away.  The minimum cleanup is one of the nice things about the trout derby.

Since the Gunflint Trail is one of the few places in the state with snow, we have really had a lot of snowmobilers on the trails.  The ski trails are also in great condition.  It is just a great place to enjoy all kinds of winter sports.

About a week or so ago I told you about the contest that Budget Travel was running for the coolest little town in the country.  Well, Grand Marais won!  I am not sure what the prize is except some publicity.  Our win was due, in part, to all of you who voted.  Thanks!

 We are starting on spring projects.  One of the major ones this year is to put new shingles on the lodge.  This time of year is not the best time to do it but progress is being made.  Things would go faster if it would stop snowing.  More snow just means more shoveling to get the old shingles off.

I probably will not get to write next week.  We are all going down to the gift show in Minneapolis to buy for the gift shop.  It is a major project.  We spend two days just looking and making notes.  Then one night we make decisions on which items to buy.  The next three days are spent buying.  The only fun thing is that we get to eat in some good restaurants in the city.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Spring Cleaning

It has warmed up today.  After a night at minus 30 and another at minus 25, to wake up to zero was really nice.  The other thing is that I am starting to notice longer days.  It gets light earlier and dark later.  Now we still have short days but there is hope for spring.  Also the warmer sun has helped melt the snow off the main road.  Bruce has even got interested in grilling.  Yesterday he spent some time shoveling the snow off our grill.  As you can see, there was quite an accumulation of snow.  Maybe we will grill some steaks for dinner.

Even though tomorrow is March, that does not mean that the snow will stop coming.  In fact we often get a fair amount to snow in March.  It makes for great skiing because the weather is warmer, we have a great base and you can even get a tan while skiing.  It was so bright today while we were eating lunch in the lodge that you had to squint to see anything.

Another great sign of spring is that the birds are really coming back.  Today I have seen hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, gray jays, blue jays, pine grosbecks, chickadees, rose breasted nuthatches and red polls.  Mixed in with them are squirrels and one pine martin.  With them all flying about it keeps the feeders empty.

Another sign of spring is that I feel like I should really be cleaning the house.  This is not one of my favorite projects.  Dusting is really low on my list.   I am, however, making a valiant effort to improve things.  Bruce and I are usually pretty good about picking up stuff.  Getting the wash done and cleaning up promptly after meals is easy.  My mother drilled into me the need to make your bed every day.  All this leaves cleaning bathrooms, dusting and vacuuming on the list.  So I am making the great effort now.  Eventually I will get there.  The trouble is that then it is time to clean again.

Bruce just called and I went down to the lodge to give a little help at the front desk.

So it is now Sunday morning.  For the first time in a long time we had a morning temperature above zero.  We also have a dusting of snow.  It is hard to think of spring this morning with a few snowflakes in the air.