Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Welcoming John and Mindy

It is the end of another season at Gunflint.  The leaves are quickly turning and fall is here.  This is also the end of our time at Gunflint Lodge.  As many of you know, we decided to sell the resort several years ago.  It is something that is easier said than done.

First we had to emotionally get over the fact that our life was moving on.  Then finding the buyers was a project.  We searched to find a buyer who would feel as we do about the lodge.  John and Mindy Fredrikson have really fulfilled our hopes.

This couple were raised in the Midwest and then moved out east as Mindy worked as a lawyer for Delta Airlines.  They came with their son Jack to be active owners of the lodge.  Bruce and I were pleased to sell to a family rather an investment group.  This is turning out to be a wise move.  They are moving in to truly make Gunflint their home.

Bruce spent about two months working with them about the operations at the lodge.  I think you will find that much as remained the same.  As they worked planning packages for the next season, Bruce found that already John and Mindy had ideas to contribute.  They will, of course, make changes but we did too.  We all knew that Bruce was never against making good changes so he was happy to see new ideas coming from them.  After all, we didn’t have a monopoly of how to run good resorts.

The managers have pretty much stayed the same so you will see familiar faces as you visit us again.  Bruce and I are not here but we still live in the area about five miles from the lodge.  In fact we hope that many of you will visit us at our home.  Just a phone call will let you know we are there and it will also give me a  minute to pick up the house.

Personally this change has been a great relief for Bruce and me.  You always hope to sell to people who share your goals and we feel that John and Mindy do.  It has also enabled us to do more of the activities that you all come up here to do.  We have done more fishing and eaten more fresh walleye than in years.  It has also freed us up to travel a little bit more and know that the lodge has successfully passed into new owners hands.

As usual, we hope that you will visit Gunflint soon.  It will always be a special place in our hearts with very special guests who spend time with us.  John and Mindy seem to already find that it is a special place on the Gunflint Trail.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Open Water Seaason

Bruce just called home.  We are now into open water season!  Traditionally we follow the stages noticed by our long time mailman Don Brazell in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Don drove the Trail delivering mail for many years.  He noticed that if the North Brule River was flowing freely on a given day then one week later the smaller lakes went out.  In another week the larger lakes like Gunflint went out.

According to that plan, the ice should have gone out on Gunflint around the first of May.  Yesterday the ice on Gunflint Lake was really black but there was no wind to blow the ice out.  This morning we had a strong east wind storm.  Rain was coming down steadily and the temperature was sitting right around 30 degrees.

It’s almost 11:00 a.m. now.  It’s still raining and the east wind is strong.  Ice is starting to accumulate on the branches of trees.  Usually it takes a northwest wind to move the ice out.  Well everything is different this year.  That east wind just blew the ice out.  Bruce said it just flew out in a matter of hours.

So start planning your fishing trip cause the ice is gone.  The walleye season opens in Minnesota on May 14th.  I can already taste those fish frying in our frying pan.  Lake Trout will also be open in Minnesota.  We like to grill trout fillets.  There is nothing better than freshly caught fish for dinner.

Of course, there are many other signs of spring around.  My bird feeders are emptied as soon as I fill them.  Spring birds are back like red-wing black birds, ravens, crows, purple finches, etc.  Everyone is hungry.

Also the last couple of days I have walked to the Trail (2 miles round trip), I have heard partridge drumming their mating song.  They have been on the road.  The other night Bruce and I drove home.  There was a partridge right in front of us on the Tucker Lake Road.  He fly off but not very far.  We backed up a couple of feet and there was the partridge on a branch looking in our car window!

Ducks are also around.  Many of them keep going north but the mallards are here to raise their broods.  By the beginning of June we will have lots of little ones on the beach at the lodge.

When I was in town on Thursday, there was a loon in the bay at Grand Marais.  I imagine that loon will be flying up here pretty soon.  There is nothing nicer than to lie in bed at night and hear the loons calling.  It is when I know we are really at home.

So you can go to bed tonight and imagine the waves splashing up on the shore of Gunflint Lake.  It’s a bonus that those of who live on a lake get every spring.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Snow Again

Last week’s snow has almost melted.  I was able to walk the Tucker Lake road for about 1 mile without getting mud all over.  All that changed last night.  We got abou2 inches of snow and it is still coming down.  Tomorrow we have a chance of rain/snow and then sunshine.  It is just that time of year when the weather changes every day.  All we really want is sunshine and melting temperatures.  Once Easter week is over, there are very few guests so we don’t have to worry about snow conditions.

The purple finches are still around.  The snow must have covered up all their feed.  That leaves my feeders as their source.  We are going through sunflower seeds like there ie no tomorrow.  They are also squawking at each other constantly.  Luckily it is cold enough that the windows are closed so I don’t hear them all the time.

Tomorrow is Easter and we are having a small buffet at the lodge.  I am going down in the morning to make deviled eggs.  We (I) must have them for the buffet.  The only question is whether I can make them in a large quantity any more.  It will come back to me.  After all the years we had deviled eggs on smorgasbords, it is amazing that the recipe isn’t on the tip of my tongue.

I just came back from managers’ lunch at the lodge.  The Tucker Lake side road was covered with a wet, slippery snow.  I at one point it upped my speed just a bit and felt the back tires slide over.  By the time I got to the main Gunflint Trail, it was wet and free of all ice and snow.  Coming back the Tucker Lake Road was starting to melt as the temperature was up above the freezing point.  This all just the temperature changes that makes driving so much fun at this time of year.  Luckily it only last for a short time in the spring.

Bruce is out in the workshop with a “project.”  He got some containers that fit onto a rack on the wall.  Into them he is emptying all his cans of different types of nails and screws.  The idea is that once he has the time, he will have all his tools, nails, screws etc. organized for projects. 

One of the first projects is new (pretty) trellises for my garden.  We need them for the green beans this summer.    We eat beans for about 6 weeks when they are at the peak of freshness. 

In fact I am starting to plan the garden out.  The first thing to get in is spinach.  It will grow up quickly and I may even get a second crop in.  With new snow on the ground, it all sounds pretty good.  Hopefully this is our last snowfall and it will melt quickly.



Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring Activities


Bruce, April (front desk) and I spent a long last weekend in Minneapolis at the gift show.  Hopefully we bought enough enticing things to tempt you to make a purchase or two.  It was two days of looking and two days of buying.  I don’t even want to try to total how much we spent.  It adds up quickly.

The trip had fun highlights too.  On Saturday night we went out to dinner with Grant and Mae who graciously brought along their parents.  We all laughed at the chef who cooked on a hot plate right in front of all 8 of us.  When the oil got hot and sprang into flames, the kids could feel the heat from the flames.  It was so much better than having to sit still while waiting for dinner to come.

Another highlight for Bruce and I was Penzey’s Spice store on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.  I had made a list but it was really long because we had not been there for a long time.  Then I left the list at home.  So we had to walk through everything.  It all fit into a little basket but the price wasn’t little.  We will use every grain of the spices.

There was one place that was recommended to us and we didn’t get there.  In St. Paul on University & Hennepin is Surdyks.  It is a wine and cheese store.  I am told that they specialize in the stinkiest cheese there is.  I looked them up on the internet and they are on my list for the next trip.

We got home on Monday to snow banks that had shrunk to nothing while we were gone.  The side road from the Gunflint Trail into our house was down to gravel and dry.  It was really nice and we both felt that spring was coming.  Little did we know that by Thursday morning we would have 13 inches of new snow.  I had an early appointment in town but could not go because the mile out to the main trail was not plowed until the middle of the morning.  Bruce could not get out either so he cleaned the snow up in our yard.  The banks there are up to five feet now.  It would be really pretty if this was November.

Of course, the birds are really starting to come with all the snow.  All day I seem to have a great number of purple finches attacking the bird feeders.  When I am done with this, it will be time to go fill all the feeders.

Also we appear to have one pregnant pine martin.  I have not seen her but that is Bruce’s opinion.  Between birds and pine martins we seem to be feeding the whole neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Longer Days and Sloppy Snow

March blew in yesterday.  The morning gave us a thunderstorm and rain.  By afternoon the main Trail was free of snow and ice.  Driving home during the afternoon and evening was nasty because of the fog.  Both Bruce and I did it at different times.  It wasn’t fun for either of us.

The good part of the day was that we still had two feet of snow in the woods.  Some colder weather is coming and our guests will be out skiing again.  And of course, we are all remembering Marches in the past.  Those were the years when the snow was really going and it was almost gone except we got a storm that dumped two feet of new snow on us.  No matter happens, we will enjoy the fact that within several weeks real spring will be here.

Besides snow or rain or whatever, March is also bringing us longer days.  The extra hours of daylight are a true blessing.  I don’t even mind have a hour’s less sleep as we spring forward into daylight’s savings time.  Our longer days will just keep moving onward until the 21st of June when we start going the other way.

Bruce and I and April (from the front desk) leave tomorrow for the annual gift shop buying show.  April has done all the hard work.  She has inventoried, read catalogs and made her lists.  The gift shop at the lodge without the clothing doesn’t seem very big.  The three of us, however, will spend a day and a half just looking at the various show rooms.  Then we will spend an equal amount of time buying from various venders.  If you have ever been on a business trip for Bruce, we will spend every minute working.

The best part of the trip will be Saturday night.   That is the night we go out to dinner with Lee, Eva, Grant and Mae.  I love to see my children and their spouses but, like all grandmothers, it is the grandchildren who are always to stars of the show.  It is so hard to realize how much they know and grow.

I thought about this just the other night.  Like many of you I am getting the family organized through Ancestry and their Family Tree Maker.  Pictures are very meaningful.  I just saw two pictures that really hit home.  Each picture had one of my grandmothers holding me the day I was baptized.  It’s hard to see me in that little baby.  And have I lived up to all the hopes that those two women had for me?

It is getting a little colder outside.  My thermometer reads 30 degrees.  The rain yesterday and the colder weather today have pretty well cleaned the snow off the roofs.  The Tucker Lake Road from the Gunflint Trail to our house is just a mess off slush and soft snow.  Somebody hit the snow bank very hard.  Bruce asked if I did it.  Luckily I had not come close to the bank.  It is a matter of knowing when to drive very very slowly in the sloppy snow.


Saturday, March 05, 2016

The Season of Change Starts

March is here and it seems that all the weather has changed.  The sun is in a different position regarding my living room window.  It can be -22 when I get up at 6:00 a.m.  By late morning the temperature is now in the teens.  The snow on the roof is melting steadily.  Snow on the ground is melting until about 4:00.  Then it gets that granular quality as it starts to freeze again.  Soon it will be covered by an inch of new snow.

It’s hard to believe that all of this can happen in just a day but it does.  The change will occur for several days in a row.  Then we will have just melting.  The snow shrinks.  The ice starts to turn gray.  Now it is time for serious melting.  The warm weather of late March feels like summer temperatures.  When these same temperatures hit us in May, it feels like winter is back.  It is why these months are unpredictable and always changing.

Meanwhile my thoughts are turning to planting the garden.  Can I grow just 3 cabbages?  That is really all we can eat.  And which kind of tomatoes should I try this year.  My goal is to just get a reasonable bunch of delicious, home-grown tomatoes with that vine-ripened flavor.  Green beans seem to be solved.  Blue Lake have worked really well that last two years.  Oh but let’s not forget about beets.  Also Yukon Gold potatoes do really well here too (baked ones are for dinner tonight).  Yellow onions were great.  We ate every one.  There is plenty of time to day dream about the garden.  I usually don’t plant until June 1st so everything is protected from a late frost.

Back to what is outside my window today –pine martins are here almost every day.  I think there are about 3-4 living around our house.  Even with their distinctive markings I still can’t really decide how many are around.  One thing is for sure -- they love sunflower seeds.  They also love any bones or scraps from the dining room table.

Two days ago there was an otter hanging around.  Between our house and the lake is a small valley and then a little ridge.  You can’t see the lake but it is just on the other side of the ridge.  I was upstairs and spotted the otter on the little ridge.  They really are beautiful and graceful animals.

There has also been a few rabbit tracks in the snow.  Those we can do without.  Two years ago we started some green beans in the house.  I planted them in the garden and we left for two days for our granddaughter’s high school graduation.  When we came home, a rabbit had eaten every leaf off the plants.

Birds have also started to come home.  Right now the purple finches are all over.  Soon we will have lots of colorful birds.  The spring is when there seems to be a great variety of birds just flying all over.  There will be new ones to spot every week.

So we are in the season of change.  I’m ready for it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Quick Story of Winter

Many of you know that Gunflint Lodge is for sale.  Just to keep the record straight, we have not sold.  If a sale is finished, we’ll let you know.

It’s almost March and I don’t know where January and February have gone.  It has been a strange winter so far.  Gunflint Lake did not freeze until January 4th.  Even now we do not have a lot of good ice.  What we do have is slush!  The east end of Gunflint seems to be hit the worst but you can find slush almost anywhere on the lake.  Most of the lakes are in the same shape.

We have had a fair amount of snow.  The side roads are very narrow.  No one is driving them very fast just in case another car is coming at you.  Also as things warm up, the roads are very slippery.  It is another good reason to go slowly.

Moose seem to be coming back.  Above is one of Sheryl’s pictures from just a week or so ago.  Momma seems awfully heavy with one (or maybe two) new moose waiting to pop out.  We have a bunch of moose around the Seagull-Sag area.   There is also a big buck moose near the “Octagon” house on Loon Lake.  Around Birch Lake and the Laurentian Divide, moose have also been reported.  You and your vehicle are never going to win by hitting a moose so slow down.

The deer population on Gunflint is very sparse.  We always have ups and downs in deer depending on how many wolves are in the area.  For the past couple of years we have had 2 wolf packs on the lake.  Now that the deer are down, the wolves with start to look someplace else for dinner.  In a couple of years the deer population will recover and the wolves will move back in.

Bruce and I spent a good portion of January and February on vacation.  This year we picked the island of Faisel which is one the islands that make up the Azores Islands of Portugal.  We rented an apartment for three weeks and explored the entire island.  The first two weeks were walking all over the main town of Horta.  The last week we had a car and drove all over.  Here is a little of what we learned.

In 1957 they had a volcano that started out to see and worked its way in for 15 months.  The lava flow eventually covered and destroyed the main fishing villages for whalers.  We spent  quite a lot of time going through the underground museum that was built to tell the story of the volcano.  Eventually the island lost 35 % of its population who moved out as a result of the volcano.

Up on the highest peak of the island was also the remains from a volcano thousands of years ago.  The town had built a hiking trail around the rim which was about 3 ½ miles long.  Bruce tried to walk part of the rim one foggy, windy, muddy afternoon.  The wind was so strong he was almost blown off the rim even though he was using walking sticks.  The next day we came back to beautiful blue sky.  He walked up about 1000 feet to some communications towers we had not been able to see the day before.  At the base of the towers was a gravel road to them.  We drove up on this little road to look down into the hole.

During World War II this island was a stopover for planes being ferried from the U.S.  It was also a main stopping point when the first trans-Atlantic cable was laid.

Most of our time in Horta was spent learning the rhythms of the people who lived in town.  We both like to watch what is going on around us.  There was also plenty of time to pick a restaurant for dinner, play three games of cribbage daily and sleep late in the morning.

As much as we enjoyed the trip, it’s good to be home.