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Boom, Crash, Kapow!

Boundary Waters Blog - 10 hours 28 min ago

That’s how I was woken up early Monday morning around 3:00am.  Bolts of lightning were striking nearby like it was a scene from an end of the world movie. I could picture people running and dodging the jagged streaks of electricity. The noise and light were also reminiscent of the 4th of July fireworks.  When I looked outside through my window I saw a strange pulsating and explosive light and heard a crazy whirring/buzzing noise that accompanied it.  Then all was quiet including every electronic device on the premise.

The neighbor’s electric box and ours across the Seagull River were both hit by lightning. Thankfully our neighbor used his radio to call the power company and by a little after 6:00am on Monday morning our power had been restored.  I LOVE our Arrowhead Electric linemen who are sent out on calls and respond so quickly and who are so efficient and fast at repairing our lines. Our busy morning would have been much more challenging without the use of our cash register and computers for getting groups out into the Boundary Waters this morning.

Not much rain fell with the lightning storm and that always freaks me out.  It’s been a very wet summer so far and we haven’t had to worry about wildfires for the most part. It’s still quite wet in the woods but lightning strikes can cause trees to smolder and when conditions do get dry then fires can start. I’m going to try not to worry about it because it doesn’t do any good anyway.

I guess Mother Nature just felt badly for me because I didn’t see any fireworks this 4th of July, thanks for the display.

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7/21/14 - Goodbye Laura!

Sawbill Newsletter - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 2:28pm

7/21/14 - The summer is in full swing, with fewer bugs, plenty of sunshine, warm water, clear starry nights, and good fishing. Unfortunately, we have already had to say goodbye to our wonderful crew member Laura Hoppe, who left yesterday to begin a semester studying abroad in Mexico. - Peter

Best of luck in Mexico, Laura! We miss you already.

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Wonderful Weather for a Boundary Waters Trip

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 6:58am

Is sunshine and 70 degree temperatures the ideal weather to have for a Boundary Waters canoe trip? I was pondering this question as I slugged across a water swollen portage in a downpour on my last BWCA canoe trip.

It is wonderful to be at a Boundary Waters campsite relaxing on a rock underneath a sun-filled sky. Paddling a wilderness lake as the sunlight reflects off of the water’s surface is also a beautiful thing. But are there disadvantages to having perfectly warm, dry weather on a wilderness canoe trip? I determined there to be some benefits of experiencing not so wonderful weather during a BWCA trip.

  • Portages without mud puddles are boring. It’s much more exciting to not know what your foot will encounter when sloshing into the water.
  • Portages are just portages and not waterfalls if there hasn’t been any rain.
  • When it’s windy and raining there are no bugs to bother you.
  • Watching rain come from across the lake in sheets looks really cool.
  • Hearing thunder in the distance can make for good conversation as to what exactly the noise was.
  • Rain keeps your body cool and clean.
  • It gives you something to talk about during the day.

And of course, “bad” weather on your canoe trip makes you appreciate the wonderful weather even more.

Boundary Waters Canoe Trip

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Shopping for candidates

Unorganized Territory - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 5:29pm

The run up to the August 12, 2014 primary election has been very interesting. The primary is almost a month away, but things are heating up. Partly because of the number of candidates on the primary ballot, partly because of the unique things each candidate brings to the table, but mostly because mail ballots are being sent out soon.

Cook County Auditor Braidy Powers told the News-Herald that per state law, mail ballots could have been sent out to voters as early as June 27. Powers said the county wouldn’t send them out that early. Our auditor knows ballots will get misplaced in our piles of junk mail if they go out too early. No, Braidy said ballots would be hitting the mail starting July 22.

Voters could also change their minds. It certainly will be a tough decision for the two Cook County commissioner districts that will be going to the polls in August. There are six choices in District 1—the Colvill, Hovland and Grand Portage area—and four choices in District 5—the Pike Lake, Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder area.   

I know all of the people running for office—some better than others—but they are all good people. They would all do a good job representing our county.

So it comes down to the candidate’s stance on certain issues. That is where citizens need to pay attention. Voters need to attend local forums sponsored by community groups. There have already been a few opportunities—two in Colvill at the town hall and one on the West End at the Schroeder Town Hall.

Before the primary arrives, I’m sure there will be others.

Thanks to all of the candidates—John Bockovich, Kristin DeArruda Wharton, Harry Drabik, Steve Fleace, Jerry Hiniker and Frank Moe in District 1 and Tim Goettl, Bruce Martinson, Ginny Storlie and Stan Tull in District 5. Thanks for being willing to expend your time and energy on listening to constituents.

Voters also had the chance to listen to the WTIP radio forums held Wednesday, July 16 for District 1 and 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 17 for District 5. Visit the radio station at to hear what answers they gave when WTIP’s Jay Andersen and I talked to them in the studio, asking your questions of the candidates.

And, please take some time to read the News-Herald—we had interviews with the District 1 candidates in the July 5 issue and the District 5 candidates in the July 12 paper.

We may not have touched on your issue with our questions. It is really difficult to come up with just a few questions that cover everything. One question is just asking for the basic candidate biographical information, which is interesting but cuts into the harder hitting questions.

Or the silly questions. I would have loved to ask a Barbara Walters-style question: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Unfortunately, the maximum number of questions with four or six candidates was four questions. Approximately 100 words per question, four questions, six candidates equals 2,400 words. That’s a huge chunk of the newspaper. With a small introduction and the questions themselves, the article on our District 1candidates totaled 2,760 words.

It seems like a lot to read, but it’s worth it. It’s an easy read as the candidates all gave thoughtful answers.

My favorite question is one that actually came from a local business owner during a previous election. LeAnn Zunker of 1010 Design sent a letter to the editor as Election Day neared in 2010. LeeAnn asked, “What have you done personally to support the economy of Cook County?”

I think all of the candidates said, “Good question!” before answering. It’s not the typical question about the levy and budget, about road maintenance, about ordinances or economic development.

The question gave them all a pause, as it did me when I first heard it back in 2010. What have I done to personally support the economy of Cook County?

It’s a good question to ask ourselves, whether we are running for office or not. Sure, we all take a long shopping list with us when we make the trip to Duluth or the Twin Cities for an appointment or to visit family. It just makes sense to stock up on things that are hard to find in Cook County when you are there. Although all of our retail stores do a really good job carrying just about everything imaginable, there are times that they don’t have our favorite toothpaste or tennis shoe or power tool.

But how many of us run to Duluth just to go shopping? I used to when I had teenage boys and the herds of kids that hung out at our house went through a case of Hot Pockets per week.

But then a friend pointed out that you don’t really save with a trip to Duluth. She said you have to factor time off work, the cost of gasoline, and usually a lunch or dinner on the road. It adds up and those bargain socks or spaghetti sauce don’t seem to be such a bargain after all. Not to mention the wear and tear on your vehicle and your peace of mind. No, it’s better to shop local, to support your friends and neighbors.

Plus, you may just run into a candidate for a local government office. You can ask them your own questions while you stand in line at the grocery store or pump gas next to them.

Something hard hitting like: What can the county board and the city of Grand Marais do to make the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) more successful?

Or something silly like: If you were a yogurt flavor what would you be?

It’s up to you—what do you want to ask your candidate?


Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.
Abraham Lincoln


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Best Time to Paddle the Boundary Waters

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 07/20/2014 - 6:11am

I’ve always said, “Any time you can paddle the Boundary Waters is the best time to paddle the Boundary Waters.” Taking that into consideration the next thing to consider is what you want to experience while you are in the Boundary Waters or what you don’t want to experience while there. Knowing what you want out of a canoe camping trip in the BWCA will help you determine the best time to visit.

Many people come to the Boundary Waters to experience the solitude of the wilderness.  While route choice plays a big part in getting away from people the time of the paddling season makes a big difference too.  I was out paddling last week and I began to wonder if there had been an atomic bomb that went off somewhere because there were so few people out there.

If the main goal of your canoe trip is to not see many people then paddling the Boundary Waters around the 4th of July is a great time. We were towed out past American Point and we didn’t see anyone camping anywhere. We portaged into Ottertrack and didn’t meet anyone on Monument Portage which rarely happens. We saw a couple of canoes on Ester Lake and one group camped there but no groups camped on Hansen Lake or Ottertrack.  For 4 days we had so few encounters with other people we felt like it was the middle of October.

Every year we see a dip in visitors around the 4th of July.  People have picnics, parades, family reunions and fireworks to attend on the 4th of July and they don’t want to miss out on the annual festivities.  That leaves the Boundary Waters empty for people who are willing to give up their sparklers for twinkling stars in the night sky. Of course May, September and October are also great times to paddle if you’re looking to get away from people, but in July you have water warm enough for swimming too.

I love camping in the BWCA when I don’t see other groups so I was super happy to be paddling a week after the 4th of July and see so few people.  While it may not be great for business it’s super for folks who are able to paddle during that time.

Quiet time in the BWCA


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Loon Chicks are Hatching in the BWCA

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 07/19/2014 - 6:59am

We usually start seeing baby loons around the 4th of July in the BWCA. This year it was a little bit later but now that we started seeing them guests have reported seeing them everywhere in the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park.

The tiny balls of fluff ride around on the adult loon’s back after they are first born. It’s a real treat to see one tucked beneath the wing of a loon. The chicks are sometimes so well hidden you would never guess there was one there. Once the chick gets a little bit bigger it will start swimming on its own. It’s fun to be able to watch from a distance as an adult loon attempts to feed the chick. I’ve watched as a loon placed some food directly into the mouth of the chick and then progressed to placing the food directly in front of the chick on the surface of the water and by day’s end the adult was placing it just below the surface so the chick had to get it’s face wet.  The chick learns quickly how to fish for itself.

Loons are beautiful creatures and even more so when there’s a chick on their back.

Loon chicks in the Boundary Waters

Loons hatching in the BWCA



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7/18/14 - Steve Hagen was nice enough to send this picture of himself from Patagonia, Chile today.

Sawbill Newsletter - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 9:14pm

7/18/14 -

Steve Hagen was nice enough to send this picture of himself from Patagonia, Chile today. - Bill

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Historic Lodge Restoration

Clearwater Lodge Tales - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 8:16am

With the 100 year anniversary of Clearwater as a business only a year away we thought it was time the main lodge got a face lift.  The lodge is 88 years old and its logs are covered in multiple layers of stain and thick paint and in need of cleaning.  The paint has begun to crack and flake leaving the logs exposed to the elements.  This exposure has also left some logs too rotten for simple refinishing; they need to be replaced.  We will be teaching ourselves how to do that this fall.  For now we have begun the long process of stripping, scraping, sanding and re-staining, we expect the whole process to take until next summer.  We will keep everybody updated to progress. 

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Blue Bears

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 07/18/2014 - 6:28am

It’s not a new species of bear but the bears are blue because they are sad. The blueberry crop has not ripened yet and the bears are hungry.  One very skinny bear has been checking out the garbages at Voyageur on a regular basis.   Rugby(guard dog extraordinaire) has done a good job at keeping the bear on his toes but I feel badly the blueberries aren’t ripe yet.

Blueberry harvesters in the area also feel badly the berries aren’t quite ready. In most recent years the crop has been ready by this time of the summer but due to the late spring it will be a couple of weeks before they are ripe. Hopefully the blueberry pickers can resist the temptation to enter the picking areas until it’s time to pick otherwise the plants will get damaged and we’ll have fewer blueberries making people and bears bluer.

There are some delicious tasting wild strawberries around for people who are ready to pick. There are even a few ripe raspberries and what looks like a good Thimble Berry crop in the making. Let’s hope the recent sunshine will speed up the ripening process so our bears will no longer be blue.

Interesting bear facts from Hiking in Bear Country-

Sides explains that a bear’s teeth can be very sharp, indicating that the bear eats meat. The back teeth are flat, telling of diet of plant material.

Seventy-five percent of a black bear’s diet consists of plant material. The rest is made up of berries, fish, or maybe a fawn in the spring. Each chomp is important for researchers. Teeth marks can reveal a bear’s age, sex, and even how many times it has given birth.

Bears venture out around 100 miles for food. Some even travel 40 miles just for an acorn. For them, it’s worth it. Storing food for the winter is a number-one goal. A hibernating bear can burn 3,000 – 4,000 calories a day in the winter.

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7/17/14 - Our good friend, wood and canvas canoe builder extraordinaire Alex Comb, is organizing a wooden canoe gathering here at Sawbill this September.

Sawbill Newsletter - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:18am

7/17/14 - Our good friend, wood and canvas canoe builder extraordinaire Alex Comb, is organizing a wooden canoe gathering here at Sawbill this September. Information from Alex:

2nd Annual
Sawbill Landing Wooden Canoe Gathering
September 5-7, 2014

We will gather Friday at the National Forest Campground at Sawbill Landing, which is at the end of the Sawbill Trail on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Car camping sites are available at the campground (half of the sites can be reserved online at:, while the other half are on a first come basis). Heavily wooded with mature white Pines it is a beautiful setting. The northern two thirds of Sawbill Lake is in the BWCA and there are short portages into Alton, Kelso and Smoke Lakes. Day permits are available by simply filling out a registration form.

We will take some excursions in the BWCA on Saturday, while Sunday will be left for paddling around the landing. There may be a bit of boat swapping available for people to try each other's boats. Stewart River Boatworks will also have some models available for folks to try.

Everyone with interest in wooden canoes is welcome to join in. Bring a wooden canoe if you have one or just bring what you have.

The kids are back at school, the bugs have gone to bed. It is a wonderful place to enjoy the early autumn.

For more information contact:
Alex Comb or 218-834-2506
Barry Christianson or 507-822-4406
Sawbill Outfitters or 218-663-7150

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Voyageur Brewing Company

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 6:57am

Have you heard the exciting news? Mike and I are part of a new craft brewery coming to Grand Marais, Minnesota. Two other couples are involved in this exciting adventure so we’ll still be able to take care of all of our guests at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters while brewing some great beer.

Voyageur Brewing Company is located on Highway 61 right across the street from the Lake Superior harbor and Java Moose coffee shop. Ground was broken last week for the Tap Room that will have light appetizers and of course, beer! We’ll have growlers that you can fill with our beer to bring into the Boundary Waters and then re-fill when you’re on your way home.  We also plan to bottle our beer so you can find your favorite in a local liquor store.

We’ve started a blog and we’re on Facebook so you can follow along with our progress.  We’ll be asking for input along the way so be sure to “like” our page and check it out often.  We plan to be brewing beer before the end of the year and we’ll be looking forward to having you visit the Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais, Minnesota.

Grand Marais Brewing Company

Voyageur Brewery in Grand Marais, Minnesota

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Fun Times

North Shore Art Scene - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 11:49pm

Sandra Updyke took this luscious photo the other day.


It’s high summer in Cook County and the season will be launched with the beginning of the Grand Marais Playhouse’s Summer Theater Festival on Thursday night with the first performance of “Nunsense: The Mega Musical” by Dan Goggin at 7 p.m.

The cast of “Nunsense: The Mega Musical.”

The play with be performed in repertory with the comedy “Nana’s Naughty Nickers,” by Katherine DiSavino, Thursday through Sunday until Aug. 10. See for the complete schedule of performances.

The cast of “Nunsense” includes  Rena Rogers, Karina Roth, Karen Blackburn, Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux, Micheala Peterson, Jan Healy, Gerry Grant, Don Grant, and Daniel Ditmanson.

Nunsense  was originally created from a line of nun greeting cards that the playwright, Dan Groggin, developed. He expanded the concept into a musical, which opened off Broadway in New York in 1985, where it ran for 3,672 shows— one of the most commercially successful Off Broadway shows ever. By the time the show closed, it had become an international phenomenon  and was translated into 21 languages with 5,000 productions worldwide.

The cast of  “Nana’s Naughty Nickers” includes Yvonne BlockJan HealyJulie Fredlund, Karl OlsonRon McClellanJane Gellner, Bill Shaffer and Tina Krauz.

Tickets can be purchased online at  or at the door.

Photo by Jim Christiansen.

This is the weekend of flower shows in Cook County. The Grand Marais Garden Club will host the 70th annual Flower Show at the Cook County Community Center on Friday, July 18, from noon to 5 p.m. The theme is “Birds, Bees and Blossoms.” Refreshments will be served. All invited.

On Saturday, the West End Garden Club will host its Flower Show at the Schroeder Town Hall from 1-5 p.m. The theme this year is “Around the World in 80 Bouquets.” The show will also include a program on minature gardens Refreshments will be served.

The Grand Marais Art Colony continues its Friday studio demonstrations with a demo in the clay studio by Natalie Sobanja at 10 a.m. The demo is free. All invited.

On Saturday, the  Cook County Farm & Craft Market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Senior Center parking lot.

Also at 9 a.m. on Saturday, author James Norton and photographer Becca Dilley who produced the book, “Lake Superior Flavors,” will be guests at a celebration between Drury Lane Books and the World’s Best Donuts. The Donut Shop was featured in the book.

The Bally Blacksmith Tent is open again this Saturday  between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. It is across the street from the Senior Center parking lot. The public is invited to enjoy refreshments, identify mystery artifacts from the old shop, share stories about the old days and learn about the renovation and documentation project at the Blacksmith Shop sponsored by the Cook County Historical Society.
At noon on Saturday,  WTIP Community Radio will broadcast the show that Mountain Stage Radio recorded at Unplugged at North House Folk School last year. Performers include The BoDeans, Dead Man Winter, Jill & Julia (Jill Sobule & Julia Sweeney), The Pines and the Jonathan Rundman Acoustic Trio. WTIP broadcasts at 90.7 FM.

Mountain Stage Radio Show is coming back to North House again this year. Find more information on this year’s Unplugged event, Sept. 11-14  and  buy tickets at

There are some great art exhibits to see this month, too. “Feels Like Home,” with beadpainting by Jo Wood and acrylic paintings by Don Lessard continues at the Johnson Heritage Post through July 20.

And the Grand Marais Art Colony is exhibiting watercolors by Tim Pearson in its Spotlight Gallery through the end of the month.

The Thunder Bay Art Gallery has a number of on-going exhibits this summer including “Nowhere is a Place,” paintings by Julie Cosgrove; “Moving Metal,” featuring 13 contemporary Canadian silversmiths, “Push: Contemporary Glassworks,” and an exhibit of Benjamin Chee Chee’s artwork from the permanent collection.

And the Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay is featuring three exhibits in its space: The Members’ Show, an exhibit of works by the Die Active Collective and a video artist.

In other art news, Threads is featuring paintings by Heidi Sobanja and Yelena Quistad and photography by David Johnson.

Great Gifts of Lutsen has cards by Betsy Bowen, Kelly Dupre, Sandi Pillsbury-Gredzens, Anna Hess and Jane Richards.

Kah Nee Tah Gallery in Lutsen is featuring watercolors by Marie Sweeney. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

July artists at the the Cross River Heritage Center include Sandi Pillsbury Gredzens, David Hahn, Travis Novitsky, Bruce Palmer, Rose Vastila, Alan and Shell Foeckler.

And here’s a great idea for writers: Shelby “Miss Guided” Gonzalez has organized a Writing Field School Oct. 3-5 at Lutsen Resort. It promises to “deepen your everyday writing skills and invite more creativity into your life.”

It also promises to:

  • Demolish your writer’s block – and learn exactly what to do next time you get stuck
  • Level up your writing skills
  • Get key insider insights on getting published
  • Write your first adventure story

Want a taste of what this 3-day event is offering? Visit You can also order a free “Writer’s Block Demolition Kit” on the site. (We ordered one.)

Meanwhile, there’s lots of great music this weekend. Here’s the schedule.

Thursday, July 17:

  • Joe Paulik, Music on the Beach, Lutsen Resort, 6 p.m.
  • Pete Kavanaugh, Sydney’s, 7 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne, Gunflint Tavern, 8 p.m.

Friday, July 18:

  • Briand Morrison, The Pie Place Cafe, 6 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Music by the Campfire, Eagle Ridge Resort Campfire, Lusten, 7:30 p.m.
  • Cherry Dirt, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7:30 p.m.
  • Black River Revue, Gunflint Tavnern, 9 p.m.

Saturday, July 19:

  • Boyd “Bump” Blomberg & Adam Moe,  Bluefin Grille, 7 p.m.
  • Pete Kavanaugh, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7:30 p.m.
  • Black River Revue, Gunflint Tavern, 9 p.m.
  • Dance Party with DJ Beavstar, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Monday, July 21:

  • Joe & Jessi, Gunflint Tavern, 7 p.m.
  • Pete Kavanaugh, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, July 22:

  • Timmy Haus, Gunflint Tavern, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 23:

  • Eric Frost, Music on the Mountain at Moguls Grille, 9 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne and Bob Bingham, Bluefin Grille, 9 p.m.

Our favorite photographers were definitely out and about this week. Here’s a selection:

First up, taking a drink — moose-style and deer-style.


Photo courtesy Trail Center Lodge.


Photo by Michael Furtman.

Here’s one by Nace Hagemann … he noted that the mom guarded her chick as it warmed itself on the road.

Photo by Nace Hagemann.


Paul Pluskwik caught this fantastic shot of a loon family on a northern Minnesota lake.

Photo by Paul Pluskwik.


Here’s a great shot of an indigo bunting by David Brislance.

Photo by David Brislance.


Hawkweed and a butterfly… beautiful colors by Dennis Chick.

Photo by Dennis Chick.


Layne Kennedy captured this wonderful image of Minnehaha Falls in the Twin Cities.

Photo by Layne Kennedy


And Bryan Hansel captured this intriguing shot with an underwater camera.

Photo by Bryan Hansel.

There were some wonderful skyscapes, too. Here’s a gorgeous shot by Travis Novitsky.

Photo by Travis Novitsky.


And here’s what is coming down the pike — very soon!

Photo by Heidi Pinkerton.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


















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What’s Kids’ Day? . . . And Other July FAQs

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Blog - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 2:41pm

If you’ve been up at the museum on Monday in the last month, you might have run into a bunch of kids seeing if they can jump as far as a frog, playing at the water’s edge, or making their own personalized nature journal. That’s because every Monday at Chik-Wauk through August 25th is Kids’ Day, where kids age 18 and under enjoy free admission and when there’s a whole bunch of kid focused crafts, nature activities, and hikes happening.

We know families on vacation don’t necessarily want to have to show up at a set time for activities, so on Kids’ Day the activities run all day. When you show up, the activities begin, or you can jump in on some activities already in progress. A favorite activity to date has been doing a pond dip at the lake shore and discovering all the amazing life in the lake, including a bunch of big leopard frog tadpoles. If you’re in the area with kids or grandkids, please consider checking us out for Kids’ Day.

Another question we’re hearing a lot lately is, “what are the blueberries like?” The blueberries are starting to ripen on the property. Last week we had a family pick just enough blueberries for a pie, but with the late spring, the blueberries have been slow to ripen and we predict prime picking won’t start until sometime next week. It might be a little spottier harvest this year than in years’ past, but if you have to work a little harder for your berries, they’ll taste even sweeter. Right now, if you’re looking for a handful to toss in pancakes or muffins, you should be able to find that fairly easily as you walk along our hiking trails. The raspberries are starting to ripen too.

Tickets are now on sale for this year’s “Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings Chamber Music Concert Fundraiser.” The concert will be held Saturday, August 16 at 4 p.m. at Gunflint Trail Fire Hall #1 (Mid-Trail, Poplar Lake). Tickets are $20.00 for adults, $5 for children up to 18. You can buy your tickets in person at the museum or by calling 218-388-9915. Starting next week, you’ll also be able to buy the tickets online at our website Tickets are limited, so purchase your tickets soon to avoid disappointment; last year’s concert sold out.

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How Bad are the Bugs in the Boundary Waters?

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 6:57am

The great thing about the bugs found in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota is none of them are likely to kill you with a single bite. If you have an allergy to bees or some other unusual condition then there is a slight possibility of death but for the most part the bugs in the Boundary Waters just “bug” you. This along with the fact we do not have poisonous snakes makes me quite comfortable while canoe camping in the BWCA even if there are insects buzzing around.

I just spent a few nights in the Boundary Waters and was pleasantly surprised with the current bug population(or lack there of it).  The way the mosquitoes have been around Voyageur this year made me think I would be lifted away by mosquitoes out on the trail but they were not bad except right at dusk.  They appeared for about an hour in the morning at dawn and another hour at night and that was about it.  The portages(even though they were very wet) were relatively mosquito free and I had no reason to wear a head net.

The blueberry pollinator(Black Fly) population has also dwindled down to almost nothing.  They are usually gone by the first part of July but I thought with the delayed summer we might have them around a little longer this year. Black flies tend to like some people more than others and luckily they don’t like me very much or I don’t react to their saliva like some folks do. These are the small but stout flies that like to swarm around your head and bite you around the neck, behind the ears and on the scalp. Kids or people experiencing black flies for the first time will often bleed or swell up and may even get a fever but for the most part they just annoy you. Unlike other flies they can’t bite through clothing so if you wear long sleeves and long pants then they won’t be able to bite you.

The benefit of rain and wind when you’re out paddling the BWCA is the biting fly(barn fly, stable fly, dog fly) isn’t around to suck your blood.  These flies are the ones that land and bite quickly and their bite usually hurts. When you try to slap at them they are long gone but return just as quickly as they departed to bite you again. These biting flies are persistent and don’t seem to mind bug spray, even those with Deet.  To protect yourself against them you can wear pants or stay inside as they aren’t normally found indoors.  Early morning and late afternoon are peak times as well as during warm periods following rainfall. Catnip oil has been said to help prevent bites and is worth a try if these flies are out in full force.

I’ve been to places where the bugs are way worse than I’ve ever experienced them in the Boundary Waters. When you’re outside in the summertime there are most likely going to be bugs outside with you.  You can protect yourself with clothing, repellent or just staying inside during certain times of the day. And if you just can’t be inside and aren’t prepared for bugs the good news is when you’re in the Boundary Waters they might bite you but they probably aren’t going to kill you.



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Boundary Waters Unique Mouse

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 9:34am

My first thought was, “Is that a kangaroo rat or what?” Then I thought, “We don’t have kangaroo rats in Minnesota, they live in a desert.” Of the 5 of us camping in the Boundary Waters none of us could identify the mouse that was hopping around our campfire late one evening.  None of us had ever seen such a mouse and none of us was particularly fond of seeing one at that particular time.

The thing about normal mice is they seemingly come out of nowhere to startle a person with their appearance and quick movements. The mouse we were seeing had movements that were unexpected and unpredictable. Rather than running along the ground in a somewhat expected pattern the mouse we were watching leaped and bounded from one place to the next. This made the mouse seem even more threatening to the 5 BWCA campers.

We all vowed to check the internet when we got home so we could determine what kind of mouse jumped around like a kangaroo.   According to my research the woodland jumping mouse is found in Northeastern Minnesota and this must have been the visitor to our Boundary Waters campsite.

from the DNR…  Jumping Mice

Two species of jumping mice live in Minnesota: the meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius) and the less common woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis). The meadow jumping mouse ranges throughout Minnesota. The woodland jumping mouse stays in the woods of northeastern Minnesota.

With their long hind feet and the longest tail of any Minnesota mouse, they can jump more than three feet to avoid danger. They are also good swimmers and divers. But the main way they avoid predators is by standing very still.

BWCA woodland jumping mouse


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Gunflint Trail Canoe Races

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 8:53pm

It’s that time of the year and the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races are here again.  This Wednesday evening folks will gather at Gunflint Lake to raise funds for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.  There will be food, raffle prizes and of course the annual canoe races.  Come support the GTVFD, cheer for the Voyageur Crew and have a great time at the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races.

Gunflint Trail Canoe Races – A Northwoods evening of family fun!
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 4:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Gunflint Lodge Waterfront
143 S. Gunflint Lake
Grand Marais, MN 55604
This is a fundraiser for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.

All proceeds go to the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department
The event times are as follows:
4:00 pm-7:30 pm Silent Auction
4:00 pm Kids Fun events begin
4:30 pm Food service begins
6:00 pm Canoe Races begin with the long distance race followed by many age and gender races with gunnel pumping as the finale.
Race registration is at the waterfront.
6:00 pm General Raffle

The Canoe Races are sponsored by the Gunflint-Seagull-Saganaga Property Owners Associations and Chris Steele of Seagull Lake is the 2014 chair. Proceeds from this top summer Trail event go to the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department which provides fire, emergency and rescue services to keep residents and visitors safe. The deparmnet is completing a long term program that has upgraded facilities at all three stations along the Trail and welcomes funds to maintain these buildings and equipment.

For more information contact:
Julie Henricksson, the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races Committee at 218-388-2246.

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What are you doing TO yourself at the EXPENSE of yourself?

Aging Youthful - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 11:35am

Things that make you go hmmmmm…………….

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An honor system

Unorganized Territory - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 9:06pm

Readers who are not writing a letter to the editor to the Cook County News-Herald this week will likely not notice that a subtle change has been made to our editorial policy. Regular submitters may not notice the change at all, as they already know the letter to the editor guidelines.

They may not always follow those guidelines, which leads to a bit of conflict now and then, but our frequent contributors do know the length, libel and slander limits.

The change is subtle. We rearranged the language in the note at the bottom of the editorial page and added a line. Along with the requisite: “Letters to the editor, columns and cartoons are the opinions of the contributors and not necessarily the Cook County News-Herald”—we’ve added a cautionary statement for letter writers.

The footnote now also states: “While we encourage readers to submit letters to the editor on issues they feel strongly about, we encourage writers to be respectful to one another. Your message is more likely to be heard if it is delivered in a civil manner.”

 The change is one outcome of my attendance at the Blandin Foundation Editor & Publisher Community Leadership Program—and of the meetings with community members that followed. Participating in the Editor & Publisher Leadership Program—E&P for short—is an amazing experience.

The program was established by the Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Newspaper Association, based on the traditional community leadership program offered by Blandin. The goal of the training is to create healthy communities. At the training, each attendee took a hard look at his or her own community. The Blandin Foundation doesn’t give advice on what participants should do when they get back home. In fact, the training raises more questions than it answers. But the leadership sessions give invaluable networking opportunities and provide resources and support as leaders work through what works best for a community.

We have quite a few community members who have attended Blandin Leadership training. You likely know someone who has participated. They are government officials, nonprofit volunteers, teachers, and business owners. Most are actively working to make Cook County a better place, using the skills they learned and the ideas generated at the program into action.

The goal of the E&P program is the same. Since 2005, newspaper editors and publishers from across the state have gathered to take part in the program that asks them to look at the newspaper’s role in the community. One of the principles stressed in both the traditional and the E&P leadership program is the importance of social capital.

We all need people we can count on, to turn to when things need to get done. For a newspaper, it is crucial. We need to know who to call to clarify budget questions, to explain environmental rules and regulations, to let us know the story behind the story. We need people to act as citizen journalists at all the meetings and events that our small staff can’t get to. We need our local photographers to capture moments that we miss because there is too much going on. We couldn’t produce a newspaper without support from the community—our social capital.

So one of the Blandin E&P assignments was to reach out to the community to build social capital. We were asked to do that by interviewing community leaders about the newspaper’s role in the community.

I took it a step further. You may have seen the announcement of a newspaper focus group back in May. It was really interesting. The goal was to evaluate the Cook County News-Herald on how we were doing covering factors that create a healthy community, such as lifelong learning opportunities, safety and security for all, environmental stewardship and more. I asked for ideas and suggestions on how the newspaper could contribute to a healthier community with its coverage. I received that feedback—and then some. Thank you to the folks who took time out of their busy lives to participate!

One of the things that came through loud and clear—in the focus group and the one-on-one interviews—was that people were often irritated and offended by letters to the editor. My knee jerk reaction was to reply that many letters are much more spiteful than what gets published. I wanted to say that we have little control over submissions. But I tried to keep my mouth shut and listen. And I kept hearing that people were not reading the letters because of the angry discourse.

That is troubling and I took the question to the E&P group. I was vindicated a bit. As defenders of a citizen’s constitutional right to free speech, the group collectively agreed that we have little control over what readers submit. It’s a slippery slope, deciding what will offend a reader. If we rigidly edited or refused to run every letter that could possibly offend, we’d have no letters at all. And that would be as harmful as having some letters that may annoy or offend.

So, with our new policy, the Cook County News-Herald is asking readers to police themselves. Our new policy uses the honor system. We encourage you to write letters on subjects you feel strongly about. But we also encourage you to speak gently to one another. We want your message to be heard.

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

A healthy community is a place where all people can meet their economic, social, physical, cultural and spiritual needs, working together for the common good and participating in creating their future.

The Blandin Foundation philosophy

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Get Lost! Or Not

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 07/13/2014 - 6:58am

It won’t be long before two-leggeds start entering the forest in search of blue gems known as blueberries on the Gunflint Trail.  Some times these two legged creatures get so caught up in the berry patches they forget to look up to see where they are, where they came from and where they are going.  Before long a person can get disoriented or find themselves in an area where the brush is too tall to see their surroundings. Panic can set in and before he or she realizes what is happening they trip over a stump and find themselves on the ground with one leg bone sticking one way and another leg bone sticking another way.  Without food, water or a way to communicate this person is what is known as SOL(shit outta luck). Maybe they told someone where they were going, maybe they have a whistle around their neck and maybe someone will come looking for them but then again, maybe not.

My advice to you is to not go blueberry picking on the Gunflint Trail. It’s way too dangerous with the lions, tigers, bears and of course Sasquatch. You are much safer to head to the nearest grocery store and buy a pint of blueberries, they are bigger anyway. Leave the dangerous work to people like me who know how to handle Sasquatch when he approaches and asks for all of your berries.

If you must go blueberry picking then please be careful. Pick with a partner, stick together, know your surroundings and tell others where you are going and when you’ll be back. And if you happen to see Sasquatch, just remember I warned you.

Woman Emerges From Russian Wilderness After Rescuers Lose Hope Justin Meissen / FlickrA woman who was lost in wilderness for nearly a month has found her way out of the forest.

A young woman who was lost in the Far Eastern wilderness for nearly a month has found her way out of the forest, a week after rescuers had given up on finding her, a news report said.

The 28-year-old woman, who was reported missing on June 13 — a day after she had gone into a forest to gather wild plants in the north of Sakhalin Island — re-emerged over the weekend just 3 kilometers away from where she had entered the woods, a spokesperson for the local emergency situations service said, Interfax reported Monday.

The woman told rescuers that she and her companions — one of whom is still missing — had nothing to eat while they were in the forest and survived by drinking water and covering themselves with tree branches for warmth at night, the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Two men, aged 45 and 72, went into the forest along with woman, the report said. The 45-year-old man, who was spotted by a search helicopter on June 15, told rescuers that the trio had become lost and had an argument about which way to go, leading the younger man to head off in one direction, and the woman and her older companion to head off in another, the report said.

By late June, rescuers had apparently given up on finding the woman and her older companion, ending the ”active phase” of their search, Interfax reported.

When the woman re-emerged from the forest on Saturday, she said that two days earlier her 72-year-old companion had felt too tired to walk, and she continued alone to search for a way out of the forest, the spokesperson told Interfax.

The woman refused hospitalization and accompanied rescuers back into the woods on Sunday to search for the older man, but was unable to locate the spot where she had left him, the report said.

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Why To Use a BWCA Canoe Trip Outfitter

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 07/12/2014 - 6:36am

There are so many reasons to use a BWCA canoe trip outfitter for your wilderness canoe trip. The biggest reason most people are happy for the services of a canoe outfitter is they don’t have to clean the gear when they are done with their canoe trip. At Voyageur Canoe Outfitters our guests just get the gear to our outfitting building and we do all of the unpacking and cleaning of the gear. Of course there are many other reasons to use a Boundary Waters outfitter, especially one with over 20 years of experience like we have.

  • We know the routes and can help you plan a BWCA trip that will be right for your group.
  • We know the portages and can help you find the best ones and avoid the not so good ones.
  • We know the lakes and what their topography and scenery is like so you’ll be in an area you want to be in.
  • We know the BWCA fishing spots and can put you on the right lakes with the right fish to help you have a more successful BWCA fishing trip.
  • We know the Boundary Waters campsites and which ones see less use than others.

All of the knowledge a BWCA canoe trip outfitter has can make the difference between a good wilderness canoe trip and an incredible trip. That along with the fact there aren’t too many folks who enjoy digging out all of their miscellaneous camping gear, packing it up, purchasing new equipment and hauling it up to the BWCA. Even if there are a few people who enjoy packing for a Boundary Waters Canoe trip I would imagine there are very few of them who want to deal with the soggy, dirty gear after their canoe trip. And to those who don’t mind either of those aspects then more power to them and they can still have the convenience of picking up their permit, bait and last minute essentials at Voyageur.


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