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Happy 4th of July!

Boundary Waters Blog - 8 hours 46 min ago

I hope you aren’t reading this blog on the 4th of July. I would prefer you were outside enjoying your family and friends on this special day.  May you all have a wonderful 4th of July!

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Happy 4th of July from Voyageur Brewing Company

Voyageur Brewing - 12 hours 31 min ago

We wish you all a safe and wonderful 4th of July. We’ll be celebrating in the Voyageur Taproom and on our rooftop bar from noon until 11pm. You can listen to the sounds of Pete Kavanaugh on the rooftop from 3-5pm and Pushing Chain inside the taproom from 8-11pm.  The forecast calls for a warm day perfect for adventures so be sure to include Voyageur in yours.

Bring your Voyageur Growler on an adventure with you and share your photo with us on Social Media. Tag the photo #VBCGrowlerGo and mention Voyageur Brewing Company so others can see it too.  We’d love to see where your Voyageur Growler has gone.

Here are some photos found on Instagram and Facebook.  Happy Independence Day all!

Stainless Steel Growler on a BWCA Adventure

Voyageur Brewing Company Adventure

Paddling the Canoe Country with Voyageur Beer

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Playing in Puddles

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 4:58pm

This time of the year a person can spot many different species of butterflies flying around on the Gunflint Trail. You can also spot them on the ground where there are mud puddles but according to this website it is primarily the males who puddle.   The butterflies like the salt and minerals found in the puddles and the nutrients are incorporated into their sperm.

I recently noticed butterflies puddling on a dead animal and I guess they like blood, tears and urine! Andre Coatzer(a butterfly expert) suggests trying this experiment, I’ll leave that up to you to decide if you want to do it. I’ll just settle for seeing them wherever they are in nature.

A slightly strange experiment can be performed to test the ‘salt theory’ (it’s best performed when no one else is around). Firstly, find a sandy bank or a muddy patch situated in direct sunlight where there are plenty of butterflies. Next, pour a salt mixture over a wet, but butterfly-free, patch (in the less civilised version of this experiment you can replace salt with urine – butterflies are attracted to the sodium and ammonium ions). You can return to the spot later, when it is still warm outside, but before the moisture in the area has evaporated, and, if all goes well, you can photograph or observe the butterflies on your newly created “mud-puddling” spot.

Although this experiment can be very effective, it’s sometimes necessary to place a dummy butterfly on the patch as well to coax others in the area to join in. This dummy can be anything from a roadkill butterfly found stuck to the grill of your car, to a fake paper specimen. Keep in mind that all butterflies do not go to mud, so your best bet is something that is either white, resembling a butterfly from the family Pieridae, or black like the underside of a swallowtail butterfly from the Papilionidae family.

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7/2/15 - Former crew member calls for protection of BWCA

Sawbill Newsletter - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 5:31pm

7/2/15 - There are few things we at Sawbill love more than having former crew members visit. In late June, John Schrag, a veteran Sawbillian, flew from his Oregon home to Minnesota to go on a trip with his daughter Elena, who is a member of the current Sawbill crew. After the visit, John, who is the publisher of two weekly papers in Oregon, wrote the following email. Included are some pictures from his trip.

Bill, Cindy and the fabulous Sawbill Crew of 2015;

My first year working here, back in 1908, Kathy Heltzer, one my fellow crew members, wrote a song, sung to basic blues riff, that had the following chorus:

Here we are at Sawbill
It's our home away from home.
And when you're at Sawbill
You're never alone.

Thanks for making me feel so at home at my former home away from home. It's great to see that a business model based on hard-work, trust and respect for your colleagues (and plenty of laughter) has not just endured but prospered.

I've come to believe that the key to navigating this world can be distilled into one skill: learning how to get along with others. It's not as easy as it seems.

In my five summers at Sawbill, I became proficient in many things: cleaning out out a non-composting toilet, removing slimy hair from shower drains and finding more than one way to kill a mouse. But the most important lesson was to take individual responsibility to work collectively to solve problems.

Precious few businesses and organizations have figured that out. As crew members, you're lucky to get to experience it so early in your adult lives and in such a beautiful, fun-filled environment.

Before coming on our family canoe trip last summer, It had been more than 25 years since I had been in the Boundary Waters. That trip, and the one Elena and I just completed, made me appreciate the incredible value of wilderness areas.

Our planet, including far too many places in this country, is filled with once-pristine places that now are now major tourist destinations featuring acres of parking lots, luxury hotels, cruise-ship stops, helicopter tours and wi-fi hot-spots.

What an amazing experience, then, to come off the Sitka portage Friday afternoon and find a spectacular collection of islands and water more "natural" than it was when I first paddled up Cherokee Creek 40 years ago this summer.

The picnic tables, canoe portage rests and even the portage signs are gone -- as they should be. I can't think of another place where we, as a society, have managed to allow thousands of visitors to continue enjoy an natural area while helping it become "wilder."

It seems that we got it right for once.

Even from Oregon, however, I am aware that there are new threats to this special place. It's my hope that through the efforts of Dave and Amy Freeman (and their friends at Sawbill) the people in power will understand how important it is to preserve this amazing place.

The forces seeking to exploit the wilderness are powerful, but there are many examples of such efforts being turned back. It gets back to taking responsibility to work together. And since I witnessed a new generation of leaders honing that skill this week, I am returning to Oregon with hope.

Thanks again for your hospitality (and the extra bear ropes).

John ('78-'82)

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Harriet Boostrom Talks About Growing Up at Clearwater

Clearwater Lodge Tales - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 3:00pm
This year we celebrate our centennial — 100 years of helping guests explore the beauty and tranquility of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. In honor of our founders Charlie & Petra Boostrom who established Clearwater Historic Lodge back in 1915, we’ve been sharing stories about the Boostrom’s and the early …

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Fan Non-Fiction

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 6:38am

Most of you have heard of Fan Fiction when ordinary people write their own story or plot using characters from an already published book.  My daughter used to read a ton of it when it involved her favorite books.  What I am referring to is not Fan Fiction but Fan Non-Fiction.

Fan non-fiction is true information about fans(the kind that have blades and spin).  It’s a big pet peeve of mine when people leave fans on when they aren’t even in the room. I have always thought it was a big waste of electricity and it turns out I was right!

July 1, 2015

When a fan spins and nobody is there, is it cooling?
Fans cool people. Fans don’t significantly cool rooms, furniture, or walls.

Moving air cools us by removing our body heat from our skin (think wind chill). This process is enhanced through the evaporation of sweat from our skin.

There are only two times that fans can actually cool a room:

Removing excess heat and moisture through bathroom or kitchen fans.
Moving cooler air into a room, either through an air conditioning system or by moving cooler outside air into the house.
The bottom line: A turning fan in an unoccupied space is doing one thing—using electricity.

Fans are effective home cooling devices for rooms—when occupied. Just as with wind chill in the winter, moving air will quickly reduce our skin temperature, especially when evaporating perspiration. Even homes that use air conditioning can benefit from the use of fans. Cooling our bodies with a fan means we can turn up the temperature on our air conditioner, and save energy overall.

For instance, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). During moderately hot weather, ceiling fans may allow you to avoid using your air conditioner altogether. When shopping for ceiling fans, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. This designation means the fans will move air 20 percent more efficiently, on average, than standard models.

During Minnesota’s winter months, fans will not reduce your heating costs, because the movement of air currents will cool our bodies slightly. This cooling effect may prompt residents to unnecessarily raise their thermostat and overheat their homes.

For more information on fans, visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce Home Energy Guide and the DOE’s “Fans for Cooling” webpage.

Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.


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A Play, Art & the 4th of July

North Shore Arts Scene - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 2:05am

“Summer’s Bounty” by Mike DeWitt.

Summer is here! And with it comes one of our favorite art festivals, summer theatre, Fourth of July celebrations and lots of  live music at local venues all over the county.

First up is “Eleemosynary,” a poignant and powerful play that brought the audience to their feet on opening night at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.  A production of the Grand Marais Playhouse and directed by Jackson Nickolay, the cast of Eleemosynary includes Hannah Nickolay, Melanie Stoddard and Louise Reavis. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, July 2-4 and 2 p.m. Sunday July 5. Tickets are $15 adults and $10 students and are available at the door.

This is also the weekend for the Hovland Summer Arts Festival, one of the high points of the season. The art festival  is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Artists and artisans gather at the Hovland Town Hall for two days, July 3-4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and exhibit everything from fiber arts, lathe-turned bowls, jewelry, artwork, photography, fused glass, and basketry, to Ojibwe bead work, handmade soaps, sculpture & stone carving, wood art and furniture.

Refreshments are served on both days, and local musicians will play. It’s always a fun time.

Here’s the music schedule for the Hovland Summer Arts Festival.


Bump Blomberg, 10 -11 a.m., Maria Nickolay, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m, Rod Dockan, Carah Thomas & Pat Flack, 12:45 – to 1:45 p.m., Briand Morrison, 2-3 p.m., Roxann Berglund, 3-4 p.m.


John, Kristin & Martine Redshaw, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Joe Paulik, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Jim & Michele Miller & Pat Flack, 1-2 p.m.,Unbroken Ground, 2:30 – 4 p.m.

July 3 is also the First Friday of the month, a celebration in Grand Marais at art galleries and retailers giving a nod to the fact that Grand Marais was chosen as the Coolest Small Town in America and encouraging the community to come downtown and have a little fun from 4-8 p.m.

This month’s First Friday features music, a presentation, an art opening,  a hula hoop dancing demo and prizes and refreshments at every stop.

The Ugandan Woodcut Print Show opens at Betsy Bowen’s Gallery with an opening reception from 5-8 p.m. on Friday featuring woodcuts by noted artists Fred Mutebi and Hassan Mukiibi, as well as original woodcuts by Ugandan students. Betsy will talk about it on The Roadhouse on WTIP, Friday at around 5:20 p.m.

Betsy Bowen will talk about the two trips she took to Uganda working with students producing art. Refreshments will be served. All invited.

Black Bear” by Jeff Niesen, who will be giving a painting demo on Friday from 4-8 p.m.

Sivertson Gallery will celebrate First Fridays in July with a painting demonstration by Jeff Niesen  from 4-8 p.m. Gallery manager Abby Tofte said it was going to be a “Dexter”-style demo, because Niesen will set up plastic all around his easel. “I guess he’s pretty wild with his paint,” Tofte said, laughing.

The gallery will be giving away prints of Howard Sivertson’s “The America at the Hovland Dock” with each purchase made that evening.

And, cellist Yvonne Caruthers will play from 4-6 p.m. at the gallery.

Yvonne Caruthers performs by the bonfire at Drury Lane Books. Photo by Matthew Brown.

 Caruthers played her cello from a kayak in the East Bay last month.

Caruthers, who moved here this winter, has  really been creating a buzz with her music. She’s played at openings and events, including the Full Moon Music gathering at Drury Lane Books on Wednesday night, which drew more than 100 listeners.

Last month, she climbed into a kayak and was towed around the East Bay playing Bach by a staff member in a kayak from Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply.

Plate by Maggie Anderson.

And this Sunday (and maybe every Sunday this summer) she will be performing Bach at breakfast at Sydney’s.

Also this Friday, master hula hoop dancer Christine Burns will  give demonstrations on the technique at Joy & Co.  from 4-8 p.m. She will offer three workshops on Saturday — at 11 a.m.,  1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Kah-Nee-Tah Gallery in Lutsen also participates in First Fridays, and this month the gallery is featuring new pottery by Maggie Anderson as well as photographs by Jim Gindorff of St. Paul and leatherwork by Ted Gilmer of Michigan.

Saturday is the Fourth of July, and there are celebrations in Grand Marais and Tofte, as well as fireworks on Saturday night in both communities and in Grand Portage.

In Tofte, the 36th annual Tofte Trek, a 10k run/walk, including kids’ and youth races, begins at 9 a.m., with registration at the Birch Grove Community Center starting at 8 a.m. The event, which is a lot of fun, is a fundraiser for the Sugarbush Trail Association.

The Tofte Fourth of July celebrations are held in the town of Tofte with food and vendors, a beer garden and live music. The parade, the best in the county, starts at 2 p.m. Fireworks at night.

In Grand Marais, the First Congregational Church holds its annual Ice Cream Social from 6-8 p.m. The SplinterTones play in Harbor Park from 7-10 p.m. There’s a parade at 8 p.m. and fireworks start about 9:45 p.m.

There are lots of other activities as well, including craft demonstrations and youth workshops at North House Folk School all day.  Peter Juhl will be demonstrating balanced rock sculptures at Sugar Loaf Cove at 10 a.m.

The Cook County Farm & Craft Market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Senior Center. It could be open on Sunday morning, too. Check it out. There are homegrown vegetables in season, plants, flowers, bakery goods and lots of work by Cook County artisans.

“Night Flight,” triple woven tapestry by Mary Westerman.

There are some great exhibits to see on the North Shore this weekend, too.

Through Our Hands IV, a spectacular exhibit of work by members of the Northwoods Fiber Guild, continues at the Johnson Heritage Post, which will be open every day for the exhibition, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. Sundays.

On Saturday, Mary MacDonald often comes in to demonstrate weaving, and members of the Guild who are docents for the show have been encouraged to bring their work with them, so there’s a good chance visitors can see fiber artists at work when they stop by.

The exhibit continues through July 19.

“Urban Series 1,” a photograph by Alastair MacKay, is in the Members’ Show at DefSup.

In Thunder Bay, the 27th Anniversary Members’ Exhibition continues at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery. There is also a black-light installation by the Die Active Art Collective.

And in Duluth, the opening reception for Micaella Penning’s exhibit at the Zeitgeist “The Line of the Landscape – Lake Superior and Away,” will be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7. The painter, photographer, writer and cartographer lives in Duluth.


  • Plein Air Duluth: Paint du Nord, July 10-17, exhibition July 17 at the Duluth Art Institute
  • Grand Marais Arts Festival, downtown Grand Marais, July 11-12
  • Chalk.a.Lot, Thomas Owens Park and in the streets in Two Harbors, July 18-19
  • “Kalileh” featuring the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, Magic Smelt Puppet Troupe and the Lake Superior Youth Chorus, Marshall Performing Arts Center, UMD, July 23 @ 7:30 p.m.


Tom Christiansen stands beside his moose sculpture at Last Chance Gallery in Lutsen.

In other art news,  Tom Christiansen has installed “The Plaid Moose” at the base of the driveway into Last Chance Gallery in Lutsen. The moose sculpture is almost finished and is one of the Great Places projects funded by the Cook County Chamber of Commerce, the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and Moving Matters.

Joy & Co., has new jewelry by Maggie Friedrichs. Also, high school students from Finland and Silver Bay often give demos on wire wrapping on Saturdays.

Featured artists at the Grand Marais Art Colony‘s Gallery Store this month are potters Bob Briscoe and Jason Trebs.

Heidi Sobanja is exhibiting her paintings at the Crooked Spoon.

Betsy Bowen is painting foxes on the walls of the Arrowhead Pharmacy.

Betsy Bowen has almost finished her Great Places project this summer — a series of delightful and playful paintings of foxes on the exterior wall panels at Arrowhead Pharmacy. You have to look carefully to see them … the foxes, true to their nature, are almost hidden by the shrubs and plantings in front of the business.

Birchbark Books and Gifts just received copies of Frank Moe’s book, “Sled Dogs to St. Paul.”

Tickets are now on sale for the  North House Folk School‘s Unplugged concerts Sept. 17-19, including two nights with NPR’s Mountain Stage featuring Martha Scanlan, Charlie Parr, Ron Sexsmith, Serena Ryder, Mandolin Orange, and more to be announced, and the Unplugged Fall Fundraiser with Jon Vezner & Friends. For more info, visit

Want to see “Moon Over Buffalo” and “I Love You. You’re Perfect. Now Change” for free? The Grand Marais Playhouse Summer Theatre Festival needs ushers. Besides volunteering for a great organization, you get to see the play for free! For more info, email Sandy at

The Cross River Heritage Center’s exhibit of paintings by Bruce Palmer and Ojibwe beadwork by Marci McIntire as well as photographs by Kathleen Gray-Anderson, David Degree and Tim Ostroot continues through July 15.

There is still time to submit your suggestion for a name for the sculpture at the library.

And finally, have you submitted your name suggestion for the sculpture Tom Christiansen did for the lawn in front of the Grand Marais Public Library? The deadline to submit names for the sculpture is July 3. Lots of people have submitted suggestions, and the official name could be announced as early as next week. Let your voice be heard and name that sculpture!

Here’s the music schedule:

Thursday, July 2:

  • Joe Paulik, Music by the Campfire, Lutsen Resort, 6 p.m.

Friday, July 3:

  • Hovland Arts Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne, WTIP’s The Roadhouse, 5:50 p.m.
  • Don Juan Trio, Sydney’s Deck, 6 p.m.
  • Michael Monroe, WTIP’s The Roadhouse, 6:20 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Music by the Campfire, Bluefin Grille, 7 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7:30 p.m.
  • Cook County’s Most Wanted, American Legion, 8 p.m.
  • Dance Attic, Voyageur Brewing Co., 8 p.m.
  • Scott Fraser, Bluefin Grille, 9 p.m.

Saturday, July 4:

  • Joe Paulik, Music on the Deck, Papa Charlie’s, 6 p.m.
  • Tim Fast, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
  • The SplinterTones, Harbor Park, 7 p.m.
  • Michael Monroe’s Log Cabin Concert, rural Grand Marais, 7 p.m. Call 387-2919 for reservations.
  • Earth, Wind & Todd, American Legion, 8 p.m.
  • Pushing Chain, Voyageur Brewing Co.. 8 p.m.
  • The Thunderheads, Gun Flint Tavern, 9 p.m.
  • Dance Party with DJ Beavstar, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 5:

  • Yvonne Caruthers, Bach for Breakfast, Sydney’s, 7:30 a.m.
  • Pushing Chain, Caribou Highlands Lodge, 5 p.m.
  • Steve Blexrud, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.

Monday, July 6:

  • Joe Paulik, Bluefin Grille, 9 p.m.

Tuesday, July 7:

  • Briand Morrison, The Pie Place, 6 p.m.
  • Jim & Michelle Miller, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.

Here are some of the fantastic photos we found this week. Let’s start with wildlife shots.

Here’s a wonderful photo by Travis Novitsky.

Waxwings in Flowering Crab by Travis Novitsky.


Nace Hagemann commented that fog can be nice when he posted this to his Facebook page.

Twins by Nace Hagemann.


Here’s a shot taken during those spectacular northern lights last week.

Raining of charged electrons-proton particles by Kirk Schleife.


Here’s a different kind of raining.

Sky Opens Up by David Johnson.

Here’s a contrast.

Photo by Travis Novitsky.

And this one, by Paul Sundberg.

Tettegouche State Park by Paul Sundberg.


And this one, by Ann Kerber.

Lake Superior by Ann Kerber.

Here’s a pretty spectacular sunrise.

Photo by Travis Novitsky.

And finally, here’s a wonderful shot of the Venus and Jupiter conjunction at dusk.

Photo by Bryan Hansel.

Happy Fourth, everyone! Be safe!






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Volunteers at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Blog - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 2:36pm

Lee Zopff is one of the many volunteers that help out during the week here at Chik-Wauk Museum. She is a very fascinating person to talk with.  Thank you Lee for volunteering your time. It is wonderful to see every week the many residents from the Gunflint Trail that come up to the museum and lend a helping hand. Thank you all for the extra time you spend up here helping out in so many different ways.


Here is another visitor that has been stopping by. Wondering if she is planning on laying some eggs nearby. Add babysitting to the list of many jobs here that we do at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.

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7/1/15 - Lost dog, Bode, on portage between Smoke and Burnt Lakes.

Sawbill Newsletter - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 11:00am

7/1/15 - Our good friend, Steve Gendron, lost his dog, Bode, on the portage between Smoke and Burnt Lakes on Monday, June 29th. Bode is recently rescued by the Gendron family, so he is shy and skittish. If you are headed out that way, please keep your eyes peeled. - Bill

Bode, the dog currently lost between Smoke and Burnt Lakes.

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Big Bad Wolf, Goldilocks or Black Bear?

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 10:23am

I have a strange feeling we are living in a warped Fairy Tale. We don’t have any pigs living in our house but we do sometimes have oatmeal(porridge) for breakfast and we definitely have bears.

Once upon a time there was a big, black bear. It was early in the summer, there were no ripe berries to eat and he was very, very hungry. He was tired of clawing at tree stumps and looking for ants and bugs to eat. His hunger never seemed to subside and tearing and digging was too much work for the reward.

What this bear really looked forward to was a big, easy meal.  When he drifted off to sleep at night he could hear the grumbling of his tummy. When he saw his reflection in the lake he didn’t like how skinny he was getting. He was cranky, tired and hungry. He was so hungry all he dreamed about was finding a dumpster unlocked or food left in a garbage can at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.

As he ambled from one cabin to another checking for garbage he started to formulate a plan in his head. Persistence had to pay off eventually.  He recalled the last time he hit pay dirt at Voyageur and he regretted making such a big mess the last time he was there because now the two-leggeds were being very careful with his next meal. The dumpster was locked, the trucks were food free and the yippee four-legged seemed to smell him from a mile away.

He knew he shouldn’t have thrown a fit when there was no garbage in the containers but he couldn’t help himself from knocking over the wooden bin and making a mess of the few glass bottles in one of the containers.  He had a feeling he had gone too far but he just kept checking and waiting for an opportunity.

The moon kept getting bigger and still there were no berries that were good enough to satisfy his palette.

“Well,” thought the bear. “I can’t wait around for any garbage to be left out, I need to take matters into my own paws.”

He could smell the banana bread before he even got onto the deck. He crept along the deck as quietly as possible and thought to himself, “I wonder where that pesky four-legged is tonight, why isn’t he yipping? Is this some sort of a trap?”

When he saw the banana bread through the window of the lodge unit he just knew he had to have it. Luck was finally on his side as someone left the window open so wide he knew he would be able to slide through it and into the kitchen before anyone would be the wiser.  He carefully pulled the screen out without even ripping it, thinking to himself, “This is so easy!”

Then he hoisted himself up and into the window and dropped into the kitchen with the softest paws he had. What he saw made his mouth water. Spread out on the table in front of him was a smorgasbord complete with banana bread, chocolate chips and his favorite blueberry muffins.

Then his worst nightmare happened, the room filled with lights and a horrendous high-pitched noise of three girls screaming pierced the quiet night. He swore to himself, cursed the two-leggeds and considered his options. Three two-leggeds were on the spiral stairs stomping like mad and then another two-legged popped her head out of  the bedroom door and startled him. He really didn’t want to leave but those two-leggeds just would not shut up. He grabbed the loaf of banana bread and left the comfort of the lodge unit to finish it outside where it was a little more quiet.

Feeling satisfied with himself, congratulating himself on being persistent he took a large dump next to the wrappings of the banana bread and went away for a good night’s sleep on a full stomach.

And the four two-leggeds didn’t get a wink of sleep the rest of the night…

To be continued…

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Starry, Starry Night, Or the Art of Looking Up

Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 7:51am

Sometimes I forget to look up.

It’s so easy to spend the days in a whirlwind of phone calls, orders, and emails that when the sun goes down, I forget that Mother Nature’s just getting ready for another light show. Sure, I feel a little pang when I see those brilliant northern lights photos on my Facebook wall the night after a particularly stellar show, but in general, even the most promising Aurora Borealis forecast isn’t enough to pull me from my warm, cozy bed at 3 in the morning. In fact, my dad’s fond of telling the story of when, back in 1995, he woke me up at 4 a.m. one winter morning to check out the Comet Hyukatake blazing brilliantly over our backyard. I stumbled downstairs after him, stood at the back door for a second or two to take in the comet, and with a grunt, I bolted back upstairs to reacquaint myself with the bed covers.

 But just because I keep my midnight star gazing to a minimum, that doesn’t mean I’m apathetic to the night sky. I love watching constellations like Orion march across the sky each winter and I’ve even been known to set my alarm for some ungodly hour to catch the Persieds meteorite showers. It’s just, like most people, I need a little prompting to look up. 

When a group of college friends came up this past weekend, the professional photographer in the group was excited by the Aurora Borealis forecast and headed out on the Tuscarora dock to see if she could spot any color on the northern horizon. Although there wasn’t much northern lights activity when she was out, the night time photos she did snap reminded me of all the wonderment that passes us by each night. It’s so special to make our home in a place where the darkness is thick and the stars aren’t muted by outdoor lights. Sometimes, on a winter evening, I just like to stare up into the Milky Way, remembering that our view of the night sky isn’t that dissimilar from the ancient Greeks who were out there naming the constellations all those thousands of years ago. There’s something both grounding and magical to be found in the stars.

If you find yourselves in our neck of the woods, don’t forget to take a moment to step outside the cabin or tent some night and look up. It’s one heck of a show.

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From July 2014 – “We can feel the love.”

Clearwater Lodge Tales - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 2:49pm
We’ve been helping guests explore the BWCA and relax on the Gunflint Trail since 1915.  Since this is 2015, it means our centennial summer is upon us. Time for reminiscing! Enjoy the inspiration that sings out from this recent 2014 guest book entry. * * * “We arrived at Clearwater …

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Trip to Ely, Minnesota

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 9:43am

Yesterday I took a trip to Ely, Minnesota but unfortunately it was in a vehicle instead of a canoe. It’s a bit faster than paddling but not half as enjoyable. If a road stretched from the end of the Gunflint Trail over to the Moose Lake area then a drive would be pretty fast but such a road does not exist. From the Gunflint Trail a person has to drive back to Grand Marais, then almost all of the way down to Silver Bay and then take Highway 1 over to Ely, Minnesota. It’s a minimum of 3 hours if you’re at cruising altitude without any traffic on the road.

The purpose of the drive was to watch baseball. I’ve been to Ely during most seasons of the year and summer is not my favorite. For a moment yesterday I thought it was the 4th of July because the string of vehicles I had to wait for to get back onto the main road was so long. The Dairy Queen was beyond busy and I felt like I was playing the video game Frogger as I attempted to avoid pedestrians entering the roadway.

A hundred years ago when Mike and I were looking at buying a canoe outfitting business we were very close to purchasing one on White Iron Lake outside of Ely.  We were let down when that deal didn’t happen but it was probably one of those things that happens for a reason and I’m glad it did.  Even though Ely is on the edge of the wilderness just like us and we’re not very far away from each other it’s a different world over there.  Ely is known as the canoe capitol and I’m glad they have that title, I don’t think I want the Gunflint Trail to be that busy.

Ely has some great things and great people living there too. The International Wolf Center, the Bear Center and some nice shops but the next time I visit I hope it is by way of the paddle.


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Chik-Wauk Celebrates 5 Years

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 9:43pm

It’s hard to believe Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center has been open for 5 years already. It seems like yesterday I was visiting with Ralph and Bea but I guess it’s been a few years.

One visit to their place will most likely hold a permanent space in my memory. It was July 4th, 1999, the year of the big blowdown. I was concerned about them after the storm cleared so I drove over to check on them. Trees blocked their driveway so I parked at the end of the road and walked in.  I knocked on their door and no one came so I knocked a little harder and yelled out.  I was beginning to panic when Bea came to the door looking a little sleepy.  I asked her if everything was ok and she said, “Yes, why?” I told her about the big windstorm and she said she and Ralph had been napping and didn’t even know there had been a storm. I was glad they were fine and said we’d have someone come clear their road with the chainsaw in awhile in case they needed to get out.  Now both Ralph and Bea are gone but Chik-Wauk remains.

To celebrate the anniversary the Gunflint Trail Historical Society is having a dinner fundraiser catered by Valentini’s Restaurant in Duluth. It will be held at the Seagull Lake Community Center on July 5th and tickets can be purchased online. If you can’t make the dinner but still want to support the museum and the expansion you can do that online too. 

Happy Anniversary Chik-Wauk!

Ralph and Bea Griffis in 1976

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6/29/15 - Introducing our great new crew members.

Sawbill Newsletter - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 5:52pm

6/29/15 - We have been remiss in introducing our new crew members. This is just the first batch, with a few more to come.

Logan Sheets and Claire Mutch take quick break from putting together the weekly grocery order. Logan is from Wisconsin originally, but now makes his home in Missoula, Montana where he attends the University of Montana. Claire is from Apple Valley, Minnesota and attends the University of Minnesota.

Daniel Dahl is from Northfield, Minnesota and attends the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Elena Torry-Schrag is from Forest Grove, Oregon and studies at Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota.

Olivia Nofzinger, is from the Twin Cities, but spent much of last year in New Zealand. She's attending Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

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Charlie Marries Petra

Clearwater Lodge Tales - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 10:15am
In honor of our founders Charlie & Petra Boostrom and their legacy, we’ll be sharing stories about the Boostrom’s and the early days of Clearwater Historic Lodge and the Gunflint Trail.  Many of the stories — including the passage below — come from the delightful book, Gunflint Trailblazers – The …

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Getting Ready for Summer Visits

Gunflint Lodge - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 10:44am

As Fourth of July approaches, our dock takes on a more summer appearance.  The buoys marking out the swimming area are now up.  Of course the swimming beach has to share with the flocks our newly hatched mallard ducks.  We must have about 5 different flocks.  The only way to tell them apart is by their size.  Since there are still fully grown male mallards around, there must be more flocks waiting to be hatched.  By the end of August we will have about 50-75 ducks around.  They are so used to eating corn that you can feed them from your hand.
My garden is also getting bigger.  Although still small, tender lettuce is ready for harvesting.  Parsley is fully grown and ready for plates in the dining room.  Chives are full of purple flowers.  They also look great on our dining room plates.  We have 2 tomatoes that are about 2 inches in diameter.  There seems to be a good blend between rain and sunshine for a garden this summer.  Keep your fingers crossed that it continues.
From around the Bearskin Road on up the Gunflint Trail, it should all be called Lupine Lane.  The lupines are out in full bloom and just marvelous to see.  But don’t forget all the other wild flowers that line the road.  We have yellow hawkweed, red hawkweed, white Shasta daisies and yellow buttercups.  It really makes for a lovely roadside as you drive up the Gunflint Trail.
The past few days the patio tables have been full for lunches and dinners.  Today we will entertain the North Shore Healthcare Foundation for their annual fund raiser.  With 50-60 extra people coming for the BBQ, it would be nice to have a gorgeous sunshine day.  Right now it is raining out so keep your fingers crossed for a little sunshine later in the day.  At about 3:00 Don will consult the weather forecasts and radar maps to decide if the BBQ will be inside or outside.  Getting caught serving outside when rain starts to come down can be a difficult adjustment.
Friday Lee and Eva arrive with Grant and Mae.  Things will be a little more lively in the house for the week they are here.  Then like all grandparents we will spend the next week catching up on our sleep and getting into our usual routine.  Our friends Ron and Pat Malina will visit with their son James and his family for a few days next.  The month ends when Robert, Miranda and Zach and Nick and Sandy spend a week with us.
During the months of July and August we will be overwhelmed with old guests at the lodge and with families of all sizes.  It is always fun to see everyone.  Of course, during those two months we go through more cookies than at any other time of the year.  One day alone last year we went through almost 300 cookies.  I remember watching a teenage boy stack four cookies and then carefully bite down all four of them at once.  All the joys of summer!   
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Office with a View

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 06/28/2015 - 10:42am

I’m not sure which is more of a constant companion, my laptop computer or Rugby my dog. My laptop sits on a table on the deck outside while Rugby lies beneath the table. Rugby sleeps at the foot of my bed while my laptop rests next to it. The laptop accompanies me on the treadmill courtesy of my treadmill desk and Rugby sits on the floor nearby. Yesterday Rugby accompanied me in my portable office so I guess he wins.

I decided to drive the towboat yesterday because a group of my friends were heading out on a Boundary Waters trip. Rugby decided to come along for the ride while the laptop stayed at home.  As I was boating across Saganaga I couldn’t help but take in my surroundings. The water was like glass it was so calm. The sky was a beautiful blue and the pine studded islands seemed to float somewhere between the water and the sky. Loons swam nearby, eagles sat perched majestically in trees and seagulls could be seen on distant rocks. Joy filled me when I thought to myself, “This is my office.”

How lucky could a person be? To live in a place as beautiful as I do and be able to enjoy the incredible scenery and serenity on a daily basis means I’m pretty lucky. I watched as dragonflies flittered above the water’s surface and wondered how many people have experienced this just one day of their life?

Our goal at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters is to help introduce as many people as we can to this amazing place at the end of the Gunflint Trail.  It’s magical and we want others to experience it. Come check out my office with a view and say, “Hello to Rugby and my laptop too.”

Rugby enjoying the view

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6/27/15 - Our good friends, Fred and Suzi Dow, operate the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide.

Sawbill Newsletter - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 9:22am

6/27/15 - Our good friends, Fred and Suzi Dow, operate the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide. I'm sure they are the only people who have visited every single National Forest Campground, including Alaska.

In the current issue of their newsletter they feature the Sawbill Lake Campground and even include a beautiful slide show of the day trip they took in the BWCA Wilderness when they visited here.

Fred and Suzi Dow

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Welcome to the Gunflint Trail Loon Chicks

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 06/27/2015 - 6:49am

We usually don’t start seeing loon chicks until around the 4th of July. Guests haven’t reported seeing them in the Boundary Waters yet but there are a couple of loon chicks in our neighborhood. The loon nesting platform in the bay of Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center had a pair of loons who began nesting very early this year. They successfully hatched two loon chicks at the beginning of June!

Loons are so much fun to watch with their chicks. I’ve observed adult loons teaching their chicks how to fish and it is very neat. The adult starts out by feeding the chick a minnow by placing it in the chick’s mouth. Then the adult will drop the loon in the water right in front of the chick so it has to get its beak wet. The next step requires the chick to dip it’s head into the water because the adult releases the minnow just beneath the surface of the water in front of the chick. I’m not sure how many days the adult loons have to do this but it sure is an amazing process.

We welcome you to the Gunflint Trail where you can help us welcome all the new loon chicks coming soon.

Loon and chicks

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