Waterfall season has started on the North Shore with lots more to come. The first “show” started this week, with falls up and down the shore opening up and rushing over cliffs to Lake Superior. Every one is worth a visit.
Meanwhile, there’s plenty to keep you busy this weekend.
First up is the opening of “James & the Giant Peach,” a play based on the popular children’s book, at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts Friday, April 17 at 7 p.m. Performances will be at 7 p.m. April 17-18 and April 24-25, with 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday, April 19 and April 26. Tickets are available at the door.
There are lots of other plays being performed this weekend along the shore as well.
The Duluth Playhouse presents “Jesus Christ Superstar” April 16 through May 3 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and matinees on Sunday. There will be Saturday matinees on Saturday, April 25 and May 2. Tickets are $25. Visit www.duluthplayhouse.org for more.
It will also be performed at the Two Harbors High School at 7 p.m. April 24-25 and at 2 p.m. April 26. Tickets are $12 adults and $8 students. For tickets and more info, click here.
And at the Manion Theater on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus, Dave Saffert will be performing in “Tom Foolery,” a retrospective on the songs and wacky humor of Tom Lehrer.
It opens this Friday. How many chances do you get to enjoy songs about poisoning pigeons in the park? Not many, for sure, but if you were a fan of Tom Lehrer, this is a show not to be missed.
“Tom Foolery” is a production of Rubber Chicken Theater in conjunction with UWS. Performances are April 17-18 and 24-25 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or call (215) 394-8380. The Manion Theater is located at 1805 Catlin Ave. in the Holden Fine and Applied Arts Center, Superior, Wis.
And finally, for performance artists (and others), Jack Nickolay and Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux will hold a workshop entitled “Memorization Made Easy!” at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts April 22-23 from 7-9 p.m. $45, Contact Playhouse@boreal.org to register.
Also this weekend, Cook County’s Most Wanted will play for a fundraiser for Cook County High School sophomore Molly Thomas as she prepares to travel to Australia in July to compete in the Down Under Tournament. She will be representing the Central Conference Track and Field Team in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The event will be held at the Grand Marais Art Colony from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday and feature music, a sweet treat sale and a silent auction. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 students. All invited.
Also this weekend, the final celebration of snow this winter will be held at Lutsen Mountains when snowmobilers from across the country compete in the first ever snowmobile event on the mountains. The Midwest Extreme Snowmobile Challenge will be held on Moose Mountain on Saturday and Sunday with short course cross-county, hillclimb and hillcross races. Spectator tickets are available for $18/day or $28 for a 2-day pass. (Tickets are limited to 500 this year) For the complete schedule and tickets, click here.
For art exhibits, the Johnson Heritage Post‘s opening show of the season, Permanent Collection Exhibition, continues through this weekend. The exhibit will feature new acquisitions and donations to the Heritage Post, including works by Birney Quick, Anna Johnson, Helga Moe and Mary Pratt, as well as others. The exhibit will continue through April 19. The Heritage Post is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday.
In Thunder Bay, the Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School Exhibition continues at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery through April 26.
Three exhibits continue at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay as well, including the video installation by Kelly Richardson. Richardson, who is a world-class video installation artist, recently finished a show at the National Gallery in Ottawa, and has just received a prestigious residency in England. Also on exhibit are selections from the art collection of Dr. Bob Chaudhuri and metal sculpture by Brandon Vickerd. The exhibits continue through April 25.
Also this weekend, Gallery 33 in Thunder Bay will hold its grand reopening from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday with music, refreshments and lots to see. The gallery is located at 4 Balsam St.
And at the Tweed Museum of Art in Duluth (on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Duluth) an exhibit of student work continues through April 30. Also, the gallery is featuring the Senior Exhibition by Yookwon Lim entitled “Inside the Umbrella.”
The museum and gift store is open Tuesdays from 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Wednesday–Friday, 9 a.m. to4:30 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
In art news, local artists who will be exhibiting at the Grand Marais Arts Festival July 11-12 include Melissa Wickwire, Dave Steckelberg, Elise Kyllo, Julie Arthur, Mary MacDonald, Nancy Seaton, Joan Farnam, Gail Anderson, Jeff Niesen, Nace Hagemann, Betsy Bowen, Jerry Riach, Tom Christiansen, Cooper Ternes and Tim Dennison. In all, 80 local and regional artists will participate in the show in downtown Grand Marais.
Kari Vick is exhibiting her work at Sivertson Gallery, including “Newbie,” a giclee print.
Drury Lane Books is closed for the month of April.
Grand Marais photographer Bryan Hansel is crafting all the photographs for Sven & Ole’s new product, frozen pizzas, which are now offered at local and regional vendors.
Kah Nee Tah Gallery in Lutsen is featuring turned wood pieces by Wayne Johnson of Maple Grove.
Great Gifts of Lutsen has cards by Betsy Bowen, Terry Nelson deNatale, Anna Hess, John Peyton, Kelly Dupre and Jackie Kotlarek.
The Arrowhead Regional Arts Council is accepting applications from individuals wishing to serve on the board.
The current openings are for representatives from Koochiching County, Carlton County and at-large members from any of the seven counties in the Arrowhead Region. The board is especially looking for individuals with a knowledge of dance or classical music.
ARAC offers grant support and technical assistance to individual artists and nonprofit arts organizations who reside in the seven counties which make up the Arrowhead Region: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis.
The deadline to submit an application is May 13. For more info, click here.
And finally, there’s quite a buzz around the region about Grand Marais being chosen as the Coolest Small Town in America. Here’s an example: the Duluth Art Institute is organizing a Summer Kick-off and Member Party May 28 and the grand prize is “An Artful Weekend in Grand Marais.” The prize includes a two-night stay at the Art House B&B, a two-day course at North House Folk School and dinner at the Crooked Spoon.
Here’s the music schedule for this weekend:
Thursday, April 16:
- Eric Frost & Bill Hansen, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
- Rod & Caribou, American Legion, 7 p.m.
- Gordon Thorne, Gun Flint Tavern, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 17:
- The May North, Gun Flint Tavern, 8 p.m.
- Bump & Adam Moe, Voyageur Brewing Co., 8 p.m.
- Timmy Haus, Papa Charlie’s, 9 p.m.
Saturday, April 18:
- Cook County’s Most Wanted plays for the fundraiser for Molly Thomas, Grand Marais Art Colony, 6 p.m.
- Briand Morrison, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
- The May North, Gun Flint Tavern, 8 p.m.
- Eric Frost & Friends, Voyageur Brewing Co., 8 p.m.
- Hitchville, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 19:
- Timmy Haus Caribbean Reggae Party at Moguls Grille, 2 p.m.
- Jim & Michele Miller, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 21:
- Timmy Haus, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, April 22:
- Open Mic Night, Gun Flint Tavern, 5 p.m.
We found lots of photos of the northern lights and waterfalls this week, as well as some lovely spring shots.
Let’s start with beautiful photographs of the auroras. (f you check my NorthShore ArtScene Facebook page in the next few days, you’ll see lots more. The lights were popping again on Wednesday night.)
There have been storms and threats of storms.
Bill Hansen caught this shot on the Sawbill Trail the other day.
And David Johnson was in the right place to catch the first thunderstorm of the season in Grand Marais.
And here’s a completely different mood. Layne Kennedy caught this incredible shot when he was in Spain.
Here are a few of the waterfall shots we found this week.
With the ice melt, birds are streaming north and pairing up for the summer. Michael Furtman caught this wonderful shot the other day.
We’ll end this week’s offering with two powerful images by Kirk Schliefe.
Have a good weekend, everyone!
Chik-Wauk Museum has plans to improve the already wonderful facility. They will be breaking ground this year for a Nature Center. The center will provide space for presentations, workstations and displays for hands-on learning.
Plans also include a boathouse to display old boats, a cabin like what once stood on the property and a vaulted toilet. In order to make all of these improvements funding is needed and donations can be made online.
We anxiously await the seasonal opening of the museum Memorial Weekend.
4/15/15 - We have visiting celebrity ice auger operators for today's Sawbill Lake ice thickness report. The ice was 20" thick, very soft for the first foot and pretty solid for the last 8". - Bill
Former Sawbill crew members, Leif "Leifboat" Gilsvik and Jess "Hammer" Hemmer, acting as honorary ice depth testers. Don't worry, they both took a turn on the auger.
In honor of the visitors, we had the first outdoor lunch of the season. Photo by Brian "Mongo" Henry.
Brian found this beautiful and intrepid crocus in the yard between snowbanks.
The snowshoe hare are starting to change from their beautiful pure white in the winter time to the brownish color you recognize all rabbits have during the rest of the year.
The snow bunting birds are passing through again on their way back north for the spring. We see them in the fall when they travel south for the winter and again in the spring on their way back north. If you have driven the Gunflint Trail in either the fall or the spring you will see these birds fluttering around by the side of the road.
Some of the residents on the Gunflint Trail have probably started planting some tomato, squash and other variety of seeds indoors to get a jump start on their garden for the season.
We have also had some changes at the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center this spring, Ada Igoe has moved on to another adventure after 5 years of organizing and handling everything the museum and nature center offered. I have been a resident on the Gunflint Trail for the past 24 years. I am really looking forward to working with the local residents that help out at the museum everyday and also to meet the people that visit the museum and here their stories of the area.
Spring also brings time to start getting the museum open for the season. Fred Smith and his crew of volunteers were up at the museum this past week to get the coverings off the windows and also to turn the heat on in the building. Now I can start working in the building and getting familiar with the surroundings.
We do not open until the 23rd of May but I am sure I will be keeping busy until then.
See you this season, Bonnie Schudy
The sun has been shining brightly and the clouds have been scarce. It’s been absolutely gorgeous outside and on Sunday the temperature reached 71 degrees on the Gunflint Trail. With temperatures predicted to be in the 60′s the next few days the ice will surely take a beating. The Seagull River is just beginning to open up to the south of our docks. If the weather keeps up like this we’ll have open water on area lakes in a couple of weeks and Saganaga won’t be too far behind.
4/14/15 - Sawbill crew member Brian Henry is back on the job and one of his first duties was to drill a hole and test the ice thickness. The warm spell is taking its toll with a loss of more than 4" since yesterday.
Brian couldn't do it without the help of Roy and Phoebe.
Today's measurement is 21", down from 25.5" yesterday. Bright sun, wind and warm nights make for quick melting.
Meanwhile, Sawbill's own Cindy Hansen is in Germany, enjoying spring on the shores of Lake Constance in Bavaria. Her trip is part vacation and part acting as an unpaid assistant to her sister Sherrie who travels to Germany for her job.
Cindy imitates a statue in the background.
It is finally spring-like enough around here to motivate me to write an update! After a false spring in mid March I lost a little hope when the cold weather and snow showers returned. This weekend however felt good enough for me to peel the window plastic off, dust off the screens and open the windows wide!
In just a few days with sunshine, 60’s, wind, and rain, the drive ways and road have almost completely cleared off. Thanks to the diligent Cook County guys, the culverts are flowing freely and the road has not washed away at all this spring (yay!).
The beaver pond by the road is so close to loosing all it’s ice. Those are ravens up above in the shot. They have been making all sorts of crazy sounds as they work on their nests and pair up for the spring nestling season. Other birds have been out chirping and buzzing about like the pine siskins and juncos. I woke this morning to the sounds of robins singing in the yard. Hard not to smile with that kind of alarm clock.
The Cross River is gurgling along happily in the sunshine as well. Just two days difference in these two pictures below shows what can happen in the spring. The ice is almost all gone between the rapids close to the road and the first portage towards Ham Lake. Won’t be long until that chunk breaks free and we can paddle over there.
Lucy and I have been sneaking out of the office to go for long muddy romps in the sunshine. The Magnetic Rock hiking trail is very muddy with frost heaves rutting the trail and snow and ice piles in the shady spots. Sure feels great to stretch the legs and Lucy enjoys getting as muddy as possible. The Centennial Hiking trail is still holding on to a crust of ice in the shade as well but is always good for a spring adventure
Round Lake is looking pretty springy as well. The ice is pulling away from the shore and has popped up enough to allow the standing melt water on top to drain down. The ice is looking darker and darker each day. Won’t be long before paddling season begins if the weather holds!
Keep watching the blog for updates on the ice conditions. I will post what I know as we approach May. Keep sending warm thoughts our way!
Here’s some fishing information from the Minnesota DNR.
The DNR compiled these Minnesota fishing facts in preparation for the 2015 fishing opener, which is Saturday, May 9.
Anglers and waters
There are about 1.5 million licensed anglers in Minnesota.
About 500,000 people are expected to fish on opening day of the walleye and northern pike season, Saturday, May 9.
Minnesota has 11,842 lakes, 5,400 of which are managed by DNR Fisheries. There are 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, including 3,800 miles of trout streams.
Average annual expenditure per angler is about $1,500.*
Although not every kind of fish lives everywhere, 162 species of fish can be found in Minnesota waters.
Participation and the economy
Fishing contributes $2.4 billion to the state’s economy in direct retail sales, ranking Minnesota fourth in the nation for angler expenditures.*
Fishing supports 35,400 Minnesota jobs.*
Minnesota ranks second in resident fishing participation at 32 percent, second only to Alaska.*
Minnesota is the third most-popular inland fishing destination in the country.*
Minnesota ranks sixth among states with the highest number of anglers. The top three states are Florida, Texas and Michigan.*
Who goes fishing
Most resident anglers – 855,000 of them in fact – are from urban areas. The remaining 474,000 resident anglers live in greater Minnesota.*
Men account for 66 percent of resident anglers. Women account for 34 percent.*
Significantly more time is spent fishing on lakes than in rivers and streams.*
The average Minnesota angler spends 15 days fishing each year, with 84 percent of resident anglers never fishing anywhere else but in Minnesota.*
The most sought-after fish species, in order of preference, are crappie, panfish, walleye and northern pike.*
*2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (www.census.gov/prod/www/fishing.html)
Want to go fishing? DNR has a license to fit
A lone angler casts a lure into a glassy lake on a warm spring day, surrounded by the sounds of nature. What’s missing? A friend or family member could be sharing the scene.
“If you know someone who might be interested, ask them to go fishing. Many people won’t fish unless someone asks them to go,” said Jenifer Wical, of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources outreach section. “Before heading out, make sure to buy your fishing licenses.”
Buy licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. An adult individual angling license is $22.
“There are types of fishing licenses to fit most anyone’s needs. There are licenses for married couples, for individual adults, and for 24-hour, 72-hour, and three-year time periods,” Wical said. “Lifetime licenses can make it easier for people to keep fishing long into the future, and licenses also come at reduced cost for children and those ages 51 and older.”
Youth ages 16 and 17 can buy an annual license for $5. Kids 15 and under are not required to buy a license to fish, but must comply with fishing regulations.
For those who hunt and fish, a Sports license includes angling and small game, and a Super Sports license includes a trout/salmon stamp, small game with pheasant and waterfowl, and a deer tag (archery, firearms or muzzleloader).
To read more about fishing licenses and regulations, see the 2015 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet or www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.
4/13/15 - On my way home yesterday, I was treated to a couple of fun weather phenomena. - Bill
The Temperance River was breaking up under the 600 Road bridge along the Sawbill Trail. This classic old iron bridge is slated for replacement soon.
The first Spring storm of 2015 as seen halfway up the Sawbill Trail. It eventually yielded .35" of rain, along with strong winds, thunder and lightning.
I have a love-hate relationship with mud. Mud is a sign of spring, of warmer weather and the coming greening of the woods around my house.
When I’m wearing work clothes and mud boots, I love splashing through puddles. I enjoy clearing deadfall out of the creek by our house each spring, sometimes sinking ankle deep in mud. It makes me feel like a little kid again.
I have wonderful memories of being bundled up in warm clothes and a rain jacket, working to get the water flowing in the ditch in front of my parent’s house on County Road 7. My sister and I must have spent hours there, stomping to make a path through the ice, digging trenches with sticks, breaking mini log jams to get the water running again. It was always a blast when we successfully undammed a spot and the rushing water would nearly knock us off our feet.
I love that my grandkids enjoy it too. They like to join my husband Chuck and me when we are clearing the creek. The kids are adorable in their funky little mud boots.
I also enjoy mud when I head out on forest roads and trails on my all-terrain vehicle (ATV) for the first spring ride. The first rides are the muddiest as there are always puddles to go zipping through. Even if you try to go slow—which I’ll admit I don’t—you are going to get muddy. I don’t mind. If I get a little mud in my hair or on my face, it’s like getting a facial at a fancy spa. A big, open-air spa under bright blue skies.
I even have some clothing that declares my enthusiasm for mud. My favorite hoodie is from the Off-Road Vixen company and it declares, “Girls Get Dirty Too.”
The back of my Cook County ATV Club T-shirt declares, “Kids of All Ages Like to Play in the Dirt.”
I like to wear that ATV Club T-shirt when I do the Tofte Trek 10K on the 4th of July. The walkers get to start first and I’m a walker. So as the runners catch up and jog past, they read the sentiment on the back of my shirt. Sloshing through the shoe-stealing mud holes, many of them chuckle. Tofte Trekkers definitely like to play in the dirt.
However, I also despise mud.
For example, I dislike that my driveway gets soft and rutted in the spring. I try driving a different path every time I go up and down the drive to prevent ruts, but it doesn’t help. Every spring I look forward to the day that the driveway finally firms up.
It also annoys me that the muddy driveway turns my lovely silver car a dirty, streaky brown. I like mud on my mud boots or my four-wheeler tires or even on me—but not on my Kia Sorento!
Parking and entering my house is difficult in mud season. Every time I get close to my house, I face a dilemma. Where to park? What looks drier? The slanted ground at west end of the house? Or the flat area by the basement door?
Inevitably I choose wrong and I step out of my now-dirty car only to sink several inches into the mud in my good shoes. If I have to get something out of the car—again, inevitably—I brush up against the car and get mud on my clean pants or shirt.
Luckily this year the mud in my front and side yard is not too bad. The snow seems to be melting at a reasonable rate and we haven’t had too much rain. There are years when I’ve dragged pieces of wood and placed them between the car and the house, making a path to avoid the mud, like an old-fashioned corduroy road.
I haven’t been driven to that extreme this year. But the mud inside my house is driving me to distraction. The same mud that is so enjoyable when I have my mud boots on becomes an irritant and an eyesore when it is brought inside by my two wonderful dogs.
Although it doesn’t seem as muddy in my yard this year, the dogs somehow can find mud in which to wallow. They are good dogs and they are almost trained to sit at the door while I wipe them down. But there is only so much a towel can do for a mud embedded dog’s foot. No matter how well I think I’ve cleaned them up, when they walk across my white linoleum floor, they leave a trail of dog prints.
And as soon as they dry off, they want to go outside again.
It’s all a matter of perspective. For the dogs, every day is a day to enjoy mud season. I’ll try to remember that they are just having fun as I walk through the house wiping up puppy prints. I’ll try not to be jealous!
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
The temperatures have been in the fifties the past few days. That may not sound good to those of you who live further south but is heaven to us. There has been no freezing the last couple of nights. Yesterday the afternoon was filled with wind to cut through the ice and snow. Then we even had rain at night. The next two days will be warm. It is really feeling like spring.
As a result everyone is into spring projects. Here is a picture of Bruce working on one of his favorite spring projects – building a fireplace. This one is in #18 and it is converting a wood fireplace to a gas one. Building fireplaces is one of Bruce’s favorite projects. He just steadily works on it each afternoon.
I walked down to Tucker Lake yesterday. The path is almost all clear of ice and snow. The dock is clean but a little tilted in places. Once the ice goes out we will see how it settles in. There is a little melting along the edge of the lake with some water on the ice. Things are not quite ready for a boat ride but I can start to dream about it.
All the garden beds at my house are clear of snow. It will still be weeks before I can plant anything. The next step is to bring over some more horse manure to enrich the soil. Everything is going to come in nice and strong. We will have spinach and fresh lettuce by the third week in June.
Another project we hope to get finished this summer is the pond between the house and the workshop. Bruce has ideas in his head about how it will look. I understand that there may even be a troll on a little island.
Spring birds are starting to appear. Snow buntings and juncos are passing through to their summer habitats. There are lots of ducks on the open water by Cross River. Yesterday the first red-winged blackbirds appeared at my house. Front Desk Dave saw two robins on his way to work the other day.
The ice on Gunflint Lake is quite gray. At this point I would not recommend that anyone try to walk across it. Wind like we had yesterday really melts the ice. I have been watching as the wind is coming up today. It will be interesting to see how black the ice is when I go over for lunch today. Also the ice is very soft along the shore. Some guest sunk in to their ankles the other day. It must have been really cold. Hope they had extra shoes.
For those of you who remember Zach – Robert and Miranda’s cute little boy. As usual time has flown by. Last week he passed his driving permit. It is scary how quickly these kids grow up.
Grand Marais, Minnesota was recently named to the list of America’s 20 Coolest Outdoor Towns. The access to the Boundary Waters via the Gunflint Trail is one of the main reasons why Matador Network chose Grand Marais. Check out the information below and the other places that made the list.
THIS LIST COULD EASILY HAVE 100 PLACES. The US simply has so many canyons and rivers and slopes, so much coastline, all of it with rad little towns along the way.
So putting together this list, we narrowed it down with a few criteria:
- The place should be an actual town, not just a spot or destination. In other words, you can live/work there year round, and even in the “off-season” it’s still cool.
- The outdoor objectives that make the place so rad must be part of the immediate surroundings. If you can’t climb / ski / paddle / surf right in town, the access should be just beyond, not an hour away.
- The place should have a notable culture, tradition, or local economy around the activities (and natural resources) themselves. Of special mention are places such as Salida, where actual infrastructure has been developed (manmade whitewater features) that brings cool events and awareness to the town.
- For obvious reasons, we came back with a high concentration of places out West (and in Hawaii/Alaska). May not be fair, but if you visit you’ll understand.
All this said, finding big lines can happen anywhere. Where I grew up in the southern Piedmont (forested, gentle rolling hills kind of terrain), a trickling neighborhood ditch became a gnarly class V kayak run if you caught it right after a thunderstorm.
The ultimate limitation is never the place but your imagination. Let us know the what kinds of lines you’re finding right in your town.
–David Miller, Senior Editor
Asheville, North Carolina
13. Grand Marais, MN
All photos courtesy of Visit Cook CountyPerfect day
Summer outdoor recreation revolves around freshwater lakes — from massive Lake Superior to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — so bring your paddle. Over 100 miles of cross-country ski trails are enough to fill many winter days, but downhill skiers can also hit up nearby Lutsen Mountain, one of the midwest’s most-legit ski hills.Honor roll
Special thanks: Eric Frost
The petition to stop the collaring of moose calves in Minnesota has over 1500 signatures but the DNR still plans to collar more calves this spring. This will lead to the unnecessary death of the majority of the calves in the study and it is senseless because we know wolves are killing calves. There is no need to collar and kill any more moose calves.
Please read a couple of articles about the collaring project that can be found online. One article is about a vet on the project who was forced out of the project because she spoke out about the senseless killing of moose calves. The other article is about the mystery of the disappearing moose calves and how it really isn’t a mystery that wolves are killing the calves.
I encourage you to sign the petition if you haven’t already. If you have signed it then please go back to the petition and share it with your friends and family. We don’t need any more moose calves collared, enough is enough.
4/11/15 - Spring arrived abruptly today with the temperatures shooting up into the high 50s. My old friend and former Sawbill crew member, Joyce Klees, came up for t-shirt weather ski trip around the Kelso Loop.
Roy and Phoebe accompanied us. Phoebe fell into the water once and Roy twice. They didn't really break through the ice, but more just jumped into the open water. They climbed out themselves and continued on the journey.
Today may be the last day of skiing for the season. - Bill
Does this qualify as water-skiing?
Open water at the mouth of Kelso Creek on Sawbill Lake.
Roy and Phoebe soaking up the sun after their chilly dip.
Are drones capable of starting a wildfire? Not that I’m aware of but they obviously can get in the way of people who are fighting wildfires. It would seem like common sense to not fly one over a wildfire when aircraft are monitoring or trying to put out a fire but I guess common isn’t as common as I thought.
According to a Minnesota DNR Press Release someone was operating a drone during a wildfire near Ostego, MN last week.
DNR firefighters need cooperation from drone operators
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources requests that operators of unmanned aircraft (drones) stay at least 5 miles away from wildfires to create a safe environment for firefighting aircraft and crew.
The DNR uses helicopters and airplanes to detect wildfires and to deliver water, retardant, firefighters and cargo. These aircraft face a demanding environment with hazards such as power lines, trees, towers, smoke and wind.
“Conditions for our pilots are tough enough,” said Bill Schuster, DNR wildfire aviation supervisor. “We don’t want to worry about when and where a drone could pop up into their flight path.”
Aircraft and crew are strategically located around Minnesota to quickly respond to wildfires. One or more aircraft may be dispatched to any wildfire in the state within minutes of its start, depending on what is threatened by the fire.
Over 99 percent of wildfires that occur in Minnesota are small, quick-moving and wind-driven, and these do most of their damage within the first few hours after igniting. With the increasing overlap between wild lands and urban areas in Minnesota, firefighters need to be aggressive and safe when putting out wildfires.
“While crews were fighting a wildfire near Ostego last week, a drone was flying nearby at the same time firefighting aircraft were conducting operations,” said Shuster. “Voluntary cooperation to not operate drones within 5 miles of wildfires would allow firefighters to do their job safely, efficiently and effectively.”
Visit www.mndnr.gov/forestry/fire/wildfire_update.html for wildfire updates in Minnesota.
The Federal Aviation Administration has partnered with several industry associations to promote “Know Before You Fly,” a campaign to educate the public about using unmanned aircraft safely and responsibly. Visit www.knowbeforeyoufly.org to learn more about this program.
The City Council met in the City Hall Chambers last night starting at 4:30 and had a number of requests and issues to take up. Here is a summary of what was discussed and the solutions that the Council came up with. If anything isn't clear to you, please let me know and I would be glad to help out in any way that I can.
We convened at 4:30 with everyone in attendance and despite a few changes to the minutes from the previous meeting, the consent agenda was approved with the addition of a discussion on meeting time as well as an inquiry from Councilor Mills about city park opportunities within the City... more on that later! As part of the consent agenda we approved the Car Show Street Use Permit for Wisconsin Street for June 6th for the Classic Car Show. Start telling your friends that the car show is coming and to get your cars registered!
The first thing on the agenda was a request brought to the Council via the public comment period of our last meeting. Greg Gentz of Maple Hill brought a request before the Council to consider writing a letter of support for the Lakeview Natural Dairy in regards to the litigations taken against them by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. If you would like more information on the situation, please click HERE. The Council discussed the letter of support provided by Gentz with varying levels of support of the letter... I want to be very clear that the individual Council members all expressed their support of the dairy itself, but questioned the appropriateness of taking action in support of a specific entity that is not even within the City limits. The City's lawyer, Chris Hood, also cautioned that taking a stance on a party in litigation is not something that a city council has jurisdiction on, nor does it set a good precedent for the future. The Council agreed with these statements. Also, Mr. Hood suggested that city councils generally don't write letters of support, they achieve this same thing through resolution. The vote then came before the Council to write a resolution in favor of the Constitutional protections outlined in Article 13, Section 7 of the Minnesota State Constitution, which states:
Sec. 7. No license required to peddle.Any person may sell or peddle the products of the farm or garden occupied and cultivated by him without obtaining a license therefor.
This motion passed 3-2 with two Councilors objecting to the potential wording of this letter. *Later in the meeting, Mr. Hood chimed in to say that he had re-worked the letter into resolution form with a few minor wording changes and asked the Council to consider this as the resolution in question. This was brought before the Council and passed 4-1. The changed language being acceptable to one of the previously objecting Councilors.
Following that conversation, Ben Silence of the Grand Marais Fire Department came before the Council to ask for the approval of hiring 2 more firefighters for the department. These two hires were previously approved in 2014 by the previous council and thus, upon Mr. Silence's recommendation, the Council unanimously passed a motion to hire those two people to the department.*Now you may be asking: "Isn't it a volunteer department? Why are we 'hiring' people then?" This is a fair question and one that we should explain clearly. Our Fire Department is volunteer only in the regard that the people serving on it are doing it at their own choice. The employees of the department are paid-on-call, which means that they are compensated for the time that they put into learning for and defending our community against fire and other emergency calls. This money comes from the fees gathered for the services provided. If you have more questions about our fire department, let me know or contact Fire Chief Ben Silence at 387-9092.
Another piece of business had to do with the motion made at the previous meeting regarding having the City apply for IRRRB grant monies to help defray some of the infrastructure costs associated with the hospital renovation. We learned at last night's meeting that the IRRRB recommended that the City apply for $175,000 of DEED (Department of Employment and Economic Development) funds for the project after which they would match that number with $175,000 of IRRB monies. Since we were so thoroughly informed of the hospital's project and knew the stipulations of these agreements, there was brief conversation to make sure all of the rules were the same as discussed last meeting, which they were, and then a motion was made and passed unanimously to apply for the DEED funds for the hospital. *This means that the City will be applying for $175,000 for the hospital, not $350,000. The IRRRB will consider awarding the complimentary $175,000 after the DEED funds are received.
Now we are getting on to some other conversations: Lee Bergstrom came before the Council to request funding assistance in their efforts to reconstruct 2 of the tennis courts on county land in between the YMCA and the Community Center. The two courts closest to Cty. Rd. 7 are deteriorating and need attention. The Cook County Tennis Association has had plans worked up to show that the cost of resurfacing these two courts would be around $145,000. They are receiving $60,000 of 1% funding from the County for this project and are seeking $55,000 of grant monies as well. The balance of the project amount will come from the Tennis Association itself and, as they requested, from the City. The Council heard and agreed with Ms. Bergstrom that the tennis courts are widely used and a great amenity for our community, but all of the Councilors had hesitation of dedicating the requested $20,000 to the courts. The Council requested that the issue be put off until next meeting so they had some time to research how much the City has given to projects like this in the past as well as what the "Council Priorities" funds have been used for in the past. Council Priorities is a small fund that is reserved for the Council to use to fund projects that are seen to be, well, Council priorities... To piggy-back on this issue, I brought up my attendance at the county's non-mandated funding meeting last week and brought up that the City should be thinking about this as well. The City is not a granting body, therefore we need to view all of our expenditures as investments into the community. We are much more limited than the county in scope in some ways, so having this conversation is a great idea that can make requests for funding much more straightforward or at least create a sound understanding of what the City can and can't do. More to come on this in the coming weeks!
The library passed on a request for approval of the hire of 2 new library clerks at 10-15 hours each. This request came in response to some staffing changes at the library where current staff have asked for reduced hours. The library's strategic planning document identified this as a specific action item to help relieve the burden on current staff and to keep the library running smoothly. This passed unanimously.
Then came another big conversation! Public restrooms! The City asked for some potential plans to be put together for the former visitor's center area at City Hall. This area would be made into a public restroom facility to help ease the burden on downtown businesses as well as the port-a-potties that the City hires for the summer rush. There were many questions about cost and design and maintenance, but the Council deferred the majority of the conversation to the next meeting on April 29th where the Council will be able to hear from other department heads about their perspectives. I encourage members of the public to attend this meeting if you have anything to add about this concept. Other things that the City is going to consider is long-term building plans for the City Hall... Does it make sense to put a bunch of money into this structure if we are going to have to re-do it all in a few years anyway? Also, are there other options? Satellite buildings? Etc. We look forward to the conversation coming next week about how we should proceed.
In the "Other Items" category there were two things:1. Meeting Time-- In a brief discussion the Council decided that at the April 29th meeting (which will start at 4:30pm!) they will discuss a resolution to change the official meeting start time to 6:30pm instead of 4:30 to hopefully allow more community members the opportunity to attend meetings. This has NOT been voted on and the APRIL 29th meeting will start at 4:30pm. After this is voted on, we will make sure that the public is aware of any changes made.
2. Public Park Idea-- Councilor Mills asked the question regarding the small parcel of vacant land adjacent to the City Hall and Sven and Ole's on Broadway. Formerly the home of the bike shop, this small chunk of land has sat vacant for many years, and has been for sale just as long. The question was raised asking if the City has ever thought of purchasing this property for a small City Park with benches and picnic tables. The Council was intrigued, but was pretty sure that we aren't in the position to be buying land. Councilor Mills will do some investigation into the asking price, etc.
Council reports went pretty quickly:I brought up a proposal for the City of Grand Marais to apply for a GreenCorps volunteer through the MN Pollution Control Agency. These Corp members are basically interns who have just graduated from college in the area of environmental engineering or some other applicable field. The purpose of the program is to get these young professionals opportunities to get their boots on the ground in real project scenarios while they assist communities in meeting their environmental goals. For Grand Marais this person could be put to very good use: Dark Skies, GreenSteps, Commercial Efficiency Programs, City Hall efficiency, District Heating information programs, as well as potential partnerships with community non-profits or other governing agencies and the school. I made a motion that the City proceed to the application and that motion was passed unanimously.I brought an update about the library board's actions to create a financial policy that effectively guides the library through the use of its funds as well as the management of its endowment funds. This has proven to be a challenging task, but it is getting closer to completion.As I mentioned before, I attended the County's non-mandated funding workshop and learned a great deal about how the County does non-mandated spending. I will stay in the loop on this issue.
Councilor Mills mentioned that the Park Board is still going over rates and policies for the campground. He also stated that the winter was a bad one for the golf course, with significant winter kill on the course that is causing the course to lower its rates to try and keep golfers coming up to the course. If you golf, head out there early and often!
Councilor Kennedy mentioned that he attended the Safe Routes for Schools meeting where they discussed their plans and goals for the period of 2015-2020. They are having their annual bike rodeo May 7th at the Community Center and are looking for volunteers. Please be a part of this activity! It is a hoot! He also commented that the PUC received 5 scholarship essays for the annual PUC scholarship. He was excited to receive so many and was looking forward to awarding the $500, $250, and $100 awards to the best essays.
So, in closing, we covered a lot of ground and have more ground coming for the next meeting. at 4:30 on April 29th. If you have anything to contribute to the meeting, please come for the public comment period right at 4:30 and the Council discussion shortly thereafter.
It won’t be long and we’ll be listening to the loons sing their songs. The Seagull River in front of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters is one of the first places we see open water in the spring. While it’s still frozen solid now it will soon be liquid once again. As soon as there’s water the loons will land and sing their welcome song.
Here’s some information about loons courtesy of Jim Gilbert and the Star Tribune outdoors online.Nature Notes: Loon is true symbol of Minnesota’s lake wilderness
- Updated: April 2, 2015 – 3:14 PM
Common loons appear in spring at the same time ice leaves lakes, often returning to a lake when it’s still half-covered.
This year, migrating loons were observed on southern Minnesota lakes in mid-March. They are beautiful black and white birds of about 2-feet long and 8 to 9 pounds.
Now is when people in central and northern Minnesota will begin hearing the wild laughing call, “ha-ha-ha-ha.” It’s the only call that loons give in flight, no doubt heading for a favorite lake after wintering along the Gulf Coast.
Designated as the state bird in 1961, the loon is a true symbol of our lake wilderness. I think that their echoing calls do more to create the indescribable feeling of being apart from civilization and close to nature than any other phenomenon in the north country.
Loons prefer clear lakes because they hunt for fish, leeches and other aquatic creatures by eyesight. They ride low in the water, and when they dive they can reach depths of 100 feet or more.
Swift flights of up to 100 mph take these birds through the air with ease. Not many birds fly faster than loons. But it’s the takeoffs that are arduous. Loons sometimes need up to a quarter-mile of runway. They can often break water contact after a run of about 80 yards, so on small lakes they must fly in a curve around part of the lake before ascending high enough to clear the trees.
Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. His observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.
Voyageur Brewing Company is pleased to announce that it is pairing with Rohlfing of Duluth to distribute its brand-new, Lake Superior-made beer. Rohlfing is a fourth-generation family business that began in 1951 promoting Schlitz products and has grown to offer numerous beers to bars and restaurants in the entire Arrowhead region. Their team has been critical to the rollout of many breweries and is vital to the craft beverage industry on the North Shore. Owner Cara Sporn says, “With Rohlfing’s experience and local credibility, we could not imagine a better fit for our homegrown, Grand Marais beer.”
Voyageur Brewing Company commands a stunning view of Lake Superior in downtown Grand Marais, a special place just voted Coolest Small Town in Budget Magazine. The opening of a production brewery is one thing that is certain to add to its allure.
Voyageur Beer is currently available at almost a dozen locations in Grand Marais with plans to expand this summer. Owner Mike Proms says, “We know that Rohlfing will work hard to give people the opportunity to taste our beer at restaurants in Duluth and along the north shore, and we’re truly excited to make our beer available for people to enjoy.”
Music festivals are front and center this weekend with the 5th annual Fingerstyle Masters Weekend at Bluefin Grille and the Mountain Meltdown celebration at Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen Mountains.
The Fingerstyle Masters Weekend was started by fingerstyle virtuoso Gordon Thorne five years ago as a benefit for WTIP Community Radio, and to showcase outstanding musicians and fingerstyle guitarists.
This year, world-renowned guitarist, Mike Dowling as well as master fiddle-player Randy Sabien and Tom Schaefer are the featured musicians.
The weekend kicks off on Friday night with an informal evening of blues, swing and old-timey American music with Gordon Thorne and Tom Schaefer at the Bluefin Grille at 8 p.m. On Saturday, a number of workshops will be held starting at 10 a.m. Thorne will teach a free youth guitar workshop; Dowling will lead a guitar workshop ($50) and Sabien and Schaefer will teach a workshop on fiddling ($50). Lunch is included. To register or learn more, contact Thorne at 218-353-7308 or email email@example.com.
The event concludes with a great concert on Saturday night featuring Dowling & Friends at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the door. All profits from the Fingerstyle Masters Weekend will be donated to WTIP to support the station’s Transmitter Replacement Project.
Lutsen Mountains celebrates Mountain Meltdown Weekend on Saturday and Sunday with a wide variety of music at Papa Charlie’s. (See music schedule, below.)
Other events of note on Saturday include a workshop on Photo Phenology — the art and science of tracking the seasons with a camera — with Joe Walewski, Wolf Ridge naturalist. The workshop will be held at Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center at 10 a.m. Participants are encouraged to bring their cameras.
On Saturday afternoon, the Cook County Historical Society will present a Small Talk on the Bally Blacksmith Shop at the Johnson Heritage Post at 4 p.m. A panel of guest speakers will tell stories about the Bally family, and participants are encouraged to bring their own stories, photos or objects related to the Ballys and their trade. An update about the restoration project will also be presented.
And North House Folk School will be closed to the public this weekend as 54 if its instructors gather for a professional development weekend. They will have sessions on the craft of teaching, grant writing, using social media and wood shop safety. Each instructor will also take a three-hour class on something they’ve never done before, said Jessa Frost, program director at North House.
In Thunder Bay, the 22nd annual North of Superior Film Festival will be held April 12 & 19 at the Silver City theater, 850 N. May St. The film festival kicks off with a double-bill prelude on Thursday, April 9, featuring screenings of “Phoenix” at 6:30 p.m. (EST) and “Boychoir” with Dustin Hoffman at 8:45 p.m. (EST) In all, 21 national and international award-winning films will be screened during this festival. For more information and screening schedule, click here.
In art news, the Permanent Collection exhibit continues at the Johnson Heritage Post, featuring 15 new acquisitions of works by Anna Johnson, Birney Quick, Mary Pratt, Helga Moe, Ingeborg Holte, Dale Malner, and others. The Heritage Post is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday and Monday.
Sivertson Gallery is featuring a great selection of new work by Duluth painter Aaron Kloss, including lots of spring-themed landscapes.
The gallery’s website includes a video of the discussion on painting and art that Jan, Howard and Liz Sivertson and Dave Gilsvik gave for the 35th anniversary celebration of the gallery. Check it out here.
The Grand Marais Art Colony is currently seeking proposals from artists of standing who will conduct a public art project to be carried out during the Grand Marais Arts Festival in celebration of its 25th anniversary, July 11 – 12.
The deadline for submissions is May 1. Click here to access the RFP for the project.
In other Art Colony news, applications are still being accepted for the Eric Thomas Emerging Artist Award, a scholarship for youth to take a class at the Art Colony in the subject of their choice. For more info, click here.
Betsy Bowen is working on a new book!
She’s been busy all winter working on “One North Star,” a Minnesota counting book written by Phyllis Root and co-illustrated with Beckie Prange.
Watch for it in the spring of 2016 from the University of Minnesota Press.
Kah Nee Tah Gallery in Lutsen is featuring the work of new local artist and potter Maggie Anderson.She specializes in raku and porcelain pieces.
Other featured art at the gallery includes watercolors by Duluth artist Tanya Beyer and oil paintings by Greg Murphy of Mahtomedi.
The Coho Cafe in Tofte is featuring watercolors by Hovland artist David Hahn through mid-May.
Plein air painter Neil Sherman has been working in the print studio at the Grand Marais Art Colony to make solar plate etchings. Sherman said his “Snow Texter,” at left, is one one of the most popular.
The prints are available at Sivertson Gallery.
In Thunder Bay, The Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School Art Exhibition opened at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery on Thursday and continues through April 26. This is the last weekend to view the Lakehead Major Studio Exhibition, but Kim Adam’s exhibit, “One for the Road” continues through May 24.
And finally, Dana Johnson, a Grand Marais native and talented artist now living in California, has started an indiegogo page to raise funds to return to Minnesota to help her mother, who is ill.
She is offering her writing and/art artwork as donation awards on her indiegogo page.
Dana’s goal is to raise $2,500. So far she has raised $1,048. To see her indiegogo site, click here.
Here’s the music schedule for the week:
Thursday, April 9:
- Eric Frost & Bill Hanson, Poplar River Pub. 6 p.m.
- Joe Paulik, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, April 10:
- Fingerstyle Masters Weekend, Informal Fingerstyle Circle, Gordon Thorne & Friends, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
- Jim & Michele Miller, Voyageur Brewing Co., 8 p.m.
- Gordon Thorne & Friends, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
- Bughouse!, Gun Flint Tavern, 9 p.m.
- Timmy Haus, Papa Charlie’s, 9 p.m.
Saturday, April 11:
- Mountain Meltdown at Papa Charlie’s
- Black River Revue, 11:30 a.m.
- Feeding LeRoy, 1 p.m.
- Ginstrings, 2:30 p.m.
- Frogleg, 4 p.m.
- Joe Paulik, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
- Fingerstyle Masters Weekend Concert, Mike Dowling & Friends, Bluefin Grille, 7:30 p.m.
- Jim & Michele Miller, Voyageur Brewing Co., 8 p.m.
- Bughouse!, Gun Flint Tavern, 9 p.m.
- Jillian Rae, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 12:
- Mountain Meltdown at Papa Charlie’s
- Joe Paulik Band, 11:30 a.m.
- Gordon Thorne, 1 p.m.
- Cook County’s Most Wanted, 2:30 P.M.
- Spruce Roots, 4 p.m.
- Timmy Haus, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 14:
- Gene LaFond and Amy Ann Grillo, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, April 15:
- Open Mic Night, Gun Flint Tavern, 5 p.m.
We found some wonderful images this week. Here are some of them.
Let’s start out with a “newsy” photo. As of Wednesday, 18 ships were caught in the thick ice in Whitefish Bay in eastern Lake Superior. The winter ice was pushed down to that end of the lake following days of winds from the west, posing a major problem for shipping. You can read the story here.
Western Lake Superior is ice-free and ready to roar, as Terri Lampi shows in this photo she took at Stoney Point the other day.
The ice is definitely leaving our rivers, too, as Becky Poirier shows in this shot of the St. Louis River.
And the beach and waters around Split Rock are free of ice and snow, as Thomas Spence shows in this iconic photo.
The Big Lake has wonderful tranquil moods, too, as John Gregor shows us here.
And this one, by Alex Ganeev.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Until today I wasn’t aware there was such a thing as a State Champion Tree for all of the native tree species in Minnesota. The former State Champion Jack Pine was a tree located in Lake Bronson State Park but it died over the winter and a new one was found, crowned and cut down in Mt. Iron, Minnesota.
According to the Duluth News Tribune the tree was cut down due to mining expansion. The full article can be found online but here’s the highlights of it.
The Mountain Iron jack pine measured 87 inches in circumference at 4½ feet above ground. It was 57 feet tall with a crown spread of32 feet.
“The state was looking for the largest jack pine because the previous one died, which was also a national champion,’’ said Jennifer Teegarden, forest outreach specialist for the DNR and coordinator of the state’s Big Tree Program. “I was able to declare the jack pine in Mountain Iron as the state champion.”
Teegarden said she was unaware the tree was about to be cut down when Irish told her about it on March 24. She asked a state forester to measure the tree before April 1, when the property was being transferred from Irish to U.S. Steel Corp. The company is buying up properties on the north side of the Parkville neighborhood to make way for an expansion of the open-pit taconite iron mine at its massive Minntac operation.
Find out more about the State Program for trees.