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Everyday Favorite: The Cyclone Cup

Aging Youthful - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 12:00am

This #FavoriteEverydayProduct is a new one! I have been doing a lot of networking on LinkedIn and received a message from a connection asking me if I’d like to give his blending bottle a try and give feedback. Never one to turn down an opportunity to help out a fellow entrepreneur, I said “sure!”. The next day Jeremy of Cyclone Cup mailed me my very own bottle.

For years I have been using the blender bottles with the wire ball inside them and have liked them just fine. Except, I’ve lost a few of the wire balls and when you do have them in the bottle, they make noise rattling around while you are driving (am I the only one who hates rattles in their cars?) and finding a container that fit inside to hold my protein without opening up was a challenge too (you can put the protein powder on the bottom of the cup and add water, but then end up with a big chunk of goo later…).

Enter The Cyclone Cup. What’s really cool about it is it all fits into one container…there is a screw on cup on the bottom to hold your protein powder so all you have to do is add water to the main part of the container, screw off the protein powder and drop in. Now I have to say I WAS pretty skeptical whether the do-hickey thingy that mixes would work as good as the blender ball. Well, after  a half-dozen uses, I am sold!

The cups come in numerous colors…so if you are a fashion conscious gym goer, you can have one that matches every one of your outfits! This can also be used for mixing pancakes, salad dressings, or anything you want mixed. It’s convenient and very sturdy, so it should last for many years to come. Let me know what you think!


Categories: Member Feeds

Empty Bowls, Music & Lutsen Mountains opens

North Shore Art Scene - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 10:52pm

Lauri E. Olson-Hohman posted this powerful image of Split Rock Lighthouse as the light beamed over Lake Superior on Monday in remembrance of those lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald.


This is a fairly quiet weekend in Cook County, but there two fun things to do for sure. Attend the Empty Bowls Lunch & Dinner fundraiser at St. John’s Catholic Church on Thursday, and strap on your skis or snowboard and check out the slopes on Lutsen Mountains at the season opener Saturday and Sunday.

Bowls painted by local artists include one by John Franz (left) Tom McCann (middle) and David Steckelberg (right).

The Empty Bowls Lunch & Dinner Fundraiser to help solve hunger in Cook County is today, Thursday, Nov. 13, at St. John’s Catholic Church.

Enjoy delicious soups from area restaurants, pick out your favorite handcrafted bowl and peruse the silent auction in this annual event that supports anti-hunger programs in Cook County. There is a bake sale, too.

Lunch is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and dinner is from 5-7 p.m. and is served in the social hall at St. John’s Catholic Church, 5th St. &  Broadway. The silent auction closes at 6:30 p.m.

More than 100 members of the community made ceramic bowls as well as fused glass plates for this event. Students at Cook County High School made a wide selection of bowls as well. And, back by popular demand, are bowl necklaces — tiny, colorful, hand-thrown ceramic bowls that can be worn as pendants.

New this year are a series of special hand-painted bowls thrown by Ann Ward and decorated by local artists.  David Steckelberg, John Franz, Neil Sherman, Tom McCann, Elise Kyllo, Jeanne Bourquin and Susan Bragstad are the artists who painted the bowls.

There are also specialty bowls crafted by local potters, including a series of bear bowls by Lee Ross, a set of soup bowls by Hannah Laky, flower petal bowls by Natalie Sobanja, a soup-bowl set by Carolyn Fritz, a soup tureen by Joan Farnam, a large popcorn bowl by Brian Sherburne and fused glass bowls by Nancy Kemp and Tony Rau as well as special fused glass plates by Nancy Seaton and Mary Bebie.

A soup meal is $5. Handcrafted bowls are $10 and up, and bowl necklaces are $15.

Empty Bowls is a great way to help others and spend a pleasant hour or two with family and friends. All welcome.

Thursday, Nov. 13, is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota, where the public is invited to donate to their favorite nonprofit or school online. To find out more and to donate to your organization of choice, click here.

It’s a fun site to visit, because organizations put a special effort into presenting themselves on their page. There are videos and photographs, and lots of information. Give to the Max Day is a great way to support our local nonprofits, too.  Check it out here.

This is opening weekend at Lutsen Mountains. The snow-making machines have been working overtime in this cold weather, and there’s some white on those hills. To find out more, click here.

In art news, Kelly Dupre is scheduled to teach a workshop on making holiday cards at the Grand Marais Art Colony on Saturday and Sunday. And Bryan Hansel will teach a one-day workshop on how to fine-tune digital images at the Art Colony on Saturday. For more information about either of these classes, call the Art Colony at 387-2737.

The Members Show continues at the Art Colony as well, featuring a wide variety of work. It is open to the public. The Art Colony is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. It also has a well-stocked gift shop.

In Duluth, the Duluth Art Institute opens the 60th Arrowhead Regional Biennial with a reception from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13. Started in 1919, the Arrowhead Regional Biennial features some of the best artwork coming out of the upper Midwest. The exhibit celebrates a variety of mediums and artistic voices with excellence as the core theme. A snapshot of the community’s cultural zeitgeist, the 2014 Arrowhead Biennial showcases the work of 26 of the most exciting artists in the upper Midwest, drawing talent from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. The exhibit continues through Feb. 15.

This beaded story of a robin’s nest by Jo Wood is included in her exhibit at the Duluth Art Institute.

Other exhibits at the Duluth Art Institute include “Drawing at the Horizon,” an exhibit featuring drawings, notebooks, and the source material for George Morrison’s masterpieces and “Meaning of Home,” bead and fiber landscapes by Jo Wood.

In Thunder Bay, the annual Artisans Northwest Art & Fine Craft Show at the Valhalla Inn will be held on Saturday. This widely acclaimed event includes everything from pottery to fiber art and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EST). The public is invited.

Next weekend, look forward to the Winterer’s Gathering Weekend and Arctic Film Festival at North House Folk School and holiday celebration at the Cross River Heritage Center and a Holiday Bazaar at the Schroeder Town Hall.

Here’s the music schedule for this weekend.

Thursday, Nov. 13:

  • Rich Mattson & Germaine Gemberling, Gunflint Tavern, 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 14:

  • Portage Band, American Legion, 6 p.m.
  • Tin Can Gin, Gunflint Tavern, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 15:

  • Timmy Haus, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
  • Tin Can Gin, Gunflint Tavern, 7:30 p.m.
  • Johnny Cash Tribute Band, Grand Portage Lodge & Casino, 9 p.m.
  • DJ Beavstar, American Legion, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 16:

  • Shoot from the Hipsters, Gunflint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 19:

  • Open Mic Night, Gunflint Tavern, 5 p.m.

Here are some of the photos we found this week:

First up… deer and snow. Thomas Spence took this shot. He calls it “Oh dear, looks like winter is here.”

Photo by Thomas Spence.


 Paul Sundberg was at Split Rock Lighthouse for the commemoration ceremony on Monday. Here’s the great photo he took.

Photo by Paul Sundberg.


Mary Amerman caught this lovely reflection in new ice this week.

Photo by Mary Amerman.


And here’s an interesting photo by Layne Kennedy, who is leading a photo shoot in Italy. Here we see newly made brooms drying on olive trees.

Photo by Layne Kennedy.


And finally, this wonderful sunset shot by David Johnson.

Photo by David Johnson.

Have a great weekend, everyone!





























Categories: Member Feeds

Service for Mark Ceminsky

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 3:26pm

The time and date for Mark’s services have been set.

Service for Mark Ceminsky

Saturday, November 15th 2014

Visitation from 2-3pm

Service at 3pm with lunch to follow

Cremation Society of Duluth

4100 Grand Avenue

Duluth, Minnesota 55807

Phone 218-624-5200

Marks Obituary

Categories: Member Feeds

11/12/14 - Sawbill pizza paddle...

Sawbill Newsletter - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 10:51am

11/12/14 - Greg Grit, Technology and Engineering instructor at Plymouth, Minnesota High School, sent along this picture of his student, Kyle Schwibinger, with a pizza paddle that he made including a laser imprint of Kyle's favorite outfitter's logo. - Bill

Kyle is a frequent Sawbill camper and now can think of Sawbill whenever he removes a pizza from the oven.

Categories: Member Feeds

Apples, Cranberries and Turkey In One = Num!

Aging Youthful - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:00am

Today’s #RecipeOfTheWeek has ingredients I love separately, but would not have thought about putting them together and cooking in a crock pot. I found this on the awesome PaleoGrubs website. While I am not a total #Paleo follower, I do limit my intake of carbs, especially grains, as my body has a slight gluten intolerance and they tend to bloat me and cause inflammation in my body. It’s all a part of the autoimmune issues I have, going back to having Grave’s Disease resulting in my thyroid being removed in my early-30′s.

Moving on…here is the awesome recipe! (AND it is done in a crock pot, so it makes it EASY! Healthy and easy is my motto!).

Cranapple Crockpot Turkey Breast


  • One 5-6 pound bone-in, skin-on turkey breast
  • 3 apples, sliced (I choose not to peel them, but you could if you wanted to)
  • 4 cups raw cranberries, rinsed and “mushy ones” removed
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup


Place turkey breast in a large crockpot/slow cooker.  (I had to place mine on its side to get it to fit.)  Sprinkle with salt.  Surround with apples and cranberries.  Pour vinegar and maple syrup over the top.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until meat is cooked through and fruits are softened.  (About an hour before dinner, I turned the turkey over on its other side, but I don’t think this step is essential.)

After removing the turkey breast from the crockot, “mush” the berries and apple slices a bit, and then serve them over the top of the turkey.  Easy and delicious!

Categories: Member Feeds

The Weight of Sadness

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 10:55pm

It is heavy. My heart is heavy with sadness because we have lost an amazing person. Our friend and member of our Voyageur family, Mark Ceminsky passed away Sunday evening. We are not sure what happened medically but the fact remains he is no longer with us.  This fact has weighted us down with a deep grief.

We first met Mark in 1993 as a guest of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. We saw him every year, sometimes a few times each summer, as he loved Saganaga Lake. He loved it so much he bought a piece of property and built a cabin on it.  He loved his time at the cabin and at the end of the Gunflint Trail. He loved it so much he decided to take a position at Voyageur after he sold his cabin.

To say that I will miss him doesn’t begin to express how badly it hurts to know I will never see his smiling face again. I’ll never get to hear him tell me about a new moose in the neighborhood, a friendly fox on our deck, a bald eagle in the narrows or any other topic we both held close to our hearts.  He’ll never send me another picture he took of a particularly beautiful sunrise, snow on the canoe pile or any picture at all.  My inbox will never see another message from Mark and that is a painful thought.

Mark has been a part of our Voyageur Family year round since the fall of 2011 but he’s been a friend since the first time we met him in 1993.  I know if you ever met Mark he treated you with genuine kindness. He politely listened to you and if you needed something then he most likely helped you with a big smile on his face. That was Mark and I know you will miss him too.

Mark was one of those people who would do anything for anyone. He would go the extra mile for guests even if he wasn’t working. He took care of people even when there was no money in it for him.  He would be there for you whenever you needed it and I don’t think I ever heard him say, “No.”

I can’t tell you how many things Mark did for me that went above and beyond the call of duty.  Whether it was filling my boat up with gas so I could go fishing, looking for a pair of lost sandals on an island on Saganaga, taking care of Rugby when I was away, feeding my birds when the feeders got empty, picking up after Josh and his friends countless times, looking for a much needed item buried deep inside of my bedroom, putting car seat covers on for me or always offering to help me carry stuff to or from my vehicle when he could have easily ran the other way. He was always there for me and anyone else who needed him.

While funeral arrangements have not yet been made I would like it if you would share your stories of Mark with me. I know some of you have posted kind words on Facebook but I don’t know if his parents are on Facebook. I know they would love to hear all of the wonderful things their son has done for everyone so if you want to email a story to me then I will get it to them.

For those of you who were touched by his kindness, I know how much you are hurting and how deep your sorrow must be.  I am sorry for your pain and want you to picture Mark in a better place. It’s a place I know looks a lot like Saganaga. It’s a place where pine trees meet the sky, granite outcroppings disappear into blue lake water and the sun shines brightly.  The fish always bite, the moose appear frequently and there are no mosquitoes. It’s heaven and Mark is there and he has a big smile on his face and when it comes time for you to join him Mark will be there to embrace you, help you with anything you might need and most importantly he’ll be your friend, one of the best you will ever find.

Rest in Peace Mark, We love you.

Categories: Member Feeds

Love the Banadad?

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 11:02am

The Banadad Ski Trail is an awesome trail accessed from the Gunflint Trail that winds its way through the BWCA wilderness. This last summer trees were blown down onto the trail within the wilderness area where chainsaws are not allowed to be used.  The Banadad Trail Association isn’t asking for your help in doing the actual trail clearing, they just need your money to pay for the expense. If you love the Banadad then consider donating.
Give Mn-Give to the max day -November 13

Imagine going out for a lovely ski on the Banadad Ski Trail and coming across a very large clump of downed birches, balsams and a twenty-inch aspen flanked by two other large aspen blocking the trail. And by the way you are in the BWCA. To remove these trees it took six people using hand saws and sweat labor over five hours.

Andy Jenks, Banadad Trail Association President, reported: “We cleared this clump of downed trees but there still is much more to do. A storm went through over six remote interior miles of the Banadad Trail’s eastern section this past summer, leaving hundreds of trees down and blocking the trail. This portion of the Trail–because of the distance–cannot easily be reached by our volunteers, so we are working with a paid contractor to do the clearing. Thus far the cost to clear two and one half miles of this remote area has been over $2100 and we still have many miles to go.”

While the Banadad Trail Association recently received a $5,000 grant from the US Forest Service to help pay for this work, we have to match those funds with 35% of that amount in order to access the funds. The Banadad Trail Association needs your help so we can clear the remaining down trees blocking, at least,  three and half  miles of Trail and get the Banadad open for skiing this winter.

We are turning to outdoor enthusiasts, skiers, and other who love the Banadad Trail and asking if you can help support this work with a donation. If you are able, please donate to the Banadad’s trail through our BTA link at GiveMN.   Thank you!!  Your donation will help us finish clearing the Banadad Trail for a great season of skiing!

Help clear the Banadad- please GiveMn-Give to the max day- November 13

Trees on the Banadad Ski Trail

Categories: Member Feeds

The BHTs of Preservatives

Aging Youthful - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:00am

This week’s #WhatsREALLYInOurFood posting is checking in on a food preservative, BHT. According to the Save Our Bones website, BHT is:

…used to prevent oxidation in a wide variety of foods and cosmetics is listed by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in 2005 as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” on the basis of experimental findings in animals. It is also used in jet fuels, rubber petroleum products, transformer oil and embalming fluid. As if this were not enough, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) warns that BHT should not be allowed to enter the environment, can cause liver damage, and is harmful to aquatic organisms.

This additive is not without controversy. Depending on which article you read and website you click on, it can be found to be safe in high doses in animals and others, it’s not. The reverse has been found to be true: it is safe in low doses, but not in high doses. Who do you believe???

As with most of the chemicals in our food supply, BHT mostly shows up in highly processed foods such as chips and breakfast cereals. As I coach the people I work with, limit your intake of processed foods, opting for more one-ingredient foods for the bulk of your diet. Use your favorite processed food as a treat, not as a staple. I suggest following the 80/2o rule of eating right 80% of the time. The problems usually come in when we eat processed and fast foods 80% of the time. Use it as a treat, not as a staple. Where is this chemical found?

Remember, you ARE what we eat. If you eat garbage, you will have a garbage body. You deserve better than to fuel yourself with garbage, unless of course, your name is Oscar The Grouch.

Categories: Member Feeds

The power of one vote

Unorganized Territory - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 6:29pm

I had a lot of fun on Election Night 2014 on air with Jay Andersen and Roger Linehan on WTIP Community Radio. I don’t know how I ended up being part of the WTIP election news team, but I have enjoyed taking part for a few years now.

I hope listeners did too. We know at least one person was tuned in—Sherrie Lindskog who brought us some delicious bread pudding with a vanilla cream sauce. Thanks, Sherrie!

I think we do make a good team. Jay and Roger are much more in tune with the regional and national races and the ballot measures across the United States. They are more hard news—I’m there to lighten the mood a bit.

I fill in the slow spots with information on our local electoral process. I turn to Cook County Auditor Braidy Powers for that information. Braidy is our “go-to” guy for many things, but especially inquiries on elections or financial questions.

So he was happy to provide replies to my questions about precinct numbers and voter registration. I asked how many election judges are there and who are they? Braidy gave me a complete list so I could give a shout out to them on the radio. Of course they were hard at work counting ballots, so they likely didn’t hear me. But I do appreciate their efforts.

Braidy was able to answer the question of whether election judges are paid—yes they are, $10 an hour and mileage.

Asked what the county saves by conducting mail ballots, Braidy had historical data on the last election before mail balloting began in 1994. That election process cost the county $49,175. The next election, with mail ballots in 1996, cost $38,702—a savings of $10,473. However, answer man Braidy said that does not factor in the cost of setting up polling places to be in accordance with today’s handicap accessible guidelines and the installation of new vote-counting technology.

Good information. I also try to lighten the election evening reporting with some “color”— historical voting trivia or silly quotes from politicians or about politicians.

One of the best historical tidbits I found while researching elections this year was a Cook County referendum item in 1933. An article in the September 14, 1933 issue of the Cook County News-Herald reported that the voters of Cook County went to the polls that Tuesday to indicate their choice on the return of the old fashioned saloon. The article went on to list how each township voted—“wet or dry.”

Interestingly, the now defunct township of Mineral Center was tied with 13 votes for “wet” and 13 votes for “dry.” None of the townships voted in favor of staying “dry” and Colvill, it was noted had 16 votes for “wet” and 0 for “dry.”

The measure to bring back the saloon passed in the county, by a vote of 42 to 145.

Some very silly election trivia. But no sillier than the quote I found attributed to Abraham Lincoln. I have been unable to authenticate when and where Lincoln spoke the words, so I’m stressing that it is attributed to him. But it’s a great quote on elections, no matter who said it:

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

This has never been truer than in this election. At press time the county is awaiting the outcome of a tie election. One more vote for one of the east end candidates—Kristin DeArruda Wharton or Frank Moe—and that Commissioner District election would be over. Although a recount would have still been possible, it is now undoubtedly going to happen. And the candidates must suffer for a few more days of wondering if they’ve won or not.

The west end of the county as well—only five votes separate the two candidates, Bruce Martinson and Commissioner-elect Ginny Storlie. If six more people had cast their vote would there be a different outcome?

We need to remember this when the next election rolls around. It’s easy to think your vote doesn’t count in state and national elections where it is one of many among thousands. But it does. One vote by one vote, the tally is counted.

And as you can see in the microcosm of America that is Cook County, one vote truly does count.

There’s no trick to being a
humorist when you have the whole
government working for you.
Will Rogers

Categories: Member Feeds

Help Clear the Downed trees on the Banadad

Banadad Bulletin - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 9:24am

GiveMn-Give to the max day -November 13

A wind storm this summer dropped hundreds of trees down across the Banadad within the BWCA. We are working on clearing these trees .

While the Banadad Trail Association recently received a $5,000 grant from the US Forest Service to help pay for this work, we have to match those funds with 35% of that amount in order to access the funds. The Banadad Trail Association needs your help so we can clear the remaining 3-4 miles of Trail and get the Banadad open for skiing this winter.

We are turning to outdoor enthusiasts, skiers, and other who love the Banadad Trail and asking if you can help support this work with a donation.  If you are able,  please donate to the Banadad Trail at Giving to max day – November 13 -  GiveMN.  Thanks

Categories: Member Feeds

Happy Halloween!

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 9:28am

Halloween weather can vary so much you’re not quite sure if it’s fall or winter.    I can remember as a child trick or treating. More often than not the costume was covered up by the necessary winter apparel only to be shed and carried along as we raced from house to house.

2014 First snow.

We had an inch of snow last night.  Driving home from town it seemed like the Halloween blizzard of 1991 when 31 inches of snow welcomed Bob and I back to the northwoods after a couple years in Seattle.  The snowfall was so dense last night I literally could not see more than a few feet in front of the car.  I stopped at Trail Center to give my eyes a quick rest.  Even the UPS Driver stopped for a short break stating that he drives the trail every day and this was the worst he had seen.  15 minutes later the visibility had lightened up and we were back on the road traveling slowly.

The total accumulation seemed to be between 1-2.5 inches but this is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be driving the trail.  We’re all used to pavement & good road conditions.  The snow may come down frozen, but can ice up quickly when it meets the warm pavement.  Without snowbanks built up on the sides of the road a little spin or sliding can result in some serious damage or worse injury.  So remember – drive cautiously and pull over in a safe spot to let others pass if they’re pushing you.  Better to arrive a couple minutes late, than not at all!


Categories: Member Feeds

Autumn Days at Chik-Wauk

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Blog - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 11:47am

Golden tamaracks lining the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center driveway mean autumn is upon us and the 2014 museum season is quickly drawing to a close. Be sure to visit and catch this year’s temporary exhibit on Butterflies, Skippers, and Moths of the Gunflint Trail before we lock up our doors for the winter months at 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 19th. (Until then, we’re open every single day from 10 a. m. -  5 p.m.)

As you drive up to the museum, you might notice large flocks of brown birds along the Gunflint Trail roadside. These are Lapland Longspurs, making their way to their southerly wintering grounds. Soon the longspurs will be replaced by snow buntings and not too long after that, the snow will fly in earnest.  Here’s a nice photo of the Chik-Wauk bay in its autumn colors to distract you from the ever-approaching winter.

While you’re at the museum, get a head start on your holiday shopping with our gift shop sale, offering up to 40% off select items.

Sunday, October 19 is the final day the museum will be open this year. After that, you’ll have to wait until May 23, 2015 to visit and see the 2015 temporary exhibit, “The Gunflint Trail’s Paper Trail” featuring brochures, diaries, correspondence, and other paper items that originated on the Gunflint Trail.

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Eastern Meets Nordic: Autumn 2014 Trollbeads

Sivertson Gallery - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 1:36am


When I was first introduced to Trollbeads, it was the Scandinavian connection that first peaked my interest. The delicate, silver Dala Horse bead, Thor’s Hammer and the adorable photos of the Danish Family members who ran the company, I felt right at home. Trollbeads, even the name evokes images of mossy rocks, streams and the smell of the deep forest. I was hooked.

As the time has passed, and my love for Trollbeads becomes an addiction, my bracelet has transformed from Scandinavian … read more

The post Eastern Meets Nordic: Autumn 2014 Trollbeads appeared first on Sivertson Blog.

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How do you say THANKS?!

I’m down to my last couple days working here in Grand Marais and on the Gunflint Ranger District………it has been quite a ride here.  For those of you who are wondering, I started in Grand Marais in August of 2001 and I’ll be leaving here in a couple days so that makes it pretty much eleven years on the nose that I’ve been here……and my time here has been pretty much spectacular.

The thing about that is, I can’t take a lot of credit, there have been so many people working with me that have really done the work.  We have some outstanding employees here in our office and they keep charging forward to help us meet our budget commitments.  And then they do more to help us within the community.  

Much of our forest is about 100 years old and you’ve noticed the older trees are dying.  The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway committee, the biologists from the State and the Tribes, the County Biomass Committee, the timber industry and several local landowners have worked with us to find ways to restore our forests to a healthier state.  One of the facts I learned last Friday is that on the Gunflint District during my time here, we have planted 2.1 million trees, a combination of white, red and jack pine, white spruce, cedar and tamarack will be the next forest we all enjoy. 

Speaking of new forests, we have had around 800 volunteers planting and caring for trees during Gunflint Greenup.  We have had our challenges, but this community doesn’t say quit.  After Ham Lake Fire, there were plenty of reasons for despair, we all could have slumped back to drown our sorrows but another choice was made, a choice to clean up and create a new forest.  The Scenic Byway Committee wrote and received a $250,000 grant for the purposes of forest restoration.  With that we cleaned up some of the dead trees along the Gunflint, prepared some areas for planting, planted seedlings and seeded jack pine.  As you drive up the Gunflint, you can start to see the next generation of forest and it will have a healthy component of pine trees.

Of course Ham Lake was only one of five major fires we had during my time here…..or should I say five major wildfires.  If you look back at the blowdown of 1999, no small event, there have been a number of opportunities for us to get together and find reasons to succeed.  For several years we got together and worked on prescribed fire, I think totaling about 40,000 acres worth.  I’m sure that for many of you it may have seemed like we were coming in heavy handed to get these things done.  However from my point of view we worked with a lot of businesses up the Trail and I got to work with a lot of great people.  Without you, our work would have been a real challenge, but with you, we accomplished quite a bit.

Then the real fires started. Alpine Lake, Cavity Lake, Redeye Lake, Famine Lake………and then Ham Lake, the most destructive fire in our forest’s history.  There were homes, businesses, garages and out building lost, 148 between the US and Canada, but “WE” survived……and through working together have grown stronger because of it.  I mentioned Gunflint Greenup, but there is also the Chik Wauk Museum and Nature Center, and our venture with Becoming a Boundary Waters Family.  Three great partnerships working together for the good of our forest.

Then there was that peculiar change of events.  Toward the end of 2007, we were “as dry as we have seen it up here”…..until September when the rain started.  I remember someone telling me their lake went up 14 inches with one storm.  Who would have thought that next we would have eight inches in two hours on June 6, 2008?  I’m not sure how wide spread that rain was, but it sure was on the slopes above Grand Marais………..and water still flows downhill…….and that much water REALLY flows downhill……really fast….and will move heaven and earth………or at least a lot of earth.

But again, we found a way to work together and I could even find one bright spot in all that.  Some of you know that I bike to work, at least on the nicer days.  Well for much of the rest of the summer, I had a lane on the hill going down the Gunflint pretty much to myself…….or at least that part of the lane that didn’t wash away.  Once it was fixed, I again was sharing the road and waving to friends as they passed me.

Friends……..I’d somehow like to acknowledge all the friends I’ve made up here and all I’ve worked with…….. or maybe I should say all of you who put up with me……….but I know if I tried, I’d forget someone and all of you are important.  So I’ll generalize a bit and hope you all know how special you’ve made my time here.  Before I arrived, I met and was working with Sheriff Dave Wirt and that only got better after I settled in.  When he retired in early 2005 and Sheriff Mark Falk took over, we continued that great working relationship.  I wondered a few times if Sheriff Dave knew what 2005 would bring with Alpine Lake fire and the beginning of our large fires?  Talk about a new Sheriff being baptized by fire……..and the start of a great working relationship!!!  Then there are the rest of the office, the deputies and dispatch people I got to know……it has been great!!

Within the Cook County Board of Commissioners there have been a few changes since I arrived.  I believe Jan Hall is the only commissioner who has been on the board throughout my tenure here.  I have gotten to work with nearly all the commissioners on one project or another and I truly appreciate all that we have done together.

Though maybe not as visible, I have had the pleasure of working with Grand Portage on several issues.  Norman DesChampe has been the Chairman throughout my tenure and with his staff we have struck an outstanding working relationship.  Norman is one of the great leaders within the Minnesota Chippewa Tribes and I can only think how lucky I’ve been to know and work with him.

I’ve mentioned the support and help we’ve gotten from businesses in the County and that has been nothing short of amazing.  There is just no way we could achieve what we do without the support and help from all of you.  As strange as it might seem, much of our wildlife habitat management and our fuels reduction goals are accomplished through the timber industry and logging.  Most everyone knows Hedstroms and we are very lucky to have them in our back yard, but there are also so many others working in the woods to help us do what we think is right for our forests.  As I think about it, the eagle and wolf populations have been successfully restored, and we’re working on the lynx.  Our next challenge is likely moose and we’ll keep working with the tribes and DNR to do what we can for that species.

A special relationship we have is with the outfitters, guides and hospitality businesses who help us manage the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as well as our campgrounds.  Special because we need those people to help us succeed, but sometimes the policies that come from our upper levels can …………well……..add a little stress.  And I am humbled by how patient my business friends can be to find a way to keep going………I think it’s patience…….?  But I do know how much I appreciate what they do for us.

Since the volunteer fire departments are………well………volunteer, I’m pretty much talking about many of the same people who work in businesses or other agencies.  But the relationship is different when you’re working side by side.  Now we meet, train and work together to help all of our friends in Cook County…….as it should be.

The other agencies are many, from the City of Grand Marais to the County, the State, Grand Portage and even Canada.  I’ve said this in different meetings, but the way you have all come together during our natural disasters is a model for the nation.  Several of the people who have come here to help with those disasters have commented on how they are used to having to bring communities together when they come to help.  But in our community ………….well the leaders here pretty much had their acts together and the incoming teams were in awe of what they saw….doesn’t get much better than that!!

There have been a few other adventures that we have worked on together, a snowmobile trail connection with Grand Portage, some other trail reroutes, a county wide ATV plan (which after all the debate, we’ve finally implemented), some work in our campgrounds, a few miles of hiking trail work, biking trails, a few hundred acres of fuels reduction along with a variety of small projects, too many to name, where I’ve had the chance to work with so many citizens of Cook County where I owe you all so much and thank you so much for  your help.

The one disappointment I have is that I have to this point been unable to bring a solution for access to South Fowl Lake.  As I leave I know I have some co-workers back here who’ll help see that through the final steps.  My disappointment extends to the fact that though this really is a fairly small project, I was unable to bring people together for a resolution.  We are cleaning up a few details that will support my decision and the final proposal before it is submitted it to the Court. 

So as I prepare my next adventure, I leave here grateful for all those who’ve chosen to work with me, grateful to be a part of a resilient community, grateful for the lessons I’ve learned.  But mostly grateful for the friends that have welcomed my family and me to be a part of Cook County!


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Babes in the Bay

The Portage Path - Fri, 06/29/2012 - 5:59am

The loon parents are very proud and fairly loud about their new babies.  They’ve been feeding and bragging in the bay over the last few days.  The chicks are pretty big already and can dive on their own so this is not a fresh hatch.

The photo is not very sharp but you get the idea.  We have a pro photographer with a super lens staying here right now so I imagine we’ll get some better shots quickly.

It’s windy and dry but fairly close to another perfect day in a long string of perfect days this summer.



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Yup, you can get here…

The Portage Path - Wed, 06/20/2012 - 6:21pm

Just had some folks arrive from the Twin Cities.  They said they actually made it through Duluth without much difficulty, though on surface streets up the hill a ways.  Hwy 35 is still a mess.

They said the rivers along the shore were spectacular.  That was what slowed them down.

You can get here.


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Yes, you can get here…

The Portage Path - Wed, 06/20/2012 - 3:47pm

We’ve had a bunch of rain and so has all of northern Minnesota. Our gauge on HJ lake shows about 4 inches. Notable but not biblical. Duluth was particularly hard hit as was the road system in Duluth. So driving through Duluth is not recommended right now though changing rapidly. There are roads around Duluth via Cloquet and once past Two harbors Hwy 61 is passable. We just got a phone call from a friend driving on 61 just north of Two Harbors and he said things were good.

We’re sending people out and we just had a group come in who said the rain was actually kind of fun.

This too shall pass.

The MN Department of Transportation website has already shown a lag between reality and what they have posted.

Bottom line is you can get here and have fun.


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When You Go Boating

The Gunflint Trail Blog - Wed, 04/25/2012 - 8:44am

Boating season is upon us on the Gunflint Trail, although boat traffic on Gunflint Trail lakes won’t pick up in earnest until the season fishing opener on Saturday, May 12. (Despite some rumblings in the Minnesota legislature earlier this spring about possibly bumping up the opener by a week, the fishing opener will remain on May 12 this year.) Before you take that first spin in the boat this spring, here are a few things to remember:

Beware of aquatic invasive species
Minnesota continues to work to educate the public about how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and spiny water fleas.

The MN DNR asks boaters to remember to stop aquatic hitchhikers by inspecting their boat whenever they take the boat out of the water and removing any vegetation or invasive species clinging to the boat,;draining the water from the boat before leaving the water access; and throwing unused bait in the trash. Before a boater moves their boat to another lake, the DNR asks boaters to either rinse their boat and equipment with at least 120 degree water, pressure wash the boat, or let the boat dry for at least five days.

Boaters are now required to display an aquatic invasive species decal on their watercraft.  A penalty for not having the decal will begin to be enforced on August 1, 2014. The decals can be picked up for free at DNR offices or wherever you register your watercraft.

Register your watercraft
The state of Minnesota requires all watercraft to be registered. If you are not a Minnesota resident, you may register your watercraft in your home state. Minnesota honors all state registrations.

Life jacket use
And remember, while the ice may have gone off the lakes a month ago, we’ve been experiencing normal spring temperatures and water temperatures remain very chilly. While it’s always important to have a personal floatation device nearby whenever you’re out on the water — and children under the age of 10 must always wear a life jacket — it’s an especially good idea to actually wear your life jacket during these cool spring days.

Happy boating!

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Gunflint Green Up

The Gunflint Trail Blog - Thu, 04/19/2012 - 2:32pm

Wondering what this Gunflint Green Up thing is all about? Here are answers to some of your questions about the event.

When did it begin?

The Gunflint Green Up event began in the spring of 2008, when volunteers and officials from the U.S. Forest Service gathered to replant the area on the upper Gunflint Trail burned by the Ham Lake Wildfire of 2007 with pine seedlings. The event has been held on the first weekend of May ever since. Over the years, the event has evolved to not only planting tree seedlings, but also cutting away undergrowth away from trees planted in previous years (known as “releasing”) to let the sunshine in and allow the trees to grow tall.

Who’s organizing this year’s event?

Gunflint Lodge is the primary sponsor of this year’s Green Up event and registration is done either online or by calling them at 1-800-328-3325.

Do I have to stay at Gunflint Lodge to participate?


What does my registration include?

Saturday lunch, Friday and Saturday dinners, planting equipment from the USFS, trees and group leaders. Registration is $48.00 per person.; taxes are additional.

What is I just want to volunteer?

If you just want to volunteer, but don’t want any of the meals that come with registration, arrive at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center at 10 a.m. on Saturday May 5 to be assigned a task.

What should I bring?

Sturdy footwear, appropriate clothing for working outside in early May (aka, layers and possibly raingear), and a pair of nippers, if you have them.

What will we be doing?

This year’s Green Up will focus on clearing the Gneiss Lake Trail, which is adjacent the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center grounds. Volunteers will plant trees and release previously planted trees along the overgrown Gneiss Lake Trail. Volunteers will also work to open up the Gneiss Lake Trail up to the Blueberry Hill overlook.

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Notes from the Trail

The Gunflint Trail Blog - Sun, 04/15/2012 - 2:32pm

The Gunflint Trail loons have returned. With such an early ice out this year, it’s been easy to wonder if seasons on the Gunflint Trail are inside out, but the return of the loons are sure sign that spring is upon us. Loons have been spied fishing in many bays of Gunflint Trail lakes and the wailing call of the loon now frequently punctuates the night as the loons communicate during the midnight hours.

If you yourself happen to be up at the midnight hours, it’s worth looking to the northern horizon to see if you can spy the warm green glow of the Northern Lights. The Aurora were visible on Friday night and according to the website Space Weather:  “For the third day in a row, a high-speed solar wind stream is buffeting Earth’s magnetic field. NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% to 15% chance of more geomagnetic activity during the next 24 hours as the solar wind continues to blow.”

Although we’ve been getting a bit of rain and/or snow each week since ice out, fire danger is always a concern on the Gunflint Trail before the spring green up. The MN DNR issued this notice about fire danger last week which contained this important reminder: “While campfires are allowed, please use caution so they do not escape. Clear an area around the campfire, attend it at all times and make sure it is cold to the touch before leaving it. Also, use caution when operating equipment or recreational vehicles to prevent sparks from igniting dry vegetation.”

For the time being though, Gunflint Trail residents are more concerned about the current winter weather advisory.  Although April snow is always a little shocking, the snow (or rain) will happily raise lake levels and increase moisture levels in the woods.

Permit season for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness begins on May 1.  Do you have your spring canoe trip planned?

Minnesota’s fishing opener remains May 12. We’ll let you know as soon as we can if it gets bumped up a week, as is currently being debated in the Minnesota Houses.

The moose have been moving about recently. This lady was spotted camouflaged in the undergrowth near Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.

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