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Come Play in the BWCA

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 08/16/2014 - 6:11am

Outdoor play is good for you and your kids. Why not plan an end of the summer BWCA trip where you can play outdoors together? Think of all of the fun things you can do while you’re on a canoe camping trip with a kid.

  • Swimming and tons of associated water games like Marco Polo
  • Stick and pine cone baseball
  • Hackey Sack with a pine cone or real one
  • Skipping rocks
  • Catching crayfish or regular fish
  • Finding spiders, frogs and other fun insects
  • Stargazing and making up silly songs around the campfire
  • I Spy

The games you can play are endless just like the benefits of time in the wilderness are too numerous to count. If you can’t make it to the BWCA then at least make some time to play outdoors before school starts whether or not you have a kid.

Play in the BWCA


Nature play at home

Being outdoors is great for kids. Studies summarized by the National Wildlife Federation show that kids who spend regular time playing outdoors are more likely to be:

Great students and learners
Able to get along well with others
More creative and curious
Good problem solvers
Generally healthier and happier overall!
As a parent of two young boys, I can also tell you that nature play is relaxing and fun! Here are the basics, as well as some great resources to get you started.

Authentic nature play is unstructured, imaginative, and open-ended. It encourages experimentation and observation. It also includes an element of age-appropriate risk-taking. Risk taking can be as simple as climbing, balancing, and jumping from a new height.

While away-from-home nature areas might create some wonderful memories, you don’t have to travel away from your home to get the benefits of nature play. With a few simple additions, a backyard can include lots of the “good stuff” that is a part of nature play.

Nature play at home can include things like:

Loose parts, like piles of rocks, sticks, or leaves
Construction materials, like sticks, poles, straw bales, tarps, boxes, and 2x4s
Tools, like shovels, buckets, and rope
Mud, dirt, or sand
Hiding spaces
Balance logs and stumps
Small characters or props for ‘fairy villages’
Swings, hammocks, and other places for relaxing
One of the most inspirational guides I’ve read about nature play at home is the National Wildlife Federation’s guide for Nature Play at Home. Every time I look at it, I get new ideas! You can also find great resources on the Minnesota DNR’s Arbor Month page.

There are small adjustments to be made as you let your kids play in this way. For example, I’ve learned not to worry when the sand leaves the sand box. I’ve decided to allow the kids to dig a big hole in the yard, but I chose where to let it happen. I’ve let the kids harvest ‘herbs’ as a part of their imaginative games even if it means some of my plants take a beating. And, as the parts, pieces, forts, and rock piles move around it is certainly a bit messier than my pre-kid yard, but not any messier than most of my life. I smile (and take a seat on the porch steps) when I see how engaged and focused my sons and their friends can be in this environment.

Small spaces work too

Remember, even when space is limited there are creative nature play ideas to adopt. Balconies are usually big enough for potted plants, a fairy village, a vine tee pee growing out of pots, or a small sand box.

Ideas for winter

Snow play is a wonderful form of nature play. Mittened hands can still play with loose parts, branches, stumps and ropes. When the cold brings you in, bring nature play inside:

Bring loose parts inside. Fill baskets with rocks, tree slices, leaves, acorns, and other things you collect. They can be used as props for any storyline your young ones create.
Make an indoor sandbox.
Bring snow inside in a tub to play with. Try painting it with watercolors, like this.

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Small world, big fish

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 9:50pm

When the fish are this big, you know there are some good stories to go along with the picture.

Everyday at Stone Harbor is an adventure. What I really like to do is cruise the store and chat with our visitors. When doing this, I always try to find out where everyone is from. Many times they are from areas where I have lived, or I know people who live there.

Today was one of those days. As I walked downstairs, I was greeted by a guy who was going fly fishing with Chris. He asked if I was the owner and when I answered in the affirmative, he shook my hand and said his name was Jeff Olson and that he was the brother of Eric, whom I hunt with in Montana. Jeff had won the SnoFest silent auction adventure tour at Cathedral High School in New Ulm, which is where I graduated and that is how I knew is older brother. Not only that, but he had been taught in the grade school by my mother!! Wow, how great is that?

And Jeff’s wife, Cathy, who also went fly fishing, has been working in New Ulm for one of my oldest friends, Andy Biebl. So, not only was it a day where I could meet someone from my life a long time ago, but I also got to see a donation we gave to my alma mater be well used.

And in case you missed it, Jeff and Cathy caught a couple of really fine northerns on fly rods. Not bad for the first time out!

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8/15/14 - The Return of the Knight! April Finishes her journey

Sawbill Newsletter - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 5:03pm

8/15/14 - It's been quite some time since our last update on April Knight's canoe trip from Sawbill to York Factory on Hudson Bay. Last time we checked in with her she was about to get on a barge going up Lake Winnipeg.

April boarding the barge to go north on Lake Winnipeg.

Now, it is our pleasure to inform you that April finished her trip last Tuesday on August 5th after over 80 days on the water. It's great to have her back. What an inspirational woman! - Mark

April Knight at the end of her 80 day journey from Sawbill to Hudson Bay.

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Freedom Friday: Start With Baby Steps

Aging Youthful - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 1:00am

I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey, financial guru. I love his no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is approach to getting out of debt and on to creating financial freedom. I first downloaded the audio version of The Total Money Makeover, and followed it up with getting the hardcover version to reference easily when I need it. For those of us who are religious, Dave throws in references to the bible and shares why being poor really isn’t what God wanted for us. For those of us who are not religious, just skip over the bible references and listen in, he has some great advice.

When I was first introduced to his teachings, I thought it was a little cookoo to be putting money in envelopes, BUT it really does work. If you find yourself always having more month at the end of your money, being a little cookoo might be your answer. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Try something different. And as Dave says, if you don’t control your money, your money will control you.

Just like making changes in ANY area of your life, starting to take control of your money begins with one step. I liked Dave’s “Baby Step” plan. Step 1 is to create a $1000 Emergency Fund. Using the Law of Attraction principle, Dave says that if you don’t have an emergency fund, you know Mr. Murphy? The guy who says if anything can go wrong it will? Well, if we have the emergency fund, we won’t be so scared of Mr. Murphy and perhaps he won’t come visit us at all!

Now you can either love or hate Dave and his principles, but no matter what, get control of your money. I’ve struggled with this most of my life and admitting I needed help was my first baby step and I happened to find Dave and liked his style. You may like someone else’s….just get started on your way and start making the “hard” decisions now so your life can be “easy” in the future. Right now Mark and I don’t want to be 1700 miles away from each other, but we knew it was the smart financial decision to make. It is temporary and it is what’s best for our future. Pain is temporary…baby steps.

If you need help on getting your mind in the right place to get started, check out my mindset one on one coaching plans. Once you get your mind in the right spot, the rest will fall into place. I’d love to help you get on track to YOUR freedom. Just take a step.

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Power to the Border Completed!

Arrowhead Electric - Fri, 08/08/2014 - 9:34am


This week our linemen finished installing and powering the distribution lines from Grand Portage to the Canadian Border. This area had been served by lines from Ontario’s Hydro One power supplier, but the service was not as reliable as we wanted for our members. This summer we have tackled the daunting task of burying power lines along the rocky shoulders of Highway 61 and installing new overhead distribution lines to finally connect these members to the rest of the county. Check out our Facebook page for some great pictures of the guys finishing the work. Thanks to all the patient and friendly members in Grand Portage and beyond who kept us company and cheered us on during this major project.

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Kratt Chat: Cook County MN pride

Visit Cook County - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 10:15am

I truly enjoy strolling through Grand Marais during the summer. For those of us that reside here 12 months a year, one can appreciate a walk where you need to share the sidewalk with visitors and their dogs while greeting unfamiliar faces. This walk is far different than in November.  I’ve had multiple opportunities during the past few weeks to do a little small town bragging.  We live in one of the most inspiring places.

We just finishing wrapping up our summer video shoot with the crew Capture Film Co. This crew understands how unique and beautiful our landscape is, if you haven’t yet watched our winter video I strongly encourage you to. You will see that they truly love Cook County. Spending a few days touring them around reminds me to look through a different lens at this place we call home.


Apparently there are a few others who feel the same way we do about Cook County MN.

Our communities have been popping up in a wide variety of Best of lists and articles from publications around the country. Grand Marais has just received several accolades from Fodor’s, Huffington Post and Lake Superior Magazine this month alone!

Fodor’sTravel  begins like this: “As the gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Grand Marais is home to cozy restaurants…” The brief description is part of a travel blog titled “10 Charming Midwestern Towns to Visit This Summer.”

Another feel good appears in Lake Superior Magazine’sBest of the Lake.”   More than 1,200 readers voted in this annual survey.  The list covers everything from Best Art Gallery to Best Events and in many cases we received the big red star indicating top vote getter.

This past weekend, I participated in the Dragon Boat Festival with my team of nine years “The Fired Up Puppies” and in a new event with the Cook County Chamber’s Dragon Dash team.   Congratulations WTIP, North House Folk School and the North Shore Health Care Foundation  for another successful year.

In all my years of enjoying Cook County, growing up here and visiting frequently, I’ve only missed one Fishermen’s Picnic.  I encourage everyone to try to take a break and enjoy the weekend festivities.   If you have some spare time, talk to a Lion or Lioness about volunteer opportunities and at the very least, thank them for organizing this annual celebration.  It certainly is OK for the locals to puff up your chest and do a little home place bragging.

Stop by and say hi at the fish burger stand on Saturday.  I’ll be there wrapping the delicious tradition.

“They’re all red-ready and they’re all red hot, the fish in the middle and the tartar on top.”   Happy summer on the Shore and Trail.

The post Kratt Chat: Cook County MN pride appeared first on Cook County Minnesota.

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Solar Array Coming to Cook County

Arrowhead Electric - Wed, 07/30/2014 - 1:39pm

In partnership with Arrowhead Cooperative, Great River Energy (GRE) will build a 20-kW solar array at Arrowhead Cooperative’s headquarters site, 5401 Minnesota Highway 61 in Lutsen. The Lutsen solar array is one of 18 20-kW arrays GRE is installing throughout its service area in Minnesota, in addition to the recently completed 250-kW solar array at its headquarters building in Maple Grove, Minn. The solar array will generate renewable electricity while also providing information on how distributed generation solar facilities like this can best be used by electric cooperatives. Construction will begin in October and GRE expects it will be completed and in-service by the end of October. GRE will be using panels from tenKsolar, which are assembled in Minnesota. The system will consist of 48 solar panels, arranged in six rows of eight panels.

What is Community Solar?

Several of the cooperatives in Minnesota that are getting these arrays are also planning to add their own community solar installation.  Community solar is a solar-electric system that is owned by multiple community members. The members receive power or financial benefit from their ownership. In most utility-sponsored projects, utility customers participate by contributing either an up-front or ongoing payment to support a solar project. In exchange, customers receive a payment or credit on their electric bills that is proportional to their contribution and also based on how much electricity the solar project produces. In this way utility customers who wish to support solar power have an opportunity to do so at a much lower cost than an individual installation.

Community Solar in Lutsen?

Working with GRE on the solar array in Lutsen gives Arrowhead Cooperative an opportunity to consider adding an additional array using the community solar model. We are working now to answer many questions, starting with whether our members are interested in community solar. In order for the project to go forward, we’d need to have enough members invest in the solar array to offset the cost, so that the full membership doesn’t need to pay for the installation. We are working with GRE and other cooperatives that have gone through this process to learn more about costs, membership options, and best practices. Look for more information throughout the summer and early fall as we learn more about our options.

For more information about GRE’s solar projects visit

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storm Hits western area of the BWCA

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
    PRESS RELEASE Superior National Forest Superior National Forest July 23, 2014 Contact: Kris Reichenbach 218-626-4393   Many Cooperate in Emergency Response to Windstorm   The storm blows many trees down and there were repors of some of the Gunflint Trail area side roads blocked ...
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Is Spring Here-Ice out in Little Ollie Lake

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
Two days ago the ice left Little Ollie Lake along with most of the smaller lakes on the Gunflint Trail. Poplar Lake still is ice covered but with a little help from the weather could go out by this coming weekend. In the woods there is still lingering patches ...
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GUNFLINT TRAIL Celebrates “Two-Line Opener”

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
COOK COUNTY, Minn. (May 9, 2014)— Unfazed by lingering ice, the fishing mecca of the Gunflint trail in northeastern Minnesota is gearing up for a two-line opener. “Talk about the best of both worlds,” says Bob Baker, owner and fishing guide at Gunflint Pines Resort. “How often do you ...
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Grooming on Banadad Ends for the Season

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
While the last grooming of the Banadad Ski Trail took place early April there is still amble snow on the trail for the backcountry skier and snowshoer. As of Easter there is over eighteen inches of snow along the eastern end of the trail and it is currently snowing quite ...
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Break from the Cold Tomorrow-Friday

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
After many days well below zero, with the temperature hitting -36 last night, we are finally going to see the temp go above zero tomorrow. According to current prediction it could get as warm as 20 above. That will really be a switch.
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Very Large Black Cat Sighted

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
While I have been quite reluctant to post this because people will think I am nuts. However I have since found several other people who have had similar sightings. So here goes! On January 8, I was returning to Poplar Lake from grooming the Banadad Ski trail along the snowmobile ...
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Wound Vets Ski Nordic Trails

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
Combat Wounded Veterans,, visit ski lodges along the Gunflint. Ten veterans, several who had lost their legs while in the military skied from Bearskin to Poplar Creek Guesthouse and the Tall Pines Yurt. While the next day they were scheduled to ski on to the Croft Yurt ...
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Great Early December Snow

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
While we did not have the 40+ inches of snow portions of the North Shore had, we did get enough snow to begin serious work on the Banadad. The Lace Lake and Tall Pines have been cleared and barrel rolled. A few more inches of snow and they will be ...
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Not a lot of Snow but More then this Time Last Year

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
Last night 4-5 additional inches of snow fell. Another few inches and we can start packing the Banadad Ski Trail.  
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First Snow of the Season

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:22am
This morning we received about one inch of snow. First time this fall. However yesterday with the temperature hovering in the 40s and blue sky it snow for about five minutes. So you could say yesterday was our first snow.  Last Fall the first snow came about a month ...
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Quick spring into summer

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Thu, 06/05/2014 - 3:09pm

Guest who were here for the Memorial weekend got a real treat!!  Who would believe that the ice went out on May 19th and the temps were in the 80′s by Memorial weekend.  Memorial weekend was great with hi temps, sunny days and virtually no bugs!

Fishing is well on it’s way with people catching Lake Trout  anywhere from the surface to 30ft.  The Walleye are still in the shallows finishing up their spawning season.  Lake temps are changing quickly.  The past  80 degree temps changed the shallow lake temps from the upper 30′s to the mid 50′s over night.

Trolling floating stickbait is still the preferred methods for the evening Walleye bite.  Lindy rigging live baits seem to be the best bet for daytime Walleye fishing.  Lake Trout seem to be responding to stickbaits, spinners and spoons.  The bass are still a bit slow, but we’re finally hearing of some movement, and the Northern are crusing the shorelines.

More to come!


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Dennis Todd Memorial – June 7th

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Wed, 05/28/2014 - 10:35am

A memorial service has been planned for Dennis Todd June 7th 10am at the Gunflint Conference Center at 143 S. Gunflint Lake Rd, Grand Marais MN. Dennis was a fishing guide on the Gunflint Trail for 20+ years.

Dennis Ray Todd of Appleton City MO. & The Gunflint Trail MN. died as a result of a boating accident on Nothern Light Lake in Canada on September 12, 2013. Dennis and a friend were enjoying a day of fishing when the accident happened. It is not completely clear of what happened but they were both ejected from the boat. The passenger was wearing a life jacket and was able to make it to shore. Unfortunately Dennis was not and in an apparent attempt to retrieve the boat he succumb to the cold waters and drowned in Traflagar Bay.

Dennis was a graduate of Appleton City High School. After serving his country in the United States Army he worked various jobs in Kansas City before finding his true calling. Dennis has been employed with Gunflint Lodge for the past 25 years as a fishing guide. It was apparent to many repeat customers that Dennis had a true passion, he loved to fish. “Bobber down” was soon echoed throughout the Midwest from those who were fortunate enough to go north fishing with the “Walleye Jedi”.

Friends and family alike enjoyed fish fries at Dennis’ and he was always able to provide someone with fresh fish. Dennis was quick with a joke or story and always had a helping hand for anyone that was in need of one.

Dennis was born to Raymond and Betty (Harris) Todd on February 12, 1954 in Appleton City, Mo. He was proceeded in death by his father Raymond and an infant sister Janet.

Dennis is survived by his son Cameron and step-daughter Laura (Scott) Campbell, his mother Betty Todd of Appleton City, sister Judy (Steve) Adams Bloomfield IA, brother Dave (Lisa) Todd Butler, nephews Matt Brownsberger, Brian and Kyle Todd, and four grandchildren. Many cousins and friends as well.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Cameron Todd Educational Trust Fund at the Community First Banks in Butler and Appleton City Mo.

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Trail Grooming Tomorrow

Banadad Bulletin - Thu, 01/23/2014 - 10:01am

Tomorrow, Friday, trail groomers will be out on the west end of the Banadad. The east end will be groomed the next day.

Tomorrow it is also going to warm up to above zero for the first time in days. Last night/this morning the temperature hit negative 36.

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