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Scary Stories of the Storm in the BWCA

Boundary Waters Blog - 2 hours 37 min ago

We’re grateful all of our groups that were out in the Boundary Waters during the storm have fared well so far. We’ve heard some very scary stories of harrowing experiences and we’re saddened by the two lives lost in the storm. Tony and Brad were out in the BWCA during the storm and said it was something else.

I haven’t gotten all of the details but I do know they had to swim for their canoe that got blown away. They spent the majority of the night crouched behind a big rock. One of canoe groups who returned from their trip yesterday were very lucky. Huge red pines fell within inches of their tent. They are very lucky. Here’s a few of their photos.

BWCA Storm Photos

That was the kitchen fly that was hung up.


There’s a fire grate beneath this tree


Trees all around their tent fell down.


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7/22/16 - Blueberry Season

Sawbill Newsletter - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 9:44pm

7/22/16 - Blueberry season is soon approaching! In just a few weeks there will be thousands of ripe, delicious berries for BWCA visitors to snack upon. Wild blueberries are much smaller than the ones you get in the store, so don't be surprised by their size. What they may lack in size, they more than make up for it in flavor. All that June rain and the hot temperatures in the past weeks have really brought out the best in the berries.

The next time you portage, take a look close to the ground. You might be rewarded for your hard work!- Elena

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Announcing Lucky #4 Grapefruit IPA for Ales for ALS

Voyageur Brewing - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 3:45pm

Ales for ALS is a joint effort between Loftus Ranches and Hopunion to raise funds and awareness for the treatment and cure of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The organization donates a proprietary hop blend to a small number of breweries, which are invited to create a special brew and donate a portion from each sale towards ALS research. Voyageur Brewing Company was honored to be selected to participate last year, and is very happy to brew for this cause again this year. Head brewer Jason Baumgarth named this year’s ale Lucky #4 Grapefruit IPA after Lou Gehrig’s number and his self-described status as the “luckiest man in the world.” This beer is an homage to a great sport and a great spirit, and we hope you’ll love this limited edition ale. Enjoy Lucky #4 Grapefruit IPA at All Pints North in Duluth this weekend, and in the taproom while it lasts. You can read more about this worthy project at their website

The post Announcing Lucky #4 Grapefruit IPA for Ales for ALS appeared first on Voyageur Brewing Company.

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BWCA Storm Updates

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 10:04am

Another tragedy in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, this time on the Ely side of the Superior National Forest. Here’s an article for more information about the event.


Duluth, MN – July 21, 2016.  Early this morning, a powerful wind storm swept across northeast Minnesota, blowing down trees in areas of the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Many roads and trails are blocked by downed trees within and around the Forest. Forest Service crews are currently working to clear access and to remove hazards. This effort may take several days to complete.  Electric power was interrupted for some locations. There are no emergency closures on the Superior National Forest at this time.

Following the storm, the Forest Service has also assisted St. Louis and Lake County Sheriffs in search and rescue operations including an incident on Basswood Lake, within Quetico Provincial Park, that involved two fatalities and two serious injuries requiring hospitalization.

The National Weather Service is predicting another strong to severe thunderstorm to pass through northeast Minnesota on Saturday and Saturday night with damaging winds, torrential rainfall, and large hail.

Superior National Forest managers urge visitors to:
Be aware of current conditions on the Forest and to stay up-to-date with the forecast.
When planning travel on the Forest, especially in the Wilderness, understand that search and rescue takes longer in the wilderness than in an urban setting. Cell phones do not work in many parts of the BWCAW.
Be prepared! Prevent the need for a search and rescue operation that may impact the integrity of the Wilderness area or put others in danger
Lastly, leave a trip itinerary outlining your travel plans with someone at home and remember to check in with them when you return safely. The Forest Service does not automatically initiate searches if a group doesn’t leave as planned. If someone is concerned because you are late returning from your trip, they should contact the county sheriff’s office.

Updates will be posted at:
Superior National Forest web site:,
Facebook:  U.S. Forest Service-Superior National Forest
Twitter: @SuperiorNF

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<p>7/21/16 - Last night, the BWCA was

Sawbill Newsletter - Thu, 07/21/2016 - 1:50pm

7/21/16 - Last night, the BWCA was hit with a fairly large storm. The Sawbill area experienced lots of winds and rain, however no known injuries have been reported in the surrounding lakes and loops (Kawishiwi, Cherokee, Brule, Etc.). The Forest Service is hard at work doing everything they can to survey the area and report back to us. Thankfully, as of this afternoon, everything is clear.

Stay cool out there!

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Another Storm in the BWCA and Beyond

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 07/21/2016 - 11:39am

If you’re trying to get a hold of us today then you probably aren’t having much luck. Our phones are sketchy right now due to last night’s storm. It was a doozy.

The light show outside of my bedroom window was amazing.  Lightning lit up the sky in all directions and it even lit up an electrical transformer nearby. Trees bent over and snapped off and some became uprooted. The wind speed gusted over 40 miles per hour and we received just under an inch of rain.

We have not heard any reports of injuries on our side of the BWCA. There appear to have been some injuries of campers near Ely, Minnesota but so far so good for us.  We do have campers in the woods and we’re praying for the safety of all.

We’re hoping this is the last of the severe storms of the summer.

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

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7/21/16 - Sawbill canoeist Jesse Dinsdale sent along this wonderful picture of his solo sunrise paddle on Sawbill Lake.

Sawbill Newsletter - Thu, 07/21/2016 - 9:33am

7/21/16 - Sawbill canoeist Jesse Dinsdale sent along this wonderful picture of his solo sunrise paddle on Sawbill Lake. I almost hate to say it, but gorgeous sunrise and sunset photos are pretty common in the wilderness, but Jesse's picture really tells an evocative story. Bill

Sawbill Lake, July 2016.

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Summer Theater, Demos, Artist Talks & Lots of Music

North Shore Arts Scene - Thu, 07/21/2016 - 5:23am

Foxtails by Sandra Updyke.

The heart of summer is here. This weekend is proof, with the first curtain call for the Grand Marais Summer Theater Festival at 7 p.m. on Thursday night at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts. Next  weekend,  “Ceramics in Cook County,” an exhibit of local potters and ceramicists, opens at the Johnson Heritage Post, followed by the iconic summer celebration on the North Shore — Fisherman’s Picnic– which starts Aug. 3.

The Arrowhead Sketchers launch this weekend with a sketching opportunity on Artists’ Point at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. They will meet at Grandma Ray’s if it’s raining. The group will sketch for 1.5 hours and then gather to talk and share work. All are invited.

The Grand Marais Playhouse‘s Summer Theater Festival opens for the season at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts with two plays performed in repertory on the weekends, through Aug. 14.

“Arsenic & Old Lace” by Joseph Kesselring opens at 7 p.m. on Thursday. “The Addams Family: A New Musical” opens at 7 p.m. Friday. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20 and are available in advance at or at the door beginning at 6 p.m. General seating begins at 6:30 p.m.

Friday kicks off with the Grand Marais Garden Club’s annual flower show.

Peony by Mona Abdel-Rahman.

This year’s show is titled,  “Nature’s  Symphony,” with all the arrangements following a musical-theme. The show is at the Cook County Community Center from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday.  There will  be lots of beautiful flowers, delicious refreshments and perennials for your garden. Free admission. All invited.

Also on Friday, Melissa Wickwire of Wickwire Clayworks will give a tilemaking demo in her studio at 11 a.m.

A tilemaking demo at Wickwire Clayworks is set for 11 a.m. Friday.

Wickwire’s studio is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and is located at Betsy Bowen’s Studio & Galleries,  310 1st Ave. W. in Grand Marais.

Michael Monroe will be on WTIP’s The Roadhouse on Friday to talk about his music and sing a few tunes. The show airs from 5-7 p.m. He’ll be on about 6:15.

On Saturday, the Cook County Farm & Craft Market opens at the Senior Center parking lot at 9 a.m. with a great selection of arts and crafts, baked goods and vegetables in season. The market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Cook County Farm & Craft Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays in the Senior Center parking lot.

At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Grand Marais Public Library will present Professor Marvel in a magic show entitled “Magic of the Olympics.” This action-packed show is designed for kids from kindergarten to 5th grade, but everyone is invited to enjoy the Professor’s antics.

At 1 p.m., Tom McCann will give a Sumi-E demo at the Grand Marais Art Colony. Sumi-E is the Japanese word for black ink painting, a technique which uses just a brush and ink on paper, developed in ancient China. Emphasis is placed on the beauty of each individual stroke of the brush.

Moose, a sumi-e painting by Tom McCann.

McCann will talk about the process and do four Sumi-E paintings during the demo. All invited. Free.

And last, but not least, on Saturday, authors Kim Alan Chapman and James Armstrong will present at a Writer’s Salon at Drury Lane Books at 5 p.m. They co-authored “Nature, Culture & Two Friends Talking,” a book of essays and short stories from an environmental perspective.

The authors will be at a Writer’s Salon at Drury Lane Books on Saturday.

The Writer’s Salon will be outside, weather permitting, and the authors invite the public to share their thoughts in an interactive conversation. Free.

And on Sunday, painter Hazel Belvo will give an Artist Talk at the Johnson Heritage Post at 4:30 p.m. The topic will be The topic will be “Spirituality, Myth and the Feminine.” Free and open to the public.

Come early and take this opportunity to see the painting exhibit by Karen Savage Blue. This is the last weekend of the show at the Heritage Post, and the gallery is full of her wonderful work.

“March 5″ by Karen Savage Blue.

Also on Sunday, come paint a mural. The community paint-by-number project, developed by Mila Horak, is offering two painting sessions this week. They’ll be at the Cook County Community Center from 1-5 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday, July 27, from 2-8 p.m.

Community members are painting a mural that will be installed on Birchbark Books & Gifts when it’s done.

All welcome. No experience required.

In Thunder Bay, the Die Active Art Collective will hold its annual Y-Art Sale in the midsummer garden behind the Hoito Restaurant from 11 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The Y-Art Sale is behind the Hoito Restaurant (on Bay Street)  in Thunder Bay on Saturday.

Discover the unique works of young DieActive artists, clothing designers and crafters in this unique summer event. Shop for original art & crafts, handmade jewellery, vintage clothing & treasures, zines, books, buttons, records and more. Plus, there’s live music, too, and lemonade, food trucks and, if you want, a Finnish pancake at Hoito’s.  The event is sponsored by the Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay.

Also of note: The Valley Fresh Buskers Festival is only a few steps away, too, at Bay & Algoma Streets, and will be held July 23-24 with lots of music, street performers, clowns and a food truck alley. The festival is from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

In Minneapolis, “Cow Calls in Dalarna,” a verse play with music and cow bells, will be performed at the American Swedish Institute July 22-23. The one-hour theater piece is based on a cycle of original poems by Duluth playwright and poet Bart Sutter, with traditional music to evoke the lost world of Sweden’s summer pasture camps. Grand Marais’ Rose Arrowsmith Decoux is one of the performers. Performances are at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. For more info, see


Fisherman’s Picnic, the annual summer gathering in Grand Marais, runs from Aug. 3 through Aug. 7 with contests, music, a used book sale, craft alley and much more. For more info, click here.

Painter Adam Swanson will open a show at Tettegouche State Park with a reception at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5.

Painting by Adam Swanson.

Swanson is exhibiting 18 paintings inspired by the North Shore. He will give a 15-minute presentation at the opening.

Currently, Tettegouche State Park is exhibiting work by Twin Cities artist, Marty Harris.

Marty Harris’ painting, “Artist Point” at Tettegouche State Park.

 In other art news:

Betsy Bowen has completed a new series of fish print cards. They can be seen at her studio at 310 1st Ave. West.

Card by Betsy Bowen.

In other Betsy Bowen gallery news, Ron Piercy has made a series of new necklaces.

Garnet and silver necklace by Ron Piercy.

Ceramic artist Matthew Krousey is the featured artist next month at the Grand Marais Art Colony.

Mosaic by Matthew Krousey.

He is scheduled to teach a class Aug. 15-18. Students will create tiles, oval vases, and plates, and explore various decorating and surface design techniques using slips and stains. For more information, see or call 218-387-2737.

Fiber artist Kim Knutson has work at Kah-Nee-Tah Gallery in Lutsen.

Needle-felted bear by Kim Knutson.

 Joy and Company is exhibiting pottery by Hannah Lakey.

Pottery by Hannah Lakey is at Joy & Co.

 The Cross River Heritage Center has a new exhibit of local artists including photographs by Kathy Gray-Anderson and Peter Jewell, watercolors by David Hahn and paintings and pastels by Paula Sundet Wolf.

Kathy Gray Anderson is showing her photographs at the Cross River Heritage Center.

Jessica Kunde took 1st place at the Chalk.A.Lot festival in Two Harbors last weekend with this stunning black and white portrait.

Jessica Kunde took 1st place the Chalk.A.Lot event in Two Harbors.

Arna Rennan won the Paint Du Nord, the plein air competition in Duluth, last weekend.

“Evening: 5th Ave. West” by Arna Rennan.

David Gilsvik took first place in the Quick Paint at the event.

“Into the Light” by David Gilsvik.

The paintings are on exhibit at the Duluth Art Institute.

And finally, Cameron Norman is teaching a class entitled:“Gyotaku: The Dao of Fishy-ness” at the Grand Marais Art Colony July 30-31.

Gyotaku by Cameron Norman.

In the class, students will learn the traditional Japanese art form of Gyotaku, or “fish rubbing.” Each participant will create fine, detailed mono prints using local fish, rice paper, inks, and acrylics. The finished work will be applied to stretched canvas using rice glue made in class. The class will end with a dinner of studio-made fish chowder. Students will go home with one finished print and a full belly. For more info, contact the Art Colony at 387-2737.

Here’s the music for this weekend:

Thursday, July 21:

  • Plucked Up String Band, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Music by the Campfire, Lutsen Resort, 6 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.

Friday, July 22:

  • Jim & Michele Miller, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • Portage, Grandma Ray’s, 6 p.m.
  • Rod & Al, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7:30 p.m.
  • Eric Frost, Music by the Campfire, Eagle Ridge Resort, 7:30 p.m.
  • Reina Del Cid, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Bluefin Grille, 9 p.m.

Saturday, July 23:

  • Eric Frost, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • Bug Lite, Music on the Deck, Papa Charlie’s, 6 p.m.
  • Dat Dere Jazz, Sydney’s Rooftop, 6 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne, Lutsen Resort Lobby, 7 p.m.
  • Michael Monroe, Log Cabin Concert, rural Grand Marais, 7 p.m.
  • Prodigals Adrift, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7:30 p.m.
  • Plucked Up String Band, Grandma Ray’s, 8 p.m.
  • Reina Del Cid, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
  • Dance Party with DJ Beavstar, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 24:

  • Cook County’s Most Wanted, Mogul’s Grille, 5 p.m.

Monday, July 25:

  • Shane Martin, Bluefin Grille, 9 p.m.

Wednesday, July 27:

  • Timmy Haus, Moguls Grille, 5 p.m.
  • Gordon  Thorne & Bob Bingham, Bluefin Grille, 9 p.m.

And here are a few of the photos we found this week:

White Showy Lady Slipper by Paul Sundberg.


Devil’s Island by Michael DeWitt.


A Fleeting Moment by Zoe Amerman.

Here are two full-moon shots.

Lamp-lit Buck Moon by David Johnson.


Full Moon Rising by Kathy Gray Anderson.

The peace of Lake Superior…

Sunset After Rains by Thomas Spence.

And the fruit of the season:

Blueberries by Jean Fitts Cochrane.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

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Gadget Insanity

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 6:26am

I thought I would be super happy now that we have broadband at the end of the Gunflint Trail but it turns out I’m not thrilled.  Don’t get me wrong, I love faster internet and the fact we can actually connect to the internet to get our work done.  When the internet was slow it was super painful to reserve a permit, print a fishing license or do anything online. Now that it is fast it seems more people want to use it and abuse it and that’s what I’m not happy about.

I wish I could say it is just kids that are obsessed with their gadgets but that would be lying. People of all ages are hooked on their technology and have a very difficult time not using it when it is available. Today I had a Grandpa bumping into things in the store because he was trying to read text messages on his phone. I also had a man come in to complain about his family all being on their phones upstairs in the lodge while he was waiting to go to Chik-Wauk Museum.  I told him to tell them it was against our rules to use the internet to make phone calls, then I said I was lying it really wasn’t against the rules, but then I created a new rule sheet and had Rachel make copies to post around the lodge so I can honestly say, “It’s against the rules.”

I don’t like to see people on their phones or iPads when they should be outside experiencing the great outdoors at the end of the Gunflint Trail. I understand there are a couple of instances where it may be necessary to check in with someone or check on something but I don’t want people wasting their precious vacation time on their gadget.  I also don’t want other people who are taking a gadget free vacation to have to be exposed to someone else using gadgets. It just looks and feels bad.

I hope you understand my need to have a rule in place at Voyageur. There are some things I’m not ready for and one of those is people sitting on our picnic table outside of the store talking on their cell phone.  I don’t ever want to have that be OK.

Go Gadget Free on the Gunflint Trail!

Thanks for your Cooperation

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Final clean in the new Care Center additions and entryway, hospital addition progress

The Care Center staff was doing their final housekeeping clean-up on the two new Care Center additions in preparations for the residents to move in. On the front entry and new kitchen area, crews are setting roofing and installing metal studs to partition off the future areas. Out back on the hospital addition, the structural steel has been set, roof decking is going up and the concrete slabs have been poured.


Roof line at the entry with canopy in the background

Roofing progress looking towards the new canopy at the entry way

New entry way canopy

Entry way progress

metal studs in the entry way

Aerial progress on the hospital addition

Aerial progress on the hospital addition

Hospital addition progress

Care Center staff doing the final clean

Care Center rooms ready for occupancy

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Where are We in July?

Unorganized Territory - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 2:40pm

Cook County News-Herald staffers love to get out and about the county. So we decided, while we are traveling the highway and bushwhacking through the forest, to take pictures to see if our readers can guess WHERE ARE WE?

It seems as if everyone knew where we were in June. We received correct guesses from the Gunflint Trail to Croftville; from Grand Portage to Silver Bay; from Rome, Georgia to Killeen, Texas and many points in between. Almost all knew that last month’s WHERE ARE WE? photo was taken at the entrance to Cascade Lodge.

Drawn from the correct entries were Ralph and Jane Johnson of Clear Lake, Minnesota. They win a free subscription to the Cook County News-Herald.

Try your luck! Take a look at the July photo. If you think you know where this photo was taken, send us your answer.

You don’t have to be the first to reply. The location will be announced next month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers. Whoever is drawn from the correct entries receives a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald (a $32 value). Good luck!

Stop by the office to give us your guess or return answer by mail, e-mail or fax to:

Cook County News-Herald

PO Box 757

Grand Marais MN 55604

Fax: 218-387-9500

Answer to the July WHERE ARE WE? must be received by August 15, 2016.


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Voyageur Crew Member Cassidy

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 6:48am

Cassidy is technically in her first year at Voyageur but since she is Matt’s partner and has gleaned a bunch of information from him she’s quite advanced. She spent the winter here with Matt and learned a ton about the business. Answering phones and emails she quickly learned about different routes, camping equipment and more. She’s had crash courses in marketing, hiring and retail sales. Through it all she has done an amazing job and we couldn’t be happier with her performance.

Our guests all love Cassidy as much as we do. She enjoys listening to people’s stories when they get back from canoe trips and she also likes helping our cabin guests make the most of their stay at Voyageur. When she’s not working she likes to paddle and spend time with nature laying in a hammock and reading. Cassidy’s favorite lake is Lake of the Clouds and she too is looking forward to her Quetico Park trip with Matt.

We’ve received so many compliments about how great Cassidy is and we encourage you to come up and meet her.  She plans to spend the winter at Voyageur again and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her.




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Do You Know This Man?

Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters News - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 5:54pm

If you’re a fan of canoe country, you’ve probably stumbled across some photos of our buddy, Andrew. Last year, he served as the poster boy for the first annual Boundary Waters Canoe Expo. Over the years his photo has also appeared in numerous other advertisements for Visit Cook County and Tuscarora. You’ve also seen him in our post about 20-somethings going on canoe trips.

But who is this man of mystery so often spied in the bow of a Souris River Quetico 17?

Andrew, Andy, and I all worked together at Hungry Jack Outfitters back in the “Aughts.” He comes from “canoeing stock” – his mom worked on the Gunflint Trail as a young adult – and as a teenager, he did many canoe trips through Camp Menogyn, including a five week trip through the Canadian wilderness. Since our Hungry Jack days, the three of us have covered a lot of miles together, from roaming around Portland, OR to running Chicago’s Shamrock Shuffle this past spring (FYI: Andrew can run 8 km 14 minutes faster than I can), and, of course, he and Andy have gone on lots and lots of trips through Quetico Provincial Park.

Right now, Andrew is a biology PhD student at the University of Michigan where he focuses on the venom systems of mollusks. The end goal of his research is to create a way that the venom of mollusks can be used as human medicine, particularly as a side-effect free anesthesia. He spends a portion of each summer collecting cone snails for research from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off Japanese or Samoan coasts.

Despite research that takes him around the world, back at the end of May, Andrew and his girlfriend, Clara, managed to carve out a week to spend in the Quetico. As you can see from the map below, they just did a teeny, tiny, little trip:

Andy and Andrew are known for their high mileage Quetico trips and Clara wanted to be sure that Andrew didn’t take it easy on her just because it was her first canoe trip. A quick gander at the map shows that Andrew did not let Clara’s lack of canoe trip experience impact the trip’s distance. In six days and five nights, they paddled 80+ miles. Oh, did I mention that Andrew and Clara had both run marathons two days before the start of their canoe trip? Obviously, these are not two people who are afraid of high mileage!

After a towboat ride from the Tuscarora dock on Saganaga Lake up to Hook Island on the Canadian side of Saganaga, Andrew and Clara paddled over to the Cache Bay Ranger Station to pick up their permit for the Man Chain. From Cache Bay, they headed up past Silver Falls, into Saganagons, and into the Man Chain which they followed down to Carp Lake and the International Border.

Loons rafting on This Man Lake

After paddling a few miles west on the border, they went over Prairie Portage and then cut back up into the Canadian interior via Sunday Bay in Basswood Lake. As they headed east back towards their starting point, they passed through Agnes, Louisa, McEwen, and Wet Lakes, before finally heading south via Saganagons and Cache Bay.

Despite a wide variety of temperatures and weather that characterizes this spring, they had a great trip. In her first visit to Superior/Quetico country, Clara managed to see more of canoe country than some people see in years of BWCAW and Quetico canoe trips. A trip of this magnitude certainly isn’t for everyone, but these two, it worked just fine.

What’s the longest canoe trip you’ve ever done?

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The Wind Will Cease to Blow

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 6:25am

Some people who read this blog might argue with me, especially if they were out in the canoe country recently.  I know I have written about this before but it is worth repeating. If it is super windy and wavy and it is too scary to paddle then stay off of the water. Some of you are nodding your heads with me in agreement right now while you are on dry land reading this in the comfort of your own home or office but something happens when people are out in the woods and the wind starts to howl.

Somehow the wind has the ability to change a situation. Does it carry with it a spell that puts people into a zombie like state? With arms stretched out straight in front of them people begin to chant, “We must leave the safety of our campsite and venture out into the water to risk life and limb to make it home safely, four days early.”

I don’t believe this really happens but something about the wind blowing compels people to pack up camp and head out into a perilous situation. It doesn’t make sense to me how one minute a group is content to camp on an island for a week but then the wind begins to blow and their situation has changed from camping to being stranded on an island.

When the wind blows it never fails. We have groups struggling in high waves to get back to Voyageur a day or days earlier than they were scheduled to return. The other night we rescued a group of campers who decided to paddle on Saganaga during super high wind and they capsized all of their canoes. Their gear was blown away along with their canoes and if it hadn’t been for Canadian homeowners all would have surely perished. What happens next is what really bothers me and it isn’t just because I’m tired of helping people like I told the Voyageur Crew, it’s because I worry for the safety of my crew more than the safety of everyone else. I care way more about our crew than I do about finding gear for someone who chose to paddle during inclement weather.

Now that I’m older and yes, a bit wiser, I realize things can happen in a split second. Boats can take on water, heads can get hit hard and people can die. While my summer crew is in my care I prefer that doesn’t happen to one of them. So, when we get called out to rescue someone or pick someone up three days early it bothers me. I don’t want to send our drivers out in windy and wavy conditions but because of the wind we are forced into doing it.  So when I act mad and righteous it really isn’t because I’m mad, it’s because I’m scared.  Will we continue to send people out to rescue others in this situation? Absolutely because I would want someone to do that for my loved one and it’s the right thing to do.

However, please do me a favor. If you are out on a lake and the wind starts to blow take advantage of the situation. Play cards, relax around a campfire, enjoy the fact there are no bugs and wait to paddle until the wind quits blowing.  It will cease to blow, it always does.

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Days Gone By at Voyageur

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 6:00am

Some of our resort equipment at Voyageur is objecting to the work it is being asked to do.  Or should I just say things are going to pot? (If you want to know what that saying means or how it originated then check out this website.) Just this past week something went out on one of our pick-ups, we were told it would cost $1300 to repair one of our Suburbans, the Ranger needs new lug nuts, one of our 25 horsepower motors is broken, gear shifts on two other motors went out and the list goes on. I can’t remember which specific item it was we were talking about but  I started to rant.  I’ve been doing that quite a bit lately and while I don’t like to do it, no one likes to listen to me do it, it just felt like I needed to do it.

Dead Motor

Back in the old days at Voyageur we didn’t have a Ranger to zoom around in.  We actually had to walk places to get something or to find someone. Radios and the Ranger make things much easier. I remember when I had to use a wheelbarrow to bring bags of ice down from the ice machine(which was behind outfitting) to the store(now where the flower garden sits in front of the lodge).  It was a heavy load that would often tip and then the wet bags would get all muddy from the dirt parking lot.

I also remember having to take laundry across the river to wash in a ringer washing machine. No, I am not that old and there was no reason to still have a ringer washing machine except for the fact some people obviously had other people doing their laundry and didn’t think an electrical washer was a good investment. The previous owner did however believe a dryer was a good investment and it was located on the store side of the river so I would haul wet laundry in a Duluth Pack from one side of the river to the other so I could toss it into a dryer.

I can’t forget having to cook breakfast outside beneath the picnic pavillion across the river. The mosquitoes loved the heat of the griddle and swarmed me while I attempted to cook for guests rain or shine. Those early morning treks up the hill were not looked upon fondly and the ease at which we can cook breakfast now still amazes me.

Things change, machines break and we find new ways to do old things. Are the new ways better? Easier? Faster? I don’t know but if you ask me this week I will tell you they appear to be more expensive than ever before.

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Boating in the Boundary Waters

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 6:22am

There are a few lakes in the Boundary Waters that allow motor boats. Saganaga Lake to the north of Voyageur is in the BWCA and allows motors up to a 25 horsepower.  The same rules that apply to boaters elsewhere also apply in the BWCA, along with a few more.

The Boundary Waters has a specific set of rules that visitors must adhere to. Most people who come to the area are familiar with these rules that deal with primarily overnight camping but some are valid for day use as well.  There’s the group size maximum of 9 people, # of watercraft maximum of 4, no cans, no bottles, you must have a permit and plenty more you can find here.

In addition to these rules are a few that sometimes get forgotten.  Most people know you need to have a wearable Coast Guard approved life jacket on board for all passengers but what sometimes gets forgotten is you also need an additional throwable Type IV device on board and accessible.  These are things like boat cushions and rings that can be thrown out to someone struggling in the water.

A rule that either gets forgotten or ignored involves kids in life jackets.  Did you know Minnesota State law requires children under 10 years old to wear their life jacket while the boat is moving?  It’s a good law but one I unfortunately see people breaking.

One simple life saving device required on watercraft 16 feet and longer is a whistle.  It’s an inexpensive item that can literally save a person’s life. The best place to store this whistle is around your neck so if you get thrown from the boat and end up in the water you can use it to be rescued.

Here’s something Mike’s Uncle learned when he took my boat out a few weeks ago.  The registration numbers on your boat must match your registration information. Something I forgot to do when I got my new used boat from a person from Wisconsin was to change the registration numbers on the side of the boat. I had it registered in Minnesota I just didn’t have the new numbers on it.  Now, after looking at the numbers put on my boat it looks like I might have to re-do them so they are in compliance with the rules.

The license number issued to your boat appears on the license card and must be displayed as follows:

  • Numbers must be placed on each side of the forward half of the hull
  • Remove the expired decals first, before applying the new ones.
  • The license number must be displayed on your boat as it appears on your license card.
  • Letters and numbers must be at least 3 inches high.
  • Letters and numbers must be of a block character.
  • The MN should be separated from the numbers with either a 2- to 3-inch space or a hyphen.
  • Letters should be separated from numbers by a 2- to 3-inch space.
  • Must contrast with the background.
  • Can be either painted or attached to the craft.
  • Should read from left to right and must always be legible.
  • The current license decal must be placed toward the stern within 4 inches of the license number.

If you’re going boating in the Boundary Waters it’s a good idea to know the rules before you go.

Boating in the BWCA


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Voyageur Crew- Meet Matt

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 6:34am

Matt is back at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters after taking a break to check out the real world. It’s his third summer with us and he spent all of last fall and winter at Voyageur.

Matt is from Owatonna, Minnesota and attended Lake Superior Community College in Duluth for Automotive Technology. He likes the peacefulness of the BWCA and spending time outdoors no matter what the season. When working at Voyageur he likes to make folks smile and hear about their trips.

Matt is the go-to guy at Voyageur. If I had to count how many times a day I hear, “Matt, do you copy?” on the radio I know it would be up into the triple digits. He knows something about everything and a lot about many things. With Mike spending more time in town or on canoe trips this summer Matt has had the opportunity to acquire even more skills. Whether it’s water pumps, electrical issues, monitoring water quality or an array of other challenges he’s facing he does it with a smile on his face and Google. You Tube videos and online tutorials are very helpful. He’s great with guests and shares his love and enthusiasm for the area with them.

When Matt isn’t working he likes to spend time canoeing or fishing. His favorite BWCA lake is Lake of the Clouds and his current favorite route is the Granite River. He wants to visit Kawnipi and is looking forward to his trip into the Quetico Park later this summer.

He deserves a vacation because if he’s at Voyageur it’s assumed he is working. Just because it’s his day off doesn’t mean people won’t ask him for something. So getting away into the wilderness is the perfect place for Matt to recharge. We’re lucky to have him back at Voyageur and hope he sticks around for a long time.

Matt the Man



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Gunflint Trail Canoe Races Coming Soon

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 6:15am

It’s that time of the year when the Voyageur Crew can be found splashing and thrashing in the Seagull River. They are getting ready for the annual Gunflint Trail Canoe Races held on Wednesday, July 20th. It’s a fun event so put it on your calendar and get ready to paddle.

Canoe Races on the Gunflint Trail

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Take a Deep Breath — Enjoy Summer

North Shore Arts Scene - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 2:40am

Mid-July and Lake Superior shows off. This photo, looking back toward Artist Point from the lighthouse, was taken by Kristopher Bowman.

Mid-July. Warm temps, blue skies, luscious clouds and wild places to explore. Blueberries will be ripening soon and gardens come into their own.

In town, this is a week when we take a deep breath and get ready for the rest of the summer. The Grand Marais Arts Festival, another smash hit this year, is over, and Fisherman’s Picnic is just three weeks away, so this is a weekend to catch up. There’s music, and plenty of it, and lots of  opportunities to watch artists at work. And the galleries and shops are loaded with local and regional art, always a rewarding way to spend a day or two.

There are some cool activities this week, too.

First up is the Arrowhead Sketchers, an open group of artists that was organized this summer and meets every Thursday in various locations around the county to sketch together and then talk about it later.

Neil Sherman crafted this sketch  last week.

This week, the Arrowhead Sketchers will meet at the Public Boat Landing in the Rec Park at 5:30 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the group will use the picnic shelter nearby or move to Grandma Ray’s. Participants are invited to sketch or paint in their medium of choice. All are welcome. The session lasts from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

And there will be some exciting demos.

On Friday, Melissa Wickwire will be demonstrating tilemaking at her studio, Wickwire Clayworks, which is located above Betsy Bowen’s Studio, 301 1st Ave. W. in Grand Marais. Her studio is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Melissa Wickwire will demonstrate tilemaking in her studio on Friday.

On Saturday, Mary MacDonald will give weaving demonstrations at Kah-Hee-Tah Gallery from noon to 2 p.m.

Mary MacDonald will be at Kah Nee Tah Gallery on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, Betsy Bowen will demonstrate printmaking in her studio starting at 1 p.m. Bowen has just completed a new print, “Lupines.”

“Lupines” by Betsy Bowen.

Also, Kathy Weinberg will demonstrate oil painting at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Grand Marais Art Colony.

Kathy Weinberg will demonstrate oil painting at the Grand Marais Art Colony on Saturday.

And finally, there will be a bronze pour at 4 p.m. at Last Chance Gallery in Lutsen.

A bronze pour will be held at Last Chance Gallery at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

All of the demos scheduled for this weekend are free and open to the public.

There are other fun things happening this weekend too.

On Friday, the new duo, the Red Dirt Girl (Michele Miller and Amymarie Schmidt) will talk about their music and play a few tunes on WTIP’s The Roadhouse. The Roadhouse airs from 5-7 p.m. The band will be on-air about 6:15. The Red Dirt Girl play at Cascade Lodge Pub on Sunday. (See below.)

On Saturday morning, the Cook County Farm & Craft Market will run from 9-1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Senior Center. The market features a wide variety of arts and crafts as well as baked goods and produce in season.

If you have ever wondered what it was like living and working in Taconite Harbor, check out the event at the Cross River Heritage Center at 11 a.m. Saturday when taconite workers Bud Buckman, Gary Hansen, Charlie Nelson, Charlie Tice and Steve Quaife talk about their life and work in Taconite Harbor. The panel discussion will be moderated by Barb Livdahl. The event is sponsored by the Schroeder Area Historical Society.

Also this weekend, the North Shore Winery on the Ski Hill Road in Lutsen will hold a grand opening from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Wine tasting, refreshments and music are on the menu. The Plucked Up String Band will play from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday. Black River Revue plays from 2-5 p.m. Sunday. All invited.

And on Tuesday, Hannah Barker Nickolay and Leah Lakey will be guest artist/musicians at the Full Moon Reading by the bonfire at Drury Lane Books starting at 7:30 p.m.

In Two Harbors, the Chalk.A.Lot, the sidewalk chalk art festival, is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday July 16, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Thomas Owens Park and in the streets of Two Harbors.

One of the chalk art pieces from past years.

The public is invited to come watch or try their hand at this ephemeral art. Live music and refreshments, art activities and more are scheduled.

In Duluth, the opening reception for the Duluth plein air competition, Paint du Nord, will be held at the Duluth Art Institute at 5 p.m. Friday, July 15.

Windy Dunes by Laura Frykman.

Duluth painter Laura Frykman participated in the competition. Her work will be exhibited, as will the other participants’.


 The Grand Marais Playhouses Summer Theatre Festival opens on Thursday, July 21, with “Arsenic and Old Lace.” It will be performed in repertory with “The Addams Family,” which opens on Friday, July 21. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Aug. 13. Tickets are available at The Playhouse has a new web site, too. Check it out here.

The Johnson Heritage Post Gallery will host the exhibit “Ceramics in Cook County” featuring work by 16 ceramics artists. The opening reception is from 5-7  p.m. Friday, July 29.
Ceramic artists in the show include: Maggie Anderson, Nathan AndersonTara Block, Elaine Dean, Joan Farnam, John Franz, Jeanne KnightBob LaMettryDan & Lee RossMike Smieja, Natalie Sobanja, Bob Tamanaha, Kari Tarver, Ann Ward and  Melissa Wickwire.


In other art news:

Mary Berg is the featured artist this month at the Grand Marais Art Colony.

Painting by Mary Berg, detail.

Her work is being exhibited in the gallery store, which also features work by a wide variety of Art Colony-member artists. The Art Colony is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

The extraordinary exhibit of paintings by Karen Savage Blue continues at the Johnson Heritage Post Gallery through July 24.

“The Spirit Tree” by Karen Savage Blue.

The Heritage Post is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday.

Last Chance Gallery in Lutsen is featuring new work by potter Nate Saunders.

Nate Saunders has new work at Last Chance Gallery.

Saunders is inspired by the Mingei movement in Japan which embodies the belief that art should be affordable, made by hand, utilitarian and used by many people.

Tim Young is currently working on painting an antique box he found in Red Ridge, Mich.

Box painting by Tim Young.

He currently has work at the the Betsy Bowen Studio, Cascade Vacation Rentals and Harbor House.  He also has prints and cards at Sivertson Gallery.

Upstate MN has new work by potter Megan Mitchell as well as JD Jorgenson.

Pottery by Megan Mitchell.

Painter Tim Pearson won Best of Show at the Grand Marais Arts Festival last weekend. He is exhibiting his work at Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais.

A Stormy Future” by Tim Pearson.

 Peggy Little has just brought in new yarn bowls to Joy & Co.

Yarn Bowls by Peggy Little.

And Kelly Dupre’s artwork is featured on long- and short-sleeved T-shirts at Great Gifts of Lutsen.

Artwork by Kelly Dupre.

Here’s the music schedule for this week:

Thursday, July 14:

  • Pushing Chain, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Music by the Campfire, Lutsen Resort, 6 p.m.
  • Frozen Britches, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7:30 p.m.
  • Rich Mattson and Germaine Gemberling, Gun Flint Tavern, 9 p.m.

Friday, July 15:

  • Ladies Music Club, Voyageur Brewing Co., 6 p.m.
  • Mysterious Ways, Grandma Ray’s, 7:30 p.m.
  • Dat Dere Jazz Quartet, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7:30 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Music by the Campfire, Eagle Ridge Resort, 7:30 p.m.
  • Ginstrings, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
  • Pushing Chain, Bluefin Grille, 9 p.m.

Saturday, July 16:

  • Pucked Up String Band, North Shore Winery, 2-5 p.m.
  • Dennis Archambeau, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • Shoot from the Hipsters, Sydney’s, 6 p.m.
  • J Squared the the Makers, Papa Charlie’s Deck, 6 p.m.
  • Jim & Michele Miller, Lutsen Resort Lobby, 7 p.m.
  • Pete K, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7:30 p.m.
  • Ginstrings, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
  • Dance Party with DJ Beavstar, Papa Charlie’s 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 17:

  • Black River Revue Band, North Shore Winery, 2-5 p.m.
  • Cooker John, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.
  • Red Dirt Girl, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, July 18:

  • Joe Paulik, Bluefin Bay campfire, 7 p.m.
  • Cooker John, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.

 Tuesday, July 19:

  • Hannah Barker Nickolay and Leah Lakey, Full Moon Reading (music) by the campfire, Drury Lane Books, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 20:

  • Joe Paulik, Bluefin Bay campfire, 7 p.m.
  • Timmy Haus, Moguls Grille, 5 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne & Bob Bingham, Bluefin Grille, 9 p.m.

Here’s a selection of some of the great photos we found this week:

Let’s start out with some newsy photos.

The huge rains over northern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin are having an impact, that’s for sure. Here’s a photo taken of a blown-out culvert on Hwy. 13 in Wisconsin between Ashland and Mellen.

Blow-out in Wisconsin. (Photographer unknown.)

The impact of the torrential rains can be seen from space. Here’s a satellite photo of the sediment runoff into Lake Superior. (Taken from a post from MPR’s Updraft.)

You can clearly see the sediment runoff as  light brown along Lake Superior’s eastern shoreline.

We didn’t have those devastating rains here in Cook County, although there were storms.

Storm rolling through by David Johnson.

The storms can be beautiful.

Summer storm over the Spirit Tree.

Misty days in summer have their power, as well.


Summer flowers by Sandra Updyke.

As do beautiful days in the Boundary Waters.

A weekend paddle in canoe country by Thomas Spence.

And sunsets can be gorgeous.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park by Mike Plucker.

Youngsters seem to be thriving as well.

Curious Calves by Nace Hagemann.

And last, but not least, check out these healthy cuties.

Loon Babies by Paul Sundberg.

Have a great weekend, everyone!






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