Soon there will be the opportunity to snowshoe throughout the Boundary Waters. Will you take advantage of it?
Just thinking about shopping on this day makes me cringe. I have a hard time in the Duluth mall on a Saturday with all of the people so I can’t imagine how I would be on Black Friday. I guess it would depend upon my patience level on that particular day but I can imagine if my patience was running low it could end up being a black and blue Friday.
Let’s just say after living at the end of the Gunflint Trail for 20 years I have less tolerance for crowds, traffic and unkind people. We can drive 56 miles with just 2 stop signs and one traffic light. A bad parking spot for us is one that isn’t right in front of the door, maybe 20 feet from the door and at most during a busy time of the year still within a couple of blocks and it’s free. If you go to a big event and have to leave the parking lot and wait for the whole lot to clear out before you can go then the most you would wait would be 6 minutes. I guess you could say we are very spoiled.
Traffic jams in our neck of the woods are quite tolerable. Most of the time it’s moose in the road that causes a traffic jam. If it isn’t moose then it could be a couple of vehicles where the owners are busy visiting with each other. Chances are when you pull up you know who they are and join in the conversation. Horns aren’t used to say “Get out of my Way” they are used to say “HELLO!”. If I get honked at in a city then my first instinct is to wave because I must know them if they are honking at me.
Our bodies are set to a slower pace and mixed with the Minnesota Nice personalities I doubt I would end up getting any of the “deals” offered on Black Friday. Either that or like the title suggests, it would end up being a Black and Blue Friday.
Hope you have many things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving and Always.
Red squirrels are our constant companions up here in the North Woods. They do not migrate south in the winter like the loons. Nor do they sleep away the cold months like the chipmunks. Their chiding calls can be heard ringing through the forest in every season. Playful antics and streaks of rusty red liven the boreal forest even in the bleakest of weather.
Tiny little red squirrels are constantly teasing the dogs, daring the large canines to get as close as they can before they sail off into the tree tops to chatter and scold the foolish pups. Their tiny tracks crisscross the snow as they make their way over to the bird feeders, scattering the jays and ignoring the caws of protest. They adapt easily to a close proximity to people. While never tame, they are more than willing to live in tandem with us, if only for the food. Squirrel raids on food packs of unsuspecting campers in the summer are persistent and ruthless.
In the quiet fall months, when the people grow scarce and the daylight grows more so, these tiny little survivors easily slide back into doing what their kind has been doing for centuries. They stock their winter larders with anything they can find. If you look close, you can see my favorite squirrel habit. The little guys carefully collect mushrooms from the ground, prune them to just the right size, then place them on the ends of balsam branches to dry in the fall sunlight. Once dry they are collected and stored over the winter.
This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for the bounty of the season. We are thankful for our friends and family. And we are thankful for the beauty of the natural world around us, including the red squirrels. If you find yourself with a mushroom on your plate at dinner, just think, a red squirrel just may be dinning on the same thing today!
There may not be snow on the ground where you’re at but the Christmas displays in stores have been out since Halloween. Whether we like it or not Thanksgiving is this Thursday and that means Christmas is just around the corner. Do you have an artificial tree or do you get a real tree? Wouldn’t it be fun to bring your family up to Voyageur before Christmas and head out to pick out your Christmas tree from the Superior National Forest?
You would have the opportunity to relax and unwind before the busy holiday season and to take a break from cell phones. We’d love to have you as our guest and you can experience what Christmas is supposed to be like. Fun times with family away from the hustle and bustle. Doesn’t it sound wonderful?
Gathering Holiday Greens on the Superior National Forest
Gathering your own Christmas tree or balsam boughs on the national forest is a great way to get outdoors with your family and celebrate the holidays. For many people this is an annual tradition. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to make this part of your holiday tradition:
Where can I get a Christmas tree permit? Stop by any of our Forest Service offices to obtain a permit for a Christmas tree. A permit to cut one Christmas tree on the Superior National Forest costs $5.00. Two permits are allowed per household per year.
What about balsam bough permits? To obtain a permit for bough gathering, contact the Forest Service office closest to the area where you plan to collect. A “personal use” permit for gathering balsam boughs on the Superior National Forest allows for enough boughs to make approximately 5 door-size wreaths and costs $20.00. If you plan to harvest a large amount of boughs, a commercial permit must be purchased.
How can I be sure I am on national forest lands and in the right place? Parcels of state, county, tribal and private lands are intermixed with national forest lands within the Superior National Forest boundary. Cutting of Christmas trees and boughs is not allowed inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, plantations, recreation areas, or administrative sites. Visitor maps of the Superior National Forest which show land ownership are available for $10.00 at all Forest offices and also via internet. Permits and maps may be obtained by mail but you must allow time for a check to travel through the mail and materials to be returned.
I wish I had time to go ice skating. Unfortunately my time is limited these days. So I must live vicariously through those who have time to do such wonderful things.
This month, we were saddened due to the passing of a Tuscarora and Boundary Waters friend. His son David took the time to email us the following note -
“I wanted to let you know that my dad, Dell, passed away on November 8th after a very brief battle with pancreatic cancer. As we’ve been putting together a slide show for next weekend’s service, I keep finding photo after photo of our many family trips to Tuscarora. My dad absolutely loved it in the Boundary Waters and in particular the connection to Tuscarora Lodge. Some of the best memories my kids will have of their grandpa happened there: playing Kings in the Corner and Hand and Foot on rainy days, swimming off the dock, rock hopping down the Cross River, learning from Grandpa how to drive the motor boat and bait a hook, blue berry picking, and making the Missing Link-Snipe-Cross Bay-Ham Lake-Cross River circle for a lunch adventure. These trips are part of family lore and make me smile every time I think of them.
I was doing a Google search for my dad’s obituary, and the first hit I saw when I entered his name was for a 2008 Tuscarora blog entry that he sent, and you posted, about waking up to the morning mist on Round Lake with the moon reflecting in the water. The timing of seeing this entry and photo was perfect. It was a clear reminder of his love of nature and his ability to see wonder and beauty in everything and everyone. Thank you for helping us to create family memories that matter. We look forward to seeing you on our next visit.”
Dell’s blog post can be found here - http://www.tuscaroracanoe.com/morning-moon-by-dell-boccignone/
Dell was a great man and his wife Judy a wonderful person. The world is saddened by his passing but better off because he was in it.
I liked Dell….
The Gunflint community lost another one of its old timers this past week. Eleanor Matsis died on November 19, 2013. For many years she worked at Gunflint Lodge as a front desk person and as a maintenance person. She also taught mathematics at the Cook County High School. Later she would move to Minneapolis and teach there at West High School and North High School. As many of her students said, “If you wanted to learn, she would teach.” She will be missed. There will be a memorial service for Eleanor at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on December 5th at 3:30 p.m. The church is located in Minneapolis at 46th and Colfax. Memorials can be sent to the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, Grand Marais.
The new building is getting walls on the first half. Next week the roof trusses will be delivered and start to go up. At this point you can walk through and get an idea of the size of the rooms. I am sure that everyone will enjoy the new housing next summer.
Some of the smaller lakes as starting to freeze. Gunflint, however, still has a ways to go. On cold mornings it is steaming so the water is still warmer than the air. There is a little ice buildup long the shore. Wind from the wrong direction could blow this ice out very quickly. Magnetic Lake does not look like it has any ice yet.
We have a new bird at the Tucker Lake feeders. I think it is a wood thrush. Bruce and I both spent time going through the bird book to identify it. There appears to be only one such bird in the neighborhood. Maybe some more will appear. Otherwise we have enough birds to eat us out of house and home.
Bruce and I spent one afternoon butchering a deer. We now have enough venison for another year. One night we ate part of the heart (Bruce) and liver (me) for dinner. It is a special treat for both of us. Our pine martin will finish the rest of the organs. The birds are eating all the scraps left over from cutting up the animal.
We are leaving tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and brother-in-law in North Carolina. I don’t get to see her as often as I would like so this is a special trip. She is the only person I know who thinks that I am “tall.” Growing up I was always the tallest person in the family. As you know from looking at our boys, that is no longer true.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families.
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Where has the time gone? We just finished our fourth summer at Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply. When I purchased the store in January of 2010, I am not sure I had any idea that I would be as proud the the store as I am. And when I say proud of the store, more than anything I mean that I am proud of everyone who works here. They are a great group of people who make it fun for me to come to work and I hope they make it fun for you to visit our store.
As I look back over the past few summers, I need to assess what we have done and what can we do to make your experience better. What really needs to be asked is why would you, our customers, buy from us instead of someone else. The myth that needs to be dispelled is the pricing issue. It is amazing how many people come in the store expecting to pay a surcharge just because we are a tourist area. Many times during the busy season, I have people express surprise that our prices are the same as the outdoor stores in the Cities, Duluth and Thunder Bay. Now, if you want to pay more because you love Grand Marais, we can work that out for you, but it is not a requirement. Another reason to buy and support Stone Harbor is that when you talk to my staff, you are talking to folks who live here and know the area quite well. We talk to the outfitters, lodge owners and other visitors. We have conservation officers and Forest Service workers in our store a few times a week, so we know where we can advise you to go for that hike and water craft trip. We hear where the fish are biting this morning, not last week. And if we don’t know, we can find out for you.
You can buy a lot of the equipment we sell other places and on line. Will you find it for less? Maybe. But can you touch and try on these products without driving to four different stores and fighting traffic and crowds? Probably not.
Just know that we are here for you and we enjoy your visits. And this week we are expressing our gratitude with our Giving Thanks Sale. It’s our way of thanking everyone who has supported us over the last four years.
We are calling on you to unite with Arrowhead Cooperative in giving to the Salvation Army in order to keep our community members warm and toasty during the approaching holiday season by donating new or handmade winter attire to the Mitten Tree. Feel free to bring your generous donations to the Arrowhead Cooperative office during our regular business hours. All items will be delivered to the local Salvation Army, where they will find a partner in crime to brave the winter chill. Arrowhead Cooperative also serves as a drop-off location for the Cook County Food Shelf year round.
Thanksgiving is this week and as usual I have many things to be thankful for. The truth is most of us have lots of things to be thankful for. Food, shelter, water and medical services are things most of us take for granted. These are things that have recently been taken away from our friends in the Phillippines.
Elsa’s family appreciates all of the support and prayers. I appreciate the over $900 that has been donated so far but I know we can do better. I know there are many of you out there that want to help and you still can.
Please take the time to help Elsa and the people in her village who have been affected by the typhoon. Give them something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and I’ll be super thankful too.
I remember using a rotary telephone, typewriter and a time when people didn’t have computers. I started with a bag phone as a cell phone and now my cell phone is a computer too. My kid’s have iPhones and I wish I would have never given them to them.
You think you are doing your kids a favor by giving them a cell phone. That it will make life easier and that they can self-regulate how much they use it and for what purposes. How can someone send thousands of texts in a month yet only place 3 or 4 calls in an entire month? Kids only know how to communicate via texting or snap chatting or through facebook. And whose fault is it?
It’s my fault for allowing my kids to use and abuse technology. I’ve listened to their excuses, “I need music to fall asleep.” “I use it for the alarm.” “I have to have the calculator.” “I won’t use it during school.” Well, guess what? Being a parent isn’t a popularity contest and middle school kids aren’t that nice to their parents anyway. I think it’s time to bring back the, “It’s for your own good.” saying and regulate how much technology they use.
The temperature didn’t hit double digits on the Gunflint Trail today. The low was 0 degrees and the high 9 degrees. Needless to say the hunters didn’t spend too much time sitting in the woods hunting. The forecast calls for a low of -11 degrees tonight. It’s going to take a quite a bit of firewood to keep the house warm tonight.
It is supposed to warm back up this coming week and there’s a chance for snow. Like I always say, if it is going to be cold then we may as well have some snow to play in.
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As many of you may already know, Wintergreen has closed their doors and there are a lot of disappointed people out there. It’s not just about the anoraks and fleeces though–they also have fantastic pants!
Wintergreen Guide Pants and Shell Pants are tried and true. Designed for extreme cold, the Guide Pants are a great technical outer layer for treks through arctic and subarctic climates. Yes, that makes them perfect pants for Minnesota winters too. I don’t know about you, but when I’m spending a day outdoors, I often find myself sitting on a rock or leaning up against a tree for a little break. These pants are built to keep you dry even when you plop yourself down in the snow. They are constructed with DWR 3-ply nylon and knees and seat reinforced with heavy, waterproof Cordura nylon, making kneeling or sitting in the snow or on wet ground comfortable. Extremely durable, you have no worries about getting them snagged or torn when snowshoeing, cross country skiing or whatever else you choose to do in the woods. Other great features include deep side pockets, zip fly, removable web belt, leg zips and Velcro tabs at cuffs. Wear them comfortably over a base layer or on their own.
The Wintergreen Boundary Waters Shell Pants speak for themselves too. At first glance, I didn’t think these pants would work for me. I was so wrong. The 2-ply khaki nylon shell pants are the most comfortable pants I’ve worn on my canoe and hiking trips, and as a short 5’2 person, it’s quite a challenge for me to find technical, functional pants that actually fit me. With a comfortable fit, amazing durability and extras like reinforced knees and seat, Velcro cuffs and deep, easy access cargo pockets, these pants are champs. Add to the mix that they dry quickly and pack small and you’ve got yourself the best Boundary Waters pants you’ll ever own.
Do yourself a favor and give Wintergreen pants a try while you can still find them.
11/22/13 - Dave and Amy Freeman, Sawbill's wonderful and experienced guides, have been nominated to be National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year.
Dave and Amy Freeman, Sawbill's wonderful and experienced guides, have been nominated to be National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year. There is a very nice interview with Dave on the National Geographic website.
We are thrilled to have Amy and Dave as our Sawbill guides, offering both guided day and overnight trips in the BWCA Wilderness. Dave worked for us as a crew member in high school and college. After he met Amy, they started guiding for us. I think it's safe to say that they are the most experienced canoeing guides in the world. They are also two of the nicest people I know.
To become National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, Dave and Amy need to collect votes from the public. Voting for them does not require any registration or revealing your email address. You can just go to the voting site and vote. You are allowed to vote once a day. Voting continues until January.
Our staff, like our readers, loves 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?
Our October 19 WHERE ARE WE? was really tough. The photo of fall colors on a back-country road could be just about anywhere and we received guesses ranging from Mineral Center Road to Pine Mountain Road. The correct location was on the 600 Road in Tofte.
Congratulations to Jeanne Leland of North Branch, Minn. who recognized the spot where the October photo was taken. Jeanne wins a one-year subscription!
Take a look at the November photo. If you think you know where we were when we took the picture, send your answer to us by December 16, 2013. The location will be announced next month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers. Whoever is drawn will win a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald (a $30 value).
Return answer by mail, e-mail or fax to:
Cook County News-Herald
PO Box 757
Grand Marais MN 55604
I had an email conversation today with someone who was on a sunny beach in Mexico. It was a bit hard not to be jealous on this somewhat dreary North Shore day. I started to feel sorry for myself, but then I started to think about topics for this week’s Unorganized Territory. And I realized this is our pre-Thanksgiving issue.
I realized how very blessed I am. I’d still like to spend some time on a warm sandy beach someday, but today, right here in Cook County, as Thanksgiving approaches, I have a lot to be thankful for.
I’m lucky to have a job I love most of the time with colleagues who are friends and who make work interesting and entertaining.
I’m fortunate to have a roof over my head and a dependable vehicle and while I don’t have a garage to park it in, I have remote start.
I’m blessed to live on the beautiful North Shore, wedged between Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Ridges. I’m exceptionally blessed that my health is good enough to enjoy the myriad trails and waterways that surround us.
I’m grateful for all my friends—the “kids” I’ve known since kindergarten and the people who have blessed my life in recent years.
And of course, I’m thankful for my large and boisterous family— all my siblings and cousins and uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews—near and far. I am exceptionally happy that my children and grandchildren are near. It makes for hectic, noisy, holidays, but what a blessing.
One of my greatest boons is that my parents are both still living—and they live next door to me. They are two of the kindest people I know, always ready to lend a helping hand. They are always ready to travel to visit friends and relatives—down the street or across the country. They still hold hands and hug each other often and they are just plain fun to be around.
My dad, Richard Bockovich, is especially on my mind this week as we just celebrated his 80th birthday.
Time and again during the party, people kept telling me. “Your dad never gets older!”
I agree. He looks much the same as he did in my growing up years. But more importantly, he is young at heart.
When he was probably about 40—which seemed old to me at the time—he was harassing my cousin Donald the way uncles do. Donald said something sarcastic and started to run away. A race ensued, with my dad hot on my cousin’s heels, catching him about a quarter mile down the road— proving that he was not old!
A few decades later, when he was helping us build our house, I remember dad cutting down trees and scrambling up and down log piles like a monkey—at 60. When I cautioned him to be careful, he just laughed and said he was only six. He said he wasn’t counting years, just decades.
He has continued to be a big kid, teasing my grandkids mercilessly. Last Christmas, at 79, he was down on the floor with them, wrestling with all five kids as they giggled hysterically, trying to wriggle away from him.
So when it came time to think of what to inscribe in frosting on his birthday cake, I immediately thought, “Still a kid.”
Still a kid…still a blessing.
You can’t help getting older, but
you don’t have to get old.