The berry season is getting underway on the Gunflint Trail. I have been seeing vehicles parked on the sides of the road on my way up to work each day. Berry pickers are very smart by getting out early in the morning before it gets too warm out.
Visitors to the museum have been finding blueberries, raspberries and wild strawberries on our hiking trails here on property. You also need to keep an eye for wildlife when you are out picking the berries. We did have a party see a mother bear and three baby cubs trying to enjoy the harvest themselves.
There is joy in paddling a canoe. The feel of the blade slipping into the water, the sight of the swirl created by the pull and the forward momentum gained with each stroke is a beautiful thing. Floating on top of the water, watching the ripples or reflection of the sky on the surface as you glide along with no sounds of a motor is trance inducing.
Canoeing is a fairly inexpensive activity and a wonderful thing for people of any age to do but especially for kids. That’s why I was disappointed to not see a paddling sport listed as one of the popular outdoor activities for people ages 6-24 years-old.
The Outdoor Insight magazine listed the Most Popular Youth Outdoor Activities for the above age group. Here is what they have.
- Running, Jogging & Trail Running 25.6%
- Bicycling(Road, Mountain & BMX 21.2%
- Camping(Car, Backyard & RV) 18.5%
- Fishing(Fresh, Salt & Fly) 18%
- Hiking 12.8%
There are places to paddle all over and there is no shortage of canoes or kayaks. Paddling is easy to learn how to do and something kids can do on their own with very little worry for their adults. All you have to do is find a place where there isn’t much boat traffic, put a life vest on and off they go. It’s good exercise and great for their brain.
We offer discounted rates for kids and youth groups at Voyageur and we also include the free use of a canoe with our housing rentals. I encourage you to bring your kids up to Voyageur and get them into a canoe. It’s a lifelong sport that has huge benefits and besides that, it’s tons of fun.
I’m sure there’s at least one person who is waiting for an update on the bear situation at Voyageur. The good news is the bear hasn’t gotten into any buildings lately. He did bite into Elsa’s liquid laundry detergent and proceeded to drag her empty cooler into the woods but that is about it. He was a “no show” on his execution nights so lucky for him he is still alive, so is the toad.
What toad you ask? The toad the VCO crew watched get swallowed by a snake this morning. They didn’t want to intervene with nature so they did nothing to help the toad as it was slowly devoured by a snake. Good thing for the toad the snake sucked off more than it could suck and the toad exited the snake and hopped away with only an injured leg.
Speaking of injuries… The Voyageur Crew performed amazingly at the annual canoe races with only a few bumps and bruises to show for it. I’ll have a full re-cap in a later blog.
There are a few blueberries beginning to ripen but not enough to warrant a picking day yet. A week possibly two and there should be some good picking. Raspberries are looking better for those with patience. The forecast for the next week looks amazing so get yourself up to the BWCA and visit us at Voyaguer!
I’ll leave you with an amazing photo taken by crew member Evan Gates.
It is nice to see community members celebrating the designation bestowed on the city of Grand Marais last March by Budget Travel magazine, America’s Coolest Small Town. There’s a banner hanging over Wisconsin Street, coasters in cafes and bars and stickers in nearly every business window announcing that Grand Marais is “the coolest.”
It is something to celebrate that Grand Marais beat out much bigger towns like Fort Myers Beach, Florida; Old Orchard Beach, Maine; Pismo Beach, California; Snohomish, Washington; or Washington, North Carolina. But our little town on the bay didn’t do it alone. To get more votes than these larger towns, it took a concerted effort by all of Cook County—organized or unorganized!
It also took the participation of friends and families beyond our borders. People who lived in Cook County in the past, people who want to live in Cook County in the future, all went to the Budget Travel magazine website every day for more than a month to vote for Grand Marais.
It would be nice if the award was for America’s coolest county. Because not only did the entire county help Grand Marais win the honor of America’s Coolest Small Town, there are many other cool spots all over the county.
That is why this newspaper is the Cook County News-Herald, not the Grand Marais News- Herald. That just doesn’t sound right. Because for 124 years, the community newspaper has shared the activities of residents and visitors from the Cook/Lake county line to the Canadian border, from the Lake Superior shoreline to the end of the Cramer Road, the Sawbill Trail, the Caribou Trail, the Gunflint and the Arrowhead Trail.
Sometimes the news is about disasters— devastating wildfires, tragic accidents or extreme weather events; sometimes there is conflict amongst the citizenry. But overall there is some pretty cool stuff in the News-Herald every week.
The 4th of July weekend is a perfect example—there were celebrations all over the county. As I strolled around the Hovland Arts Festival, hiked the Tofte Trek and watched the Tofte parade, and joined the Girl Scouts in the Grand Marais parade, I was reminded time and again of how nice it is to call Cook County home. Everywhere I went, there were fun activities, good music, and someone I knew cheerfully calling out, “Happy 4th of July!”
It felt a little surreal. No one in Cook County has a perfect life. Sometimes it’s hard to live here. A lot of us work multiple jobs to be able to pay our rent or mortgage. There are people with medical challenges who face a long and bumpy road to Duluth or beyond for treatment. It’s hard to find fresh fruit and vegetables because we’re at the end of the food delivery route. Winters are long and often bitter cold. Summer brings vicious mosquitos and black flies. And there are no 24-hour stores to visit for last-minute needs.
But on the 4th, it seemed that everyone forgot the struggles and came together to celebrate our nation’s birthday. Independence Day was a big countywide, party and we were all invited to take part. That’s pretty cool.
Maybe we should lobby Budget Travel to sponsor an America’s Coolest County contest. I know there are some special places that could be considered, such as El Paso County, Colorado with Pike’s Peak and the Air Force Academy; Norfolk County, Virginia with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and stunning Virginia Beach; Marin County, California with the Golden Gate Bridge and giant redwoods, King County, Washington, home to the Space Needle and Pike Place Market; and of course nearby Door County, Wisconsin with its five lighthouses and trolley and ferry rides.
Maybe that’s not realistic. Those counties all have much higher populations and landmarks more renowned than Cook County. So we likely would never win the title of America’s Coolest County. Maybe that is why we all are so happy about the Grand Marais title.
We may not all live within the Grand Marais city limits—or even in the unorganized territory of Grand Marais—but it is our town just the same. And that is pretty cool.
What we seek when we wander usually leads us back home.
7/16/15 - Sawbill crewmembers have a pretty sweet deal when it comes to vacation days. Instead of taking regularly scheduled days off each week, we can allow those days to accumulate and take longer periods of time off. Some use those days off to go home and visit family and friends, but the majority of Sawbillians prefer to use their vacation days for another purpose - crew trips!
So far this year, we have had two all-crew trip as well as a few crew-plus-friends/family trips. These trips not only give crewmembers time to relax and have fun, but also helps crewmembers to turn first-hand experience into good advice when customers ask for recommendations.
The first crew trip was made up of crewmembers Claire, Logan, Kevin, and Olivia
Both groups this year put in at Brule Lake, and visited several lakes including Winchill, Long Island, Frost, Ogema, Hub, and Cherokee.
Full moon over Frost Lake. Photo by Emma Nelson.
The second group, who dubbed themselves ELLA due to their collective first initials (Emma, Lindsey, Laura, and Ana) pose with dinner from their first night
Beautiful sunsets were enjoyed by all - Elena
There aren’t too many “popular” day trip routes into the Boundary Waters but there is something about waterfalls that attracts the masses. There are a couple of these that see higher use than other areas of the BWCA and one of them is the route to Stairway Portage.
At a USFS Cooperator meeting the officials mentioned the “Q and P” words about the popular day trip into Stairway Portage. What this might mean is having a quota of the number of groups per day that would be allowed to go to the falls. There would be some reservable permit to enter on a specific day, maybe even a specific time of day? Who knows, it was mentioned and that means there has been talk about it.
When they first brought this up I cringed as this is the usual response. You see, over the years we’ve had new rules, laws and changes that usually involve having to pay money in order to try to make money. An example is the number of tow boats we can have and the fact we have to pay a percentage of our profits to the USFS.
So, I cringed but after taking our BWCA canoe trip in that area last week I’m wondering if it might not be such a bad idea? I didn’t think that many people would visit the falls but I guess I’ve not paddled or hiked in that area much during the summer.
Not many people make the drive all of the way to the end of the Gunflint Trail but quite a few make the trip up to mid-trail. Combine that with a number of resorts in the area and cabin owners who live in the area and there’s a fairly large population in the height of the summer.
It’s an easy trip to see the falls with just one 80-rod portage between West Bearskin and Duncan and an easy 20-rod from Hungry Jack Lake to West Bearskin. A quick paddle across Duncan and your at the portage. There’s no need to carry your canoe down to Rose Lake unless you are continuing on your way.
The area around the waterfall is beautiful. There are short hikes to scenic vistas, flat areas for picnicking and getting wet in the spray of the waterfall to enjoy. We saw quite a few different groups during the three times we were there(once to get into Rose, once as a day trip while on Rose, and once to get out of Rose). It certainly didn’t seem like a wilderness area with groups portaging through, taking photos and enjoying the scenery.
The canoe traffic we saw while paddling Duncan helped make our decision easier to go camp in Rose Lake. Too many watercraft passing by on their way to see the falls for me to enjoy the solitude of the BWCA.
Of course, I hate to limit the number of people that can enjoy such a place but if it is detrimental to those who have overnight camping permits then is it fair to them? I don’t know, it’s a good question, what do you think?
I’m happy I’ve been able to make the trip to Stairway Portage and look forward to those steps again, over 100 in all!
As the tourism season kicks into high gear, my husband Chuck and I headed out of town for a few days to celebrate our anniversary. It is really fun to visit other communities to check out different restaurants, lodging and just to see how visitors are treated. I’m happy to say that in the towns we visited, customer service was great. We encountered a lot of Minnesota nice.
We went to a concert at Black Bear Casino, which was a bit crazy. In our younger days we attended a lot of concerts, rocking out to eardrum-shattering music in smoke-filled auditoriums. Things have definitely changed—no smoked out concert hall at Black Bear. And, we weren’t as thrilled by the high decibels. But the performers were great.
We really went to see the warm-up act The Swon Brothers. Chuck and I are fans of the TV program The Voice and The Swon Brothers were finalists in that musical competition. They did a fairy mellow, semi-acoustic set that we really liked. The headliner was Parmalee, a country rock band—heavy on the rock. I had only heard a couple of songs by Parmalee and expected a modern country show. It turned out to be a country show ala Jimi Hendrix.
They were good, just not what we expected. There were some hardcore guitar solos and lots of high energy. It was fun, but our ears were ringing by the time the show ended.
We spent some time at the “Quadna Mud Nationals” in Hill City, Minnesota. There was a lot of craziness there as three ATV riders at a time tried to see who could cross the giant mud hole dug in a farm field first. It was fun to watch the slipping and spinning and mud slinging. There were more than 1,000 people watching the mud cross and obstacle course races, most of them camping at Quadna Mountain Resort, so we decided not to stay there, but instead headed down the road.
We hadn’t made reservations, so we weren’t sure where we would end up. Fortunately, it only took two stops to find a motel with a vacancy and it was a lovely little place right on the Ripple River in Aitkin. It made me think of the Grand Marais Municipal Campground in miniature. As we got our key—an actual key, not a key card!—I asked for dining suggestions. The motel clerk suggested a couple of places, including one called The Landing just a few blocks down the road.
Since I am sad that Cook County’s The Landing at Devil Track restaurant has closed, I thought it would be nice to check out another Landing. We were quite glad we did. It was a small restaurant/bar, tucked in a mini-mall, but inside it was really nice, decorated with historic photos and kitsch. The food was fabulous. I had a shrimp dish with a hint of lime that was amazing, so I recommend The Landing if you ever get to Aitkin.
We spend a couple of nights at McQuoid’s Resort in Mille Lacs and that was completely like being in an alternate universe. We ate at several lakeside restaurants and happily the food was great at all of them.
And also fortunately, like Cook County there was lots to see and do everywhere we went. We did a lot of ATVing and hiking, so we were able to work off all that good food. It was a wonderful break from our usual routine and a very nice way to celebrate our anniversary.
As fun as our mini-vacation was, it is good to be home. I may be biased, but I think Cook County has the best restaurants, places to stay and customer service. It’s fun to check out other tourism communities, but there really is no place like home.
No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.
True North Broadband is now available throughout the city of Grand Marais and east through Colvill. Installations will begin in Hovland and on the Gunflint Trail this summer as well. More information about True North Internet & Phone service can be found here.
7/14/15 - Fantastic news: Bode, the dog who was lost on Burnt Lake on June 29th has been found! A family camping near Nine Mile Lake came across Bode and he very willingly went with them - he had a long adventure in the woods and was ready to go home. The family took him back to their home in Grand Rapids, where his owners will be going to pick him up.
Thank you to everyone who helped in the search for Bode, and especially to the wonderful family who took him in. Bode's owners are incredibly grateful for all the effort people put into finding their dog and the moral support their received as well. They got their happy ending after all. - Elena
Last weekend Voyageur Brewing Company participated in its first Craft Beer Festival. It was the Annual Hopped Up Caribou Festival at Caribou Highlands July 10-12th. Our brewer and some of our crew enjoyed introducing folks to our beer and tasting some of the other great craft beers from other breweries.
On Saturday, July 25th we’ll be in Duluth for the All Pint’s North Summer Brew Festival. We’re excited to be a part of this wonderful event and this time not as attendees. We’d love to see you there.
What is the Gunflint Trail Historical Society?
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is a non-profit organization which oversees the management of Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. The Society works to preserve Gunflint Trail history, with an ongoing commitment to the maintenance and improvement of Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. Chik-Wauk receives no government funding and is supported by donations, memberships, admissions gift shop sales and grants.
If you are interested in the history of the Gunflint Trail the Society is having a monthly meeting July 13th located at the A. Paul & Carol Schaap Community Center which is located mid-trail (Fire Hall #1) starting at 1:30 pm. If you would like to join The Gunflint Trail Historical Society we will have membership forms available.
We hope you will join us for this meeting and bring a friend along. There will be special remembrances for the Gunflint Trail Residents who have passed away this year.
Kid’s Day has been a huge success if you want to have an activity on a Tuesday stop on over. Kathy runs this program all day long from 10 am to 5 pm. We have journal making, tad pole collecting, voyageur dress up along with letter boxing (a type of Geo Caching). Children on Tuesdays are free to the museum, adults are $3 per person but if you are a member of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society you get in free.
Also on Tuesday’s from 2 pm to 3 pm we have a presentation by the U.S. Forest Service located on the front porch of Chik-Wauk Museum each week is a different presentation. Tuesday, July 14 will be on animal tracks.
Hope to see you at our monthly meeting July 13th starting at 1:30 pm at the Schaap Community Center.
Flowers are in bloom at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. When you stop up to visit the museum spend some extra time hiking on the trails we have here on property. The flowers around the museum are just spectacular right now as well as the wild roses and daisy’s that you will find on the various hiking trails. While you are hiking on the trails you may still spot some of the mococsin flowers in bloom.
We wish you all a safe and wonderful 4th of July. We’ll be celebrating in the Voyageur Taproom and on our rooftop bar from noon until 11pm. You can listen to the sounds of Pete Kavanaugh on the rooftop from 3-5pm and Pushing Chain inside the taproom from 8-11pm. The forecast calls for a warm day perfect for adventures so be sure to include Voyageur in yours.
Bring your Voyageur Growler on an adventure with you and share your photo with us on Social Media. Tag the photo #VBCGrowlerGo and mention Voyageur Brewing Company so others can see it too. We’d love to see where your Voyageur Growler has gone.
Here are some photos found on Instagram and Facebook. Happy Independence Day all!
Just found out there’s a power outtage scheduled for 9-12 noon today. NO phones or e-mail until it’s over!
The Trapper’s Daughter & The…..
The day we have all been waiting for is finally here!!!
It is my great pleasure today, on April 25th 2015, to present to you for the first time,
Wow, isn’t she a beauty??
After their long sail along the Lake Superior coast, the Trapper’s Daughter, Bear & Raccoon are finally able to relax on the shore near a big campfire. With beautiful bright embers floating toward the starlit sky, this print … read more
Day 5! Day 5! Day 5!
Today is the last day of our countdown before we reveal the NEW Trapper’s Daughter print for 2015!!
We kick off today’s countdown with a truly incredible print from 2013,
“The Trapper’s Daughter Crosses the Height of the Land as Winter Fades From the Woods & Waters.”
“The Trapper’s Daughter and the Spring Moose” came into the gallery like a hurricane. We could hardly keep this image on the walls and in the bins after … read more
Day 4 of Our Trapper’s Daughter Adventure!
Day 4 of our Trapper’s Daughter adventure beings with the winner of our 2014 Summer Solstice Trapper’s Daughter Bracket Competition….
In 2010, Rick Allen decided to try something new. With 26 different wood blocks, and 26 individual passes through the press, Rick and his famous helper Janelle, the Warrior Printress, worked their tails off on this one!!!
But wait…. there’s MORE!
The Kenspeckles decided to add a beautiful moon to the Long … read more
Day 3 of our Trapper’s Daughter Voyage!
We commence day 3 of our Trapper’s Daughter voyage with the eighth image in Rick Allen’s series….
Back in 2009, you could hear all of our jaws collectively drop, “KER PLUNK,” as we viewed “The Trapper’s Daughter Takes the Otter Slide” for the first time. What a beauty! Rick Allen really went to town with this gem.
One of my favorite parts about Rick’s prints is that so often they spark a wonderful, rich memory. … read more
“The Trapper’s Daughter & the Second Day”
We kick off day two of our Trapper’s Daughter countdown with Rick Allen’s 4th image in this enchanted series. Released in 2006, this beauty is a gallery staff favorite:
Our first glimpse of the Trapper’s Daughter out of the winter, we see her strong, axe wielding arms and bare feet. A vision of strength and courage, she crosses the lake atop two loons. When looking at the clouds, I can’t help … read more
The Trapper’s Daughter & the Unwritten Story
This year’s Gallery Hop Earth Day Celebration at Siiviis in Duluth will be unlike any other event before! Why, do you ask? Well my friends, because this year’s celebration is truly a dream come true. On April 25th, the ladies of Siiviis, along with the Kenspeckles of the Kenspeckle Letterpress present to you:
A THIRTEEN year retrospective featuring all 17 of the Trapper’s Daugher breathtaking appearances in print, including this year’s truly amazing addition to … read more