It is August today – unbelieveable! The next four weeks are going to fly by if for no other reason than we are full of guests. Many of them come practically every year. It is like old home week for them and us.
July was the week we had Robert and Lee with their families visiting us. In fact I am washing the sheets from Robert and Miranda’s visit as I write this. As usual, every bed in the house is getting changed. Miranda is always busy. As a result many projects I have overlooked are now done. They were also able to spend time fishing and blueberry picking. The walleyes and blueberries went home with them. I am hoping that they will bring back memories of Gunflint each time they eat them.
Lee and Eva spent 10 days with their children reminding us how active young children are. We did get through almost all their requested activities during the visit. Othe family members haae been here. Shawn’s daughter Emma is a waitress in the dining room. Brian’s son Sam is a host with lots of other jobs to fill his time with. Bruce’s sister Pat and her husband, Jim, spent a few days with us. One of my cousins was here for fishing with his son and grandson. It was good to see them. Seeing family during the summer is a great Minnesota tradition. Walleyes and blueberries are also traditions.
During July and August, one of the most popular spots around the lodge is the patio overlooking the dock and swimming area. Any warm day or evening will find it busy with guests from breakfast until dark. Eating or just sitting outside can only happen a few months out of the year in northern Minnesota so the patio is a real treat. That is what Lee and Eva thought when they put it in. Everyone enjoys just watching the activity around a dock area. Parents enjoy comfortable chairs to watch their children play at the beach. No one really does much. They just sit and look around. Ducks, seagulls and eagles also add a bit of activity to keep your attention.
August, of course, brings summer to a close for us. With the coming of Labor Day, we will see an end to children. They will all be back in school. It is amazing how far reaching this change of guests is. The dining room will see much smaller parties. The volume of cookies and hot chocolate will significantly go down. Most high chairs will be put in the back room. The ducks will gradually take back the beach area but corn will not be given to the ducks quite a liberally without children around.
One of the things that Bruce and I enjoy the most about our guests at the resort is how they change. Summer is families. Fall is for adults especially those who love to hike. Even the late fall of October and November brings people who like their special charms – the first snow fall, walking through noisy leaves, crisp mornings. By December and through March our guests are thinking more about the winter activities – cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, short days, cabins with fireplaces, etc. Then in April some melting is evident. The ice is black and we count the days until open water. May’s open water brings fishing. Days that seemed wonderfully warm at 35 degrees in March are frigid in May. When summer comes, our guest cycle starts all over again.
My garden is starting to produce! So far I have harvested parsley, chives, 2 kinds of lettuce and broccoli. The picture is of Bruce standing next to my green beans. We are going to have a lot of them. Next to the beans are tomatoes. I hope to have some ripen but they don’t usually do too well for me. Sometimes I wonder why I even try growing them. Behind Bruce is a long bed of raspberries. They look really good. Pretty soon we should start to see little red berries.
The lodge and outfitters are really busy now. Families are here with kids and grandparents. It is great to have them running busily around the property. Many of the families have been with us for years. It is fun to see kids grow up. They surprise us every year with how much they have grown. Soon it is time for college and weddings and grandchildren. Life is fun.
Last Wednesday was time for the annual canoe races. They have been held on Gunflint Lake for over 25 years. In addition to the actual races there are sloppy joes, calico beans, hot dogs, homemade bars, pop chips, etc in the food tent. The raffle goes all night with great stuff to take a chance on. There is a silent auction and several live auctions. Bruce and I got a beautiful wooden depth map of Gunflint Lake. It is the kind of thing you never could buy in a store.
My job the last few years has been to sell raffle tickets. There is one raffle for the various gift items and then the grand raffle for a Wenonah kayak. You cannot imagine how busy we were selling tickets. There were 3-4 of us working on it and people seemed to be just throwing money at us. We could hardly keep track of who was getting what. The smart ones are the grandmothers who bring their return address mailing labels.
When the night is over, it is time to go up and count the money. This year we set a new record. The Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department got about $20,000. That is not too bad for just a little event. Of course it takes lots of people to put in lots of time. Chris Steele from Seagull Lake headed up the event. He did a great job.
Pretty soon Bruce and I will go back to the lodge for Sunday BBQ. He carves and I stand around talking. Don smokes the ribs, salmon, and chicken over hickory from Missouri. Tonight we have just about 150 people in camp. There are a few clouds in the sky but it is supposed to be a beautiful night. After the guests have eaten, we will feed the staff. The BBQ starts on Memorial Day weekend and ends on Labor Day weekend. When it is over, I can’t eat ribs again for several weeks. Restaurants just don’t do them as well as Don does.