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Cabin Trip, July/August 2012

Thursday, July 26th.

Depart Las Vegas at about 6:00 AM. Got as far as St. George Utah before complete transmission failure.


Lost a little over 24 hours while St. George Ford fixed the truck (in record time I might add).

We passed the time by hanging in the motel, and waiting to hear about the truck.

10:30 AM the next day we got the call. Truck is fixed. A couple million $ later, we're back on the road. With the expert help of our emergency travel assistant (my lovely Bride) we had to make some quick changes to the reservations and overall travel plans. Instead of staying Thursday night in Billings, MT, we stayed Thursday night in St. George, UT.


Friday, July 27th.

So Friday, late morning, we're back on the road. We only got as far as Livingston, MT. Pulled in late and except for Chas experiencing a beef jerky induced dental floss emergency, it was a nice, restful night. (Not)


Saturday, July 28th

(Chas' Birthday?) Up early and on the road. Headed to Grand Forks, North Dakota. Got about 1/2 way and were treated to our second mechanical breakdown. Began to notice that at random times and for no apparent reason a noticeable KNOCK was emanating from underneath the truck. And it was getting worse...... Now what !!!???

We limped on and once again called our emergency travel support and crisis management agent (My lovely Bride !!). She was able to find the only ONLY mechanic in 500 miles that was open and working. Rodney to the rescue. By the time she had googled our salvation, it was literally the next exit. We got off the I94 in Dickenson, North Dakota. Two miles to Rodney's repair. You can always tell the business owner, he's the only work working on Saturday.

We jettisoned the boat, drove the truck up on the lift and began troubleshooting. While Rodney took a complicated Alternator vs. Generator call, I was magically able to find a big bolt that was loose !!!

Rodney proceeded to proclaim that "That bolt had NO BUSINESS coming loose." He blamed Ford.... All Ford products. He grabbed a wrench, tightened the bolt and we're back on the ROAD !!! He would not take any money. I love North Dakota.

We drove all day, and arrived in Grand Forks about 9:45 PM, just in time to hit Happy Harry's Liquor Depot for a case of Grain Belt Nordeast. (Tomorrow is Sunday.....) Then off to The Blue Moose for dinner. Tapas and cold beer (for me). Just good chow for the boys.


Sunday, July 29

A good night's sleep and up and at 'em. We hit WalMart for supplies, but they don't open until 10:00 AM. (It's Sunday of course). So we hit some generic grocery discount store a block away. We gather food and supplies for a week and head to Cabela's, which opens at 10:00 AM.

Then off to Baudette to drop Chas, the non-passport havin' nephew at Sportsman's Lodge on Rainy River about 2:00 PM. We get Chas firmly establish in his luxury suite with a view of the river and we turn north to Canada.

About 4:00 PM we pull into Young's Bay. An hour later, after unwrapping and prepping the boat, we're under way to the Cabin (by water). The prospective buyer has put in a new dock and we are the beneficiaries. We dock, unload, and then get ready for some violent, VERY VIOLENT weather only two hours after landing.

Storm blows in, rain, lightening, hail and gusts to 60 mph. Beautiful. What an amazing welcome. The poor boat however did not like being 1/2 filled with rain water, and waves washing over the transom. (I knew I should have parked it bow-out)

Storm blows through in about an hour, and we go out to survey the damage. The bilge pump saves the day, empties the boat, and the night is back to quiet calm.

A good night's sleep......


Monday July 30

Up Monday and the wind is blowing. Sky and lake are both grey. Knowing that we're taking a few personal belongings home, we invest the morning pre-packing. Why wait until departure. Also, Chas is scheduled to be delivered to Flag Island about 7:15 AM. At about 7:30 I motor over to discover that the lake is rough, and they will be delayed. Not 10 minutes after leaving the dock, sure enough, they pull in.

Despite giving Chas instruction to wait for pickup, he is sent into the woods by the dock staff and told to "Go that way, then turn left." seriously......

Miraculously, Justyn begins walking towards Chas who is hiking (lost?) towards the cabin, only to meet up with him after about 5 minutes. Miracle.....

We get him settled in, unpacked and ready to enjoy Lake of the Woods for a week.

About 2:00 PM we wander over to Flag on foot to get a Canada License. By the time we're done with that, the weather was better, the water was smaller, and we decide to head out and fish.

We picked up some Crawlers and some frozen Minnows. Stop at Cyclone Island to call into Canada (25 minutes of my life I will never get back). Then off to Tug channel to " Hit the reefs and rocks."

No luck.

About 5:00 PM we head home, fire up the grill and prepare for a wonderful lake country supper. Steak, American fried potatoes, baked beans and cold Nordeaster (for me).

Dinner is over now, 7:50 PM and the sun is high in the sky. Justyn and I have decided to break out the fine cigars. Chas is content with high speed internet. Scoocher is on the iPad and all is well. 5 days into the trip, and the first moment of normalcy.

What does tomorrow hold?


Tuesday, July 31

On the deck drinking coffee and listening to the honkers in the bay. This is that quiet time before the boys wake up. Amazing.... 

Up and out on the lake about 10:00 AM. Motored over to Flag to get bait, ice and fishing tips. Sounds like they're biting off the top of rocks and reefs up by Skeet. We're headed up the Tug Channel.

A little windy to hold on any points, but with the use of a buoy and the trolling motor, we manage to land a few small fish along with one nice keeper.

Quick obligatory stop at the Storm Spot for a break and some lunch. Then back out to fish for a little longer..... About 4:00 it starts to cloud up so we decided to get closer to the cabin.

Hard to stop fishing so we kicked back at the dock and kept casting.... No luck, but great times...

While we're kicking back, we hear the radio go off at the cabin. Power failure..... entire island is down. We waited for a while, discussed dinner options without power, and then elected to motor over to Flag and see if they have power. Of course they have a generator so the two most important areas properly supplied with power, the Bar and the Kitchen. Now these people get it.

So we head up to The Blue Eyed Chief for some cold beverages and to visit with other guests. At 7:30 we proceed to the dining room for "Tequila Shrimp", baked potatoes and some fried veggies. Nice dinner.

By this time the power's back on, so we head back to the cabin. Start a nice fire, and call it a day. Several hours of productive conversation, some snacks and some relaxation. Great way to wrap up a day, any day.

And as normal, we're treated to a lovely Lake of the Woods sunset. L.O.W does not disappoint.


Time for bed.... see you tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 1

Too windy to fish. No problem. Some of the best days are the ones where you do little or nothing. Spent most of the day organizing and packing for the items we intend to take home with us should the pending sale of the cabin actually happen. The boys are happy with high speed internet, Scoocher is busy playing all over the place. I did some packing.

After lunch (three frozen pizza's) we wandered over to the Blue Eyed Chief to watch some olympics. Tracy made us fresh popcorn and turned over the TV. Had a couple of cold drinks. Watch some Beach Volleyball, then wandered back to the cabin.

Not to be too unproductive, we loaded up the boat and made a run over to Young's Bay to drop off a load of items we're taking home. By late afternoon, the wind had died down to the point where we considered a quick fishing trip. But it was getting dark and we were happy at camp. Good thing too..... within about an hour the power went off, the sky went black, the northern night sky lit up with lightening. And then the wind came. Blew in from the NW like a hurricane, again.

Good thing we had everything tied down. We learned our lesson on Saturday and had docked the boat bow-out facing the wind. Good thing. Violent wind with light rain blew in about 10:00 PM. The older boys got a little tense. Marshal proceeded to fall asleep right at the peak of the storm. That's my boy.

Power came back on about 11:30. I know that because we obviously left the lights and radio on. ha.

Good night's sleep.

Thursday, August 2.

 Today looks promising. Wind is manageable. Sky is cloudy but forecast is for mostly sunny and winds 5-10 mph. So we have a little Cap't Crunch and coffee for breakfast, pack a cooler with sandwiches and sodas and head over to Blaze. There are some reefs and rock humps there that could be holding fish.

About 15 minutes into the very first pass, Chas gets his rod ALL GACKED UP. While I'm trying to untangle that, I get frustrated and finally cut the line. Of course that's when a nice Walleye decides to take the Jig. Every trip has at least a few "firsts". This was the first time I landed a nice fish by winding the line around my fingers. 16.5" Not bad. But whose fish is it?

We drift around there for a couple hours and pick up one more keeper. Then we motor off to the top of Deepwater Bay. Hit a few humps there and kill the rest of the afternoon. After we wipe out the sandwiches, we decide to head back to the cabin for a break. Besides, there is an annoying electrical problem with the boat. Can't see the tach, or the fuel gauge. Also, NO STEREO !!!

On the way we stop at what used to be "The Bonnie Brae", but now called "Sportsman's Oak Island". We have some cheese curds, onion rings and totally by accident, we run square into Kathy McKeever. We visit with her and her husband Dick Nash for a while. Very pleasant surprise. Then back to the cabin under a warm sun and flat water.

After messing around with the electrical problem and creating significant smoke and a few melted wires, all is well. Instruments are working and time to think about calling it a day. It's just too nice at the cabin.

So we take a quick but "official" Group Shot for 2012 and settle in for the night.


We have enough Walleye fillets for supper once we throw in some boiled red potatoes, some sweet corn, and some Jalapeño chips by the fire pit first.

Potatoes are on the stove rolling gently, fish is prepped, corn is peeled. Time to give thanks (and maybe a fine cigar?).


Friday, August 3 (the final day)

Tomorrow we hit the road and begin the long series of mechanical failures that represent the drive home. So today we pack, reminisce, soak in the north country, and try not to do anything fun. The more fun you have, the faster the time goes. I would very much like time to pretty much pause..?

After a few hours or organizing and packing and getting ready for tomorrow, we grab what’s left of our crawlers, head to Flag for a few more (and to settle up for the gas, bait, dinner the night the power went out and some miscellaneous yard work and cleaning they had done), and motor out to the 9 ft. reef north of Blaze. We’re there for what…. 4 minutes? And we have two NICE fish in the boat. One is an 18 ½ incher for Justyn and the other is the biggest Smallmouth I’ve seen on this lake. I was surprise how well that Smallie fought. I was convinced I had a trophy Walleye.

We drifted across that reef at a variety of angles as the winds shifted. We hit the top of it, skirted the edges, even worked the 35 ft. flats that surround it. It took all afternoon but we got to within one fish of our limit. That’s a good day.

(I don’t know if I mentioned but there is some violent weather on the way as I type this. Light rain has begun after about an hour of dead calm. And the lightening is amazing. Seem louder here than other places on earth. )

Ok, anyway, we spent all afternoon Northeast of Blaze island, and little by little we made progress. Everyone caught fish. Even Scoocher caught a nice chunky 18” Walleye. It was at the very end. He was patient all day and just as he was getting a little annoyed, beginning to take it personally when someone else caught a fish, he managed to reel in the frustration (pun intended). He kept trying, kept jigging, and finally hit a nice fish. What a great way to finish the trip.


From there we ran back to the cabin, cleaned the fish, took a few commemorative photos and then loaded up the boat for another run to Young’s Bay. Today is the first day of the Annual Blueberry Festival. So it’s Fish Fry at Jerry’s.


We packed a few more items into the truck to stage them for tomorrow’s departure, motored over to Young's Bay and settled up with Rick for gas and parking, and then had a nice fish supper.

The weather referenced earlier was an hour or so away back then so we were keeping one eye on the sky as we enjoyed our Walleye Fish Fry. We hurried our dinner a little, then headed back to the cabin.

Got home just in time to make a few sandwiches for the drive home, finish up the packing and settle in for the storm, which has now arrived.

Saturday, August 4

Up at 5:15 AM to get Chas off to Flag. The walk over to the resort is an easy one, even in the early morning darkness. Fortunately, the weather is holding. Low Clouds with broken sky but not much wind.

With Chas successfully launched to catch his boat to Baudette, the three of us make a couple of final passes to pack up both our belongings and any personal belongings from the cabin. Boat is loaded so so we shut down the cabin, lock it for probably the last time, and motor over to Young's Bay.

We trailer the boat, unpack and repack everything, tie down the cover and hit the road. First stop is Canada customs, then Sportsman's Lodge, Rainy River. Then 11 west, to I29, south to Fargo, and then west for a couple of days. Saturday night in Bismarck, ND. Hopefully Sunday night in Idaho Falls, ID. Then home on Monday.