The Labor Day trip 2002 is underway.
Me and Fred left Vegas early Thursday Morning and (thanks to an upgrade to First Class) we flew in style. The trip up was uneventful. Snoot picked us up at the airport and we headed off to his new house. Very nice. Somehow managed to get out of there with no pictures….
Friday morning at 5:30, Fred and I head out to Cabela's in Owatonna, MN. You have to take your picture with the mountain of beasts.
Then, after doing much better than my usual $150 to $200 an hour Cabela's habit, we head back to St. Paul the hit the State Fair. Oh, by the way, Fred did VERY well at Cabela's. Spent a nice chunk of change and can’t remember exactly how….
The fair was beautiful. It was sunny and mid 70’s. The crowds were pretty big, but not really pushy.
We had a blast. Kari met us after a couple hours and we hit the usual food stands. Fred was delighted to discover there is a building actually CALLED the Food Building.
And no, I did not hand my beer, or my Pronto Put, or my frozen custard to Kari so I could take this picture. Those items you see her eating, were all hers. Gotta’ love a girl like that.
One thing that I must have missed at the fair was the fact that everything comes on a stick. Deep fried Pickles on a stick. Batter-Dipped Snickers bar on a stick. Pork chop on a stick. Belgian Waffle on a stick. I couldn't even get a beer without the server saying "I'm sorry sir, I'll have to put that on a stick for you." This is just one big State Fair on a Stick.
Yes, we had the fried cheese curds, and the Tom Thumb donuts. And they were the actual Tom Thumb brand. Not one of those despicable knock-offs trying to sell you "Tiny Tim" brand or something like that.... these are Tom Thumb. Accept no substitute. And the only thing better than eating fresh little donuts that are too hot to touch, is sitting in the shade at the Republican Party of Minnesota booth. That was fun.
I got to ring the bell and yes, I rang the bell.
I also got to fool the "Guess your age" guy. He guessed high by three years. I was not pleased. But I did get a giant beer/coffee mug for the cabin. So what the hey...?
We even got to catch one of the bigger parades. Can you imagine...? Take a wild guess at what high school came marching by just as I walked up???
Then, right behind the band, came the Budweiser Clydesdale horses.
After the fair, we headed up to Snoot’s for a pre-trip chicken and sweet corn feast. The corn was good, the chicken was probably good too, but who eats chicken when there’s sweet corn involved?
Early Saturday, we’re off to FHL. Left Minneapolis about 6:00 and pulled into Roseau, MN about 2:00. Got to the cabin, unloaded and settled in. We were sitting on the deck enjoying the view and a nice cold beer by 5:00 PM. So far, that’s three good days in a row.
No one was really volunteering to cook supper so we just sort of ignored it. Sat by the fire pit instead and enjoyed a fine cigar, a cold beverage and a world class view. Then off to bed.
The Cabin is in great shape. The grass seed is coming in nicely out where we put down rocks for the shoreline.
As the previous few days had been pretty action packed, it took an extra hour or two to get moving on Sunday morning. But finally, we were loaded up and ready to fish. The weather was unseasonably warm. (sound familiar?) And we decided that since the water was smooth, why not go to the furthest fishing spots? We can always fish the close ones if the weather turns ugly.
So off to Flag Island for gas, ice and bait. But the pump is locked and no one has a key, so it’s just bait and ice. Then over to Young’s Bay for gas, then Canada to get a fishing license for some of our crew. Then Cyclone to check in. And by now, it’s about Noon. But still the weather has held, it’s still sunny and warm so we launch up towards Monument Bay. There are some islands to try for Musky, and some nice reefs and humps to try for Walleye.
The weather and the scenery here are unpredictable. One day, you’re just going about your day and suddenly you notice that grand beauty around you. It’s easy to get busy or complacent. But sometimes you just get a view that hits. For me, this is such a view. Not a big deal. Just a small island we were fishing near. We caught our limit of Walleye in about 2 hours and just before leaving, I noticed that there was this beautiful, perfect, classic “Lake of the Woods” island right next to me and I hadn’t really noticed it.
When I’m back at my desk, or sitting around my back yard and I think about Lake of the Woods, this is the exact place I see in my mind’s eye. Perfect. There are 18,000 islands like this up here, and each one is beautiful by itself.
We have our fish, so back to the cabin for supper. It’s after 7:00 PM already so we’ve got to make use of the remaining daylight to get home. Tonight is Steak Night. And holy crap, did we find some nice steaks. Rib Eye actually. And I can’t wait.
Me and Spanky head in first because we are about 3 mph slower so we might as well get a jump anyway. And if by chance we get home first, we can start the fire, the grill, set the table, peel the sweet corn… all that stuff. (Excellent fire by the way…)
The steaks were excellent. Maybe one of the best pieces of meat I’ve ever had in the cabin. Thick, juicy, cooked to perfection on the grill, and accompanied by dozens of ears of sweet corn that I actually picked 24 hours previous.
So, no Musky, but a nice limit of Walleye and a good supper. Not bad for a first day at the cabin.
Ironically, we discussed the weather as we went to bed. We noted that the sky was clear. Not a cloud to be seen. Just millions of stars and the Big Dipper parked directly (and conveniently) in front of the cabin. And we commented on how unusual and unlikely it would be for the weather to change drastically over night.
Well as the first sounds of morning hit my ears, it was not birds singing, but rather rain falling the roof of the cabin. Gentle rain, but enough to make stuff very wet. Then the winds came. And by sun up, it was blowing pretty hard. 15-25 knot winds out of 240 and some dark, rather ominous clouds over head.
No one really felt like braving the lake to fish so we just instinctively launched into “Chore Day”. But not until after a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and mimosa. There are still six bottles of Champagne left over from the wedding, so we’re putting at least one of them to good use.
So, the chores….I’ve been wanting to drag that little boat of the west woods and clean it up. Just curious about it. So I got started on that.
Over the summer, a pretty good sized tree has managed to fall directly on our shed, smashing it pretty good. The tree is still laying there, pinning the remnants of the shed to the ground. Snoot says it’s been calling him….. “Snoot….. cut me up….” So he gets his working clothes, a good pair of gloves and fires up the chain saw.
Hose has been dying to get the power washer going so he’s working on putting an extra filter in the water line between the lake and the power washer.
Fred and Spanky clean up the kitchen and peruse the selection of movies for a possible “couch day”.
The little boat is in surprisingly good shape. It belongs to the cabin next door and I’ve been talking to those guys for three years about this little gem. They keep saying they have a 15 year old that does not need a fast boat and this would be great for him to learn. But he’s got to be 17 or 18 by now and the little boat is becoming an eye-sore. So I decided to work on it anyway and I pull the motor off and get some help dragging the hull into the yard where I can clean it up (With the power washer of course….)
Hose and Fred are now making progress washing the balcony, and Snoot has the entire tree cut, stacked and partially split.
By the way, you'll notice that the weather in these pictures is what we've classified as a "bad day". So relatively speaking even a bad day is pretty damn nice.
Then Hose takes to staining/sealing the log furniture from the deck. Might as well get that done before it starts raining again.
It’s about 5:30 PM now, and I haven’t even been down to the dock. The boats are still tied where we left them last night, and we’re starting to kick around some dinner ideas.
I’ll try to update you further as time permits, but you know what it’s like here. Very hard to bang away at a computer when you could just as easily sit on the deck and stare at the lake. I suppose that sounds funny to people that are not actually here, but if you’ve ever been here. You’ll understand.
Thanks for reading with me, and I'll talk to you soon. Good night good friends.