Another fun filled Fall Trip is off to a good start. Beginning with an early start on Thursday this year as opposed to Friday... gives us an EXTRA DAY in Minneapolis. So of course, we took advantage !! Starting with a First Class Upgrade thanks for Fred and his airline connections. We landed MSP about 30 minutes late, picked up a rental and headed north to Roger's, MN, home of the nearest Cabela's. A quick stop at Famous Dave's for a nice rack of ribs and then off to Snoot and Kari's for a good night sleep.
Up on Friday morning with really NOTHING to accomplish except getting Fred to
the attorney's office to sign on his cabin purchase. Then off to the Mall of
America for a movie and 4-5 hours of wandering around. A little shopping
too....Then down to Coon Rapids for a nice rack of BeBop's ribs. (Yes, we plan
to have ribs everyday.)
Saturday Fair Day !!! And we have honestly out done ourselves... here's a partial list:
I could list more, but I'm starting to feel a little nauseous just thinking back on this....
We hit all the usual items on our State Fair checklist.
And of course we went to the "Largest Boar" in the Swine Barn, but apparently, no one got a photo !!
Up at 3:50 AM and off to the lake. Departed Snoot's by 4:40 AM. Pulled into Roseau at 11:30 AM. Bought our groceries and north into Canada by 12;30 PM. Pulled into Rick's at Young's Bay at 1:30 PM. David was waiting as planned so a couple cold boy's in Jerry's and then a quick trip to the cabin to drop off the groceries.
Back to Young's Bay a 5:00 PM for the big Labor Day Pot Luck. Another ridiculous quantity of food. Whole roasted pig, smoked turkey, you name it....Oh, and the was also the public unveiling of our Vegas Team Muskie team shirts.
Then back to the cabin for a World Class fire, a few cold beers and a phenomenal night's sleep. Oddly, Mags spent the first 10 minutes complaining as we fired up our collective technologies. All of us whipped out our wireless access routers, laptops, USB optical mouses... and then, once all the technology was up and humming, guess who was the first one to say "Can I check my e-mail?"
And here's a special shot, just for Mick. (Click Here)
Lot's of fishing, but not that many fish. McLovin caught at least one keeper !!! What's more, this is his 2nd Walleye EVER !!! Poor guy peaked too soon if you ask me. What's he got to look forward to now? A Musky?
There's nothing more enjoyable than to pull up to the cabin and see that someone has ALREADY started a fire and you have fish in the livewell. That's livin'. So we showed off our haul, sat by the fire and had a meaningful, sensitive personally fulfilling conversation while Fred fired up supper. And holy crap, what a supper.
Fried potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and onions, big, juicy and perfectly grilled Rib Eye, and yes, fresh Minnesota Sweet Corn. Followed by hot coffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sweet Martha's (from the fair).
Tuesdayeaters. Headed up through the French Portage and made the mandatory stop at the "Secret Storm Spot". Seemed like a good time to take a Group Shot, so we did. Turned out nice I think.
Then we continued north. Fortunately, I had a Crack Navigator with me to help me negotiate the many confusing red lines on my map. Each one indicates a different track, South Track, Main Track, East Track and so on. Since the navigational buoys are named and numbered based on which track they are a part of, you have to pick a track and sort of stay with it. This was a small challenge for my map reader, Navigator brother. At one point, as we entered the somewhat crowded and busy Kenora portion of the journey, I asked him to "Find the South Track and follow it to S42". S42 being a relevant buoy that I was approaching. He proceeded to unfold the map, looked at it for three seconds and said "There are Frickin' Red Lines EVERYWHERE !!!"
This led to a considerable drop in my confidence, but one I stopped laughing and I could wipe the tears from my eyes, I was able to continue driving the boat and we proceeded to our destination. On the way, we stopped to watch a few Bald Eagles. They appear in great numbers and have begun to pair up for winter.
Then the scenic cruise back to the cabin. Stopped and fished a few places until we ran out of crawlers. No more fish.... Got back to the cabin and Fred cleaned his catch. While Kurt and McLovin started the fire.
Woke up to a cloudy and windy day. But by 8:00 AM, all is well. Wind is gone, lake is flat, and the radio says today's highs are projected to be low 80's. I can live with that. Kurt's taking a "Cabin Day", and Mags has headed home sad to say.... So the rest of us are off to Monument Bay to hunt some Musky.
Directly up to a large bay north of Young's Bay. Hit a few weed lines and rocky points casting for Musky. No luck however we did see a nice family of young ducks. They looked like Blue Wing Teal when they took off, but I don't remember them having red heads.
Motored over to Grumpy's only to learn that it's closed. Just too slow this time of year so they shut 'er down for the season.
So we headed off to see Dick Newcom and see if my new table is ready. He welcomed us in his typically warm fashion and we had a nice visit with him. And wouldn't you know, he was ready for our visit. He even had my new table set up in his living room so that when we sat down to chat, there it was. He's amazing. He has sold Birch Cove, this beautiful cabin and land planning to move to a care center in Warroad later this month. But he contacted the folks who bought his place and contracted to stay another year. And I'm glad. When we got there, we couldn't find him, but we heard a chain saw off in the woods. So we wandered in after the sound and sure enough, there he is cutting on a big birch tree that had blown over.
So we talked about WW II, the political season upcoming, social policy, South Africa, and a list of other relevant and current issues. I have no idea why he's planning to move into Warroad. Hopefully I'll see him here for another year.
As we loaded the table into the Gunboat, Dick commented that this is "the last piece". I hated to hear that. He's lost interest and doesn't make furniture anymore..... sad day.
After a stop at the cabin to drop off the table and
with a short stop at the cabin to check on Kurt's cabin day. All is well with Kurt.... although we did find him sitting by the fire and laughing out loud at a book he was reading. And he did get a visitor while we were gone...
So we're off to Gator Bay to try our luck. This time, we're armed with some special technical advice courtesy of Snoot. Detailed suggestions and encouragement to "hit Gator Bay hard..." So that's what we did.
Hit Gator Bay just as a northern wind blew in. Made it very hard to maneuver but we gave it our best shot. All three men casting futily into the wind. Nothing came of it of course. That's the standard outcome with us for some reason.... Fishing was great, but no catching.
Back to the cabin for Burger Night.
Kurt had the fire going, which is always a special feeling when you pull into the bay and see smoke rising...And also, I recognized an important issue regarding "cabin placement". As I contemplate building a new place on the 8 acres to the east, I'm constantly trying to learn from my experiences. Where do you put the cabin? Where do you put the doc? Where do you put the fire pit? All important questions....
Well the fire that Kurt had built, was no ordinary structure. He had wisely (after all, he is the wisest man I know) rearranged the stones which comprise the circle of the fire pit, into a much smaller radius. The wind was blowing in from the lake which is very rare, and he had arranged the stones to create a venturi effect (it's OK, you can click on it if you want.) This produced a blazing fire even in the brisk wind. What I learned from this, is that I will have to consider carefully where I place my fire pit next door. I want it close enough to the lake to enjoy the view and the sounds of the water, not to mention the frequently stunning sunsets here. But I should strive to place it far enough into the woods to shelter it from these winds. Creates an interesting challenge. Doesn't matter where I put the actual cabin, it's the fire pit that really matters !!
Fred fired up Home Made Mac & Cheese and let me just describe it on one word... "Frickin' Yummy !!" Then when I thought that was treat enough, we enjoyed some HUGE perfectly grilled burgers with some soup mix, or spices or some super secret ingredients mixed in with the meat. of course Chef Fred would not divulge his recipe. Add fresh tomatoes, lettuce, jalapeño pickles, and a cold beer, and you have quite a feast.
But then, just when you thought the meal was fully complete and totally satisfying, you remember Kurt's Cabin Day which can mean only one thing. Rice Pudding !!! It was cooling in the fridge and when served with a little whipped cream..... well, there's no word for the feeling you have as the hot coffee hits your cup sitting right next to the Rice Pudding..... you have to just stop and smell the roses, or in this case, the pudding.
After dinner, a viewing of "Drop Dead Gorgeous" with an amazing rain and lightening storm out the windows. Hard and heavy rain on the cabin roof complements the experience. The day is complete.
Woke up to the blue sky and calm lake that we've enjoyed all week. Also, I had the added bonus of honking geese overhead. What a way to start the day as you first open your eyes.... love it.
I'm sitting on the deck at the picnic table, and I'm startled by two huge black objects flying directly towards me. I just noticed them over my glasses as I'm typing this. They flare, scare the crap out of me, and swoop off to a near by tree. Of course I'm sitting here like an idiot with my camera in the cabin and the battery on the charger.... It's an adult Pileated Woodpecker and a hawk. They are not getting along but rather are having an aerial boxing match. This is incredible, they're rolling and colliding and not pleased at all.
Well, just another morning at the cabin. By the way, it's almost 9:00 AM and Fred's still sleeping......I think I'm going in now to shake the box of Captain Crunch... that ought to get him up.
All four of us decide to go fishing, what a thought. Off to Young's Bay to transport about 7 large garbage bags that we collected from around the camp. And while I'm on the subject, a little piece of advice. If you're going to load 7 large bags of trash into your boat, don't do it the night BEFORE you get rid of them. Because there are inquisitive residents here (bears) who will be more than happy to find them on the dock, rip them open, and dig for every last leftover spaghetti noodle. And in doing so, they are more than happy to fill the lake with floating trash. Not good.
After cleaning that mess up, (I still think it was Fred that tore into the bags...) we headed for Young's Bay, drove them to the dump (the bags of trash, not Fred and McLovin). Me and Kurt killed time in Jerry's while the other two drove to the dump. We picked up full fuel, two dozen crawlers, and some secret fishing tips from Rick McKeever.
So it's off to Portage Bay. It's straight north of Young's Bay and 7-8 miles. Big, beautiful deep water bay that almost feels like a lake in and of itself. We stopped on the first inviting point and quickly picked up a nice small mouth bass, then Mayday hooked into a pretty nice Northern. And before you ask, the towel was for the fish's protection. Mayday picked it up a couple times for a photo, and decided to stop dropping the thing. It was very unhappy about being in the boat. So a quick picture and off he went, back to the bottom for a rest after his struggle.
We pretty much spent the next few hours fishing various points around that bay. Always enough action to keep us interested but nothing really worth keeping. So with nothing in the live well to brag about, we headed in with a sense of accomplishment. That's how fishing is.... Unless you're Kurt in which case you can read a book while you fish. and yes, he actually caught a nice small mouth this way......
Fred put some chili on earlier this morning and the cabin is now filled with the smell of hot supper. Thanks to Betty for leaving more "Beer Bread" fixin's in the cupboard. McLovin whipped up a fresh batch and tossed it in the oven. 45 minutes later, we're eating delicious Chili and hot beer bread. But we had to hurry just a little because NFL Kickoff was only 30 minutes away and we had a 20 minute walk to the Blue Eyed Chief.
Hiked through the woods and got to the bar just in the nick of time. But it was still locked up. So I wandered down to "The Point" and found Dan in the middle of a nice sweet corn supper. But rather than interrupt his meal, he just handed me the keys to the bar. I love this place.
So we opened it up, hit a few lights, got the big screen cranking and it all came together about 40 seconds before they kicked the ball. We made it.
Enjoyed a few hours of cigars and cold Liennie with the entire place to our selves watching Colts and Saints. Even got to watch Reggie Wayne put up big numbers for the Colts even though Da' Boyz were completely unaware that they had drafted him, and doubly unaware that he had started him !!!
We spent a few minutes talking to Dan the manager of Flag Island Resort. And he confirmed what we have already experienced for many years. That we seem to pick the worst time of the year for fishing, every year. This is what Dan calls the "Transition" from the summer pattern to the fall/winter pattern. And partly because of the thick deep algae bloom, the fish just sort of shut down for two weeks, more or less. It's just too murky for them to feed so they wait until the water clears up. You can try to go north, but that's a long haul and you're still not guaranteed anything. Of course this IS fishing, so you're never guaranteed anything except a nice boat ride and some amazing scenery. But that concept, coupled with a couple of other considerations has forced me to seriously consider moving this trip..... Dan suggested moving it two weeks later. We could also move it three or four weeks earlier. Either way, the fishing is MUCH better. It's getting a little old coming up here every year and having to work like a fool to get a fish. Of course there are considerable drawbacks.
Not the least of which is that moving the trip in ANY direction means we don't get the Minnesota State Fair as part of our plans. And moving it into August means I go home and it's STILL FREAKIN' SUMMER !!! One of the best parts of this trip, is that somehow, magically, the weather in Vegas changes from Summer to Fall during this week, every year I leave 107 degrees with overnight lows in the high 80's and I go home to daytime highs in the 90's and overnight lows in the 70's.
But one plus, maybe Jesse could come if we moved the dates. He's always stuck at work since it's the first week of class every year during this trip. And another plus, things are so slow up here this time of year, that some of the best watering holes are not even open. Grumpy's has closed up temporarily until the Fall Hunt, or winter fun starts. We found that out the hard way... drove over only to find it locked up.
As for the football game, after a pretty one sided blow out, we left with about 4 minutes left in the game and hiked home in the dark. We made no wrong turns.
Finished the perfect day the perfect way... with a little Rice Pudding. then a good night's sleep and tomorrow's our last day. Can't believe it.
Woke up to a nicely rippling lake. Just a gentle breeze out of the northwest. Cool clean air and I'm back at my temporary lakeside office which has been the point of origin of every work you've read this week.
No idea what today holds. We're leaving tomorrow and we're also shutting down the cabin for the winter. So there are a few chores that need tending. Probably get as much done today as possible and reduce our work load tomorrow. Fred's been up twice today already but he's now back in the bed. it's 9:40 AM.... this could go on for a while.
I'm ready for some breakfast...
I think we're pretty much fished out. We've been all over the lake, and we've at least confirmed this; there are LOT's of places to NOT CATCH FISH. So I think we've earned a well deserved "Group Cabin Day". There are some tasks that need tending and and some food that needs eating, some fire that needs watching, and some delicate topics that need discussing around the fire.
We also looked around for the "monuments" that were put in place a few months ago by the survey I hired to mark off the property lines. But we couldn't find them. So I called the surveyor and he told me that he will be up this afternoon. He has a cabin on Brush which is directly in front of the cabin across about two miles of water. It's the next island to the north.
Meanwhile, me and the boys start hauling lumber around. There are a number of large trees that blew over June of last year and it's time to get them closer to their ultimate resting place, the fire pit. So we lever and lift and slide until we have all the largest pieces collected from around the area and neatly stacked by the fire pit.
After a couple of hours and a lot of work, we stopped for a rest and the discussion turned to philosophy. Lead by Kurt and McLovin, the conversation was surprisingly deep and intellectually honest. I was impressed. We touched on Immanual Kant, Plato, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, even Olaf Anderson.
Right about this time, it became known that we were out of beer. OUT of beer not running low... OUT. So I had to rouse Fred off the couch and tasked him with getting some beer. He had a variety of options, hiking to the resort, motoring to the resort, motoring to Young's Bay, what ever.... He elects to take the 'Baiter over to Flag. McLovin volunteers to go along. And in a few minutes, back with success !!
My suggestion was that he take a quick spin for fun around the small island in front of the cabin. But he understood that he was to take a spin around FLAG island !!! As he motored off, I began to understand there had been a misunderstanding. Not only was he now motoring out of sight, which I did not expect, but he was south of the buoys in front of the cabin. That's where the "Million Dollar Rock" is. Shallow and rocky and not pretty... So as not to alarm McLovin's over protective future ex-step father (yes, that's the best way to describe Fred), I casually walk towards the dock, and then jump in and motor off after the now missing McLovin. The sky is increasingly dark, the wind is coming up, and anyone who's been in a squall on Lake of the Woods, all the signs were there for a doozy.
I went out around the buoys, and no sooner turned east toward Oak Island, and there's the red and white 'Baiter, drifting, dead in the water, engine off, weather deteriorating, no radio and the captain looking a bit puzzled. As I approached, a big smile appeared on his face and a potentially dark situation quickly became funny. The boat would start and run but it would make only minimum power. We got it started, and he followed me slowly back to the cabin. On the way however, as I looked back to the limping ship, and then looked forward at my route ahead, I noticed the sky was dark and getting darker. Then, I saw it. A white wall of water about a mile and a quarter ahead. There was no way we were going to beat that band of rain back to the dock. McLovin's gonna' get wet. Within about three minutes, a wall of water swept over us, and poor McLovin got drenched. Shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops.... in a cold north lake shower. And of course the wind picked up so he's also getting tossed around a little.... All the while, I'm sitting dry and comfy in my covered Alaskan, smiling and chuckling a little (on the inside). Now this is fun !!
Later it was discovered that one of the fuel lines to one of the carbs had snapped off at the nipple. So the engine was running on one cylinder. Enough to move it forward, but not enough to make 4 knots !!Got back to the dock and had a cold beer. Probably a great lesson and great experience for a future boat operator.
A good "last night" supper of left over's and miscellaneous food products to clean out the fridge, and a good night's sleep. Then up early to shut down the cabin for the winter.
Up at 5:50 AM and the lake looks rough. Dark sky, cold wind.. Makes it much easier to leave when the weather's like this.....
We have to hit the road to get Kurt to the airport by 6:30 PM. So an early start for us today.
We got the cabin cleaned to within an inch of it's life. Drained all the water, drained the hot water heater and the pipes, poured some RV antifreeze into the plumbing and packed up for home.
As planned, we were in the car and heading south by 8:59 AM. A quick stop at the Dump and we're off to Coon Rapids.
Dropped Kurt off at the airport at 5:30 PM, four and a half hours before departure which is just the way he likes it. We pick a strategic route north back to Snoot and Kari's which is not easy. 35 is closed because of the bridge collapse. Crosstown 62 is closed for who-knows-why. and 77 North is detoured.... So back to "old reliable" 169......
A relaxing evening of conversation, story telling, laundry and pizza. Then to bed to rest up for tomorrow...Vikings/Falcons home opener !!
Game Day !!! Vikings / Falcons kick off at noon. Up early, to some very nice "egg bake" at Snoot's house. Then down town for a walk to take a look at the collapsed 35W bridge. And it's very sad to see a freeway that ends in space...
Ok, after that serious pause, BACK TO THE FUN !!
If you don't know who that is, click here.
Into the Dome for the opening ceremonies...including Ragnar and some fireworks.
Then the kick off and a long day of fun as the Vikings played very balanced football. Scored twice on defense and twice on offense.
After the game, we walked over to "The Corner Bar" of course and had some celebratory stogies and a couple cold boys.
A short flight home (when you're cruising in 1st Class) and we're all home safely. Great trip. Safe return and uneventful.... so to speak. I'm already looking forward to next year. I've started packing already.
Thanks for reading along. This kind of a trip is more fun when you share it, as are most things....