Minnesota Getaway Vacations – Look where you can hide for a week!

When you want to bug out of Dodge for a week, why not come hide among the trees and along a pretty northwoods lake just five miles south of the border?  Northwind Lodge is a Minnesota Family Resort and perfect for YOUR family!  Housekeeping cabins tucked away at this simple resort make this the perfect, easy-access, resort away from the crowds.  You need to come here and decompress!
Watch this short video with our Cabin Layout.  Note that I forgot Cabin 6 in the layout – dang it, anyway!  It is just below the Into The Brush Studio on your screen with a car parked next to it.

There’s Bear in Them Woods

It’s a beautiful evening so I decided to walk down to the lake to check on several big balsams that need come out via chainsaw, Bobcat, cables, chains and other manly things. Delilah and Cookie were in tow and then leading with Cookie panting from the exertion caused by running down hill and Delilah zooming up and down the trail in her usual light brown streak-like form.
 
I get to the beach, notice someone out on the lake with pontoon boat along with the absolute calm of the water.  But for the waves of the pontoon boat in the middle, the lake would have been without the slightest of wrinkles.
 
I looked at the trees and tried to see from where I could cable them up and pull them down causing the least amount of damage.  There are still a lot of leaves on the brush so it’s harder to see where a big fuzzy 50 foot balsam is going to get hung up, but I decided to continue checking.
 
I moved up to the first foot bridge across Jasper Creek and was wondering how much effort it would take to rebuilt parts of it in the event I had a hard landing upon it with an errant balsam in a veritable sea of ash trees.   Delilah was with me now, on the bridge looking down at the water as it was making its way to the lake.   I looked down at Dee and into the water as well.   Then while she was still looking down, I looked up at Cabin 3, just 50 feet away.   …and, there he was.
 
Looking at me looking at him was about a 350+ lb. beautiful, healthy, pitch-black bear.   He was standing motionless and he was HUGE.  One of those big, jiggly-kind of bears that you want to pet and have him follow you around in Hollywood to impress the city-folk and scare away enemies.  But alas, he was just a big, fluffy, bird-feeder-destroying, nosy, lookin’-for-a-snack-before-bedtime bear.  
 
Delilah was still looking down, so I said quietly, “Dee! Come here!”  He was watching us intently.   She looked at me and cocked her pretty little head with her laser beam eyes,  as I repeated to come hither and do so now.  She responded by doing everything but what I wanted which was to let me grab her so she doesn’t see that humongous bear eyeballing us both and take off after him because this dude was not afraid of me.  He had no intention of backing down for the human on the bridge with the little brown rabbit.  Delilah is still looking at me warily and stepping back for every step I take forward, because she knows that the slightest urgency in my voice will mean something big is about to happen and she was destined to partake in the adventure no matter what.   There was no way she was going to slow down the inevitable even though she wasn’t sure what the inevitable was other than  it was bugging me.   And then of course,  onto the wooden boards of the bridge, appeared Cookie…the big, tough Pekingese.
 
Barrel chested, skinny butted, breathing-challenged Cookie steps past me, stops next to Dee and goes “Ruff!” in the direction of  the black pile of muscle, blubber and fur standing with no fear whatsoever only 50 feet in front of her.  Delilah turned, saw black,  and it was “Game ON!”
 
With fur upright from her butt to the back of her head, Delilah ran full throttle at the big black target like birdshot to a clay pigeon.    I started yelling “NO NO NO NO NO NO!” and the bear wasn’t super impressed in the slightest by the ferocious Dachse/Pomeranian hybrid getting bigger by the nanosecond with some other blonde rabbit lumbering behind “ruffing” in between bear-attacking breaths.  Heck, he looked like he was thinking “once you get past the bark, they probably taste pretty good!”.
 
When I saw the bear waiting and not really moving as much as I would like him to move with my 9 and a half pound hors d’oeuvre in a dog suit, and a wide-chested blond block of figurative cheese wheezing into second place, I had no choice but to sprint right directly at the bear, arms waving and screaming my bloody head off while telling the dogs to stop.  Well, Delilah, being of a particularly proud and feisty mutt caliber, got within four feet of the bear at the moment I began my charge, and then within two feet of the bear as I rapidly closed the gap.   When the bear who was watching me decided that the big screaming guy was more than he wanted to mess with on this beautiful, comfortable evening, he finally turned to run.   And, when the bear turned to run, Delilah smelled all the total power and control in the air that she was certain was completely due to her, and became louder and more ferocious as she now lapped at the pads of the bear’s back heals while ignoring me completely.
 
The bear ran faster than all of us and easily pulled out ahead.   Up the foot path we went, cresting the small hill to Cabin 7 and there he was waiting for us.   I was stumbling up the hill trying to get around Cookie (she’s slow on hills) without stepping on her while Delilah got right up to the bear again as did I after finally leaping over the blond wheezing Pekingese.   Fortunately for us both, the bear turned once more and ran down a path that leads to the woods and bay area of Jasper Lake.   He’s now running full tilt and so are the dogs. Cooking got her second wind and is almost keeping up with Delilah but her speed was mainly due to gravity going down a steep hill (think rolling wheel of cheese).   The bear stops yet again in high grass broadside,  sizing up those two yappy mutts,  but then decides to go.   Both dogs stare into the fall-time grass as if held back by an invisible fence, and the bear slipped into the silence of the evening.
 
I finally got both of them back up the hill and heading in the direction of the store.  Delilah was prancing like a proud little reindeer who lead everybody through the night to deliver the Christmas presents.   In dog terms, this day ended absolutely nothing short of awesome.
 
And what did we learn from tonight?  Nothing….other than when Delilah attacks hard, bears sit up and take notice…at least that’s what she now thinks.  And, Cookie?  She’s sacked out in her dog bed.   Meh….
Joe Baltich, Jr. standing with his painted historical account of the BWCA region, past and present

Hometown Focus Article – Into The Brush

Into the Brush: Combining art and adventure in the wilderness
By Jody Anderson
HTF Columnist

 Joe Baltich and his painted canoe. Photo by Jody Anderson.
Joe Baltich and his painted canoe. Photo by Jody Anderson.
ELY – Just five miles from Canada, and 15 miles northeast of Ely on the Fernberg Trail, stands Red Rock Wilderness Store and Northwind Lodge, formerly known as Jasper Lake Resort. It is a place that holds generations of memories like pitch-black nights with shimmering stars while gathered around a campfire, the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis, and midnight wolf operas. The resort, now managed by Joe Baltich, Jr., has been in the Baltich family for three generations. Surrounded by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and deep in the northwoods boreal forest, the resort offers something unique from others in the area. It is liking walking into the past with its rustic charm, while still offering today’s modern amenities such as wireless service. It just might be possible that Northwind Lodge is the oldest family-run business in the area. The resort, which is over 70 years old, dates back to 1944.

The Red Rock Wilderness store, which doubles today as Joe’s art studio, has the largest selection of fishing tackle in the area. Some of the locals callRed Rock the “Cabela’s of the North.” Today Joe’s store also has his artwork for sale – wine glasses, mugs and canvases displaying beautiful northwoods scenery. You could say that he has come full circle when it comes to his art. It was there at the resort on Jasper Lake, at the age of 13, that he discovered he was not only an outdoors enthusiast, but also an artist. The resort has seen and weathered a lot of changes over the years. Change within the resort industry is common, and calls for innovativeness at times. The resort was once known for skiing, and had its own Nordic ski trails. It was on one of those snow-covered trails that Joe met his wife Annette. Skiing under a canopy of pines however, is now a part of the resort’s past. But innovativeness and creativity is what Joe is all about, and it is his passion for painting that is the inspiration behind his most recent resort venture.


This past week I made the drive to Red Rock to see “The Painted Canoe of Ely,” Joe’s latest masterpiece. It is a symbol of both art and adventure in the wilderness. Joe spent over 400 hours last winter painting on the unique aluminum canvas! His original plan was to paint the animals of the BWCAW but instead, at someone’s suggestion, he painted the history of our region. He chose to depict the wilderness area in the 100 years prior to its federal wilderness designation in 1978 on one side, and the wilderness area how it exists today on the other. The canoe is a Grumman canoe which is symbolic in itself. Grumman originally was a leading producer of military aircraft. If you look close, Joe included a painting of a Grumman Hellcat F6F fighter aircraft used in 1943-1944 during the war. After World War II wound down in 1944, the company began to produce Grumman canoes which replaced wooden canoes that were mostly being used at that time. The Grumman canoes, being lighter and stronger, made portaging and canoeing in the wilderness easier. Grumman canoes are a significant part of our BWCAW history.

At age 13, Joe’s first experience with art began when he experimented with his father’s wood burning kit. Tiring of the kit’s designs, he began to draw his own – deer, moose, and squirrels. Soon he was selling the wood plaques to resort guests in the store. One day one of the guests, who happened to be an art teacher, told him he needed to learn to paint. He couldn’t even imagine that. The woman left and came back two hours later with a rock she had just painted. It had a wilderness scene with a deer and a sunset. He thought it was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen. She sent him to town for the basic painting supplies he would need. He painted his first rock that night at the dining table while his family gathered around him. He sold his third rock. The money he made from his artwork allowed him to purchase his first art studio –a small 8×10 shed from Sears. Headded stools, an easel, and a fluorescent light. The resort kids would gather in there each night and watch him paint. He would take orders from guests. He sold many blue herons on canvas. While attending UMD in college he was often commissioned by students to paint gifts for their parents. His dorm room walls were like an art gallery.

After college in 1983, he returned home feeling discouraged by the present job market. He returned to guiding at the resort, which he had been doing since he was 14. He also became involved in politics and served as Ely’s mayor and on the city council for a time. It was upon returning to resort life after college that Joe discovered his studio had been damaged by the elements. He attempted to fix it, but it was never quite the same. Joe lost his mojo. For 32 years Joe took a sabbatical from art. That is until he decided to paint an Adirondack chair last year forIncredible Ely’s fundraiser – Chair-ish Ely. And guess what? Joe the artist was back! Joe describes this past winter painting the canoe as “an adventure into art.” Painting the canoe, Joe said, was something he needed to do for a couple of reasons. He needed a demonstration piece for his new program “Into the Brush,” and he needed something cathartic. It was a slow winter for his business, and he needed something to keep him busy and that was good for his psyche. “Into the Brush” once just an idea, is now a reality.

There’s a lot of conversation these days about saving our local wilderness. Many are concerned about preserving it for future generations. They are worried about the environment. Others are concerned about what may appear to be a bigger threat. It seems that with each passing year, the number of people traveling to Ely to spend time in the wilderness is declining. A decline in tourism means a decline in local business. Joe has seen the decline. He believes there are various reasons for the drop in numbers. One is that we have a large aging population that either is no longer able to venture out due to health issues, or they feel they have “been there, done that.” Digital distractions have also impacted interest in both the young and the old. Today’s generation is also more concerned about safety, and feel uncomfortable about being unplugged from civilization for any length of time. With this in mind, Joe came up with a new idea to introduce people to the wilderness. His idea combines wilderness adventure and art through his new endeavor “Into the Brush.”

“Into the Brush” (www.intothebrush.org) is in the process of becoming an independent 501(c) (3) nonprofit. Through “Into the Brush,” Joe is offering a new and adventurous program at Northwind Lodge. The program offers an “art camp like experience” where guests can learn the basics of painting by adventuring in the wilderness, and then coming back and putting it on canvas, wood, stone, or glass. At “art camp” you can stay in one of the resort’s housekeeping cabins with friends or family. Each day you will spend two hours in the morning, and two hours in the evening learning how to paint. Inspiration will come from the 2-3 hours spent hiking or canoeing each day independently, or under Joe’s guidance. The program offers 4- or 7-day classes. The classes are designed for the beginner with no experience necessary. Joe also offers 2-hour micro classes on occasion to anyone, not just resort guests. Joe has a lot of plans for the future of “Into the Brush.” He envisions an art gallery someday, and even internships and visiting artists. He is also thinking about expanding his art program to include photography and other mediums.

Through his new venture, Joe hopes to introduce a whole new group of people to the wilderness. Perhaps even those who would have never imagined themselves adventuring in the heart of Minnesota’s northwoods. The truth is, people are increasingly seeking out adventure. Many, though, want something just a little bit different than what has been the tradition.

If you are looking for something to do this fall, I encourage you to take a drive up the Fernberg Trail and see the canoe for yourself. It is breathtaking. Joe will give you the history behind each of the scenes on the canoe because Joe isn’t just an artist, he’s also a storyteller, and what some call a wordsmith. Perhaps you will find that one of the scenes is related to your family history. For me it was the panel with the logging camp scene, because my grandfather ran a logging camp on the Echo Trail. Don’t forget to ask Joe about the panel that contains his own family’s history. What an adventure that was!

“The Painted Canoe of Ely” is the canoe that tells a story. It’s worth the drive, and the drive up the Fernberg is beautiful in the fall. Take the time to visit Kawishiwi Falls along the way, and stop at the Rookie Lake overlook also. If you are lucky, you just may spot a moose!

Jody Anderson lives in Embarrass, MN.

Fall Adventure Getaway Specials

bright-fall-foliag

Come embrace the great outdoors of northeastern Minnesota!  Let autumn’s crisp air and bright colors inspire you!  Cooler weather makes this an ideal time to take a road trip to admire the fall foliage that lines the shores of our beautiful Jasper Lake.  Of course, the boreal woods in the heart of the Boundary Waters is beautiful ANY time of year, but it is especially so in the fall.

You may be well aware that Fall is not only about the colors of the changing leaves.  But don’t forget that there are so many other things that to do here as well.  Fishing is great – nice bass, big perch and lunker northern pikes cruise the depths here.  Fall wildflowers are blooming – just walk the gravel roads.  The fall birds are migrating in the deep blue skies above – look up and listen.  Watch the resident loons get the young ones ready for leaving the lake for winter and keep an eye open for the otter family playing off our docks.  Top it all off with a look to the heavens and you’ll see our stars and Milky Way shining so brightly you can almost touch them as we have very little light pollution in the northwoods.  Don’t forget the added bonus of the northern lights dancing across the northern treeline of Jasper Lake for you – should you have that particularly good fortune here at Northwind Lodge.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your favorite travel companions and set out to enjoy your best fall experiences with us at Northwind Lodge!  Come up to stay – leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Fall Special Rates Starting at $89.95 -$99.95* a night for the first 2 people and $10.00 a night for anyone extra depending on the cabin size.  This Northwind Lodge Special will run until the end of September.  Free boat is included with the special, motor rentals are extra.  (*tax is not included)

Call us to book your Fall Adventure Getaway at 1-800-280-1078,  218-365-4512 or 218-365-5489 to book your fall vacation now!

 

Current Bug Report – July 4, 2016

One of our guests came in yesterday and asked “where the bugs were?”   Another guest came in later and said he got a mosquito bite and looked a little rattled by it.   I replied to him that if one can count a single mosquito bite and know exactly where it occurred on one’s torso, then the bugs are completely gone.  He didn’t appear very comforted by that statement, I think because he expected me to jump up and down about his single, solitary, mosquito bite.

In summary, regarding the bugs in Ely, Minnesota:  What bugs?  Mosquitos are few in numbers, and if you can count them that is like no bugs at all.  Deer flies and horse flies are out and they are infuriating little buggers.  Killing them brings me great satisfaction.  But, they come and go depending on the temps and humidity levels its seems.  Black flies have been gone for about 2 weeks and with the exception of a few really active days, they made a modest impression on the world up here.  Noseeums are out from time to time and if you wonder why you suddenly developed and itch on the back of your hand or arm, it was probably one of those. They were out yesterday while I worked on a trailer for the 4th of July parade to haul The Painted Canoe of Ely to Ely which will be happening in about 1.5 hours.  Gotta get there at 10, wait in line until 1 PM and then drive really slowly through town following the guy in front of me.  Noseeums look like super tiny black flies are are hard to see.  They make me itch for about 30 minutes which is irritating but not debilitating.  To date for this summer, I have seen three ticks.  Two on me and one on Delilah.  All of them are dead – the ticks.

So, I expect the bugs to become even less in the next few weeks until they are all but gone for the entire month of August and all of September.  If you were to come to Ely right now, unless you are a “safe-space-seeking” Millennial ( or whatever group that is – I can’t keep track), the bugs amount to a hill of beans.  Swat ’em in a blind rage and move on with your day.  Enjoy the satisfaction that only killing a mosquito, deer/horse fly, noseeum, and the occasional jackpine beetle can bring.  Dang jackpine beetles don’t seek out humans and bite really slowly when they do.  We don’t know why they bite because they eat pine trees not mammals.  If you are not paying attention, you’ll feel a building intense pressure wherever they bite.  But, again, that is a really infrequent occurrence even when you live here like me but you don’t forget it, however.   They have a squeezing bite that will make you sit up and take notice.  You swat those with your cap and grind them into the dirt with your foot when one lands on someone you like.  If you don’t like that person, don’t tell him and sit back to watch.

Bugs – I wouldn’t worry about them.  I haven’t used bug dope since early June and that was for two whole days.  Don’t be a wimp and worry about dumb stuff.  There is an entire wilderness up here needing visitors to come see it.