This is what you get when you have a little lake in NE Minnesota and a kid who likes to fish. This is John Pconka, friend of Ben and Andrew Westphal who joined the brothers and their dad, Jeff on a week-long adventure at Northwind Lodge.
John caught this beauty off on dock at Northwind Lodge.
He didn’t have a landing net so he grabbed this big, honkin’ northern with his hand over the edge of the dock and lifted him out of the water.
I would say a little bit of luck with a majority of skill would be at play here with John. Heck, I don’t believe that would have ended well for me. Pretty impressive for a 17 YO kid from the Chicago area!
This fish was released quickly back into Jasper to continue to maraud and laugh at fishermen who wish they had this chance. Well done, John!
I have to chuckle. For my entire life in the resort business right here, I’ve heard countless people who won’t consider a “smaller” lake for fishing because they believe incorrectly that “there are only big fish in big lakes”. Time and again, they’ve been proven wrong.
Remember, this fish was caught “off of a boat dock”.
So, how come you aren’t coming to Northwind Lodge to cast off the docks? If you don’t fish, we also do painting classes. You can also sit at the beach, paddle a kayak, take out a canoe, paddle a paddle board, peddle a paddle boat, or just read a book – all with social distancing, no crowds, out in the woods. No masks required for playing outside. 218-365-5489 to see what is currently open in cabins.
That’s how many years Jackie Hartleben has been working for Northwind Lodge – Red Rock. All she got for it was this Susan Laine cake, beautifully painted in frosting with the Jasper Creek waterfall at Northwind Lodge. Jackie has seen this iconic waterfall at least a zillion times. We want to thank Jackie for sticking it out with us over all these years! Here’s to 30 more years! Jackie says “No”, but we will have to see.
Last night, a lady who is a guest at Northwind Lodge came by the gallery to see if we had a bigger lasagna pan. My wife Annette was talking to her as I ran up to our house to find a bigger pan. I returned to the art gallery, pan in hand and gave it to our guest. At the same time, I was wondering why anyone would want to bake in this July heat, but they must have it figured out. Off she went to create what would be a very special lasagna. Meanwhile, as darkness set in, lightning flashed and thunder rolled in the distance. Rain was coming but nowhere near enough. I worried about a forest fire in the back of my mind.
Fast forward to morning after a very warm, muggy, night that settled into good sleeping weather after all. I went down to the gallery to make a cuppacoffee, and one of our departing lodge guests came in telling me of a bear roaming around last night. He watched the bear go over to the cabin across the way, stand up and start wailing on the kitchen window. Then the bear wandered around the cabin, checked out the garbage, and headed off to his own cabin. The bear was a good sized bear, standing about 40 inches at the shoulder. Wasn’t fat, definitely lean, but still healthy looking. The bear also wasn’t terribly afraid of humans but finally left for the evening.
The same guest was checking out after a long weekend stay and asked me about the rock -Ely Greenstone- and I told him where he could get a pick-up truck load if he wanted it – for free. He laughed and just wanted a few rocks. So, off he goes and in a half hour, back into the yard he returned. He came in to tell me two things: 1. he found the rocks; and 2. that same bear just walked across the Fernberg road from the Ojibway Lake access road and is heading down our driveway. I acknowledged that I would watch for the bear hoping he would not actually come back. Bears are a pain in the neck.
Then, the phone rang with a guest who was here last week and just returned to her Illinois home this past Saturday. I was talking to Sharon about some really nice photos she took during her stay to use in our social media and website. Wandering with a cordless phone as one does, I looked out the window behind the counter and a good sized bear with a really big head looked up at me through the glass panting in the hot summer air. Big pink gums, tongue, and yellow teeth. I was so close, I could have flossed his teeth for him. He was so tall, that, but for the pane of glass between us, he could have bitten me in the stomach without reaching up. Now, while my wife will point out that my layer of winter fat has not yet left (in my defense, my dog is still shedding her winter coat as well), I don’t really have a gut that hangs to the floor. When I say the bear’s nose comes level with the middle of me, that’s a pretty big bear. He was lanky, healthy looking, and young.
So, I tell Sharon on the phone “Holy crap! There’s a big bear outside the window, I gotta go get him!”, and then I run out the door like a “viking in my last fight before Valhalla” chasing after the bear. I got within 10 feet of his big black rear end and I realized he was just loping along as opposed to running in “full-blown-terror-because-a-crazy-guy-is-attacking”. Nevertheless, not wanting to back down, I continue my charge, roaring and trying to look bigger than the bear. On the hunt, I realized that the phone was still in my hand and I heard Sharon asking if “this was really happening?”. I responded with a “Yup. I’m on this bear’s butt right now.” and she said, “You gotta go!” and we then hung up.
I chased him up the hill past my Dad’s house and finally spotted a rock that I could throw. As he turned off of the driveway aiming for the cover of brush, I let fly with that rock, leading him like a duck on the wing but he disappeared into the broad daylight & bright green as fast as he appeared. (It’s amazing how they can do that. Like a ghost, plus they make no noise.) My rock’s trajectory ended up cleanly shearing off the top of a small white pine as if I struck the trunk with an axe. Too bad it didn’t hit the bear.
My dad was outside, trying to start his 4-wheeler to go down to the lake to see where the forest fire is. While chasing the bear, I hadn’t noticed the blue smoke everywhere. It was either fireworks or lightning but something somewhere was on fire. He watched me running after the bear but was unphased. We’ve both chased a lot of bears at this resort. I returned to my art gallery.
Fifteen minutes later, two girls came from their cabin talking about their bear experience. I thought they meant about last night. Heck, no – right now. The bear I chased, headed – over the meadow and through the woods – to their cabin – AGAIN. This time, he was loaded for lasagna. I made a beeline for their cabin with one of them noting how fast I can walk.
Now, in hunter/tracker mode, I saw how he came from the backside, past the kitchen window screen and cracked pane from his handy work of the prior evening. From there, he went to a smaller, higher, living room window to mangle that screen. Upon realizing it was too high and small to fit through, he headed around to the front, moved some deck chairs, climbed up on the picnic table and pushed in the big screen of the open window into the room. Then, with the casual impunity that only a bear can muster, he walked in, knocking over a lamp, and using a recliner for easy entry. He went to the table, swatted a box fan out of the way, and ate the remaining half of somebody’s chocolate bar leaving on the table, an empty wrapper. Then he knocked over a half a cup of coffee, licked it only a little (musta been Starbucks) and moved on. He walked the 12 feet into the kitchen and knocked over a bag just outside of the bedroom of the two girls who were in the cabin, in that room, at that time. (Think about that particular experience. LOL) Their parents were in town and had taken their dog with them. The girls had heard the window screen buckle when the bear was coming in. From behind their closed door, they screamed loudly and then proceeded to follow the instructions on the wall for a fast exit out the fire escape window. They were prepared to BALE OUT! One of them pushed the window screen and it released just as it was supposed to do. (It was a good test for me.) The next part is fuzzy but I think they stuck their heads out the escape window and saw the bear exiting back outside onto the deck from the window, retracing his steps. He actually went out the same way as he entered for which I am most thankful. Both girls headed over to tell me about it at that point.
When their parents returned, I surmised to their mom that her lasagna must be really exceptional and the bear was impressed to the point of a second, in-depth, look. While I was there working on the screen damage, one of the girls came out with a plate of said lasagna from last night for her lunch.
And, now I know why the bear was so persistent. That lasagna looked delicious. Then, just like a black bear stepping into the sunlit woods, it too, was gone.
Always be safe. Bears are not pets and they are not our friends. They are most definitely wild animals . As a definitive rule, we want to keep plenty of distance between us and bears AT ALL TIMES. While they may not look it, bears are incredibly strong, very agile, and quite fast. They also swim pretty good, too. They can turn on dime in demeanor and also physically. They usually make no noise when they walk. This event ended well with nobody getting hurt because they used their heads, made noise and planned an alternative exit strategy to stay safe. That is how we want every story at Northwind Lodge to end. When we have a bear at the resort, I will always be chasing it away and our guests should do the same. Yell, scream, wave your arms and throw rocks. We need the bear to associate general unpleasantness with every human it encounters. If it begins to feel comfortable around humans, we have to put it down. Finally, NEVER, EVER, intentionally feed the bears. He will always want one more marshmallow than you have left in the bag. Feeding bears intentionally results in one less bear on the planet 99.998% of the time. Please consider the bear’s life when you really want a photo and will do the absolutely wrong thing to get it.
Commissioned piece for a public library. I’ve pretty much been painting seven days a week years now. It never gets old.
I’m in my studio painting commissioned art for clients and a friend messages me that he just shot a 10 pointer and could use my help gutting it because he’s only gutted one before. I changed my boots, grabbed a knife, a little saw, a gallon of water and my deer hunting cap so I wouldn’t get my butt shot off as easily from newbies walking around with deer rifles. (Nobody was out there there, but just in case.)
I jump in the van, and get to him in a desolate parking lot about 8 minutes from his phone message to my arrival. There he is with a 10 pointer that he managed to wrestle up into the box of his truck and he’s not without some physical issues. I’m still amazed that he got that buck into the box of the truck. That dude is pretty tough. It was a larger deer.
He said he was at another landing wandering around and 50 yards away, there is a deer facing directly at him. He couldn’t tell if it had antlers because the brush was too thick and in hazelnut brush, everything looks like it has antlers. So, he just waited, gun up and watching. After an eternity, the deer turned his head and that which could have been hazelnut and alder brush became antlers. He squeezed off a round, dead-center-chest. A hop and a drop.
Upon gutting it, I could see what a great shot it was. He sheared the top of the heart off and removed a lobe of the liver. There would be no chasing around in the brush with a textbook shot like this. I marveled and envied his good shooting fortune. Most of the deer I’ve shot are running by me at a weird angle and usually going 70 mph with a jet-pack strapped to their backs. Then I would have to run around with them. As per my friend’s request, I saved the heart, liver and found one kidney. He’s eatin’ tonight, lucky dog!
And now, I’m back in my studio painting people’s beloved pets on acrylic discs. How strange our “normal day” must look to somebody not from here.
During select weeks at Northwind Lodge, join us for our weekly activities. To see when they begin,
The Activities Low Down
Get your creative juices going by taking a painting class during your stay. Classes are scheduled for Tuesday evenings. Also, depending on schedule availability, classes can be held at other times and for private groups. We paint rocks and Christmas ornaments in the two-hour sessions. Other longer classes and programming is available at different price rates as well. For more information about our regular art programming options, please visit intothebrush.org our non-profit art education organization.
It’s S’mores time, come to the fire ring by Jasper Creek Falls to enjoy an evening sitting around the campfire. Bring your s’more components. Wiener sticks – the whittled kind – are provided.
NEW – Thursday Potluck
New for 2021! Potluck Dinner on Thursday evening! Get to know some of the guests at the lodge and join us for dinner! Bring a dish, bring dessert, bring yourself. Dress is casual, conversation entertaining, dining is outside.
What a fun way to get together to greet and eat! Joe will be cooking as well. Who knows? It may be gastronomical adventure! That’s why “luck” is part of the word used to describe it!
18 minutes cut down to 2.5. I wish I could paint this fast for real! LOL.
Come take an Art Lesson at Northwind Lodge!
It was a great summer and now we are heading into fall time at Northwind Lodge! Cooler days and early fall colors are making us a great place to “get outta Dodge”. Give us a call, come on up, and get on the water!