Little Lake, Big Fish

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.

Big Northern from off the dock at Northwind Lodge Summer 2020
Probably about 40″ long!

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.

Time Lapse Video – Joe Baltch Rock Painting

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!

Fishing Fun at Northwind Lodge

Come on up!

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!

The Hansen Family – 5 days of Social Distancing, Northwind Lodge Style

Take a look at these beautiful photos!  This is the Hansen family who spent 5 days and 4 nights here at Northwind Lodge.  I’m exhausted just looking at how much they managed to pack into 5 days!  They fished hard, paddled a lot, hiked, ate fish, played with the dog, got up early, and so on.  Mom and daughter even took a 2 hour painting lesson and successfully produced two works of art which also serve as cool trip mementos.

This is THE WAY to socially distance.  I had so much fun with their photos, I will be joining them for their stay the next time they come up.   They don’t have a choice in the matter.

“Where’s Joe?”

“He’s staying with the Hansen family for the week.  There is no cell reception so, you’ll have to just wait ’til he gets back.”

“But, he’s just over in Cabin #8.  It’s like 400 feet from here.”

“He’s on a great vacation.  Leave him alone!”

(My dreams…..sigh….)

It’s the Year of Animals at Northwind Lodge – 2020 – Ely, MN

Watching the TV last night and Annette started to sputter while pointing at our cat who was looking out the patio door window.  A good-sized bobcat came in to take a look as his relative.  Our grey cat didn’t appreciate his presence and arched her back while laying her ears down, growling slightly.  He, on the other hand, looked curious for a very few seconds and then turned to leave.  I managed to fumble my phone on to access the camera and shot two quick pics.  Then, he decided to turn around and come back one more time just to make sure the grey house cat behind the glass was for real.  I shot two more pics and tried to turn on video.  Of course, there is no such thing as “quickly turning on” anything with electronics – like a switch – so while the phone indicated a video was being taken for two seconds, I ended up with a slightly blury video of my foot, then the ceiling, and then the wall.  The bob cat turned, showed us his bob tail and faded into the brush like he was never even there.

At this point, I’m guessing we have served as many nights of boring entertainment for bobcats, wolves, pine martens, bears, and others while sitting in the downstairs living room.  You can’t see them and seldom hear them.  But, they are there always watching.   What else have they go to do?
Bobcat - Northwind Lodge - Ely MN
So, Summer 2020 is the year of the animals.  We’ve had bears of all sizes  wandering through the property, wolf tracks in the mud let by fresh rain, deer tracks (but not many with wolf tracks around) and assorted beavers, muskrats, eagles, loons, the occasional swan family, squirrels and chipmunks.

 

The fish have also been biting REALLY well in the last two weeks with big bass, northerns and sunnies really pounding on some days.  Top it off with rather spectacular, temperate, weather and we are great place to visit to get away from the insanity on the outside.  Hang out at the beach, take an art lesson, come see the art in the Fernberg Gallery, maybe go to town.  Being hunkered down in the woods on a pretty lake has been resonating particularly well with our guests this summer.  Plus the smell of barbecue wafting by in the evening makes one drool.  We feel sorry for guests who need to return home after their stay.  You can see on their faces that they feel the same.    There’s always next season.

Give us a call.  See what cabins might be open.  Find out what you’ve been missing!
218-365-5489

Bobcats Are Us at Northwind Lodge

I’ve always figured that they are silently watching us forever now. They never make themselves known. They never slip up to be discovered, especially in the summer with all the leaves and shadows hiding their subtle camoflage. Well, they do slip up once every 50+ years or so.

Until now, I have never ever seen a bobcat in the summer. Never. This is a case of curiosity blowing the cover of a summer bobcat. Annette and I were watching the TV, when Annette started sputtering in a language that was neither English nor German.

I looked at her wondering what the issue was. She was pointing at our grey cat who was looking out the patio door. On the other side of the glass, there was a good-sized, healthy bobcat looking in. Our grey cat was now arching her back and laying her ears back and flat. I struggled with my phone doing the super fast wrist-twist-turn-on maneuver for exactly this type of use. Yeah- it failed miserably and I was relegated to finding/pushing icons on my phone. Fortunately, the large beige cat was enamoured with our smaller grey cat and not watching me dumbly waving my phone in the air. Then he turned to leave but curiosity got the best of him. He turned around and a re-approached yet again, allowing me to get two more shots, one zoomed in, too.

Then, in the seven-second window for all this to happen, he turned around and stealthily faded into the brush like a ghost.

We are both convinced that said bobcat is sitting right outside the window all the time. He’s watching and waiting for us to slip up by letting to cat out. Never going to happen and I’m sure this is not the last we will see of him.

This is life in the real northwoods of Minnesota. All year long, during the various seasons, we see bears, wolves, deer, etc. I’ve never seen a summer bobcat before, however. This was fun!

The fish are biting and people are taking art lessons, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking. This is social distancing in wilderness. Give us a call for updated cabin availability and see what you’ve been missing. Our lodge guests have been having a great time this summer! 218-365-5489

C’mon up and getaway from the scary outside world! Assorted bears and a now proof of a bobcat, are wandering around outside. I also feel immensely safer here than I would in many metro areas, today. We know what to expect from our wild animals here.

Art Classes and Fishing! Social Distancing at Northwind Lodge

I don’t believe there are many resorts in Minnesota whereupon the guests can learn how to paint AND go fishing.  Northwind Lodge is one of the few places that this is possible.  Hats off to jobs well done by Jim and Terri Rhoads of Iowa!  Jim last touched an artist’s paint brush in 3rd grade.   It’s been a while and yet his artwork today would say otherwise.  Terri has a bit more experience and her painting is lively and appealing.  Frames are going to kick both paintings to another level.   Both Jim and wife Terri had a great time as did I.  Art lessons are ALWAYS fun for me as well.   Painting, telling stories, and concentrating REALLY hard make learning to paint a lot of fun!  Two to three hours feels like an hour.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Jim and Terri took up painting when they return home.  It’s a great activity any time of the year.

When not in class, they are on the water, baking pizza on the Weber outside of the cabin, going on hikes,  and of course, catching fish.  This is the greatest way to socially distance out of all the options available.

Paintings by Jim and Terri Rhoads Northern pike on Jasper Lake Jim Rhoads holding a largemouth on Jasper Lake This is a NOT a bluegill

Socially distancing at Northwind Lodge – This is the way to do it.

Thanks to Lauren Johnson and family for these cool candid pics of a week at Northwind Lodge.  I’m guessing they had a great week.

The Great Frog Mystery

Free frog clipart 4 - ClipartBarn
Lauren, mom of the Johnson family in Cabin 8 came to report that in the screen door, they had a frog stuck between the 3/8″ metal mesh (inside so kids and adults don’t destroy the screen door on weekly basis) and the actual screen.  She couldn’t figure out how the little guy got in there because it is sealed on all sides.

Both sections of the door are stapled down and then sealed off with wood finishing strips. I know because I built that door.  I went to look at the door and sure enough, there was a small frog inside bouncing around.  Well, if I don’t extract the frog, he’s going to stink in about a day.  He’s still healthy because the sun isn’t up high enough to roast him at 9:30 AM.

Upon my examination, there is absolutely no hole in any part of the screens on either side of the door that would allow that frog to pass.   His eyes alone were almost 3/4 of an inch across and there was NO WAY for that frog to get in there without tools.   He had enough room to hop around and that was it.  Everything was tight on that door.

The Johnson dog looking at the magic frog

I tried to remove the bottom wood strip with my pliers but this job needed more tools. They always do.   I return to the office to get a screwgun, screws, claw hammer, and a flat screwdriver.   I’m gone for about 5 minutes, tops.

I get back to the screen door and start prying the bottom strip off when I just happened to look for the frog.   I stopped immediately when I noticed the frog was gone.   I looked and looked again.  No frog.   No holes.   Pulling either mesh side of the screen off, definitely needed tools.   No visible sign of tampering.  Short of bringing in a forensic examiner, there was zero tampering.  Nobody touched the job in the five minutes I was gone.   But, the frog was nowhere to be found. I reexamined the door for something loose or a hole – one – more – time.   Then I began to wonder if David Copperfield was at the resort this week.   This was one heck of a magic trick.

I told the story to the Johnsons who opened their main door when they heard me pounding the partially loosened trim back into place. Lauren said she was happy that I actually witnessed the frog as well.  We all were head scratching.

Oh, well.   It was better than having to destroy the bottom of the door to get the frog out.  Another mystery in the vacation industry…

Weekend in Review – 4th of July, 2020 – What you missed

Well, despite the less-than-savory news outside of the wilderness bubble in which we are fortunate to live, Northwind Lodge guests appeared to have had a GREAT time social distancing with family and friends.

They caught a bunch of fish in Jasper.  The Rust/Ramsland party in Cabin 6 reported nice-sized largemouth bass caught on weedless worms that we stock in the Fernberg Gallery (weird, I know…but good tackle is like art!)  Cabin #2, the Smith family also caught fish, ate fish, disappeared with their canoe for a day and took painting classes when they weren’t outside having fun.   I didn’t even see Cabin #8 for the entire weekend.  Same with Cabin #3 with the exception of them coming in to see about checkout today.  They wanted to go for one last, Jasper Lake kayak ride on this beautiful morning after our first major rain in months.  They are somewhere out there right now.   TreeTopHaus is still here until tomorrow and I haven’t seen them since yesterday morning.   For several days, the air smelled like pine needles, clean water and mouthwatering barbecue.  Yeah, it was really miserable here with the loons flying overhead calling.

I always conclude our guests are having a good time when we don’t see them for long periods and they check out at the last possible second.  The last thing I want to see are guests chomping on the bit to leave.   They rarely, if ever, seem to do that.

Art lessons with me are pretty hot right now.  I only teach related groups due to China virus  these days, but it seems to be working well.  Six, micro art lessons (2-hours) in four days was a lot of fun and many people took home a rock that they painted as a souvenir and inspiration to pursue painting.   I’m going to have to take another run to Lake Superior for more rocks!  Darn….

In other news, Ely held what could be defined as an almost impromptu (and greatest) Patriotic March on the 4th of July.  I attended as a member of my organization, Fight For Mining Minnesota.  We brought along my painted canoe that, when not being dragged around in patriotic marches, otherwise reside inside the Fernberg Gallery as a large historical display.  A handful of patriotic renegades in Ely cobbled together a parade that was probably the best I have ever seen.  They extended the route for social distancing purposes, worked with the Ely Police Department and City of Ely, acquired the permits, and even arranged insurance via a quick, really-successful, fundraiser.

It was about 92 degrees F, as I walked the route handing out “Iron Range Proud” yard signs along with two young and very motivated helpers.  Ahead of me were logging trucks, fire engines, classic cars, old jeeps, American flags and blue stripes to support law enforcement officers.  The wildly popular, Ely Klown Band played brashly and slightly out of tune to the beat of rattling, pounding drums.  There were heavily decorated ATV’s, side-by-sides, heavy-equipment trucks with Fight For Mining Minnesota banners, more Jeeps, motorcycles, someone with a really huge, old, twin-screw boat on a trailer that I was told was worth over “a hundred grand”, and on and on.  There were “Iron Range Proud” signs for as far as the eye could see plus we handed out another 250 of them to whoever wanted one.   Our Congressman Pete Stauber was there with a trailer and looked me up in the lineup to say “hi”.  As he shook his head in amazement, he said “Ely is going to be put on the map for this one”.  We were both in awe of the spectacle.  It was stunning.  There were Trump/Pence signs from one end to the other for as far as the eye could see.  No other signs were present.  None…

As I walked the street handing out signs next to my canoe (Greg & Jane Mosher pulling the trailer with their SUV in air-conditioned comfort), I got to an area where there were so many people yelling my name for signs and just to give me a thumbs-up, I didn’t know which way to look/turn/run next.   It was pretty crazy and lots of fun!

Then, there was Zup’s market.  I swear Jimmy Zupancich is one of Ely’s most creative business owners.  As per usual, they were almost shoveling candy with snow shovels out to the socially-distanced crowds.   Spectator kids were standing with buckets full of cavity forming goodness.  It was a sea of Tootsie Rolls and a wide variety of other sweets.  They were also tossing what looked to be packages of cookies, and all sorts of toys and potato chips.  As we approached the end of route, a Zup’s, un-decorated, windowless van, suspiciously squeezed off from an avenue into the parade line right behind me as I sat on the back of the trailer.  When it straightened out on the road, the side doors were FLUNG open.  I could have sworn I heard someone yell in a thick, Spanish accent “Say ‘Hello!’ to my little friend!”.  The innocent, unsuspecting bystanders were unmercifully pelted with even more bags of chips, plastic toys, toothbrushes (?) and cookies.  Jim Zupancich, Sr. was sitting white-haired in the passenger seat laughing his head off.

But the pièce de résistance was the funniest part of the parade:  Toilet paper.  Zup’s had a huge trailer full of toilet paper and was tossing rolls to the crowds.  I’ve never seen people holding toilet paper while standing on the side walks before.  This week’s Ely Echo is going to be pretty fun, I’m sure.

As the parade approached its end near Whiteside park, we had run out of Iron Range Proud signs.   Me and the little red-cheeked kid sat on the trailer until Mort Tome was seen standing on the north curb with a garden hose.  The kid and his sister (Mike Banovetz’ grandson and granddaughter), both stopped off to get hosed down in the street with cool water by Mort.   Towering Mort laughed in his usual, bellicose manner, the soaking wet kid thanked him and hopped back on the trailer. It’s little things like that which add life to any painting or story.

All this activity was officiated with  two USAF  F-16’s blasting low and westward down Sheridan Street (Steve Saari organized that) and ended in a raucous fireworks display on over Miners Lake later that evening.

It was great to “feel American” again.

You missed this year’s Ely parade.  Doesn’t mean you have to miss staying in the woods for a vacation in northern Minnesota.  We’re very proud to be Americans up here in Ely.