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.

Social Distancing Guidelines at Northwind Lodge – Ely Minnesota

Social Distancing Guidelines 

We’ve been social distancing for 76 years at Northwind Lodge on Jasper Lake by Ely, MN.  We just never had a fancy name for it other than “going out on the water” or “fishing”.  At Northwind Lodge, our guests “virtue signal” by disappearing in kayaks, boats and canoes.  We all feel safer when they are out on the water doing what people have been doing for the last 76 years here.    The closest human can be anywhere from 100 feet to a half mile away.  Some would conclude that some of our guests are less into virtue signaling & social distancing and more into being anti-social.  We all can appreciate that. It works well.  If you just want to wave and hit the water, that is your prerogative.

Whatever title you want to assign it, there is a lot of open space here at Northwind Lodge and our guests seem to really be enjoying it this summer and last summer, and the summer before that, etc.  We are very fortunate to have a lot of room for our guests to spread out and have a great vacation.  …and that’s not to imply we have guests who are anything less than wonderful people.  We have really great guests and they all get along.  It’s just times such as these (well, this IS the first) wherein having space and a beautiful wilderness resort makes sense to get out of the chaos of the world to hide for a very relaxing week.

Relaxation redefined: We’ve had a bear in the yard for the last 4 days.  People have shot videos of him.  He’s a big one and some people get twitchy around bears.  So far, everybody here has been OK.  Whacking garbage cans and making a little noise, then he’s gone into the night.  Typical bear….


The following photos are by one of our guests, Ashley Myhre.  She and family made a fun vacation great along with art lessons to boot.  Thanks, Ashley!

Jasper Lake evening - Northwind Lodge
Jasper Lake evening – Northwind Lodge
Jasper Lake morning - Northwind Lodge
Jasper Lake morning – Northwind Lodge
Sundown on Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge, Ely MN
Sundown on Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge, Ely MN
Heading home on Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge, Ely MN
Heading home on Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge, Ely MN
Out by the Rocks on Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge, Ely, MN
Out by the Rocks on Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge, Ely, MN
Through the narrows of Jasper Lake from Northwind Lodge
Through the narrows of Jasper Lake from Northwind Lodge
Jasper Lake evening - Northwind Lodge
Social distancing at its finest on Jasper Lake from Northwind Lodge, Ely , MN
Pointing west on beautiful Jasper Lake from Northwind Lodge, Ely MN
Pointing west on beautiful Jasper Lake from Northwind Lodge, Ely MN
3 kayaks from Northwind Lodge floating on Jasper Lake
Ignoring the rest of the world on Jasper Lake from Northwind Lodge

Painting Cool Art – in the Woods near Ely

From what I can see, there are not too many resorts in NE Minnesota who have a resident artist on staff who teaches painting lessons.  I’m not trying to toot my own horn here so much as point out what really makes Northwind Lodge a different northwoods experience than all the rest.  We are the only resort where our guests get to go fishing, paddling, and play outside in real wilderness with the option to  visit an art gallery and take art lessons – all just steps from one’s cabin.   Heck, you can even commission  a painting to be done, here.   That’s definitely not “in the ordinary” among “ma & pa” resorts.

So, think about this:  Your family comes up and avoids the crowds.

Go fishing.  Take a kayak out.  Sit outside the cabin and listen to the birds.  Take an art lesson with only your family members.  Barbecue.  Sit by a fire at the beach in the evening. (RULE:  Last one who leaves is responsible for putting it out dead with water – we don’t need a forest fire).  Go back to your cabin.   Avoid petting any bear in the dark.  Sleep like a log.  Ignore the outside-world insanity.  Take advantage of our variable internet connection and ignore the internet.   It’s win-win.

Most recent art lessons at Northwind Lodge.

 

 

Call to reserve your cabin at Northwind Lodge, 15 miles NE of Ely, MN.  We’re 5 miles south of the border and surrounded by the Boundary Waters park on three sides.  We’re easy to get to and enjoy.

218-365-5489

For painting-specific programming we offer, visit our education site:  intothebrush.org

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May & Memorial Weekend Special – NEW! Personal Shoppers!

We all need a break from Covid-19.    While we all struggle with getting back to normal, we do have an advantage out here in the woods.  Unlike every metro, or big commercial operation, we are not an overdeveloped facility with large numbers of people moving around, big meeting rooms, etc.   Social distancing is very easy.  If you don’t have mask on when you leave your cabin, nobody’s going to shame you if you even see anybody.  That’s the nature of living in the woods when the closest cabin is 100 feet away through the woods.

Jasper Creek in early May with Cabin 3 in the background
Jasper Creek in early May with Cabin 3 in the background – at Northwind Lodge

Our guests arrive to relax and enjoy themselves here at  Northwind Lodge, a traditional, “ma & pa”  Minnesota resort.  I was once told by a MN state official that small resorts are a dying breed and our relevance was fading as to our importance in tourism.  I wish I could find that dude now.  I wonder how his big convention centers on over-populated lakes with a spas, restaurants, and golf courses are doing right now?   Sorry,  but after that insult to our type of lodging experience for many years by people who were supposed to be helping, I feel the need to rub this new truth into his face just a bit.  Don’t worry, I’m working through it….

New for 2020 – Personal Shoppers!  

If you feel you don’t want to go shopping, we can do that for you.  Put together a list, work with us over the phone or email, and for a cost 10% of  your bill at the grocery store, we’ll get your groceries for you.    (If your total bill is $200, your Personal Shopper cost is $20)  We have good groceries in Ely with two stores available.  We’ll put them in your cabin fridge for you.  If you need an item that you forgot from your main grocery list,  (if you can wait a bit) we’ll take a run to town for you at our earliest convenience if we don’t have the item here.  Hey, gas is cheap and we want you to have a good time.  Just know that this is Ely and we may not have hydroponically-grown arugula and radicchio.  You might have to settle for romaine.   Once you get here, you can be on your own, enjoying your exotic salad and listening to the loons.  They have been here for about two weeks at this writing. Yes, they are noisy right now as you would expect to hear from a jaded dweller of the north woods who is writing this blog post.  Every day at Northwind Lodge is like watching a Tarzan movie, whereupon deep in the jungles of Africa, a hired loon from northeastern Minnesota is calling hauntingly in the background just before the drums begin their chant of danger.   Cue the loon!  (That loon looks silly with all that bling and those blue sunglasses he wears inside all the time…and, what’s with that five pound wristwatch, anyway!?  Actors….SMH…)

Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge, May 2020
Note the clarity of the water here in NE Minnesota.

So, let’s get back to normal together.

We know times are tough on many fronts for all of us.  We are feeling it all too well.   But Northwind Lodge is here for you to provide an escape that won’t break your bank account while giving you some respite from the new, untamed, wilderness out there.  We’ve been doing this since 1944 officially and actually a bit earlier than that.  That’s 76 years, now!  How many places do you know have been around for 76 years and run by the same family in the same spot on the same lake?  Apparently, we are NOT fading away.

Beginning May 11th through May 26th – Rate special!

Cabins for 2 people at only $89.95 a night.   Three (3) night minimum stay requirement, and $10.00 per night for each extra per person.     Personal Shopper fee is 10% of your grocery list bill.  Of course, should you have a question about any of this, give us a call or message us in Facebook under our “Northwind Lodge” page

Our intention is to help get back us all back to normal so you can buy your own beans & weenies – not that we mind one bit.   We’d love to have you come stay.  Our only request is that you minimize your human contact on the way here and, of course,  please stay home if you are ill.  If you have a mask and want to wear it, please do.   Please bring your own bath towels, personal effects and fishing gear.  We do have some tackle here for sale.  Motors are available for rent on request.  Kayaks and beach canoes are free to use.  Have a fire by the beach or waterfall but give everybody some space.  It’s pretty much common sense for the times.  Campfire conversation from 6 feet away is optional and doesn’t spread anything but maybe some humor and good cheer.

The deposit required is $300 or the cabin total, which ever is less at the time of the reservation.  Sorry, but we cannot refund deposits for any reason.  Please be able to commit to the time you have reserved.  Thank you for understanding.

Call now 218-365-5489 to book your respite at Northwind Lodge. (you may need to leave a message – we’re running around outside, in and out.  We’ll call you back.)

Jasper Lake from Northiwnd Lodge
Deep blue water, no people.

 

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Enduring being stuck at Northwind Lodge, Ely MN

Here’s what I have to put up with every day when working at Northwind Lodge. I’m installing new front windows in Cabin 3, and this is what I am forced to look at every, single, day. Be thankful that you too, are NOT here having to endure this. You get to look at crowds, and cars, and buildings. All I get to look at is nothing. No noise, no distractions, no robberies, no murders, no great WIFI….just this lake and those pesky loons calling in the background. It’s tough to take.

If you would like to spend your time being miserable – ya poor lug – give us a call at 218-365-5489

Ugh – this is what June looks like at Northwind Lodge near Ely, MN.

Fishing’s Fine at Northwind Lodge!

Boy, we’ve been having a GREAT summer this 2017!  Big fish, little fish, middle fish – everybody’s livin’ the dream!  We’ve been having all this fun despite the weather not really cooperating with us.  Lots of rain, but the fish remain undeterred as well as our great guests!    These are just June 2017 photo’s by our guests at Northwind Lodge!

Check here for last minute cabin deals – If you don’t come up and stay, you’ll be missing all the fun!  Start with Cabin Specials here!

 

The Wood Lake Experience at Northwind Lodge

Wood Lake is a BWCA lake which means no motors, cans, bottles, and you have to fill out a day-use permit at the head of the portage.   The portage is moderately rugged and 210 rods long.  A rod is 16.5 feet according to the King’s measuring system of a zillion years ago.  Translation:  The Wood Lake Portage is about .58 miles long one way.  It’s all downhill going in and all downhill  uphill coming back.  There are rocks and mud and logs and on occasion, bug who help you walk.  Once you are on the lake and in a Northwind Lodge rowboat.  everything levels out plus the bugs usually stay on shore at the portage namely – to help you get back out.  If that sounds horrible, it’s really not.  Take your time.  Wear some bug dope but don’t slather it on automatically like so many people do.  Have it handy and if you need it, apply it while on the portage.

Once on Wood, you will need to follow a river with no current for about 3/4 of a mile to get to the actual lake to fish.  Wood can have some rather spectacular fishing.  On the lake itself, you will see no man made structures of any kind.  We’ve actually had a few people literally freak-out by this, but that is the actual beauty of the lake.  And for those Boundary Waters zealots who thank the government for the lack of man-made structure – Wood Lake has NEVER had a permanent, man-made structure on it.  We used to be able to use little motors on it but they took that away in 1978 under RARE II, (a last-minute rider to the Boundary Waters law PL 95-495) which was signed by Carter and designed to take Northwind Lodge & Deer Trail Lodge out completely -I am now convinced.  Well, guess what?  We’re still here….but I digress…

Fishing from a row-boat actually ended up with us traveling  much farther into Wood Lake which is 453 acres in size,  with no fear and a little bit of planning.   Back when we had motors, we used to have to watch our available gasoline and our range ended up being limited.   The thought at the time was that if we ran out of gas, we would have to do the “impossible” and row all the way back to the portage. (Impossible and a super-human feat, we thought!)   In 1978, we discovered that we could actually row much farther in a day than the motor would take us plus instead of cranking up and moving to the other side of the lake when biting was slow, we worked our current spots harder and branched out from there.  By changing our technique, we actually ended up catching more fish with less weight and extra concerns even when it was really rough.  We also learned a heck of a lot about boat handling in wind.  People who only use motors really don’t know a heck of a lot – no offense – in controlling a boat when the motor conks out.   (They are so screwed while bobbing helplessly in the whitecaps!)  Relying on that motor all the time, especially in a wilderness situation, can be a false sense of security.  Don’t misunderstand me, however.  I find nothing wrong with a motor on the back of a boat, but there is a heck of a lot to be said about having your oars and knowing your abilities.  With that in mind, go to Wood Lake and plan on spending the day, taking your time and fishing all along the way. Do not plan on “fishing here” and then decide to crank up and go to the other side of the lake to try it there.  Because you are rowing and moving slowly but steadily, you fish while you move and you never know what you may discover or catch along the way.  Without all the running around people do with outboards, you actually spend more time with your lines in the water which ultimately improves your catch.

So, consider taking a trip into the designated wilderness for a day when staying at Northwind Lodge.  It will be a memorable experience and sometimes cold and wet – but your won’t forget it.   NOTE:  Wood Lake rental boats are only available for registered guests of Northwind Lodge.

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Thanks to Rob and Jake Croushore for the great pics of their recent trip to Wood!

Spring is in the Air – the birds are cheepin’- the ground is still frozen

We are now in the “mud season” of the five seasons of the year.  Fortunately, it has been a bit dry.  Unfortunately, the ground is still frozen all over the place and here is the proof:

About 125 feet away from our permafrost.  We have this:

As soon as the ground thaws we’re firing up the hammers, saws, skidsteer and more for our guests!  The docks are in, logs from last summer’s massive blowdown on our beautiful beach waiting to be picked up and we are only weeks away from putting the finishing touches on this season’s new adventure.  Stay tuned for more updates.