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.

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.

Come Stay, Come See – Pack it all in?

I have to laugh a little.  The world, under digital “assault” and influence has become a bit silly in how it seeks recreation these days.  I’m referencing the “need everything/do everything that-can-be-fit-into-a-day” crowd who kindly call to find out more about making a reservation to stay here at Northwind Lodge.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about anything but I am marveling at what appears to me to be either a really high set of vacation expectations or a complete lack of common sense or a little of both.

We get calls from new guests who want to stay here at the lodge.  Many times, they are only willing to commit for two nights.  That’s fine – we are very happy to get them here to see what they’ve been missing for all this time.  But, in the reservation process, with knowing that Check In is usually 3:00 PM or later and Check-Out is 9 AM, two nights and about two days is not a lot of time.  Heck, you just get here and it’s time to go already.  (We hear that all the time.)

The interesting part is the initial phase of making the reservation.  Now everything is laid out in the website as to available activities here.  Nonetheless, I think they just need to hear a human say the activities roster on the phone.  As a result, they want to know what species of fish are in Jasper Lake (Large/smallmouth bass, sunfish, northerns, perch and some walleyes) plus they want to know what they are biting on (three weeks into the future – OK, we’ll guess), and if they will be catching fish (another guess – Most Certainly, Sir! – 6 to 10 hours).

Then, many need to know what the hiking options are (Blackstone/Secret Trail – 3 hours, Kawishiwi Falls Trail 1 -hour, Bass Lake Trail 3-hours) and how difficult/easy they are.  Then, they want to know what there is to do in Ely (Wolf Center – 3 hours, Bear Center- 3 hours, shopping in Ely – 3 hours).  Then they need to know what dining options there are in town (Italian – Sir G’s, Nouveau – Insula, Chocolate Moose,  American-Evergreen Restaurant, Rockwood, Steak House Gators Cheese Emporium,  Fast – Dairy Queen, Subway, and a few others I’m forgetting here.  Each restaurant will burn up about 2-3 hours of time.

After that, they need to know if they can fit in a Boundary Waters Day Canoe trip to an area that will have few people (Sure, how fast can you paddle?).  That’s another 6 hours minimum.  Many times, they will need us to rattle off all the entry points (Moose Lake, Snowbank Lake, Lake One, Ojibway Lake, Fall Lake, Wood Lake) that surround us for their consideration before deciding to pull the trigger on a two-night stay here at the lodge.

OK, at this point, knowing that it is two whole nights and about the equivalent of two daylight days, you may want to do the math and add up some of the hours.   Usually after that barrage of questions in making time-management decisions, we see people checking in, going to town to have dinner, and oversleeping the following morning by about 2 hours.  At about 11 AM, they are up and around saying they “usually don’t oversleep like this at home”.   Then, some head down to the lake and sit in the Adirondack chairs and look out across the water.  Others head out in a kayak and enjoy the day.  Then, they come in for a sandwich and later, check out our store and then take a nap.  Then, maybe a hike on the gravel road to Ojibway Lake and it’s time to grill a steak and have a beer or glass of wine.  Then a nap before bedtime.  Maybe sit by a fire at the beach.

After that, they wake up the next morning and have to check out at 9 AM.

I grew up right here and for 48 years have observed this going on for all these years.  In my opinion, two nights at a region like this is  great, but doesn’t quite hit the mark for the vast majority of vacationers.  In pre-trip decision making,  one needs to realize that in fresh air surrounded by the incredibly beautiful area called “Ely” and particularly at Northwind Lodge, the activity list usually gets chucked and time speeds up, even in a week long stay.

So, in making plans to run all over the state in a week-long whirlwind tour, give that some thought.  It’s not Wally World and Youtube and in reality,  you most likely won’t be getting a heck of a lot done in just two nights.

Stay a bit longer, plan on wasting a few of  your days snoring.  Then go paddle and hike and fish and shop and explore.

Birding With Lori at Northwind Lodge – Who Knew It Could Be So Much Fun!

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

As the summer winds down in the North Woods so does migratory bird watching. The Warblers are getting prepared for their southern decent to their winter home. As our group heads north from Illinois for our late summer fishing adventure, I may be fortunate enough to view a few birds before they are gone.

Two years ago we came up to Jasper Lake as usual, for our fun fishing frenzy. The first few days the Warbler were everywhere in the trees and shrub.  The Worm Eating Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler and the Pine Warbler were all easy to spot. The next day GONE. I was disappointed to say the least. Over the winter months I perused the idea of heading to Jasper Lake and Northwind Lodge in the early summer when the Wood Warblers would be active and singing. So I called Joe and booked a cabin for mid June. My mom and I packed our field guides and binoculars and headed north, leaving the other three of our fishing party at home. Nope-no fishing this trip.

We were not disappointed. Not only could we bird watch taking short outings down Fernberg Trail (which is really a road), we birded right out our cabin window while eating breakfast. The small warblers would stop by for a few seconds on a branch or pine. The Redstart, Black and White, Yellow Rump, Blackburian, Chestnut Sided, Northern Parula, Cape May, Nashville, Yellow, Magnolia-warblers all. They abound in the North Woods. Not to mention the beautiful Purple Finch. With the cabins surrounded by trees there was never a dull moment during the day light hours. In the summer those hours are quite extensive. In fact I’m not sure if it ever truly got dark. In the evenings we would sit by the window and play cards, which would take us longer than normal due to the fact that if a bird landed, down would go the hand and up with the binoculars for a closer look at the small creatures.

I’ll try some imagery here: Imagine sitting on a cabin deck, bacon frying on the stove, coffee in hand, listening to the soft song of the woodland warbler. A creek is running in the background along with the calming sounds of the lake. A morning summer’s breeze is whistling through pines. Just sitting-waiting for a view of the songbird working its way through the trees.

Ok Birders have I sold you yet? I should also mention our other sighting:  The Common Loon with it’s sorrowful call, the Bittern (which I thought for an hour was a stick, the American Bald Eagle (mature and immature), the Commom Merganzer,  the White Throated Sparrow, the Song Sparrow nesting, the Veery,  the Downy Woodpecker, the Brown Thrasher, the White Crowned Sparrow, the Blue Heron and the Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker, Blue Gray Gnatcatcher and Flycatchers of different varieties one being the Phoebe.

In a few weeks our fishing group will be heading north again for our FFF (Fun Fishing Frenzy) The warblers won’t be there but my memories of June will be. By the way I did fish a couple hours (literally) in June and pulled in a nice Large Mouth Bass and a 6 Northern Pike. I’m not allowed to add those to our FFF contest. HA!

This Excellent Blog Post Written by Lori Wilson

Polka Time at the Beach

Nothing says “fun at the beach” like a polka in northern Minnesota.   This is my dad playing the song that I remember most as a child growing up, the Tick Tock Polka.  I was always fascinated at how loud his accordion was back then, and like comfort food, that particular polka is very meaningful to me.

My Dad learned how to play while still a 12 year old kid and I remember the story of how when he was in the army in Korea, some of the brass found out that he could play and they miraculously dug up an accordion for him.

In this video of 2015 he’s now 83 years old.  So, for as long as Northwind Lodge (Jasper Lake Resort) has formally been a resort in Lake County, my dad has been playing his accordion.

That’s a lot of history at this Minnesota resort.


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