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.
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.
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.
Here’s wishing you all a wonderful 4th! Get out in the backyard and burn some good ol’ American hotdogs to celebrate! Remember who you are and who we all are! If you are in Ely, join the Patriotic March – line up by the school prior 1 PM. It’s going to be hot, damn hot, and we don’t care. I’m going to be there with bells on (or at least black jeans and a Fight For Mining Minnesota T-shirt). Continue social distancing and wear your mask if that is not possible. I’ll be handing out “IRON RANGE PROUD yard signs and will be wearing a blue stripe on my shirt to show my support for Law Enforcement Officers. For those who don’t like the stripe, I dare you to come try to peel it off. I’ll be carrying a roll of blue tape for anybody who wants to join the cause. We need to take back our country.
Happy 4th, everybody!
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.
For painting-specific programming we offer, visit our education site: intothebrush.org
Northwind Lodge, since the day it was started back in 1939 has always been about the great outdoors and water. Fishing, paddling, moving, etc., you can’t do it in a parking lot at Walmart – although they DO have the seagulls.
When you visit Northwind Lodge, especially in May/June, you can’t help but notice the constant chatter of birds. Everybody’s singing. I have to pay attention for them because I grew up here and have become a bit jaded. Yup, there are a zillion out there right now. After 59 years of being in the woods, you only notice the unusual sounds, sometimes. I notice the crashing of garbage cans as a bear is tossing it around and the barking of Delilah as she smells a bear in the distance sitting/waiting at the edge of camp for darkness to fall.
Three days ago, one of our guests in Cabin 3 when for a walk to Ojibway Lake. As he was returning down the road past the Fernberg Gallery, he thought he saw a bear ahead going to Cabin 3. So, he walked down to his cabin and the bear was nowhere to be seen. He moved to the front of the cabin and looked down the slope to the lakeshore – nothing there. He decided to walk back to the path at the corner of his cabin and intersect Cabin 7’s path right at the corner of Cabin 3. He walked straight south and a 300 lb. bear walked east from Cabin 7. Don and the bear met at the corner of Cabin 3.
Needless to say, there was a bit of shock had by all for one “Whoa!!!” moment! Don said he could have reached out and petted that bear between the ears without bending forward. They almost ran into each other and clearly, neither Don nor the bear makes any noise when they walk – an admirable quality for a human, and normal for a bear. Both Don and the very startled bear, reversed course quickly. Don went into his cabin and the bear went into his woods. The bear was all about social distancing.
Just a day before Don met the bear, the Smith family had a great time outside in what was really spectacular weather on Jasper Lake. It’s always been about being outside at Northwind Lodge. Our guests seldom come to look out the cabin windows. They can do that at home. This is what is done at Northwind Lodge when we aren’t trying to pet the bears. (Don’t mess with the bears, ever. They only look cuddly. Not cuddly at all. Opposite of cuddly. Better off hugging a cactus. Let them pass freely -scream loudly – and only observe, always!)
Are you sick of being cooped up with Covid drama? If you are well, come on up! Get away from the craziness!
218-365-5489 Northwind Lodge – Jasper Lake, Ely, MN
Our first weekend with lodge guests went by beautifully. We had sunny blue days, temps in the high 60’s, low 70’s and everybody was hiding somewhere. Well, hiding is perhaps the incorrect word but one party was fishing from their kayaks on neighboring Triangle, another took their canoe on a day canoe trip from Lake One to Ojibway and another spent their days fishing on Jasper. Sounds like everybody caught fish, too. Usually, when the days are this beautiful, fish are less cooperative. Apparently, the fish are fed up with quarantine as well.
Two of our our groups stopped in to see my growing, but un-hung art collection. That’s always fun for me. Many paintings have stories and while socially distancing, I waved my arms, pointed and told a few. It’s a bohunk thing.
I spent a good part of the time painting and figuratively “guarding the fort”. It’s insanely quiet so I’ve been able to get a long way on a whimsical landscape I working on right now. It’s almost done. Then, it’s back to a larger commission for which I developed painter’s block. Going whimsical/abstract-ish, helps me break out of the creativity killing fog that sets in once in a while.
For those of you sick and tired of watching and waiting with this China plague, if you are healthy, you can come out and play in the woods. Please practice social distancing when in the presence of people outside of your group. (yes – we know, we don’t like it either but it’s ridiculously easy here) Stay in a nice housekeeping cabin for ONLY $89.95 for the first 2 people and $10 each additional person. That’s for any cabin! (We try to fit it to your needs and size. Taxes not included. Total 9.875% Three night minimum rental required.) These rates apply THROUGH May 26. We still have openings and we’re a Mom & Pop resort, not a gargantuan center on a highly populated lake. We are surrounded by the BWCA. Bring your canoe. Go take a day trip. Hang out on Jasper. Roast a steak on the Weber. Live the simple life in the woods. Come look at art.
Give us a call. It’ll most likely be me answering. If I’m not in, please leave a message. We’ll call back. 218-365-5489