Geocaching Ely MN – What the heck is it?

Pronounced:   gee’ oh cashing

Definition:
ge·o·cach·ing
ˈjēōˌkaSHiNG/
noun
  • the recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website.

Get your cell phone or GPS, pick a cache that somebody hid somewhere and go find it.   It’s like a treasure hunt where you search for the treasure but leave it behind for someone else to locate.  Some are easy, others more difficult to locate.  Once you find the cache, you sign the log book and mark it down in you phone’s log.  There is more information on the site

Never did this before?  Here’s a quick video on how it is done:

Here are a few Geocache sites for the Ely, MN area.

It’s a great way to spend and afternoon when you aren’t fishing or hanging out at the beach.

Ely MN Resorts and Rental Cabins the old fashioned way

Staying in a nice cozy cabin in the northwoods of Minnesota on a lake, away from crowds, noise and pollution.   Breathe in that fresh, northern Minnesota air the morning after you’ve slept like a log all night long.  I just heard on Saturday one of our short-stay cabin guests regretted that their schedule would not permit them to stay for a longer duration.  They were in rental Cabin #5 and slept like a stone.  They were even a little late getting out the door because I think they were somewhat reluctant to leave.  The guy REALLY liked that cabin with the view and the knotty pine.

I grew up in the resort business right here at Jasper Lake Resort.  In 1982 we renamed it Northwind Lodge as it has been called for 33 years now.  From my earliest days to the present, the resort business has been a major, all consuming of my life.  As a kid, I grew up with a new batch of people living on our property every Saturday.  They were from Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and from as far away as New York City and Los Angeles, California and all other places in between.  I traveled the world through the eyes and words of our guests.  I heard funny stories, terrible tragedies, and life lessons that stuck with me to this day.   In exchange, we traded tales back with stories of bears and hippies and crazy things we’d seen on the portages and lakes surrounding Northwind Lodge .  There were guests that I hoped would come back because they were just plain fun when they were on vacation here.  The Kaufman clan from Bensonville, Illinois, the Dundek family from Oak Lawn, the Kusynskis from Hickory Hills, the Edwards from Indianapolis, The Freyfogles from Urbana, the Webbs from Racine,  the Niskas from Mountain Iron, the Walkers from Iowa,  are only a few of the many who made “work” not seem like “work”.  Over the years, I’ve concluded that being a resorter is not really a job.  It’s more of a lifestyle and every week, we get to see the extended family come and go.   As a kid, we really got attached to many of our guests and waving goodbye on Saturday was usually a very sad moment.  But there was never much time to lick wounds and be bummed because a new batch friends and family would be arriving at 3 PM and new week would again begin.

We had then, and still have now, a vast majority our customers to Northwind Lodge who call their cabin “home” for a week or two each summer.  A large percentage of our cherished guests have been staying here at Northwind Lodge for three generations spanning 30-50+ years!    Many of our guests also stay in the same cabins for literally decades.  What is really enjoyable is when an entire full house of guests all know each other and can’t wait to get together for another year.  They all know each other and go fishing together, sometimes watch each others grand kids. (Many third gen’s here), go out to dinner or just sit down by a campfire at the beach.  It’s then like a small, quiet neighborhood.  The nice part is that everybody comes, goes, and participates at will with no obligations and they all seem to have a good time.

Still today, we do cabin rentals at Ely MN the old-fashioned way.  We rent the cabins and our guests entertain themselves by doing those resort things like hanging out at the beach, reading a real paper book, going fishing and swimming, going to town for an evening out, taking day canoe trips into the BWCA and returning back to their cabins.  The one ultra-modern thing we have at Northwind Lodge is WIFI in all the cabins.  We fought it for years, but unfortunately, the “new” people coming in have “issues” if they can’t be “connected” all the time. (Yes – I’m being a bit dismissive in my comments about being connected all the time.  Take a break – you’ll live, literally.  Maybe, don’t let your time here slip by, but, if that floats your boat….)  Well, they can now remain “connected” because we have WIFI all over the main resort.  One of our guests is an IT guy and he worked his magic.   I’m still hoping that the computer-addicted will  fight the urge to stay in the cabin all day doing mindless facebooking and surfing when they could be in kayaks and on stand-up-paddle boards instead.   I can understand if they need to get online for work or to contact family or make a telephone call through Gmail.  But in my humble opinion, no one should let the week slip by staring at that digital demon when there is a beautiful lake just out the door.   Everybody can already do that at home.   When in the woods, be in the woods.  It’s an experience that is very hard to find in any metro areas.

Since I grew up here, I already know that it is beautiful especially with the creek going through the yard and access to the lake in about 90 seconds or less from all the rental cabins here at the lodge, but I’m used to it.   What really brings me out of my somewhat jaded view is hearing it from our guests.   This year in particular, I’ve heard “how beautiful it is here” many, many times.  When I hear that, I always wonder what it must be like where they are from.  My guess is that their backyard is also beautiful but in another way, perhaps.  Obviously, what makes it so special here is the pristine nature of the place.  We’ve been here for 76 years now with 71 of those years as a licensed resort.  Everything that was here then is still here now along with the traditions, memories and experiences of our many wonderful guests and friends.

You ought to give us a try, as well.  Two nights is our minimum stay requirement and it is really not enough time to let it all sink in.  Instead of packing in an extra Vegas trip where you can relax with hundreds of others sitting by a pool while getting annoyed by someone who may have imbibed a bit too much or on a cruise where you can stand in line waiting for food that someone sneezed on,  maybe come to the north woods and prepare to be blown away by the lack of people.  We also have a lack of street lights, timberwolves that howl in the distance, bears that occasionally snort around the cabins and loons who call all night long just to make sure you know they are still there.   (It was only in recent years that I suddenly realized that some of our guests are freaked out by the lack of street lights. Sorry, we are never adding street lights, ever.  Get a flashlight and suck it up!)     I cannot emphasize enough what it is like to wake up on a sunny or rainy morning in a cabin tucked away in the northwoods of Minnesota.  In fact, it’s hard to accurately describe.  One needs to experience it in person to actually understand it.  It will make you regret the end of your stay so enjoy it while you can and get a calendar.  Most of our returning guest “X” off the days like a prison sentence until the day they are released and can get back to their rental cabin at Northwind Lodge.

Rental Cabin #3 gets an upgrade

New roof and insulation package last fall to a new interior ceiling this spring, rental Cabin #3 got an upgrade.  There’s a bunch of cutting and nailing going on and the end result in the last part of the video.  I was happy with the end result.  It’s a neat little cabin.

Grab your significant other and come up for a week on the edge of Jasper Lake at this particular Ely MN resort!  218-365-4512

redrock@redrockstore.com

Suckers Spawning

Suckers Spawning

Suckers Spawning

It was Sucker Fest at Northwind Lodge on May 5th and for about two days.  I was working in Cabin 3 when I went down to Jasper Creek to to see if the suckers had come up the creek in the morning.   None were present.  A bit later in the day, they decided this day to be their day.

The water was low in the creek to begin with so the suckers were pretty shallow.   Suckers like hot weather if they can get it in the spring in northern Minnesota, and they will usually pile up in the creek.  There were some bunches of males and females – males have a subtle to not-so-subtle stripe on their sides and tend to be a bit smaller.  Sometimes, it is hard to tell just by looking at them.

I  went down to the creek with my sidekick, Delilah leading the way and the video sums it all up.

The next day, the temps dropped into the 40’s and then freezing and the suckers completely disappeared from the creek.  Then, somebody pulled the beaver dam out of Jasper Creek up at the culvert of the highway and the water became very high.  a major temperature drop combined with fierce rapids pretty much shut down the sucker spawn for 2015.  What you see in the video was the spawn for the season.  This is a good thing as we’d like to see sucker numbers drop as a lake will only support so many pounds of fish and every sucker removed opens up a space for another game fish.

Delilah had fun while it lasted.

Come dip your toe in the water!

ely resort rental cabins

We at Northwind Lodge want you to get your feet wet.  Just dunk one toe in the crystal clear water of Jasper Lake.  I mean, how long will that take?  Plus, in order to dip one toe in the water, you need to keep your balance.  How do you keep your balance?  You move slowly and deliberately.  You must plan your move and take your time.   That’s the proper way of getting your feet wet.

Now, imagine yourself taking your time, moving at your slower speed, enjoying the inviting gentle breeze that comes off the water.  There’s a loon calling off in the distance and a  river is running endlessly behind you, churning out that beautiful white noise as it tumbles into the lake where your toe is going to step.  You don’t hear the cars, you don’t hear the ever-present sounds of humanity as it normally surrounds you in your more hectic daily life.  You only hear the woods and the sounds here are so peaceful and different, your breathing slows down so you can hear some more.   It’s like a dessert that you never want to end and it doesn’t.  And so far, you only have your toe in the water.  It even gets better when you actually go on the water.  Then there is the night.  In the woods, with the clean air, you can see the billions of stars and planets above with unmatched clarity while the wolves howl in the darkness.

If you’ve never been to Northwind Lodge, we’ve put together a few “get your feet wet” packages for you to come and test the waters of Northwind Lodge.  You get a housekeeping cabin for two or three nights, a motor and boat, dinner at a nice restaurant for one evening in Ely all at special rates.  Click Here to see our Short Stay Cabin packages.  

So come up for a 2 night / 3 day or the 3 night / 4 day stay  at Northwind Lodge.  Go fishing, hang out at the beach, stay inside and read a good book, do whatever you want.  Get away from it all and take us for a test run.  If the shoe fits, we would be happy to have you come back and wear it some more!

Northwind Lodge is an awesome resort with many of our guests returning yearly for 30-50 consecutive years.   We hope you’ll like it here like they do.  Give us a call and let’s find a time and a cabin for you!  1-800-280-1078 

 

Bluegills and U-Boats

Using what whatever snow is left in the yard to get the Skidoo to the water, I drove out on the ice on Jasper Lake  on March 16 at 1:30 PM to set up a pup-up shelter for fishing.  It was warm out at about 40 degrees but like every other March, it was windy.   Blowing from the south, then the north, we ended up tying the 6 x 8 pop-up off from each end to my Skidoo and my dad’s 4-wheeler.  We were 100 yards off the beach of Northwind Lodge.

We made use of pre-drilled holes from the day before when we went fishing with Dave Oliver and Paul Haraldson, so setting up was quick.  We got inside the tent along with Delilah and began paying homage to the gods of bluegills by staring down the hole.  Boy, talk about getting a sore upper back and neck after doing that for 4 hours straight.

We dropped down various jigs a sparkly little spinners and they began to come in.  There were fewer today, but they were running bigger.  Nice sized, fillet-able fish swimming 5 to 7 feet below.  Today’s visibility was not as good as yesterday and we can never understand why.  Conditions were about the same with a partly cloudy day, but nonetheless, the sunnies below were bigger and a bit more picky.  All of a sudden, a 5 lb northern pick glided across in the shallow depths below.  The sunnies blew the popstand at that point and then some really nice sized largemouth bass came in for a look.  Even though the sunnies are good sized, those bass come in and they are huge.  2.5 to 4  pounders stopping in to see if they want that tiny #14 tungsten jig with a little bit of plastic on the hook.  It gets your adrenalin flowing because these are really nice fish. But nope, they swam by. After all that fish activity going by, it takes the bluegills about 30 minutes to come back after the head bluegill declares the coast to be clear.

I have 5 rods on the ice floor of our living room on the lake.  Each is rigged with a different jig & different plastics.  Most of the stuff I use is tungsten.  When the school is passing through, one must keep their interest for them to stick around.  So, if they are slow moving to one lure, crank up fast and drop another.  Must have been the air-pressure, but they were only moderately interested in what we were offering.  There was my dad setting the hook and saying “aarrggh!” and and me doing the same while declaring  “dang it!”.  The fish below would suck in a jig completely. To hook them requires an immediate hookset.  You’re like a coiled spring with a trip wire.  Trouble is that inexplicably, you can set the hook and miss them time and again despite their having inhaled the entire jig.  We call it “flipping them”  when we set a hook and it pulls them up and they flip a sideways somersault and swim away dazed but unharmed.  To avoid frequent flipping, we tried letting them take it for one second and they spit it out in slightly less than one second.  Their little bluegill tongues must quickly identify plastic.  We finally moved to tungsten bead head flies made by Cortland with no plastic and caught a few, flipped a few more.

Then, in a blast of sunfish panic, those slow-moving fish dispersed in all directions like spokes on a bicycle wheel.  Big northern coming through like a German U-boat on the hunt.  The bluegills beneath his level could hear the “ping” as the big green U-boat glided methodically overhead.  To hide, they descended deeper & deeper, closer to the bottom, holding their breath, beads of sweat rolling off their gill covers.  Minutes changed to hours as that big predator swam between them and the two faces staring down the holes in the ice above watching and waiting.  And waiting. And waiting.

Dang northern scared everybody off.  We sat for another 30 minutes with 5 bluegills on the ice and nobody was returning back to that spot.  My dad and I finally gave up.  We knocked down the tent, loaded the sled and cranked up our machines and headed home.   Had we caught every fish we saw including some very large perch, we’d have had fish laying all over the ice.  There certainly is no shortage of fish in Jasper.  Keeping them on the hook is the tricky part.

Filleting a Northern Pike (and all other fish)

STEP 1: Make first cut by grasping fish between the gills and poking knife into softer throat region ahead of the two front fins
Fillet a Northern Pike

STEP 2: Slide knife forward towards tail of fish between the two middle fins and stop by the bottom fin just in front of tail
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(Still) STEP 2: Slide knife forward towards tail of fish between the two middle fins and stop by the bottom fin just in front of tail
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STEP 3: Lay fish on side and make a vertical cut using a sawing motion down to the backbone taking care to NOT slice through the backbone.
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STEP 4: Turn your knife flat and parallel to the backbone. Saw along the backbone (You’ll hear rib-bones and “Y” bones being cut through) to the tail, removing the complete slab of fish meat (?) which is one fillet. Do this to each side of fish.
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STEP 4a: Cutting gets easier near the tail doe to no rib bones
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STEP 5: Remove the belly fin by slicing with the tip of your knife.
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STEP 5a: Removing fin is easy if you hold it up and slice it off
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STEP 6: Locate the row of rib bones on the fillet by feeling them with your finger. Then, place your knife edge right behind them and slice underneath. Remember to turn your knife blade up against the underside of the ribs immediately as you are making long, steady slices down the row of rib bones. The idea here is to remove the ribs without wasting meat.
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STEP 6a: After slicing about half to three quarters of the way under the ribs, hold the fillet down with your knife point, grasp the ribs and tear them out. This move greatly speeds up the process and helps if you have a lot of fish to fillet.
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STEP 7: Grasp the tail of the fillet with pliers and cut into flesh with blade while turning blade almost flat and sawing. Simultaneously pull with the pliers and push with the knife with a sawing motion. It helps to waggle your plier hand from side to side as your knife hand saws down the skin of the fillet.
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STEP 7a: Continue down the fillet. The feeling in the knife is one of slight tearing as it cuts. Too sharp of your blade angle and you slice through the hide. Too flat of a blade angle and you will leave meat on the hide. Your knife must be quite sharp and you’ll need to develop a feel.
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STEP 7b: If you will be transporting your fillets, turn your blade down and slice sideways leaving a patch of skin on the fillet for identification purposes.
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STEP 8: Completed Northern Pike fillets will look like this if done properly. If they look like they were driven over by a street sweeper, you’ll need a bit more practice.
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On the Beach at Northwind Lodge

Here’s a simple video of our beach area on Jasper Lake.  One of those boats should be yours for a week!

Welcome to Northwind Lodge!

Jasper Lake at Northwind Lodge beach

Nice, clean housekeeping cabins nestled in the woods along the southern shore on a gem of a lake called Jasper – that is Northwind Lodge.  We are an Ely, MN resort located in a wilderness setting,  far enough from civilization to enjoy the tranquility only true, northern Minnesota wilderness can provide.  With Jasper Creek winding it’s way through the resort, the enchanting white noise is unlike anything one can find in most place around the world.  How many places can you find where you can walk to a waterfall in under three minutes from your cabin?  Northwind Lodge is an amazing place with many interesting and long-time guests, several who’ve now stayed with us for the past 30-50 consecutive years!   Maybe it is time you began your own northern Minnesota tradition of stay at the Ely, MN resort called Northwind Lodge!