Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Greetings from us at Tuscarora!

It’s December and we have been dumped on by the big silent snows. We’re welcoming cabin guests as they come to spend the holidays at Tuscarora. The Boundary Waters are covered with snow and ice, the woods are gorgeous. It’s been cold, crisp, sunny, perfect.
Many of you know that we had an unusual May this year---too hot, too dry, too fast. On May 5th, while there was still a little ice on the Cross River, frozen ground and no leaves on the trees, we had a windy 90 degree day. The Ham Lake Fire started a mile away, raced behind our yard, and left us shaking. We are thankful no one was hurt. We grieved for our neighbors and friends that lost property, for the acres that burned. Miraculously, the white pines and most of Tuscarora property were left untouched. In the midst of the evacuation time, the grace and generosity of the people around us were as remarkable as the tiny green shoots that were already popping.
As the fire cooled, we worried about Tuscarora. There was a fair amount of fiery news---would the guests still come? They (you!) did, and we are so very thankful. We continue to be amazed by the rapid recovery of the woods. The folks camping in the wilderness haven’t been disappointed---the fires of the last two years have not devastated the wilderness experience; not at all.
The summer buzzed by. We had some amazing rains in September and big snowfalls in December. The water levels were high when the lakes froze; Spring 2008 should be great for opening paddling!
The high points of our year continue to be our interactions with really cool people as the seasons pass ---guests, staff, family, friends, neighbors--- even the firefighters who lived here briefly on the front lines with Andy and changed our lives. As we reflect on 2007, we realize we are fortunate to have these experiences and memories of many different people that cross into our lives. We are so much richer because of these relationships.
We’re looking forward to some of the festivals happening on the Gunflint Trail this winter and spring! If you are looking for the next opportunity to visit the Gunflint Trail, check out the agendas for the Winter Tracks Festival (February 28- March 2, 2008) and the Gunflint Green Up Tree Planting scheduled this spring (May 2-3, 2008) .
Some thoughts on trip planning:

On the U.S. side, the United States Forest Service is currently accepting permit lottery applications through January 15, 2008. After this date we can still get you a permit, but we encourage you to book as soon as you can commit to an entry date. The BWCA fees have changed this year: Starting 2008 BWCA overnight camping visitor permit costs are $16/ adult and $8/ youth. Permit reservation fee remained at $12. To make a permit the United States Forest Service asks for a permit deposit of $44.
For Quetico Park in Canada we can reserve a backcountry permit for you exactly 5 months prior to your date of entry. Remote Border Crossing Permits are still acceptable border crossing documents when traveling into Canada. We can give you specific information about the area affected by fire. Whether you wish to experience wilderness forest fire ecology for yourself or steer around fire impacts, we will listen to you and build a custom canoe adventure which meets your expectations. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss (1-800-544-3843) or you may review some route offerings online at our new trip route planning tool on our website

There is no better time to think about your 2008 canoe county adventure!

Happy New Year to you all! Thank you for supporting Tuscarora through 2007!

Happy Holidays!

Andy, Sue, Shelby, Dan and the Staff

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree

The best spot we've found to cut down a Christmas tree is under the power lines---the power company must clear those areas out every 10 years or so---so the balsam trees are just perfect.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Shelby and I were home Friday night, it was dark, it was December, it was time to make lefse. So we invited some neighbors (where we live, this is a very broad term), and had an impromptu lefse making party.
The ricing of the potatoes is really a road block for me---so when our friend Stephen gave us a paper plate full (beginning of November), and he said that he used instant potatoes, I was much more inspired. Stephen has earned expert status--in addition to starting in November, he helped the Lutheran women with the lefse production at church. That’ll do it.
Of course we invited his family---he brings his own grill, rolling pin, prepared dough. Their dough was perfect. I figure mine might have been more authentic, because my Norwegian ancestors had to be resourceful and may not have always had the perfect ratios for the recipe. If they had used the industrial gourmet instant potatoes in little balls instead of flakes, they would have had to keep adding milk and butter and use the puree wand to get rid of the little powdery balls in the mix. Then, enough flour to facilitate the rolling.
The Ahrendt grill didn’t produce the perfect lefse, but it was warm and fresh and we had butter and sugar, and I heard no complaints. At any rate, it was a perfect way to spend a very chilly evening.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Deep Freeze

Wow. This is what we said when we got in the car this morning and the thermometer read -10. We’ve dropped right into the deep freeze. I like it. It means the skies are my favorite color blue and the clean snow clumps don’t melt off of the pines.
We’ve fallen into one of the familiar parts of this season---long drives home from the kids’ hockey/skiing practices. The dark tunnel of the Gunflint Trail facilitates some great chats.
After we pass the South Brule river, the Gunflint Trail starts twisting and then we come upon the moose. As long as I’m not in a hurry, ( been trying not to be lately), it’s such a comforting pleasure to see them again. Usually we see their glowing eyes first. They hesitate to leave the salty road to forge the deep snow. The blank look they give us, along with their lankiness reminds me so much of our first dopey yellow lab named Buck. Finally they lumber along and their furry rumps disappear into the woods. It’s all part of the rhythm really, this regular occurrence defines the winter time of the year.

I know the moose population is on the decline. During hunting season, I absolutely hate to see their heads in the beds of pick-ups. With the increasing deer population, I’m afraid that the brain worm that the deer can carry will wipe out the moose. So when they now re-appear on the Gunflint Trail to lick the salt, I am relieved. Another year, and it looks like they’re going to be all right.

Monday, December 3, 2007