Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winter Tracks Wonder

I've got coffee and the couch...and a dog who manages to arrange herself so that she can rest one paw and her chin on me, and keep one eye on the bird feeder if needed, and sneak in a quick kiss if I talk sweetly to her...really nice early morning moment.
The temperature is already above zero, and the sun was up before I was.

Last night we went to Trail Center where the local radio station was broadcasting "The Roadhouse" show as part of the Gunflint Trail Winter Tracks's a tradition that we've come to look forward to. The restaurant was hopping, we knew people at several tables... and I always get a kick out of the whole live radio bit. The interviews make me laugh a little because I feel like we're faking it, complete with great realistic props--headphones and the kids and I used to play with at the Children's Museum when they were little.

About 6pm multiple pagers went off....many members of the Gunflint Trail Fire Department were in the crowd. We listened to the call for an ambulance..... An unscheduled event for this family of six---who had been on John Silliman's Guided Snowshoe Hike Friday afternoon, and might have been getting ready for the Guided Wolf Howl Trek? I don't know.

At any rate, the mom and dad (a former EMT) headed down in the Gunflint Trail Ambulance, with several other EMTs from the department. They had to pull the ambulance over a couple of miles from town, so Dad could safely deliver his 5th child..a healthy little unscheduled Winter Tracks Wonder.

We have big plans for today....the kids will carve a snow block, my friend Kelly is doing presentation, Tuscarora broomball at 2, dinner at Gunflint Lodge... great fun.

but I'm musing over the unplanned events of life, sometimes the most wonderful of all!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wipe-out Hill

Thanks to Treg for sending photos of some of Cook County's upstanding citizens.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Here's Lonnie

Lonnie Dupre is an honest-to-goodness Polar Explorer. His occupation in life, if you can imagine. Sometimes he does carpentry work, public speaking, writing, advocating for the Arctic sea. But I believe when he fills out the forms that ask for profession, he gets to write in Polar Explorer. Definitely a write in, because I'm betting it's not on any drop down list.

(photo from

He's been preparing for his next adventure: The Peary Centennial Expedition...leaving on Friday. To the north pole (photo from

Kelly and Lonnie are very welcoming when I'm loitering in their little artsy energy efficient house. Kelly Dupre and I have been working on a book project--more on that later. Kelly has an entire drop down list of her own---besides being the Beloved Wife of a Polar Explorer. Not to worry, even if they look like little rodents. These paws were custom sewn for the expedition.

You can see that Kelly doesn't mind taking a break from her artwork to do the important taxing job of testing of the equipment...

So....what are the job qualifications of an Explorer? Adventurous, inventive , playful, congenial?? Check check check check.

Or's genetic. Lonnie is actually related to Jacques Cartier...the French Explorer that claimed Canada for France. Can you see the resemblance??? Note that Lonnie is testing the sausage that he's bringing on his trip. .....a little moldy tasting, if you ask me.

He's been trying to gain weight since Christmas. Stock up on calories...every bit helps. Somehow that part isn't working for him. A weird perspective really.

It makes sense that there is so much inventing going on...because once they get to the Arctic...the group has to be self sufficient. He's been on so many trips, he knows exactly what he wants, and how he needs to modify his equipment.

I'm always interested in the little to keep warm, how to keep ice out of the sleeping bags,.. how much of what they plan to eat every day...

The hand crafted bindings to match the gigantic boots...

the "skins" for the bottom of the skis,

he stove system with custom made

pot contraption.

The muffin things were from a special trip to a certain Thunder Bay Bakery...hundreds that were transformed into some sort of hockey puck wheat cracker things when dried out in the oven. Apparently they'll just put them in their pockets during the day, and they won't even crumble. Not so easy to chew either, but they are sort of tasty.

Everything was dried out or partially cooked. A lot a lot of bacon to cook for 8 weeks of bacon cranberry pemmican...

Maybe you can already tell that Lonnie is one of the good guys...he and Kelly will be busy bees between now and can follow him as he heads to the North Pole.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Winter Tracks

Next week is our Gunflint Trail annual winter wing ding: Winter Tracks.....check out the schedule-full of fun and frolics....

On Saturday from 2-4pm...Tuscarora hosts a broomball game. Come and play with us!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Winter Frolics

The kids are off this week…the sun is more intense in February, even if the days start out really really cold.

We skied to the Seagull Lake Palisades on Sunday. We’re all pretty happy to trek up there and hike up the back of the Palisades

….but none as happy as Denali. She sure models the whole “live in the moment” philosophy.

The Danfeld-Martin driveway may be difficult to navigate during the rain

on an early February day...but it is the BEST SLIDING HILL IN MINNESOTA. I'm sort of old, and I've been around the Minnesota sliding hills in my life. And I'm not exaggerating. It was AWESOME!!!

We competed in the annual Schobrichibiner ski/snowshoe race. We’re proud to say that nobody broke their skis,

even though almost everybody wiped out at least once.

We sure like those Schnobrichs.

Don’t believe it for a minute if somebody tells you

that only hicks live in Hovland.

Daniel is still playing hockey…and that is a carpool trick to get to Silver Bay for practices and games. He loves it, and is very grateful ( meaning helpful and appreciative)---he’s a very happy middleschooler around the house this year.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Last weekend, I went to a funeral. My mom's sister Kay died. Something about the day, something about the funeral, something about being in the 2nd row behind the immediate family, really touched me. I know it is all part of the cycle of life, but when I stop to reflect on it...well....the little details of the day fall off, and the big important things, and the significant people in my life slide into perspective.

All 12 cousins from that side of the family came...from California, Washington DC, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin....

All the cliches flooded in. How is it that we all got so OLD? These did it come to be that we're all in our 40s?? When did that happen? We had some time to reminisce together, but I've been doing plenty of that myself this week. Those years....between birth and age 16...they really are larger than life. They have such an impact on who we become.

They're brief, they're short-lived, but they're hugely important.

I've been looking at old photos of those days. My memories with my siblings and cousins---almost always outside, in the lake, in the woods, on the farm.

I never realized how LUCKY we spend time together, and to spend time in the natural world. We were lucky that our parents planned it that way.

Was it because life was simpler then? I don't really know if we were short on disposable income.? Is that why we always camped? It didn't occur to me.

I just thought that's what families did together. You went went where kids could run around without wrecking things.

Where we learned about the world. Where everything was adventure.

And maybe because our parents were young...the adults always played with us.

And these are the moments that I remember.

These are the memories that I want my kids to have.

The fleeting childhood years....they pass quickly if we don't take time for that type of thing.
We have wonderful technological advances...all kinds of enriching activities...the competition for kids' time is stiff.

But.....will anyone have larger than life memories of screen time? Will my kids and their future partners and peers have enough time for free play???
Will they have days where the open hours lay before them---when nothing is planned and the adventures unfold? How else will they get to know their siblings and cousins ? When they see them and they're 40---will they still feel flooded with all of those stories?

We really want to make the transition to the BWCAW easy for busy families. Currently, the outfitters on the Gunflint Trail, along with the USFS are working on a program called Becoming A Boundary Waters Family.

As adults, we all know how imperative it is that kids grow up with first hand experience with the natural world....that the benefits are immense...and the family memories are priceless. Childhood is too important to miss those moments.