Friday, September 25, 2009


We still have folks coming to take advantage of our September summer (I understand that it was warmer than July) but the stream of guests has narrowed to a trickle.

When we realized that steady Jen would be the only staff person left this month, we put out a call for reinforcements. I kept reassuring her that we would find her friends-- and they came. Now they've gone, and on this cloudy thundering morning I'm reflecting on all they gave us this fall. My parents, Stefan, Lindsay, Andy, Mary, Anna---

First of all, they left very tangible evidence in their wake--clean tents, piles of laundered bedding and curtains, an ordered tidy canoe yard, folded sunned, dried packs and life jackets.....blueberry pies and banana bread, freshly painted floors, clean gutters, cleared trees--and I'm still finding evidence of Mary who can fold fitted sheets like I can't.

But less tangible and maybe more significant would be the meals, with the spicy and lively conversation, the laughing, the evening Stefan told his star stories to all of us as we lay on the dock (he's a guru), the DEEEP discussions with Anna as we were hiking, --- just the overall positive infusion of energy.

My heart swells with gratitude for our constantly growing extended family, and as they leave here with cracked scrubbed hands--they also leave a little part of themselves with us. Even though we feel a tug of emptiness when they drive away, still we feel full from the echoes of their goodwill, and knowledge that sometime, they'll be back.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Morning Visitor

Do you suppose the wolves we heard howling so close at 6am alarmed her? It seems like usually they wait for moose hunting season to take refuge in our yard.

She had such a Denali face, I wish I could have captured it----

Monday, September 21, 2009

Beautiful September

What a month....The sunny days are in the high 70's...last night we paddled out on Seagull for a picnic l-6 of us plus Denali---Daniel even went swimming. It's September, did I mention that?

There are pockets of blueberries that are better picking than ever. It's strange---but we'll take it!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

From First Timer to Old Timer by Michael Hyde

On most of my drives and tows I get asked a lot of similar questions, such as “Where are you from?” and “How did you come to find a job like this?” With my answer of being from a small town in Southwest Iowa and I found the job on the Iowa State online Job Board I am asked another question. “ have been up here before right?” When I answer them saying that this is my first time ever in the Boundary Waters, I get a different reaction every time it seems. Sometimes I get a confused look and others they are more excited for me working here for the summer than they are excited to go out on their trip.
There was one drive that I remember specifically, I don’t quite recall their last name but it was a man and his wife that I had just picked up from Poplar, and was bringing them back to Tuscarora. When I was asked those three questions, the wife was so happy for me, she had a smile from ear to ear. She told me how much she loves going on these trips and being up here for a week, she couldn’t imagine how much fun it would be to live here for the summer.
It took that group for me to realize where I really am. I am in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, people from all over the United States come here to vacation and I have gotten the privilege to work here for the summer. I have made so many new friends and acquaintances that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of making. This area has some of the nicest and most polite individuals I have ever met. I had no idea that I would have this type of experience being here at Tuscarora. I tell people that I was just looking for something new and different when they ask why I chose to work here. That is exactly what I got.
I didn’t have much canoeing experience before coming to work at Tuscarora. But, when I leave here I will leave with more knowledge than most people gain in a lifetime. I can’t even fathom the idea of not coming back up here, not necessarily only to work, but just to enjoy the experience and the wilderness. There is hardly anything else like this in the world, and I wake up to it everyday. I consider myself a very lucky individual to have gotten this chance to help the Ahrendt family continue their tradition of running great Outfitter. I have had multiple groups tell me that would recommend Tuscarora to anyone, not only for the equipment, but also for their hospitality and kindness.
I will never forget this summer, there have been so many things happen to me that I don’t think it would be possible to forget it. I have new friends that I plan on staying in touch with and they have made an impact on me more than anything else has this summer. Everyone up here is awesome and I can’t even think about not staying in touch. With a number of returning staff members each year, it is hard to think that this isn’t a great place. No one would keep coming back to a place that they didn’t love. I will always keep my memories from Tuscarora, through pictures and stories. I look forward to coming back here in the years to come.

(click on the photo below in order to see Mike up on the top of the cliff---far right)

Sue's Note: Staffer Mike sent in these reflections from Iowa the other day. Maybe you can appreciate what an honor it is for us to share our summers with these good young people.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Double Dutch

I went to school in the city, with desegregation and diverse playgrounds. Sometimes I hung with a group of girls who could REALLY jumprope. We usually played “Queen Bee” --a sort of tag/follow the leader game in and around the jumprope and the twirlers. I could compete, but I was rarely “Queen Bee.” When they did Double Dutch—with two ropes at once----they twirled so that you could hardly see the ropes…and their feet danced so fast—it was SOMETHING. And my feet---not speedy enough, sometimes close, but my awkward whitegirl form was enough to send them into peals of laughter. It wasn’t quite as pathetic as it sounds—and they weren’t exactly cruel. I think they sort of admired that I was willing to look like such a fool. But they were doubled over, in an almost-wet-your-pants kind of laughter. Some days I played kick ball with the boys, and I wasn’t the queen bee over there either, but I could catch the kickball, so they let me play. And sometimes I played this tag game on the manhole covers, back by the school power plant. I remember some nasty fights at that school, and it was a little bit of a jungle of tough playground politics, but I’m sort of proud of that goofy looking freckled girl with crooked glasses that was me. I learned to manage just fine, and it was just OK.

15 years later, I found myself after school one day jump roping with other teachers in the gym. There…I learned Double Dutch! So very empowering! I LOVED it that I could do it. (maybe still my form would have set Charlene and Shirley and the others off, I’ve long since lost track of them). It wasn’t even that hard. I vowed that my children were going to learn Double Dutch…. and their friends…. and my nieces and nephews. Kind of a mission…

So here at Tuscarora, in the basket by the Trading Post, there are two jumpropes. If you want, I’ll teach you. I’ll bet you can do it…just check out Mike. Would you have believed it? Shelby can even dribble the basketball at the same time. But most of us aren’t exactly graceful, speedy, or doing the magic dance that those girls at Field School could do. But we can do Double Dutch, and we manage just fine.