2017 - 2018 Northwoods Journal


Another summer season has come and gone at Northern Lights and although it's October the leaves have been slow to display their colors even though fall has definitely arrived. The lake is nearly silent with the departure of the adult loons. If you listen carefully, you may hear the softer call of this year’s chicks.

This year the change in seasons is also the beginning of what I have dubbed “Chapter 5” for the Vogt family. Our time here at Northern Lights Lodge has come to an end. We will surely miss life here on Bear Island Lake, she held our hearts for 18 summers.  As I said in an earlier post a little piece of your heart stays here when you go home.  Each and every year was special—and we have memories and stories that we’ll hold onto and cherish always. Thanks for the memories!

On September 25th we concluded the sale of the resort to the YMCA. Of course, there will be changes. The YMCA is committed to providing a place where friends and family can gather and experience Bear Island Lake and the northwoods. The YMCA also purchased Timber Wolf Lodge and it is our understanding that they will be merging the two resorts and renaming the property-an announcement will be made soon. We’ll remain at the resort during the month of October as we all make the transition.

I can’t seem to quite find the right words “we have all of our ducks in a row” or “we’ll be moo-ving back to Wisconsin” may be fitting but that’s not what I really want to say in what will be my last entry in this Journal but I’ve gone and done it anyway.

I'll miss the loons calling, the wolves howling and all of the owls most. As I mentioned in an earlier resort post, a little piece of your heart always stays here.

I'll miss our long talks as we catch up on the past year. I'll miss the rush of boat motors at sunrise as you set off in search of the walleye. I'll miss the laughs and giggles of your children playing and catching fish off the docks. I'll miss the whoops and chatter as you launched a canoe or nearly tipped over in the kayaks.

I'm going to miss seeing the northern lights and I'm going to miss the brilliant stars that shine above like no other place I've ever been.

Each and every year was special in its own way—and we'll have memories and stories that we’ll hold onto and cherish always. If only I were brave enough to write that book!

It's been a fun (and often exhausting), exciting and wild ride-what a life we have had here! Our best wishes to everyone who has passed through our lives over the years. We were blessed by your kindness and friendship, blessed to share the joys and sorrows in your lives, I was blessed to watch your children and mine grow up in this amazing place.

I'm looking forward to simple things like family dinners without interruption, holidays with family and I'm looking forward to writing the next chapter.


Your vacation may end but a little piece of your heart stays here at Northern Lights Lodge on Bear Island Lake. Photo By E. Smith



Moose tracks in the driveway and at the marina!  The loons are still quite active but they don’t seem to be quite as vocal—as it is almost mid-September the adults are probably preparing for their migration south.

RAIN!  We’ve received some much needed rain as it’s been quite dry since the 4th of July.  I’ve always loved rainy Mondays.  The rain today has been fierce along with the wind at times   Rainy days in the fall as the leaves are starting to turn smell so fresh and earthy.  The only thing I’ve missed this fall with our lack of rain is the crazy mushrooms that pop up all over the place.  Now with the rain I’m seeing a few mosquitoes—almost forgot about them!


Labor Day Weekend!  We hope that everyone enjoyed a well-deserved holiday and long weekend.  I’m taking this opportunity to thank our amazing 2018 staff for all of the hard work and support through the busy summer season!  We could not have done it without Amy, Lily, Becky, Amber, Skyler and Alex-thank you all for a job well done!!


The summer of 2018 has slipped through my fingers!  In another month it'll be time to close down the seasonal cabins for the coming winter, marking the official end of summer 2018.

It's always interesting and fun to see how families new to the Resort settle in and how quickly the grown ups become comfortable with their vacation home.  The first hint of this transition is when you see the kids off on their own search for the elusive rubber ducks!

Thank you to everyone who showered us with all sorts of amazing treats this summer--sweet corn, jams and jellies, wine, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh cut flowers, chocolates, dried fruits, honey and honey comb.  What a feast!  Thanks so much for sharing and for thinking of us.


Two winters ago there was a young deer with an injured left front leg.  Gary noticed him near the shop nearly every day and put out a little feed and seed for him.  Surprisingly, he made it through the winter.  We still see him now and then around the resort--he's easy to identify because the leg/fur is gray.  I spotted our boy yesterday walking past the lodge and stopped to "chat", he has a impressive rack covered in velvet.  As we chatted it seemed like he was shaking his head and looking over his shoulder.  Then I understood-his girlfriend walked out of the trees and joined him.  Kids, before you know it they are all grown up.  Thanks for the introduction!


Gary and I have both noticed a significant increase in the number of grouse around the resort.  We have both seen a few hens with nearly grown chicks--6 or 7 each; it's hard to count them all when they scatter.


Moose!  Last week a moose cow and calf were seen walking through the resort.  Cabin #5 had the best experience when the calf walked right past their deck!


First Big Foot, now a Mermaid!  Proof is in the picture though.  Guests last week reported a Mermaid sighting at the beach last week and they have provided this photo as proof!  Pretty incredible.


Just heard that Bella has a sister--did someone say Great Dane Puppy?  She's a cutie--another Merle just like our Bella and Pepper.  As tempting as it may be, there will be no Great Dane puppy in our near future.  Two Great Danes in the house is more than enough for me.

07/10/18On the morning of the 4th of July a strong storm blew across Bear Island Lake and I think we felt the brunt of it here.  Thank you to everyone who assisted with cleaning up some of the tree debris.  Clean up continues and this week we'll start making repairs.


We spent much of this last week cleaning up after the 4th of July storm.  Still plenty of trees and clean-up work in the days ahead but we’ve made a big dent in the debris.  Thank you to all of our guests who assisted on the 4th!


Happy 4th of July everyone!


I know this happens every year and still I am always amazed at how beautiful the deer are after they come into their spring colors.  It looks like we have three Does that have settled in close to the resort-two with single fawns and one with twins.  The twins look like they are wearing white knee socks. Too cute for words.


New beginnings-this afternoon a doe brought her newborn fawn out of the woods through the swing set.  I snapped a picture from inside the lodge because I did not want to disturb the new mom as she made her way to shelter.  The fawn was on very wobbly legs and it was clearly it's first time out with mom.


Bear!  I spotted the first black bear of the season tonight near 10pm on the lodge patio.  This was a young bear but it did manage to pull down the bird feeder (destroying it) and feasting on the sunflower seeds.

This weather is hard to adjust to:  88 degrees on Tuesday, 55 today!


Some people swim with dolphins but today I swam with loons! This afternoon I was in the water at the beach getting ready to put out the swim raft with Gary.  About 40' away our resident pair of loons popped up near the beach. They dove and popped up about 20' away. They dove again and popped up less than 10' from me-amazing! My only regret was that my phone was obviously on shore. Still this was an experience that I will never forget. Over the years, these Loons have not been camera shy and I have snapped photos of them at the docks, swimming with and feeding their young.  As they say, life is good.


Thank you all for your service and the sacrifices you and your loved ones made.


Raise your hand if you agree: we may be heading into the Memorial weekend but it feels like the 4th of July outside.  Minnesota weather, last Saturday was cold enough to having me pull out a heavy coat while I worked around the marina cleaning the canoes and kayaks.


It's fair to say that the 2018 Fishing Opener probably surprised most of us. This was our 18th opener and I think this may have been one of the nicest opening days ever. The water is cold but the forecast for this week says it'll be perfect for spending time on Bear Island Lake!

05/08/18 Ice Out Update

We usually call ice out if when we stand at the beach there is no ice. Well, there is no ice on the lake from the beach to just beyond the landing and the island. Beyond the island and around Bear Island there appears to be ice--this ice with a good wind will drift our way and come up on the beach. We'll see what today brings.


The back bay is opened up down to Bear Island River yesterday. Lots of ice out on the main lake. The wind is helping but we've missed out on the rain.


Sometime during the last hour the Spring Peepers have "thawed out"! They are not too loud yet, give them another week and their chorus is almost deafening.

They're back! Earlier this morning I thought I saw a Loon fly over and at 1:23 I heard the Loons in the channel! So, the Loons are 13 days late, based on my Journal notes for the past 17 seasons. If I apply that same history for our average ice out that pushes Bear Island Lake ice out to May 8th. Here's photos from the bay area which always opens up first. What do you think? May 8th or later?


We learned today that we lost a dear friend last Friday and our hearts are heavy.  Nancy Elliott was one of the sweetest and most kind-hearted women I have had the honor and privilege of knowing.  Over the years we've had the pleasure of having Nancy and Ed here with us and we've met their family and friends.  Not to long ago the family gathered here for an 80th birthday party and seeing them all gather together was a joyful blessing for all of us--I remember telling Nancy that this is why we do what we do here at Northern Lights Lodge.  We are thinking of you all and wishing you moments of peace and comfort.

04/15/18 New Specials!

Bear Island Lake – It’s a Shore Thing! Can't spend a week at the lake or looking to sneak in another short stay at Northern Lights Lodge? Check out our NEW 2018 Specials:
  • Arrive June 9th for 4 Nights (Cabin #4)
  • Arrive June 18th for 4 or 5 Nights (Suite #9)
  • Arrive June 18th for 4 or 5 Nights (Cabin #12)
  • Arrive July 14th for 4 Nights (Suite #9)
  • Arrive August 1st for 3 Nights (Cabin #11 or Cabin #12)
  • Arrive August 1st for 4 Nights (Cabin #11)
  • Arrive August 18th for 4 Nights (Cabin #3)
  • Arrive August 20th for 4 to 6 Nights (Cabin #11)
Book these dates online via the Resort website OR call us at 218-827-2501 and mention MN-e-Vaca and receive 20% off of your NEW reservation. When booking online, note the promo code and we'll automatically apply the discount after booking and discount will be reflected in your reservation confirmation.


We're still feeling the grip of winter during these first days of spring and we know that this is absolutely normal-that's why we are in our QUIET SEASON and not our Spring Season.  So we're day dreaming about OUR Spring Season!

S'mores are a summer time favorite--everyone loves the traditional marshmallow, graham and chocolate treat--here's a few tasty chocolate alternatives: Peanut Butter Cups! Granola! Brownies! Apples or Bananas! Pie Filling! Potato Chips (and Chocolate)!


Think SPRING.....really hard!


Space Weather News for Feb. 5, 2018

A SOLAR MINIMUM SUNSPOT: With Solar Minimum right around the corner, sunspot counts are at an almost 10-year low. So it came as a surprise yesterday when a relatively large sunspot emerged near the sun's eastern limb. AR2699 has a primary dark core larger than Earth with many smaller magnetic condensations trailing behind it, in all stretching more than 75,000 km across the sun's surface. Rare "solar minimum sunspots" are capable of intense explosions just like sunspots during more active phases of the solar cycle. Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.


I'm really not sure where the month of January disappeared to--I think that perhaps I've been mini state of hibernation!  I read a weather related piece recently that was calculating the number of days that we have had below zero temps but it sure felt like their calculation was low.  None the less, we've had a bit of snow off and on and the trees are usually frosted--it's beautiful.


Happy New Year everyone!

I recently started sharing a few of this year’s guest’s cabin journal entries here in my Northwoods Journal.  I came across the following entry from 2016 and as I post my last entry of 2017 I decided that this was a perfect entry to share.  The story is tragic, the author is strong and her message is the perfect way to wrap up 2017 and start the New Year.  Blessings to all who read this.

Cabin #5 Guest Journal Entry Dated September 10th

On June 28th my family and I suffered the loss of my family’s home to a house fire.  The home was my parents since 1972 and we purchased it in 1997.  A home we truly treasured.  Since that day our lives have been upside down.  If not for the generosity, love and support of family, friends and coworkers we would be lost.  My boss found this wonderful place and purchased a gift certificate for us to come up and get away from the chaos.  Our daughter left for Ely in 2014 to attend Vermilion CC and has never returned.  Ely is truly a place of beauty and we pray it stays that way for generations to come!!!  As I look out the window at this pristine setting, can’t get much better than this! “God’s Country” as I refer to it.  Makes all your cares melt away!  We got to spend time with Marie, Minnie and Bella and learn more about the resort and how it all began for them.  Nothing like a 190 pound horse (Minnie) for a camp mascot!  The loons are singing loudly this morning-giving me a sense that we are exactly where we are supposed to be right at this moment…that everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be…life is a journey with twists and turns, road blacks and smooth sailing.  It’s all about what we make of it!  I have been humbled through all of this and if nothing else learned how truly blessed I am for my life, my family and friends.

This place is magic and may all your worries melt away…happiness comes from within and life is what we make of it.  May your life be filled with gratitude, blessings and happiness.  I know I am…

---D. Ham


Earlier this month I had minor surgery on my right foot (note to self: don’t scrub floors in flip flops) and as I’ve gone through the recovery process confined to the lodge/house with limited mobility I found myself using this time to go through my rather organized office files and computer--17 years here at the Resort has resulted in the accumulation of stuff.  I’m pretty sure in everyone’s personal or professional life we find ourselves saving this stuff because we just don’t know down the road if it will be important or special in some way.

So, this past week I found myself going through and sorting almost 35,000 photos—I’ve always said thanks for the memories and I absolutely loved this walk down memory lane and needless to say I couldn’t do much purging.  I did, however, share my walk down memory lane with a SMALL compilation of daily postings to Facebook titled “Reflections as 2017 ends” each day this week.  It was heartwarming to recall precious memories of friends who have passed away, to look at my old photos of the Resort and to be reminded of the many faces of families we were blessed to meet through the years.  Of course, not every memory was warm and fuzzy but at least I can look back and chuckle now—but I’m still not brave enough to share them here!

I’ve amassed a couple of terabytes of documents and more than a few are in formats so old that I could find no way to open the files—word processing before WordPerfect and Word or very early Lotus files.  Perhaps, my old (or odd) habits stem from my former life in the corporate world working with bankers, lawyers and doctors but these paper/digital files all seem to have a purpose or place in my life.  We may live in the era of the “cloud” but my mending foot is still firmly planted here on the ground.  My Outlook is old school and I file away most emails in digital folders and other than SPAM messages you’ll find my deleted email box filled with two years of messages that did not make it into a file folder and quarterly I’ll go through and permanently delete messages that are a year old.  Today, my deleted email folder holds just 34,949 messages-it's time to permanently delete.


Winter in Minnesota is nothing knew—especially (one would think) to Minnesotans. This New Year’s weekend ALL of our Minnesota guests cancelled their reservations because it was going to be too cold.  As an innkeeper, that’s just something that we accept and make no judgements. That being said, our other guests hail from Nebraska, Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and Finland.  Let me tell you, these folks all embraced the weather by hiking, xc-skiing, dog sledding, tobogganing, ice fishing, using the sauna and hunting.  A well-dressed, hearty and enthusiastic crowd to be sure!

Update on 12/31:  This morning at sunrise (7:45am approximately and -31 degrees with a -44 wind-chill) two of these hearty guests did a sunrise xc-ski on the lake—WOW.  I must confess, even if I weren’t recovering from surgery I would still have enjoyed the sunrise and my coffee from the window nearest the fireplace just as I did today.


Christmas has come and gone.  We hope that everyone enjoyed peaceful time with family and friends.  Thank you everyone for the wonderful Christmas cards, we appreciate that you thought of us, especially during this busy time of year!

Cabin #5 Guest Journal Entry Dated August 3rd
A Story from the Witty Grandkids

It was early morning, August 3rd. 6 little munchkins sneak into Cabin #5 and knock out Nana with a sleeping potion.  Minutes later, her cabinets were trashed and cereal was all over the room.  The candy bowl was nearly empty when Glake comes sprinting in with his book and begins reading.  He becomes angry since there is no more oatmeal cream pies and begins ripping out the pages.  Gian takes a giant bowl of cereal, determined to finish it all.  Grynna, on the other hand, didn’t finish her cereal, and begins arguing with Galexa to see who can hold Gora, the radical baby.  Meanwhile Garissa sits down and begins to write this story.  Then, the parents walk in so they stop their craziness and wake Nana up.  It was a successful day.

---Carissa, Ian, Blake, Alexa, Brynna & Cora:  The Radical Baby
Garissa aka Carissa authored this story

Cabin #4 Guest Journal Entry Dated August 19th

Our first time at Northern Lights and what a great resort. So many things to do for all ages.  The cabin was so clean and nice.  Wish the weather had been a little better and fishing better but all in all a very relaxing stay.

Will definitely try to come back with more family members in the future and stay longer!

--Dylan, Aly, Dustin & Cami


Merry Christmas One and All!

Cabin #6 Guest Journal  Entry Dated July 8th

We had a fabulous vacation as always!  The kids swam almost every day and LOVED the new RAVE!  This year was the first time we brought our dog Ruthie that is one-year old.  She has been "dog tired" with swimming and pontooning so much.  As usual, we have enjoyed all of Marie's activities and even tried the the craft of alcohol ink on a jar.  (I will stick with painting arrows since it is easier for me :-) .)  We have enjoyed going into Ely with the Dahlquist/Vogt and Petsch family for 6-1-2 night playing Jenga and doing a beer sampling with Schmidt, Labatt Blue, Miller Highlife and Pabst Blue Ribbon.  (Schmidt was the blind tasting winner with much surprise :-) .)

The only small disappointment was the usual blueberry picking was non-existing this year, since all the blueberries are green still.  Next year we will pontoon to Blueberry Island again.  One more missing item was Grandma (Gramita) was not able to come on this trip.  We missed her.  Otherwise, it was SUN & FUN all the time!  Adults and kiddos laughing all the time!  Thanks to Marie, JR & Gary!!!! (Minnie and Bella too!).  See you all again next fourth of July week.
---The DeYoung Family

Cabin #4 Guest Journal Entry Dated June 17th

This is our 3rd year going to Northern Lights Lodge & Resort.  We love it here.  The weather was good but we got some rain.  On the nice days we went boating and tubing.  The new water trampoline was a big hit for our family this year.  Till next time.
----The Olson Family


My heart is heavy as we learned earlier this evening that our friend and long time guest Jean Haas passed away unexpectedly. Our thoughts are prayers are with her husband Ardie, her family and friends.  Heaven is one star brighter tonight.


First significant snow of the season has arrived.  Roads are messy.  It sure is beautiful--stay warm and safe out there!

You probably know that I have a thing for snowmen and I love a good scary movie.  Has anyone see the movie trailer where the killer puts his victim’s heads inside the snowball of his snowman’s head?  I think I’ll have to skip this movie because I’ll never be able to look at a snowman the same way if I watch this!


Earlier today 4 swans flew over the tree tops honking as they passed by.  Yesterday morning I saw 3 swans fly over the back bay, circle once, honk and head out across the lake. Skies are clear tonight with a bright crescent moon and there is a pack of wolves howling just across the bay! It sounds like there might be a couple of pups with the pack.

Weather forecast says snow starting again in 75 minutes but we still have clear skies right now.


Congratulations to Jeremy and Jade who are expecting their first child in November!


That’s a wrap on the 2017 summer season—the seasonal cabins are closed until fishing opener.  2017 was a blast and the weeks just flew by.  Northern Lights has the sweetest and kindest guests—Wayne and Barb, thank you for the “Fish On” art piece for Cabin #2;  Jim regularly spoils us with his homemade wines and I am especially fond of his honey!  Everyone is so talented—Angie we love your knitted throw and Joyce crafted a beautiful pair of earrings.  I’m especially envious of everyone’s green thumb:  sweet corn from Dale and Jeff, tomatoes from Sue, Debbie and Nancy, zucchini from Dan, Pat and Mary, and green beans from Becky.  Thank you all!


The fall colors are starting to peak here at the resort-the maples are red.  Bella and I have made several trips out the driveway the last few days.  I think I’m obsessed with the smells of the autumn season.


It took us nearly 3 years but our persistence and patience paid off! We see their tracks all the time right here in the Resort. Look who finally posed for the trail cam!  A nice young bull moose, you’ll see his spikes if you look.


Gary is taking advantage of the fall season and hoping for a repeat of last year—he has dug in to a remodeling project for Cabin #1:  deck, windows, door, siding, lighting and kitchen cabinets.  I don’t expect that we’ll get it all finished before the snow flies next month but every little bit helps.


This past week it rained off and on--it felt like all the time!  The rain gauge reads nearly 4".  Most who ventured out onto Bear Island Lake were rewarded with a Walleye--Mike P. reported a 24" one.  Everyone made the best of the week and there have been smiles and cheer all around.  Our pace was slower this week and we enjoyed the extra time we were able to spend with everyone.  Gary enjoyed a sampling Pat and Ann G's home brew (strong, tasty and beautiful color) at their happy hour gathering--he told me that it was a good thing that I did not has I might have been "under the table".  I especially enjoyed our weekly craft activity with the Corrine and Ansley and our new art activity with Joan, Jean, Ann and Colleen!  Pat G. discovered my "Pat's Place" addition to our Gnome collection--not quite what Pat had in mind but fun none the less.

My favorite story of the week is Jean and Ardie's "Bobber Bug"!  I'll have to share this one with you face to face.  Pat G. was quicker than I was and gifted Ardie with a "Bobber Bug" yesterday - love it!

Thanks for the fun week and memories everyone!


What a week it's been!

Almost all of our guests arrive at the Resort via automobile and over the years we've even had a few guests fly in on a float plane but I've never had a guest arrive via an inner tube!  Last week a very weather weary Steve C. came ashore at the beach after floating his inner tube from Bear Head Lake, down the Beaver River and across Bear Island Lake.  Steve rested here for two days (warmed up!) and enjoyed the incredible hospitality of our guests who shared evening meals and breakfast with with Steve.  Many of our guests contributed non-perishable staples and supplies to restock Steve for the rest of his tubing journey down the Bear Island River to One Pine Lake and his final destination of White Iron Lake.  On Saturday, Steve set off on the rest of journey from the Marina--happy tubing Steve.  Only in Ely!

On Monday morning our neighbor here on Bear Island unintentionally rode his lawn mower backwards down into the lake while cutting his grass.  Guests Pat and Ann G. were at home at Cabin #1 and Timber Wolf guests had just set out in their boat so folks were close at hand and quickly offered aid and assistance.  Fortunately, injuries were not life threatening.

Northern Lights Lodge guests ROCK--rescuing inner tube Steve and lawn mower Stan!


It's here!  We retired our much enjoyed and well used 20' water trampoline and replaced it with a new HUGE 25' water trampoline this week.  Of course, the weather has cooled off (significantly) this week but that hasn't kept many of our guests from enjoying the beach and the new trampoline.


It's been a pretty good fishing week for most of the guests--many were able to go home with a walleye limit.  Rick C. spotted a bear while walking the driveway one afternoon.  Gary and I finished construction of another dock for the Marina last week  - this one replaces the "t" dock that was damaged beyond repair during the winter.  Gary also rearranged the docks at the Marina and the new dock is going to be used by our guests and it's home to the pedal boats.  The pontoon boat and dock were relocated to service as our "gas dock" at the Marina.


Gary and I have been hard at work this week on a new dock for the Marina (replacing the "T" dock) but our week has not been without some natural entertainment.  There have been River Otters at the Marina all week playing, swimming and diving around the docks and at times practically at our feet.  A doe has come to the water's edge across the way and I have seen a very young fawn behind her.  Two Eagles have soared overhead almost daily.  MN DNR Conservation Officer Anthony has been busy on Bear Island Lake inspecting boats and canoes alike.  Today, the two Eagles returned.  One perched atop a tree while the other circled the far shoreline--all of a sudden the Eagle coasted and landed behind some shoreline trees/scruff and I heard a panicked cry and then silence.  Within seconds I heard a thrashing in bushes and a flickering of white (the doe's tail).  Next thing I saw was the doe (tail high) rush away up the hill followed by a smaller figure and a tiny flash of white--the fawn in pursuit.  It was several seconds before the Eagle launched back into the air.  I can only deduce that the Eagle attempted to snatch the fawn, the doe quickly came to her fawn's rescue and she may have dazed the Eagle considering how long it took the Eagle to surface and fly away.


Thank you for your service to our country and for the freedom we cherish.

It has been a much cooler and wet weekend here on Bear Island Lake but everyone has made the most of every burst of sunshine!  Trying to find the silver lining, I had the thought yesterday that it was nice to see the grounds all lush and green and not ablaze with the yellow heads of dandelions!  Fishing reports have been positive, not too many Walleyes but plenty of Crappies, Northerns and Smallies have been netted.


Critter Alert or should I say Critters.  There is a lot of wildlife moving through the area and being spotted, I'm enjoying it immensely.  I noticed several Long Tailed Weasels recently--they are very curious and pretty entertaining to watch.  The deer's winter coats are starting to look rough as if they are trying to hurry up and get their beautiful summer coats.  The snowshoes still have a bit of their winter white fur.  They seem to be EVERYWHERE this spring hopping up on the decks as they play an intense game of tag.  The birds are everywhere--6 Rose Breasted Grossbeaks on one feeder, 14 Bluejays on another feeder, Finches, Sparrows and Warblers.  I even saw a pair of Swans fly over the beach and land in the back bay--very cool.


It's been a productive week here at the Resort.  Gary (JR) rebuilt the dock for Cabin #3 and set it out in Bear in it's new position.  He also worked on updating the campfire spot at the edge of the lake.  Gary (SR) has been working on a new driveway that he cut back to the shop-when completed it's intended use is for equipment, deliveries, etc.  The Pavilion (formerly known as the activity center) is all set up after last fall's remodel with a new roof, lighting and paint!

Bear!  We had a night time bear visit this past week--two nights in a row.  The first night it feasted on black sunflower seeds and emptied 3 bird feeders--only one feeder was left intact, another was smashed to pieces and the third feeder is no where to be found.  It returned the next night and was spotted on the deck of Cabin #3 by Bonnie K. and the bear left us with another feeder that needs to be replaced.


Our Cabin #4 remodeling project was completed just in time for this season's first guest-the bathroom is all new and feels larger with the new design and Gary's (JR) new deck looks great.  I had some extra knotty pine from the Cabin #4 project so I decided to use it in Cabin #2 next week.


It's the beginning of May and many of us are experiencing one last dose of winter. Ready for summer? Here's a taste of summer at Northern Lights Lodge and Bear Island Lake--I love it! Click this link to our YouTube video:   Northern Lights Lodge video The video was created by James Medema at Surefoot Aerial. Enjoy and we'll see you this summer!


Today marks the official start of our 17th year here at Northern Lights Lodge. Thanks for the memories. We're looking forward to another great year with you all and all of those special moments memories yet to come!


A blazing sky tonight! Near 10:15pm I saw a large fireball streak across the sky over Bear Island Lake.  The fireball was a bright blaze of yellow and a light orange color and it never diminished in size or color as it traveled across the horizon and out of sight.  The fireball left a long glowing trail in its wake that stayed aglow for 3+ minutes.  According to the American Meteor Society site a few other people witnessed the same fireball.


Welcome UMD Department of Geography, Urban, Environmental and Sustainability Studies (GUESS) students and professors.


The Loons are back! I heard my first Loon this afternoon. Gary tells me they returned a couple of days ago but most of my time spent outdoors the last few days has been with my heavy duty ear protection while running the leaf blower or pressure washer.


Happy 53rd Anniversary to Kenny and Shirley – missing you both!


Another spring project is officially underway.  Today Gary demo’ d the bathroom in Cabin #4.  Now we begin the construction of the new deck and a complete remodel of the bathroom.

Our online Photo Gallery provider has been sold and I am now in the process of migrating the gallery to SmugMug.  The gallery may be down intermittently during this process.

Looks like exciting changes are taking place at Insula (the old Vertin’s building).  The restaurant is being remodeled and the changes looking quite appealing—an updated and modern design for sure.


As the sun was setting tonight I went down to Cabin #5 -- we have ice out on Bear Island Lake! Watched the beautiful spring sunset while I was there. Lots of ducks and geese in the water. No Loons yet. The Spring Peepers are in full chorus.


We are sad to learn of the passing of a long time guest, Thor Iverson.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.  I’ll always think fondly of Thor with his deep suntan, a favorite cigar in his hand and one or two Gold Retrievers by his side.


I was surfing through Pinterest boards yesterday and I got to thinking that Pinterest is more like a Wish List for me—lots of things I would love to make/design/craft but can’t make the time for.  Lots of recipes that I would love to try (I could feed an army) and probably never will because my guys will never eat more than half of the recipes that appeal to me—besides, Lord knows I don’t need the extra calories.  I enjoy baking and making confections but I don’t have a sweet tooth and hardly ever eat sweets.  Lots of great workout ideas and techniques that I swear I will start doing first thing every morning—but the next morning I find myself caught up at my desk for three hours as I finish paper work, bookwork, answering emails, etc. Oh well, there’s nothing wrong with a Wish List and who knows maybe someday I simply find a way to make the time and just do it all!


Great photo of the northern lights shining over Ely early last night. Thankful for the photographers that share their work because once again I missed the show.....


Happy Spring....with a snow/rain mix in the forecast for Friday....this is too true:  Henry Van Dyke said “The first day of Spring is one thing and the first Spring day is another.  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month”.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I’m not Irish but “May the road rise to meet you.  May the wind always be at your back.  May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields.  And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand”. An Irish Blessing

Monopoly is making changes to our favorite game pieces:  the boot, wheelbarrow and thimble have been ousted and replaced with a duck, penguin and dinosaur.  I like the new pieces, especially the duck OF COURSE but I wish they had kept all of the old pieces in play.


OMG – is everyone still standing?  The wind yesterday was fierce and at times it was almost a challenge for some to keep their feet on the ground….no worries, I’m well-grounded these days!


I’m taking a break!  I was looking at my Bucket List the other day and schedules and calendars aligned.  I’ve signed myself up for a Watercolor Art Class series.  Something I’ve always wanted to do but never made time for.  Maybe next up will be a Bob Ross class series and I’ll learn how to make happy little trees.


Oh happy day!  The 2016 taxes are all done, filed with the IRS/State and filed off my desk!


Life is good because of the people in your life!  To the Cartwrights, thanks for introducing us to Tucker (he’s beautiful).  Another nice long visit with David and Lori in front of the fire.  A visit with the Smiths, perhaps two of the happiest people ever.


Ely’s annual Winter Festival is well underway.  The snow sculptures in Whiteside Park were completed over the weekend.  My personal favorite this year is the owl sculpture.  Thank you Jim and Becki for sharing your garden harvests and homemade wines—what a tasty variety!  The family enjoyed lasagna Sunday evening (I swap out the pasta with the spaghetti squash). Yum!


Received an email today from a special someone who was checking in to see how I was feeling—and they were “complaining” that I had not mentioned anything here in the Journal.  As I’m not one to call attention to myself I have avoided the topic.  All in all, all things considered (considering the alternative) I am feeling fine.  The hardest part of this health and wellness journey is that for the first time in my life I feel my age and probably a few years extra.  From the outside there is very little evidence of the stroke or Bell’s Palsy.  The facial paralysis is mostly gone and the numbness in the right side limbs is diminishing slowly.  The physicians are still trying to find the right medications as I am probably having allergic reactions to them.  Some days I tire easily and the boys catch me taking a nap.  While I hope to never go through this again there is a bright side to it all:  the back pain from the July 2015 fall is gone!, tooth paste no longer makes me sick (something that started when I was pregnant with JR and never went away), my arteries and all clear and clean, I know that I don’t suffer from lymes disease, meningitis, Lupus, MS, and a litany of other ailments because the physicians ran all of these tests along with dozens of MRI, ultrasounds, scans etc. and that most of my aches and pains are because I have arthritis like someone who is 70.


Life is good because of the people in your life!  To the Cartwrights, thanks for introducing us to Tucker (he’s beautiful).  To Ann and the girls in Cabin #11, thanks for ALWAYS filling this weekend with winter and Packer’s fun.  To the Bermels who are truly fearless and not the least bit afraid of Big Foot.  To Jesse and Adam who celebrated their new life together with a winter honeymoon-congratulations.  See what I mean?


Our resort project for this winter was the long overdue finishing of our lodge/office remodeling project.  Out with the 25 year old vinyl flooring and down with tile, out with some very old carpet and down with the new.  Gary (JR) finished the front desk with a new quartz front desk counter, desk drawers and his own handcrafted expanded information/brochure rack.  A few new doors, some new furniture and complementing light fixtures finished off the project.


We have new neighbors, of the 4-legged variety.  There is a doe with twins sort of hanging out at the resort and twins seems to have an affection for Gary (JR)!  They follow him around (I'm pretty sure that they know he fills the bird feeders!) and the twins even approach his out stretched hand.  The doe is a bit shy and always stands off to the side watching.  The twins are similar in size although one is slightly smaller, perhaps a female and she's cute beyond words with her fur all fluffed up against the cold.  Without a doubt, Minnie is bigger and I've asked him to snap a picture if he can.

The new year brought us measurable snow accumulation, more cold weather moved in on Wednesday (-20) and it looks like it will hang on for a bit.  There has been little to no wind and sunny blue skies so that makes everything alright!  I'm hoping that this weekend we'll be able to finish our lodge/office remodeling project as the new counter top for the front desk has arrived.  I can't wait to see what Gary (JR) ordered--yes, this is his project and he designed this final phase of the project.

We enjoyed the holidays with friends from the past and quite a few new families.  Ironically, Minnesota was just recognized as the state with the "worst winter" weather and nearly half of our guests were from "warm weather" locations like Florida, Georgia, Texas and even a couple from across the pond!  Just after Christmas I was at the suite's cleaning and I heard a jingle of bells--no it wasn't Santa Clause or even someone's dog dressed for the holidays--it was a falconer and his hawk!  One of our guests had a trained Red Tail Hawk, a Vizsla puppy AND a baby!  What a magnificent bird, up close (or as close as I ventured) he was huge, the puppy was adorable and the baby was just the sweetest.  Oh, the people we meet!  I always say that this is why we do what we do here at Northern Lights Lodge.


Merry Christmas One and All!



































































The Life of a Resorter

When we first decided to make Northern Lights Lodge our home in January of 2001 we knew that life was going to be different.

What I never imagined when Gary convinced me to become a Resorter was the friendships--how so many of our guests would become family and each return visit is like having a family reunion!

I never expected to have so much fun and so I started Marie's Northwoods Journal. Keep in mind, that this was "way" back before anyone even knew what a blog was. I've not converted my journal to what you would now call a traditional "blog" because the format just doesn't work for me.

This journal is a bit like a good old fashioned letter to home or a scrapbook and it's become a way for me to keep in touch. The journal is a collection of my thoughts, a glimpse into our lives and a way for me to reflect upon life here at the Resort.

There are ALWAYS stories to tell, (some that I'll not ever Journal here!) and maybe someday I will heed your advice and attempt to write a book or if I wait long enough, my memoirs!

The years go by faster and faster and so I hope that you enjoy my journal and photo albums as much as I enjoy spending the time with you.

So, don't be a stranger, stay in touch.


Meet Minnie (DOB 02/2013)

Minnie Age 8 Weeks

Meet Bella (DOB 09/2011)

Bella Age 8 Weeks
Bella Age 6 Months

Daisy The Wonder Dog

Daisy Crossed the Rainbow Bridge
on July 31, 2015

Having a Great Dane

Having a Great Dane in your life means that there are just a few sayings that you learn to live with:

  • Look at the size of those feet!
  • That's the biggest dog I've ever seen.
  • Where's her saddle?
  • Who's walking who, anyway?
  • How much does she eat?
  • Where does she sleep?
  • Looks like you have your hands full!
  • How big is that thing?
  • That's a really big Dalmatian!
  • It's still a puppy? You're kidding, right?
  • Big poop piles?

No One Loves You
Like a Great Dane!