2013 Northwoods Journal


This greeting was shared with me earlier today by family down in New Ulm, Minnesota and I fondly pass it along to you tonight: Wishing you all 12 Months of Happiness, 52 Weeks of Fun, 365 Days of Good Health, 8,760 Hours of LOVE, 525,600 Minutes of Blessings and 3,153,000 Seconds of Joy. Happy New Year Everyone!!


Ok folks, it feels REALLY cold outside this morning. When I woke up this morning around 4:30 it was reading -36. Gary told me that when he got to the end of the driveway on his way down to Duluth it was reading -40 and I heard Embarrass reported -47. I think I'll find a few projects to do here in the Lodge this morning!

12/30/13: We've got company!

Flat Stanley has arrived from Iowa. Stanley is a friend of my buddy Jackson who is a student at Jensen Elementary. We'll have to see what we can do to keep him busy!


It's been pleasantly balmy outside and we've all enjoyed a brief reprieve from the frigid temperatures. That reprieve sounds like it will be short lived if the weather forecast is even remotely accurate with a "threat" of -35 or more on the thermometer and wind chills taking it down to -60. These old bones are going to be cold--I admit it!


Hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas holiday. The Vogt's were here together for the holiday with family and friends. You all must have been good boys and girls again because Santa left presents under the tree again this year! Fun stuff coming your way next summer.



The magic and miracle of Christmas is upon us!

Thank you, each and every one of you, for thinking of us this holiday season. We've enjoyed receiving your holiday letters, greeting cards and family photos.

It's a -24 this Christmas Eve morning and we'll be seeing up to 3" of snow tonight for a very beautiful and white Christmas morning!

Merry Christmas!
Gary, Marie & Gary
and Daisy, Bella & Minnie to!


I hope that everyone is getting into the holiday spirit! The Resort is all decked out for the holidays. It's been pretty cold up here all month, January weather in December I think. There is snow in our forecast for Thursday and perhaps a bit of a warm up.

For those of you with 2014 reservations--thank you for sending in your deposits! We can't wait to see you again. We are looking forward to a busy 14th summer season. JR and I have some fun new activities in the works for 2014! We are even thinking about ideas to celebrate our 15th year here at Northern Lights Lodge with you all in 2014..


Well we've got snow and it's still coming down. I would guess somewhere between 5' and 6" so far. It's a beautiful winter wonderland this morning and snowing like crazy.


They say we might be getting our first "big' snowfall of the season with a forecast of 10-12". If you are are Facebook, we are announcing the Top Picks for this year's Arrows. Once again, it was really hard to pick.

Well, it's been a little while since I have made the time to write. Minnie and I drove to Florida and then Gary came down and joined us. JR was in charge and large at the Resort. it's interesting, fun, scary and painful all at the same time to step back and watch him step into my "resorter shoes". Painful because it's so hard for me to just step out of those shoes!

The "Girls" are doing well: Daisy is pretty content to snooze in front of the lodge fire and chase snowflakes, there's nothing "minnie" about Minnie and at 10 months she weighs 122 pounds compared to Bella (at age 2) who weighs 116 pounds. Fortunately all of these big dogs get along well BUT when two Great Danes start zooming (racing and running) it's best to step back and step aside! Life would be dull without them.


JR reported this morning that it looks like ice all the way across the lake now. We've had snow flurries on and off for the last few weeks.


Finally had a hard freeze two nights ago, raining today and snow in the forecast for the weekend. Fun stuff? Busy, busy MEA weekend coming up although it looks like we may be getting a little bit of snow.


The wolf pack is howling across the bay below the Lodge.


Winding down as we finish our pre-winter season plans. The seasonal cabins are closed for the year. Our fall colors have peaked and it's nearly time to take care of raking up the leaves. We've had a busy beaver along the shoreline near Cabin #2. We haven't caught it in the act yet but it has left the fallen tree behind.

JR continues to work away at the exterior cabin painting during these warm days. We've made significant progress on our Cabin #6 project--the bedrooms are done and the bathroom is just waiting for my plumber to tie it all together.


A bit of fall coloring going on the past few days with some lovely golds and reds. I have a feeling that the fall colors will be fleeting with the winds that are in our forecast and we are easily about 3 weeks behind the "normal" fall season. It's quite warm and humid these past few days but we are not allowing ourselves to be kept from our usual fall routines--cold weather and snow will come with just a snap of the fingers! My boys and I made significant progress our cabin #6 project this past week and we are liking the changes and hope that you do too!

Our Alabama Southern Belles are enjoying the sauna and swimming in the lake while the rest of us Northerners keep our feet firmly planted on dry land!


Today normally marks the peak or near peak fall colors but that's not the case this season. Everything is pretty green yet. Cooler temps and a bit of rain may start the process soon. The hawks that have been challenging guests much of the summer appear to be preparing to migrate. We frequently see and hear them flying above now and it's been about 10 days since we've had any real contact with them.

Sherm and Vicky were on the evening stroll out the drive and spotted a sow and two bear cubs.

The girls are loving their treats from Carrie and James--it's no wonder why they go door to door visiting everyone! I love my new snowman from the so VERY talented Barb K. Hope you made it home safely dear. We all enjoyed a couple of meals of IOWA sweet corn and fresh tomotoes--thank you Rick and Rosie. We are blessed to have such wonderful friends and spoiled by all of you!

We are days away from closing down the seasonal cabins for the year. Another summer season seems to have just flown by. Hoping to do finish off the last of our spring projects during this quieter time.


What a lovely sound, it's raining!


There's no doubt that the life of a Resorter can be VERY um, interesting. As this summer season winds down I'm yearning once again for the time to begin my Memoirs of a Minnesota Resorter. Those of you that know us best are always eager for the "the rest of the story". That's those stories that I just can't put into this journal...because you'd never believe it could be true. Someone much, much wiser than me said today "you have to believe it because there is no way I could never make those stories up"!

Someone asked me again this week "what's it like to be a Resorter"? My first thought is always: what a loaded question! My second thought: can I really tell them? The guest's first question was immediately followed up with "I always wanted to do this when I retire".

So, how did I respond? Hah! You'll have to wait for my Memoirs of a Minnesota Resorter!


The Broad Winged Hawks are still at it and making their presence known to the guests just about every day. Local birding enthusiasts tell me that the hawks will likely start to migrate shortly.

I was recently "forced" to find a new way of displaying our online photo gallery. I think that I have found a solution. Please bear with me as I transfer the old gallery into the new. Check out the new Photo Gallery here. Which reminds me: have you sent me your vacation photos yet?


Well, summer has decided to return! You know it's hot it in August when the boys from Missouri head home a few days early because it's cooler back home! Every fish caught has been earned! Walleyes are still deep, bass, northerns and pan fish are biting early morning or evenings.

Congratulations to the Ulseths who just spent their honeymoon here!

Of course I have to take a moment to my darling Catherine for the lovely flowers and Jim and Linda for the fresh Illinois sweet corn--don't ask which is better, Illinois or Iowa corn! Yum!


Thinking this morning that my heart says it should be the start of summer, my body is saying it should be October but the chipmunks and squirrels are showing me that the calendar is spot on and we are already into August!

As I was enjoying my coffee on the patio this morning the fog is heavy over the lake and there was a continuous thump and thud all around as the squirrels dropped pine cones from the tree tops and the chipmunks and Grossbeaks are comically competing for the pin cherries on the trees. Even the Loons seemed to be saying that fall has arrived as they called out to one another in the fog.

Lots of wolf activity this past week. Numerous reports from guests who saw the large black wolf and a few others from the pack.

I've been pondering again just what it means to be a Resorter--what a humorous life we have here!


Raining here again this morning. Enjoying a cup of tea with FRESH honey from J. Kvitrud! I see on Facebook that the Kvitrud family are catching bass--way too go.


David and Jenny B. reported tonight that the broad-winged hawk is STILL protecting it's turf. The hawk swooped down over their heads as they took a stroll out the driveway. The attack several weeks ago was somewhat understandable but we aren't sure why the hawk has kept up the attacks.

Frost advisory for the northland last night! It may be July but yesterday I went around and turned the furnaces back on in all of winter cabins. Yes, that's not a typo. It didn't get that cold here but we have been having overnight temps drop down into the 40s. It feels like September at night but I won't complain! Gary loves it--it's not too often that he lights a fire in the lodge in July!

Fishing has been SLOW. A combination of the weather and a very late May fly hatch. Seeing a few bass and northerns come in.

Love is in the air! Congratulations to Andrew B. who proposed to Faith this week here on the beach....she said yes!


Gary saw the wolf pack today--yes pack: 6 wolves, in the driveway this morning as he was headed in to Ely. They've been howling up a storm with the full moon.

Yum, yum! First sweet corn of the season Iowa--thank you Craig family. I do miss the days of having our own garden. In our "other life" JR and I had a nearly 3,000 sq ft garden. We tried gardening here for a few years but the seasons are just too short and the summers are just too busy to keep up with it. Some years back we turned our garden spot into a flower bed.


Busy, busy! The loons, ducks and mergansers are all off of their nests but there are not too many chicks this summer. JR saw our loons loose there chick(s) to the Eagles this week . The merganser usually hatches 13 but at last count there were only 5. Seems to be plenty of wolf activity this summer--we can hear the pack calling to each other a couple of times each week. Seems the wolves are nothing to worry about--David S. was "attacked" from above by a broad-winged hawk this week while he and Lorie took a stroll down the driveway. It seems that a nestling may have fallen from the nest or a fledgling may have not successfully had it's first flight as a chick was on the ground.


Now that summer is finally here and the 4th is just around the corner I'm wondering how it got here so fast! There's a fun filled week lined up here at the Resort and in Ely and the weather is warm and sunny--perfect for beach time and a parade.

I keep saying our Resort family is the best and you all spoil us! Love the fresh home grown strawberries and picture from the Little Miss A and the Clayton family--YUM. The Sanders' family brought us the coolest goose iron and rock sculpture--thanks!

Pat and Ann Girardi just reported that a wolf crossed in front of them in the driveway. We know they are out there but there's proof!


Summer is officially here on the calendar and it really feels like summer outside! The first fireflies of the season were out last night. Last weekend guests saw moose twice, once right here on Highway 21.

Our Gnome Village just keeps growing and growing! The Alligood and Rice families from Florida went home and sent us a great Mickey Mouse gnome! Perfect!! My Florida girls (Minnie and Bella) think that's pretty cool.

Up North

It's the place people go to escape....
A place made of cabins, pine trees and lakes.
But, no matter how far you drive....
There's no sign to say, "You've arrived."
So, just follow your heart til you find....
Your special place that brings peace of mind.
As you breathe in the air and unwind...
Your cares are all left behind.
It's no mystery where the "Northwoods" start.
When you're "Up North" you'll know...
in your heart.

Suzanne Kindler

Thank you Al and EG Guthke for sharing what Northern Lights Lodge means to you!


It sort of, sometimes, feels like spring....maybe! The lake hasn't warmed up much yet. Over the weekend its temps were near 55 degrees and it has dropped down to as low as 52 degrees since. There will be NO swimming for awhile unless (maybe) you are doing a sauna plunge!

Lots of fun watching the birds migrating through and visiting the feeders. The Evening Grossbeaks are absolutely everywhere. Last week (of course I was without my camera) I was painting a window at Cabin #12 and there were 5 yes FIVE Pileated Woodpeckers chasing each other and bounding from tree to tree in hot pursuit--it was almost like watcing a cartoon.

Fishing has been spotty even with the gray and wet days--that East wind will do that to you. Guests have seen a few nice Walleyes, Northerns and plenty of big Bass this week so far.

A shout out to Jim Kvitrud--your home made Maple syrup was fantastic this morning over pancakes! Thanks so much for sharing.

Love is definitely in the air here at the Resort! Congratulations go out to Matt who proposed over the weekend--she said yes AND to Allie who proposed to Jacob last week and he said yes! Our best wishes go out to Laura and Dayton who honeymooned here at the Resort AND our Resort family is growing again with pending arrival of Paul and Cassie's baby boy! Life is good.


Well, it's official! Liz Swedberg (a Resort guest) and I call ICE OUT on Bear Island Lake this morning!

Drum Roll Please......and the winner of our 2013 Bear Island Lake Ice Out Contest is Jim Widdop whose ice out forecast was submitted by his lovely wife Linda!


Bound to be a SLOW fishing opener here on Bear Island Lake. The ice has not gone out, in fact it is snowing here right now. No one should be ice fishing either as the conditions can't be safe. The ice is out from the end of the beach and down into the Bear Island River so it would be possible to fish from a canoe if the snow and wind stops.


Well, here were are on the eve of the 2013 fishing opener and no one will be launching boats on Bear Island Lake as we are still waiting for ice out. The good news though, if we dare call it that, is that the back bay and the lake down to the Bear Island River (about half of our shoreline) does have ice out as of tonight and a few folks will at least be able to try their luck from their docks or canoes but it's going to be pretty chilly this weekend. I think that Mother Nature is making amends for last season!


Well I think all eyes are on the ice. The weather as been spectacular so far this week and it has been so nice to be out in the sun. Last night JR even said that it was too hot! The the back bay is slowly opening but there is still ice down towards the river. The main body of the lake is very dark but I don't think we'll make opening weekend and it looks like temps will cool down as we head into the weekend.

The Loons, ducks and geese fill the bay and channel. The Spring Peepers woke up on Monday and the symphony echoes through the resort. The grass is the only thing greening up and the deer herd seems to have tripled over night. As I finished cleaning Cabin #3 on Monday evening the deer were settling in and laying down under the pines between Cabin #1 and Cabin #4.

Minnie and Bella are loving the weather--the ticks are already out. YUCK! For the first time ever the girls have gone to the vet for treatment. They love being out in the woods and so prevention is the best rule of thumb. Daisy is taking it easy and slowly recovering from the surgery on her foot last week when two cysts were removed.


The channel opened up yesterday afternoon and it didn't take long before there were ducks, geese, swans and 4 eagles at the open water. We are still a ways away from actual ice out though. Early this morning, I heard my first Loon--LOVE IT!


Could it be? Has Spring decided to check in? Saturday was GLORIOUS with upper 60 degree temperatures and blue sunny skies. You can hear all of the birds that are returning. A significant amount of our snow melted yesterday and there is now water standing on top of the ice. Today we have wet cloudy skies BUT it is raining and NOT snowing--life is good.

In January we bought a new pontoon boat and JR is just itching for ice out and open water so that he can put the 20' Grand Island Pontoon boat in the water and take it out on its Maiden Voyage.


About a dozen Canada Geese flew over, circled the channel twice and landed. I suspect that they were expecting open water because the volume of their discontented squawking could be heard here at my desk. Their heated discussion continued for a few minutes and then they departed, I imagine, in search of open water.


Well here we are tonight in the middle of yet another April snowsorm. This one has brought in a lot of wind and plenty of moisture. It's hard to say forsure what is on the ground but I would bet that we are close to the 5" mark. This storm is hitting us right after our "normal" ice out date--April 17th. We are a long, long ways from ice out this year. Which reminds me! We have an Ice-Out contest going on right now on Facebook--LIKE our page and make your prediction for a chance to win a Northern Lights Lodge T-shirt!

Minnie is doing well and just has the sweetest disposition. She's just about the exact opposite of Bella. At this stage Bella had already earned the nickname Chaos because she had (and still has) an incredible amount of energy. Today, Daisy showed showed the first littlest amount of interest in Minnie that wasn't displayed with grumpy groans and snarls.

Think spring everyone!


We've done it again--Gary and I somehow managed to find another Great Dane puppy during our WARM and much enjoyed Florida vacation. We're still trying to find the perfect name for her.

She's a big girl weighing 29lbs at the age of 8 weeks. She's a little honey and is as sweet as can be. Bella is loving the addition and Daisy, well, she'll get there eventually.


I know we've just been spoiled by the last few winter seasons but this winter feels like it may never end. There are hopeful signs of spring: rivers are opening, birds are migrating, bears are waking up and Daisy is shedding! Looking at the 10 day forecast it looks like winter is here for a bit yet.


I may have seemed quieter than normal these past weeks but I've been busy playing with web site updates (like my Journal) and putting together new pages: a very small sampling of our collection of notes, cards, letters and guest's journal enteries, the northern lights and some fun vacation dining/recipes. I find that I have to this when the mood or inspiration hits me! Hope you enjoy the changes.

The northern lights were out AGAIN the other night and once again I missed the show as I was fast asleep by 8:30pm! Heidi Pinkerton from Root River Photography captured a fantastic image of the appearance and you can check it out on our Facebook page or on her website.

Realty TV is a "source of entertainment" that I seldom watch because the life styles portrayed are (to me) pathetic, and far from any real reality. Well folks, did you read your Ely Echo? A film crew was here in town to reseach the idea of an Ely "off the grid" reality show. Oh boy, what next.


I've been terribly quiet lately (this winter) and it feels as though I've been hibernating! I'm not sure what that's all about except that it seems like we've been below zero since before Christmas and I find myself yearning for warm and sunny days!

James and Carrie -- your winter survivor basket was PERFECT and such a thoughtful treat. Your visits are ALWAYS memorable!

We have snow and I've heard from folks all across the states who have it too! The annual Winter Festival has come and gone just like the month of February! You'll find a few snow sculpture photos in the 2013 Gallery.

Gary and I saw a Great Grey in the driveway last week late in the afternoon. Moose and wolf tracks. Our guests this winter have reported seeing moose, deer and wolf tracks out on the lake.


A balmy -26 this morning with a Real Feel of -17. Not bad! It beats the -50 of years gone by.

01/01/13: Happy New Year!

Life in the Northwoods

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
Minnie Age 4 Months

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!