2014 Northwoods Journal


That's a wrap as we push 2014 out the door. It was certainly a "different" and eventful year but we were blessed to share it with all of you. See you next year!


Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. The Vogts were blessed to spend the holiday with guests from Germany, Minnesota, Texas and Georgia. We had very nice peaceful white Christmas here at the Resort.


We'll be busy during these last days before Christmas. We hope that you all enjoy the coming days with family and friends.

Merry Christmas one and all!


Tis the season of seasons this Minnesota winter--it's balmy outside to say the least. The rooftops are dripping as if we just had a spring shower and giant snowflakes are falling all around. I'm having a hard time finding the right setting on the thermostat!

Gary's recovery is going well post surgery. He's officially bored but it will be a few more weeks before he can even think about picking up more than his ice tea. JR and I continue to putter in the shop (since Gary can't use it these days) refinishing tables and other pieces of furniture.

One of my favorite things of the Christmas season is your holiday greetings--being remembered during this busy time is really very special. I enjoy the Christmas holiday and love the cards! Receiving holiday notes from family and friends is especially sweet--cards and letters from far away places spreading holiday joy are such a treat and even more so when your favorite memories and photos of the past year include time spent here at Northern Lights Lodge.


The Minnesota DNR is at it again--we understand the need to protect our Minnesota lakes from invasive species BUT this new boat owner law goes into effect next year (the law passed in 2011) but the MN DNR as of today still does NOT have the test, fees, etc. in place. The information we have read indicates that this requirement will apply to ANY boat trailer Resident or Non Resident. From past experience this will likely apply to boats, canoe and kayak trailers. We're passing this along now as an FYI and will post any future updates.

Click here to review the information currently available on the MN DNR website information.


My boys appear to be recovering nicely--it's been a unusual week here at the Resort. JR had to go to Duluth and have ALL 4 wisdom teeth pulled and two of them were impacted. His boss gave him the week off to recover and he is "enjoying" his quiet time. Gary over did it and managed to pull or separate the muscle and tendons off of his right elbow and he had surgery in Duluth this week. Gary's recovery will take just a bit longer, probably 3 months before he can even consider picking up a hammer or wrench.

Fortunately, the weather has been mild this week. The last two days the temperatures have been perfect for what I think is the most beautiful hoarfrost I have ever seen. The frost is thick on every branch and bough. It's absolutely beautiful outside.


Bear Island is REALLY making ice tonight! The sound of her ice making is so rhythmic that it sounds like extended drum solos. Minnie was startled by the noise and was barking at the lake. Winter is in full swing, no doubt about it.

The Lodge, resort grounds, cabins and suites are decorated and it looks like Christmas!


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. Enjoy the day with family and friends.


Standing on the deck of Cabin #5 we have hard water "ice" as far as I can see.


Still cold. The back bay and to the river is frozen over. The ice is wrapping around the beach this morning. More winter weather mix in the forecast. The northern lights have been SUPER active but I just can't seem to stay awake late enough to see them live so I spend a little time each morning checking out the new images posted on Facebook. The other day I decided that maybe I need to try taking a nap during the day so I stay up later. My internal alarm clock wakes me up nearly every day around 4am.


It's cold! Snow on the ground and more coming down. The deer are up and moving around, they seem to know that the hunting season is here and they'll soon be resting/hiding.


What can I say, it sure feels cold out there. The moose love it, tracks within the Resort again but it/they are avoiding the trail cam.


Wolves and deer are filling the trail cam.


It's barely dark and the Northern Lights are out tonight! Watching the lights with JR, Bella and Minnie.


We've been hearing the wolves quite a bit these last few nights. While I was cleaning the suites today Bella brought me a full deer leg yesterday (GROSS!) that she found and since she doesn't wander these days that tells us there was a fresh deer kill within the past week very near the Lodge.


I have not heard the Loons in two weeks, a sign that the winter season is nearly upon us.

We've put up a trail cam! I've put JR in charge of this and he has been experimenting with different locations and the camera or video mode. No moose so far but plenty of deer who are not at all camera shy and one large doe even did a sloppy taste test. There have been several fox that have been pretty entertaining and the best video shows a fox hopping from rock to rock along the creek. If the video quality were better I would definitely post it.


I'm SO excited--Lake Connections has reached (sort of) the Resort! We have a fiber optic cable box at the end of the driveway, now to get it run down the driveway to the Lodge...good bye Frontier Communications!


The seasonal cabins are closed! We've already started our work in Cabin 1--the new bathroom project is in full swing. Gary and JR are doing maintenance and redesign on a few of the docks. JR has put together a pretty exciting project list for the Resort's grounds and a few of our outdoor activities-I'm impressed with his ideas and I think you'll all be enjoying them next year.


We were not expecting the fall colors to be very vibrant this year but they ARE amazing. Gary and I went for a drive this weekend and I think that some of the best color is right here at home in our driveway.

JR and I finished sealing this season's Legacy Arrows--what a collection! It proved to be very, very difficult choosing this year's Top 10 from nearly 130 arrows. In fact, we also did 5 honorable mentions--the artists' stories and details were quite impressive this year. We'll be posting our Top 10 shortly.


I'm feeling very spoiled! Enjoyed an extra treat with this morning's coffee as Ed and Nancy picked us up some homemade Biscotti at Ely's Farmer's Market yesterday. Yum!

The colors are starting to pop throughout the Resort. I noticed a lot of reds and yellows yesterday.


Another visit with our Southern Belles who are now our seasonal neighbors here on Bear Island Lake. I think that JR especially enjoys looking after Susan and Lisa. Enjoy your boat ladies!


A bear worked its way through the Resort early this morning and opened up EVERY garbage and grill ash can but one. The poor bear went away hungry as all of the cans were empty. JR had just collected the garbage so all of the cans were empty. Sure made his clean up work easy!

Flat Stanley and the Coopers visited us yesterday!


A suprise visit from the Kvitruds today! Jim was a sweetheart and brought me more of his honey--he saw that I had used up the bottle he brought me this summer with my summer cold! Oh, the bottle of wine was fantastic too!

Thank you too to Wayne and Barb, the "jam" is very good this year!


The fall migration is in full swing. Canada Geese in the bay and overhead this morning. The tree tops were full of birds all day. It looks like the Cedar Wax Wings have moved on. The Juncos, Gray Jays, Blue Jays and Grossbeacks seemed to be everywhere. We are not seeing many Grouse, while they say the count is down we have always seen them out and about and their drumming was nearly constant, not so much this fall. The woodpeckers seem to be making up the noise though--Pileateds, Flickers, Downeys and Sapsuckers are plentiful. Missing Harry's visit this fall, I'll have to try and update the birding list myself.


The weather has been quite predictable rain, wind, sun....repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat and do it again the next day!


The days are noteably shorter, the leaves are starting to turn and I find myself missing the long days of summer already! Fall has definitely arrived and I need to mentallly start preparing for winter. I have been watching the long range forecasts and everyone seems to be predicting another cold winter season. The Labor Day holiday was fun--fishing was better than decent especially with all of the wind and rain days of the past week. Old and new friends made for a great week!

Bobby and Kari Munn were able to photograph the American Three Toed Woodpecker that was spotted earlier this summer by David Backes but eluded the Ely Field Naturalist.


Guests have frequently asked me my opinion about the pros and cons of mining. While I can understand the potential economic value to a small town like Ely, I have always expressed my concerns about the potentially enormous risks these mining projects pose. Recently these concerns became a terrible reality for our Canadian namesakes. It's been a few weeks since disaster struck, destroying their business, their home and their way of life. They are living first hand, my mining fears for Ely. For the Boundary Waters. For Lake Superior.


Moose Alert! The cooler weather and rain has brought the moose back into the Resort! JR found fresh moose tracks in the driveway near the flag pole this morning. I really do need to find a good trail cam--any make/model suggestions?


What happened to August? Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us. The last two weeks have had more than a hint of fall in air and I think that it is safe to say we're about finished with swimming in the lake for 2014.

The trees have been filled to their tops with all sorts of birds as they migrate through the area. A massive number of Grackles moved in and cleaned out every single bird feeder in about 30 minutes.

Sweet corn from Iowa and Wisconsin--fantastic feast for sure and several meals greatly appreciated. A big thank you Steve, Joyce and Bev! Catherine, your our visits always light up my day darling! Thank you for the lovely flowers--they lit up the front desk all week.

Knee Injury Update: My physicians say that I will need a new knee but that I am still too young for the procedure. The surgeon did not recommend surgery to repair the two tears and feels that I have too many bone spurs and advanced/ing arthritis in the knee to do any repairs. I've completed the physical therapy and I am slowly getting back into my Resort duties. They say my days on a ladder are finished, for now at least. Just a bummer that the damaged knee is my "good knee" as it's the other knee that has given me trouble for the last six years.

Congratulations to Sherman and Vicky as they settle into their new home--Vicky, with your new hip, I won't be able to keep up with you and the boys as you do your daily walks during your next visit. Glad to hear that you are doing well!


Perfect weather the last few days! Upper 70s, no humidity and down to or below 50 at night--exceptional sleeping weather!

The Ely Field Naturalist visiting the Resort early this morning on their weekly outing. Bill Teft (perhaps some of you read his feature pieces in the paper each week) report that "This morning we explored around the grounds of Northern Lights Lodge and Resort just off Hwy 21 on Bear Island Lake. Richard, Carl and I didn't travel very far very fast as the area had birds moving about everywhere and drawing attention. We didn't have any luck finding any black-backed or three-toed woodpeckers but followed woodpecker tapping sounds and found:

yellow-bellied sapsuckers - adults and first year birds every where we looked

lots of purple finches at the bird feeders and active in the trees

cedar waxwings and American robins feeding on pin cherries along with an eastern chipmunk

a brown creeper working its way up the trunk of a large aspen

one Nashville warbler

a Franklin's ground squirrel that seemed comfortable in our presence

a black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatches and red-eyed vireos

The morning was sunny and cool after the fog lifted".


First fresh fish meal of the season, compliments of J. Kvitrud who shared a very nice Northern fillet with us tonight--very tasty, thank you!

There seems to be quite a bit of bird activity lately. The trees are filled with pin cherries and the Cedar Waxwings, Evening Grossbeaks and Nashville Warblers are feasting. The humming birds are making the most of our massive lily blossoms as they are just about finished for the season. The last few nights the Barred owls have been caterwauling just a few trees away from my bedroom window.


Since "old age" tapped me on the shoulder last month and I am restricted to light duty with my knee injury I am going to try and work on a very long office to do list. One of this week's projects is to start putting my earlier Journals online. I have been journaling since 2003 (you've probably heard me say that I was "blogging, before any of us knew what blogging was") and so I will be adding archived Journals to the web site. Stay tuned for those changes. As you can see, we are also trying out a new look for the Journal.

Fishing news: we've never seen so many walleyes during the middle of July as the Craig family can attest to! Nice to see the next generation having so much fun.


Some serious weather passed through the area last night that is already being compared to the blow down of 1999. We had very few trees go down but many of our neighbors were not so fortunate. Portions of 120 and 21 were shut down as crews cleared trees and power lines from the roads.

The aftermath of this storm brought back a few memories. In 1999, we had not yet arrived at Northern Lights Lodge. We were on Lake Vermilion looking at another resort that was for sale and we could see the storm moving across the lake. I can recall looking at Gary and saying "we need to get out of here now". This resort was a bit more remote with a 9 mile long "cow path" out of the woods back to the highway. As we were driving we quickly realized that were in real trouble but there was no place to stop (sort of like being in a tent as everything comes down around you) so I tucked JR down low on the floor in the back seat, covered him with pillows and blankets while Gary focused on some very serious driving. Trees were flying and falling down in our wake as Gary kept us just ahead of the storm's destruction.


The wolves were howling up a storm last night around 11:30 even though it was a bit cloudy. Not sure if we've reached September already or what but it is a brisk 43 degrees out this morning.


Yum! Fresh sweet corn from Iowa. Thank you Rick and Rosie. It was delicious. Makes me miss those days when we had time to garden!


The fishing has been "more productive" the last day or so and near the dinner hour the proof was in the air as there were fish fries happening throughout the Resort! Yum!


I have always been someone who has preferred to have her birthdays pass by quietly unoticed. That's still the way I feel with this one. I think that since this one of the "Big Ones" (my 50th) I found that as this day drew nearer I have been all too freqently dwelling on what has been and what (hopefully) is yet to be. I am not a poet but this morning I penned these thoughts:

Sitting here this morning,
Blue skies above and listening to the echo of a Loon,
I know that I am blessed.

My better half has been beside me more than 30 years,
I cherish the love and friendship of my son,
I treasure the companionship of family and friends,
I know that I am blessed.

I hope that I have learned enough from my mistakes,
I have tried to live each day with honesty and integrity,
I can’t imagine life without faith and hope,
I’ve seen oceans and mountains and the northern lights,
I know that I am blessed.

I look back and hope that I did all that I could yesterday,
I hope my next half century is as sweet as the first and,
I hope that I am blessed.


Happy Birthday JR! Summer has arrived? Feels more like spring with lake temps near 60 degrees and it is definitely more sweatshirt weather than t-shirt weather. The bugs are out in full force and doing double duty--we are all searching for the most effective bug spray!

Love my new quilited pot holders--thank you Shirley!


The walleyes have been biting like crazy. We haven't seen many crappies but there is no shortage of bass of northerns. The weather has been making it a bit of a challenge but everyone is making the best of it and getting out on the water in between the weather fronts.

The girls are loving their new toys--a big thank you and three wags to Kristi!


We've been busy here at the Resort catching up on projects, opening up the cabins, finishing our Cabin #6 remodeling project and painting cabins in between. The lake is VERY high, the fish are biting and so are the bugs! I've never seen so many mosquitoes and yesterday the sand flies popped--they are worse than the mosquitoes. JR paddled down to the Bear Island River on Monday evening and the water is still roaring (raging might be a better description) over the dam.

Beautiful morning with fog rising off of the water and the Loons calling to each other as the sun came up. I considered going down to the lake for a photo BUT decided that I just didn't want to deal with the bugs!


So looking forward to the coming week's weather forecast! The last of our snowbanks and piles is melting away. I noticed this morning there is still some drifted snow behind cabin #6. The lake is officially the highest we have experienced as we start our 14th season here at the Resort. The Marina dock is under water. We pulled the Cabin #1, #2 and #3 docks back in to avoid them drifting away. The Walleyes are starting to bite in the evenings, right on schedule.

The nights are still chilly--22 last night, 27 the night before. I like sleeping with the window over my bed open. Last night the Loons were calling out under the full moon and what I think was a trio of Barred Owls sounded like they were just outside my window. I'm not one to use an alarm clock, I get up when I wake up and this morning at 4:30 I woke up to the sounds of Mourning Doves. Love!

05/11/14: Happy Mother's Day ladies!

In Case You Missed It: We officially called ICE OUT on Bear Island Lake late on Sunday afternoon (05/11).

05/08/14: Moose Alert!

Guests may have a better chance of seeing a moose IN the Resort this weekend than fishing Bear Island Lake (although we had significant thaw yesterday) on the opener! Yesterday JR spotted smaller moose tracks in the suites parking area and this morning he found big moose tracks right in front of the Lodge and below cabin #6.


Perfect greeting this morning--the Loons are back on Bear Island Lake with at least two pair in the bay below the Lodge.

04/28/14: Bear Island Lake Ice Out Contest!

Submit your ice out predictions (via Facebook or email) NO LATER than Wednesday, April 30th and win one of our NEW Northern Lights Lodge Bear Island Lake t-shirt.

04/01/14: Ely On the Air!

Ely announces the upcoming launch of our 24/7 all-Ely, all-the-time network — The Ely Channel! The Ely Channel has already begun production on several shows, including Iron Range Chef, Sauna Wars (heavily pixilated to comply with FCC standards) and a sing-along, call-in show, Campfire! It is expected to unveil its full schedule of programming later in April.

"We've had a webcam up on Sheridan (Street) for a few years, and that's become pretty popular. A lot of folks tune in from all over just to see what's going on in town."

Why The Ely Channel? "In Ely, we've got the corner on nature — with summer and winter activities galore," says network spokesman Jeremy Williams. "In fact, research shows there's strong interest in rural and nature-based programming in general, and in Ely and the Boundary Waters specifically." Special materials are also being developed to help bring The Ely Channel into the classroom for schools throughout the country.


Well, with our forecast I hope that it means that March is going out with a bang, one last FINAL hurrah for this winter.....10-12" of snow in our ongoing winter forecast. Don't you just love it!


Well, it's officially the first day of Spring. We all know it's coming, but not quick enough! There are Pussy Willows breaking out near Cabin #11 and a Winter Storm warning in our weekend forecast. We've had a view refreshing warm days and have enjoyed them all. Working on interior painting right now in the suites. We're in high gear prepping for the coming warm weather months--we hope you enjoy the new and updated activities. JR expanded our kayak fleet again--bring on the open water.

Thank you Jim and Becki with the company and "refreshments". They will be enjoyed as Jim says just a sip at a time.


Even though it feels like we may still in the middle of winter, the days are getting noticeably longer. Today, I enjoyed the hint of a sunrise with my second cup of coffee. This sunrise is my inspiration for our next photo contest and spring (03/20) is just days away! Submit your favorite Bear Island Lake sunRISE photos, drawings or paintings. Share and submit as many as you like. With each entry you are automatically entered in the contest. When spring arrives (at least on the calendar) we will have FIVE (5) random drawings (every sunrise is perfect!) and each will receive a Northern Lights Lodge & Resort coffee mug! Your entries can be posted to our Resort Facebook page or sent to us via email or USPS (we will share them all here) no later than 03/19/14. Do not delay I think we may all need more Spring inspiration!


I think we are all yearning for more warmer days especially after last week's two precious days with temps near 40 degrees. Those days were just a tease as they were followed by 13+ inches of snow, strong winds for two days and now we've entered another another arctic freeze BUT it was only -26 this morning. JR and I have been busy shoveling snow off of roofs and digging out walkways and decks AGAIN. That's life in the Northwoods.


The Annual Ely Winter Festival and Art Walk kicks off today. Looking forward to seeing the new snow sculptures!

01/30/14: Drum Roll Please…

Our January Northern Lights Lodge T-Shirt Winners are: Karen and Greg Sanders, Marc Robbins, Steven Cartwright and Jen Jacobsen. Thanks for sharing.


Happy Birthday Lorie! Our snowshoers and walkers are spotting lots of wolf, deer and snowshoe hare tracks.


I decided on Monday that I refuse to talk about the weather--enough already, if I ignore it, it will go away!

My apprentice (JR) and I jumped into our first project of 2014--we are removing and replacing all of the tile around the fireplace in Cabin #3 and doing a little bit of painting too. As of yesterday, the new tile is down and today we should be able to finish up that project this morning and the painting this afternoon!

Hoping to see the Northern Lights tonight if we have clear skies. The space weather folks are even forecasting visibility all the way down to Iowa. My challenge is always staying up late enough to see them. I tend to be an early riser and 4am keeps getting here earlier and earlier the older I get!

We've added a recipes to both our Pinterest and website's vacation recipes menu page! Check it, you may just want to try one or more of them during your next visit or even at home.


This week I received a phone call from a special lady down in Alabama. She and her family stayed with us for a week back in 2011 and their time here at the Resort was extraordinary, for all of us. As we reminisced, she reminded me of the photo book she had made of their Minnesota vacation and mentioned that it is still on the center of their coffee table--memories for a lifetime that they share with all their friends! This story is the inspiration for our online “January Jubilee”.

Our January Event:

What’s your favorite Northern Lights Lodge photo memory? To participate, simply post or e-mail your photo entry to us no later than 01/24/14. The Prize--a Northern Lights Lodge T-shirt. The Details--each photo submitted will be included in 4 random drawings for a Resort T-shirt! The Restrictions--none really! Any Northern Lights Lodge stay qualifies, any time, any year and as many entries as you wish to submit.


So what does one do when it is -37 AGAIN? Well, the house clean, the lodge clean, every closet and storage area has been organized, my office has been cleaned, archived and organized....hmmmm? This morning's project is digitizing photos from our first years here at the resort and adding them to the online photo gallery. It's been quite nostalgic going through the photos! Lot's more to go through but this is at least a solid start so take a stroll through our early years.

Congratulations and best wishes to Rebecca and Randall, newly weds who are honeymooning here!

01/01/14: Reposted from Facebook:

Our December contest was fun....so much fun that we decided to triple the winners....AND THE WINNERS ARE: Sue Haugerud, Mike Mayer and Vicki Pearson! Gerry Johnson was with us last May "between the seasons" and shared a few exceptional images with us! All of the photo entries are in our 2013 Facebook album and our 2010 Phanfare online gallery. My favorites and the others can be viewed in our 2013 Album. Message me to confirm your mailing address and your Northern Lights Lodge T-shirt will be coming your way!

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!