Boundary Waters are Magical

E-L♥ve & I spent a wonderful three days in the Boundary Waters .  We picked up a living social deal last year about this same time from Voyageur Canoe Outfitters .  It was for $150 each which would have regularly been $300 each- we made out like bandits!  We were late arrivals but we were welcomed with a sign that pointed to our bunkhouse, the PINE MARTEN, and they even left the lights on for us!

Bunk House
Someone was excited about the bunk beds.

Read our 3 day journal below:

Seagull River • Saganaga Lake • Maraboeuf Lake
2 Portages • 6 Hours
Left VCO @ 8:45 am

Awoke to a chilly bunkhouse, and later met with Tessa to go over our route- a little different than what we had originally planned for but we think its better this way now!

As we entered the BWCA a beautiful loon greeted us not 5 feet away from our canoe- as we continued to paddle another 10-15 yards another loon and 2 chicks greeted us!

Loons are pretty awesome.
Not an hour into our trip and we saw a LYNX climbing the rocks along the shoreline-SO COOL!  Way better than seeing a moose in my world- some people go a whole lifetime without seeing a lynx in the wild!
The landscape had burned in the recent past.  It still hasn't stopped the two mature bald eagles from using a snag as a perch.
The Bald Eagle Pair
We found a campsite and briefly utilized to take a break before attempting our first portage.  Saganaga Falls was a 34 rod portage and it went quite successful.  E & I carried the canoe across the first portage and it wasn't as bad as I had thought.

First Portage
Pretty sure Horsetail Rapids portage almost ended our relationship!  All our gear, 2 fellow paddlers, and 1 fish later we were doing okay again!

*There are no pictures of this portage due to my bad attitude....apologies*

We set up camp after 6 hours of traveling!  Took a hour and a half nap and then set out fishing!  Marabouef Lake was generous with fish-E caught 8 to my 1.

Larry Dahlberg with the Costa Del Mars on his head
Dinner consisted of dehydrated diced potatoes and steak with vanilla pudding.

Dehydrated Diced Potatoes....Yum!
The love started a campfire and we each enjoyed a cup of tea before bed.

Marabouef Lake • Granite River • Clove Lake
5 Portages • 5.5 Hours
Left Campsite @ 11:00am

Woke up around 9am, made western omelets with hash browns and an english muffin.  Believe it or not the omelet was fine the potatoes just take too long- I don't have patience for that kinda stuff!  Just as we were washing dishes we heard the thunderstorm start to roll in.  We got a little pep in our step and hurried to pack everything back in the packs and into the canoe.  As we rolled out the campsite the skies turned deep blue and gray- not 15 minutes later it started to pour down rain and HAIL!  We couldn't believe it was hailing- it didn't last but 10 -15 minutes and added a little drama to the day!

Paddle the Storm
Portaging was fun and went a bit smoother than the last portage on the first day.  We were able to push the canoe up the river- E would get in the water and I would move up the river on the rocks and he would push it until I was able to get a firm hold and then he would move to where I was and we'd repeat the process.  Two of the areas required the use of the rope so we pulled the canoe up river against the current.  The process was a great exercise in teamwork for the two of  us- we work pretty well together if I don't say so myself ☺

As we pulled into Clove Lake the site with the sandy beach was taken- lame.  So we pushed on and thankfully the rock face site was open which meant we didn't have to portage in to another lake which was out of the way we'd be headed in the morning!  We unloaded all our gear and decided not to put up the tent but to sleep under the stars!  We decided we'd have dinner and then go out fishing to ensure we wouldn't be doing dishes late into the evening.  We had campfire style Chipotle- Mexican rice with dehydrated steak with salsa-doesn't that sound delicious?  It actually was very good!  We decided against the hot apple cobbler on the condition that it would make for too many dishes!

Chipotle Back Country Style.
One thing about camping on the eastern end of the BWCA- there is not a darn tree that will "safely" hold a pack of food.  Watching the video it required that you store the pack in a tree that's 12 feet tall and on a limb that extends 6 feet.  Ummm......the forest burned...so I laughed uncontrollably as E tried a few different methods- finally the pack stayed in the tree!

Clove Lake was a bust when it came to fishing only one fish and of course E caught it!  The loop around the lake was nice though- a fledgling was really vocal and even allowed for us to canoe right beneath him as he was perched in a snag along the shore.  

Singing Fledgling.
E started a fire and I got cozy in the sleeping bag underneath the dimming sky.  Just for the record E is such a baby!  It was too buggy and too cold!  I offered numerous times to set up the tent but he declined each time.   A chipmunk ran across his face too- hilarious!

Overall the day turned into a beautiful day and paddling through the hail and rain was definitely the highlight of the day!

Clove Lake • Granite River • Magnetic Lake • Gunflint Lake
4 Portages • 3.5 Hours
Left Campsite @ 10:00am

We woke up at 8:30am in hopes of an early start because a 100 rod portage (the longest one of the trip) awaited us.  We had warm oatmeal, fruit roll-up and an english muffin with grape jelly to ensure we had energy for the day.

I knew my love was amazing but found out that he has Hercules like powers!  The 100 rod portage was intense up and down a fairly steep rocky hill.  He's my hero!  It took about 35 minutes to portage everything including E's second trip back to get the last pack. 

Hercules Like Powers....Real Stuff.
A trumpeter swan greeted us but was cautious to let us get close...smart swan.  We continued a bit and were greeted by flowing waters that made a beautiful clap.  The portage was littered with amazing blueberries- ripe, gobstopper-sized, and illegal at that!  We were in Ontario- but apparently that isn't much of a problem in  the BWCA because Tessa, our route planner, didn't seem too concerned when E mentioned it!


Canada Baby!
At the end of the portage we only had a short distance to the next- so I fished and unsuccessfully landed a small mouth bass- it doesn't count if it spits the hook out at the boat- bummer.

The next set of falls were in my opinion the most picturesque of them all.  They too made a beautiful relaxing sound and the clear water bouncing off the rocks was awesome!  E again displayed his Hercules like powers- it was a very short but steep portage.

BWCA has my heart.
The last portage we paddled/pushed up the current.  We had finally made it to Magnetic Lake- a motor boat greeted us on the other side so we knew that we were making progress!  The Love paddle while I fished and I successfully caught another small mouth bass thanks to my him!

Fish #2
There was a fairytale like house on the little island.  The lawn was decorated, maintained immaculately- the house was the a soft turmeric color.  Appropriately nicknamed the Gnome house because there are Gnomes in the yard.

Moral of this story....we need a nice camera with super power zoom.
The narrow entrance to Gunflint was marked by bleach bottle buoys.  As we paddled across the open water- I was filled with bittersweet emotion- sad because our 1st BWCA experience was coming to an end but excited because Gunflint Lodge has the most amazing walleye chowder on the planet.  Seriously I think they put crack in the soup!  We beached the canoe at the resort and grabbed a table out on the patio- the weather was perfect!  E made the order as I went in to use running water!  A delicious bloody mary, a bowl of the walleye chowder for me and a coke and chowder for E-L♥ve.  Perfect end to our trip!
There was a little mix up with the pick up site.  Gunflint Lodge was clearly circled on our map as the pick up location but apparently Victor was instructed otherwise.  At 2:15- 15 minutes after our scheduled pick up time E called VCO and asked if they had forgotten about us- Tessa instructed us to head to the boat landing just a short paddle along the shoreline.  There he was with a welcoming smile to pick up up.  Victor was great he did all the hard work and we just jumped in the vehicle!

When we got back to the lodge- we just gave them their packs with all the gear and unpacked our stuff right at our truck.  Victor took care of everything else.  Ethan went to the lodge and grabbed towels and we took a magical hot showers.  Scrubbing the dirt off my feet has actually turned into a couple day process but that's what you get for wearing chacos (most amazing sandal in my life) in the wilderness for 3 days.

Before we head home we hope to do a mini-BWCA camping excursion on the west end.

Enjoy all our photos from the trip!


CHANGES-Coming Soon.

I haven't had much time to update this beast of a blog lately.  Last weekend I headed home to attack a couple of sales meetings with Steven!  Boy do I love me a sales call...there is just something to be said about going on a sales call and the adrenaline that goes with the process!  Loved it!  I left Meatloaf back in the cities.  I miss him A LOT!  However, E and I are planning a wonderful 3-day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters this Thursday-Saturday.  We're looking forward to it!  It's kinda a celebration of sorts- but that's a story for another post.  Let's just say that God is good and he definitely has our best interests at heart! 

Next week will be a better post with lots of beautiful pictures of the BWCA!

Until then take care of yourselves!


Guns & Puppies

After all the excitement from the fair and the rodeo last week- we played it pretty low key this week. 

Last weekend we headed out to a Kabetogama State Forest area to shoot the .22.   There is something about state forests, dirt roads, and guns that reminds me of going to Badora State Forest with my Dad when I was younger.  Before I even started deer hunting we would go up and camp in the woods or make a day trip from the family cabin in Garrison.  Many good memories were made there…it’s too bad much of it has been logged and potlatched now.

E definitely has an awesome shot- I’m pretty impressed by his ability to shoot so accurately at such a long distance.  I, however, am a bit more reserved about shooting at a ridiculous range.  Dad always told me not to make a shot I wasn’t sure about it- so I kept it a little closer than E but I hit the target.  MeatLoaf hid under the truck but didn’t bark- so maybe with a bit more training there is hope of him becoming hunting dog after all.

E♥Love's Awesome Shot

I have a feeling E and I will miss our time here in the Northwoods.  We have played so many games of farkle, cribbage, rummy, and dominos since our arrival in May.   I can’t remember when the last time we played card and dice games together in the cities.  It’s fun for us- especially since we are both so competitive.   And just for the record I kicked his butt in dominos and rummy this past week!

Loaf and I are a dynamic Duo
The highlight of the week was the return of Bailey- a precious 6.5 lb. Yorkie.  A woman came into the visitor center on Tuesday morning to share that her little Yorkie went missing on Moxie Island.  The family was camping on the island for about a week, as they packed their stuff in the boat to leave and called for Bailey she was nowhere to be found.  They unpacked the boat and stayed an extra night in hopes that she would return.  Jane, Bailey’s mom, came into the visitor center in hopes of someone maybe finding her.  No such luck- but I was distraught most of the day thinking about poor Bailey- either as an Eagle snack or lost out on the island.  Jane filled out a quick report and left her number just in case Bailey was found.

When E and I got home I told him we had to go look for Bailey- I just wouldn’t be able to sleep if we didn’t go out there and try to look for her.  So against our better judgment we got in the boat and headed toward Moxie Island.  Moxie Island is about 7 miles west toward the open part of Kabetogama.  Let’s just say that the weather forecast estimated wind gusts up to 25 mph.  There were white caps on the lake, and we got drenched the entire way there.  E kept looking at me like really- we are doing this?  And I just kept telling him, “WE CANNOT ABORT THIS MISSION!”  I really didn’t get scared until we got closer to Moxie and were more vulnerable to the wind as the lake opened up.  I put on my life jacket if that gives you any idea of how intense the wind and waves were!

We beached the boat at the campsite, and made a plan to walk in about 75 yards and walk the length of the island.  E led the way and used the marking tape every 40 feet or so.  We hooted and hollered her name for over an hour.  We thought we heard barking and got so excited and then when we heard it again….it was a raven-very disappointing.  We reached the other side of the island and headed back to the boat.  It was getting dark and we had to end the search and rescue mission.  I was really hoping we would find her!  I not only wanted to be Jane’s superhero but I can’t imagine losing my Loaf!

She's so precious.
E and I got back to the love shack and had grilled cheese and tomato soup- E prayed for Bailey at dinner.  I was even considering sending Jane a condolences card because I know how devastating it is when you lose a pet.  On Wednesday E and I were manning the visitor center and a whole family of about 12 came to the visitor center with….BAILEY!  Prayer answered!!!  They had found her that morning!  I couldn’t believe it!  Bailey made it 2 nights by herself on Moxie Island.  Moxie has an eagle’s nest and currently 3 eagles residing in it.  After our SAR and no Bailey- I really thought she went to Doggy heaven.  But was so relieved to find out that a family found her! 

Bailey would have been such a good GF for Loaf
The family was looking to continue their family vacation and left Bailey with us!  Bailey’s mom and dad were driving from Duluth so it took some time for the reunion.  I spent a lovely half hour with her!

Lesson learned though…I am guilty of letting Loaf run sometimes…so no more of that business! 
E, J & Loaf


Goodbye July Hello August

Well August has arrived and we had an exciting weekend. While in Effie, MN a couple of weeks ago we learned of the upcoming annual rodeo, so we decided to give it a try. Our friend Jessica decided to go along with us. She drove us there along hwy 1 a scenic route in N. MN, so scenic in fact she doubted whether or not I knew how to get there. After arriving in Effie and at the rodeo grounds the excitement was building. There were people on horses and the stands were packed with people.
58th Annual Rodeo in Effie
My first stop was the outhouse, one outhouse said “mares” the other wasn’t named. However there was a handicap outhouse so I used that one instead. Not being a horse person I confirmed with Jess S. that a “mare” was a female horse. Good thing I didn’t choose that one. The rodeo was off to a wild start with bare back bronco riding. Cowboys were being thrown all over and horses were running into fences, just what everyone came to see.  

After the action at the rodeo we headed to Bigfork to plan our next move. Talk started to surface that maybe the St. Louis County Fair was in full swing. After my Jess used her amazing Blackberry skills it was confirmed that the fair was a go. We decided to take another scenic route, this time choosing hwy 38 towards. After an hour and a half we arrived in Chisholm, MN ready for anything those food vendors in their trailers could throw at us. Not only did we find gyros, pop, and mini-donuts, we also found corn-on-the-cob, “yum!” 

One cool thing that we checked out was a traveling competition called “Dock Dogs” where these happy pooches run down a  runway, and jump as high as they can to retrieve a suspended chewy. I would like to see how Loaf and Rocky would fare?

dockdogs is even sponsored by Cabelas!
At any fair my favorite stop is always the livestock, I love hearing the cows moo and watching the pigs sleep. They even had a fake udder where I practiced my future hobby farm skills.

Udderly Fun!
J and I also hit the water this past week looking for the usual suspects. While on our hunt J spotted an old hunting shack in the woods. We tied off the boat and I checked it out. It was an old hunting shack all right, but there were also blueberries to snack on. Those are always a plus. 
Picking Blueberries for My Love.
While fishing J can sometimes have the patience of a pushy salesman, she even asked me why I take her out there. I responded that I do so because she can get better cell-phone reception on the lake, and enjoy the blueberries that I bring her. Well what would you know; no sooner than I said that she said that she had a fish. I reeled in and started to expand the net. She was fighting the fish and it was pulling line. She said that it felt like a pike. As it came to towards the surface I shouted that it wasn’t a pike but a walleye. We were both excited and I told her not to lose it as it made another dive towards the depths. I finally netted it and we both laughed and shouted. It was J’s biggest walleye ever.
23 inches about 5 pounds
While still on the lake, she utilized the great reception to call dad and tell him the news. While on the phone she reeled in another walleye. I guess that is why I bring her out there.

15 inches about 2 pounds
We wish everyone the best and thank you for your support and prayers. We hope that each of you are having amazing summers as well, and we can’t wait to hear all about it the next time we meet up!

Until then,
E, J, & Loaf