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    Custom Cabins January 2016 eNews

    The New Year has begun and we hope it is bringing everyone only good things.  North eastern Minnesota, so far, has experienced a very mild winter.  Moose Lake didn't freeze over until shortly before Christmas, which is quite rare. Even then, the ice was not safe enough to support ice houses, let alone sled dog teams. Willy and his friends have had to postpone their annual winter trek because of the soft ice.

    It wasn't until right after the first of the year that we finally had substantial amounts of snow, or as they are referred to- "moderate" amounts.  That means only about 6 to 8 inches in only one of several back to back storms.

    The public landing which is at the end of Moose Lake road is where many sled dog trips begin journeys into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness perhaps for several days of camping, or maybe just a day of fishing and to enjoy all of our nature made beauty.

    Ours truly is a marshmallow world when there are scenes like this picture depicts. What more is there to say when there is a fluffy snow covering the ground with bright blue skies over head. 

    There are, however, parts of our northland that rarely ice in.  Here, the Kawishiwi River is flowing easily as the water rushes over the rocks. The tea colored areas are water that has come out of swamps and bogs. Because both areas collect a lot of leaves, the coloring in the leaves stains the water and gives it its color.  The running water with the frosty snow in the background makes for an interesting contrast.

    Back at our lodge, the snow had blanketed everything except where we had plowed the driveway and the foot bridge to the house.  The snow covered trees seemed to be framing the bridge while masking the house.

    Trees grow, and sometimes they get too tall and may begin to block the beautiful views the cabins offer of the lake and surrounding area.  As a result, we sometimes have to imitate Paul Bunyan and "lower" the trees. We then pile them, let them dry for a year or two, and burn them to help make more soil.  This picture with AJ, who is over six feet tall, shows how high the flames got from one of the fires. Because he was dressed for the cold weather, he got quite warm while waiting for Willy to take his picture, hence his expression. 

    It is not uncommon for various dogs to "work" during the winter.  Here is small team of dogs is taking a group of people for a ride and a picnic lunch on Birch Lake.  The dogs, with their heavy coats and fur covered feet, easily withstand the cold temperatures.  Sled dogs are bred to run, and absolutely love doing it.

    Then, we have other types of dogs who also seem to enjoy pulling sleds and enjoying the winter.  Yes, Donna, the bull dog, was working by pulling a small child around a groomed course to the delight of the child and Donna.

    There is an Olympic game called Curling.  It is a very sophisticated and exacting sport.  Team members slide a stone that is very precisely sized, measured, weighed, and polished toward a "bullseye" at the end of a designated lane. Team mates help guide the stone by using a special broom to brush the highly polished ice and help make the stone move faster/slower, or change a bit of its direction.

    Well, typical of Ely, we had our own interpretation of the game with several adaptations. To begin with, the stones were actually metal dog dishes which had been filled with water with part of a broom stick frozen into the water.  In order to make the rest of the handle, they merely screwed another part of the broom handle into the frozen part at a 90 degree angle. Next they removed the snow from the bumpy frozen lake to form the lanes. Spray paint was carefully applied to form the "bullseye" for scoring. Whatever was left from the broom that was not used to make the handle was used for sweeping. Donna, with her blue jacket on the left side of the picture, served as one of the referees to be sure there were no infractions of the rules.  Beverages were served to be sure the contestants did not become dehydrated while out in the cold dry air. The games were followed by saunas and more beverages in order to rehydrate.  We do seriously try to enjoy ourselves during the long, cold winter months.

    Results of the permit lottery showed that there was only a 30% success rate. The given reason, according to the Forest Service, was that that there many more applications submitted.  We guess that we will deal with what we have, and hope that we can accommodate all of our guests. We look forward to seeing all of you.  Stay warm.