Mid Sept View From Lookout Mountain
[caption id="attachment_112" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Grand Opening"]
[/caption]Now that most of the leaves have fallen and our friendly foreign students gone, we turn our attention to a different season, yes the cold white one. But first let’s look back at some of the highlights of the 2010 Fall Color Season. The peak season started about a week earlier than normal right around the second full week of September. The colors that soon followed were spectacular, some of the best colors in years according to us and many locals. The strongest colors were seen up on the Caribou Trail, atop Lutsen Mountains and atop Oberg Mountain. Gondola Rides were very popular amongst tourists up to Moose Mountain where the scene was breathtakingly beautiful and better even prettier than the brochure as told by many of our guests.
The first weekend in October was the GRAND OPENING for our new Pub at Cascade Restaurant. We had all kinds of food and drink specials, drawings, giveaways, not to mention live music both Friday and Saturday Nights. Singer Songwriter Joe Paulik entertained the restaurant and pub crowd on Friday and Bump and Barbara Jean were jammin on Saturday night. Matt put together a nice picture slideshow about the timeline from start to finish that played on a loop all weekend. Huge crowds of guests, tourists, and locals came to see this historic event. Check out the new Pub on your next visit!
While September was kind of cool and rainy for the most part, this month of October has been fabulous! Warm sunny days and crisp nights have been the norm and should carry right thru next week. This past week’s forecast was especially nice so Michael decided we should re roof the restaurant, which has needed new shingles for the last few years. So a team was put together and we got started first thing last Monday morning. The weather was so nice that we were able to finish up by late Friday morning! Some hard work from the crew was all it took to get the job done in less than one week. Nice job Guys! Cascade Restaurant looks like a new building these days with the new paint job in late spring, New Pub, and now new shingles to match. Savor the rest of Autumn because that cold, white season is just around the corner!
New HughesNet Satellite Installation
[caption id="attachment_108" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Famous Little Cascade Black Bear!"]
The last part of the summer has been very busy. Labor Day Weekend was nice and cool for the most part with sun mixed in with a few clouds. The perfect kind of weather for people to get out there and explore the trails or go for a boat ride and swim before that water gets too cold. We had a big family reunion party here last month. The 3rd Annual Al Clothier Family Reunion brought in 65 people from all across the country and filled up most of the resort. They played games, had BBQ’s and even took a polar bear plunge into the freezing Lake Superior….brrrrr! Bethel University Cross Country Coach James Timp brought his student athletes back up here for about the 10th summer in a row. The women stay here at the resort in the motel and a few cabins, while the men stay down the road at a vacation house. They train almost the whole time they are here with long runs down Highway 61 and grueling runs up the Gunflint Trail’s steep grade from Grand Marais. Coach said one of the girls from last summer that stayed here went on to become a national champion!
As you can see in the picture, we had a new satellite installed up on the roof of the main lodge. This new satellite is from HughesNet and has much faster and reliable upload and download speeds. We were constantly exceeding our upload and download limits with our old satellite internet provider. When that occurred, they would shut us down to 10% of our normal bandwith for sometimes up to one week. It is very hard to run a business that way and very frustrating for our guests and staff who want to use the internet. We are quite happy with the performance of the new dish.
As some of you may have seen or heard about on our Facebook page, we had a little juvenile black bear around the resort recently for a few days. He was first spotted getting into the dumpster at the restaurant one morning where Michael got this nice picture. Then the bear was up on the roof of the restaurant before getting into the garbage across the highway. The bear had a very busy day of mischief because later in the afternoon a guest in cabin 8 was warming something up in the microwave. She heard something around the cabin and thought it was just maintenance. Then she hears some scratching at the window and looks out…sure enough that bear was up on his hind legs sniffing food and looking right into the cabin! The startled bear retreated back into the woods and up the hill where it was spotted again by the owner’s house. It was not seen again after that, so we can say he is safely back in the forest where it belongs! We are really looking forward to autumn and all the magical colors coming in just a few short weeks. It should be a great fall color season since we have had decent rain this summer and some cool nights recently to already trigger some leaf change up away from the lake. Hope to see you all sometime this autumn!
After the gully washing rain we got on July 15th of well over two inches, there was a bit of clean up work to be done. The big rain had washed out both our main resort roads so 10 yards of gravel had to be ordered and graded on the C11- C14 road. On the main paved road both sides of it were washed out and rutted up pretty bad. Matt and Christian from Romania worked to fill in black dirt and re-seed. Prior to the rain, the Cascade Creek was running nice and mellow, but it erupted overnight. There was also nice pond that formed at the bottom of the Lodge front lawn (see pictures below). After the storm, a massive hatching of voracious black flies had staff and tourist trading in their shorts for long pants. Fortunately the hungry little flyers only lasted for a few days.
There was two bear sightings during the month of July by guests. The first occurred at dusk as one family was heading home from dinner in Grand Marais. The bear ran across the highway in the State Park and was headed for the picnic area down by the lake. The second sighting was a guest who was hiking somewhere along the east side of the Cascade Creek Trail between the Halfway Trail and the Superior Hiking Trail. Perhaps the bear was enjoying some of the same delicious raspberries we currently are. Our chef and guest blog writer David lives at the resort and is an avid hiker of our trail system. He has seen numerous moose and bears during his morning and evening hikes. Last Friday morning he discovered fresh bear tracks and followed them to a deposit made on the ground that was still steaming, so he just missed seeing one again.
In staff news all of the student workers are in for the summer. Representing the USA is Natalie who is Sarah’s best friend from back in the cities. She is a very sweet girl who has worked for 3 or 4 different summers now housekeeping, serving and dishwashing. Representing Colombia we have Heiner, Juliette and Andres. The all take turns, housekeeping, dishwashing and serving. Heiner may even do a little bartending. Last but certainly not least is Christian from Romania. He is working maintenance with Matt and Dale, housekeeping, and dishwashing. All of them are really nice kids with good English skills and we are very happy and blessed to have them. Matt is excited about the upcoming Dragon Boat Races in the Grand Marais Harbor July 30th and 31st. He was asked to race for a team in the Friends and Family division that has won it two out of the last three years, so he is optimistic about their chances again this year. Good Luck Matt!!
Cascade Creek on 7/16Cascade Lodge Lake on 7/15
We trudged knee deep in wet snow, then on bare, soggy high ground before another bout of snow. Branches clawed at our clothing and annoyingly swatted our faces. Progress was slow and zig zagged. We knew where we were going but not exactly sure where we were. We were bushwacking - traveling sans the convenience of a trail, boldly stepping where no human had stepped before, playing wilderness pioneer, discovering the private lives of exotic North Shore wildlife, expecting the unexpected. But we never expected what was about to occur that mid-May afternoon of 2009.
Wet, chilly, and tired, Lek and I half walked, half slid down yet another ravine. The sun was sinking fast. Our focus had shifted from observing our surroundings to the comfy warmth of Cascade Lodge, hopefully not far away now.
While climbing up the opposite side of the ravine, I suddenly found myself standing in front of a large hillside hole. “Bear den! Come quickly!” I called to my wife. Then I dropped to my knees for a peek inside. Not very deep, I noted. Then I saw the glint of eyes, a definite snout, lots of fur.
“It’s occupied!” I shouted as I jumped backward into Lek. We scrambled up the ravine, me looking over my shoulder to make sure we weren’t being pursued.
“Did you see the bear?” I gasped when we’d reached the top. She had. “We’ve gotta mark this spot!”
As luck would have it, we didn’t need to. There was a CASCADE STATE PARK boundary sign almost directly above where the den with the bear was, and a vague ridge-top deer trail led us from there to the park trail that would take us directly to the lodge.
What was a bear doing in a den in mid-May? A quick google yielded two plausible explanations: A) It had been a long, brutal winter. Bears were keeping to their dens longer than usual; B) Females with cubs sometimes occupy dens longer than other bears.�
We voted option “B”. It had to me a mamma with cubs.
Next morning we were back, armed with binoculars, hoping to see the mamma and her young one(s) coming or going. No luck. As the sun slowly climbed high and our parience waned, we decided to approach the den again. Amazingly, it wasn’t there! We walked every foot of that ravine without finding a trace of the den. It had completely and mysteriously disappeared.
“It’s like the movie Blair Witch Project,” Lek said. “The forest is haunted and playing tricks on us.” Perhaps.
We never found that den again, but we did encounter the “Blair Witch Bear” on an evening hike a week later on a park trail near where that amazing, mysterious den had definitely been. She was as big and handsome as Minnesota bears get, and without cubs. Clearly, she was a he.
We would encounter Blair Witch Bear once more that summer, but we followed his tracks, noted where he foraged for food, where he slept, and couldn’t miss his big, black piles of excretement all over the place. It was like reading a journal he had written for us on the forest floor.
By August, Blair Witch Bear was at the perimiters of Cascade Resort property, and we discovered that his territory had been overlapped by that of a smaller, undoubtedly female bear. While no normal male bear would tolerate another male in his stomping gounds, what male wouldn’t welcome sharing his woods with a cute female?
We read the signs that these two Cascade forest bears left for us to read until the colors and chill of autumn had arrived and our departure for our other life on the other side of the planet was at hand.
We were thrilled to be back at Cascade, to renew friendships of the finest quality and get back into our click of lodge and restaurant co-workers. We were also anxious to get back into the forest and see Blair Witch Bear, or at least read again what he had left for us to read.
Alas, just like his den, Blair Witch Bear had disappeardd without a trace. Did he decide to haunt another part of the forest? Did he not survive the winter? Was he victim of a hunter’s bullet? Will we ever know?
On a muddy trail just north of Cascade Park the other day, Lek and I found the tracks of the smaller female bear, and like decorations around her tracks were the dainty prints of a tiny cub. As I looked at them, I suddenly had a feeling that ol’ Blair Witch Bear had a part in those tiny tracks. and with a smile on my heart I felt sure that someday another Blair Witch Bear was going to haunt Cascade Forest again.
Uffda and sawasdee!
David Eklof and Lek Tongchan
Memorial Day Weekend came upon us quickly this year. We spent the weeks leading up preparing the grounds, planting flowers, painting and fixing things around the resort. Cabin 9 was sinking into the ground on old cedar log foundations so it was jacked up and a whole new solid foundation was built underneath. Painting the Restaurant was another project we just finished up. What a fresh paint of coat can do to a building, it looks brand new! Now our two big painting projects are finally finished. It took a couple of years but we are done painting the Main Lodge and Restaurant and now we can turn our attention towards some of the cabins. Look for Cascade Restaurant to change to Cascade Pub & Restaurant this summer. That’s right we are currently building a Pub into the old server station and gift shop area. Dale and Michael are doing a great job with it so far. The frame for the bar is finished and the gift shop and server station have been reconfigured. The actual bar is going to be really cool. Cut from a big pine tree casualty of the 9/28 blow down, it is very rustic and northwoodsy looking. Michael has it up in his garage and treating it with linseed oil every day.
In staff news, Matt will leave soon for an early summer vacation at his parent’s new lake home on Big Stone. He is looking forward to spending time with his family relaxing, fishing and skiing. Below Sonja got this great moose picture the other week right off of highway 61. Several other staffers have seen this same moose who also has a baby moose recently. Thanks Sonja for the great pic! Dale is having good luck fishing at Caribou Lake so far with some big Smallmouth Bass and Matt is combing his Crappie holes and landing some dinner plate sized slabs! The O’Phelan family finally got their slip in the Grand Marais harbor and the “Last Resort” is now parked there comfortably next to the fishing charters ready to cruise the big lake.
Along Highway 61
Cascade Lodge and Restaurant would like to welcome back the First Baptist Amery Church (WI) for their 5th Annual Couples Retreat. Occupying the whole main lodge, they take this last weekend in April every year to come visit us on the North Shore for some relaxing and revitalization, hiking, sightseeing, fellowship, games, dinners, breakfasts and all the North Shore has to offer. We are also hosting a teen youth group from Faith Community in the cities. They are enjoying the hiking and waterfalls and the game room too of course. They are staying in the new Creek Chalet Vacation Home.
May 9th-16th is “Work Week” at Cascade Lodge. We are resurrecting a 1970’s era concept where the basic idea is that during a slow season of the year, we are able to exchange rooms and meals for your skills and efforts. Typically, we need people skilled in painting, carpentry, electrical, plumbing etc. The plan this year is that we will be constructing 2 large new decks, getting our flower beds ready and painting a cabin or two. Here’s how it works: You arrive on Sunday and check in to a free basic room. On Monday thru Friday we provide you with a breakfast at 8am and then by 8:30-9 we begin working on projects. We break for lunch about 12 noon and we finish up about 3 pm. The rest of the day is yours. On Friday the lunch is light and we will typically finish up by 12 noon. Saturday you are on your own for meals, but the Lodging is free, checkout is Sunday. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of this new adventure and a chance at some new friends.
In Staff News, we welcome back David and Lek Ecklof from Thailand where they spend their winters. David began cooking again already this weekend and will be serving up some great meals all summer long! He will be joining Michael, Matt and Scott at Superior National Golf Course on Sunday for a nice round of golf. Sunday is Cook County Customer Appreciation Day with free golf, carts, range and lessons. Go team Cascade! Matt saw a big moose on his way into Grand Marais the other night walking right along the shoulder of Highway 61. It was a big Momma Moose that was about 10 ft tall! Matt is looking forward to his first Twins game at Target Field with his parents on Wednesday and hopes the weather will be nice and the Twins hand the Tigers a big loss! Everyone around Cook County is very grateful to finally receive some much need rain. We received about 3/4 in. on 4/30 & 5/1 with a good chance at more precip through next week!
The rain came in and so did the winds...Surf's Up!
The O'Phelan Kids at the Old San Juan Fort, Puerto Rico
We welcome back the O’Phelan Family who spent their spring break on vacation in sunny Puerto Rico! They visited the rain forests, Old San Juan and of course spent lots of time at the beach! The rest of the crew held down the fort while they were gone and got plenty of work done. The grounds have been raked, downed trees cleaned up, patio & deck furniture, grills and the Cascade 9 Disc Golf Course set up. Hey some people have to work around here!
This is easily the earliest date we can remember having everything basically ready to go for the summer season. Speaking of early openings, Greg Leyland head pro at Superior National Golf Course mentioned that the official course opening of April 9 last Friday is the earliest opening the course has ever recorded. The beautiful 27-hole golf course was first established in 1991! The waterfalls are flowing nicely still and with a few more warm days most of the inland lakes will be 100% ice free and ready for the opener. This would be a far cry from last year’s opener when over half the area lakes were unfishable because of too much ice. Here’s hoping for some nice spring showers soon to help with the green up and reduce the forest fire danger back down to normal levels!
Steps fixed and grounds cleaned up!
The HiB's perform Irish Tunes Live
Cascade Lodge & Restaurant celebrated its 5th annual St. Patty’s Celebration the week of March 12th-18th. Classic Irish musicians the HiB’s, entertained patrons at the restaurant the 12th and 13th from 6-9 pm. Huge crowds enjoyed the lovely Irish music coupled with great food and drink specials. The old favorites were there of course like Irish Fish N’ Chips, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Mulligan Stew and the Soda Biscuits. New to the menu this year was a lovely Lamb Chop Dinner and Bailey’s Irish Cheesecake…Yummy!
The weather this month has felt more like April with high temps ranging from 40-60 degrees. Spring is about a month ahead of schedule too from the looks of things around here. The Cascade Creek and River have broken open and already the waterfalls are gushing. This normally occurs mid to late April. Green grass is starting to sprout up everywhere underneath all the brown and there are lots of birds around too! Because of the very mild winter, the cross-country ski season was the shortest we can remember. So sad to see it end so fast. Time to bust out the rakes and get busy!
In staff news our two Colombian students, Fabian and Liliana were biking on Cascade Beach Road the other day when they spotted a big cow moose in the ditch. They were amazed how big they actually are and were super excited about their once-in-a-lifetime encounter. This was probably the only time they didn’t have their camera with them as our foreign students typically love to take tons of photos of our beautiful North Shore scenery. Matt is looking forward to his big 30th birthday party on Friday this week and is more than happy to have his new bathroom finished so he doesn’t have to shower upstairs in the public restroom anymore.
In the last couple of years it seems like the Timber Wolf population around the Cascade area has dramatically increased in size. There is evidence of their presence all over the place…two deer kills on the Pioneer Ski Trail alone, multiple sightings (see below) in the last few weeks as well as a late night howling session that could easily be heard inside the main lodge. Because of the spotty snow, areas along the Lake Superior shoreline are bursting with an endless supply of grazing venison for these handsome canines. So don’t be surprised to see evidence or an actual sighting on your next vacation to Cascade Lodge!
The thirty + degree sunny days just keep on coming up on the North Shore this winter…as does a lack of snow by the lake (keep in mind there is still plenty of snow back in the woods for xc skiing and snowmobiling). Around the resort, spring-like lakeside conditions have prematurely tricked grass into turning green, trees to bud and all kinds of birds including a fair number of robins into action. Indeed highly unusual for this time of winter.
In staff news, Michael led a big group of skiers including award-winning photographer Paul Sunberg on ski straight down the Cascade River from county road 45 back to the lodge. It was a beautiful day and looked like a blast from his pictures. Experiencing the Cascade River gorge from the river itself on a set of skis or snowshoes can be described with one word…breathtaking! Matt is getting a much needed remodel of his apartment bathroom this week and is very excited to work with Dale on the project. Our restaurant server Luba; recently celebrated her 27th birthday and will be going home to her native Russia soon to see family and friends. Happy birthday Luba and have fun on your big vacation!
Timber Wolf spotting along Highway 61
Lookout Mountain's Beautiful Vista
Well this winter has been up and down so far with all the mild weather being followed by big cold snaps. On Sunday the 24th, we experienced lots of rain by the shore because it was so mild. At the same time the rest of the North Shore away from the lake was getting pummeled by a winter storm that dumped 8-12 + inches in some spots. The disparity between lake shore snow…very little, and away from lake shore…tons, is staggering. One just needs to strap on a pair of XC Skis or Snowshoes and journey back into the woods to see the night and day difference. As part of the 2nd Annual Volks Ski Festival, Cascade Lodge hosted a guided snowshoe hike up to Lookout Mountain on Friday the 29th. The weather was gorgeous and sunny as Matt led a group of eager snowshoers up to the top where they experienced lots of fluffy snow, a bald eagle, some deer and great vistas. On the way back they encountered a gentleman at the mouth of the Cascade River who was spin-casting spoons and rapalas out into the lake. When asked he explained that he had the gear, saw open water and took advantage of a beautiful day to make some casts. This is the first report of someone fishing in January that I can think of since normally it’s too cold to even think about it!
Lake and Cook County residents were shocked last Tuesday morning (1/26) around 10 am when suddenly all cell phones, out of area land lines and internet connections went down. The explanation give was that a steam pipe down in Duluth burst and melted a Qwest Fiber Optic Cable Line. Cascade Lodge and Restaurant’s ability to conduct business was shut down for about 12 hours that day since we really heavily on Satellite Internet, Digital Phone Systems and Credit Card Machines. Our local radio station, WTIP, did a great job of broadcasting emergency numbers and updated information throughout the day and into the evening. There is a pending investigation about this monumental inconvenience since Qwest’s original explanation of a burst steam pipe melting a fiber optic line is not supported by Duluth Steam Cooperative Association. They are the association responsible for all steam lines in the city of Duluth and they say no such incident ever occurred. Mmmm…something smells very fishy about this whole thing!
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