Northwoods Pride – Starts and Grows

I was born in 1947 and spent my childhood and school years living less that a small-town block from the banks of the St. Joseph River in Michigan. The river, the town, my family, and the people were and are an integral part of who I am today. Next month I will return to Michigan to connect as one of the older community members of my family, the town, the river, and the people.
Next month, the river will provide my paddle connection from its headwaters to my hometown and on to my brother’s family before reaching Lake Michigan. I have lived in many watersheds and explored the rivers there during my life before living the past 45 years of my life in Ely. Exploring St. Joseph River is connecting to over 200 plus miles of its natural history and cultural history.


Northwoods Pride – An Invitation

Sometimes I can’t see the forest for the trees and at other times, I can’t see the trees for the forest. But this morning, I can see and appreciate all the environments that I lived in during my life - especially the small rural communities with a history closely connected to the land surrounding them.
The most valuable resources in those areas are the people that bring their independent nature, work ethic, community mindedness, proud heritage, and willingness to give for the common good. I am nearing the end of my 75th year, 45 of those years living in Ely. Among my friends and acquaintances are those who have connections to this area for generations, over their lifetime, intermittently, only recently, or having never been here. Ely’s history spans over one hundred years and the regions physical landscape, human heritage and all other lifeforms have led to what find here today.


Hacks for Remembering Hacks

Did you know that ketchup can clean copper and that mustard can be used as an exfoliating face mask? Also, they’re both really good on hot dogs.
And did you know that you can keep carryout pizza warm on the way home by setting it on the passenger seat and turning on the seat warmer? If you have a passenger and they resent having to sit in the backseat just tell them the pizza called shotgun.
These are all valuable tips I learned in an online article called 200 Hacks to Make Life Easier. If you waste as much time online as I do, you’ve noticed that what we once called “tips” or “hints from Heloise” are now called hacks. And there are a lot of them. There are life hacks, travel hacks, cooking hacks and personal finance hacks. There are car maintenance hacks, ballroom dancing hacks and rock climbing hacks. And there are hacks to burgle proof your home, hacks to prevent your computer from being hacked and writing hacks to keep you from being a hack.


Hook and Bullet Club - Meeting Bridger

Getting to meet a new member of the family is a pretty big deal. My oldest son Jacob and his wife Kyah made Kinlee a big sister when Bridger was born on April 24.
Weighing in at 8 pounds, 4 ounces he was a joy to hold when we were out in the Fargo area last weekend. There’s something about a human being so small, with all the baby smells that melts your heart.
We took turns and each got in some Bridger time during our visit. Those minutes were treasured. And watching Kinlee hold her baby brother was heart warming as well.
This has certainly been an interesting emotional time in life after losing my mother. There are many times when I think I can ask her a question or let her know what’s going on.
But now there’s a hole where for my whole life there was a mom. I thought how nice it would have been to have her hold her great-grandson. It was a similar scenario when my dad passed.


Hook and Bullet Club

We’ve been busy every weekend cleaning out a house after my mother passed away. Luckily the weather has cooperated with us, and we can look outside to see snow, rain or a mix of the two.
This has been a difficult task, not just because of the amount of things to go through but because, for me, this is the last house I will be cleaning out.
I remember traveling to Hazel Crest, Illinois when I was a teenager to clean out my grandparents’ house. This was a tough time to leave home since I had just gotten my driver’s license and there was a pretty girl who was willing to cruise Sheridan with me.
Instead I was the youngest one in a group of family members trying to decide what to do with furniture, photos, tools, dishes and a variety of other items.


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

Finally there was a Saturday with nice weather in our forlorn spring of 2022. We piled in the truck, Mary, Bev, Steve and I and headed for Giants Ridge.
Jim, Kelsey, Brad and Coleman were going to meet us there along with Nella. We would make up a large cheering section for Evan.
This was a snowmobile race where sleds head uphill through gates, winding back and forth over bumps and jumps until they get to the top of the hill.
Evan’s buddy Kael Richards had convinced him this was a fun thing to do and he was right.
Mary and I went over Friday night to watch practice and get a lay of the land. We hadn’t been there since Kael’s grandpa Mark drag raced up the hill back in 2004.


Trout Whisperer

I vividly remember who gave me the fly-tying recipe, I absolutely remember when and where he gave it to me, and not even to sure what I was looking at or hearing, because I new only that recipes, were for cooking, but I was so impressed.
My tutelage was begun.
Threads, hook sizes, bobbins, dubbing, hackle and herl and I re-ally took to it, it felt good in my fingers to make tiny flies, and that was all good and fine until he got me working on beaded nymphs, and the difference they had trout fishing versus, streamers or dry’s, I felt like why bother with anything other than a nymph, I mean they catch a whole lot more fish and I still sit in that church pew today.
If he made one mistake with me it was when he told me how matching the hatch was high church in fly fishing, but nymphs, and how there fished, can hook you a hundred trout to one, I could never go back, I was a catcher, not a fly-casting purist, and have never really strayed from it.


Hook and Bullet Club

For my mother’s Celebration of Life, we had family arrive from both the West Coast and from across the pond.
My cousins Susan from San Diego made the trip as well as my cousin Ingrid and her husband Andrew who reside in London.
Having the three of them here was a real treat and made for some great reminiscing.
The event on Saturday went off without a hitch thanks to Grand Ely Lodge and their staff who did an excellent job.
My thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit and share a memory or two. The afternoon flew by and when it was over I felt there just wasn’t enough time to talk with people who came.
I would also like to thank everyone who has called, emailed, stopped by, or sent a card. Each night we sit down and go through the cards with Mary working on the thank you notes. This way people can read what is written.


Hook and Bullet Club - Spring cruise on Burntside

There were three of us having lunch on a Friday and I was listening to these two talk about putting their snowmobiles away for the year.
They were talking about fogging the gas and how many miles they had put on this year.
I was only thinking about getting out on the lakes and doing some spring riding.
Sunday afternoon my youngest son Evan and I found a few hours to get outside. We loaded up the sleds on a trailer and stopped at a gas station to fill up. A few people gave us strange looks, especially since the temperature was close to 50 degrees.
We knew it was going to be a great day to get on the lake and ride. At the Van Vac landing we unloaded and hit the lake. There were areas with slush and standing water and there were areas that were flat and fast.
We took off to the west end, stopped to take a photo by Doug Luthanen’s boat house and then headed back on the north side. We were weaving between the islands and making our way to North Arm.


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

When life deals you a tougher hand, there needs to be a way to get through it. Losing a parent is one of those times and getting outdoors has been a great stress reliever.
When Stan Skelton poked his head in my office and asked if I wanted to play hooky, the answer was yes. We took off on a blue sky afternoon in a new Cirrus four seater Stan was flying for a customer.
“If for some reason I can’t fly the plane anymore, here’s the lever for the parachute,” said Stan. Gotta love planes that come with a system to land without a pilot.
We flew up and over the BWCA which has a 4,000 foot limit so the view is from higher up. As Stan banked the plane to the south the view changed.
“That’s from the Pagami Fire,” he said.
The scar stretches for miles and I think back of the ill-fated decision to drop hundreds of gallons of fuel on what could have been a very tiny fire.


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