Touring the power of coal in North Dakota

by Nancy McReady
Each year Lake Country Power invites its co-op members on the three days/two nights Coal Creek Bus Tour to Bismarck, North Dakota.
Members from the Mountain Iron, Kettle River and Grand Rapids service areas all meet at Lake Country Power in Grand Rapids to board the coach bus. This year from Ely, Doug and Nancy McReady made their second trip to Coal Creek, and Andrew and Suzi Jackson had their first trip. There were rest stops and a lunch stop along the way to Bismarck, and even trivia and bingo games with prizes to pass the time.
Upon arrival at our hotel destination of Staybridge Suites Bismarck, members had a short period of time to freshen up before boarding the bus again and going to the Bismarck Municipal Country Club for a group dinner. This dinner was included in the price of the tour package of $170/person.


Hook and Bullet Club

Shack time is running very low with deer season now just two weeks away. At Camp Cholesterol we’re rebuilding a small woodshed and fixing deer stands as fast as we can.
This past weekend we had a boatload of helpers including Megan’s college roommate Sidney, Evan and his girlfriend Nella, Uncle Mike and his youngest, Hunter joining Mary and I in moving a deer stand.
The move has been in the planning stages for over a year. We considered bringing in a crane or maybe a large helicopter to make it happen. Then we realized this wasn’t a big deal and we just needed brave souls to climb up the stand, undo the ratchet straps and help us lower it to the ground.
That part went really well thanks to Hunter and when it went back up Evan was able to attach it to the tree again without any problems.


Trout Whisperer - Keeping warm…

His muck boots are earning their keep. He leads as we slop, stroll to the edge of his yard. My jacket collar, with the colder air, feels good, and odd. Been many months since I’ve had this many layers on, and I’m seriously thinking I may be one layer short.
But the beehives, all top bar, are getting another new layer of straw, because when he phoned the other day, he said he wanted some help and he wasn’t taking any chances. So, this morning in the cold gray overcast, I’m a hay Sherpa.
His lawn is dotted with snowy patches, some green grass lays flat, seriously soaked from everything above white, or droplet deciding it needed to fall, and I’m about as ready as the bees for what’s really coming.
We move the side straw bales, to get closer to the hives. Not a single bee stirred or seemed to care. I start stacking in the new layer, and then he piles back the older straw to bank against the impending.


Trout Whisperer - Lodged, in my mind

It is in me to imagine a perfection. Then to see it, to breathe it, that’s the chocolate on the sundae, and my confectioned Sunday topping, is the gray wispy downdraft of the smoke coming from the main lodges chimney.
They burn birch exclusively. You open the creaky main door on the massive log lodge, warm soft lights over head in moose antler chandeliers grab your eye every day and the wood heat draws you right to the stone hearth over eight feet long.
We had coffee at the cabin, but the feeling of being up in the main lodge pulls on me, I gotta go see it again.
And, Ok, maybe, I’m a part moth, I can’t lay off looking at the contained orange flames and the smell of birchbark burning.
The proprietor’s wife hands us mugs of steaming coffee. Coffee is great, it’s even better when wearing a thick lined sweater and a friendly generous hand pours you a cup and then, even delivers it.


From the miscellaneous drawer

Life is an adventure. In my latest hospital stay in Duluth an MRI was ordered. I had never before experienced this marvel of modern medicine.
Son Nick warned me that it is not for the claustrophobic since it is done in a narrow tunnel, close by one’s head.
I resolved to keep my eyes closed for the event.
His next caution was about the noise level as the test is done. Another self-resolve was made to keep myself distracted from the sounds.
The technician was very good at explaining the procedure, but I was glad Nick had prepared me for the process.
The plan I followed was the same one I use for going to sleep, although sleep was not an option during the loud noises.
I started with Dylan Thomas’ poem: “Do not go gentle into that good night,” which cautions that “Old age should burn and rave at close of day.”


The Postscript: “Anniversary Toast”

by Carrie Classon
This past week, my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and I stood in front of the greeting card rack for a very long time.
Whenever I try to buy a card for my mom or dad, I have a heck of a hard time. I almost bought a “blank inside” card because there wasn’t anything that even came close to telling them what I was thinking on the occasion of this milestone anniversary.
My parents have the kind of marriage that used to intimidate me. Other kids’ parents fought. Mine never did. Other kids would play one parent off the other. That got me exactly nowhere. My parents have always been best friends and I have always known their priority was one another. My sister and I never doubted that we were important and loved, but my parents would rely and care first for each other. It was a wonderful thing to see as a kid. It is wonderful to see today.


From the miscellaneous drawer

One of my friends panicked when I noted I might get my desk cleaned in retirement. No fear. It’s as messy as ever.
Ely’s summer residents are already departing for warmer climes.
Despite the variances in daily temperatures of late - I have a pesky visitor who is checking out potential winter quarters.
Some years back I had the front of my house dug up and window wells installed where needed.
One of them is lined with a metal which has horizontal ridges from undergound to the surface. The topside is covered with a fiberglass ridged top.
My four-footed visitor - a squirrel - is small enough to slip between the grooves and drop the four feet below.
From there he recognizes he is in trouble and scrambles to climb the ridged walls to get out. So far he has made the mistake twice, the last time at 3:30 in the morning. Both times he managed to get out after a bit of racket.
Trust me, I do not open the window to invite him inside.


Trout Whisperer - Reflections…

Just after the ice would go out in the spring, he became a boreal forest beach comber and he wasn’t one to pick up just anything, no, he wanted very specific pieces of driftwood, and some of his favorite finds were wind blown beaver chews from last fall.
They had all the bark off, most of them were easy to tuck in his over the shoulder Duluth pack and when he would get home from his morning’s forays, he would stack what he found in the crook of a garden shed. It was kinda amazing how many red and white bobbers he piled up as well.
September eventually came round and then on a quiet evening he would construct a raft, sometimes it would be six foot square, once it was over eight feet long and four feet wide but later in life he built them smaller, and the summers driftwood collection would be piled at least four feet tall.
The raft was stuffed with pine cones, birch bark shreds, and even some dried grasses. They were always fun to see.


Hook and Bullet Club

Mary and I accepted an offer to go along on a pontoon boat ride on Lake Vermilion. We would join up with the Ronn family for an afternoon of boating and fishing along with a nice picnic lunch.
We met at Pike Bay Lodge, a very well kept and nicely run resort. The owner met us at the dock and talked shop while everyone came aboard.
He said he pays his help $15 an hour and struggles to get young people who want to work. For his cabin cleaners he raises the rate to $20 an hour. Same problem, can’t get workers.
“I have one kid who called and said he didn’t want to come to work that day because it might rain. So here I am driving the riding lawnmower and getting a sunburn,” he said.
Tourism is a funny business. It brings in people to the area but the area can’t always support the added business. When we had class sizes of over 100 kids, there were plenty to choose from. Today our class sizes are down to 40 or lower.


Canoeman Joe Seliga stars in a new picture book biography for young readers

Ely’s own Joe Seliga is the celebrated subject of Canoeman Joe, a new picture book biography published by Green Writers Press of North Brattleboro, Vermont. Written by Robin Radcliffe and illustrated by Consie Powell, Canoeman Joe follows Joe from boyhood into elder years and chronicles the fascinating journey by which Joe taught himself to make wood and canvas canoes.
Born in Ely, Joe Seliga was one of 12 children in a close-knit family that owned two wood and canvas canoes made by the Morris Canoe Company of Veazie, Maine. It was the use, care, and repair of these Morris canoes that helped the young Joe ultimately figure out how to make canoes of his own design.
This biographical picture book celebrates Joe’s life with canoes as well as his independent spirit that instilled a tradition of self-reliance in a whole generation of campers across the lake country of northern Minnesota. The opening page offers just a hint of Joe’s independent spirit:


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