Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rainy Lake Run And More

Today was a fun day that started out with quite a boat ride. And the pictures are back.

779) Lumberjack Saloon in The Kettle Falls Hotel

This was a fun place to get too. You take about an hour and forty-five minute boat ride from International Falls to an island in Rainy Lake where you will find the Kettle Falls Hotel.

Tying Up Our Transportation

The Lumberjack Saloon is located inside. The Kettle Falls Hotel is also known as the Tiltin' Hilton because of the extremely wavey wooden floors in the bar that make you feel like you are walking in a fun-house. Maybe it is named that because you walk like Paris Hilton does after she has had a night on the town. This is such a famous feature of the place that when they remodeled it a few years back they made a topographical map of the floor before removing it to make sure that it would be reinstalled just the way it was. Now that is dedication.

The bar itself has a light wooden top with a wood paneled front. The bar chairs are oxblood colored vinyl sitting on metal legs, and they swivel. There are old wooden coolers with silver handles and hinges behind the bar. On top of them is a tiered shelf of liquor and a small wooden shelf above a narrow bar with a display of their canned sodas and beers. In the center of the shelf is a lamp mounted on the wall that is kind of a mottled stained glass with a semi-nude woman with a small scarf on her lap sitting on a rock in the woods. There is also a ceramic hula girl hanging on the wall next to a small oval mirror. Also sitting on the bar is a small shelf shaped like the prow of a rowboat. It holds a few cups and shot glasses. The lights above the bar look like old gas lanterns that now have lightbulbs in them.

A pipe runs the length of the bar up near the ceiling and from it hang the caps of previous customers (they didn't get mine though) and a display of sunglasses that were for sale. Stuffed otters, a bear, and a monkey either hang from the pipe or are draped over it.

Bar Man At The Bar

There is a red felt covered pool table that is set up on angled blocks so that it is level despite the floor.

Chris, Bruce, And Bar Man At The Pool Table

Bar Man And Donna

The walls are covered with tasteful pictures of nude women, photos of what the hotel used to look like in the old days, pictures of old fishermen with their catches, mounted fish, and old beer signs. There are also a rack of moose antlers and a rack of the smallest deer antlers I have ever seen. Lights similar to those over the bar and more of the semi=nude with a scarf lamps are mounted on the walls. Against one wall is an old-time coin-operated music machine that still works.

This place has been around for a long time, back when the island was home to lumberjacks, fishermen, gold miners, and boot leggers (easy access to Canada). In 1918 the place changed hands for the princely sum of $1000 and four barrels of whiskey. It is now owned by the Park Service but still operates as a hotel and bar with a decent restaurant. I would say be sure to drop by if you are in the neighborhood, but you will never just be in this neighborhood.

I had a bottle of Miller Genuine Draft (the beer selections aren't real good up here in the North Country, except at Bruce's Brewpub).

780) Ranier Muni

On the way into the small city of Ranier you are greeted by an enormous lumberjack and a large sign welcoming you to town.

The municiple bar in Ranier is probably the primary source of income for the city. It has a U shaped bar with the service station in the center. Three televisions are mounted above it. The bar has a blond wood-grained Formica top and black vinyl bar stools. There is a popcorn machine at one end of the bar and the popcorn is free. Also a video poker machine where you could win "gifts."

Bar Man At The Bar With Donna

We were being served our drinks by Lorna, the cheerful bartender.

Lorna, The Cheerful Bartender

Four dartboards are mounted on one wall but two of them are the electric type. They do have dart tournaments here though because there are plenty of dart trophies around the place. There is a pool table in the back room covered in red felt and a Simpson's pinball machine that wasn't working.

On one wall is a large map of Rainy Lake with notations in both French and English (probably indicating where the big ones lurk). There is also a plastic replica of a large walleye mounted next to the bar.

The upper part of the walls and the ceiling is wooden. Next to the door are hooks to hang your jackets and caps (Minnesotans love their caps). Their is also a picture of the Ranier chapter of the Red Hat Society hanging by the door. The outside of the place looks like a log cabin.

There was a good sized, boistrous and friendly crowd in here so a fun time was being had by everyone.

I had a Miller Genuine Draft.

781) Border Bar

We ventured into the big city of International Falls and stopped in here for a beer and a couple of pizzas. Another U shaped bar with a fake brown wood top. Red padded faux-leather formed a ledge around the top of the bar providing a comfy cushion on which to lean your arms, or your head after you have had a few too many. The bar stools were covered with the same stuff. Six yellow stained glass lamps hang over the bar along with Vikings banners. A couple of people at one corner of the bar were engaged in a noisy dice game.

The bar is in one corner of a large room that contains tables and chairs for eating your pizzas and drinking your beers. One wall of the dining area has several sports trophies. There are a lot of pictures of what look to be local sports teams hanging on the walls. There are a couple of televisions over the bar area, one showing baseball and the other hurricane news. There is another television in the dining area.

There was a sign announcing dates for Karoke Nights and Music by Patty-O every Sunday from 4:30 P.M. until 7:30 P.M. A good sized stage in the corner of the dining are allows Patty-O and karoke singers to strut their stuff.

There is an attached pool room with a single table and one regular and two electronic dart boards off to one side. Another two dart boards hang on another wall. There is also a Golden Tee 2K machine in one corner and a vending machine for snacks if you aren't in the mood for pizza. The pizzas were very good though.

I had yet another Miller Genuine Draft.

782) Viking Lounge

Not too far away was this, well, to call it a lounge would be a stretch, shall we say bar. It was the most jumping place we had been in so far by a long shot. The place was packed. There is a statue of a Viking by the door and the plague at its base announces "Furry Freak Brothers Softball Invitational Beer Drinking Champs."

It must have been a training night.

The bar is oval shapped and the top is brown Formica edged with beige Formica. It is surrounded by red padded bucket bar seats. Spotlights shine over the bar and it is ringed with strings of red, white, and blue Christmas lights. There are five televisions along one wall and another at the end of the bar.

One nice feature that you don't see too often was a regulation shuffle-board table. The Mysterious Chinese Woman beat my buddy Bruce quite soundly and then the two of the teamed up to beat a challenger. Quite an impressive display. There were also two pool tables covered in blue felt that were seeing quite a bit of action. I was waiting for the Mysterious Chinese Woman to wade into that bunch as well but she said she had hung up her ivory and jade inlaid cue long ago. Pity.

A red sign on the wall announced their specialty drinks that included Jager Bombers for $3.50, H Pnotiq Breezes for $3.75, and my favorite, the Suck & Blow Jello Shots for a mere $1.00 each. These were not only quite colorful, they were also quite popular.

This place also had a couple of electronic dart boards and at least one regular one that I could see. There was also a foosball mackine in the back. A big sign on the wall announcing that Wednesdays are "Kill The Keg Night" and tap beers are only fifty-cents might help explain the crowd, but by the time we got there the keg had long ago been killed.

I had another Miller Genuine Draft and we all piled into the car and headed home. Have no fear though, Donna was the designated driver and she doesn't drink.

A nice day in the Great North Woods and a very nice boat ride coupled with four bars made this one for the books. This makes 782 for the year and leaves me with 218 to go. Tomorrow I am expected to make a guest appearance at a Red Hat Society luncheon so that should prove to be interesting. To be a member you must be at least fifty years old so I keep looking for the Junior Pink Hat Auxilliary group.


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