Saturday, September 30, 2006

Up North

I haven't had much of a chance to post anything lately because I was up in Northern Minnesota visiting friends of mine who live on Dove Island in Rainy Lake. The closest town is Rainier and the closest "large" town is International Falls, population a little over 7000.

My friend, Bruce, had made some spruce beer and was eager for us to try it. He used the green tips of spruce branches either instead of or to supplement the hops. He should market it as Spruce from Bruce, or something like that.

Chris, Bruce, And Bar Man Sampling Spruce from Bruce

As you can see, the beer had a bit of a head on it, but it did settle down after about five minutes or so. We are enjoying our beer on Bruce's deck.

The weather was a bit mixed but we did have several very nice days and managed to do a bit of fishing. Chris caught this nice Northern, 31 inches and about 10 pounds.

Chris With His Catch

The Mysterious Chinese Woman busied herself in Bruce's basement kitchen and brewery but, alas, it was not to make trimmings for our fish dinner.

Mysterious Chinese Woman Busy In The Kitchen

After being whacked in the head with a hammer the fish made a brazen leap for freedom as it was being placed on a table by the lake to be filleted. Oh, what tales he will have to tell to his children, at least the ones he doesn't eat.

There was a bit of sad news though. You may recall my review of Sha Sha's from the last time that I visited up here. It was a very nice bar that had all kinds of hand-made furniture, a lovely bar, and all kinds of mounted trophy fish. Sadly, it burned down and the owners have put up a large tent and a Tiki bar to get them through the season.

As you can see, a Tiki bar on the Canadian border at the end of September doesn't do a lot of business.

Maybe the troll scared everyone away.

Well, it didn't scare everyone away.

Bruce and Bar Man at the Tiki Bar

The bartender said they lost a lot of business because women didn't like using the porta-potties that had been put up to replace the bathrooms that were destroyed in the fire. This also cut down on a lot of the bigger parties that they host during the year. They plan on being back in business next year though.

Sadly, even the chipmunk that guarded the old bar suffered in fire.

Here he is guarding the old bar:

Now he has a butt-crack, although it goes the wrong way.

One neat place that we went to for dinner was called the Y and it is out of town a bit at a place where the highways do form a bit of a Y.

The Y

It had kind of a typical "up North" look to it and a friendly crowd at the bar where I had a drink.

Bar Man at the Bar

The restaurant had recently changed hands and the new owner, Suzie, was very friendly. I certainly wish her and her husband well, the food was not only plentiful, but delicious. They do a great job smoking ribs and I would like to go back for their smoked prime ribs one day.

Suzie and Bar Man

Just remember, if you come up here for the fishing, you need a big worm to catch a big fish.

Bar Man, Big Worm, and Mysterious Chinese Woman

We had a wonderful trip and managed to watch The Twins tie with Detroit for the lead in their race for a division title. It was an extra innings game that I watched with my friends Rico and Sandy in the cozy Bob's Bar.

Sandy, Bar Man, and Rico (AKA Bob)

Sadly, I didn't have enough time to visit Nye's in Northeast Minneapolis. It was just selected by Esquire Magazine as the best bar in America. It wasn't one of my thousand bars either, although I have visited it many times when I was living in Minneapolis. Their ribs and sauerkraut is to die for but their specialty is a prime rib. Next time I am in Minneapolis I will visit it for sure and take plenty of pictures while I am there.