Saturday, October 30, 2010

You Can See Russia, Or At Least Canada

Our next stop after leaving Jon and Ruthie's was International Falls to visit our friends Bruce and Donna.  They actually live outside of International Falls on Dove Island.  Between International Falls and Dove Island is Ranier.  Lot's of political action around Ranier which recently incorporated a bunch of unincorporated whatever they ares and have thereby more than doubled their population.  International Falls is bent out of shape because, apparently, they wanted to incorporate these same whatevers.  Dove Island remains whatever it is.  And who knows what this all means for anybody.  International Falls has a population of a bit over 2000 people and it is dropping while Ranier had a population of a bit over 200 before the incorporation of the whatevers.  We are not talking huge populations here, by any means.

Normally I wouldn't know about this stuff, but you can't get a major newspaper up here.  They don't even deliver the Minneapolis paper this far north.  So you can either read about Mildred's aunt coming for a visit, the local highschool that had to play eight-man football for their homecoming because so many of the players on the opposing team went moose hunting that they couldn't field a full team, or local politics.  Believe me, I read everything.

Oh, and you don't even want to hear about the proposed sewer line out to Dove Island.  People actually want to be billed based upon the amount of waste they produce.  I want to see how this works out.

To escape the insanity we all headed over to Fort Frances across the Pigeon River and in Canada to take in some curling.

Senior Curling League In Action

I kind of think of curling as Canadian bowling.  The one big difference is that you can't actually have beer down where you curl.  Oh, okay, there are some other big differences, I will grant you that.  Kind of fun to watch, though.  And they had a nice little viewing area upstairs where you could buy food and beer.

Beer And Curling, Does It Get Any Better?

They didn't have a real extensive menu and it was kind of like snack food.  But it was much better than snack food and the portions were quite large.  Sadly, I cannot remember what we ate.

One other place that we went was Thunderbird Lodge.  We go there at least once whenever we visit Bruce and Donna.  It is very close and has excellent food.

Thunderbird Lodge

And the views are magnificent.  You would almost think this is a painted background, but it isn't.

Donna And Mysterious Chinese Woman, With A View

Bruce had a most excellent rib-eye steak while the rest of us had walleye.  My walleye was deep-fried with just the lightest of a crust and delicious flaky meat inside.  You can't go wrong with walleye.

Now, being a city boy, living on Dove Island isn't my cup of tea.  I expect to be able to walk to fifty differnent bars and restaurants, but I do like to visit.  And in Brooklyn you will never wake up to views like these, right from Bruce and Donna's deck.

And you can shoot a deer with a bow right from that same deck, not something you could do in Brooklyn, even if you had a deck.  Bruce shot one from this deck last year.  Yes, country living does have its benefits.  I would just have to figure out how to minimize my waste production.

And, in the Did You Know portion of this post, did you know that the hockey mask used in the first Halloween movie was a modified Halloween mask of Captain Kirk?  That's right kids, you are actually being frightened by William Shatner.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Turkey Gizzards, Beavers, And More

Before leaving Virginia, Minnesota and heading to Ely we made a couple of stops.  The first one was at a butcher shop where we picked up some brats and saurkraut for dinner.  I also picked up a couple of jars of pickled turkey gizzards, one for my friend Bruce and one to take home.

Pickled gizzards are, in my opinion, vastly underrated as a culinary delight.  Kind of like a meat pickle.  You don't see them in many stores here in New York City, though.

Pickled Eggs, Gizzards, And Pork Hocks

My friend Tom, who was at Sawmill, is a Vietnam veteran and is very active in raising money to erect a Vietnam Veteran's memorial in Virginia.  In fact he is the Chairman of the committee to raise the necessary funds.  Unlike in large cities like New York, Los Angeles, etc., the spirit of patriotism still runs very high in smaller towns throughout the United States.  You really do have to step away from your cynicism when you visit places like this.

On one of the buildings in Virginia is covered with portraits of residents who have served in the various wars the United States has fought in.

My Friend Tom Is On The Left

From Virginia we headed to Ely where Jon showed me his problem with beavers first hand.  Last year he was complaining that they were taking down trees on his property.  This year he showed me where his dock was underwater because the beavers had damned up the outlet of his lake.

Dam Beavers

Luckily someone has raked a clearing to one side of the dam to allow some of the water to escape.

A Bypass

I won't say who created the bypass because, I believe, it is against the law to mess with a beaver dam.

A Possible Suspect

It is probably also against the law to shoot a wolf who is eating your child.

For lunch we headed to a restaurant that was formerly an Arby's, or something like that.
An Improvement, Although I Like Arby's

The food was decent and plentiful and there was beer.  They also did a nice job remodeling the place and added some Minnesota memorabilia.
This Is An Old, Original Painting Or Something

The Obligatory Wooden Fish

From there we headed to an old bar that has been in the same family for at least two generations.  This is the type of bar that was common back in the days before Ely became somewhat of a touristy town.  And only the tourists would consider walking in the front door.
The Back Entrance To Zaverl's Bar

This is a great bar, just the kind that Bar Man likes.  Great Saturday afternoon crowd nursing their beers, draft Schmidt's, and shooting the breeze with each other and with Gary Zaverl who was tending bar.  And Schmidt's is the only beer they have on draft here.
All Decked Out For Halloween, Too

And Gary Joined In

After shooting the breeze for a bit we headed back to Jon and Ruthie's where we grilled our brats, heated up some saurkraut and beans, and had a mighty fine supper.  And the next morning the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I headed up to International Falls to visit my friends Bruce and Donna.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Visit To The Sawmill

Some of you may remember that I posted about Sawmill some time ago at the behest of my friend Tom.  He wanted me to tout the many, ahem, assets that the place offered.

  • No, really, if you click the assets, er, girls you will be miraculously directed to Sawmill's website.  And there you will see the assets offered.

    Well, anyway, I made it here to visit my friend Tom and his wife Lori as well as my friend's Jon and Ruthie.

    A Sign In The Distance

    And Here It Is

    And These Are My Friends

    The guy on the left with a big smile is Jon.  He has been having beaver problems so he is a bit glum.  And get your minds out of the gutter, these beavers are the kind that build dams and flood lakes.  Next to him is Tommy and then his wife Loris.  Then it is Jon's wife Ruthie and, last but certainly not least, the Mysterious Chinese Woman.

    Now, I didn't write down the name's of these lovely young ladies but I might add their names later if Tom sends them to me.  He probably won't send the ladies, though, just the names.  Tom knows them all.

    Flash - Tom sent me their names:



    The lady in the above picture is the owner of Sawmill, brains and beauty.




    They were already getting into the mood for Halloween, and nothing says Halloween like a decorated moose.

    They Say Moo Instead Of Boo

    Tom and Lori live  near Sawmill and the rest of us toddled off to the nearby AmericInn where we were spending the night before heading up to Wolf Lake, just outside Ely, the next morning.  That is where Jon and Ruthie live and the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I are going to spend some time with them.  But a bit more on that in my next post.