Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Winter Wonderland

Written by : Nick Karakis
Edited by : Maddie Karakis




Well here we go!  2017 is off to a great start.  We just completed ICE CUTTING and I wanted to share some photos and stories of how it went.


This was my first year cutting ice on my own as last year Herb was still the "General" and, naturally, he made it look easy.  I figured out pretty fast this year that I had a lot to learn.  As far as our working conditions, ice was 7 inches thicker, and our temperatures for the week averaged 40 to 60 degrees warmer than last year.  We even had a day that hit a toasty 45 degrees.


We left the trucks behind and took off into the bush via snowmobile on Saturday. The group arrived at camp, and they were laced with excitement as everyone got settled in. Now, what many people don't realize is that with 20 inches of snow on the ground nothing is easy. Getting into camp seems like the hard part, but really it is just beginning. After arriving the real chores begin. You have to shovel out the outhouses, and the doors to get into the lodge before you can even unpack.  On top of that, we had to make several trips into the camp as somethings are easier to bring over the ice, ie..bunk beds, generator, wood burning stoves. It is a long, tiring process to get into the camp, and it is not long before everyone is ready for bed.
On Sunday we got up and went right to work. We take an entire day building the ice ramp and laying out the ice field. Then of course, it wouldn't be a proper trip without a challenge. This year we had problems with the snow blower, and we soon ended up with the grueling task shoveling off all the ice ourselves.





Monday morning we were once again up bright and early to begin cutting ice.  We worked from 7 am until 6:30 pm cutting and stacking the Ice.


This year one of my buddies even built us a new ice cutting saw.  The saw was made so it could be attached to a sled so we did not have to bend over. Of course this helped tremendously with our old backs.

Every year you must learn to adjust for the changes in the ice cutting crew. This year Todd, who had been cutting the ice with Herb for over 20 years, retired from the ice crew. We knew replacing him would be difficult, but after some learning curves the new crew seemed to work together really well.




One day we had a unique visitor in camp.  It was a Pine Martin.  He decided to make the top part of the boat house his home. It wasn't an easy task for Mr. Pine Martin as he felt it needed some redecorating. He ate a 5 inch hole through the door and totally destroyed the inside of the boat house. The little guy made sure there will be plenty of fixing up and cleaning to be done in the spring. 

We did get to have some fun exploring and Ice fishing.  We caught some trout, walleye, perch, burbout and pike.  I had the largest pike of my life on for over 20 minutes.  We had him at the ice hole for over 5 minutes but could not figure a way to get him through it.  We are estimating the fish at 50-52 inches long and well over 30 pounds.  After stripping down, reaching through the hole and water the fish took off and cut the line on the ice.  Although it was upsetting we still caught plenty of walleye, and even in winter had a fish fry with onion rings.




The scenery as always was amazing.  The way the light hit off the snow and sunsets were 2nd to none.  We headed out early Saturday morning leaving us wanting more, but knowing spring is coming and we will be returning soon. On the day we left it was over 40 degrees, and water was starting to lay on top of the ice.  Even though there was no threat of falling through it was nice to be off the lake as it was changing quickly. As you all know, Wine Lake has this beauty that draws you in and makes it hard to leave. It is why many of you come back year after year. It is also why I am sure you can believe we were starting our count down before the camp was even out of our sight.



Of course we look forward to seeing all of you and opening week. We can expect lots of work between now and then, but the memories make it easier. 

I hope you all enjoyed getting a closer look at this timeless tradition!
For those interested, here is a link to last years Ice cutting video

See you all soon!!!!
Lots of love -Maddie and Nick



Monday, October 31, 2016

Backwoods Tricksters and Bittersweet Goodbyes






I am not going to lie, getting myself to write this entry has been a battle. I’ve been putting it off, waiting for the inspiration to strike, but it wouldn’t. I have had people asking, my dad complaining, and my own guilt pushing me to write, but still I couldn’t. Finally, as I sit here, in a hospice center, dreading the next few weeks I found it.

Let me start with some quotes for you to think about while I recap the last 3 weeks.




Every day I've got to be thankful that I am alive, and you never know - the cliche is, I guess, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow, so you'd better be at peace with whatever you got going at the moment.

-Joseph Gordon-Levitt


How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

Our first group I want to talk about was our Cincinnati boys. They made sure we were entertained all week. From the green hair, to sparkly spiders, and the giant panties, they ALWAYS had something up their sleeve. Whether they were playing pranks on each other, or us, you knew they were always up to trouble.






They brought enough stuff for an army, but boy did they know what to bring. They surprised us with a lego cabin, which you can now find proudly displayed in the lodge. It has everything, even a fisherman and a moose!





My favorite thing they packed though was their vanilla rum. My gosh, if you haven’t tired it, please do. It will change your life.






Of course we had another birthday, so naturally I had to break out the birthday crown!


Next, we had our crazy group. Man these guys could party, but they had the fishing skills to back it up. They sure kept me busy.

The trip started off with my dad forgetting his gas can (it was quite funny). Then my new friend Jake was nice enough to take me fishing. I caught a 25 inch walleye in 70ft of water. It was a very cool experience, well that was until we got caught in the rain. That wasn’t so fun.



It was another good week filled with great fishing, and I learned a very very valuable lesson. Don’t drink too much. IT IS NO FUN.





Finally, we had our first bear hunters. By Sunday we had a bear down! It was a beautiful bear. Congratulations Jeff!





Along with the bear, there were some really nice fish caught by a first timer, and undercover fish master.






I would also like to thank the guys who brought me candy this season. For real you are the best. It helped me get through my time there. If dad wouldn’t kill me I would totally give you a discount!






Now, I would like to explain my rambling earlier. Have you ever had this overwhelming feeling you needed to be somewhere? Well, I did. I wanted to be home. I had to be home. I fought like hell to come home. I didn’t know why I just knew I had to be there. I’m not going to lie, I threw more than one fit to get me there. Well it worked. At the end of that 3rd week, I said an emotional goodbye, left the camp, and headed home for the last time this season. Three short days later I went and had dinner with my grandparents. The next day my grandfather was admitted to the hospital for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. A few incredibly emotional days later, I’m sitting in hospice watching him sleep, wondering if it might be the last time. No one said that buying the camp would easy, or that it wouldn’t completely change our lives, but I can not explain how many times our family has been tested this year. In the blink of an eye, your world could change, and your dad could be stuck in Canada. My grandfather has been such a supporter of this blog. He would read it religiously. Sunday he decided he had lived a full life, and is not receiving treatment. He is truly an amazing person. I think about him and about Wine Lake, and I really do think I am so incredibly lucky to have so many things in my life that make saying goodbye hard. I knew I needed to be home. Always listen to that feeling.
This blog was written 09/12/16
My grandfather passed away early morning 09/16/16 just 10 days after being diagnosed.
I return to this after a period of grieving, look back and think those quotes couldn't be more fitting. The world can change in an instant it always does. And I am beyond lucky because I have an infinite amount of things in my life that make goodbye hard. The camp, my family, and everyone I have let into my life have been very special to me. My grandfather loved me, I have no doubt. I spent most of everyday sitting in hospice with him. I had gone home to get some sleep, and his final hours, disoriented and tired, he kept asking when I would be home. By the time I made it back he had fallen asleep for the last time. He had a full night's sleep before taking his final breaths around 7am the next morning. I only wish I were able to finish this blog in time for him to read it. I still wait for him to post something for me on facebook, or like one of my pictures. Cherish what you have while you still have it, and thank God for the beauty he brings to your life no matter the form.

I would like to dedicate this to my Grandfather. Thank you for sharing God's grace with the world, and blessing the lives of so many.

In Memory of Charles C. Morrow
12/07/1941-09/16/2016
Your wings were ready, but my heart was not.
Goodbye and I love you.






Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's a Slow Start


My family is my strength and my weakness. - Aishwarya Rai Bachchan


First I must start with an apology. I am a week late because I have been a little lazy getting back into the swing of things, as well as sick, but hopefully my posts will begin to become more regular again.

The trip back to Wine Lake Camp was very rough. It was my very first time traveling completely alone, and I am impressed I managed to make it in one piece. Two flights, lots of waiting, and a greyhound later I was literally dropped off at an intersection on the highway at 4am. Luckily my wonderful father was waiting for me. Another long drive, and a very cold boat ride later I was back at Wine Lake. Well for like 2 minutes until I went to my room and slept the rest of the day. Next thing you know it was Saturday and I was up at 5:30 saying goodbye to people I had only just met. Dad did not waste anytime throwing me right back into the daily life!

Luckily it was a light week (our first of the season), and I was able to wean myself back into our rugged life style. It was a small group, but not quiet. Before I made the journey back it was brought to my attention that one of our guests had a birthday the day before mine. As a birthday present he requested a little crown, and since I am underage in the states I did what any thoughtful person would do and I got him a little crown! The surprise on his face was priceless!



Even more exciting, it turned out that another person in his cabin had a birthday the same day; lucky for him I had an extra crown!



Now this spry young fella wore me out just watching him. He runs everywhere! He says he likes to run because walking is too slow. Maybe I should take after him, he was in very good shape!

As usual tournament day was wonderful! I even had a little help with the brownies! A little girl by the name of Nellie helped me every step of the way.







It was a great week with some great people, and I can not wait to see them again.



Now there is family week…

Typically, when guests arrive on Saturday we ask for them to be at the landing around 9:30. Well this week when dad got there he found 2 people there a little early. His friends couldn’t wait, so they made sure they were there on time! As time passed still no one showed up at the landing. No one would answer the phone either. Eventually all his friends showed up, but the family was still nowhere to be found…

Now the first thing to know it the family decided to ride up in my uncle’s brand new RV.




I knew something was wrong when my little sister, Macy, sent me a message saying “Worst day ever.” Turns out, when dad finally got ahold of them the RV was not so new anymore. On the way up they ended up hitting a deer, which set them back a couple hours. No big deal right? Stuff happens. So dad went back to wait for them. Now after a couple hours I am thinking, “They are taking entirely too long.” No one would answer their phones either. About 6 is when they finally showed up, and I couldn’t believe what happened. As they were pulling into the driveway, the RV sank and got stuck! They had been trying to get it out, but finally gave up and decided they would worry about it later in the week…oh my.

After getting everyone to their Cabins and showing them the camp they were in love! Everyone was so proud of what my Dad has accomplished, AND how much weight he has lost! Everyone caught up a bit then headed their separate ways weary from travel.

Then came Sunday. My aunt and her new husband (the one’s whose wedding I left for) went fishing. Not 30 minutes later they are back and my aunt was in a panic. Turns out they had caught a pike, and while trying to remove the hook the fish decided to hook dear Brian.



The hook was incredibly stubborn, and did not want to be removed, but Brian was a good patient. After taking some aspirin, they were back out fishing.







Then of course the most important day of the yer, and the moment you have all been waiting for…

MONDAY!!!!!

Better known as my birthday!!!!

I woke up to my wonderful family and of course…Presents!!!!! I got a robe, some fancy socks, and books. It was then that the adventure started. My aunt wanted to go exploring, and to pick some blue berries. Let me tell you, it was one of the most fun, and intense journeys I have ever been on. It started at the sandy beach where we found moose tracks, shells, frogs, and a tiny leech!







We had a fun time exploring and walking on the sand, but the blueberries were calling. From the beach we made our way to little trout. I had never been there, and man was it exhausting! That hill is something else.



But we made it to the boat.



And found the pitiful few blueberries that were left.






Then I had to wade in the water up to me knees to get us on the move again. So much for that shower I took.




From there we journeyed to the hill across from the ranger’s cabin. We found even less blueberries there, but I did have service at the top of the hill so not a total loss.



Then we did get slightly lost on the way back down, but uncle Pete pointed us in the right direction.



After that we did a little tour of the ranger’s cabin.




My journey ended there because I desperately needed to change out of my wet jeans and shoes, so I went back and talked to so friends. Dinner was amazing. A wonderful friend of ours bought steaks for the whole camp! We had a great family dinner, I got to wear a crown, and my mom made me a cake!










Then I received the best birthday present of all:



I got a selfie with a chipmunk.

There was a little more fishing before we hit the hay, but overall it was a wonderful day!

Tuesday was uneventful, and I took the day to read one of my new books. Dad wasn’t very happy I was being lazy, but hey, it was a good book! There were lots of board games played, and my mom and dad got to spend some time together fishing.








Tournament day was a little out of the ordinary this week. Dad had to meet someone at the landing to get the RV unstuck and decided to postpone until he got back. Well he forgot to give the guests the memo and they took matters into their own hands. By the time he got back the fish were measured and cleaned! The camp was ready for a fish fry! We got some music playing and everyone had a great time. I even got to do some more drawing.










After everyone had their fill we switched it up and had ice cream and reese’s bars!




Then it was time to go fishing again!










Lots of good fish were caught, and it was a beautiful night!

The week wound down with some bonfires,



Tiny fish,







Lots of laughs, and good friends.




It was very sad to see my family go. My family really is my strength and my weakness. They keep me going, give me hope, show me love, good times, and laughter. They are the ones who have stood by me at me strongest, but also my weakest. They can motivate me, and, especially this week, demotivate me (sorry dad). We may be a hot mess, we may argue, be loud, crazy, weird, and sometimes grumpy, but that is what makes us the family we are. If we fall down there is always someone to help us back up. Love you all, and can’t wait to see you soon!