Friday, May 20, 2016

We Are Wine Lake

"Today I close the door to the past, open the door the future, take a deep breath, step on through and start a new chapter of my life." -Unknown

Starting a new chapter is exactly what is happening here at Wine Lake. Between new owners, a new crew, and some new visitors the door to the past has been closed, but not sealed for it is our great history that makes our camp truly special. As opening day draws closer the Wine Lake Camp crew has been hard at work making sure the camps first guests will feel right at home. The boats have been put in the water and prepped, the trees have exploded with greenery, and moose calves are hitting the ground. Just around the corner from the camp we discovered a cow with her newly born babies. We got to sit close by, exhilarated spectators, as the calves took their first swim. It was a truly unforgettable welcome into the new season.

There have been other exciting things happening as well! Some upgrades have been made which we hope will help at portage. A new, larger dock has been added. The water is up, but not enough to run the rapids, so be ready to portage.

May has had many surprises for us as well. It warmed up and the ice was off early, which made for an easier time in. But the winter was not ready to give in just yet and the crew woke up to a winter wonderland! Luckily the spell only lasted for a few days and now it is seventy and sunny! Who knows what weather tomorrow will bring!
May 13th, 2016
May 15th, 2016
Since the frost has finally let up we went about finding some lovely flowers to brighten it up around here. They made it safely to the camp so no worries! We have also gotten to meet our new pet Pete the Pike! It didn't take him long to learn we had minnows again, and you can find him every morning off the side of the dock waiting for his breakfast.

 It is safe to say the fish are biting! During this seasons preparations there has been very little downtime, but we found some time to send the boys to catch us some dinner. They returned with many great stories, and, luckily, some fish for dinner. It gave Herb a chance to show Nick some great fishing spots, and allowed the new owner get to really know this beautiful lake. They got some awesome pictures of the first fish of the season!

Nick Karakis

Chris Karakis

Herb Pugmire
For our first time opening, the famous Ann and Herb came up to show us the ropes. We spent the two weeks they were here trying to take in every drop of information they could give us. We heard stories, laughed, learned some recipes, cleaned, cleaned, and CLEANED! The work, time, care, and just pure love they put into this camp is amazing. They are two very special people who have grown the Wine Lake community into something very unique and special itself! I only hope that we are able to care for and protect this lake even a fraction of the amount they did, for I have never met two people with a love in their hearts that equals that of Ann and Herb. Although is was sad to see them go, we were able to share one last dinner together. We cooked the fish that was caught that day, everyone gathered around the table, and many laughs ensued. It was a night that will be remembered.

They will never be forgotten. People have a way of leaving a mark on your heart. The mark of Ann and Herb was not only left on our hearts, and on the hearts of many men and women who have visited here, but their mark also lay in the very heart of Wine Lake Camp. It is seen in every cabin and decoration, and also in the traditions. It is because of them that I sit here, looking over the lake, and know that dinner was not the end of a story, or the end of chapter. It was the end of a book, and the beginning of a sequel. A story that no one has read yet. One with new characters, new adventures, and challenges. And although each book is different, and has different characters, plots and changes, they all come together to create one story. The story of Wine Lake Camp. So it is because of Ann and Herb, and the wonderful story they have created that I can sit here and look at all we have done, all the things that have been accomplished, and all the hard work we have put in, and know that we are ready to open tomorrow. Ready to take on the challenges that come our way. We finally close the door to the past and look forward at our open door to the future. Everyone here at camp has been holding their breath for this moment.We take a combined breath and we are finally ready to step through. We are that first chapter of the new book, we are a team, and we are Wine Lake.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Starting the Journey of a Lifetime

As Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step,” and for the owners of Wine Lake Camp the first step was the largest of them all.  They dive in head first unaware that there are sacrifices they must make, cold they must face, as well as things and people they must leave behind. As the torch is passed off so are the hardships, the long hours, the stress, but also the joy. As the new year arrives the torch is handed to the new owner of Wine Lake Camp.  He spends hours planning, packing, and preparing himself to be away from his family for months. The truck is started and he pulls out unaware of what journey is ahead of him. All he knows is he is pursuing his lifelong dream. Scenery passes by and he drives for many long hours as the distance between him and what he has always called home grows larger. When he nears the landing the landscape becomes vibrant and beautiful.

He reaches the Eagle’s Nest and tries to comprehend that he is almost there. Everything around him is breathtaking. The snow and ice have melted earlier than expected and the temperature was supposed to reach eighty degrees. He gets his first real taste of what it is like to be a camp owner: you never know what the weather will be like during opening weeks.

The bay is picture perfect. Fed off of a waterfall the water reflects the blue of the cloudless sky. The dock is empty; waiting and ready to be lined with boats for the upcoming season. He unloads his truck into the Eagle’s Nest, and prepares to journey to the camp first thing in the morning. As daylight approaches his first real challenge ensues. Overnight he had fallen ill. Unable to go out on the boat he has no way to get to the camp and loses an entire day of work. When he recovers, he excitedly sets out to find Wine Lake. After taking a few wrong turns, and crossing the portage, the giddy new owner catches his first glimpse of the thing he has been working so hard for.

He spends some time getting to know the camp, but must return to the landing for the night. After crossing the portage again, he learns his second lesson: always bring enough gas. He is able to get himself to the camp Sleepy Dog where he meets Tom, the son of Wine Lake Camp’s original owners. Tom gives him gas and a meal, and Nick goes on his way. The sun comes up the next day and he is unaware that it will be a very grueling day. It is filled with trips back and forth, and across the portage. The precious cargo consists of Wine Lake gear, files, office supplies, and much more. Everything he transferred between boats by hand.

By the time he pulls up to the boat shop at the end of the day he is drained. He closes up and heads to the lodge. He sits for a while and collects his thoughts. He is overflowing with emotions of joy, excitement, fear, stress, and satisfaction. He is finally here after all the years of dreaming. He gets ready for bed, it is another early day tomorrow, and it doesn’t get easier. He finds himself already missing his family. One more glance out the window and he goes up to bed.

He wakes up and bundles up. The temperature has dropped significantly since he first arrived; it is now in the low forties. He climbs in the boat and starts on his way to pick up some old friends. The wind is cold and brutal but he presses on. He arrives at the landing to find none other but the wonderful Ann and Herb. It is another grueling day of carrying and transporting, but they make it. The next days will be a challenge for Nick. He has less than two weeks to learn anything and everything. Two weeks to learn as much as he can about what Ann and Herb learned in thirty. The three of them accomplish as much as they can before dark. When they finish the come together and head to the lodge for dinner.

A few days of hard work later, Nick returns to the landing once more to pick up his new employees Brent, and Karen. When he greets them he can tell they are eager for this new adventure. They made it in and were unpacking when they decided to play a trick on Nick. He had set a trap to catch squirrels, but had caught a chipmunk. He set the cage on the dock for him and Herb to take with them to release. They forgot the chipmunk on the dock and left on the boat. Brent and Karen saw this. They released the chipmunk, reset the trap, and happened to catch the squirrel. Knowing that is what Nick was trying to do, they set the cage back where they found it. Nick and Herb return to find their chipmunk has turned into a squirrel! The can’t believe it. They ask around, but no one seems to know what happened. Everyone finishes with their day and decide to meet again early the next morning. As everyone in the camp gathers around the lake to learn how to use the water pump, Karen and Brent finally confess that they caught the squirrel. They have a good laugh and carry on now that the mystery is finally solved.

They work through the cold and the rain trying their hardest to get everything ready for opening week. Ann and Herb help Nick as much as possible. They teach him the history of the camp, and how to make sure that fishing on the lake doesn’t hurt the environment. Hours are spent on each cabin individually cleaning, setting up, making beds, and repairing anything that was damaged over the winter. He walks into the lodge at the end of the day, sits down, and thinks. He thinks of everything that has been done and the things that he still must do before the camp opens in eight days. He has only been away from home for ten days, but it feels like he has been away for six weeks. Early mornings and late nights make the days blend together. His body is heavy with exhaustion as he thinks of what has been accomplished. The camp isn’t ready yet, but it’s a start.