Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Another Week Has Gone and Passed

As the sun sets on another week at Wine Lake I feel like the summer is burning away.  I cannot believe we are getting to the end of July and I have been at this for going on 3 months.  Just as I am getting to know a great group of people, they are back in their cars and trucks driving home, and a totally new group comes driving in.  They are as nervous about meeting the new owner as I am about making sure their adventure lives up to their dreams and expectations they have had for months.  Those first couple of moments can be awkward, then everyone realizes it is the same old place they have come to know and love with nothing to worry about and we all start setting about to begin the journey.

The fishing has also started to pick up again.  We went through a spell where we had a hard time catching walleyes.  Even when they were caught-

  the fish just seemed to have a different agenda than the fisherman. 

The pike were another story.  The Choate and Tumlin family plain old wore them out.  They caught 3 pike over 40 inches and had a legit 45 incher to the side of the boat before he decided he was not going to get in the boat.  They added 3-5 pike daily in the 30-38 inch range and quit keeping track of the ones smaller than that. 

As summer rolls on we have seen the youth and future of Wine Lake start showing up.  They have started making friendships in camp that will hopefully build and last through the years as it has happened here for the past 70 years.  They truly are the future of Wine Lake Camp!

We had the pleasure of seeing 3 generations of the Burns family gather here for the first, and probably not the last time.  As their families grow, so does the memories they are making.

We also were treated to the Fiftieth wedding anniversary of Ed and Judy Tumlin.  They enjoyed the week with all of the family and had a smile on their faces the entire week.

John Saddler came all the way from Ohio to Wine Lake for the first time.  They seemed to fit right in and caught fish all week long.  They looked right at home.

As the week came to a close many were relaxing and trying new things they don’t normally get a chance to do back home with such busy schedules.  With fishing best in the mornings and evenings, they days can be spent hiking, reading and swimming.  Here Lane tries out kayaking for his first time.

We truly had a great week and look forward to all of the people returning next year.  The temperatures remain well below what most of the US has been experiencing and the wildlife and guests have been enjoying it.  Moose have been seen all over the lake.  Otters continue to come and go out in our bay.  The rabbits and chipmunks in the yard are out feeding all day. 
As the sunsets, we all again look forward to it rising again in the morning and starting a new day and new week with new adventures.

By the Way:
For those that follow the weekly blog we finally received the part for the solar system and the lights are back on! 

Maddie will be on her way back Thursday!!! Yay! And the wedding was beautiful!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

By Nick Karakis

Fourth of July popsicle made by Macy Karakis

Let’s start with the bad as I always like to get that out of the way first.

This week will go down as one of the most tumultuous weeks I have had this season. It felt as each day brought some new and unexpected challenge that we had to meet head on. 

The week started out just like most weeks in the bush with delays.  The part to fix the lodge solar system is nowhere to be found.  What started off as one week with no power has now turned into two.  I was always told I was in the dark now I truly am.

Next my daughter Madison that has been up at camp with me for the last two plus months,  decided to go home early for a prior engagement.  She was able to get a ride home instead of flying so she took the opportunity and left a week before I was expecting.  This quick exit led to me cover many more duties than I had expected and has kept me running ever since.

Then there was Wednesday, tournament day, always fun right?  Wrong!  The guests spent the day having a good time fishing, and trying to catch just the right combination of fish for the tournament. At precisely 3pm all boats had to be at the dock for weigh in.  At 3:05 we had an unexpected late arrival.  It was the MNR or the Ministry of Natural Resources.  We quickly learned that our event would be delayed for quite a while as they inspected each freezer, stringer and boat.  Then, they let everyone know that alcohol of any kind was not allowed in boats and they will give out tickets for it.  They also ended up writing a ticket to one group of guests for having their contest fish on the stringer and their limit in the freezer. Even though the ones on the stringer were to be eaten for dinner.  Simple mistake but a costly one, lesson learned.
*Note from Maddie*
***********To the boys who I scolded for having bottles in there boat this is why! You never know when they will show up! Also a tip with limits: Wait until closer to the day you are leaving to stock your freezer with fish to take home. This will decrease the chance of you breaking a law and getting a fine. We love that you like to take fish home to friends and family, just be responsible for it! Thank you, and lesson learned I hope. *******************************************************  
Finally, around 4:15 we got to our ice cream and brownies.  Though a little subdued we made the most of it.

On Thursday we had a guest who had a problem with a motor that had to be replaced.  No a big deal but when 25 miles back in the bush a 2-hundred-pound motor is no easy thing to portage in, replace and portage out the broken one.

To start off on the good news side the new staff cabin is coming along nicely.  We now have it framed and roofed.  The next step will be putting up the log siding that is on order. 

We also put in a new boat lift to help with Friday boat cleanings so I can try to not have back problems every week as boat cleaning is one of the most physical chores we do.

We had a young man by the name of Hunter who caught his first fish, and added to the total with a 22” walleye.  Way to go Hunter.
The fishing was not great as we entered into July but good enough to make sure everyone had enough fish to eat and take home if they felt inclined.  We caught many big fish with at least dozen walleye over 25”, several lake trout over 30” and lots of pike in that 30’-40’ range.  We had two young girls in camp this week that could really fish.  They caught multiple pike over 35” and several trout over 30”.  It was impressive to watch.

We had 4 gentlemen in the moose who went by the name the Meeces (Named themselves).  They celebrated the 53rd birthday of their leader, Pat, while here and Karen, one our staff, made him a birthday cake (yes even in the bush we can celebrate birthdays in style).  They enjoyed the week relaxing in the evening after long days of fishing by drinking beer brewed by their homes in Colorado and even shared a few with me.  Thanks guys! (Just so you know, Maddie made sure you got your mention!)

This brings us to UGLY

As all the guests were helping out, (really great people who worked their butts off getting everyone over the portage) move boats out of Wine Lake, I noticed 2 gentlemen getting really close to the falls.  Pre-occupied with something in their boat they did not notice they were about to take a 3-5 second ride unlike any they have taken for quite some time.  As I yelled at them to hold on their boat was set shooting straight down the falls into the biggest part of white water the portage has to offer.  With help from above, bruised buts and egos, they came out the other end wet,  but OK (thank goodness).  I know my heart rate was elevated but nothing like theirs.  I did tell the I was angry that they got to run the falls before I did.  Not finding much humor in it, they just smiled.  Glad they are OK.

WOW! It was an exciting week at WLC! I can not believe I missed it. But things come up and a ride home with my uncle was a lot cheaper than a $400 plane ticket. It was pretty funny to see the surprise on dad's face when I told him at 3pm that I was leaving at 5:30 the next morning. Sorry dad! I also want to apologize to the group I left. I was really looking forward to getting to know you. You would have been a great group to write about so it was very hard to leave. And to the groups I won't get to meet, I guess you will just have to come back next year so you can meet me! It is probably a good thing though because I heard the lodge is packed with testosterone this week. I think I am safer at home!

Now even though I have missed out on a lot of excitement at Wine Lake, we are not lacking ANY excitement here either. I as well have some good, bad and ugly!

The Bad:
       Being home has been exhausting. I have been sleeping on the couch because I have yet to get the motivation to clean my room. Since I was home from college four days before leaving for Canada my entire dorm room is in boxes and bags. You can't even see my bed. I have been scrambling to fit in 7 doctors appointments while I am home so I can have my medications when I got back as well. I have gotten some sunburn as well! The crazy part has been the storms! The summer had been pretty quiet until I got home. There are trees down everywhere! The worst though was having to leave my dad and my WLC family. Having two homes that are in different countries is a very difficult thing, but I packed up and journeyed back to the states.

Just a small portion of our wonderfully supportive family.

Next the Good:
             Being home has been great as well. I have my wonderful animals back. I will only torture you with pictures of two of the eight. And I can drive again! After being stuck in the middle of no where for two months the freedom of a car is a wonderful thing!

My baby Oscar

Reese our "Camp Dog"

The first day back I was welcomed with a trip to the zoo! One of the most exciting things was the fact I was able to surprise my neighbors, and come to their graduation party. I grew up with the twins next door who were practically my sisters. It was very nice to be there for them.

Micah poses at the xoo

That is just the beginning of the excitement while I am home! There are so many more things while I am home. I finally got a hair cut and a pedicure! Man that was nice. I also have my aunt's wedding, and a concert to go to. I can not wait!

Now the Ugly:
              I mentioned it had been crazy. Well a couple days after I came home we had a boy who I had gone to school with crash his car in our yard. He broke the front axel, hit our tree, and shattered his passenger window. Thank god he was okay, but our yard is a little bruised.

             I also mentioned the storms. Well while watching the storm I was able to watch another exciting event...

The wind picked up knocking the basketball hoop onto Micah's windshield. Right in front of my eyes! She cried for a bit, but we got it fixed. As long as she watches out for glass shards she will be fine! Being home has been something else for sure! As much as I love being here, I can not wait to get back. I hope everyone enjoys their stay!

Even at home I am dressed for the job!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Little Too Remote Maybe?

Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance. This will be a very long entry due to the fact I was unable to write one last week and it has been absolutely crazy here. I will do my best to break up the long stretches with some pictures. I hope you enjoy!

              For years Wine Lake Camp has given people a chance to get away. The ability to spend a week without rushing to your phone every time it rings, or worrying about what time you have to be home for your favorite TV show is a dream for some people. Towards the end of every week there is always someone who tells me, “You know, it has been nice to take a break from everything, but I am ready to go back.” When you live out here you can’t just go back. It has definitely been something that takes a little adjusting. It has been two months without TV, phone service, friends, driving, pets, fast food, plumbing, indoor bathrooms, unlimited power, and an actual toilet. So, okay, maybe more than a little adjusting. Now we do have phone service and Wi-Fi, but only in the lodge, and our sink has running water, but it is still different.
This it the result of trying to sit on the dock and work on art.
3 billon flies later this was all I could think to draw...

Do you think you could do it? It really is a whole different lifestyle. You are 100% dependent on what little resources you have. The most important one we have is a little bit of nifty technology called, you may have heard of it, solar power. Now honestly I hope you know what solar power is haha. It is this wonderful thing that takes energy from this beautiful floating orb we call the sun and turns it into the power that I harness to bring you this lovely blog. It is also the reason that last week I was unable to gift you with the wonderful Wine Lake News. As the quote I used this week says: technology will gift you, then stab you in the back. Well, that is exactly what happened here when the lodge solar system decided to off itself. Yes folks, I am in the middle of nowheresville with no phone service, no Wi-Fi, and no lights. Oh and we now have a refrigerator as well as a chest freezer that are slowly getting warmer. Now, let me just say it is hard to figure out what isn’t working when you can’t look up who to call, and even harder to call said person when you don’t have a phone. Sounds Like quite the predicament doesn’t it. This is where we cue the next lovely piece of technology: the generator.
The flowers this week looked particularly beautiful.

Day 2: Wahoo, the power is back! Well, at the expense of our serenity. With the wonderful electricity the generator provides comes the much less wonderful noise it makes. Because of this, we are limited to when we let it run. We leave it off till everyone is up, and turn it off at dinner time. Luckily this bit of power allows us to call someone to come fix it. When we finally found someone, the poor guy had to drive to the landing from Red Lake, and go on an hour boat ride to tell us he didn’t have the part and we would have to wait at least a week to have it flown in. Now, I’m not going to lie, the lack of reliable power has caused some tension here at WLC. I mean you would probably be pretty on edge too if someone cut the power in the middle of a phone call with your mother too. Right? Also just as I learned it is hard to call a repairman without a phone I learned it is also impossible to book a flight home without internet. Now technology must be an octopus or maybe just has an endless supply of knives because after it stabbed me in the back at least six times it still wasn’t happy.
Much in the same manner as the solar system the generator decided to take its own life. Isn’t that nice? Let’s just run to the store and get what we need to fix it and will we be good. Oh yeah, I forgot it is an entire day ordeal to go to the store! Well that is a problem isn’t it? Luckily someone was able to figure out what was wrong and we brought the dang thing back to life. Hopefully that part finds it’s way here soon before I lose my mind!
Who knew chives could be so pretty?

Now the only reason I still have my sanity is due to the fact we have encountered some truly amazing guests these past couple weeks. And the size of the fish that have been caught is unbelievable!

Al Glodt caught the biggest fish this season with his giant 44in Northern Pike!

I must say though, George Ellis was in the running with his monster fish.

               Now I was also lucky enough to make lots of new animal friends this week. My turtle, who has now been officially named Mona, has been all over camp looking for the perfect place to lay her eggs. Chip, the chipmunk will wait at the door until you bring him some sunflower seeds. I was also able to rescue another bird who stunned himself by flying into our window.

               There were some more…exotic animals this week too. They were loud, crazy, played a mean game of cards, and could be found in the moose cabin. I am just playing, they were really great, and taught me a new card game. Thankfully they continued to invite me back no matter how many times I kicked their butts! They also taught me that there really is truth to the saying that behind every great man ( or in this case group of men ) is an even greater woman, and her name is Peggy. There is no doubt that she is the pack leader, but she is also a very kind soul. I am very glad I was able to meet this group of people.

             We were also very fortunate the past couple weeks to have a few people that have been coming to Wine Lake Camp since way before I was born. It really gives me the chance to learn a lot about the history of my new home. One of these groups brought for the first time the fourth generation of their family to be a part of their WLC story! He was an adorable 16month old who went by the nickname Mr. Naughty.

              They even brought back part of an old friend to forever be a part of this wonderful place. There was never a shortage of laughs, especially when someone tried to go fishing without their gas tank…oops. We were also gifted a one of a kind “fish finder.” It now resides in the boat house and can be used upon request.

               And unfortunately as all things do, the week came to an end. We were forced to say goodbye to our new friends, but not without the promise to see them again next year. They were an incredible group, and honestly, if I had the chance I could write a 1000 page novel on this past week. But alas after 4 hours I figure I better be done. Thank you all for being wonderful, and thank you for all the new experiences you grant me every day for I am truly blessed! Remote is never a bad thing when I get to meet people like you!
Taken at 2am