Cabin, December 2002 - January 2003

The Cabin was occupied from December 27 to January 6 this year. Initially Vittoria and Bill went up. They'll have to provide more information of their adventures! Jon, Amelia, and I came up on December 31. Bill left on January 1. Matt came up on January 3. Jon, Amelia, and Vittoria left on Jan 4. Matt and I finally left on January 6.

December 31

Once again the weather was atrocious. Fortunately from reports we knew there was snow in Grand Marais and that snowmobilers were out enjoying the trails. Despite this it was hard to have confidence the further north we got without seeing snow. Gaylord and Grayling were bare of snow! This means we made very good time driving up. In fact, we mostly had blue sky and didn't even see any snow on the ground until north of Seney (literally none on the ground until we got about 20 miles south of Grand Marais). It was actually snowing as we got closer to Grand Marais. Not a lot, but at least there was some and it was better than nothing. As it turns out, this was almost all the fresh snow we saw for the entire trip.

Bill skiing to the cabin from the trailhead. Bill skiing to the cabin from the trailhead. Vittoria skiing to the cabin from the trailhead. Vittoria skiing to the cabin from the trailhead. Me with my toys (snowmobile and new car).

We arrived in Grand Marais at about 12:45pm. We planned on meeting Vittoria at 2:30pm. She and Bill arrived at about 2pm even though they didn't have a clock with them! Vittoria and Bill decided to ski back in (quite impressive). I went in with Amelia and a load of gear. Then went back out to pick up Jon. We parked at the snowmobile rental place off M-77 (a place we ended up spending too much time). The snowmobile path into Grand Marais had been totally rerouted to take a lot longer. Jon had to take it in to get gas for the snowmobile.

Me with my toys (snowmobile and new car). Bill, Vittoria, Amelia, and Jon eating dinner. Vittoria, Bill, and Amelia playing Bunco. Vittoria (with the nice hat) and Bill playing dominoes. Vittoria (with the nice hat) and Bill playing dominoes. Amelia, Jon, and Bill playing with Euchre.

Dinner consisted of the cabin staple, black beans and rice. Naturally with plenty of wine. The rest of the evening was taken up by playing Bunco, dominoes, and Euchre. Yes, that's right, we actually got four people up there at the same time who were willing and able to play Euchre. It was a tremendous pleasure to actually be able to play Euchre again. As you would expect Amelia and I soundly defeated Jon and Bill (that's the way I remember it and I am writing the story after all).

Jon opening a bottle of Champagne. (Blurry picture of) Jon, Vittoria, Amelia, and Bill celebrating the new year.

We had to wake Vittoria up to celebrate the New Year (this being a common theme, that is, Vittoria going to bed early, not celebrating the New Year).

January 1

River behind the cabin. Cat tails in the marsh behind the cabin. Marsh behind the cabin. Marsh behind the cabin. The cabin. The cabin.

I got up earlier than everyone else (oh, I don't know, maybe 9:30) so instead of waking everyone up I went out for a short snowshoeing expedition. The snow really wasn't deep enough to require snowshoes but I used them anyway. I started by climbing the ridge behind the outhouse (staying far away from water). Since I too quickly made it back to McCloud Grade I then circled back along the river that runs next to the cabin. Long story short, Jon would not approve, but I did get some nice pictures and I was careful.

Jon waiting to go skiing. Amelia and Jon leaving the cabin to go skiing. Amelia and Jon leaving the cabin to go skiing. Amelia skiing. Jon skiing across a bridge.  Notice his fear. Mostly open field. Amelia and Jon preparing to ski back across the bridge. Amelia skiing back across the bridge. Jon skiing back across the bridge.

Vittoria and Bill went out for a short snowshoeing trip. Bill had to leave so Vittoria took him and his gear back to the trailhead. In the meantime Jon, Amelia, and I went out for a skiing trip. We went out past the Lucky Buck along McCloud Grade then turned north. We got to cross a bridge (twice). I don't think this made Jon happy. We came to a big open area. At first it was nice to see, however after skiing through it for awhile it was rather bleak. Fortunately it was a nice sunny day and not too windy so it wasn't all that bad.

We arrived back before Vittoria returned from dropping off Bill. About an hour after she had left a "strange" person on a strange snowmobile turned up. It was Vittoria. Seems she rented (a very nice) snowmobile since the lower tie rod on the right ski broke (naturally it broke while Vittoria was riding it). So Jon and I went into town to see where things stood. To make a long story short, Vittoria left it at the snowmobile rental place (near the trail head). Bill (guy who runs the snowmobile rental place) worked really hard helping us out. He took the tie rod off (not easily done), set us up with his brother-in-law who welded it for us. Then he put it all back together again (not easily done). Needless to say we can't thank him enough for all the extra time he spent helping us.

Jon creating a video tour of the cabin. Vittoria cutting up toppings for pizza. Vittoria and Jon Vittoria and Amelia with the table set for dinner. Vittoria, Amelia, and Jon eating.

We brought the snowmobile back, slowly and all seemed well. We went about drinking and eating (did I mention drinking) and playing games. It was unfortunately during this time that we were talking about the alcohol content of the mead I brought up that I mentioned that I was working on a monster pinot. Well, hopefully you can't imagine where this lead. It is disturbing that they all thought the same thing though. The thing is, they thought it about me. You would think they would know better. Anyway, it turned into the running joke for the rest of the trip (oh, and it's not over yet). Then there was the rap that they wrote AND performed (see below, I really need to get my hands on the video).

January 2

Vittoria skiing. Amelia and Jon skiing. Amelia, Vittoria, and Jon eating.

We took it rather easy today. We got up late, ate lunch, .... Ok, it wasn't quite that late when we got up, but by the time we got the fire going and all it was rather late. Jon, Amelia, Vittoria, and I went out for little skiing expedition behind the Lucky Buck. We found the trail that Vittoria and Bill had cut from the Lucky Buck (and how they turned the wrong direction and thus didn't end up circling back to the cabin). We ended up following a snowmobile path that must have ended up going much farther south than I expected as we had to turn around at some point and follow our path back (which is always a sad thing to have to do).

Me setting mouse traps using the salmon pate. Me setting mouse traps using the salmon pate. Me setting mouse traps using the salmon pate. Me setting mouse traps using the salmon pate. Jon (doing who knows what) and Amelia in the kitchen. Jon preparing to do the dishes. Amelia putting food away. Jon and I trying to get the drain unfrozen.

The evening consisted of finishing off all our remaining wine (including learning that the mead mixes well with champagne). We were happy to know that Matt was coming up the following day to restock the cellars. Oh, we must have had dinner too, .... Somehow Vittoria got her hands on my camera and took an interesting selection of pictures. In particular the rather gruesome ones of me doing one of my jobs, .... Well, at least we found some use for the salmon pate (the mice like it more than we did).

In fact, Vittoria was so excited that Matt was coming she even wrote a haiku for him.

      Matt is on his way
      He always brings good wine here
      That's why we like Matt.

Remember, this one is Vittoria's fault.

January 3

Jon using a car battery to power his cell phone.

Naturally we got up way too late again, and wasted lots of time before getting around to anything. Jon (sadly) really needed to call the office. Unfortunately the battery in his cell phone wasn't holding a charge. He intelligently had brought the phone's car charger out with him and since there was already a car battery up at the cabin. A few pieces of wire later he had a decidedly unportable battery powering his cell phone.

Around 2pm I went in to pick up Matt while Jon, Amelia, and Vittoria went snowshoeing on the other side of McCloud grade (some place we have not explored much). I was careful on the trip in and the snowmobile made it in without a problem. Matt arrived a little late so I had a good time talking to Bill at the rental place. Matt decided to rent a snowmobile for a few days (and they cut him a pretty good deal). On the return trip I must not have been as careful. Or maybe it was when I arrived at the cabin to find Jon, Amelia, and Vittoria standing outside with wine glasses in hand and I fishtailed the snowmobile. Anyway, the tie rod broke again at the weld. Naturally it happened while I was riding the snowmobile.

Jon rigging up something to fix the broken tie rod. Our temporary repair job of the broken tie rod.

Since we were back at the cabin and it was clear that welding it wasn't sufficient, Jon did major surgery on the tie rod. We immobilized it so it wouldn't move up, down, front or back, and did what we could to pull the ski in and hold it secure. Naturally from then on we were even more careful about riding it. I'm sure we looked pretty silly riding around like this.

Matt, Jon, Amelia, and I playing dominoes. Matt opening some wine while Jon, Amelia, and Vittoria get ready for dinner. Amelia, Jon, and Vittoria performing the Master Pinot rap. Amelia, Jon, and Vittoria performing the Master Pinot rap.

The evening consisted of dominoes, dinner, and drinking (of course). The main entertainment, though, was the "Monster Pinot Rap". Matt unwittingly brought up the perfect wine to go along with this event, a Rod(ney) Strong Pinot Noir. As I do not have the video (yet) of the, um, fine performance, you will just have to be content with they lyrics. I believe Amelia deserves blame (I mean credit) for most of this. I accept no responsibility for this, um, "song", nor will comment on its veracity or even what inspired most of it.

Monster Pinot Rap

        Craig, he's got a monster pino [sic]
        Sitting in the cabin with a glass of vino.
        Compliment his legs and he'll give you a bottle
        Ask him really nice and he might just model ...
           his monster pino [sic].

        Averts disaster
        No one skies faster ....
        He does get lost most
        but we can toast
           his monster pino [sic].

Let me just repeat, it isn't my fault and I don't think I understand the choice of some of the lyrics.

January 4

River by the cabin. Matt snowshoeing out from the cabin. Scenery across McCloud Grade. Scenery across McCloud Grade. Scenery across McCloud Grade. Very tall tree across McCloud Grade. Matt at base of the very tall tree across McCloud Grade.

We took Jon, Amelia, and Vittoria back to the trailhead so they could head home (I even let them drive my new car, scary stuff). We managed to get all the gear in one trip (well, didn't have any wine bottles to take out, that really lightened the load). The snowmobile held up fine for the trip. After this Matt and I went out snowshoeing across McCloud grade following the path Jon, Amelia, and Vittoria had made the day before. They had turned around at some point, we decided to avoid a similar fate. The amusing thing about following there path was that if I had been leading it, I would have taken so much abuse for walking through marshes, cutting through dense brush, etc. Anyway, it was a very nice place to visit that for some reason we hadn't done before. The scenery was great and it was a sunny day which made it even better. We did end up circling back without getting too confused as to where we were. However, for a while we were walking withing a few hundred feet of McCloud grade without even knowing it. The rest of the evening we took it pretty easy. Naturally the days of exquisite meals were over (I wasn't going to cook them). However we somehow survived. We spent some time amusing ourselves by seeing how warm we could get the cabin given that all the wood we have up there is rather wet. Turns out we got it up over 70F, but had a hard time keeping it there. 65F was a more reasonable target.

January 5

AOL CDs set up for a good purpose (target practice). AOL CDs after target practice (at least I hit one).

Matt and I started the day with yet another use for AOL CDs. As you can see we aren't so good at hitting targets (I only got 1 out of 5 shots).

Beaver dam behind cabin. Beaver dam behind cabin. River north of cabin.

We then went out skiing behind the cabin, taking the more easterly route. It is amazing how the scenery has changed. We used to be able to cross the river where the large dam is now. Once again this a part of the area that hasn't been well explored. It is mostly made up of logging roads that don't really lead anywhere. Still, we did come across some good scenery.

January 6

Matt and I decided to head home a little early. It hadn't snowed at all (except when we first arrived) so the conditions weren't great. Matt had to return the snowmobile he had rented and we didn't want to take too many trips on the injured snowmobile. Naturally on Monday it was actually snowing. Quite lightly, though, not enough to sway our decision. As it turns out it was a good decision to leave early. When we first left most of the lights on the trailer were working. By the time we got near Grand Rapids (and it got dark), pretty much none of the lights were working. Fortunately we made it back without incident. All in all it was another good trip. The weather did not cooperate at all which was the biggest problem. At least there was enough snow to play in while we were there. The "minor" problems we encountered are just that. We seem to be getting much better at dealing with all these annoyances.

More Pictures

In case you haven't seen enough pictures already I have thrown the rest of the pictures on a separate page without comments. You can probably figure out when they were taken.

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