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Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: October 2005
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « September 2005 | November 2005 »

10/27/05 - One of our favorite people, Abby Tofte, stopped by today with ten of her classmates from Macalester College in St. Paul. Abby is a direct descendent of the Tofte family that founded the town of Tofte. The group enjoyed a couple of hours of wilderness canoeing.

Abby is the second from the left in the back row.

10/23/05 - Halloween is just around the corner, and Sawbill prepared for the annual celebration of witches and warlocks by carving pumpkins and consuming copious amounts of food and drink.

Every year over Minnesota's teacher's holiday long weekend, a group of Sawbillians, past and present, gather to celebrate the end of another season. Carving pumpkins is the cornerstone of this fun-filled weekend and each year people spend hours planning their designs, selecting their pumpkins, and carving them into a wide range of things. This year's creations ranged from a pumpkin carved into a pumpkin, Bob Marley, a University of Minnesota "M", Discoman, Fennel the sled dog, several cats, a sailing ship, a stand of trees, a sunflower, and a man standing on a giant wave. Below are a few photos of last nights fun, and the pumpkins that were created.

We would like to introduce Sawbill's Halloween 2005 pumpkin corps.

Tess and Kirk Dornfeld carved a beautiful cat, and a majestic set of pine trees.

Cindy, Dan, and Shannon could barely carve their pumpkins because they were laughing so hard.

Clare and Derek hard at work on their masterpiece.

Carl and Jeff recreated Discoman, a piece of artwork that Frank traded for an Alumacraft many years ago.

Jeff assists Carl as they craft their "Discoman".

One groovy Discoman.

Bill carved this great rendition of Bob Marley.

10/21/05 - This morning Joe Hansen (Sonya Hansen's brother), Darryl Newfeld, and Jason Carpp returned from a very interesting canoe trip. It was raining when they left on Tuesday afternoon, but their spirits were not dampened by the current weather or the stormy forecast. They had their minds set on making it to Canada and back by Friday and they were not going to let a little rain get in their way. Tuesday afternoon they made it as far as Kelso Lake where they were stopped by a snowstorm. It was snowing so hard that they could not see ten feet in front of the canoe.

On Wednesday the weather improved, and they were able to travel from Kelso to Gabimichigami Lake placing them more than halfway to Canada. Thursday dawned calm and clear, and the party new they would have to really make some miles if they were going to make it to Canada. Around 2PM yesterday they reached Knife Lake and paddled into Ontario. Already tired, they turned around and began retracing their steps back to Sawbill. They traveled straight through the night under the guidance of a bright moon. Exhausted, wet, and cold, they crawled into their tent after reaching Kelso Bay just after sunrise this morning. After a few hours of sleep they packed up camp, and paddled the last two miles down Sawbill Lake. Now they are headed back home. Joe will return to Stillwater, Minnesota, Darryl flies to Boulder, Colorado in the morning, and Jason is driving back to Grinnell, Iowa.

Joe, Darryl, and Jason point to the spot on Knife Lake where they reached Canada.

10/19/05 - A big cold prickly to Sonya Hansen for leaving without painting the paddle rack. I hate to sling mud at my child bride when she is not around, but I am compelled to use her as an example in an attempt to dissuade future crew members from leaving the fall crew with extra little jobs that they were assigned during the summer. Painting the paddle rack sounds like a fairly benign job, but as the photos below demonstrate it is a pretty heinous undertaking. Sonya received 15 credits (10 to 15 hours worth of work) to paint the paddle rack, but the majority of the rack remained unpainted for most of the summer, and before we knew it Sonya was off to college studying to become the next Jane Goodall.*

As you may have guessed the paddle rack remained unpainted. I contacted Madagascar's embassy in Washington to request that they hold Sonya's visa until she has returned to Sawbill and completed the paddle rack, but the woman I talked with seemed very confused by my request, and said that they were unable to help. Sonya plans to spend next semester in Madagascar studying lemurs, and I thought that stopping her visa would be a good way to get her attention. However, since Madagascar's government was unwilling to cooperate we were forced to reassign the job of painting the paddle rack to Alison.

Yesterday Alison got all suited up and ready to paint. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate, and shortly after she began painting it started pouring. Today's forecast looks more favorable, and sources tell me that Alison plans to resume painting shortly. Will Alison finish the paddle rack before she leaves? Well, it is hard to say, but hopefully a little voice in the back of her head is saying," if you don't finish the paddle rack your work record will be tarnished forever on the Sawbill newsletter."

In all fairness, I should also mention that Pat Nash should hang his head in shame for stashing a dirty cookkit in the dome and leaving without cleaning it. Pat, your cookkit was found and Jeff Green is going to wash it for you. I think you owe him a nice pint of homebrewed beer for his efforts, but you can negotiate the terms with him later.

*Sonya and Pat are good employees, and we miss them very much. Hopefully they will see the humor in this entry.



10/18/05 - Sunday morning, the dogs' short howls and yelps of joy told me we had visitors. I quickly set down the log I was carrying and began trotting down the hill toward the kennel and my visitors. It was still early and the sun's first rays accentuated fall's golden hues. After a few minutes I heard OB's voice and found the whole Oberholtzer family piling out of their station wagon. OB said the Surbaughs would be there in a few minutes, bringing the grand total up to four kids (dressed in their Halloween best), four parents, six sled dogs, and myself.

After some picture taking and a tour of my place we began harnessing the dogs. They howled, barked, and lunged in their harness, anxious for a chance to run. We hooked Lichen, Saylix, Thistle, Fennel, and Daisy up to a three-wheeled cart designed for exercising sled dogs before the snow falls. We pulled the brake, and were greeted by the calming silence that comes when the team starts to run.

Steve and his son Will took the first ride, and we continued making trips up and down the Brule Lake Road until everyone had a chance. Shortly after graduating from college, and long before Will and Tristan came along, Kate and Steve Surbaugh worked at Sawbill. After a few seasons at Sawbill they moved to Ely and led dogsled trips for Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge. Now they have moved back to Cook County, and they own and operate Cascade Property Sales. After I graduated from college, Kate and Steve suggested that I work for Wintergreen Lodge, which introduced me to dog sledding, and gave my life a whole new twist.

Kate and Steve are dogsledding veterans, but OB, Kat, Will, Tristan, and Cy had never run dogs before, so this was a totally new experience. I hope they have caught the dogsledding bug and will visit again soon.

(Left to Right)Hazel the cow, Cy the cat, Will the dinosaur, and Tristan the cat all dressed up and ready to Trick or Treat.

Cy takes his parents OB and Kat for a dogsled ride.

10/16/05 - Carl and Clare attended the Grand Marais High School homecoming dance last night. The theme was "a night in Paris", and Clare was escorted by special guests Carl Shakur and Beau Smalls. Everyone had a good time dancing the night away. One of Clare's best friends, Jessica Heil, was named Homecoming Queen.



10/12/05 - Last night Jeff, Laura and I piled into a canoe after closing the store and headed for one of the campsites in Alton Bay. We had the lake to ourselves, and the canoe slid easily through the water, propelled by Laura and Jeff's strong, steady strokes. After unloading the canoe we began exploring our temporary home as the sun lost its grip on the land. Red pines larger than my arms could span stood guard over our tent which was nestled amongst a small stand of white spruce. The stars shone bright by the time the tent was up and our beds made, and we immediately crawled into our sleeping bags to ward off the cold. With a flick of my lighter I ignited a small piece of birch bark nestled in a pile of dry wood. Within minutes the warmth from the woodstove radiated throughout the tent, and we were able to crawl out of our sleeping bags and bask in the warmth like painted turtles on a sun-drenched log. The hiss of the fire and a candle's soft glow lulled us to sleep as Laura read an excerpt from the Ernest Oberholtzer biography, "Keeper of the Wilds".

From the comforts of our warm tent it was hard to comprehend the trials and hardships Ernest Oberholtzer must have faced during his legendary canoe voyage in 1912 through the barren lands and down the coast of Hudson Bay in a wood and canvas canoe. All I could think of was how glad I was that he had made it back alive. If he hadn't, there is a good chance the spot where we slept, and the wilderness that surrounded us, would be as distant a memory as the amazing canoe voyage he took. Later in life, Ernest played a key role in preserving what is now known as Voyageurs National Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Quetico Provincial Park. Many people fall in love with this great wilderness, but few leave as lasting an impression as Ernest Oberholtzer. - Dave

Fall colors make a morning commute much more enjoyable.

10/10/05 - Yesterday, Bill, Laura, Jeff, and Pat took a break after the weekend visitors left for home to play a rousing game of soccer. All summer long the parking lot in front of the store is filled with cars waiting for their owners to return from canoe trips. In the fall, as the number of canoeists dwindles to a handful, the parking lot empties and wonderful playing field is revealed.

Laura has been antsy to play soccer for several weeks, and yesterday she finally got her way. After an intense round of stretching and warm up drills, the two-person teams lined up for battle. It quickly became apparent that Laura and Bill would dominate the game. When the dust finally settled Jeff and Pat had scored 2 goals to Bill and Laura's 10.

Laura told me that I could take Pat's place for the next game, but I think I would prefer to take Bill's place because the word around Sawbill is that Laura was the MVP. - Dave



10/7/05 - We had our first snow yesterday. Snow showered down all afternoon and evening. We awoke to snow covered roofs this morning.

Homer collects the first snowflakes of the season.


10/5/05 - There has been a dramatic shift in the weather over the last few days, and the cold and wet days have caused the pace to slow around Sawbill. Luckily the forecast calls for sunshine over the weekend, and I think we are all anxious for a little sun after several days of cold rain.

The weather has not stopped the moose hunters, and several parties are still roaming the area looking for moose. One group of hunters followed Bill's advice and headed up to Handle Lake to look for moose. They returned with a Bull later that day, loaded it into a giant trailer that they had converted into a freezer before the hunt. It is always interesting to see the different contraptions that people come up with to transport their moose.

10/3/05 - Jasmine headed to the Beach Club to sunbathe and go for a dip in Sawbill this afternoon, and the sunny, unseasonably warm weather continues. Bill and I have been busy preparing canoes for sale. Canoes, packs, tents, and many more used items are now available. You can purchase items through our online store, or feel free to give us a call.

Adam reported that a group of moose hunters shot a moose on Brule Lake on Saturday around 7:30 AM. They had 14 days to shoot a moose, but their hunt only lasted about 30 minutes.

Alison's family went on an over night canoe trip over the weekend, and her father came back looking like he had been training to become a professional mud wrestler. While unloading their canoe between Sawbill and Smoke Lake he was thrown off balance and went sailing into the muck next to their canoe. Luckily it was warm, and he has a good sense of humor.

Jim heads for the showers to clean up after his first mud wrestling attempt of the season.

Ed Dancek brought three of his friends up to Sawbill for a canoe trip this week. The trip was a way to thank Greg Fuhrman, David Monos, and Bill Widdicombe for helping Ed rebuild his house after Hurricane Charlie destroyed it last summer. Ed lives in Punta Gorda, Florida, and his brother in laws, David and Bill, each flew down to Florida twice to help Ed and his co-worker Greg work on Ed's house.

Ed and his friends relaxing after their trip.

10/1/05 - The moose hunting season started today, and the hunters were treated to another fine fall day. In reality it feels more like August 1, but who can complain about shorts and T-shirt weather in October? The customers seem to be fooled into thinking it is August as well, because the store was packed at 8 AM this morning. Hunters, leaf peepers, and regular old canoeists couldn't wait to get in the door this morning.

Adam Hansen, Sawbill's lawyer in training, is up visiting with, Rishi Gupta, a friend from law school. Today they are off grouse hunting, and inventorying land for the Friends of the Boundary Waters. The Friends of the Boundary Waters are surveying over 90,000 acres of undeveloped lands adjacent to the BWCAW in hopes that some day the wilderness can be expanded. Volunteers like Adam are responsible for taking photos of different sections of forest to help determine which areas are good candidates for wilderness protection.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « September 2005 | November 2005 »

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