2015 Northwoods Journal


FirepitOur 15th summer season here on Bear Island Lake has officially ended as we closed down the 5 seasonal cabins today for the winter. See you next year! It's been a busy 2 weeks here as JR completed two of his remodeling projects--a new front deck on Cabin #12 and a complete makeover of the suites' fire pit area. I think he did a great job on both!


I have not heard a loon on the lake all week--a clear sign that winter is on its way.


The driveway is slowly turning into a colorful fall canopy. Autumn is holding on to warmer weather and some rain. There has been plenty of rain the last few weeks and the lake is at spring levels.


Happy 80th Birthday Nancy! Thank you for sharing this special day with us.


There are definitely signs that winter is probably not far away: the aurora borealis have been very active, Harvest Moon Festival begins today, there is some color in the leaves, I saw three wolves yesterday on my way into Ely, the deer have lost their beautiful tawny summer color, Canada Geese arrived yesterday and many more were heard overhead and the Grouse are strutting in the driveway.

Another cute and classic snowman has been added to my collection, this one hand crafted by Barb K. Thank you!


Labor_DayFeels like July (or Florida in the summer) right now! Fishing is a bit of a challenge but persistence seems to be slowly rewarded.

There has been PLENTY of rain and the lake level is up/high for this time of the year.

Happy belated anniversary to Sherman and Vicky it was nice to see you both here again.

Reminder: the clock is ticking if you are planning to participate in this summer's photo challenge!


The summer season is winding down fast but it sure has been fun! Minnie and Bella are still loving the squeaky rubber chicken from Katie, Tom and Joe. They misplaced it for a few days and the lodge erupted with "zoomies" when Bella found it.

We had our first bear of the season pay us a visit near Cabin #1 and #2 it must have been a bigger one because it tried to take off with the entire 4-can rack.

Many have asked--no the sign was not returned, although, someone did call claiming that they had found the sign but they disconnected their phone the same day. We passed all of the information on to the Sheriff's office but no word yet.


The saying goes "bad things happen in threes" so I think we've got it covered. During the past week we laid Daisy to rest, Gary was "t-boned" on Sheridan Street when someone went through a stop sign and on Monday night a several individuals stole our resort sign. Daisy had a GREAT life, Gary is ok and the truck can be repaired.

SignOur sign cannot be replaced. Of course, it is special to us and the 100s of guests who have taken a vacation photo with the sign. To the persons responsible: if it was a prank I hope that you sober up and return it. If it is a trophy in your basement bar or garage I hope you realize that it's a small world and nearly every week a guest is surprised to discover during their stay that a neighbor, cousin or co-worker has stayed here with us. If the theft was destructive I believe in karma and the pearly gates, we all have to face our past someday. The world is full of good people and you are the minority. So that you might understand the legal ramifications of your crime, in 2002 we paid $4,000 for this 6' redwood sign, today it can only be REPLICATED for $6-$7,000.


Daisy crossed the Rainbow Bridge today--perhaps the best resort dog ever. She always preferred to Daisy_Fishingspend her day outside with her resort family. What a life: fishing, swimming, tubing, hiking, finding blueberries, sledding, riding snowmobiles and chasing snow. She loved candy canes at Christmas time and always knew who was cooking as she made the rounds during the breakfast, lunch and dinner hours--oh, and don't forget the s'mores. There were tears from dog heaven as we lay our sweet girl to rest today.



We have been treated to a FEAST of Iowa sweet corn (thank you Craig Families) and fresh honey, garden veggies and the delightful Kvitrud winery (JR says the wine is very good, Jim!).

Congratulations to Cody and Jenny W. who spent their honeymoon here at Northern Lights and of course we have to also give our best to Andrew and Faith B.

Well, if I EVER write my stories of life at the resort book, my encounter with a baby ground squirrel about a week ago would probably have to be included. JR and Steve C. tell me the actual "encounter" was hilarious and I'm sure it was as I picture the actual event in my mind BUT 12 days later my back is still really sore. Those of you who know me best know that I practically never feel poorly enough to see a doctor but this had me at the hospital. This is a story I won't share here but MAYBE you'll be able to coax it out of me (or JR) during your next visit.

Another one for the book: Jack the Deer Fly....8 year old Jack I. stopped by the Lodge for a visit and while we were chatting he was being bothered by what he thought was a bee and I explained that it was a pesky deer fly. Jack then asks me "do they bite?" and "does it hurt?". I explained that I had, just a hour before, been stung by one and during the 3 seconds that I paused to assemble an appropriate analogy he says "does it hurt this much" and he reaches out and pinches me along the underside of my upper arm--not sure which hurt more....the deer fly bite had swelled up and the Jack I. "bite" left me with a little bruise!


I've been busy publishing all of our guests' photos. If you haven't done so recently check out our 2015 Photo Album on Facebook and if you aren't using Facebook check out the web site's online photo gallery. Everyone sure is having fun!




Do you still need to plan your 2015 Ely Vacation? We have SIX cancellation specials the weeks of July 11th, July 18th and August 8th. Nightly OR weekly stay options--call Marie at 218-827-2501 for details!


We have the most talented and generous guests--I have to mention the quilting talents of S. Barton (hot pads), M. Barthelemy (quilted microwave bowl holder) and S. Edlers (crocheted flower wash cloths). Thank you! Someday, I may be able to make the time to try quilting crocheting fun!

Happy 15th Anniversary David and Susan!


A moose in the trailer parking area nearest Cabin #1 this morning! The moose was spotted by a resort guest and managed to completely elude our trail camera!


It's been a week full of hustle and bustle as old friends returned and new friends were made. There were plenty of trips to the fish house and it seemed like the scent of a fresh meal of fish was always drifting from a cabin or fryer. A Resorter knows it's been a great week when they are sad to see all the boats loaded on the trailers for the trip home.

As I closed up the Lodge office tonight I stepped outside and caught of glimpse of the setting sun, heard the solid thud of a horseshoe as a group of old friends played the game, smelled the wood smoke from someone's bonfire and listened to the giggles of a group of little ones at the swingset. This my friends, is what life is all about.


Happy 80th Birthday to Mr. Elliott! Thank you for allowing us to spend this special day with you and your family!

First fresh Walleye dinner of the season--a huge thank you to Mike Davis and the guys for sharing a meal with us tonight. Dinner was great!


Thank Lake is SLOWLY warming up this spring. It looks like Gary and I will try to get the swim raft and Bongo on the water near the end of the week.


I think that my 2015 project list was longer than there were hours in the day! Somehow Gary and I have managed to work our way through it. We have a bit of exterior painting to finish off but we'll fit that in through out the season. We're excited about our newest additions to the play areas--it's a surprise so you'll have to see for yourself. The Cabin #1 remodel has been a huge success. The Lodge project is nearly finished--painting the last of the trim soon. Gary's new resort sign up and finished and our MEGA sized photo frame is done. Fun, fun, fun at Northern Lights Lodge!


Memorial weekend sure came early this year! We've been busy here at the Resort and had a great weekend.

Thank you to all who served.


I can't even begin to explain how busy we have been (and still are) getting the Resort ready. My days begin long before sun rise (I think that I'm so excited about #15 that I just can't sleep!) and they end when my knees ache too much to continue and when they ache too much to even sit at my desk.

I think that I have to quit referring to JR as my apprentice. He's got this! I am enjoying the ideas and suggestions that he offers each day as we tackle my project list and it's such fun seeing the Resort through his eyes. Some of those ideas are "bigger than NLL" but I am trying to incorporate as many of his ideas as possible--you'll have to check it out for yourself during your next visit.

It's been a bit of a scramble this month as opener really fell one week early on the calendar and now Memorial Weekend is fast approaching, again one week early! The weather has been a bit of challenge as we have had rain daily and even days of rain and snow. No one is going to complain because the moisture is certainly appreciated for green up. The cooler night time freezing temps are ok too because it is helping to keep the bugs away.


If you haven't been on our Pinterest page recently I really think you should check it out. I've added even more boards. I personally would like to have a few extra hours in the kitchen trying out the recipes in the What's Cooking! board--yum! Here's a secret, JR likes to bake! We're all wishing he would try ANY of the blueberry recipes on the Fresh From The Oven! board. There's probably a board for just about everyone whether you prefer to relax on the lake (Bear Island Lake and Fishing board) or on the deck (Beverages and More! board) and fun stuff like Bigger Than Life in MN and MN History boards.

Some of you are telling me that I need to do more on Twitter and Instagram......eventually, I might get there.


The Cabin #1 bathroom remodel is well underway...scratch that, make that the Cabin #1 bathroom remodel--inside and out is underway! The scope of the project has expanded to included new siding and a new roof. A little project gone wild I think.


Today, we start our 15th year here at the Resort and this year Northern Lights Lodge turns 70! Thanks for sharing this journey with us.


Our Loons have returned, we spotted them in the bay this afternoon and now the Spring Peepers are out!


Busy, busy and in full "spring mode" even though we are STILL seeing our overnight temps dropping to well below freezing! Growing up in a "construction family" we always seemed to fix our family home first--that seems to be the case here today. This week we finally started the long anticipated lodge project: replacing the last 6 windows on the lodge and on Monday the new siding project starts.

We had a short burst of warm weather and managed to get all of the yard work done before the snow and cold returned last week.

Since it is still too cold to do our other projects this week was spent spring cleaning the 7 winterized units--floor to ceiling, wall to wall along with some new furniture/furnishings, interior painting and more. The hours are long and everyone in in the Vogt house is sleeping well.

The weather forecast looks like it will be warming up by the end of next week and then we hope to get to work on our Cabin #1 bathroom and kitchen remodel.


As the sun set last night there was still a sheet of ice visible across the lake but this morning there is no ice to be seen so let's call it! The ice is out on Bear Island Lake!

The northern lights were out again last night and I managed to stay up and watch them for a bit. At around 10:30 there was quite a bit of thrashing along the edge of the lake and from the tracks we found this morning our resident moose was out and about! Yesterday, JR spotted moose tracks near the activity center.


Seems that I have been very "occupied" playing nurse to Minnie these last few weeks. It's a bit of a job assisting a 180lb dog through a post surgery recovery and what amounts to physical therapy with medications, ice packs, walking, etc.

We have had a very nice stretch of 45 to 50 degree weather. Our forecast looks like winter is going to try to make an appearance again in a few days.


Hello spring! Isn't the change of seasons wonderful? Summer to fall is my favorite and the winter to spring transition is invigorating. The warmer weather and the fresh smell of spring rain--we love it! Anyone care to make a Ice Out Prediction when we'll see the ice come off of Bear Island Lake?


We learned last week that our sweet Minnie has a torn ACL that will require surgery. Surgery is scheduled for Thursday. I wish that the 2-legged surgeons would have been so eager to repair to repair my knee!


February has been a very busy month here and in Ely with the annual Art Walk, Winter Festival and Wolf Track Classic Sled Dog Race. The snow sculptures are impressive. We certainly enjoyed everyone who took the events and winter activities. There were a lot of hearty folks who bundled up and took it all in--dog sledding, snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling and a warm sauna at the end of the day. It's been a cold month/winter, another nice snowfall coming down today for a fresh new winter look.

BathroomIn January, just before the winter rush, I decided to "update" the upstairs bathroom in Cabin #11--nothing like pending arrivals to keep a project on schedule. With JR's help the remodeling project was completed right on time.

I was going for a fresh cottage look/feel in this vacation home rental with the new paint color, a shutter style vanity, new bath hardware and wall light fixture.


Busy, busy long holiday weekend ahead! There's fresh snow on the ground, it's the second weekend of the Winter Festival and the snow sculptures have held up nicely in the park AND it's Valentine's weekend.Fishing

For those of you not too thrilled with the winter season I stumbled upon a fun and interesting blog a while back. If you'd rather daydream about open water and warmer weather check out this piece that explains just what a fish sees when you drop your line and favorite bait in the water.


Online_ReservationsMuch of my "spare" time at the end of 2014 was spent implementing a new online reservation program. We went live in mid-January and so you can now check availability online AND make a reservation via our web site, TripAdvisor, ResortsandLodges.com, Booking.com and even Facebook.


The Ely Winter Festival is officially in full swing. The snow sculptures took shape over the weekend. We were busy here at the resort so I hope to be able to get into Ely early this week myself to see them. The photos popping up on Facebook show some impressive sculptures!


I've posted about the MN DNR's new trailer licensing requirement and while the rule still exists, the DNR recently announced that they are delaying the implementation. I would still encourage everyone to take the time to go through the process. Here is a link to the MN DNR trailer requirements.


Top 10 ResortNorthern Lights Lodge and Resort is ranked #4 on the ResortsandLodges.com TOP 10 Minnesota Cabin Getaway List! Can you all pick 'em or what!


Cold!Question of the the Day: What does it mean when you go outside in the morning and think to yourself "oh! it's not too cold today" and then you look at the thermometer and it's -27!

Best answer I can come up with is that it's probably a good thing that you've gotten used to it!


It snowed, it's snowing! We finally got enough snow for JR to have to plow the driveway. It's nice to see and it sure is beautiful outside.


Yesterday afternoon Gary and I were commiserating that 2015 was off to a spectacular start when one of the cabin furnaces broke/quit early New Year’s night while occupied (of course) and with temperatures of -15 (my superstar husband drove to the Twin Cities for the part and had it up and running again by 2pm!).  The Quick family from Iowa was FANTASTIC and we kept them warm and cozy with extra firewood and an electric “fireplace”.

Today, that all seems so very trivial as we learn that our Osceola Wisconsin “neighbor”, friend and guest, Brent Clausen, passed away after being diagnosed with cancer in November.  I am grateful that we were able to spend time with Brent and Monica last September. Rest in peace Brent aka Superman.


2015That's a wrap as we push 2014 out the door. It was certainly a "different" and eventful year but we were blessed to share it with all of you. See you next year!



Life in the Northwoods

When we first decided to make Northern Lights Lodge our home in January of 2001 we knew that life was going to be different.

What I never imagined when Gary convinced me to become a Resorter was the friendships--how so many of our guests would become family and each return visit is like having a family reunion!

I never expected to have so much fun and so I started Marie's Northwoods Journal. Keep in mind, that this was "way" back before anyone even knew what a blog was. I've not converted my journal to what you would now call a traditional "blog" because the format just doesn't work for me.

This journal is a bit like a good old fashioned letter to home or a scrapbook and it's become a way for me to keep in touch. The journal is a collection of my thoughts, a glimpse into our lives and a way for me to reflect upon life here at the Resort.

There are ALWAYS stories to tell, (some that I'll not ever Journal here!) and maybe someday I will heed your advice and attempt to write a book or if I wait long enough, my memoirs!

The years go by faster and faster and so I hope that you enjoy my journal and photo albums as much as I enjoy spending the time with you.

So, don't be a stranger, stay in touch.



Click to View Our Photo Albums

Daisy the Wonder Dog



Daisy Crossed the Rainbow Bridge
on July 31, 2015

Meet Minnie (02/2013)

Oh My--We've Got Another Dane!


Age 8 Weeks & 26 lbs.


Minnie at 4 Months

Minnie 9 Months

Minnie at 9 Months

Bella (09/2012)


Bella Age 1 Year


Bella aka The Billy Goat
6 Months


Bella at 3 Months

Bumper Sticker

Having a Great Dane in your life means that there are just a few sayings that you learn to live with:

  • Look at the size of those feet!
  • That's the biggest dog I've ever seen.
  • Where's her saddle?
  • Who's walking who, anyway?
  • How much does she eat?
  • Where does she sleep?
  • Looks like you have your hands full!
  • How big is that thing?
  • That's a really big Dalmatian!
  • It's still a puppy? You're kidding, right?
  • Big poop piles?

No One Loves You
Like a Great Dane!



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