2015 Northwoods Journal


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 forself 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 thashing 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 theraphy 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 alot 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 sculpturers 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



Our Yellow Lab, Daisy, is best described as a typical Resort dog. She loves being with our Resort guests and she loves to eat! Daisy is nearing the age of 11 and she is unwillingly slowing down a bit. She'll hop in your boat if you ask her to go fishing with you and she won't hesitate to retrieve that ball or stick (no matter where you throw it) and she loves to relax in the evenings around the bonfire or picnic table!

Meet Minnie

Oh My--We've Got Another Dane!


Age 8 Weeks & 26 lbs.


Minnie at 4 Months

Minnie 9 Months

Minnie at 9 Months



Bella: Age 1 Year (09/12)


Bella aka The Billy Goat
6 Months


Bella -- 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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