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Goodby Vermilion

September 1, 2014

After a few photos we departed Lake Vermilion for Minneapolis.

We spent the night at Maple Grove and had dinner with Melissa's cousin Bob and his wife.

Vermilion Sunset

August 31, 2014

The weather was cold and windy so we decided to head into the small town of Cook to wander around the shop and see an antique boat show at the landing.  They had a ton of old boats, mostly Cris Crafts that had been beautifully restored.  When we arrived back at the cabin, the sun was setting and Melissa caught a photo of her Dad watching the sunset.

And then later the sky turned an amazing shade of pink.

Lake Vermilion

August 30, 2014

After a big breakfast of Eggs Benedict (Melissa made hollandaise from scratch), we headed off in the boat to see the lake.  Melissa wanted to stop by Saint Mary’s Island where we spent many summers with our cousins as children.  Uncle Bob owned the island for years before building the cabins in Canada.  The island has been well loved and looked to be in great condition.

After lunch we saw some rocks covered with gulls.  Melissa told Dave to hop up and down and see if he could make them all fly at once so she could get some cool pictures.  After hopping up and down they gulls didn’t move.

Marla, clearly smarter than the rest of us, grabbed a handful of chips and tossed them in the water.  In the blink of an eye the gulls were swooping all around and diving into the water after the food.

This resulted in some cool shots of the gulls grabbing the food.

 This gives you some idea of just how cold it is here.  Ahhh…. Summer in Northern Minnesota.

Back to the USA

August 29, 2014

Joyce and Melissa got up early again this morning to attempt some more sunrise pictures.  The plan was to light up the cabin this time in an attempt to see if we could get some pictures with the cabin more visible.  Alas the weather didn’t cooperate and the sunrise wasn’t anything like as beautiful as yesterday.

Then we headed into the landing, loaded up, and were off again.  We stopped in Cook, MN to pick up blood sausage (a longtime Cushman family tradition) for Melissa’s Aunt Char before arriving at the family cabin on Lake Vermilion.


August 28, 2014

This morning Melissa got up at 5:30am and met Joyce in the kitchen.  We had agreed the night before to head out early to take some sunrise pictures.  They turned out great.





After lunch we headed out on the boat.  Melissa was snapping pictures.  Classic Uncle Bob behavior.  Note that Dave doesn’t even flinch through the antics.

We headed over to TJ and Sheri’s cabin.

Uncle Bob sold them the property they built on some years back.  Now they believe they have discovered gold on their property.  The rocks in the back yard are turning up to look like this. They have sent samples for analysis and are currently waiting to see what the concentration of gold is.  Yes, what looks "gold" is actually pyrite (fools gold) but there is also some real gold - the question is how much?

Along the way we also stopped to look at the remains of the old ferry boat that used to be on the lake.


After dinner TJ and Sheri came to play cards.  Joyce presented Bob with his 5 year anniversary gift.  Apparently Bob hates snakes.  So Joyce had painted up a piece of drift wood and added marble eyes to make it look like a snake.



Upper Manitou

August 27, 2014

We awoke to weather that looked like this:

So we hopped on the pontoon boat and headed for the upper Manitou – a 60 mile trip.

Uncle Bob was showing us his lake, and there were lots of things to see.  First were the Indian Petroglyphs.  No idea how old they are – but the suspicion is that they aren’t very old.

Next stop Watson falls.

When we came around the corner headed for the Watson Cabin, Melissa started screaming, “Moose!  Moose!  Moose!”, so Dave cut the engine.  After all the trips in the boat over the years “moose hunting” up every little inlet, it was great for Melissa and Dave to finally get to see one in the wild.  This was a female, so no big rack, but cool none the less.  The picture is blurry because we were so far away – this is a blow up to about 10x.

Bill Watson was famous in this area for being something of a crook.  At one point he went and convinced a school teacher in a nearby town to marry him.  He told her where he lived there was gold everywhere and if she married him she would live a comfortable life.  Eventually she agreed to the marriage, and he brought her back to his trapper’s shack:

She grew to love the pioneering life and outlived him on the island.

After that it was time for a weenie roast on an small island.

Melissa was having fun with the camera.

After lunch, it was time to see about catching some lake trout.  Uncle Bob rigged up the downrigger.  Melissa asked why the weight had Mardi Gras beads attached to its tail (see picture), he said that they had found that that downriggers with beads catch fish more often than ones without.


After setting up the downrigger, instructing Dave where to drive the boat to catch the elusive lake trout, Marla and Dad “caught” fish.  Meaning they reeled in the line after the fish was already hooked.  Not clear on why this qualifies as “catching a fish”, but you can see from the smiles everyone was having a ton of fun.  Uncle Bob showed Marla how to hold the fish in front of her to make it look extra big.

Melissa shot some video that gives a pretty good idea of what it was like to go through the narrow passages as we made our way back down river.

And as this picture shows, behind every great man is a great woman.  We love Joyce.  She is the perfect pioneer woman mate for Uncle Bob.

Sunset was gorgeous.

Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day

August 26, 2014

For two days we’ve basically been rained into the cabin.  It is still August, right?  We played cards, baked bread in the wood stove, did jigsaw puzzles, and read books.  Dave and company started assembly on a “garage” for the pontoon boat.  One night Marla slipped on the paving stone path and hit her head on the woodpile.  We believe she cold cocked herself, and when she came to she screamed.  We all heard the scream and headed outside to see what was up.  We found her covered in blood and crying.  She had scared herself something awful – particularly because her glasses were covered with blood and so she couldn’t see.  Being disoriented she had no idea what had happened.  We brought her into the cabin and cleaned her up.  She had some bruising on her forehead and a small cut in her eyebrow that had bled.  But ultimately she was fine and didn’t need any stiches and amazingly didn’t seem to have a concussion.

When everyone was getting cabin fever, we finally decided to head out for a picnic.  We started a fire so everyone could stay warm and we could cook fish tacos and smores for dessert.

Hidden River

August 24, 2014

First thing this morning we opened up a jigsaw puzzle and started to work it.  It was clear that most of the day it was going to be cloudy and drizzling.  It is still August, right?  After Uncle Bob fixed us sausage and French toast for breakfast, we hung out working the puzzle.  Uncle Bob finally got restless and when a break in the rain came our way, we headed over to the Hidden River cabin.  We played cards and then roasted hotdogs in the wood burning stove.

Melissa fixed a big pot of chicken stew and we sat and watched the loons and a bald eagle.  And after dinner we got in the wood fired sauna and sweated out our troubles before heading off to bed.


Lake Manitou

August 23, 2014

Today we got up to a lovely breakfast at the B&B and then we were off to try to find the boat landing on Lake Manitou in the middle of nowhere.  No that’s not right, it’s beyond nowhere.  You go past nowhere, keep driving, to the middle of nowhere, and then you get to the lake.  We found the landing and got there early so we had time to hang out before Melissa’s Uncle Bob arrived with Aunt Joyce to pick us and the piles of luggage up to take us to the cabin.

Back in March 2014, Uncle Bob and Joyce came aboard Apsaras for the cruise to El Salvador.  When they were there we saw these cool native dugout canoes with hand carved paddles.  We joked that they needed to take a paddle back to the cabin in Canada with them.  Ha Ha.  So after they left to go home, Melissa and Dave decided we had to find a way to get a paddle to them at their cabin.  So we told our host Bill, that we wanted to pay $15 (the cost for a new paddle) for the oldest most scuffed up paddle they could find.  Bill didn’t exactly come through for us as the paddle he bought from the natives was in much too good a shape.  Regardless, Melissa headed to the airport to visit her Mom a few days after Uncle Bob left with the paddle in hand.  When she got to the airport she was afraid that they were going to charge her $50 to take it on as baggage.  But when Melissa explained it was for a practical joke, they got such a laugh out of it that they decided to put it on as “checked carry on”, meaning that luggage you could carry on but choose to check is free because it saves space in the overhead bins.  When she reached Atlanta she had to go through customs with the paddle and expected at least a second glance from the customs agent, but he didn’t even blink.  When she rechecked the paddle through to South Carolina, she had to tell the tale of the providence of the paddle yet again.  Then when she reached South Carolina the agent that brought out the paddle wanted to know what the heck it was.  Melissa then emailed her Aunt Char who lives in Minneapolis to get her in on the gag.  She shipped the paddle to Minneapolis, and Aunt Char then took the paddle to the family cabin in Northern Minnesota where it sat all summer.  The debate then was how to get it to Uncle Bob’s cabin in Canada.  Fortunately Aunt Char headed to visit her brother in Canada just before we arrived here.  She brought the paddle across the lake and hid it in one of the upper bunks in the sleeping cabin where she knew it wouldn’t be noticed by Bob or Joyce.  She then emailed us yesterday to tell us where we could find it.  So when we arrived, we retrieved the paddle and presented it to Bob and Joyce.  Bob’s first words were, “how the heck did you hide it aboard the boat from the landing?!”  We laughed and explained that we didn’t, Char did.  Why Uncle Bob made Dave put on the goofy Captain’s uninform wasn’t entirely clear.

We inscribed the story of how the paddle came to be in the cabin on the paddle itself before it was mounted in its final resting place.

This is dottie the dog.  She lives outside and comes out to whine endlessly till you pet her.

Joyce has an amazing vegetable garden out front of the cabin that fed us the whole time we were here.


Brandon Air Museum

August 22, 2014

This morning we went to see the Air Museum in Brandon.  Its where they trained the Canadian pilots during WWII.  We saw a lot of cool stuff.  The volunteers there gave us a personal tour when they realized that Dad actually flew some of the airplanes they had in the hanger.  The hanger itself is quite a structure – having been built out of enormous pine logs – the structures might look like steel but they are all wood.  They were designed to last 20 years, but are still standing today.

This is a small wooden trainer they used for instrument training – and Dad remembered using one in the Civil Air Patrol as a teenager.

They have an impressive array of WWII training aircraft.  Some of which they still fly for demonstrations.


They also have a number of vehicles that were used by the training facility.

This radial engine is the same type that Dad and his buddy tore down and put back together during engine shop class in high school.  As they were putting it back together their shop teacher came by to remind them that they needed to hand turn the engine before starting it so that the engine oil that had collected in the lower plugs would be cleaned out.  Alas, when they started it up a stream of oil came out of the engine exhaust hitting their instructor square between the eyes.  Oil dripping from his nose, the instructor said to them, “I see you boys forgot my instructions, huh?”

During the war numerous pilots were captured by the Germans.  In care packages the British put games of Monopoly.  They had worked with the game manufacturer to hide escape instructions, small bits of useful items like nail files, along with real money inside to help them escape.

Here is Dave explaining to Dad and our tour guide how the old radios worked inside the airplanes.

The museum has a small chapel where there are numerous tributes to the fallen.

The text of this telegram reads, “Deeply regret to inform you your husband sergeant Granville Andrew Jackson is reported missing believed killed as a result of air operations 15th February 1942.  Letter confirming this cablegram and giving all available information follows.  The Air Council express their sympathy.”  Telegrams like this were delivered by the town priest whenever possible.  However during really large battles that wasn’t possible, and often these were delivered by children on bicycles who happened by the telegraph office.

This chalk board was from a local school and shows how much the kids were able to contribute each month to the war effort.  The board would have been destroyed, but a smart contractor hid it inside the walls of the school he was refurbishing – preserving it to later be found and sent to the museum with the writing intact.


After our visit to the museum we were off for Kenora, last stop before we head to Lake Manatou and Uncle Bob's cabin where we will be off the grid for a week eating nothing but fish we catch ourselves.  We stayed tonight at a beautiful B&B log cabin on a lake.  When we arrived the proprietress was in a bit of a tizzy as she had forgotten we needed two rooms and had inadvertently rented the other room to someone else.  So she gave up her own suite to us and stayed in her small loft.  Can't really ask for better service than that!

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