Want to see stars up a coat sleeve?

Image result for photo of a person seeing stars from being punchedIt’s been a long time since my Dad has asked me this question but I can assure you it was a common question when I was young. Every time he went to put on a coat, before he’d put his hand through the opening, “Do you wannna see stars up a coat sleeve?” Intrigued as I was I never actually saw stars because of course, he never punched me as his fist poked through the opening.

I did see plenty of stars in the sky growing up and I continue to see millions of them whenever there’s a clear sky at night. I guess I take them for granted because according to a recent article by CNN,  “83% of the world’s population and more than 99% of the US and European populations were affected by light pollution and could not see the stars at night.”

WHAT? Can you see the stars where you live? The study goes on to say, “The Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity, including 60% of Europeans and nearly 80% of North Americans.” No wonder why our county is promoting night sky tourism where folks can come enjoy seeing stars. We have them year round, guaranteed to see them when the sky is clear.

It’s a strange concept for me to grasp. I guess I didn’t think about stargazing when I’ve visited bigger cities. But I do love to look up at the stars and would miss it if I couldn’t see them. There is something reassuring and peaceful about gazing into the dark and seeing millions of lights twinkling. There’s always a sense of wonder along with hope of seeing a falling star.

Maybe it isn’t a big deal to you if you can see the stars or not but according to the article there are reasons it should be a bigger deal. “Light pollution poses a threat to 30% of vertebrates and more than 60% of invertebrates that are nocturnal, including plants, microorganisms and, most alarmingly, human health, the researchers add.” It has adverse affects on human health, can seriously disrupt bird migrations and pose problems for other wildlife.

The article is interesting and if you have time you might want to read it. More importantly, if you don’t want to have to rely on getting punched in order to see stars and you can’t see the stars where you live, I suggest you come to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters where you can enjoy a dark sky and see plenty of stars.

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Posted in environment

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’re thankful for all of you! And of course our wonderful backyard. Happy Thanksgiving!

Gunflint Trail

Boundary Waters


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Posted in BWCA

Enjoy the Thanksgiving Weekend

We hope you have a wonderful, long weekend with family and friends. Remember to Opt Outside on Friday! There are plenty of places offering free outdoor activities on Friday including Lutsen Mountain in our neck of the woods.

Free Park Friday

November 24, 2017

The tradition continues! Admission to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas (regularly $7 for one-day vehicle permit) will be free on the day after Thanksgiving again this year.

The goal is to encourage families to extend their holiday by spending time together with a walk outdoors. Research shows that walking offers multiple benefits, from increased creativity and better brain function to more flexibility and stamina. So you won’t just burn calories, you’ll also improve your well-being.

While you’re out there, snap a photo of your Black Friday free park adventure, and share it with us on social media using #FreeParkFriday and #OnlyinMN.

Posted in News

Snowy Cross River

Looking lovely as ever on the Gunflint Trail.

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REI’s Path Ahead

REI released a report called “The Path Ahead.

It’s a very interesting read that causes one to think about what could happen if people don’t spend more time outside. It’s something the folks at REI have been thinking about for quite a few years and why they started to promote the #OptOutside campaign. They give their employees paid time off on Black Friday so they can get outside.

Why do they want people to spend time outside? I imagine it has something to do with the fact they sell outdoor gear and clothing but I also believe REI must care about people and the environment. As canoe outfitters we also care about getting people into the outdoors, specifically into the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park. The average age of visitors in the canoe country is going up and if younger people don’t start visiting more we’ll eventually run out of guests.

It’s important to spend time outside. People who get outside frequently are happier, less stressed and healthier. What is the cost of so much time indoors in front of a screen? There are health problems as well as mental health problems associated with it such as nearsightedness, anxiety, depression, irregular sleep patterns, increased ADHD, obesity, heart disease and diabetes to name a few.

If you spend any time around kids you’ll know they aren’t in the best shape. The other day while working out at our local YMCA I watched as Senior Citizens were tested for strength, flexibility and stamina. I was quite impressed with their ability especially when I compared it to the 5th Grade gym class that was in shortly after that. These kids couldn’t do jumping jacks or touch their toes without grumbling and straining. When they were asked to run a mile the majority of them walked it because they were so out of breath.

It isn’t surprising when you consider these kids spend almost eight continuous hours sitting down at school. Most grades no longer have recess and lunch monitors, along with teachers, would prefer the kids stay seated and not roam around. Some of them have physical education but only every other quarter every other day and only until eighth or ninth grade. Many of these kids ride a bus home where they spend the rest of the day sitting down in front of a screen.

How is it possible these kids have so much screen time when they are in school? Phones rarely leave the hands of most students and in many classes students use tablets and computers instead of books. Gone are the days of looking something up in an Encyclopedia it’s all about Wikipedia these days. Even during free time when you would think kids would want to talk to each other they prefer to communicate via Snapchat, Instagram or text.

According to the report by REI kids between the ages of 11-14 spend 12 hours a day average in front of a screen and less time outside than prison inmates. They spend half as much time outside as kids did 20 years go.

What’s keeping these kids inside? I remember playing outside all of the time as a kid. We created so many fun games and imagined other worlds in our backyards. Is it Stranger Danger? Lack of green space? Or the lack of imagination due to too much time spent inside?

Whatever it is I agree with REI. We need to get more kids and adults to #OPTOutside, not just on Black Friday, but every day.

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Posted in News

Tequila and Lime

One of these days I’m going to bring a bottle of Tequila, a wedge of lime and a Mexican sombrero along on my drive up the Gunflint Trail. Then I am going to take  an award winning photo of a moose licking salt from the road.

Posted in Gunflint Trail

Instagram Extinction

Have you heard of Vance Creek Bridge? It’s located a couple of hours outside of Seattle, Washington and was built as a railroad bridge for logging in the late 1920’s. According to articles on the web it’s the 2nd tallest railway trestle bridge in America. Spanning 347 above feet above Vance Creek and 422 feet long it offered panoramic scenery and beautiful views of Mt. Ranier on clear days.

If you’ve been on Instagram for a long time then you might recognize the hashtag for it, #ThatNWBridge. It was an attempt to keep the amazing place a secret but when people post beautiful photos and videos of a place I think it only adds to the allure of visiting such a place.

That’s what happened in the case of the privately owned Vance Creek Bridge.  Everyone wanted to climb the bridge and wherever there are a lot of people there is garbage and vandalism. Fires were started on the bridge, boards started missing and the owners eventually decided to block access to it.

There are other places that Instagram has made popular and some of those places are seeing too many visitors. There isn’t the infrastructure in place to service the high number of visitors. Some of the places don’t have toilet facilities and land managers are having to haul away human waste as well as garbage.

Should places be kept hidden? Do you know of any other places that have become extinct because of Instagram? Let me know!



Posted in News

Making Ice

Ice forming on the Seagull River.

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Seagull River Scene

Peaceful, easy feeling!

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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Old Fish, Big Fish

Hopefully it survives even longer!

Nearly half-century-old fish caught and released during fish surveys on Lake Superior

(Wisconsin DNR)

BAYFIELD, Wis. — State fish biologists conducting spawning surveys on Lake Superior hauled in a lake trout earlier this month that hatched when Richard Nixon was president.

The fish was originally caught and released during the Wisconsin DNR‘s spawning assessments for lake trout in 1981. It was caught and released again Nov. 2 in the same fish refuge, the Gull Island Shoal of Lake Superior.

“We often think of a fish’s life span being relatively short, maybe 10 years,” says Terry Margenau, DNR fisheries supervisor. “But lake trout are slow growing and have a longevity that will rival that of the ancient sturgeon.”


To help assess the condition of lake trout on Lake Superior, the DNR has been conducting spawning lake trout assessments since 1951. Part of the assessment includes tagging the fish caught and releasing them so biologists can monitor their growth and movement in future years.

The fish caught Nov. 2 had first been tagged in 1981 when it was 27.3 inches during a DNR spawning assessment on Gull Island Shoal of Lake Superior. The same fish was handled again in 2017 during the same spawning assessment and measured 35.5 inches, Ray says.

“This lake trout grew about 8 inches over 36 years, or less than a quarter inch per year,” he says. “So very slow growing. Its age is also interesting.

“Considering this fish was likely 10 to 12 years old when it was tagged in 1981, this fall it would have been at least 46 years old.”

The same fish would be caught by DNR seven more times during surveys, Ray says.

In all of those instances, the fish was captured in the Gull Island Refuge.

“The spawning site fidelity of this fish, and many others we have sampled, emphasizes the importance of the refuges and the protection it affords the spawning stock of lake trout,” he said.

Anglers who catch a tagged lake trout and intend to release the fish are asked by the DNR to write down the tag number and contact the Bayfield DNR office to get the capture history.

Posted in News

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