Zero to 21 in a Flash

This morning the temperature got down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit for a brief amount of time.  The wind blew fiercely throughout the day and it felt very cold.  This weekend the temperature is predicted to get up into the 30′s, that is going to feel warm after the bitter temperatures we’ve been experiencing already this winter.

I’m not sure how time can pass so quickly. Next week is already Thanksgiving and it feels like Halloween was yesterday. It feels like my niece Chelsea was born last year and today she turned 21 years old. 21 years old! I remember giving her a bottle and now she can drink beer from a bottle legally.

Temperatures and time always changing never constant.

Posted in News

Lake Effect Snow and the Lack of It

We haven’t been getting snow dumped on us and it’s kind of disappointing. Lutsen, the downhill ski hill in our area, is open but had to make most of their snow. I’m sure they would appreciate four feet of the real stuff right about now.  Cross-country skiers are biting at the chomp to hit the trails, including me, but it’s going to take a bunch of snow before the trails will open. Why aren’t we receiving lake effect snowfall? This article does a great job of explaining the process and if I had to guess at the reason we’re not getting big snowfall right now I would say it’s because there isn’t a big difference between the temperature of the water and the air on the North Shore. What do you think?

Science behind the lake effect

POSTED: 12:27 PM EST Nov 17, 2014    UPDATED: 12:40 PM EST Nov 17, 2014

It’s no doubt that parts of the area are going to be dealing with an intense wintry blast over the next several days causing many headaches. There are other parts of the Great Lakes region, though, that will have it worse.

One key ingredient to lake effect snow is something called fetch. Fetch is the distance wind travels over water. The longer the fetch, the more intense the snow bands.

Since the prevailing wind over this part of the country is usually west to east, the fetch over Lake Michigan is relatively small, although still significant enough to create lake effect snow.

However, Lake Erie and Ontario are oriented more west to east so the prevailing wind matches up with the longest axis of both of those lakes resulting in much longer fetch. It’s no surprise that because of this, parts of northwest Pennsylvania and New York are going to be measuring snow in feet!

What about Lake Superior? The west to east distance is even greater than that of Erie or Ontario. Lake Superior is a much colder lake so the difference in air/lake temperature is never as great as it is on Erie and Ontario. The greater the temperature difference between air and water, the greater the instability, and as a result, stronger snow bands develop.

With a north wind Lake Michigan can really produce intense snow bands because the wind will travel along Lake Michigan’s longest axis which is a north to south distance of just over 300 miles. This is what generates major lake effect snow events in areas like LaPorte county. Due north winds are far more uncommon, however, than a west wind, since west is prevailing across this part of the country.

Another reason the eastern lakes have enhanced snowfall is because of the very hilly terrain across New York and Pennsylvania. This terrain causes the air to lift (called orographic lift) which results in heavier snow. Northern parts of Michigan, especially the UP, often see enhanced lake effect snow due to the higher terrain in places like the Porcupine Mountains.

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Posted in Seasonal activities

Looking for a Canoe, Kayak or Stand Up Paddle Board?

Our friends in Clearwater, Minnesota may have exactly what you need.  They are located just a short drive from the Twin Cities and can set you up with a watercraft you’re sure to enjoy. Right now they are entering names of anyone who purchases a boat into a drawing to win a trip to the Boundary Waters, courtesy of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.  This is right in time for the holidays so check them out today!


Wenonah Canoes, Current Designs Kayaks, Pau Hana SUP boards, Jackson Kayaks, Native Watercraft Kayaks, NuCanoe, Liquid Logic Kayaks, Osagian Canoes, and periodically we get other used brands in.


Canoes, kayaks

Paddle board from Clear Waters Outfitting


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Posted in products

It’s Beginning to Feel Alot Like Winter

Temperatures have dipped down into the single digits and the wind has been blowing fierce. It feels more like January outside than November. The good news is after a few days of bitter cold the weekend forecast calls for temperatures in the 30′s again. I think I had better get all of my outside chores done this weekend because who knows when we may see this warm of temperatures again. If this winter is anything like last year it will be quite some time.

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A Fox Comes Visiting

A pretty fox came by Voyageur today. My guess is it was looking for Mark.

Red Fox on the Gunflint Trail IMG_4836IMG_4837IMG_4839

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Tears and Dehydration

I can see it now, a headline in the newspaper, “Woman Hospitalized After Suffering from Severe Dehydration Due to Excessive Crying.”  I thought I had let out all of the tears possible this week but I guess there were plenty more where they came from. Are they all out now after Mark’s funeral today? I don’t think I’ve shed the last tear for Mark yet.

This morning as we were leaving the house in Grand Marais a bald eagle flew over. I immediately thought, “That’s Mark making sure we’re on our way, wondering if I needed any help bringing stuff out to the car.”  I’ve never seen a bald eagle right in town in Grand Marais. We’ve seen them on the shore and we of course see them on the Gunflint Trail and in the Boundary Waters but it was unusual to see it fly over our house. On the way to Duluth Abby spotted another eagle which isn’t quite as odd but it made me think it was the same one, following us on our journey.

I imagine I’ll think of him when I see a fox.  I’ll probably think of him when I see a moose too and possibly a bear and when I catch a fish. I’ll most likely think of him when my car is due for an oil change and how he would try to shame me into getting an oil change if I had over 3000 miles on it, or 5000.  When I’m trying to figure out something with my depth finder or my boat motor I’m guessing I’ll think of him then too. And when I walk into the lodge I will expect to see him on the couch.  I’ll be waiting to hear him greet me and get the update on the wildlife or how much rain we got.

There were a large number of familiar faces at the funeral. Cabin owners, our local conservation officer, Mike’s brother, Gunflint Trail neighbors, some of our dear friends and many of our Voyageur Crew. It was nice to see so many of them there. I didn’t think about a picture until after Mike and Ashley, Dave and Bonnie, Scott Prom, Chad Autio and Mike Irwin had already left so they aren’t in the photo. I wish Mark could have been there.  I’m sure he was there in spirit unless of course the fish were biting in heaven.

Thank you to everyone who was at the funeral. Thank you for sharing your stories and showing Mark’s family how loved he was by all of us. Thank you for the hugs too.  I’ll try not to shed too many more tears but I can’t make any promises.

Voyageur Crew at Mark's funeral

Voyageur Crew

Front Row Left to Right: Me, Adam Maxwell, Luke Yaeger, Abby Prom, Ryan Ritter

Back Row Left to Right: Mike, Matt Ritter, Tony Krusenbaum, Hannah Koivu, Mike Swenson, Paul Swenson, Evan Gates, Tessa Johnson, Charlie Drilling, Josh Prom, Tessa Olson

Posted in News

America Recycles Day

Tomorrow is America Recycles Day and I love to recycle. We have a recycling center in Grand Marais that does a good job with the main items like aluminum, cardboard, tin and glass.  Unfortunately only Type 1 and Type 2 plastic can be recycled here.  I’m hoping for a change but so far it hasn’t come about. I cringe when I put other plastics into the garbage but I can’t possibly hold onto them all to bring them to Duluth to be recycled. Hopefully a change will come soon.

Did you know there’s a great resource you can use to find where to recycle things?  From batteries to paint to construction materials you can search where to recycle things at  There are events scheduled for America Recycles Day but unfortunately I didn’t find any in Minnesota.  You can search for events in your area on their website.

Are you going to do anything special for America Recycles Day on November 15th? How about taking the pledge to recycle more? Every little bit helps.


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Unique Situation

In expressing my deep sorrow publicly I have received some very kind words, emails, comments on Facebook and telephone calls. I really don’t like attention and I don’t like the Social Media craze nor do I want or need praise or pity from someone in order to feel like I exist.  It is however very nice to know people care and I appreciate their sympathies expressed to our Voyageur Family and to Mark’s family as well.  Death is a difficult thing to deal with.

This death has been especially awful. I know it’s more difficult to accept death when it is unexpected and when someone is young. I also realize a death of a parent, child, sibling or other close relative or friend is very hard. I was informed by a fellow outfitting business owner and friend that we are in a unique situation when it comes to the death of an employee.

You see when you work at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters it is a very unique situation.  It isn’t like a McDonald’s where a person clocks in at 10am and clocks out at 6pm to go home. We don’t have hundreds of employees each year. We have a handful of people who come to work for us each year. Most of these people come just for the summer season.  When they work at Voyageur they eat three meals a day with us, they live on property, they work side by side with us and many times they recreate with us too.  Whether it’s a hike, a boat ride, a dinner or just chatting in the lodge the little free time we do have in the summer we spend with our Voyageur Crew.

When you spend that much time together it’s more than a work relationship and it’s more than a dorm relationship. It’s almost like adopting someone into your family.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve felt more like a Mother Bear to our Voyageur Crew then ever before. I worry about their safety when they are out towing or camping.  I want to make sure they are eating enough food and drinking enough water. I warn them about speeding, using seat belts and wearing their life vests so much that I’m sure it’s annoying. I only do it because I care about them and I feel somewhat responsible for them even though most of them are already self-sufficient adults.

Members of our Voyageur Crew aren’t just our employees. They are much more than that and we develop a bond and relationship with these people that isn’t normally made in the real world anymore.  Maybe as a part of a wagon trail, Native Tribe, Cult or Big Brother cast you would develop similar relationships but not many other places would allow the opportunity for this type of unique relationship to occur.  We depend upon each other, we care about one another and we love each other.

I guess it boils down to love. The less you love someone the less it hurts when they die. The more you love someone the more you hurt when they are gone. The unique situation we have at Voyageur is that we love a lot of people and never once had I thought about losing one of them. I wasn’t prepared, it was unexpected, Mark was young and he was a part of my family.

I’m trying to rationalize the hurt I feel. Why it hurts so much. Good people, kind people, they die every day right? But not my good, kind person who has lived under the same roof for three years. Not Mark Ceminsky. Maybe grief has to do with the size of heart the person who died had, that would explain it. Mark had a super big heart and so I, along with others who knew him will feel super big grief.

It’s a unique situation and it’s one I don’t like nor do I want to be in again any time soon.

Mark was a loyal reader of my blog, always complimenting me on my posts. I don’t know what he would think of this one.

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Service for Mark Ceminsky

The time and date for Mark’s services have been set.

Service for Mark Ceminsky

Saturday, November 15th 2014

Visitation from 2-3pm

Service at 3pm with lunch to follow

Cremation Society of Duluth

4100 Grand Avenue

Duluth, Minnesota 55807

Phone 218-624-5200

Marks Obituary

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The Weight of Sadness

It is heavy. My heart is heavy with sadness because we have lost an amazing person. Our friend and member of our Voyageur family, Mark Ceminsky passed away Sunday evening. We are not sure what happened medically but the fact remains he is no longer with us.  This fact has weighted us down with a deep grief.

We first met Mark in 1993 as a guest of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. We saw him every year, sometimes a few times each summer, as he loved Saganaga Lake. He loved it so much he bought a piece of property and built a cabin on it.  He loved his time at the cabin and at the end of the Gunflint Trail. He loved it so much he decided to take a position at Voyageur after he sold his cabin.

To say that I will miss him doesn’t begin to express how badly it hurts to know I will never see his smiling face again. I’ll never get to hear him tell me about a new moose in the neighborhood, a friendly fox on our deck, a bald eagle in the narrows or any other topic we both held close to our hearts.  He’ll never send me another picture he took of a particularly beautiful sunrise, snow on the canoe pile or any picture at all.  My inbox will never see another message from Mark and that is a painful thought.

Mark has been a part of our Voyageur Family year round since the fall of 2011 but he’s been a friend since the first time we met him in 1993.  I know if you ever met Mark he treated you with genuine kindness. He politely listened to you and if you needed something then he most likely helped you with a big smile on his face. That was Mark and I know you will miss him too.

Mark was one of those people who would do anything for anyone. He would go the extra mile for guests even if he wasn’t working. He took care of people even when there was no money in it for him.  He would be there for you whenever you needed it and I don’t think I ever heard him say, “No.”

I can’t tell you how many things Mark did for me that went above and beyond the call of duty.  Whether it was filling my boat up with gas so I could go fishing, looking for a pair of lost sandals on an island on Saganaga, taking care of Rugby when I was away, feeding my birds when the feeders got empty, picking up after Josh and his friends countless times, looking for a much needed item buried deep inside of my bedroom, putting car seat covers on for me or always offering to help me carry stuff to or from my vehicle when he could have easily ran the other way. He was always there for me and anyone else who needed him.

While funeral arrangements have not yet been made I would like it if you would share your stories of Mark with me. I know some of you have posted kind words on Facebook but I don’t know if his parents are on Facebook. I know they would love to hear all of the wonderful things their son has done for everyone so if you want to email a story to me then I will get it to them.

For those of you who were touched by his kindness, I know how much you are hurting and how deep your sorrow must be.  I am sorry for your pain and want you to picture Mark in a better place. It’s a place I know looks a lot like Saganaga. It’s a place where pine trees meet the sky, granite outcroppings disappear into blue lake water and the sun shines brightly.  The fish always bite, the moose appear frequently and there are no mosquitoes. It’s heaven and Mark is there and he has a big smile on his face and when it comes time for you to join him Mark will be there to embrace you, help you with anything you might need and most importantly he’ll be your friend, one of the best you will ever find.


Rest in Peace Mark, We love you.

Posted in News

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