This is the time of year Mary makes quilts for the cabins. Typically, she will cut out and sew four quilts each winter. (She is very grateful that others do pitch in and help from time to time, but, by and large, she does most of the heavy lifting in this area.) The first couple quilts were simply old spreads sandwiched between new “woodsy” décor sheets and then tied, rather than quilted. Now, after sewing all the squares together, she will use a company out of Blackduck, MN called Anderson Fabrics to apply the batting and backing; these layers are then machine quilted. This also happens to be the best place she has found to purchase her fabric. Here is their FaceBook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Anderson-Factory-Outlet-and-Quilt-Shop/160246990672246 and Webpage http://www.andersonfabrics.com/. The binding still needs to be added by hand stitching. Fortunately, she has help for this from Betty (as in “Tom and Betty”, the couple from AZ who have spent many summers here, helping us run the resort). This will be a busy quilting season, as she hopes to finish eight quilts. We will then be up to 58 quilts, with only cabin 11 left!
Here is the second installment of the frosty morning photos. In addition to the frost, several photos show frozen water droplets, evidence of the rain that preceded the snow and frost. The rose-colored backgrounds and highlights are indicative of the rising sun. The kids were home for Christmas this past weekend. Plenty of relaxing, with a little grouse hunting in the snow. Nate had one nice shot, so we did have something to show for our efforts. Ryan and Liz came up empty-handed after trying to spear a northern in the dark house. Plus, we had a couple of great meals, a ski, and a sauna; all in all, a nice Christmas.
Ryan and Liz were home for the weekend and one of our activities was cutting a small Christmas tree for their apartment. Although we don’t cut a wild tree every year, this year we did. Finding a natural tree that is thick enough, straight enough, and somewhat symmetrical is normally a long process. The kids wanted a small tree and found this one after a short search. Because it was crowding a white pine, we had no regrets in cutting it. As we begin some of our Christmas traditions, we wish everyone a great Christmas. May you find the time to enjoy some of your past traditions as well as experiment with some new ones.
THE BEGINING OF HALF MOON TRAIL RESORT
By Pat Tesch Walsh
My parents and I lived on Lake Minnetonka near Excelsior, MN. During World War II my father (Harry Tesch) worked in a defense plant in Minneapolis as a tool and die maker. Many people left their homes during that time to work in defense plants and that was where he met Frank Bates. Henretta and Frank had a small resort on the south end of Boot Lake. My dad had 2 brothers who moved to Lake George after the war was over. We would visit them during the summer, pick blueberries and fish. In the fall we hunted grouse and deer. We enjoyed the area so much that we thought about having a cabin of our own. We stopped and visited Frank Bates one weekend and he told us about a cabin and 40 acres for sale on the lake. We drove part way into the property and walked through the brush the rest of the way. It seemed to be just what we were looking for. On our way back to Excelsior we stopped in Wadena at Merical Lumber Co. and bought it for $1200.00 (the summer of 1951).
During the winter we decided we would build a small resort and began the job of buying all the things necessary to furnish cabins. Mom went to moving sales, etc; she bought sheeting and hemmed sheets, she made quite a few quilts and bought blankets, etc on sales. By the time spring came she had enough furniture, linens and kitchen utensils for 4 cabins. Dad and I went to Boot Lake about March 1. Mom stayed in Excelsior to sell our home and another house that was rented out.
The first thing we had to do was get electric brought from the road and have a driveway built (the same one you have today). There was no telephone service available, that came about 5 years later. All of the roads were gravel except Hwy. 71. There was a little post office out on the Hwy. Our address was Argo, MN. All reservations were made by mail.
We hired a neighbor man to clear brush where the cabins were to be built and another neighbor with a chain saw to cut all the stumps off level with the ground. We saved every little tree and transplanted more from out in the brush. At that time there was very little shade. The size of those trees today is the most startling change to me! They are huge and beautiful.
That first spring we (my dad, my uncle, and I) built a garage and 4 cabins. The cabins had 2 bedrooms and a main room. They had flush toilets and running cold water. The kitchen had a sink, a 3 burner gas plate and an ice box. There was a wood burning air-tight heater for heat. The outside was log siding treated with preservatives and left in natural wood color.
When the lumber company logged off the land they had a sawmill set up at the north end. They left behind long piles of slab wood. Dad would saw it up in stove length pieces to be used in the air-tight heaters. It made almost instant heat and could be dangerous for those not used to wood heaters. We never had a fire but sometimes the stove pipes turned red.
The lumber company also left a large pile of sawdust and a small shed. This became our ice house. During the winter when the conditions were right the neighbors and dad would get together and cut ice. This was done at the south end of the lake where the tractors could easily pull the loads off the lake. The ice was packed in saw dust and it kept well through summer. Dad had a small tractor and a two wheel trailer. He would haul ice around to the cabins and (haul) garbage cans to the (on-site) dump.
We purchased 6 nice wood (cedar) strip boats and several motors. Next a fish cleaning house and a laundry room with “men” and “women” showers was built. This was located where your west wing on the lodge is today. We had 2 shallow wells that were witched by Joe Hughes. He always found the spot and knew exactly how many feet deep it would be.
The winter of 1952-53 my dad went back to Minneapolis to work and mom and I stayed at BootLake. No TV and nothing to do. I bought a “Learn How to Knit” book and soon I was even knitting socks. Dad had put his dark house out on the lake in front of our cabin. I had watched him spear fish since I was a little child and I soon found out I could do it too! When the second spring finally came we built 2 more cabins, a two bedroom and a three bedroom. Also we put a good-sized room on the back of the house to be used as a store.
With more boats on the lake each year the resort owners decided the lake needed to be stocked with more fish. The only way to accomplish this was to form a sportsmen’s club. The resort owners, neighboring farmers, and some others around the lake formed the Boot Lake Sportsmen’s Club and met once a month in an old school house on the north end of the lake. The building was sold the next year and the meetings were held in the Savannah Town Hall. There really wasn’t much to do in the winters, so the meetings were a popular way to get together and visit. Whole families came; we had holiday parties, basket lunches, pie socials, etc. The big event in the fall was the “turkey shoot”. The Game and Fish Dept. planted fry in the rearing ponds north on Hughes Rd. In the fall members of the club would help seine the fingerlings and transport them to Boot Lake and Big Dinner Lake. The club served two important purposes: fish for the lake and social meetings for the neighborhood….
My story of Half Moon Trail ends here. I’m a very poor writer, but I thought you would like to have a little history about the resort. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them. My family is so pleased to have Grandpa’s fish back. We really appreciate your kindness in letting us have it.Thank you!
Pat Tesch Walsh
For the record: Grandpa’s fish is a 21 pound Northern that Harry speared (the local story that I heard, he actually speared another one the same week about the same size). This fish was mounted and was hanging in the lodge when we purchased the resort. Also, I think that Marie and Rol built cabin 1 and we know that Denny and Linda built cabins 7, 9, 10, 11. 12. 13, and the three lodge units. They also enlarged the lodge with several additions, enlarged the owners home attached to the lodge, and built the swimming pool. At some point, someone combined two original cabins to make cabin 6, ditto for cabin 4. Mary and Dave have remodeled all of the original cabins, put cabin 17 back in service, plus they built cabin 18. Our thanks to Pat Tesch Walsh for writing this letter explaining the beginning of the resort. Pat was the daughter of the original owners.
We took advantage of an unusual circumstance last weekend. The previous week much of our lake froze smooth as glass. However, we had a shelf of ice two to three inches thick and open water in front of the resort. We look for 3 inches of solid ice to walk on, so to be safe we stayed close to shore, no deeper than 3 feet of water. The warm temps on Saturday created a layer of water over the smooth ice, which created a “skating on water” experience. For the nervous types (and for my mother), I would like to point out the boat cushion and rope contraption that I am wearing on my back in one of the photos, just in case. We were out about 1.5 hours and had a blast!
Tubing has become extremely popular, far surpassing water skiing, wake boarding, and knee boarding. This album features Nate (our son) and a couple friends doing some wild tubing; I think you will get a kick out of a couple of their facial expressions. Just for the record, this is definitely not a sponsored resort activity.
Today’s post is a paper Nate wrote for Freshman Comp. It does a good job showing a typical day working together.
The resort is waking up from hibernation. For nine months it has been silent, but now it is starting to stir. The bobcat is grumbling through its many responsibilities and the shop is buzzing with projects. The workers progress from task to task with a quickness in their step. There is a sense of urgency to get everything done before opening.
On this beautiful Saturday, I started late because I took the ACT test in the morning. I anticipated the chance to flex my muscles and not my brain. It did not take long for the bantering to start flying between Forrest (my best friend), Dad (the boss), and I. “It looks like you two had a good morning drinking coffee and eating donuts.” I shot across, but they just let the comment roll off their backs like rain. Forrest asked, “Doesn’t your brain feel like mush after taking the ACT?” I responded, “Definitely!” We went to lunch. After Forrest and I had lunch, we got our first job: leveling the docks. Dad had another project in the shop, but I convinced him that leveling the docks was the best use of the beautiful day. Forrest and I moved on to the docks.
Leveling docks is a four step process: first, winches are placed on the two end posts; second, the bolts holding the dock posts in place are loosened so the deck of the dock can be raised or lowered to make the dock level; third, the dock is winched up or down above the water using a tape measure and level for pinpoint accuracy. Well, at least it looks level to the eye. Lastly, the bolts are tightened and the winches removed hoping we do not fall in the lake because we did not tighten the bolts enough. This process is repeated until all the posts on the dock are done. We reached the first dock and discovered one of the bolts was broken off. The boss would have to be contacted later, but for now, it was on to the next dock. This dock had a bolt that was rusted in place because it sat out in the elements and had water splashed on it all summer long. My two sisters volunteered to get the oil from the garage. The oil was applied but the bolt was still not moving, even with the impact wrench. While laying on the dock working on the bolt, the impact wrench slipped and it tried to go swimming. I made a lucky grab and saved myself from having to explain to the boss why the impact wrench was in the lake. The bolt came free only after I risked a swim by stepping on the handle of a wrench which was hanging over the water.
The next two docks went smoothly. We then made contact with the boss to ask about pushing in a dock and to let him know about the broken bolt. He said he was in the middle of something and would be out in fifteen minutes to help push the dock in. Walking back, Forrest and I had a little conference. I said, “Do you think we should wait for the boss?” Forrest replied, “We are a couple of young bucks, and we pushed it in last year.” I agreed, “Deal, I was hoping you would say that.” We grunted the dock in by ourselves, but it was not as straight as we wanted. The boss was going to have to make the final judgment. We leveled the next dock while waiting for the boss. He showed up as we finished leveling the dock. He took one look at the dock we put in and turned to get the bobcat to pull it out. I objected saying we could muscle the dock out if he helped. He slowly agreed, so we muscled it out and pushed it back in straight.
Next, the boss headed to get the bobcat, while Forrest and I headed to the house to don chest waders. The waders were needed for our next job: hooking up the sprinkler system. Forrest and I had to pound a stake into the bottom of the lake to hold the sprinkler system’s intake pipe off the bottom because the resort uses water from the lake for the sprinkler system. Forrest started pounding but soon ran into rocks. We had to start over. This meant it was my turn to pound. I was using the sledge hammer sideways. Soon the boss said, “Quit hitting that stake like a girl!” I retorted, “It’s better than hitting my fingers.” However, I did start using the hammer the right way. I also hit rocks with the stake. We started over again. Success! As we hung the intake pipe, we found a problem; the intake was out of the water. I hollered for the hammer, and Forrest waded to shore to get it from the boss. Before he handed Forrest the hammer he said, “You know Forrest, when someone uses a hammer like a girl, that’s when the handle brakes.” They both chuckled at that.
The last job was to pull the dock out that had the broken bolt. Forrest and I chained the dock to the bobcat. The boss had it sitting on dry land in about a minute. We started repairs. First, we drilled out the bolt and rethreaded the nut. Testing to see if the bolt would hold meant dropping the dock back in the lake, leveling it, and tightening the bolt. The bolt did not hold so we pulled the dock out again. This time we took the dock back to the garage. We fired up the grinder and the old bolt came off in a shower of sparks. The welder was wheeled out and I welded on the new bolt. The welder produced several more showers of sparks, and the dock was as good as new. We left the dock by the garage because the smell of fried chicken and fresh bread was calling us in. Supper time is a great time to catch up and recap the day.
One last photo to compliment Nate’s paper on a typical work day. Here is Kenny, a new employee, who found out the hard way what happens when one side of the dock slips!
We pulled the kayaks out of storage a couple of nights ago and early the next morning Michaela (our daughter) was on the lake exploring. Here is her description of her foggy morning kayak trip on Boot Lake shortly after ice-out.
When I got up it was dark and foggy, and I had that early morning feeling which comes from getting up at unaccustomed hours. I walked down to the kayak rack in a mist and a brisk wind. The birds were singing crazily in the trees, as I pushed the kayak into the water. The loons, geese, swans, and ducks were creating music that cannot be made with any human instrument. The fog blanketed the lake and enveloped me, making me feel as if I were part of it. Through the mist appeared a swan, perfectly white and looking as if it should be a picture. Unfortunately, I was not close enough to get a photo. Entering a shallow bay I saw a fishing lure; a jitter bug, red and white, hanging suspended in the water. As the fog lifted I could now see a beautiful drake wood duck swimming under a tree that was dripping with dew. I was hoping to get close enough for a photo, but the drake had different ideas; he took off with a great show of splashing and calling. I was disappointed, but as I paddled under the tree, three more ducks exploded out of the branches; I nearly jumped out of my shoes. Realizing I was getting hungry, I decided to pick up my pace and was soon pulling my kayak up on shore. By Michaela Ahrendt