Saturday, March 21, 2009

Stolle, A New Version

Two years later. Valentines day. We decided to repeat our first big trip together to Stolle Meadows Cabin, a small forest service cabin isolated in winter by 30 miles of snow covered roads followed by seven miles on skis, snowshoes or snowmobile. Quiet, peaceful. We were looking forward to it for weeks.

After a long drive in we were surprised to find a couple unloading their rig into sleds at the one parking spot. I decided to get out and chat. Turns out they were headed into a cabin too. Wow. There is only one cabin. "You're going into Stolle, huh?" I repeat. Before reacting I decide I better check my reservation. Yes, here it is. Three day weekend, check. January... um. This isn't good. Yep, three day weekend. Martin Luther King weekend. This is President's Day Weekend. This is not good.

Shelly was, to put in mildly, crushed. To her credit she didn't quite cry. But to say we were disappointed would be a gross understatement. I remembered from mapping the area that a few miles up the road was a bar and cabins that just might be open in the winter. Chancing it I drove further in rather than retreating home.

I arrived at North Shore of Warm Lake, humbled. It was good to see some life. The bar lights were lit and children were sledding down the road speaking some sort of Slavic tongue. Inside I was greeted with a warm smile from the bartender. I leaned across the bar, returned her smile and simply said softly, "You gotta help me save this weekend."

Despite my tale of woe, she could only sympathetically return, "Sorry all our rooms are booked."

I was expecting this, but was unrelenting. "Are you sure?" "Is there anything at all?" I was about to ask if they had a tent we could borrow to erect in the snow when a tall fellow sauntered into the scene and offered, "Couldn't we heat up cabin number five?"

It wasn't winterized. In fact we would learn there was places inside where you could look straight through the walls to outdoors. But it had a heater. It was ten degrees outside. We'd traveled nearly four hours to get this far. We took it.

Rob got the heater fired up. Warm it was not the first night, but we did everything we could, piling thermarests against the windows, closing rooms off with mattresses. We almost hit 60 degrees by the last light of the day before night assaulted our progress. But we had sleeping bags, we had each other, we had gourmet dinners we'd brought for one another, and we had a warm bar and new friends to make. By the second day when the cabin temperature stuck 70 we were down to our underwear high-fiving in celebration.

We arrive in a snowstorm
We arrive to dark skies and sideways snow

The sun breaks
The Sun Breaks

Two and Infinity
Two and Infinity

Ice Fishing
On the Ice

I Love Shel's Eyes
Weekend Saved

My Girls
My Girls and Cabin Five

The solitude was reduced to a degree. But I wouldn't call the weekend a failure in the least. We had a blast hanging out with the regulars at the bar, all six of them. At one point we even busted out the karaoke. And the mixed drinks couldn't have been any more inventive without a lab coat.

It was serendipitous for all of us really. When we had first arrived in our dejected stupor, Desi had spotted Stolle, the North Shore resident dog. It took only a hundred yards for her to injure her leg again and leave her on three paws. It'd have been a rough seven mile trek in and out for her, and likely us who would have had to haul her out on one of the sleds.

Helping out my girl
Desi couldn't handle deep snow

Joggin with my girls
Watching her carefully on the hardpack

Desi's new friend Stolle
Desi's and our new friend Stolle.

Be Mine
Rockin' the ladybug slippers and butt heart (I wore this same ensemble up to the bar)

Beware of dragons
Beware of dragons

Creative isulation
Creative insulation

Pecan-crusted tzatziki salmon
Pecan-crusted tzatziki salmon

If it weren't for the strofoam cooler
If it weren't for the styrofoam cooler...



Des and Koot Chillin on the Porch

Bye Warm Lake!
Bye Warm Lake!

For anyone looking for a really great quiet weekend winter getaway, cabin fever as it were, I'd highly recommend North Shore. The people and scenery are fantastic. We'll be back. Maybe even on the same day as our reservation.