Sunday, June 17, 2018

Of guitars and moose

Today I went to visit my friend Dave who lives up the Gunflint Trail, a 63 mile dead end road that goes into the edges of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park. Dave and his wife, Nancy, own Hungry Jack Outfitters on Hungry Jack Lake. Nancy is a fabulous artist and she and Dave have owned the outfitting business for about 28 years. I have known them even longer than that. Dave also has some talents other than his business savvy. One of my personal favorite things is that he is a fine luthier. There's that word again. He builds custom stringed instruments, mostly guitars, as well as doing repairs and alterations on them.

Today I got to watch him install a pickup in an acoustic guitar. It was a  little scary watching him use a drill on an acoustic instrument as it would make me very nervous. It was to enlarge one hole and add two tiny ones.
This is Dave gluing the transducers to the bottom of the bridgeplate.

Here is a pic looking into a mirror inside the guitar after the three transducers (pickups) have been glued into place.
A short while later he plugged the guitar into an old amplifier and listened to the results. It sounded the same, only louder, which was the goal. Now it can be used with a P.A. system or an amplifier when needed.

It was time for Dave to get back to his other business and time for me to head back down the trail, so I took a couple more pics of his shop with some parts in the works and some nice chunks of wood for his craft.

About ten miles into my thirty mile return trip I had a pleasant surprise in the road ahead of me. A cow and calf and not of the bovine persuasion. It was a mama moose and her several week old offspring! They forgot to use their traffic signals, but we managed to let them ease back into the forest where they might be a little safer. Although bears and wolves might keep them on their toes, er...hooves.

They were moving and so was I so I apologize for the quality of the photos. And don't let the perspective throw you. Mama's ears are about 7 feet above the road. Click to embiggen.

Today is one of those days that makes me appreciate where I live. About 250 miles south of us in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul they have something they call an "Excessive Heat Warning." High temperatures and high humidity give them a heat index of 98 to 103 degrees which sounds pretty awful. At Dave's house this afternoon and on the farm it was about 70 or 72 degrees. When I went to town along the lake it was 55. Almost warm enough for a long sleeved shirt. Much better.


  1. What an absolutely blissful day.
    Luthiers (and all skilled craft artisans) fill me with awe.
    My happy smiles would have hurt my face if I saw a Mama Moose and baby, and cool weather is ALWAYS preferable.

  2. If only moose could play guitar, my life would be complete.

  3. moose in the wild!
    that MSP heat is headed this way tomorrow.

  4. What a wonderful thing to see up close! (the two moose)

    Was that your guitar being worked on?

    We are getting some extra heat tomorrow and I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Bleh.

  5. It has been ridiculously hot and humid down here in "the cities" lately, I envy your weather. You didn't catch my buddy's band at the Gunflint Tavern this weekend did you?

  6. Cool weather--even cold weather--is much better than sweltering heat.

  7. Mama moose is no little lady. They carry a lot of weight on those spindly legs. Great pictures! They are beautiful, from a distance and not in your lap when they have come in through the windscreen. To a moose, a car is as damage resistant as a lute is to me.

  8. Elephant's Child, It really was an unexpectedly wonderful day. I have played a couple of Dave's custom built instruments and they are things of beauty.

    Debra, Here it is: Bullwinkle plays Gordon Lightfoot.

    anne marie, I don't miss the heat of the middle Atlantic states. Unless I had an ocean to dive into.

    jenny_o, The moose were an unexpected surprise. Yes, that is my Canadian-made Seagull.

    Professor, I had to work (!) Saturday and totally forgot along with being tired from a fifty hour work week. Not sure how long I can keep doing that. I hope you have air conditioning or at least a cool basement.

    Sioux, It CAN get hot up here, but over 90 is a very rare occurance and rarely lasts but a day or two.

    Onevikinggirl, Dave's wife's parents attempted to accidentally drive UNDER one in their Honda many years ago. I think they were relatively unhurt, but the car was a mess. I don't remember for sure, but I think the moose survived. Adult moose can often weigh well over half a ton (or tonne).

  9. I love seeing moose. A couple of years ago my brother-in-law came up from Massachusetts for a visit. We drove him all over northern Maine looking for moose and never saw one. He went back home the next day and that evening my wife and I went out to eat. When we returned there was a moose and twin calves at the mouth of our road.

    As of yesterday, we were forecast 90 degree weather for today, but a weather front rolled in from Canada bringing thunderstorms with a high of only 82. I will take the storms to the hot weather.

    Great country you live in.
    the Ol'Buzzard

  10. Thank you for that link, Jono. My life is now complete.

  11. Exquisite good luck to Dave’s wife’s parent. That is otherwise a very Scandi-way to die, or at least total your car. Most major roads now have fences or at least elg reflekser to reduce the number of death by pot roast.

  12. What a sight. I'm glad you identified Mama Moose and her calf, Jono. I wouldn't have known what to call those sweet (? - they appear sweet) creatures.
    Be well, friend.

    PS Is it me, or does your blog keep vanishing and reappearing?

  13. Wow, the luthier's shop is fascinating! I would have felt just as nervous as you did watching him drill into that guitar. I even hover protectively when somebody's tuning my piano. ;-)

    Mama and baby moose are so cute! We used to see moose frequently around our acreage in Alberta, but there aren't any on Vancouver Island. I'll never forget the time we saw three of them standing together in a little grove of trees: Two regular moose and one white one. I don't think it was an albino; just a very pale version of a normal moose. Too bad I wasn't as good with my camera as you are!

  14. How exciting to see the Moose Mum and Baby !
    It is only 107 here today But as the joke goes "it is a dry heat".

    cheers, parsnip

  15. The last time I was in AZ it was about 110 degrees. I loved it, but that's because I'm a Brit and I'm not living in it all the time. :D I'm sure the novelty would soon wear off.

    Great shots of the moose and baby!

  16. We have those exciting encounters on the roads here, too. Except they are not with moose but with alligators!

    What a cool-looking shop your friend has! I can almost smell the scent of the wood.

  17. Ol'Buzzard, Moose are one of the most interesting critters I have run across in the wild. They can be a bit dangerous so I give them a wide berth.

    Debra, I was hoping you would follow that one!

    Onevikinggirl, Did you ever see the Moose on the bridge episode of Lillyhammer?

    Robyn, I have a few antlers laying around. Sometimes we decorate them at the holidays and refer to them as a "moosemas tree". I do mis a week here and there when life gets out of hand and Google isn't always the most user friendly format.

    Diane, I have only seen photos of albino moose, but I would take a real sighting as a sign. I'm not sure a sign of what. Maybe hallucinations. Moose can be quite tasty, too.

    angryparsnip, My oven gives off a dry heat, too.

    LL Cool Joe, Thanks!

    Pixel Peeper, Whenever I was in Florida I always kept my eyes open for a 'gator sighting.