Don’t mow the “weeds” just yet, they may be wildflowers. It’s been kind of a slow spring and early summer, but the grass and weeds are finally getting tall. The lilacs are in full bloom here, even though “down state” they bloomed weeks ago. The road ditches are becoming colorful with daisies and hawkweed coming to life. Lupins are always beautiful this time of year along the shore. Up on the Trail and in the woods are many small beautiful flowers just now showing off their colors. The bunchberry are beautiful with their stark white flower, along with the small starflower, forgetmenots, and the bird-on-the-wing are really gorgeous purple, if you can find them. I found these along the shore of Gunflint Lake.
For area Realtors, this time of year is extremely busy. Hope and optimism fill our hearts as we travel the back roads looking at potential new listings and checking on the condition of signs, driveways and looking for winter damage to trees or structures on current listings. This will be the year that we sell that long-listed cabin, or that newly listed property. Surely, the buyers will be excited by new prices and new inventory. So far, so good. The season has brought some new interest and early sales.
For the first time in a number of years the ice is out on the area lakes. We actually had a fishing opener! Running up the Gunflint Trail to list some new properties two weeks ago, it was still winter with frozen lakes and a blanket of new snow. Last week, I had to run back up the Trail to take pictures all over again as the snow was gone and the ice was out. Roads were dusty and the car showed it. This week it’s much needed rain and buds on the trees. Good things are sure to come. There’s a new and uplifting feeling in the air. Or is it pollen and black flies, already….
Take a close look at the photos attached to this post. There are 3 wolves running up the Arrowhead Trail. They were just “downtown” Hovland harassing some local dogs, when I and the dog’s owner came along on our way home. I caught up to the “pack” that was intent on staying on the road and running full out. The leader is just to the right of the power pole in the first photo. The other two took to the ditch shortly thereafter. The one bringing up the rear looked a bit rough. He may have been in a fight or showing signs of mange.
You’re thinking, wow, what a rare wilderness sighting of such wild creatures. Well, these are the 7th, 8th and 9th wolves that I’ve seen along the highways and byways this winter…so far. I’ve also seen tracks regularly on my own driveway.
Over the past 30 plus years of traveling these same roads, I can remember seeing only a handful of wolves, total. The local deer population is at an all time low, which might have something to do with the number of wolves. I wonder just how “endangered” the timber wolf really is? Certainly, Mother Nature is sorting it all out. But, in the mean time I’d keep a close eye on your family pet.
Moods of Lake Superior are most dramatic in the winter months. Sunrises and sunsets are especially powerful because of the sun’s lower angle which brings it up over the lake, and down behind the Sawtooth Mountains. Clear cold days generate steam fog rising from the lake. On cloudy days with steel-gray sky and lake we often get a short brilliant sunrise or sunset with the sun illuminating the cloud deck from below as it peeks above a clear horizon. Later, we’ll get large sheets of white snow-covered ice floating over large expanses of the lake, which make it appear totally frozen over. A wind shift will push the ice sheet away and expose the open water once again. It’s almost a daily flip flop at times. With storms and waves come ice covered rocks and shoreline from the spray. And, usually later in the winter that ice sheet pushes on shore giving us aqua marine blue piles of ice in large formations along the wind swept shore. It’s a magical canvas of ever changing light and color. Wish you were here…
This time of year, our little harbor town looks quite festive. Our street department crew decorates all light poles in downtown Grand Marais in addition to the businesses sporting their holiday decor. Sales abound with a theme of “shop local.” Grand Marais homeowners decorate their yards and homes with lights and blow-up santas. The public utilities commission runs a contest every year for the “best decorations”, awarded to one special ambitious homeowner. In previous years, I too, would put up a christmas tree and lights. The last year I attempted such feats, I had spent weeks (and possibly months) collecting pink and purple ornaments and lights. Some were even vintage-courtesy of our wonderful local thrift store. I spent a decent amount of time putting up my tree, carefully placing the adornments on the branches. Once finished, I stood back and admired my vintagey pink and purple creation. Worthy of Martha Stewart if I might say so myself. Upon returning home a few days later, I opened the door which was adjacent to my christmas tree. To my dismay, the beautiful tree now had three new ornaments-my cats. Martha Stewart no more.
Flash forward a few years to the first christmas in our new home. Being in rural cook county, there is no need for lights and santas. Our north woods sport their own naturally festive holiday look, including my new property. As I lit a fire in the fireplace that christmas eve, I reflected on how lucky I felt to be enjoying my own brick and mortar home. All the blessings and trials that had brought me to that place.
When you are ready to take the plunge, and make the transition from renting to owning, or are ready to call Cook County home, come on in to Red Pine. Many of us live “over the river and through the woods.” We all have experience in buying and/or building our homes and getaways locally. Whether off grid, or just around the corner, our Agents are a wealth of resources and expertise to make your home-owning dreams a reality. Thinking of listing your property? We will put these same skills to work to acquire you a buyer, all with that friendly, small town manner Cook County residents are known for. Stop by, our coffee pot is always on.
Everyone really loves the fact that moose populate the Arrowhead region. Many a tourist has spent countless hours on the infamous Gunflint Trail in the hopes that they might see one of these iconic creatures. Our Red Pine agent Gail Englund lives off the grid on the Gunflint Trail. I have heard countless stories of the exciting wildlife she gets to see on her commute to and from Grand Marais. Yesterday on her way home as she neared a small lake, a large and proud bull moose stood in her way. Gail, being well versed in wildlife watching, slowed to a stop and turned off her engine. As she was digging for her camera, two cows sauntered out from the woods. One cow nuzzled the bull, the other pawed the ground. Were they competing for his attention? As Gail opened the car door to get a better shot with her camera, both cows took off in opposite directions. The bull wandered off as well. Gail continued her drive home, and upon arriving started her evening chore of loading and stacking wood. Realizing later on that the wheelbarrow was still sitting at the bottom of the stairs, she made her way outside to bring it back to the woodpile. Glancing up, she noticed a large dark figure near her salt lick. A bull moose. The same big bull moose she had encountered earlier. As she snuck to her car to grab the camera in hopes of finally getting a shot of the large animal, he took off. Luckily for Gail, she just might get a few more chances to get that picture.
As fall turns to late-fall and the tourist season winds down, we still find ourselves busy with late season real estate activity. We’ve had a lot of buyers finally looking at land. In fact, we’ve had more showings in the past few weeks than we had all summer. This isn’t atypical, as this time of year buyers like to walk the land and see how things look without the leaves hiding the beautiful views, or the neighbors clutter. Still, the numbers for 2014 do not look great for vacant land sales in Cook County. According Multiple Listing Service statistics, land sales are off by 33% from last year at this time. That’s all types of land – lake lots, building sites and remote “40’s”. But, in general they are all down with no particular better sector than another. Prices are down by 15% and the total number of listings is growing, up 9%.
Primary home sales have been good. It’s the secondary properties – vacation homes, cabins and retirement homes that have been slower. Although condo sales have been strong if priced around $100,000. It seems buyers are also less inclined to buy something that needs a lot of work. Turn-key is the way it needs to be.
Are there any bargains? I think so. How about a cabin on a lake that was listed for $199,000, and on the market a long time, sold for $150,000? How about 5 acres with a fabulous Lake Superior view near Grand Marais for $52,000? Many sellers are saying, “Bring me an offer”. Maybe it’s time to make a move on that property you’ve been watching for some time.
Most folks who are acquainted with the shore know it’s just plain gorgeous up here. Fall happens to amp that up another notch. Besides our terrific leaf color, fall sunsets on the north shore are STUNNING. To me, it feels like I can’t have possibly witnessed such splendor before. Driving from Lutsen half the week, I happen to have a front row seat to this beauty as I follow the lake home. In addition, I have taken the time this fall to “take the long way home” and drive our many gravel county roads. Sometimes the beauty is too much, and I cannot possibly soak in enough of it. Even the air smells beautiful, as only damp fall air can. Living on the shore has it’s unique challenges, as does any location, but the trade off is more than worth it. If you have considered moving our way, it’s a great time to buy that home of your dreams; the crew at Red Pine can help you every step of the way.
(photo courtesy of Don Davison)
As a recent blog post stated, our Broker Mike Raymond is a pilot. The moment I learned that he takes folks out for such things as moose viewing and fall color tours, I have been secretly wanting to hop on one of these rides. This week, I got my chance. I got the call mid Tuesday afternoon to meet at the airport. I had been a little nervous and anxious most of the day as I had never flown in a small aircraft before. As I sped up Devil Track Road, my anxiety turned to excitement as I neared the airport. A few minutes after arriving, I heard the hum of an engine and watched as Mike and the green and white Cessna appeared from around the corner. We chatted for a bit as we waited for John, our photographer for the trip. John appeared and we loaded up. The interior, which Mike referred to as “avocado” was quite comfortable. Seat belts and headsets on, we taxied down the runway, as Mike spoke into his microphone in pilot language I could not understand. In the blink of an eye, we were off, gently gaining altitude above the vast boreal forest. It was surreal, watching the trees decreasing in size, seeing ponds, lakes and streams from a viewpoint that most do not get the opportunity to witness. At the same time, my stomach started giving me the dreaded feeling of motion sickness. I brushed it off, taking a few quick pictures on my cell phone. We soared over the harbor, over the city streets and homes that looked like something I can’t describe. Stunning, different, small. Then Lake Superior, which was again indescribable. We circled an area of the shore, as our photographer took photos of one of the most fantastic lots we currently have offered for sale. Mike then announced we would be heading over to Caribou Lake before returning to the airport. And then what I most feared happened. I had been trying to ignore those icky feelings that were swelling in my body. Ignoring them no longer I glanced around, eyeing a Ziploc bag in the pocket in front of me. Thank god I hadn’t had a big meal that day. And thank god the sights were so stunning that no one appeared to notice my mortifying condition in the back seat. I managed to glimpse from time to time the surroundings, including my treasured piece of property near Pike Lake. Before I knew it, we were getting ready to land, which I am sad to say I missed watching. Mike expertly landed the small aircraft, gently coming to a stop. In a flash, Mike was out of the plane, beckoning me to exit. Since there was not a hole in sight for me to crawl into, I gathered up what was left of my bruised ego and climbed out of the back seat of the plane, Ziploc bag and all. Would I do it again? In a second.