The Battle Lake Motel & RV Park Call us 218-864-5208
Things that otherwise were so unimportant that they should not have been mentioned except for the fact that I paid for the
bandwidth so I might as well pollute cyberspace with my uninformed rantings about nothing in particular.
The price of gas and the weather. I had a person call the other day and they said that they were going to be vacationing
closer to the Twin Cities. First, at most we are about $20 more in gas than the northern suburbs. Second, you are going
to spend more than that on a room, and it won't be in lake country. Our prices are the same this year as last, and the year
before. What else has stayed the same?
Another person called and said that they heard that there was still ice on the lakes. No... We had fishing on the opener.
Where do people get these ideas? Another person asked if there was a chance for thunderstorms. A chance? Look, in Minnesota
from May 1 to October 1 there is always going to be a "chance" of later afternoon and overnight thunderstorms.
A "chance" means what? A 1% chance?
As it turns out the weekends have been great with nice hot and humid temps. Someone asked what the water temperature
was. That is pretty hard, the water temp on little lakes like South Turtle can be far higher than the temps on Otter Tail.
There isn't much of a connection between water temp and fishing success.
We have been here for almost five years and one thing remains true - the best fishing in this area is on West Battle Lake.
People come to our place and use it as a base to try a half-dozen lakes in a weekend, which is great. But, time and time
again we find that the people cleaning the biggest fish, or giving us the largest catch-and-release pictures did their fishing
on West Battle Lake.
JR (a total fishing guru) tells me that artificial lures work so well on West Battle that they should be illegal. We have
a group of guys in the "50 inch plus" musky club. All of them caught their monster on West Battle. Like I said,
I don't think that water temp makes a difference. If you bring your fish finder, limit your trolling, use a map, and fish
smart you are going to have success. If you just want to bolt up and down the lake tossing your line any old place its going
to be tough.
I am so stupid. First, I live in a town of less than 800 people so there a lot of big city things that I just do not get.
Plus I am pretty naive about things that are slightly out of the nice little rut that I am in. So it was not too surprising,
I guess, that I found myself unwillingly partying with several thousand gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender people. It all
starts with Husker Du.
They were a great band from my youth. I graduated from Moorhead State University (that is what they called it then, and
what I still call it steadfastingly refusing to update my college alma matters name) in 1984, which was about the peak of
their Twin Cities reign. The Replacement shows were always sold out months in advance, and you needed a special pass to get
near Bikini Kill or any of the other Twin Cities sound bands. If you think that Prince was it in 1984 in Minnesota you are
sadly mistaken. Husker Du was way, way more important to most twentysomething wanna be musicians like me and every single
other person I knew that was sawing away on a flying V Ibanez.
I saw them once, when I did make two tries. At one there just seemed to be a lot of people staring at their shoes in
some smoky dive bar muttering about trouble in Wisconsin at Alpine Valley or somewhere. The show I saw was at 7th Avenue,
which I know is going to sound like I was at Woodstock but nonetheless I was there. I followed Bob Moulds career after that
on the periphery. His band Sugar never played anywhere. He played at Taste of Minnesota; which I believe is now just called
Taste because of some weird copyright infringement with the Taste of Chicago.
This was when it was still held on the mall in front of the state capital. He played an awesome acoustic set so I was
really excited to hear that he was going to be playing the Uptown Pride festival. I like the Uptown largely because my father
used to usher at the Suburban World theater, and the old Gale Institute was down there. Its all kinds of trendy shops now,
but I had many friends that landed in the Uptown after leaving MSU.
Sooo, I thought, Pride; well I am proud of Uptown too. Thus I waved good bye to Battle Lake and went to the Twin Cities.
What I did not know until I arrived was that the Pride we were dealing with was gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender pride.
Oh well. They seemed to be a lot like the punks of the Uptown from 1985; trying to be scary in a Halloween party sort of
way, not in a creepy John Wayne Gasey insane clown sort of way. It was all pretty humorous as I looked at all the people in
the obligatory black tee shirt, black cargo pants uniform of the Uptown GLBT crowd. I always thought that the punks that
wore the safety pins and the black eye shadow and nail polish were just playing dress up anyway. Anarchy just does not spill
across the Atlantic as easily as Never Mind the Bullocks made it seem.
The stage was a flat bed barely one foot off the ground. The first few acts were variations on the cycle bitch, drag
queen punk genre. Completely forgettable. Although I did meet some very nice young ladies that were from the roller derby
team. The beer was not overly expensive. There was an illegal entrepreneur selling booze without the approval of the Bryant
Lake Bowl / Pride Fest authorities. I love people like that so I bought a few and waited for Bob. The show was blistering.
I was standing about four feet away from him the whole time. Which was a bit close and unnerving so I backed up and eventually
walked away on his last tune.
Everyone has given me a hard time about my wander into GLBT land. They seemed peaceful enough and I was never worried
about my safety. I dont know if I would have felt the same had it been held indoors, but with a nice warm night, some nice
music and some illegal beers it was fine.
Recently, back before Thanksgiving, we installed an outdoor wood furnace. With that comes the task of splitting wood.
Now technically you could load full "rounds" into the furnace. Its box is about the size of a small closet so trust
me just about anything you can lift can go in. But in reality they burn a lot better when they are broke up into slightly
smaller pieces. One piece weighed about 150 pounds so its better to bust them up. Some big chunks are so large I can not
even lift them up to the door so I don't really have a choice.
I have only an 8 pound splitting mall and some wedges. We borrowed a hydraulic job and it was fine but its a lot of work
because you feel obligated to split a couple of green cords everytime you fire it up. Each night I like to split just enough
to stoke up the baby till morning.
Green basswood is a toughy. Old fir and ash and oak split like a deck of cards but fresh fallen basswood is like pounding
into rubber. I have found that if I come completely off the ground by half hopping half leaping and bring the mall down at
the same time as I hit the ground, concentrating all 270 pounds of my bulk into one split second of effort, just about anything
will break. Sometimes the wood is so green that the mall head comes back at me with homicidal intent. I use the rebound
to spring back up off the ground and hammer that sucker one more time. I find that profanity is especially helpful.
I don't use it around the kids or the guests, or around Wendy or Mom, but by golly when its 2:00 a.m. and I have a knot
covered round that is about 2 feet across and 3 feet tall a little of the "f" word comes in handy. I develop a
deep hatred for logs that do not split. Sometimes in the snow I will come across a log with a couple of deep smacks in the
top. That is one that I wrote off once before as un crackable. That one becomes the new focus of all my anxiety, self delusions,
and hatred. Nothing brings me as much satisfaction, really nothing, as having one of those fly apart with the halves cartwheeling
through the air and the mall head digging straight into the ground with a spark. Then I hoist the half and toss it into the
flames. "There you go, you won't be so tough come 7:00 a.m. You'll be nothing but ashes."
I don't own a chain saw. Occassionally, the wood guys will deliver a chunk too long to go in the box. My usual method
of cutting it down is by propping the ends up on a couple of stumps chunks and busting it in half by repeatedly hitting it
with the maul until it shreds itself in two. If that does not work and it is light enough for me to pick up it will pick
it up by one end and do a full 280 into the side of an oak tree. It will either bust or send me sprawling to the ground.
If it does not bust, well now it has really picked a fight. I have two options, the Swede saw (which will work), or picking
up by one end and slamming it into the ground. I will put it in back of me and bring it completely over my head and straight
into the ground or over the top of a tree stump. Once I pounded a six foot long piece into an old ash stump (the root ball
part) so hard that the ash stump shattered. The log I was swinging gave me that classic "baseball bat on a cold day"
sting in the hands. Big ash and oak logs clink like pieces of pig iron in the cold weather.
I like splitting wood.
My next entry will be about lifting appliances.
I have to move appliances every so often. Actually quite often. With the motel and my job at Habitat for Humanity I move
a couple of appliances every month. I never have anything that I would actually call help. I have people that move their
mouths up and down and expell a lot of air but when it comes to lifting a refrigerator up a flight of steps I am not that
sure that "how" I do it really matters. Technique is a vital part of many tasks, moving appliances is just not
one of them.
Appliance carts with slings and locking mechanisms are nice, but of course, we never have enough advance warning to actually
rent one. This leaves me with using my two wheel cart or just my back. I am that rare individual that does not have any
back pain. I have people show up to help that have existing back injuries or "workers comp" backs that limit them
to 25 pounds or less, or they are just too old that I don't want their help. I have found that to lift a fridge up a stair
case your best plan is to lift it from below. Even with a cart you are pulling it up by leaning down the stair case. Its
a lot easier to get underneath the thing and lift it over your head and toss it to the top. If I feel a tightness in the
groin I will back off, otherwise I find that if I can get a good grip (leather gloves are essential) on the bottom drip pan
I can usually take it up one flight of steps in one big "uggggh!"
It will tilt back onto my shoulder and head and then I will pound my way up the steps carrying the fridge till I my waist
is even with the top. Then I fall slowly forward and dump the pan on the floor. My "helper" only has to keep the
thing from swinging back down on top of me. The steps have to be good. Yes, I have busted right through the classic 2x12
step. If my foot goes through the board I have found that the best thing is to pogo off my one remaining leg and set the
unit down on its side. It is best to then rip the rest of the step to pieces with my bare hands rather than trying to pull
my foot back through the gap. Boards are cheap.
Busting open locked doors.
Occassionally, about three four times a year, I will have to bust open a locked door. Not at the motel, ever, but I,
being a very large bear-type human, will be asked to perform the old "I need this open, now" task. It might be
in an old farmhouse that someone would like to donate to Habitat, or it might be some smallish person that has a door that
they really, really need to open.
I will always clear with the persons the ground rules. First, they have to be prepared to completely replace the door,
the casing and portions of the wall on either side of the door. Second, they have to realize that I am serious about rule
Only in the movies does anyone use their shoulder. A joint is just too fragile to waste on a door. No, the stomp with
the bottom of the foot is the usual method. Normally, with interior doors, including solid wood apartment doors in run down
apartments in the twin cities, or hollow core bathroom doors in houses, the casing will disintegrate right at the deadbolt.
If the dead bolt refuses to take out the jam, or their is some serious home security metal in the casing, your next bet is
the to destroy the door at the hinges. If the hinges are on the inside its pretty easy. If they are starring at you it is
going to be almost impossible.
If a solid standing stomp refuses to dislodge the door (especially true of commercial steel clad exterior doors on abandoned
retail establishments) I will resort to the running stomp. This is usually no better. I will simply spring off the door.
Now come the "implements of distruction." I have used breaking bars, crow bars, pieces of angle iron, and wonderbars
and flat irons, but the champion piece of "get it open, NOW" hardware is the heavy galvanized steel pipe. The cops
use a pipe with handles as a battering ram, but I find that just putting a 90 degree fitting will give me enough handle.
I was working after the flood of 97 on some commercial demolition. One of the squattter tenants of an old building had
lighted out the fire escape, leaving the heavy steel door of the unit locked and barred. The fire escape was rotting off
the building with "rusticles" hanging from every bolt. I have a rule, never step on steel that does not look like
it can safely carry vehicle traffic. I found a pipe about four feet long with a nice bend in one end. With a battering ram
it is all about "where" and not "how hard." If you manage to hit the deadbolt hardware dead on, it is
possible to drive it right out of the door, through the casing and into the room in one neat piece. That is what happened
in this case. The door was still locked with the knob. At that point I picked up the pipe and brought it down on the knob
until it shattered. It was then simple to just kick the entire door casing out of the wall.
I was once asked by a young female to open her door. I made rule number one very clear. If you really, really want in,
I will get you in, but it might end up costing a lot more than: 1) waiting for your ex to come home with the key; 2) calling
a qualified lock smith; 3) throwing a rock through the window. "Open the door, NOW." It was an apartment door
in north Moorhead. I thought that it might be solid wood so I applied my "solid wood door" level of force. It
was a cheap hollow core door. It was one of those doors made of panelling and filled with cardboard. In this case my foot
went completely through the door, leaving a hole just slightly larger than my shoe, otherwise the door was just as securely
locked as ever. I then reached my hand in to turn the knob. At that very instant a rather large dog grabbed my hand in his
mouth. Luckily, I was wearing winter gloves and I was able to leave the glove with "Fido" and extract my hand.
"You busted the door!" Lisa (oh, gee I gave away her name) yelled. I reminded her of rule number one. "I didn't
think you were serious." She added. "You! You! You never mentioned the dog!" I protested. Now during this
philosophical discussion the dog had managed to get his head completely stuck in the hole in the door. He responded by getting
even more insanely ravenous for my flesh. This is how I lost one of my nice buckskin chopper mits.
I have tried most everything to rid this place of these nasty little buggers. First, I eliminate all "casual water."
I walk around this place constantly emptying anything that might contain water. Once that is done I try to keep the grass
down by the slough (thats MN DNR 30-350B to those of you with Google Earth)real short. It tends to dry out quicker that way.
Once that is complete I spray using an attachment to the garden hose. We hit all the bushes, around the foundation, and
then the entire lawn. After that I used a pyro-fogger. This is a device that hooks to a little propane cylinder. The fog
is very nasty and I get to use my gas mask and goggles. (No job is complete until I can use my gas mask.) I did this four
times in three days. Each time is supposedly good enough for three weeks. Then I went back and hit it again with the hose
/ bottle attachment. Then I went back with a naphthalene ground pellet.
This is all under the assumption that the mosquitos can't fly from the nearly 7,000 acres of wet land directly in back
of the motel. I was under the impression that the average mosquito travels only a couple hundred yards from its birth to
its "blood meal." Now a knowledgable guest informs me that they can fly miles!
I am all ears for future suggestions.