Well the docks are out of the lake, cabins are shut down, things are cleaned, water lines are blown out, boats have been winterized and stored, picnic tables, barbecues, garbage cans and everything else is in storage. For the first time since early May, not much is happening at Birch Forest Lodge.

Kasey and I have been talking quite a bit about this past summer. Every year we try to take stock of what worked and didn’t and how we can do better. This year has a little more fodder than most years. We aren’t sure what to make of some of this. Hopefully some of the lessons learned this year won’t ever be needed. Hopefully next summer is a little more normal. But if not, we survived this year and are confident we can survive another crazy year if needed. But what we feel most is gratitude.

We are so grateful to all those who supported us. At the beginning of the season we were worried. Worried that we wouldn’t be able to open or worried that we would open and no one would come. Not only is the resort our source of income for our family, we also genuinely enjoy seeing everyone. So many of our guests have become our friends. It would have been pretty sad if no one would have visited this summer. Fortunately people came. And we are so grateful to them for choosing Birch Forest Lodge. We know there are many options for resorts and fishing spots all over northern Minnesota. We are honored when we are chosen. We are also very grateful to those who sent emails or messages of support even if they couldn’t make it this summer. And of course, we are grateful to those who kept us in their prayers.

This spring every time the phone rang it seemed someone was calling to cancel their trip. We knew that no one wanted to not go on their vacation. We knew people were worried and scared. This covid stuff is scary and worrisome-especially if you are like me and don’t know what to believe. None of us want to make anyone around us sick and definitely don’t want to bring it home to our loved ones. Personally, I felt there was no safer place during a pandemic than on a lake with cabins spread out. But we recognized that not everyone felt that way. The cancellations started coming in late March. By Memorial day we had received more than 35 cancellations. The first week of June had 9 cancellations alone. To say we were worried is a huge understatement. And we tried not to take it personal when someone cancelled, but it did hurt. Somewhere in June the pendulum swung the other way.

By late June people all over Minnesota realized that Canada was not planning on opening the border. Neither was Europe, Mexico or anywhere in the Caribbean. Hawaii was closed and so was Disneyland. But people still wanted to go on vacation. They were worried and stressed and needed to get out more than ever. Our phone started ringing and didn’t stop until October. We were fortunate to be pretty much sold out for all of July and August. September was pretty full. In fact for 6 or 7 weeks it seemed there wasn’t an empty cabin at any resort on Pelican Lake! We talked to resort friends on other lakes in Minnesota and their story was the same. People had decided they could get a cabin with their family, fish and play and be safe. This was wonderful for the business, but wore us out. In a good way.

While we didn’t have the chance to see many of the friends we enjoyed visiting with in previous years, we met many new people. Hopefully some of them come back! Now that we have had a couple weeks to relax and catch up on sleep, we are overwhelmed with gratitude for all that we’ve been blessed with. We are so grateful for our health. We are grateful for each other. And we are especially grateful to God who heard our worried prayers and sent so many people to Birch Forest Lodge this summer even in the face of a crazy global pandemic.

We look forward to seeing you next summer. If you get bored and/or cold you can come visit Belize. Hopefully this winter you can stay safe, healthy and warm. Cheers!