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The Call of the Wild Page 2

The Call of the Wild

Part 2: I breathed a sigh of relief as I walked into the welcoming lobby, with people gathered around the fireplace laughing and relaxing to the gentle hum of Christmas carols on the stereo.

By Elizabeth Ginns Britten — March 2005

   

Photo: Steve Woit
 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Ice Fishing
• Part 2: Ice Fishing
• Part 3: Ice Fishing
• Fancy Dancy Avionics

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I sucked it up, got in the car, and headed off, tears streaming down my face, my life flashing before my eyes. I was cursing Schmitt’s very existence, wondering how I’d ended up as far away from civilization as humanly possible (oh, that’s right, this was my idea) and why in the heck anyone would, by choice, live out here.

I had one turn to make—a left onto Route 172—and if I missed it, I knew I’d be the inspiration for Stephen King’s next horror novel. The street signs were covered in ice and snow, but by some stroke of God, I saw a “7” and a “2” poking through. I slammed on the brakes and reversed. A closer inspection revealed that it was, in fact, Route 172. Hurrah! I was going to make it out alive!

Overjoyed, I cranked up the radio and stepped on the gas. I pulled into the Sportsman’s Lodge 15 minutes later and breathed a sigh of relief as I walked into the welcoming lobby, with people gathered around the fireplace laughing and relaxing to the gentle hum of Christmas carols on the stereo. The receptionist greeted me with a warm smile, like she had known me for years. “You must be the writer from New York City,” she said. And just like that, the near-death experience was (nearly) forgotten. There was an unexpected coziness about this place way out in the middle of nowhere that was nice—even welcome.

Located on one of the largest freshwater lakes in North America (aside from the Great Lakes) and the “walleye capital of the world,” the lodge offers everything you’d need for a vacation or fishing trip in winter or summer—a full-service hotel, two restaurants, a bar, live entertainment, an indoor pool, a hot tub, and more. But, I learned, that unexpected coziness comes from the people who make it what it is, like Hennum, who, although barely 25, bought the multimillion-dollar resort last summer, works 16-hour days, manages hundreds of employees, and somehow handles the lodge’s numerous facilities, like the 40 ice shacks and marina out back. He’s also responsible for people’s lives; the week before I got there, while other resorts allowed people onto the ice (some of whom reportedly fell through), Hennum cancelled two trips (100-plus people). With his wife and three-week-old son sitting close by, he told me, “It’s a call I make every day; while on the one hand it’s a huge loss (of revenue), it’s just not worth putting people in danger.”

Next page > Part 3: “I’ve worked in -70º weather, but I love fishing where I live and being close to my family.” > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

This article originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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