Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tragedy at Holland Lake Lodge

Alright folks, before anyone panics, this is a story of dark comedy.  So relax and enjoy the read...

Many of you know that I am not at all handy.  I struggle with the maintenance here, laboring with great efforts to keep the lodge from falling into the lake - literally.  A simple chore of say, changing a door knob fixture, might take you just ten minutes.  With me, it takes two hours.  Some of you have heard stories about the disasters: broken pipes, warped floors, trees across vehicles, the wedding tent that blew away, suicide squirrels nailing our power (twice in a week), the baby goose, the grinder pump, the Jonestown wedding, and the list goes on and on.  It is safe to say that I do remain relatively calm when disaster strikes.  I take it in stride, usually thinking to myself, "hmmmmmm, this is a new one I haven't dealt with ever before...lovely."

Last Tuesday was no different.  Chef Lukas was holding down the fort that afternoon.  Outside was miserable - 48 degrees, pouring rain, visibility about 200 feet, wind blowing and mud everywhere.  I arrived late from Missoula, walking in about 5:30 p.m.  The fireplace was roaring in the Great Room.  We had five tables reserved for dinner and Amber is attempting to lite the wood stove in the chilly dining room.  To no avail, the damper seems stuck or jammed, smoke pouring out of the stove in huge amounts.  The smoke smells toxic and I ask her what she has used to start the fire.  Nothing out of the ordinary - just our customary newspaper and bacon grease from the kitchen.  I whack at the damper screw, even pulling it all the way out at one point.  After ten minutes of this, and opening windows and doors to suck the smoke out, I realize that the stove pipe must be jammed by the "broken" damper.  I bang on the stove pipe, as if it might help, and then make the call to evacuate the tables from the dining room and move them out in the bar area. Hurriedly, Amber and I shove couches back from the Great Room fireplace and haul the five tables from the smokey restaurant.  We shut the french doors as I turn to seat our first guests, explaining the dilemma.  Alas, a broken damper is something new that I've not encountered in my twelve years at the lodge. 

Guests are happy that evening, one couple even says that they prefer their table out in the Great Room as they can dine and view the waterfall at the same time.  Throughout the night, as we work, Amber and I keep commenting about the lingering toxic smell in the dining room.  It's not a good sign, and I tell her that I'll have Chuck, our courageous maintenance man, pull the stove pipe apart when he comes on Thursday morning.

So today rolls around, I get a call from Nancy.  Chuck has pulled apart the stove pipe in the dining room.  And just above the damper mechanism, he has removed the carcass of a large Grebe or Wood Duck.  The bird is completely black from soot and about half the feathers are singed.  The poor guy must have somehow managed to get in from the top of the chimney, and slid down as he struggled to go back up.  Mystery and problem solved....and now I have to climb on the roof tomorrow, to reattach the screen around the chimney opening.   And no, Chef Lukas is not adding roast duck to the menu just yet!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Goodbye to Winter

Awoke to an inch of snow this morning here at the lake.  So maybe this goodbye is a bit premature!  This year we have had the longest snowy evening I've seen in my 12 years of living in Montana - the coldest temps and most snow.  I am confident there will be ice on the lake into May, something I have seen only a couple other times.  The pictures below and above were taken in early December, just as the lake was freezing solid.  The photographer is Nicole Wickens, of Green Door Photography.  Nicole is a local Missoula area artist, who specializes in weddings and portraits.  Huge thanks to her for sharing these photos of the lake and HLL critters.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

DSQUARED2 Shoots Commercial at Holland Lake Lodge

In early July of last year the designers and creative directors of the DSQUARED2 fashion brand stayed at the lodge for four days, shooting and producing a commercial for their new fragrance lines, HeWood & SheWood, to be shown on Italian television.  Founders of the brand, Dean and Dan Caten, and their crew could not have been a greater bunch of folks.  Members of the production team flew in from as far away as Milan, Italy.  Originally hoping to shoot at the lodge, using the lake and mountain backdrop, it wasn't until the third day that they found the Swan River location.  The actors were stoic in braving the near freezing snow run-off.  Check out the of the making of the commercial.  You'll see some great shots of the lake, inside the lodge, and the production team in action.  You can even see Dan wearing one of our lodge sweatshirts!  

There is talk of releasing an English version of the commercial here in the states and I'll keep you posted on when that happens.

Huge thanks to all involved, you were some of our best media guests ever!
This is the actual commerical.  

Monday, November 15, 2010


Took these photos this afternoon.  November is not known as being the most beautiful month in Montana.  It tends to be a toss up between Fall and Winter, as if Mother Nature can't quite make up her mind.  Today is no different: cold, gray and dreary, but still beautiful.


Pete above, one of the lodge mousers!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Last Night @ the Lake

Beautiful evening.  Larch have peaked slightly.....nights are cool, fresh snow on the mountains.

And here at the lodge, I have a lot of catching up to do with this blog!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Red Hotties at Holland Lake

Our lovely local Swan Valley Red Hotties came for lunch!!
They usually come once a season as a group, sometimes twice if we're lucky.  This year I had to take a picture of them after lunch.  We love having our local neighbors visit the lodge and appreciate their support hugely!  What a beautiful group of women they are.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Last Night at Holland Lake......

Beautiful end to the day.  The Kinneys from Virgina enjoyed some quiet time after dinner.  Missions in the background!  

Friday, July 2, 2010

Canada to Mexico!!

Five wonderful guests last night stayed over while on their journey from Canada to Mexico.  They are doing the Great Divide Bike Trail.....yes, folks, 2500 miles of mountain biking using mainly dirt paths/roads and very little pavement.  The route has been mapped for a decade or so and the lodge sits one mile off the trail.

We've been getting bikers at the lodge since 2000 and are in awe of their stamina and energy in attempting this endeavor.  The lodge has a policy that we'll offer food for bikers at any time of day regardless of our regular restaurant hours!

Here are a couple photos of three of the five from last night: Susan, Matt and Julie.  Good luck, guys!!  The three have a phenomenal backup support duo, Judy & Debbie.
A link to their awesome blog: EatSleepDrinkBeerRide

And check out the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route Guide: Great Divide Maps

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Goodbye to June

Tough to believe June is over!  The Frykman Family is visiting from Southern California.  Some shots of them from yesterday!

Tommy was in the water right away, the cold temp didn't seem to bother him!


Silas and Carolina are inseparable.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Marshmallow Fire Fun

Took a few pictures this evening, it was a beautiful "oil painting sky."  The Fletcher Family from Arizona enjoyed time by the lake roasting marshmallows in the bonfire in front of the Griz Den.  Holland Falls is in the back ground.


This June has seen plenty of rain, and the mosquitos have hatched.  They're out in full force!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Been raining almost non-stop for the last two weeks.  These pictures are from last week when there was a slight pause in the weather.  Daffodils are finally over.  And the lawn is in need of a good mowing.  
Planning to have the horses back around the 15th of the month.  Enjoy these shots from inside the dining room!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Water like Glass

Gentle night at the lake yesterday evening.  Water was like glass and the reflections were phenomenal.  It was wonderful to have our opening weekend for the season.  The restaurant was busy and the guests had a great time.  Here are some pictures from yesterday.  My apologies for the bad date.  I've since figured out to remove it from my small point n shoot camera!