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THIS AIN’T CHICAGO

by Mark T Wayne

For a week I have endured close association with that foul animal, Loop Lonagan.  The more I learn about the man, the more I like my dog.  Now, Old Man Ludditis wants a rundown on our trip to Chicago’s hottest startup, so we’re both here at his bar, drinking his liquor.

The Lonagan creature slobbers with enthusiasm to tell the story.  “Dis place’s way up dare,” he says in his ungrammatical vernacular as he slides across the first photograph from the trip.  Yes, this place is way up there—that much is true.  It’s northern Manitoba, the 55th parallel, where we enjoy cool weather in the summer, and it never gets entirely dark.

But the creature’s mouth is running on.  “No roads!  Just trees ‘n’ lakes fer hunerds o’ miles.”  

I agree with that statement.

“It’s the only lodge on a huge lake.”

 Also true.   

“And you can dip a cup over the side o’ the boat ‘n’ drink da water!”

Right again.  Strange.  Lonagan may break a record for being upright tonight.  Maybe.

“Pike ‘n’ walleye so thick you can walk on their backs.  Six of ‘em jumped right in the boat and almost sunk it. Anudder one took a flying leaped and bit my rod in half on da way by. 

Somewhat exaggerated.

Fer bait we use baseball bats with huge treble hooks and throw ‘em all day.  I’m still sore.”  He rubs his shoulder, rather dramatically to my way of thinking. “We caught more’n a thousand fish apiece!”

That string of whoppers snaps his winning streak.  Normally I would not presume to steal a man’s thunder, but a half-truth is the most cowardly of lies and I feel duty-bound to correct errant reporting that may appear in our journal.  Yes sir.  This low-brow has sunk to self-aggrandizement and for no good reason; the fishing up there is so astounding that exaggeration is not required.

Here are the facts:  The lake is stocked by God and God alone, and the waters team with life.  Northern Pike in the 42-49 inch range are not uncommon, and they dutifully log such trophies in the Master Angler records, available to all.

Giant baits are not required. One-ounce spoons are what the pike crave, for reasons that escape me.  They are eager to bite and do so with savage alacrity.

The foul Lonagan’s count is somewhat inflated as well.  I believe 520 was the number of fish between the three of us.  Four days is around 28 hours in the boat and that works out to a fish about every three minutes on average.  I think.

But the man runs on with his drivel. “Flies and mosquitos crawl all over yer face, crawl across yer eyeballs, ‘n’ you can’t eat nothin’ without dem things gettin’ in yer mouth.”

Another outright lie.  We experience few flies and mosquitoes.  Perhaps fishermen foolish enough to walk directly into the dense woods suffer such iniquities, but personally, I do not understand that kind of behavior.  No sir!  There are plenty of trees to target on the fringe.  I never reached for the bug spray the entire trip and I can only assume that Lonagan wants to scare other sportsmen away from what he regards as his private fishing hole.

All this begs the question, What does fishing have to do with Chicago startups?’ My response is the same as in the past.  The lodge opened its doors in recent years using private equity, so it is a startup.  All who come here either hale from Chicago, once did so, or must pass through our fair city, so it qualifies as a Chicago startup.

Let me also point out that every budding Chicago entrepreneur requires vigorous alternate activity to effectively rest and return to battle.  A fishing trip such as this stimulates innovation and is therefore vital to a company’s bottom line.  Excellent fishing provides an elixir to top management—an essential part of doing business, and it is an admirable location for a board meeting.  Therefore I can state unequivocally that we were at this location performing important research—not goofing off.

Now, as we huddle around the Formica table, I raise my expertly crafted mint julep in a toast.  “Gentlemen.  We met at this very place, not two years past, to choose a gift for Jonelis, our fearless leader.  And I wish to point out that without the mentorship of today’s host, we may have invested in some foolish gewgaw.  But we did not.  Instead, we wisely selected an outing at this magnificent wilderness locale.  Let us raise a cheer to a man whose wisdom and kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. I toast Donatas Ludditis!”

We all raise our glasses.  Our host smiles sweetly while Lonagan chugs single malt from his tumbler, then belches.  I clearly hear him remark under his breath: “Windbag.”

Passing over this crass interjection, I address my comments to our host.  “The irresistible draw of the wild stands as the only sufficient excuse for having traveled with a lowlife like Lonagan.  Now behold how the man does sneer, and swell, and soar, and blaspheme the sacred name of Truth.  I should choose my companions more wisely.”

Lonagan’s face turns purple with rage. “You miserable old fossil…ya leftover from da musty past…I dunno how I survived four days in a boat with a useless crank like you.  Shoulda left you at da bottom o’ the lake!” 

I ignore him and turn back to our host in a confidential manner.  “Never argue with an idiot.  Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

“Shuttup ya—ya hack writer!”  Lonagan swings his meaty fist in a long reaching punch.

He crashes forward, belly first, splitting the table in twain and, in a more serious loss, he sweeps our drinks to the floor.

The force of his dive tips my chair back and as I fall, I see Old Man Ludditis swinging the whiskey bottle.  It connects across the lout’s shoulder.  Glass shards fly and whiskey floods the area worse than during business hours. “I no want fight in my bar,” He shouts. “You fight, you go outside.  This is place of peace.” 

As I pick myself up, I reflect on Lonagan’s huge fists.  They can do damage and have done so to many who are sorry to learn of it.  But I have avoided any repercussions because he missed the mark.

Our host dusts himself off, then produces a walnut out of nowhere and calmly cracks it using the crook of his left arm.  The pieces fall to the floor and he then cracks another.  Then another.

Those walnuts are a helpful reminder and I imagine a skull might make such a sound—my skull.  But this kind of rich old-world charm always soothes my ire, and it seems to do the same for the creature Lonagan, who appears unharmed.  Yes sir!  We are in Ludditis’ establishment, drinking his liquor, and cannot justifiably argue with such a sweet old gentleman who once boasted the title of chief enforcer for the Lithuanian mob (retired).  After all, what are a few hot words among friends?

We repair to another table and I for one, resolve to comply with the old man’s wishes—for now.  I sip my drink, and bide my time.  “Go ahead Lonagan,” I say, “tell him all about it.”

The man sneers at me, then goes to work. “We had lotsa heavy weather—kinda rough fer that tiny little pontoon plane.  Pilot passed out from fright ‘n’ I hadda take over the controls.  First time I ever landed on water so it wasn’t real pretty.” 

We never saw any thunderclappers.  The man spouts these lies without so much as a grin.  With mild and mannerly aplomb, I say, “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

“You callin’ me a liar?” 

“Well, perhaps it’s the best you can do.  A casual read of Scripture will show that man was made at the end of the week’s work, when God was tired.”

Lonagan’s eyes bulge and he stands for a repeat performance.

“I say no fight here! You boys shake hands.   Mr. Wayne, please let Loop tell it his own way.” 

Our host is right.  Don’t wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.  But for the record, we traveled by luxurious turboprop, tricked out with air conditioning, reclining leather seats, and a pretty stewardess who earnestly plied us with food and drink.  In an hour and a half, it whisked us away from Winnipeg, 500 miles north to a private gravel strip carved out of the forest.  But Lonagan has been babbling all this time.

Now he brandishes a photograph. “…and dis huge bear chased us back to our boat.  We barely escaped alive.”  More nonsense.  I’m shocked that the man didn’t claim to have fought it with his bare hands.  Perhaps that didn’t occur to him.  We saw the bear from the boat and went elsewhere for shore lunch.

“…beans fer breakfast.  Beans fer supper.”  I believe this is about as barbarous an exhibition as I have witnessed yet.  He exaggerates the fishing and then disparages the food.  He bolsters his ego on the backs of invented clap-trap deprivations.  It may be thought that I am prejudiced against the man.  Perhaps I am.  I would be ashamed of myself if it were not so.

Permit me to straighten out the matter. The guests congregate for breakfast and dinner in a large and beautifully crafted log lodge, and start the day with eggs, bacon, Red River Cereal, juice and hot coffee, and for dinner, steak, pork chops, barbeque ribs—all you can eat and all the trimmings, served graciously with table cloths and silverware—tools that Lonagan does not know how to use properly.

But shore lunch is the grandest treat of all.  Our guide chops wood, builds a fire, then cleans and cooks the walleye we just caught.  Ah shore lunch!  Beer batter walleye, honey garlic walleye, sweet and sour walleye.

And yes, I long to return, even if doing so means that I must put up with Lonagan.  Because this ain’t Chicago.  No sir!  This is North Star Executive Outpost on Knee Lake, Manitoba.

I make no apology for detailing the above information.  It will be news to some of my readers, at any rate.

Go to North Star website

Read BEST GIFT

Go to first installment – ROUGHING IT

Credits

Photos by John Jonelis

Some juicy quotes from Mark Twain.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2019 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Canada, Characters, Chicago Startup, Chicago Ventures, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Fishing, fly fishing, investor, loop lonagan, Mark T Wayne, new companies, Startup, startup company, vc, Venture, venture capital

WILDERNESS

by John Jonelis

.In Chicago, we enjoy something few high-tech centers can boast—easy access to a primal wilderness—a vast paradise, ancient and unspoiled—unique in the world and very special.

Whenever I’m in this place, I love the world just as I find it.

A short commuter flight from O’Hare Field whisks me to Winnipeg International Airport. Then a short local flight delivers me to an isolated airstrip carved out of an untouched forest—hundreds of miles from roads and crowds. And I experience absolutely no jet lag. My destination is located within my own time zone! This amazing opportunity is accessible due to technology, and I intend to enjoy it as often as I can!

Canadian Shield shown in red

My favorite location is Manitoba at the 55th parallel—as far north as Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea—as far north as Omsk. North of that grow stunted trees in permafrost, but here tall Pine and Aspen surround the lakes. Uncounted and untouched waters flow through this region—a massive system of rivers and lakes, draining into Hudson Bay. Here it is not uncommon for the ice to measure four feet thick as late as May. I come in June.

Boreal Forest—the crown of the Northern Hemisphere

Mark T Wayne kindly explained to me the geology of this place that I love so intensely. This is the unique and magnificent intersection of the Canadian Shield, and the Boreal Forest. The Shield is a vast area, surrounding Hudson Bay, where, during the last ice age, severe glaciation removed everything down to bedrock. The Boreal (also known as the Snow Forest) is a predominantly conifer range that rings the northern hemisphere like a crown. (In Russia, it runs through Siberia.) Canada’s intersection of Boreal and Shield makes up the largest unspoiled wild area in the world.

Overstressed Chicago entrepreneurs need a place to burn off the tension of a high-risk high-reward lifestyle. Some find solace at the golf course. Others in spectator sports, television, or booze. I prefer the stunning spectacle of God’s creation in the raw. And I bring my fishing rod!

The great Northern Pike reigns in these waters and grows to enormous proportions! Nobody stocks these lakes, but the waters teem with these ferocious predators. Conditions are just as they’ve been for thousands and thousands of years, and unlike other regions of the globe, Manitoba means to keep it that way. No live bait. Barbless hooks. All fish returned to the water unharmed. That transforms an idle pursuit into a challenging alternate activity for budding business tycoons.

Vladimir Up Yours Putin finds time to enjoy the Boreal in his native Russia—that is, when he’s not busy overrunning free countries or thumbing his nose at our great nation. If he can get away for such activities, I think Chicago entrepreneurs can do the same.

I’ve experienced many good fishing lakes in Canada’s provinces. This is my favorite. Knee Lake is a 50-mile-long body of icy water punctuated by rocky reefs and 150 islands. Only one small lodge operates here. They call it North Star Outpost and to me, it’s as close to heaven-on-earth as you can get.

Loop Lonagan, Mark T Wayne, and Donatis Ludditis from my magazine surprised me with tickets for this excursion. And I am immensely grateful.

Here, a man indulges in the elemental fight against nature and—for a precious time— entirely escapes the Chicago rat race!

Here, a man lives off the fat of the land, and—in a delightful exception to the catch-and-release rules—harvests fat walleye for that exquisite tradition known as Shore Lunch.

Nothing tastes better than fresh walleye cooked over pine logs. This is beer batter—my favorite.

In this ecosystem, nothing goes to waste. After that wonderful meal, I’m back hunting big pike.

Without warning, a strong strike sends a shiver up my elbow and shoulder. I feel vital life at the end of my line. The weight of it leaves no doubt that this is a trophy fish. Then a sharp pull almost yanks the rod and reel from my hands and the water boils!

I catch my breath and strain against the fish. This monster goes through all the escape behaviors learned over a life of perhaps 50 years. It jumps clear of the water. It runs deep. It rolls in my line. It thrashes, tugs, and splashes the surface of the water. Every time I catch sight of this fish, it strikes me with awe. This one is strong and thick. As they say up here, it has shoulders!

It charges the boat and I reel fast to keep my line taught. A moment of slack and the prize will be gone. It swims underneath me and I plunge my rod deep into the icy water and then work it around the bow. When I finally bring this fish to the side of the boat, it turns away and peels line off my big round reel at will.

This battle repeats three times. A fish this big does not succumb easily and expends all its energy before surrender to the net.

Quickly, I lift him into the boat. The barbless hook falls from its mouth. A hurried measurement—46 inches! One snap of the shutter and my prize is back in the water.

A fish this size is delicate and often will not survive the fight without help. Holding it by the tail, I move its body back and forth, flowing water through the gills. A minute or two, and the great northern pike strokes its tail free of my hand and swims away with power. I hope to catch that one again next year.

But for now, I must catch my own breath. This primal battle in God’s wilderness leaves me stunned and in awe and immensely satisfied.

Go to next installment – NORTH STAR

Go back to – ROUGHING IT

 

This is North Star Executive Outpost on Knee Lake, Manitoba, a protected pike sanctuary.

Website – northstarresort.ca

Phone – Talk to Hope Levenhagen at 800-563-7151

Email – hopelevenhagen@northhavenresort.ca

 

Charts and Maps—Wikipedia.

Photography—John Jonelis.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel investor, Canada, Chicago Startup, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, fly fishing, Startup, startup company, vc, Venture, venture capital