Holy Crapola!

Date:  April 1st, 2014          Time: 7:50        Temperature: 30°F     Wind: 10-15 Mph        Weather: Terrible, Icy, Snow Storm        Location: Ely Mn   .


.         Slick snow pellets littered the icy roads as our vehicles slid to a halt in front of Brian Strom’s bakery, just a hop, skip, and jump away from Vermilion Community College. Independently owned and operated businesses encompass Ely, MN, and after weeks of friendly conversation via E-mail, it was time to learn more about one such business with a particular reputation of being a little wittier than most. It takes a lot of guts to start a business called Crapola, especially with the slogan stating that it “Makes even weird people regular.”  We had been excitedly waiting to meet Brian for a couple weeks, ever since he agreed to sponsor Tales of the Trail, and allow us to help him create a batch of his renowned apple cranberry granola.



        We didn’t know what to expect as we as we parked our cars outside the bakery, and to be honest we were a little nervous. Right as we entered the door though, Brian met us with a smile and already felt like a friend. He forewarned us of a parking ticket that might come if we remained parked on the west side of the street. He was already looking out for us, even though we were complete strangers. After shaking hands and introducing ourselves we moved our cars. .  

Ohhh, Mr. Tough Guy...

Ohhh, Mr. Tough Guy…

.         Once we came back in, Brian eagerly began instructing us how to make his prized Crapola. Guiding us along the way, he gave us the reins of our very first batch. Following the instructions of our new friend we started to realize the amount time and energy that has been placed into this business. From start to finish, the process of making the granola demanded dedication, concentration and consistency. Add that to marketing, supplying demand, and trying to expand, all while raising a family and trying to keep his small town oriented values makes you start to see that Brian, behind his great sense of humor, is a man to be admired. After several hours of learning, stories, and laughter, we came to fully appreciate Brian and his diligent devotion to Crapola. We even learned to further appreciate his sense of humor with some fancy glasses of Gene Hicks Gourmet Coffee!

Just a little more fiber....

Just a little more fiber….

.         At the end of our visit we began to really understand why the Founder/Owner of Crapola, a graduate in Biology with an impressive amount of experience as a camp counselor, was so willing to help us. Brian understands the importance of getting children to experience nature with positive role models. Having two children of his own, who get a healthy dose of nature and positive role models at home,  encourages him to want to do what he can to help children in the area that don’t. We can’t emphasize enough how much people like Brian, and businesses like Crapola, mean to the Arrowhead, by doing their part in making a difference in the community.

Poor carefully, young grasshopper.

Poor carefully, young grasshopper.


About to get crispy.

Cheers! To one hundred and twenty-three crappy mornings!

Cheers! To one hundred and twenty-three crappy mornings!

Mixin' it up.

Mixin’ it up.



John dumping his first batch of Crapola.
















.   Thank you

.         Thank you for helping us Brian, and giving Tales of the Trail’s Arrowhead Expedition a greater chance at reaching the children that need it most.


 .        .                 .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Best Regards, .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Ricky Vennevold and John Plettner


.                      OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA     crapolalogo     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Campfires have been used for over ten thousand years as a gathering place for stories.. This tradition still holds true today, and every year countless people engage in activities around the fire that harbor life long memories that will continue on for generations to come. During the course of our expedition we will be using campfires to set the stage for the many activities we will be engaged in. Whether cooking, playing games, teaching, putting on skits, telling stories, or roasting marshmallows the fire will be our gathering place.

Around the world fire has symbolized many things:

-in ancient Greece, a bridge between man and the gods, as it was the only element that man could create.

-Has been known by many cultures to symbolize wisdom and knowledge.

-In some religions it represents divinity, as well as punishment.

-Is a sign of fertility, birth and regrowth.


Facts about Campfires:

- They can reach temperatures upwards of 1.000 degrees.

- The color of flames are created by the heating of different elements. When heated they create energy that produce wavelengths, and the element being heated will determine the color.

- There are eternal flames around the world that have been burning for thousands of years.

- Around 30 percent of human started forest fires are started by poorly maintained campfires.

- Some scientists believe that  early humans, back to homo-erectus, used fire to cook a million years ago, based on findings in Wonderwerk Cave located in South Africa.



Sunset Over the Blowdown


Fourteen years after a derecho hit the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness  visitors are blessed with a beautiful sunset on the shores of Sea Gull Lake. WIth an abundance of dead standing trees left scattering the horizon, amongst a forest of new growth, and large rock faces exposed from uprooted tress and forest fires, visitors get the experience of feeling like they’re anywhere but Northern Minnesota.

“Looking around I felt like i was somewhere in the Southwest United States, some spots look more like Utah or Arizona than Minnesota”, said a paddler who had just finished the Sea Gull, Knife, Saganaga loop.

“It truly is a must see”.

For those of you unfamiliar with what a derecho is, it is a natural phenomenon that occurs when  long-lived straightline winds create a swath over 240 miles and cause wind gusts over 60 miles per hour. Essentially creating tornado and hurricane force frontal winds that can blow down just about anything in its path. In 1999 one such phenomenon hit a thirty square mile area between Ogishekemunchie and Sea Gull Lake. Blowing down nearly every tree in its wake. After the storm there was great concern that a forest fire could hit the massive amounts of fuel that is now sprawled across the forest floor. Luckily that has not yet happened, and preventative measures such as prescribed burns help to keep this area safe and open to visitors.

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