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West End News: July 10

WEN_20140710.mp35.22 MB

Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center in Schroeder is offering a fascinating lecture next week.  Award-winning author Ron Morton will guide you into the world of the night sky as seen through the lens of traditional Ojibwe culture.  In his book “Talking Sky,” cowritten with Carl Gawboy from the Bois Forte Band, Morton explores contellations of wandering wolves and brave fishers, as well as explanations for comets and meteors.
Ojibwe people not only had explainations for what was happening in the night sky, but also used it to created marvelous stories of great cultural and practical importance. 
Talking Sky will be presented at Sugarloaf Cove at 10 a.m.  Saturday, July 19.  The Cove is located at milepost 73, a little way west of downtown Schoeder.  Call 218-525-0001 for details.
Tofte native Bjorn Tofte was back in town over the Fourth  of July holiday with his lovely wife Andrea and his newborn son, Vincent.  Vincent is the latest of the fifth generation of the Tofte family to gather in Tofte each Independence Day for a family reunion.  Everyone was glad to see Bjorn and Andrea, who now live in Portland, but Vincent was clearly the man of the hour.
Noah Horak, who is a contemporary of Bjorn’s and also a Tofte native, is now more than two years into his around-the-world tour by motocycle.  This week he finally left Asia for Australia. 
Noah’s adventures are far too many to recount here, but he’s spent the last six months in southeast Asia, riding around Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.  Noah shuns the highways and rides his specially designed motorcycle on the most remote back roads he can find.
Australia forbids the import of even a tiny amount of foreign soil, so Noah spent four solid days disassembling his motorcycle and cleaning every tiny nook and cranny.  After two years of seeking out the muddiest roads he can find, it was, needless to say, quite a project.
After Australia and New Zealand, Noah plans to ride around South America and then, possibly, return home.
I follow Noah’s adventure on his blog, which you can easily find by googling “RTW with Noah.”  “RTW” is short for ‘round the world.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I am pretty much been living my life vicariously through Noah for the last couple of years.  For someone like me, who is rooted to one spot on earth through numerous commitments and responsibilities, Noah’s life is like a siren call of adventure and glamor.  Ride on, Noah!
While not strictly a West End event, I highly recommend Tim Cochrane’s upcoming presentation at Cook County Higher Education in Grand Marais titled: “Most of Everything You Think about Early Grand Marais is Well -- Wrong: The American Fur Company in the 1820s.”
Among many other historical myths, Tim makes a compelling argument that the common belief that Grand Marais means “big swamp” in French is probably not correct.  You’ll have to attend to find out why.
The program is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 22 at the North Shore campus of Higher Education in Grand Marais.  The lecture is free, but goodwill donations are encouraged. You can contact Higher Ed at 387-3411 for more details.
Animal sightings have been very good along the Sawbill Trail and in the BWCA wilderness this week.  Moose sightings have been almost routine.  I hope this means that the moose population is rebounding, but I know that anecdotal sightings are not an accurate measure of population. 
Many bears are also being seen too, but not in the usual way.  Historically, most bear sightings are unwelcome visits to a campsite with the bear casting a hungry eye on the cooler or food pack.  This year, people are seeing the bears in the wild.  A bear even walked through the Crescent Lake Campground, where many unattended coolers were sitting on picnic tables, and were left unmolested by the passing bruin.
This is the fifth season since the last time bears were causing significant problems in campsites, barring a couple of individual problem bears here and there.  With the plentiful rain and the lush vegetation this summer, I’m relatively confident that the bears will be content with their natural foods again this year.
I know the bears aren’t much of a problem when I start being asked by visitors if we still have bears up here.  I always assure them that we still have plenty of bears and they are a big part of what makes the West End a wonderful place to live.