West End News: May 30

the Wenonah
the Wenonah

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It was a slow Memorial Day weekend here at Sawbill.  BWCA Wilderness travelers seemed to be here in good numbers, but the drive-in Forest Service campgrounds were half empty all weekend.  My guess is the combination of a late spring, high gas prices and a rainy forecast for most of the state was responsible for the slow traffic.  Here in the Sawbill Lake campground, four sites that were reserved for the whole weekend ended up as no-shows. 
 
The people who did show up for the holiday weekend were treated to great weather with almost no bugs.  Fishing was generally slow, although everyone seemed to catch enough for a good meal. 
 
I’m always happy to welcome a new business to the West End.  Jay Hanson and Dan Goyen have announced the establishment of North Shore Scenic Cruises based at the marina in Silver Bay. They will be sailing the historic motor vessel Wenonah on tours of the North Shore Mining Harbor and the beautiful geological formations in the Palisade Head area, and visiting the sites of historic ship wrecks. 
 
The first cruise will be June 14 and continue through the summer and fall.  North Shore Scenic Cruises has a website, which you can find by googling Lake Superior cruising, or contact WTIP for the link.  It’s great to have cruising back in the West End since the Grampa Woo stopped service several years ago.  Best of luck to Jay and Dan in their new endeavor.
 
Speaking of tours, it’s time to get your reservations made for this year’s Lundie Vacation Home Tour sponsored by the Schoeder Area Historical Society. 
The tour is scheduled for Saturday, July 13 and goes to homes and cabins designed by the famous archetict Edwin Lundie. This year the emphasis will be in the Hovland area and will end up at historic Naniboujou Lodge for a light dinner.  Information and reservations can be made by calling 218-663-7706, or by visiting the Schoeder Area Historical Society’s website.  Or, you can contact WTIP for full contact information.
 
If you can’t make it for the Lundie Tour, you can certainly stop by the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder to see the new exhibit, “Up From the Ashes: Forest Fires on the North Shore.”  It covers a history that has real resonance today, as large fires are a continuing presence in our lives.
 
The Cross River Heritage Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The Center is closed on Mondays.  This schedule is in place until October 19; the Center is located right in the heart of downtown Schoeder.
 
A memorial service is scheduled for Tofte native Ellis “Bud” Tormondsen Saturday, June 8 at Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte.  Bud passed away on Feb. 15 after living in Tofte for more than 90 years.  All are welcome to come and celebrate Bud’s rich and long life.
 
A belated congratulations to Forest Service Tofte District Ranger John Wytanis, who retired at the beginning of May.  John was in charge of the Tofte District and the Isabella Work Station for a number of years.  John had many accomplishments in the Forest Service, but may be best remembered locally for his hard work and great communication skills during the Pagami Creek Fire in 2011.  That fire will certainly be a memorable career moment for him. John and his wife Marge will continue to live in Tofte, at least for a while.
 
One of the many interesting things about being in the tourism business is observing a large number of people’s behavior in what is basically in the same situation.  It provides a study of human nature to see how different people react to indentical circumstances.  One result of my lifetime in the tourism business is to remind myself, when I’m traveling as a tourist, that every clever joke I can think of has probably been told by thousands of tourists who came before me. 
 
This year, we have experienced a unique change in tourist behavior here at Sawbill.  Since the public Forest Service parking lot was built in 1962, everyone has parked their cars in neat lines facing north/south.  There are no lines on the gravel parking lot, so it just seemed like an unspoken consensus to park north/south.
 
This year, for the first time in more than 50 years, people are parking in lines facing east/west.  How is it possible that this has never happened before in the previous half century?  Why did it happen this year?  Is it somehow related to the late spring?  Have the magnetic poles shifted polarity? Ahh, the mysteries of human behavior.  They never cease to amaze.
 

(photo by Carah Thomas-Maskell)

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