Columnists

Fri
12
Mar

Hook and Bullet Club

From the perspective of a four-year old there can’t be too many slides at a park. Mary and I took our granddaughter Kinlee to both playgrounds on Saturday while her parents were out snowmobiling on the North Shore.
We went to the school playground first and Kinlee was bound and determined to try every slide, no matter what the obstacle was to get to the top. In the old days, there was just a steep ladder and a metal slide for kids. Today there are slides with a rope climb to get to the top.
Kinlee has no fear. Heights? Forget about it. She’s fearless which can leave grandma and grandpa fretting she would tumble and we would have to explain a trip to the emergency room. Instead there were tons of smiles and giggles, and not just from the four year-old.
At the school Kinlee liked the units that ran on a rail and she could ride back and forth with the help of a push. And, of course, the slides.

Fri
05
Mar

The polar vortex ruined February’s forecast, will March be next?

Vermilion Community College sure has been an asset to Ely since its founding in 1922. In my parents’ day, tuition for local kids was free and paid for by the Oliver Mining Company. By the time my turn came in the early 80’s, it was no longer free but still quite a bargain and I was able to pay for it with two year’s work as a janitor at the high school.
All these years later, I still have the “stop acid rain” button I was given as a VCC freshman. The whole campus was on a crusade to fight that environmental problem. According to a BBC article titled “The Bittersweet Story of How We Stopped Acid Rain”, joint efforts between the U.S. and Canada have put a big dent in the trouble.

Fri
26
Feb

Hook and Bullet Club

Warning - the state legislature is in session so keep an eye on what’s going on in St. Paul. Here’s a nugget that popped up this past week.
The DNR would like to require that you have blaze orange on your ground blinds.
Here’s the proposed language:
“… during the open season where deer may be taken by​ firearms under applicable laws and ordinances, a person in a fabric or synthetic ground​ blind on public land must have:​
(1) a blaze orange or blaze pink safety covering on the top of the blind visible for 360​ degrees around the blind; or​
(2) at least 144 square inches of blaze orange or blaze pink material on each side of the​ blind.​”
Companies that sell pop-up blinds were selling the blaze orange tops last year, so apparently this rule is already in place in other states.
Safety must be the reason and we will go along with it.

Fri
19
Feb

Trout Whisperer - Legend, lore, and outright lies

An old poacher lived on the north shore of a remote lake, and the game warden assigned to the district was getting ready to retire, so he didn’t care to chase the criminal trapper.
A young new warden, sent to fill the vacancy, heard of the mountain man and his serious lack of ethics, and he said to himself, he was gonna catch that rascal.
All summer - canoeing, hiking, glassing, checking rumors, traipsing the boreal forest, he never even got a look at the guy and then that winter the lake froze over and the new warden said to himself, I will wake early, I’ll snowshoe in, and when he leaves his cabin, I’ll be on him.
Sure enough, 44 below zero, he slugged his way in, sunk down in the snow and sat glassing at the cabin well before sunrise and he was soon semi frozen, but he remained, and when he saw a smoke plume erupt from the cabin’s chimney it gave him hope that, ok, at least I know he is in there. It steeled his resolve as frigid as it was, and he waited.

Fri
12
Feb

From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

Snippets
I had a recent phone visit from the Trout Whisperer. He’s recovering from knee surgery at home.
He suggested that I ask the Echo readers to send me (thepub@elyecho.com) snippets from their life stories. Why you live here, What you do here, what you like here - food or anything else.
Tom Mischke wrote to me about the book he plans to self-publish. He previously worked for 20 years on the air at KSTP and WCCO radio and City Pages.

Fri
05
Feb

Hook and Bullet Club

A few weeks ago it was finally time to take the old 2001 sled out for a ride down the trail.
This was after going down to see Larry and Penny for a sticker to make it legal, stopping at Joe’s Marine and picking up a battery for the electric start, and finding a grease gun to make sure everything was in working order.
The battery was actually difficult to find. I had checked at J&L as well but Cathy told me that the one I was looking for was on backorder for quite awhile. She did have one the exact same size but the posts were reversed.
I decided I could make that battery work and after some curse words were uttered the wires were connected and I didn’t have to throw out my shoulder trying to start it. Did I mention this sled also has reverse? All the comforts of home.

Fri
29
Jan

“Singing Waters” Chapter 9 – Martin Falls

July 24, 2006 N 51 31.837’, W 86 31.099’ Elevation 621 feet

“It’s after 11:00 and I’m just getting to bed. It wasn’t really a long travel day, but fishing kept us from moving very fast. Stormed last night and we had our closest call on the trip. The wind blew a dead tree into the crotch of another just above our tent. Could have been nasty.” Ken Hupila – trip diary

Fri
22
Jan

Hook and Bullet Club

Who knew a dead sled rescue could turn into a party on Mud Creek Road?
Mary and I showed up with a trailer to help out a friend who’s sled broke down on the way to Lake Vermilion.
The Igloo Club grooms the trail between Burntside and Vermilion but early in the season it can be a bit bumpy. As we were chatting Bill Hane showed up with the Igloo Club’s Bearcat snowmobile and a drag to try to smooth out the bumps.
Bill is an expert at this and has often filled in on that trail early in the season when the BR-160 tractor can’t be used yet. Bill turned off the Arctic Cat and got caught up on how a suspension bolt broke and put an end to a day of riding.
He didn’t stay long, firing up the machine and crossing Mud Creek Road. Just past there is a spot where the water flows this time of year, making the trail much narrower until it can be froze down.
With Bill on his way, and the dead sled on the trailer we packed up and headed for town.

Fri
15
Jan

From the miscellaneous drawer

It seems that winter and snow in Ely lasts forever, but in the past there was a lot of competition, not only for athletes to compete. But also for volunteers to maintain safety.
Ely’s All American Sled Dog Race used to start on Miners Drive where the Veterans Memorial is now. The race crossed Shagawa, Fall and Cedar lakes before heading north.
With all those miles, it required over 100 volunteers. Newspaper cameras would freeze while announcer Duane Krause identified the racers.
Up the trail, Mary Catherine Brown kept her group ready.
The need for volunteers and safety included the annual ski jumping tournament. Bill Mills said about 50 people should help at the Hidden Valley structure.
Growing up on a farm near Starbuck, MN, my dad was in the class of 1915. The family farm was one mile south of the ski hill.

Sat
09
Jan

From the miscellaneous drawer

A new beginning.
Not just for me, for all of us. It’s a time to reconsider our lives.
In old age, I might be beyond change.
But what could you do at age 10, reach out to new neighbors, start a safety class for bicyclists? I did.
Children don’t have to be silent and passive. Encourage them to consider a bigger, bolder future.
What can you do at age 20?
Get involved with the political scene - run for office or volunteer to be part of a committee.
You are not too young or old for getting better acquainted with laws that affects all people.
Or maybe your interest is elsewhere- a park or parade, arts or history.
Travel is another option and it can be done alone and chosen on the spot. I did.
What about age 30?
Get a job you like, plan ahead for your company’s and personal future.
Be open to new things, new challenges.
What can you do at age 40?

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