Hanging on to what nature wants back (Five by 8 – 9/03/10)

1) Hanging on to what nature wants back. Sigurd Olson, the author and conversationalist from Ely, published “Listening Point” in 1958. The book’s title is also the name of his wilderness retreat, a cabin on Burntside Lake he purchased a few years earlier. In his book “The Singing Wilderness ,” Olson described the importance of solitude and silence:

“Over all was the silence of the wilderness, that sense of oneness which comes only when there are no distracting sights and sounds, when we listen with inward ears and see with inward eyes, when we feel and are aware with our entire being rather than our senses… without stillness there can be no knowing, without divorcement from outside influences man cannot know what spirit means.”

The Ely Timberjay reports that after more than 40 years, the cabin is being rehabbed.

Age and the elements had taken their toll on the cabin over time. Some parts, like the stone fireplace hearth inside the cabin, the exterior foundation and the steps to the front door, were sorely in need of rehabilitation.

A local nonprofit, The Listening Point Foundation, is taking on the task. The organization’s executive director said that because visitors are invited to visit Listening Point, the rehabilitation effort follows its mission of advancing Olson’s legacy of wilderness education.

If a rehabbed cabin helps educate us about the threats the north woods face, I think nature can wait a while longer before it takes it back.

2) A strange, yet entertaining surprise. After hearing about Lady Gaga’s unannounced stop at the Turf Club the other night, I assumed that was the strangest thing (The Turf Club? Not the Brass Rail?) I’d hear about her, for a few days at least. Then I read this headline, from PRI’s The World: China’s Army sings Lady Gaga.

Touché, public radio, touché.

3) I think this guy was a little more than surprised. From the Washington Post:

“When I first seen it, it was like ‘Jaws’ — we need a bigger boat!” [fisherman Willy] Dean said Thursday. “I’m not kidding you. It looked huge. I didn’t know how we were gonna get it out. It’s my first shark. I’ve been fishing here a little over 30 years, and it’s the first time I’ve even seen one.”

Dean was fishing in the Potomac when he netted an 8-foot bull shark. Another fisherman in the area caught a shark this week as well, but he let his go. Not Dean, though.

“We’re gonna steak him up and try him. Some people say shark is good to eat. We’ll see.”

(h/t Mike Mulcahy)

4) When plans fall through. I’ve been following Seth Kugel’s “Frugal Traveler” blog on the New York Times’ website for the last few months, as he travels through South and Central America on the cheap. Kugel made it to the U.S. last week, and made detailed plans to get the best out of a day in San Antonio.

Here was my plan: I’d arrive via overnight bus from Mexico, store my luggage in a locker at the Amtrak station, spend the day visiting the Alamo, the missions and maybe even a museum, then in the evening I’d check out a cool, new, relatively frugal restaurant called G&G Mobile Bistro…

As you may have guess by now, that’s not how things turned out.

First of all, the bus was late, and I didn’t arrive until early afternoon. Second, after a long, sweaty walk to the Amtrak station in 94-degree heat, I found it was closed until 9 p.m., and didn’t have lockers anyway.

Read on to see how Kugel’s day ends.

Story time: Leave a comment below about a incident when your minutely-planned trip went haywire. For bonus points, tell me about a trip in Minnesota.

5) Political fallout or just a bad economy? After Target made a $150,000 donation that ended up in GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer’s hands, Democrats and gay rights groups called for a boycott.

So did it work? The answer from the Pioneer Press’ Tom Webb: It’s hard to tell.

Bonus: What happens when you forget to take your bike off the bus rack?

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