Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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The Long Way Home

About a year ago I wrote a column about overtourism and the fact that no one in posi­tions that matter on the North Shore was pay­ing the subject any attention. It actually got a lot of circulation on the Facebook webs and plenty of attention from the tourism support­ers who think I’m a moron, mostly because I would not have moved here if not for tourism. That is so obviously true that it doesn’t require a response.

I still don’t hear much talk of regulating tourism numbers, except about the wilderness area, but I won’t write about that today.

Instead, I’ll tell a personal story.

The bohunk and I have five grandchildren that we love and cherish. Our first and oldest granddaughter Abbey, who lives in Reno, NV, graduated high school three years ago at the height of the pandemic. Her commencement involved sitting in the car listening to the typi­cal drivel of those ceremonies on the radio and then driving up to receive her diploma. Not as exciting as parading into the Met Center in Bloomington with a thousand classmates like I did, but we were proud.

Abbey was a shy and intelligent little girl, easily frightened, but a budding writer in those early years. She grew to be an accomplished volleyball player, a standout in high school, and recruited by numerous colleges. She chose to give up the sport and enter the University of Nevada-Reno to major in Biology. I proudly wear my Wolf Pack hoodie in support.

Three years later she graduated with a BA in Biology. Yep, three years.

She was recognized as Magna Cum Laude. My connection with the culture of higher ed­ucation is pretty limited, so I had to Google it to find that Magna Cum Laude means “with great distinction.”

Addressing the hundreds of graduates from the College of Science and the School of So­cial Work at commencement, UNR President Brian Sandoval singled out our beloved Abbey with distinction, reciting a bit of her biography and the fact that during her three years at UNR she worked three jobs, sometimes all at once, and helped care for her mother, our daughter, as she went through some existential struggles. It was the best speech that I’ve heard from Sandoval, and I’ve heard a few.

It wasn’t all work for Abbs. She is a well-bal­anced person, notable because balance is not a common trait in people I know. She’s done some traveling during these three years, in­cluding a visit to the North Shore. She has a strong network of friends and family.

She’s a published writer, a fact that made me smile. Last year she worked as a researcher in some area of genetic work. The group she worked with put out a paper about their find­ings that has been in the medical journals. I was proud to see her byline, but the text of the article baffles me.

Being old and on a fixed income, well below Minnsota’s median, but too high to be poverty level, we decided we couldn’t do the trip to Ne­vada. To our delight however, UNR broadcast the ceremony online from its beautiful quad.

Abbey’s next stop is medical school. It would be nice for us if she entered the UNR School of Medicine so she’d be close to her mama.

But wherever she goes, we know she will do great things. And she’ll always have our love and support.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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