Chilly in the North Fork

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Just when I think it really is summer, the weather turns cold again. Last Thursday we had a real gully washer, and today (Friday) the mountains have a cap of dull gray clouds and it is downright chilly and the only real outdoor activity seems to be mosquitoes whining in ever bigger swarms.

There were some summertime activities, starting with Lee Downes’ 90th birthday party at his Coal Creek cabin. This included a great feast organized by Lee’s daughters, great company which included several of us old guys and a collection of younger folks including grandsons to keep the fire blazing. Lee bought his North Fork land right after World War II and all of us, friends and family, have decades of ties to Lee, and this special place. Lee’s cabin has been a retreat and quiet place for him and his family, a hunting camp with friends and a logging camp for multiple entries to manage the forest over the last 70 years. A suitable place for a 90th birthday. We will do it up even bigger for Lee’s 100th.

Later on the same day, another group of friends and family gathered at Sondreson Hall in memory of Alan McNeil, a long time North Forker, whose parents came to the North Fork right after World War II. Alan died of a heart attack last winter. Again, his mother, brother, son and daughter and other relatives as well as many friends gathered to remember him with fondness.

Finally, and still on the same day, the family and friends of Lynn and Bonny Ogle gathered in Kalispell to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Again, a grand collection of folks, all with great memories, and as with all North Fork events, great food.

All in all, the three gatherings, a birthday, a memorial, and a wedding anniversary all embody what we find so wonderful about the North Fork—the people. We come from a wide mix of backgrounds. Lawyers, teachers, laborers, environmentalists and rednecks. We appreciate each other and derive most of our pleasure from the interaction of our neighbors. As a group, we are big on tolerance and laughter.

Last, we also had a meeting at the Community Hall with officials from Washington D.C. They visited the North Fork to look at the road improvement grant, assess infrastructure and hear from private citizens.

While some of us asked some pretty pointed questions about the federal government, they made points with locals when they said the Flathead Forest had infrastructure deficiencies that would probably total $70 million and this was about the same in each forest they had visited was no doubt the same nationwide and in the Park Service, and that this administration is committed to improving this shortage.

We will see! What do you think?

Larry Wilson’s North fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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