Most clothes-drying racks are draped full of shirts, pants and socks. It's not every day that you find a drying rack abounding with butterflies in all stages. But Duluthian Tom Uecker uses the basement of his home in Lakeside to help thousands of monarch butterflies each summer grow into adulthood, a process that takes around a month to complete. Uecker tries to collect around 20 new eggs every day during the summer so that he is always in the cycle of hatching the monarchs. The monarch life cycle begins with egg, barely the size of a pencil tip.
Not getting my driver's license started out as an accident. On my 16th birthday, I realized I had never actually remembered to sign up for the test. And I continued to forget to sign up for the next six months. Finally I followed through, called the Department of Motor Vehicles and made an appointment. But when the day actually came, I forgot to show up. After another handful of months I scheduled my test yet again. This time I even wrote the test on my calendar. Nothing could stop me.
When my brother graduated from high school this spring, my parents came to the realization that his time living at home was coming to an end. And so were our family vacations. We'd already checked most of the classics off the list: California, Yellowstone, Disney World.
Most everyone has heard the expression "it's not rocket science" and usually, it's true. But for Duluthian Kirsi Kuutti, this is not the case. She has been hired as a co-op, a position above that of an intern, with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas this fall. Her parents are Elise Peterson-Kuutti and Ervin Kuutti, both teachers in Duluth. Kuutti, 20, attends the University of Minnesota Duluth and is double-majoring in electrical engineering and computer science.
On Wednesday evenings, Lake Superior becomes speckled with sailboats of all shapes and sizes, racing in Duluth's summertime nautical competitions. Most of these boats are crewed by adults, many of whom with decades of sailing experience under their belts. For 16-year-old Anna Jones, this is not the case. Anna races a 33-foot sailboat each Wednesday with her father, Derron Jones, and five other crew members, manning the bow of the boat and handling the spinnaker, one of the boat's sails, during the race. "I got started with sailing because of my dad," Anna said.
Walking 10-15 miles a day at work might seem like an impressive feat, but for the Duluth park rangers, it's just a typical day's work. One new park ranger, Anna Ambrosi, graduated from East High School this spring and is already in uniform, helping keep Duluth safe. Duluth had the park ranger program in the past but it was discontinued until 2013, when it started back up.
The Vineyard Church is wrapping up the summer with a five-day event, Aug. 17-21, focused on giving back to the community. "FREE45" is actually a variety of different events, all of which are free and lasting "for five" days. With everything from nerf gun tournaments to picnics to football to barbeques (see sidebar for event details), the church is offering something for everybody, churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike. "This was just kind of an idea of what can we do to give back to the greater Twin Ports community," Clint Considine said, a pastoral assistant at the Vineyard.
The 27th annual Miss West Duluth Pageant kicks off the Spirit Valley Days festivities at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5 on the Spirit Valley stage outside Mr. D's. This event is free and open to the public. Miss West Duluth 2014, Maria Puglisi, and Miss West Duluth Princess 2014, Courtney Stabe, will crown their successors. To be a contestant, one must be age 15-18, live in the Denfeld school district and have a grade point average of at least 2.5 or higher. The contestants write essays on why they love West Duluth and have personal interviews with each of the four judges.
For many years running, the Spirit Valley Days Car Show has been the largest car show in Duluth, with 200-300 cars and many more spectators. This year, organizers are expecting that number will double. Kyle Smalley, who organized the car show for many decades, died three months ago. The show will be a memorial in his honor. More than 500 cars and upwards of 8,000 spectators are expected to join together for the show 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug.
During the 10 cooler months of the year, Duluthian Judy Gordon teaches Zumba inside at the YMCA. But when things start to heat up in summer, Gordon takes the music outside. Every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in July and August, Gordon leads a free Zumba class on the Lakewalk so people can get outside and exercise in Duluth's beautiful summer weather. "The place where I usually teach Zumba gets to be really hot and stuffy in the summer, so I decided to go outside and try doing Zumba by the lake," Gordon said.