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Interview 1:45 - 28:16 Play 1:45 - More
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Will Steger, Peter Breslow  

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Intermittent conversations about wilderness living.  

Sound Effects 1:09:51 - 1:27:59 Play 1:09:51 - More
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Wood chopping sounds  

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Sound Effects 1:39:01 - 1:42:52 Play 1:39:01 - More
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Chainsaw sounds  

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Environmental Recording 1:49:04 - 1:52:38 Play 1:49:04 - More
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Birds, wind  

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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
1 Apr 1997

    Geography
  • United States
    Minnesota
    St. Louis County
    Locality
  • Steger Homestead
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 48.0875897   -91.7262268
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
    Accessories
    Equipment Note

NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS WILL STEGER & PETER BRESLOW APRIL 1997 ELY, MN LOG DAT 3
TWIN OMNIS 00:15-00:56 AMBI -walking outside through wet snow, a little dripping in bg
00:57-1:11 AMBI -walking, handling ice ...
1:12 -WS -this is like an old ice box. this is the ice that we -we brought this ice from the lake up in dec. the the lake has a little tanic acid in it and when it freezes the tanic acid freeze out giving you crystal clear ice .....we use the ice fro drinking water. i have some other ice in tanks with sawdust around it that will last until june ....
1:59-2:09 FX chipping away at ice
WS -(talking about ice ... )
2:27-3:24 FX -chipping away at ice,
3:24 WS-this tastes as good as glacial ice. it is a luxury to have water like this
3:32 PB -that wil tast better than the water from the well?
WS -yeah. much better. this is very pure. and it is very similar to the barren lands in canada .....it is about the clearest water. you can't really buy water in a bottle that taste as good as this. and also to drink water that has ice in it is quite a luxury
4:16-6:20 AMBI -wind, faint dripping, a little talking in bg ...
6:21 FX -handling of ice, chipping ice
7:07 PB -so just your day to day living around here helps keep you in shape.
VG WS -yeah. it is very physical. water, wood, (chipping), course(?) -you know i live on a ridge overlooking a lake so you know i always have to go up and down. that's the part that i like about living here. it is a very physical life. PAUSE (good ambi). you are closer to nature so to speak. you are always outside experiencing whatever the weather is like and this is a real very special day to me bc it is the first warm day we have had. spring weather definately on its way in. all the signs in

WS -we are on the third floor here of the retreat ctr that i am building overlooking the boundery waters ..... land not flat ... (too windy)
(again) PB -where are we?
12:46 WS -we are on the 3rd floor of this retreat ctr that i am building. we are indoors which is like a greenhouse, which is passive solar.... (describing how he built house, solar energy) ...the building is not completerd at this point, it is still open so you don't have a lot of heating ...
13:44 PB -what do you hope to have go on here?
13:50 WS -i have been working on this bldg for almost a decade now, but when i finish it 3 yrs from now i hope to have almost like a learning ctr, retreat type center for projects that mailnly have to do with education and environment. pretty much the work that i am doing right now. rather than going outside to wash, ny, i want to bring the individuals here to work more in an inspiring environment in the wilderness. so basically it is an educational facility.
14:26 PB -what is your biggest concern about the environment these days?
14:32 WS -Well, I am excepting it right now, but it is really the global change that we are responsible for bc of human activity. A biggest concern is the popUlation explosion, bc it is almost overwhelming. The solution of course is education, communication technology in that direction. But on the other sdie you have got a popUlation now that is exploded that popUlation that we talked about 20 -30 years ago. right now it is happening. soas a result, our resources are being used up, we are changing the atmosphere we are changing not only the atmosphere but the temperatures of the oceans what/s warming up. but i have faith in nature and all of these changes and it will eventually equalize itself. human beings are not immune to changes in nature. you can look at past civilazations what happened when they used the resources and the climate changed ¬we are in the same situation. but the biggest concern is the
population explosion for myself. 15:50 .. (description of area in house) ... I wanted to create an area that you would still be out in the weather ... some of the water will flow through so you still get a sense of when it is raining, flowing, falling water ...
16:33-16:44 -walking inside ctr.
17:39 -walking out onto roof, door opens
17:52 WS -I call this the Romeo and Juliet deck. yeah you can see the boundary waters now .. (gives description of area) to the north here you can see up to canada. what is unique about this view is 3/4 of it is looking into wilderness areas that will never be changed .....in many ways this area, when i bought this land in '64 -it is still almost the same, it hasn't changed that much. there is a larger wolf population, there were snow mobiles ....so it is still basically one of the few places in the US that is basically the same as it always was. thanks to insight and preservation.....19:58 but i have always had this sense of living in the wilderness as a child. my parents fostered that pioneer spiri.t in me. and it was very natural as a teenager to look for property like this. i just naturally came up here. i had an idea that i wanted to be 2 lakes from the nearest road and a small lake on the opposite side, and i basically stumbled onto this property and put $50 down on it.
20:25 PB -do you think that is where people get, people like you, or people who spend time in the wilderness -does that come from ones parents? where do you think that comes from?
20:36 WS -I think it is innate for some poeple. for example my parents have nevered camped out in their lives. they don't have the camping, exploratory gene in them, although both parents were pioneers, i think that has something -being in MN. i think a lot of people in MN enjoy the outdoors. i think it is part of your local culture maybe ....WIND ....21:10 but i think the basic desire to explore comes from the individual. parents and the environment can foster that. but if you look at norway for example, there is a larger percent of explorers and outdoor people. and that definately is culture, environment. bc everyone does it up there ....
21:35 PB -could you describe what this place was like when it was at its bustling peak?
WS -you would hear dogs, always people present, it was busy
here, very good spirit
PB -and do you miss that at all?
WS -not really... i enjoy being here alone in the spring.... i like the community.....all throughout my life community was very important to me. some people thought i was a hermit living out in the wilderness. well, that was really where i wanted to live,
but i really wanted to bring a small community with me. so it is still a community, and an extended family for me. but being alone in certain times of the year, especially winter is quite a luxury to.
PB -You grew up in the city -a pretty urban area?
WS -yes. i grew up in Minneapolis.
PB -did you start camping as a teenager?
WS -I grew up in the city. my parents never really camped out. it was national geographic that really influenced me, especially trips to the arctic and the mountains and i remember my 8th bday i got a pup tent bc i always wanted to sleep outside in the summertiem. as a child i always slept outside. the day school let out i was outside until labor. so i always liked to be outside. and as soon as i got a car when i was 16 then i had wheels and transportation to start climbing and start kayaking and in HS, college i would spend at least a weekend every month on the north shore camping somehwere by the Mississippi
24:06 PB -but for you the cold weather environment seems to be what draws you?
WS-I like the vitality of the cold, and also in cold climates just happens to be where a lot of the world's wildernesses are, and if you have mastered the means of traveling in a cold climate and the means of survival. you have a pretty open playground in which to travel in. but i do like weather like this, like the spring time. i don't like hot weather above 80 but i am also a summer person, but for i love the winter. it is really exhilerating being out in that cold weather (wind)
25:16-26:12 ambi on the roof -water dripping in bg, wind, plastic sheet blowing.
26;17 PB -so no interest in kayaking up a tributary of the amazon or something like that ¬
WS -no, although, it is fascinating looking at that area, but the reality are the bugs and the heat and i could do w/o that .... the winter in the artic in the polar regions are really pristine, really clear, clean -there are no bugs, no germs actually, there are no viruses. you only get sick if you are going into civilization
26:56-27:06 roof ambi -wind, plastic flapping
27:07 PB -these mainly birch -these trees that we see?
WS: yeah, you are looking atbirch and popal ... the pines here are jack pines, and you see occasion virgin white or red. this was
a~l~rgin/Piri the turn 0 , but they logged it ot( and these jack piness are almost 100 yrs old and they are strting to age, a lot of them are starting to die
constuction on the place ....
28:23 walking back inside bldg from 3rd floor, walking downstairs
29:58-31:02 ambi on the 3rd floor -water dripping in the bg
31:47-33:04 ambi -walking around conf ctr, walking downstairs (some static?)
33:20-34:55 ambi -walking outside, wind in trees,
WS -hauling wood -generally what i do every other day is that these jack pines here are maturing and dying so every other day will chop one of the dead ones down -that's about 70 feet and cut that in roughly 16 inch bolts, and then carry that back the whole tree piece by piece backand then split it -that will be per my everyday exercise.
36:38-37:53 ambi -walking around in snow (some talk)
38:03 WS -(off mic) so, there is the tree, if you guys get bored! .... it's only 10:15
38:16 FX -snapping branch? breaking wood/AMBI -quite, sind in bg
40:29 FX -BANG? of log
40:30 -42:27 ambi -some footsteps, wind,
42:28 -AMBI Will approaches, drops log down, walks around,
44:38 ambi -Will approaches drops logs, turns around to get more,
46:31 ambi -footsteps approaching, drops log (46:59), talking with PB, walking around in wet snow
48:00-48:05 -faint bird (crow?)
48:37 -walking towards mic with log, snaps wood
48:56 -49:06 GOOD wood FX 49:08-49:34 walks away from mic
49:46 -ambi -back at shed -water dripping -WS will be bringing pieces of fire wood here and dropping them
50:27 -WS approaches (click of camera in bg 1 time) 50:32-50:58 G -WS approaches, turns around, drops wood, wind picks up
51:31 water dripping
51:47 WS approaches 52:05 G -drops wood -water running 53:03-53:44 faint birds in bg -hard to hear ... 53:45-54;20 WS approaches, and turns around 54:03 log drops 54;26-54:36 strong wind 54:58-59:27 dog eating deer skull -with footsteps in bg, some G
-*59:08 -end 59:33-1:00:43 wind, water dripping, wind in trees
1:00:44 walking in bg, wind, dripping, 1:01:08-1:02:44 dogs moaning, chomping on skull
1:02:50 -dogs chomping on skull in bg, walking
1:03:02 -will aproaching, drops log @1:03:12 G 1:03:56-1:04:12 dog and skull 1:04:47-1:05:31 will passing
1:05:32 water dripping, wind blowing in trees 1:06:11-1:06:33 will passing
1:06:34 water dripping, wind blowing through trees
1:07:33 dog cries, water dripping, wind,
1:09:03 Will passes, @ 1:09:22 drops log
1:09:25 WS -coming near to the end -about 5 more pieces 1 think G 1:09:48-1:21:40 -WS chops wood
1:21:41 WS -fun exercise!
1:21:43 continues to chop wood 1:25:03-1:26:29 dogs barking, chopping wood
1:27:59 end of chomping wood
1:28:12 WS -can you smell the pitch? (WS takes a deep breath)
1:28:23 PB -how many trees do you need to chop up for the winter
1:28:25 WS -...probably 30 i would say. i plant hundreds each year, usually every 3 years a couple of thousand...WS-TALKING ABOUR TREES IN AREA ...but i have an infinate amount of firewood here and i will never run out .... 1:29:34 -actually the dogs here are an experiment with the deer. i have had the deer eat most of the seedlings .... i am hoping that the dogs will keep the deer away from the surrounding area ...they did a little but of too good a job yesterday.... they won't kill a deer they will just chase it ... it's illegal to have loose dogs running around the forest
1:30:23 WS -what happens now when the snow start receeding into the lake all the footprints for the whole winter come out again, it is like the last trudgment, and you see where everyone went .... (more about footprints ... )
PB -what is your plan for the rest of the day?
1:31:24 WS -I am going to drop a tree over here [PB -ok] and then we have a little lunch and do the canoing
PB -ok, do you usually take a brake after lunch?
WS -yeah, i usually take a half hour rest -read or eat ......... .
OK 1:32:19 AMBI filling up fuel tank (?), some clanging of tank, birds faint in bg ...WS moving around getting ready to cut tree?
1:34:14 PB -you switching to mucklucks?
WS -yeah, just ah -there is deep snow....
1:34:24-1:36:34 AMBI WS putting on boots, faint zipper
1:36:35 WS -hopefully will start
G 1:36:38 -1:38:13 chain saw start up, walking with Will with chain saw in his hand through snow
WS -it [the tree] should go this way -just be aware, watch the trunk here ....you can tell exactly how it is going w/o looking up
1:38:50 WS -i'll put right down that tree there (?)
1:38:56-1:41:51 AMBI/FX starting up chain saw, cutting tree down
1:40:06 FX tree falls (?)
1:41:52-1:42:50 cont. cutting down tree, from distance-but not as strong sounding ...
1:43:46 walking back to the house -through snow, dogs moaning
(good!), talking with ?? in bg ...ws talking to a neighbor (?) Bob ...
1:47:19 WS -Bob and I taaught at a catholic school -he did the math and 1 did the science -7th and 8th grade
PB -how long dod you do that for? WS -i did it for three ...
1:48:18 -AMBI -wind, dripping, talking in bg -1:49:18 -no talking is heard... wind and dripping, birds, some mike handling and footsteps
1:50:36 Canadian Jay -GOOD at 1:51:00
1:52:38 END OF DAT

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