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Bobcat kittens fall in love with firefighters

OREGON

Every town needs something to be proud of. Portland not only has its own television show, Portlandia, but also a toilet. A very special toilet: Portland, if the L.A. Times is to be believed, has revolutionized the public loo, creating a minimalist, solar-powered bathroom that boasts its own Facebook page. It supposedly solves the age-old problems of its kind, which, notes the Times, include "graffiti, trash-can fires, furtive needle activity, commercial lovemaking, emergency baths, laundries for the homeless" and more. "I'm convinced Portland is the only city in the U.S., and maybe the world, that celebrates the opening of bathrooms," said a city commissioner at a toilet dedication ceremony, where students also reportedly sang Skip to my Lou.

CANADA, CALIFORNIA AND COLORADO

It wouldn't be the West without a whimsical story about wildlife and humans snuggling up, would it? On Aug. 25, a crew fighting the Chips Fire, which has burned for more than a month in Northern California, stumbled across a bobcat kitten that had lost its way -- and its mother -- to the fire. The firefighters tried to walk away and let natural selection take over, but the baby cat, about the size of a domestic kitten, followed them, "curling up on (their) boots and snuggling into (their) chaps every time they paused," reports the Sacramento Bee. Firefighters turned the kitten over to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care for treatment. Meanwhile, in Aspen, Colo., a couple of bears had to be chased away from the finish line of the third stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge as the riders climbed the mountains toward the resort town. Aspen police chalked up a whopping 292 bear-related calls in August, a record. While the Aspen bears didn't disrupt the bike race, the same can't be said for Canada's GranFondo Banff cycling event, which had to be rerouted due to bears feeding on the original course.

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From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor