John Dee' s Keweenaw Journal
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July 30-
    I am grateful for the intelligence (all be it slow at times) that has been bestowed upon me.  It only took me 3 times to the beach to finally get it right.  Thursday, I took the dogs to the north shore.  Can't say why, I just ended up there.  I knew better, but went anyway.  Why was it a mistake to go there.  Well, we have had an east wind since Wednesday.  East wind means go to the south shore.  That way the winds will be onshore and things will be cooler and less bugs.  Well, the bugs were bad (houseflies mainly) and it was a little too stuffy.  Friday the winds were still easterly, I wised up went to the south shore (Big Traverse).  The temps were much nicer, with a fresh breeze off the lake and little bugs.  However, I did not bring anything to go into the water with nor did I bring anything to sit on.  That brings us to Saturday, when the winds were still out of the east and I went to Big Traverse again, brought a swimsuit and a fold-up chair to sit on.  It was just like the beer commercial "It doesn't get any better than this".  The sun was blazing, but a fresh breeze was rolling off the lake, almost no bugs and the water was in the low 70's (a guess).  I set up my chair so that when a wave would hit the shore and run up, it would wash over my feet and lower half of my legs.  Really nice.  I suppose the only thing I was missing was someone to fetch me a frozen drink every now and then.  I will have to work on that one.
    I was even treated to a special show on the way home yesterday.  I had my first bear sighting.  Actually, I had my first, second and third bear sighting.  I was driving home on the rice lake road, just about to get into the farmland area and out ran this black blob from the woods.  Not expecting to see a bear at the moment... I, at first, thought it to be a big black lab.  About a second later I could see that it was not a lab, but was a bear.  It was about 75 yards in front of my car and I slowed down just in case it hesitated or changed it's mind.  It was a good thing I slowed down, because that first bear had two more in tow.  It was about a 200 pound sow with two cubs.  All three ran across the road, one after another.  I did not have my camera along and would not have been able to snap a shot anyway as they did not waste any time crossing the road.  I was hoping that was the way that I would see my first bear, from inside the car.  I just wish that the dogs would have seen them, but the were sound asleep from their busy day at the beach.
    I has gotten hot up here.  Today my thermometer read 91 in the shade and so did the bank sign when it was in the shade.  The airport said that they only got to 83.  I suppose it is possible.  Many a time I have left the valley here when it was quite warm and found it to be much cooler up on the hill in Calumet.  Plus, it felt like it was 91 here this afternoon.  The humidity was not too bad, but it just felt hot.  I am all too used to feeling temps in the low 90's and today it felt that way.  Tomorrow is suppose to be even warmer.  I can deal with it, as long as the humidity does not get too bad, the temps cool off quickly.  The sun has gone behind the hills to the west and the temps outside right now are in the low 70's.  In another hour, they will be in the mid 60's and will bottom out in the upper 50's by tomorrow AM.  Still good sleeping weather.  Plus it looks like the temps will be back down into the 70's by Wednesday through the rest of the week.
    Today I did some boating with some friends.  A great day to be out on the water.  Lots of sun, hot temps and the Torch Lake is actually quite warm.  I would have to estimate it to be in the upper 70's.  Although the thermocline is about 4 feet and the water below that felt like it was about 20 degrees cooler.  I am really sleepy this evening, with all the fun in the sun.  I even did some tubing and knee boarding and my arms feel like Jell-O.  It will be interesting to see where I end up tomorrow afternoon.  I know it will be the beach somewhere, as the temps will be in the upper 80's and low 90's.  I just don't know which side.
    Another bonus about Big Traverse that I forgot to mention is that there is currently an "All you can eat" blueberry event going on.  You just have to pick them.  Last fall and early this spring, when everything was brown from the cold, I was walking out there and noticed these small plants on the ground that were green.  I wondered to myself what were these plants that seemed to be oblivious to the cold.  They were the wild blueberries.  The ground is literally covered by them out by Big Traverse and I picked a handful.  That may not sound like a lot, but it actually is as they are about 1/4 the size of a domesticated blueberry you get at the store.  Just as tasty though.  I may just bring a container to put them in tomorrow if I go that way.
    Well, things are great up here in the UP.  With day's like today, it is hard to believe that in 2 months the leaves will be near their peak and we could be seeing some flakes fly.  I will sure be ready when it happens.  Heck, I am ready now!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 27-
    I have one question to you all... Why do they call it the "Dog Days of summer"?  I ask, because my dogs sure are not particularly fond of it and are not interested in being associated with it.  I am also no too fond of it.  It has not been too hot, just humid.  In fact, today was actually cool by temperature standards.  The main problem was that the temperature and dewpoint were basically at the same level for most of the day.  We started out early this morning in the low 60's and then climbed into the upper 60's and are now back on the way down.  I will be glad to get rid of it, but don't see any major relief in sight, as the dewpoints are in the 60's across all of southern Canada and there are no major storms headed in to mix things down from central or northern Canada.  So here we are in the Dog Days, and I want out.  One month, I keep telling myself, one month.  Then the heat and humidity will be on the outs and we will have those great September days with highs in the 60's and 70's and lows in the 40's and 50's.  Perfect.
    Before I forget, the answer to the name of the mystery beach was: White City.  Seeing as how I only got 3 guesses, one from a local who knew, with the other 2 guesses being wrong, I think that I may have stumped the audience.  Either that or nobody is reading anymore!  Don't get too confident "G.S." (local who guessed correctly), I plan to go to a spot that I bet even you have not been to yet.
    Yesterday during a slower period in the day I decided to browse the internet for information on deer flies and horse flies.  Even though I have been actively using the internet for 6 years, I still am amazed when I do a search for something as wacky as deer flies or horse flies.  I actually came up with a whole list of sites providing information on the things!  I was wanting to learn more about their behavior to be able to avoid them better.  Most of the stuff on the sites told me things I already knew;  They are less active on a cool, cloudy day (today we were not bothered by a one on our walk in the woods near the house),  they are more attracted to dark colors (they actually fly around Baileys to get to Burt) and, sorry ladies, it is only the females of the species that bite.  The males gather only pollen, not blood!  The sites also said that there is really no effective way to exterminate them.  Repellents with DEET work well and you can also make traps which will attract them.  The traps may come in handy if I ever have a home where they are a problem.  Around my house now, I think that there are too many natural predators (birds, dragonflies and wasps) to allow them to be a problem.  Plus there not a whole lot of places for them to lay their eggs (vertical surfaces close to water).  The traps are basically some sort of cup or tub like object like a large plastic cup or small planting tub which is painted blue and then coated with Tanglefoot, a sticky insect trap coating substance.  One article went on to say that when a set of these traps were set on a pickup and drove around a field for a short time at about 7 mph, over 1000 flies were trapped!  They even showed a picture of a baseball cap which had been outfitted with a trap using a plastic cup.  If it gets any worse on our walks I may just make one of those for Burt and I.  Anyway, the point was that I was able to find plenty on the subject and am still amazed by the amount of stuff on the internet.  Of course, I will miss "NAPSTER".  I knew that one was too good to last long.  Free Music?
    Firefighters from around the UP have gathered in Calumet and Laurium for the Annual Firefighters Tournament.  Last night was the barrel race.  I have friends on the volunteer department for Hubbell and I went up to watch them compete.  Here they are,  on the right, on their way to one of their victories.  I say one of their victories, as there were 14 teams entered and they won the whole double elimination event.  Pretty neat when you think that they are a volunteer outfit and were going up against some full time, paid, firefighters from places like Houghton and Marquette.  There are parades tonight.  I missed the full-dress one already, but hope to make it up to the "night shirt" parade that starts at 11pm.  In that one, the dress is a little more casual and I am told that most of them are wearing one of their wives old dresses.  I'm fairly certain that there is a pit stop at some of the local taverns in Laurium and Calumet in between the full-dress and night shirt parades, don't you think?
    I have actually received quite a few e-mails from folks wondering if I can tell what kind of a winter we are going to have.  The honest answer to that is no.  There is really no credible way to produce a seasonal forecast.  Just ask the seasonal forecasters at the NWS who get paid to do it.  Back this spring, they were putting fairly high confidence levels in a forecast that called for above average temps and below average precipitation for the Midwest for May, June, July and August.  I guess they still have time to get one of the 4 correct, but were pretty far off on the others.  Now don't get me wrong... I do not mean to bad mouth them.  I just mean to prove the point that if people who's job it is study and develop a methodology to do seasonal forecasts can be so terrifically wrong, then who the heck am I to say?  I do have respect for those scientists.  I suppose about the only thing I can say which might try and lend some advice to what this winter will provide is that the past 3 years have been unusually poor for winter weather in most of the Midwest.  In addition to that, 7 out of the past 10 have also been unusually poor.  Sooner or later, the score needs to be evened out (or up!).  Either that or there might be something to the whole global warming threats.  Remember, global warming does not have to mean that the temps are warmer year round, they might be warmer only in the winter.  Wouldn't that stink?  I might have to buy some property north of the arctic circle.  Anybody know a real estate broker in Greenland?!
    You can tell it's getting late, I am starting to get goofy.
    Next weekend is the snowmobile water cross in Baraga.  Anybody in the area should check it out.  If you have never seen one, they are pretty unique.  I actually watched one in southern WI many years ago.  Sort of amazing to see those things skip across the water just like a personal water craft.  I've also been told that it is a pretty decent bikini watching event.  I suppose I'll get my cool temps those two days and all the bikinis will be left at home!
    Well, like I said, it's getting late.  I need all the beauty sleep I can get, so I will sign off for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 24-
    Nay, your eyes dust not deceive you, I am doing a back to backer.  Today was a great beach day, temps in the upper 70's and a touch of humidity.  So I decided to go to one of my favorite beaches with the hounds and enjoy the day.  The place we went to is on my list of "Guess where we've been" so here you go.  Guess where this beach is.  Some hints are that it is about my favorite beach in the area and it is not one that too many out of towners get to and I'll leave it at that.
    The water was not too cold.  I guessed it to be in the low 70's.  I did not bring my suit, but wished I had.  There were others swimming and of course the hounds wasted no time getting their feet wet.  At one end of the beach there were some boats parked and folks were enjoying the day.  At the other end of the beach were folks who had driven down like me.
    We had a great time playing in the sun, sand and surf and there were very few flies to ruin the day as well.  Another thing that I like so much about this beach is it has some small dunes.  Usually when we go down there on a weekday, we have the place to ourselves, but we have not had an abundance of beach days up here so when we do have one, I think a lot of folks take advantage of them.  The beaches sure have been a lot busier this year than they were last year.
    Tomorrow will be the last day of the warmest period of the year for us.  Our average high has been 77 since last Thursday and this Wednesday it will drop to 76.  It then drops a degree every 4-5 days and looses 8 degrees for the whole month of August.  I have noticed a distinct change in the amount of sunlight we are getting.  It is now dark when I wake up and the sun is just setting as I go to sleep.  The fliers in the newspapers are starting to have back-to-school specials advertised in them, pre season football games will begin in just a few weeks.  This used to be my least favorite times of the year, as it meant having to give up the freedom of summer break and go back to the drudgery of school.  I must say, that it now is one of my favorite times.  Second only to December 1st, the opening day of snowmobile season.
    So far this summer has been about as perfect as I could have hoped for weather wise.  Very little in the way of heat and humidity.  I think that I can count on one hand the days that we have been in the 80's or with a dewpoint greater than 60.  Last summer was about the opposite, with plenty of heat and humidity.  Last fall was not what I would have asked for either.  Cool and wet.  Maybe this fall will be more to my liking, with temps in the upper 50's to low 60's, lots of sunshine and nice cool nights.  I would take that up until about Halloween and then let it get cold and bring on the flakes.  Then it takes little explanation on what I would like to see from November through April, but about 40-50" of it by Dec 1st, with 20" on the ground would be nice.  The finish the season with a new record of over 400" would be just fine.
    Only time will tell, but one can dream.  I just need to keep telling myself that we are still 4 months and a few days away from the start of the season, so I should really stop thinking about it.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 23-
    Ok, first things first, as I am sure that with my current state of mental capacity I would forget... The answer to where the shots of the falls were taken is the mouth of the Montreal River.  It is along the shore line to the northeast of Lac La Belle and Bete Gris.  There were quite a few correct guesses, a handful of incorrect ones and some that were "in the ballpark".  I have a list compiled of some more spots, some easy and some not so easy that I will be putting to the test.
    Well, the weekend has come to a close and I am all played out.  Had lots of fun, did some new things and have some new memories.  On Friday, I took the hounds out for a walk on one of the trails we skied on lots this past winter.  I had known that I took pictures out there in the snow, so I made sure to bring the camera along.  Here is a shot taken in the snow back on January 12, and here is a shot taken last Friday.  This is the trail that the groomer uses in the winter to get from his house to the DNR trail.  As you can see, that part of the trail was still quite open and easily walked on.  Here is another shot further up the trail.  I wish that I could also supply you with the scent that I smelled while at this spot.  The smell of the fir and cedar was unbelievable.
    Further up the trail we ran out of a nice accessible trail.  The trail that I skied in the winter was suddenly covered with 2-3 foot grass.  That was not much of a problem in itself, but what lay in the tall grass was.  Lots and lots of deer flies.  Usually, Burt receives the lions share of trouble from the deer and horse flies.  I am bothered by a few from time to time and lucky Baileys seems to never be bothered by them.  Once we got into the tall grass, the dogs were basically covered by it and were safe from the flies.  That left only one target, me.  I have developed the technique of breaking off a maple shoot and stripping all the leaves off of it, leaving only the leaves at the end.  I then use this as my fly swatter.  They were so bad and I forgot to wear a hat that I needed one for each hand to keep them from bothering me.  We did manage to hike the additional 1 1/2 miles into the woods along the trail and then turn around and hike back out.  I did not get any bites, but I still think that there are some deer flies on my head from time to time!  Needless to say, because of the flies I was not able to stop and take any more pictures while on our hike.
    Saturday I was with some friends and we decided to go fishing on the big lake.  So far all of my fishing had been done on the Torch Lake.  We hooked up the boat and headed for the launch at Big Traverse.  Once in the water we headed through the "Irons" (the iron breakwaters extending out from the harbor).  Inside the irons was a working barge belonging to the Army Corps of Engineers.  A massive piece of machinery dedicated to work only.  I believe that is is used to fix break waters and other features in the lakes, but not to do any dredging.
    It was a perfect day to be on the lake, especially in a 16 foot boat.  Almost no wind and no foul weather in the forecast.  We first tried fishing a few of the holes off of Big Traverse, but were not having any luck.  It was mentioned that the fishing might be better off across the bay over by the Huron Mountains.  The problem it is about a 15 mile trip across open water.  In a boat that is built for Lake Superior this would not be much of problem.  But we were not in a boat made for Lake Superior.  We knew that the boat could make it fine as long as the weather held and my talents were put to the test to supply us with safe passage.  I really was not too worried, as I knew that the light wind regime would hold and no storms were likely.  Even if there would have been a storm which developed, we would have had enough time to head for a safe place and ride it out.  The forecast verified and we had safe passage to and from.
    I am just in awe as to the clarity of the lake.  We were fishing in about 180 feet of water so seeing the bottom was out of the question, but the blueness of the water I have only seen while vacationing in the caribbean.  The fishing over there was much better and we caught our limit of lake trout in under an hour.  With the water so clear, you could see the fish coming up clear as day when it was about 40-50 feet down.  A silver bullet rising towards the surface, growing larger and larger. For those of you wondering where the spot was.  I am sworn to secrecy.  It is a real fishing hole and I do know where it is now, but I cannot say anything except that it is over by the Huron Islands.
    Speaking of the Huron Islands and Huron Mountains.  The view while fishing was most magnificent as well.  The Huron Mountains is really a neat place.  The mountains themselves are some of the biggest in the UP and drop right into the lake in most places.  They also have very little development.  I never grew tired of the view.  I just wish that the camera had a zoom so that you could have seen the islands better as well as the mountains.  It did rival anything that the Keweenaw has, and I am quite biased!  Because of that bias, I could not leave the Keweenaw out of the picture show, so here is a shot of the Keweenaw taken from the Huron Islands.  The little hump on the horizon directly in the middle of the picture is Mt. Bohemia, the hump to the right of that is Mount Houghton and the humps to the left of Bohemia are the Gratiot Range.
    Another week is over and a new one begins here in the Keweenaw.  Things are well, and I look forward to the adventures the future holds. In about 6 weeks, summer will be over.  In about 2 1/2 months we could have very well seen our first snow and in a little over 4 months it will be riding season!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 20-
    Getting an early start on the Journal today (9 AM).  I am done with my morning work, taking a little break and waiting for the cable guy to arrive and swap out my modem for my internet service.  I have a cable modem to connect to the net.  It is wonderful and I can't imagine living without it.  However, over the past 2 months I have gotten tastes of what it is like to have to dial in, as my service has been off and on.  They have tried several things and seem to think that it is the modem.  I hope so, as I think we have tried everything else.
    Anyway, yesterday was a chilly morning in the northwoods.  A lot of places dipped into the 30's.  I even heard that places in the eastern UP dropped to 31.  Anybody for some green tomatoes?  We got to 37 here in the valley and I spotted frost on my neighbors roof.  She has a black asphalt roof which is perfect for generating frost on a clear, calm night.  No frost on the vegetation and all the gardens looked fine yesterday on my walk through the hood.
    This cooler weather sure has given me more energy.  The other day, I cut the grass, shampooed the carpets, did several loads of laundry and went grocery shopping.  Plus I got in the 3 walks that the hounds demand and did my regular work.  The forecast hold more below average temps and I am a happy camper.  Just wonder if this has anything to say about the upcoming winter?  No real answer to that, unfortunately.
    Yesterday was Wednesday and that meant lawnmower races in Lake Linden!  The past two weeks there was rain and I did not feel like going up there to see if they were racing.  Last night was a perfect night and they were racing all right.  I talked about these races a few weeks ago.  Things sure have grown regarding this weekly event.  The crowds have gotten bigger, the track is now groomed before the races and the lawnmowers are A LOT faster.  The average speed of these things when they are racing is about 25-35 mph, but I was told that flat out, some of them can reach 70 mph.  Now why anyone in their right mind would want to go 70 mph on a riding lawnmower is beyond me.  Maybe it has something to do with them being not quite in their right mind.  It is really a pretty exciting thing to watch.  I got up there a little late, but was still able to catch 2 wheels falling off separate machines, resulting in some neat crashes, and a rider loosing his steering and riding off into the trees.  Thankfully no one was hurt, but I bet the rider who went into the trees is feeling it this morning.  He flipped over several times before coming to rest about 15 feet into the woods.
    The repair capabilities have even gotten quite developed.  One of the support vehicles had an arc welder on the back of it and they are able to make repairs between the races.  Here is a shot of "Pit Row".  I think that there now about 10 mowers up here racing.  They race about 5-10 laps and have several heats.  There is no reward for winning, except to say they were the winner.  By the end of the evening, the winners are determined more by attrition than by speed as lots of breakdowns occur.  All of them have had the mower decks and blades removed and many of them have also had their stock engines replaced with ones with more displacement.  Some of them even have had some custom paint jobs done to them as was the case with this little beauty.
    I did take some shots of the actual races, but for some reason two of them did not turn out.  The one that did was taken just as the yellow, caution, flag was going up for a crash. I think that crash was when one of the front wheels came off.  The races were a success, as no one was seriously injured.  It may not be NASCAR, but in a lot of ways it's better.  I could really see this goofy little sport becoming something pretty big.  It is a lot of fun to watch!  If you're ever in the Keweenaw on a Wednesday.  Drive to the top of Pine street in Lake Linden and catch the races.  I hear that they will also be racing at the Houghton County Fair this August.  There will even be a purse to win at that race.
    Guess that will do it for now.  Except to say that I have not forgotten to say where I went on Tuesday.  I am waiting for anyone else to send me their guesses.  There have been some correct guesses and some incorrect ones and I thought that it was a pretty neat thing to do and am making a list of future places to go and have you all guess.  I'll take any suggestions as well.  The answer will be in the next entry.
Good day from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 18-
    I suppose I don't have to tell too many people about the cooler temps, as they have invaded the majority of the Midwest.  However, I think that it is funny how different minds can relate to the same thing with different viewpoints.  My mind is already thinking about the end of summer and the upcoming autumn and then winter.  Thus, I thought that today seemed like a autumn day or a day in September.  Others said that it seemed like a spring day or a day in May.  Their minds must have still been thinking that summer just started and there is a lot more to come (dreamers!).  Anyway it was a nice cool day and I kept thinking that it was September 18th, not July 18th.  With the day we had today, it seems hard to believe that we still have at least another month of summer.  There is even a chance for frost tonight!
    The Keweenaw had a special visitor the past few days.  Lord Stanley's Cup was in the area courtesy of Randy McKay, a member of the 2000 NHL Champion New Jersey Devils.  It is a tradition that the cup gets to spend several days with each member of the winning team and the past several days it has been up here where Mr. McKay grew up and still lives.  He did something really neat, he allowed the public to view it and for a price get their picture taken with it.  All the money generated by the picture taking was going to a local charity.  I had to work, otherwise, I do believe that I would have stood in line to see it and have my picture taken with it.  Here is a little bit of trivia,  the Keweenaw is actually the birthplace of professional hockey (and thus the NHL) in the US.  Years and years ago, there were several teams up here and the players were the first to be paid for their playing.  Now, who knew that one?
    Today was a perfect day for a hike in the woods and I decided to go to one of my favorite, if not my all time favorite, places.  I am going to keep this place a secret until the end of today's entry.  See if you can guess where it is by the descriptions and pictures.  Anyone who has been there will know right away, or at least you should.  I think that one thing that helps this place to be extra special to me is I don't get there too often.  It is not exactly right next door (hint #1).  I don't mind the drive and then the walk, but part of the drive is through some rather rough road and every time my car bottoms out, I think that I am going to leave by brand new exhaust behind.
    Of course I brought the hounds (hint #2) along, they also seem to really like this place, as they seem to have an extra jump in their step when we start out.  So who knows already?  The walk out there is about a mile or so and has some interesting things to see.  Here is a natural sea arch (hint #3).  Upon arrival at this place for the firs time, my knees almost buckled at the beauty.  Pure, natural beauty.  I have never been to the Pacific Northwest, but I think that one could be fooled into thinking that they were in that part of the country when at this spot (hint#4).  Or perhaps the coast or Maine, another place I have yet to see but for pictures.
    The real beauty to the spot is 180 degrees from where the last shot was taken, which is this (big hint #5).  Again, pure, untouched, natural beauty.  Something you rarely see anywhere these days.  I love the way the river just empties into the lake.  No bridges, piers, viewing decks, or other man made features to screw up the place.  Every time I go out there, I wish that I could stay longer, but I seem to always go out in the afternoon and thus can't stay nearly as long as I would like.  Someday I am going to bring a tent and some food and spend the night.  I can only imagine how beautiful the sunrise must be.
    The hounds really have fun climbing around on the falls.  Above the falls is a flat part of the river and here is Baileys getting ready to take a dip.  With my attempt to be politically correct, I asked and then pleaded with Burt to pose for me so that I would provide an individual picture of both of them in today's journal.  He kept running off and saying he did not feel like having his picture taken.  Finally I was able to coax him into posing.  He looked all majestic on his perch, the water dripping off his jet black coat.  I moved in for the shot and the stinker stuck his tongue out!  Don't worry, when he is all rich and famous, that picture will somehow find it's way into the public realm and I will get the last laugh.
    After some exploring, we headed back, but not without one more look and one more picture of the falls from below.  Man this place is beautiful!
    So who knows where this is?  While typing this, I came up with a thought, I think that I will hold off in saying where it is until the next entry.  I would like for people to send me their guesses.  I will then post them (not giving out names or anything, just a tally list).  If this turns out to be popular, then maybe I will try it at some other spots.
    This about does it for another day.  Hope all is well with everyone.  All is well here.  Another day in paradise.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 16-
    Boy, have I ever been slacking off lately.  I spoke with my parents today and they said that they had been keeping up with my journal, or at least thought so.  They were wondering if I had written anything new since the July 11 entry and I said no.  I then looked at my watch and the date on it said the 16th!  Sorry!
    Last week I was actually quite busy with work stuff.  By the time the evening rolled around, I just could bring myself to sit back down in front of the computer.  Then the weekend hit and I started to have too much fun in the evenings to sit in front of the computer and the daytime was filled with drives, and swims and walks.  So here it is Sunday evening.
    I would like to thank those of you who responded to me with ideas and things they would like to see talked about and displayed via the camera in the journal.  Keep 'em coming.
    Yesterday I was sitting having breakfast, trying to decide where to take the hounds for some fun and I kept going over the usual haunts, Calumet and Tamarack Water Works, 5 mile point, Big Traverse, Lake Linden Sands.  None of them really jumped out at me and struck me as being too exciting.  I guess that is one of the hazards of having such fine places at my immediate disposal, even they can become a little mundane.  I decided to head to southern Houghton County and do some exploring.  I had gone to a few spots down there last fall, but there is still a lot to see.  Plus one of the things I said I would cover in the journal was the "hidden lakes" of the Keweenaw.  So I grabbed a few maps and we hit the dusty trail.
    Now, I have to explain something.  The "hidden lakes" are not really that hidden, nor are they hard to get to.  Most locals would laugh if they knew I were calling them hidden.  Basically what I mean is that the highway or major roads do not go right by them, or cannot be seen from them.  However, most of them have roads going to them and you can drive a regular car to them.  The first stop of the day was at Perrault Lake.  This little lake is between Painesdale and Toivoila on M-26.  A quick little editors note here.  Did you all know that Painesdale is named after the Paine in Paine/Webber?  It seems that he created the town when he was involved in the mining boom that was going on at the time.  He had a lot to do with it's creation, layout and the such.  Last year they celebrated a birthday for the town.  I think it was their 150th.  One of the direct descendants of the original Paine (I forgot his first name) showed up for the festivities.  Anyway, I discovered this lake long before I move up here.  I was driving along and saw the little green and white road sign pointing the way to Perrault Lake and turned off to take a look at it.  I was struck with it's beauty.  Nothing really too fancy, except to say that there is not a lick of development on it.  The shores are about as pristine as the day the lake was formed by the melting glaciers 10,000 years ago.  Only the road accessing the lake has caused trees and other natural features to be disturbed.  It is probably about 1/2 mile across and about 10-20 feet deep I would guess.  I actually walked/waded around it with the dogs last summer.  There is also a creek which feeds out of it on one side.  All the land around it is owned by the DNR, so I doubt it will be developed anytime soon.
    The hounds wasted no time finding a stick with which I was to throw out for them to fetch.  I have always said how smart I think my dogs are, but I still cannot relate to their love of swimming out and grabbing the stick and then swimming back.  I love to swim, but to me what they do seems more like work.  Anyway, we did some exploring of the woods around the lake and then jumped back into the car and headed down M-26 further south.
    Our next stop is at a lake appropriately named Clear Lake.  This lake is actually one that none of the locals that I have talked to have claimed to go to.  It is off of Pike Lake Road.  Pike Lake Road is just to the south of Twin Lakes on M-26.  There actually a bunch of smaller lakes in this region.  Many of them do not even have roads going to them, but the ones I have seen are very pretty, with little to to development on them.  Clear lake is spring fed, so I hear, and is actually crystal clear and very deep.  In the photo, you are looking at about 75% of the lake, but it is 60 feet deep.  The drop off is also very sudden.  Not a surprise, as you can see it, but about 6 feet off shore the water is over 6 feet deep.  Of course the hounds went for another swim.  I wished I had brought my suit as the water was fairly warm and there were some others around the lake swimming.  The are some camp sites along the lake and all were taken yesterday.  1/2 of the land around the lake is owned by the DNR and the other 1/2 is privately owned.  All the camping sites are reachable by car.  There are no amenities other than a place to park your car and a place to pitch a tent.  All the sites are on the DNR land.  I hope to do some camping here later on in the season, maybe this fall when the rush is over.  I do plan to head back down some day before the summer is over to take a dip.
    My camera's batteries died after taking the picture of the lake here so unfortunately, no more were taken of our little trip yesterday.  However, that did not stop us from going where no other Dee has gone.  We got back on Pike Lake Road and headed south to M-38 and then turned west.  I have never been down this way yet and wanted to explore some of the farming land in the Pelkie, Nissula and Tapiolia areas.  I also had not seen Otter Lake yet.  It was really fun to be driving around in unfamiliar territory.  Sort of like a vacation.  As I said earlier, there is a tone of beautiful spots right in my own backyard, but when you see them a couple of days a week, they start to loose some of their draw.  Plus, the day was perfect for a drive.  Temps in the 70's and low humidity.  We had the windows down and the radio blasting and the three of us were singing right along (the dogs will actually howl at some songs, they can carry a tune better than me!).  A lot of very pretty countryside was seen.  There was a turn off for some waterfalls and a scenic overlook, but I figured since the camera was dead, I would save that for another day.  I still want to go further south.  There is a forest highway that goes even further south in the county and I want to take that some day.  I have heard that it is a neat road to take with some pretty terrain.
    We got back home, had some dinner, the hounds went to sleep and I went out with friends.  That is why I did not update the journal last night.
    Today we stuck close to home.  It was a warm day, with temps in the low 80's and a touch of humidity.  I figured that most of our regular beach spots would have others at them, so we stuck to the Lake Linden sands.  That worked fine, as it gave them a place to swim and we had it to ourselves.  Plus I just about am out of gas and did not feel like putting any in today, lots of traffic around the station today.
    Last night we had a fine display of the northern lights.  The only problem was that the moon "was as bright as a reading light" as Garth Brooks would sing, so they were not as vivid as they can be.  The unique thing about them last night is that because the solar flare that caused them was so big, the auoral crown was further to the south.  That meant that they could be seen in places like IL and IN and were basically directly over head here.  I was able to see them as I looked out my window and fell asleep in bed.  No pictures either.  For those of you reading this on the 16, I hear that they will be just as visible tonight.  Best viewing is after midnight.  If you are living in the southern Midwest, and still up after midnight, check them out, they are really a sight.  I will miss them tonight.  It is a school night and I need my sleep!
    The weather looks to turn a bit chilly the next few days.  It will be interesting to see if we climb out of the 50's Tuesday.  The rain/snow line will actually be about 300 miles to the north of the north shore of Lake Superior.  I don't think that there will be any snow up there, but still will be chilly.  It is 39 degrees and raining in that area at the moment and the coldest air has yet to arrive.  I am actually looking a little forward to being able to wear some long pants and heading out into the woods to do some walking.  I don't really like to take the dogs out into the woods when it is too warm.  I like for them to be able to cool off when ever they want.  Are they spoiled or what?
    I have the batteries charging for the camera and plan to be a little better at updating the journal.  I can feel a expose on Lake Linden coming up this week.  Stay tuned.  Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 11-
    Can you feel that?  Nice and cool.  Sunday night the cool and less humid air arrived.  Actually, Monday was not that much cooler than Sunday, only about 6-7 degrees.  The big difference was the humidity, which was 23 degrees lower, from a dewpoint of 67 to 44.  It was a good day to head out into the woods and do some exploring in a favorite winter play spot.  Someone sent me an e mail asking if I would do more comparison shots from winter to summer and I thought it would be a good idea.  The trick is to find places I can go in the summer that I was able to go to in the winter.  Last winter I had found this seasonal road and it became one of my favorite homemade ski trails to go on.  Kind of short, but some hills and very pretty scenery.  Here is a shot taken of the trail back on January 23rd and here it was yesterday.  Which one do you like better?  No problem guessing which one I like best!
    One of the reasons why the trail was a little short in the winter was that it eventually hooked up with the Dreamland snowmobile trail and I did not want to ski on that, especially with the dogs with me.  The trail is closed to motorized traffic in the summer and we were able to follow the dreamland trail for a while.  Here is a shot looking down the trail as it crosses a field.  The snowmo trail then turns to the right up by the yellow marker, but the trail we take actually keeps going fairly straight and heads off into the woods.  It is very hard to see the trail we take in both the winter and summer.  Everyone would miss it unless they knew it was there and were looking for it.
    Staying in the same spot as the last picture was taken, but turning to my left 90 degrees, provides me with this view down into the Traprock Valley and towards Lake Linden.  The field looks to have been left to fallow for quite a long time and was full of wildflowers.  The valley was not quite as big, but I almost expected Julie Andrews to come walking along singing "The Hills Are Alive".  For those of you thinking "I need to find that spot next winter and go play in that field".  Sorry, there is a barbed wire fence between it and the tail.  Of course if we were to have a decent winter, then the fence would be buried.  Last winter the snow got about 1/2 way up the fence.
    Walking through the pasture, I reached a spot where the ground was moving.  Thinking I might be happening along an ant or termite swarm, I was surprised when the hounds caused this huge cloud of moths to take flight.  I think that they were the flying component to the eastern tent worm infestation we had this spring.  There were so many of them, I figured that had to be it.  I was hoping that on the way back we would encounter them again and I would be able to take a shot of them filling the air as they were chased off by the dogs, but the ranks had not reformed since the hounds first disturbed them.
    Now one of the reasons why the trails up here are closed to motorized traffic when there is no snow is that some unfortunate soles think that it is a good idea to use the woods as their personal dumping ground.  There was a story in the news this spring of a guy who had to put up a gate on his property to stop the dumping and the morons that were doing the dumping then cut down some pretty big trees so that they could get around the gate.  I'm a pretty easy going guy, but if I caught those people in the act, they would be sorry for the day they were born.  It's not like they charge you that much to take your trash to the sanitation station.  It's like 10 bucks per 1000 pounds or something.  On our walk we encountered a car that was dumped out there, but it had likely been done quite a while ago.  I could not place the make or model, it looked to be about 10-20 years before my time at least.  For some reason that car out there did not seem to bother me too much, almost like it belonged there as some sort of link to the past.  I suppose the knowledge that in another 25-50 years or so it will be nothing but a pile of rust dust also helps to keep me from getting too upset.  Any ideas on a make and model?  I thought I saw one of it's cousins cruising the road in town just the other day.  It seemed to have the same general body style.  However, I did not get a chance to catch the make and model of that car.
    I also noticed some really big trees in that area on the walk.  Something I did not notice in the winter.  There are not too many really big trees up here since almost all the land has been cut over at one point or another.  I am not against the harvesting of trees.  I am a human and thus a consumer and there is nothing I can do about that point.  I do try and recycle as much as possible though.  There are a few areas up here where one can get an idea of what the forest looked like before the logging of the 1800's took out the majestic old growth timber.  One is the Porcupine Mountains State Park and the other is the Estivant Pines up near Copper Harbor.  I strongly recommend either or both of these as "must sees" while in the UP.  Some of the trees out there are just amazing.  To think that they have been around for several hundred years before this country was even born!  Think of all they have seen; the storms, the fires, the visitors and all.  Anyway, as I was walking along this trail, it seemed to me that this area had not been logged in quite a while and I really did enjoy the scenery.  I have heard arguments that selective cutting (the type of logging that occurs now) is better for the forest than letting it just go.  I am not going to pick a fight with those people, except I will say that I prefer a forest that looks like this, more than one that has been manicured by man.  It's not the E. Pines or the Porkies, but still is really beautiful.  In my opinion, there is no substitute for mother nature.
    Now don't get me wrong, I have mentioned that I realize I am a human and thus consumer.  So I am not a "tree hugger".  I am for responsible use of our resources and for reuse of things a lot more than is being done right now.  I am a snowmobilier and user of the woods and other natural resources up here and would not want that privilege taken away.  However, I would also not be opposed to a few areas being set aside to foot traffic, if any traffic, only.  Just my 2 cents.
    Speaking of land use, the Mt. Bohemia controversy keeps getting more and more amusing.  As stated a few months back, I am neutral on this whole thing.  I see the good and bad in both sides.  Anyway, the county sure has made a mess of things.  They seem to have put themselves in a situation where they will be sued either way it goes and their hole keeps getting deeper and deeper.  I actually feel sorry for them as it seems like they are trying to please everyone on this and that is an impossibility.  In the mean time, the only ones who are really coming out ahead in things are the lawyers for both sides.  Isn't the way it's suppose to go?  Always an interesting thing going on somewhere up here!  Many of the runs for this phase of the project have been cut and I plan to head up there in the next week or so to take a look.  Of course I will take the camera, and hence all of you, along.
    Before I go, if there are any suggestions of things that people want to see, let me know.  It is not that I am totally out of material.  I actually have some ideas like a photo tour of Lake Linden; some shots of some of the hidden, but accessible lakes of the Keweenaw; some sunsets and sunrises (I want to wait until the sunrises come later and sunsets come earlier for this though!) and a few other ideas.  However, suggestions are always welcome!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 8-
    First off, for those of you possibly looking to catch up and read June's Journal, I regret to say that I messed up and overwrote it so it is history.  There is the slimmest chance that my IP has a backup of the journal from the end of June and I may be able to rescue it, but I am not holding my breath.  Now on to our somewhat regularly scheduled event...
    The Dog Day's of Summer have found us, at least the humidity has.  The dew points are in the upper 60's.  The temps were only in the 70's most of the day, but I have the house closed off and the AC on in my bedroom.  Bummer.  Strange to think that as close as Friday morning it was 40 degrees up here.  It looks like tomorrow will be even worse, with sunshine, temps in the upper 80's and dewpoints in the upper 60's.  The good news is that it looks like cooler and less humid air will arrive tomorrow night.  I found that to be my main solace last year against the heat and humidity, knowing that it would not lock in for days and days like it does back in IL and southern WI, but would be gone in a matter of a day or so.
    Yesterday was another one of those awesome summer days, with low dewpoints and nice temps. The hounds and I braved the woods and were treated to a nice time.  No bugs, great weather and lots of peace and quiet.  It is funny, I do not consider myself a woodsman at all (although I think it would be really neat to have that knowledge locked up in my head), but we were walking along and I suddenly I felt like we were no longer alone, sort of a sixth sense thing.  I sort of shrugged it off, but about a minute later, I saw a deer break away and run from us.  The other day a similar thing took place, but instead of a deer, it was a coyote.  I suppose if a person spends as much time in the woods as I have since moving up here, you can actually begin to develop a sixth sense.
    We had a brief, but intense thunderstorm roll through early this morning.  Lightning hit less than 200 feet away from my home.  I do not know what it hit, but know that it was less than 200 feet away, as I was able to hear the "tick" of the leader stroke before the main bolt rocked the house and ground.  Usually if you are more than 200 feet away, you cannot hear the leader stroke.  I am glad I was awakened by a previous clap of thunder from a bolt further away, cause that close one would have probably had me jumping straight out of bed from a deep sleep.  That can't be good for the internal organs, especially my heart.  The close bolt even rattled the hounds.  They usually are fine with thunder, but they both hopped out of their bed and barked at the thunder on that one.  About 5 minutes later we had a torrential downpour.  The street flooded and water was rolling off my roof like a waterfall.  5 minutes later and it was all over.
    One great thing about living up here in the summer and not being a lover of heat and humidity, is that when that type of weather does hit, there is always a place to go and be cooled off.  Lake Superior is the worlds largest natural air conditioner and it really, really works.  I have heard people say that this area has 9 months of winter and 3 months of poor sledding.  They may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the truth of it is we have about 6 months of winter and 6 months of "cooler near the lake".  The winds had a westerly component to them today, so that meant to go to the north shore.  The hounds and I jumped in the car and headed towards the Tamarack Water Works.  It is really neat to be driving down the road that heads to the lake and feel the air get cooler as we near the lake.  It was really nice down there, still humid, but nice and cool and of course we had the whole place to ourselves.
    One of the things that amazes me is the ability of the natural foliage to be able to adapt to the drier climate we have here.  Since May 1st we have had only 3.5" of rainfall (about 65% of average), but still things in the woods have been able to work with that small amount of moisture and everything is a deep green.
    Another thing that surprised me in my first summer here last year was how calm and tranquil Lake Superior is in the summer.  Usually when one mentions Lake Superior, visions of 30 foot waves, battleship gray skies and the Edmund Fitzgearld come to mind.  In reality, from about April through most of September, the lake is usually like glass.  Even if the winds are blowing, the seas never seem to get really big.  Of course I am not out in the middle of it, but even still, when the winds are blowing directly onshore, the waves are never really big.  Today was no exception, with the lake and sky sort of melting into one at the horizon.
    The lake is still really cold.  I would have to say in the upper 40's to low 50's right along shore.  Satellites are measuring upper 30's and low 40's out in the middle.  That did not bother the hounds one bit and they had a fun time chasing sticks and swimming around.  It would be nice if it did warm enough to swim in without extreme pain.  It did get that way last year for about 2 weeks.  I am not a big fan of cold water, but I was able to swim in it without any discomfort for about 2 weeks at the beginning of August.  I doubt that will occur this year.  We have been a lot cooler so far this summer.
    On the way back, a fog bank began to roll in off the lake, and by the time we got back to the point where we got down to the beach, the fog had found it's way onshore.  Just another one of the meteorological treats this area provides on an almost daily basis.
    Well, it's getting late and I suppose I will turn in for the night.  I will miss being serenaded by the insects as I fall asleep tonight and will have to settle for the hum of the AC.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 5-
    I am proud to report that I survived all the festivities over the past several days, and I do not use the term "survive" casually.  It actually feels good to be back in the work week mode so that I can settle down a little.  A very fun time was had by myself and many of my friends.  It is amazing to see how much stuff goes on up here during the 4th.  Like I said in an earlier journal, Lake Linden is actually ground zero for many of events.  Our big day was actually the 3rd when we had the music in the park as well as the fireworks display.  The park got very crowded as it was the main event that night.  At one point I even felt like I was back down south at Chicago's "Taste of Chicago" or Milwaukee's "SummerFest", having to stand in line for a while to get something to drink and then wait even longer to get rid of it later on that evening.  Just about the whole park (about 15-20 acres) was as crowded as that picture was.  Even the locals were commenting on how many people were there.  The weather was about perfect, with sunny skies and temps in the 60's.  The fireworks were pretty good for a village of about 1500.  I was proud I am from Lake Linden that night.  One of my local watering holes had a band after the fireworks so I ended up there with friends and closed 'er down.
    The next morning, I did miss the parade in town, but only missed seeing it not hearing it.  The sound of the sirens found their way to my end of town and that set the hounds into a howling contest to see which one could out do the fire trucks and other emergency vehicles that had their sirens going.  Not exactly what I was hoping for after being out late the night before, but it was about time for me to get up anyway.
    After becoming human and then taking the hounds for their morning walk, the next order of the day was to head out to Gay for the Parade there.  As I left Lake Linden, there was a steady stream of cars heading out that way and it was really weird to see so many cars on the Gay-Lake Linden road, and all going in one direction.  Once at Gay, I found some friends and staked my claim to a vantage point along the parade route.  Here again, I was amazed to see how many people were out there.  I actually hopped up on a friends pickup truck to snap some shots of the crowd as it gathered along the road in front of the Gay Bar.  This is a shot looking south.  Here is a shot looking at the bar and here is a shot looking north.  At the time those pictures were taken, the crowd was only about half the number it finally grew to be.
    The parade itself is probably not the real reason why most go there, at least not anymore.  It just sort of provides another reason for friends to get together and have a good time.  I think that had the parade been organized to the point where all the entries actually followed each other one after another, the whole thing would have been over in about 3 minutes.  As it was, there were a handful of entries and then a break of a few minutes, then a few more entries, and then another break.  All told, it took the entire contingent of entries about 15 minutes to make their way through the crowd.  I tried to get some shots of the parade, but I also did not want to become obnoxious in the process, so I apologize in advance for the vantage points in some of them.  Every parade begins with a color guard and this one was no different.  Next up was good ole Uncle Sam on stilts, and then came some of the humorous entries.  This is the shot of the back of the previous entry.
    When taking most of the shots this past holiday, I realized that it sure did buck the trend of my normal subjects that I shoot.  There were actually people in the shots this 4th!  After the parade in Gay, the hounds and I needed a little time away from all the festivities and headed to the beach at Big Traverse for some good old Keweenaw peace and quiet.  It was a beautiful day at the beach and even the horse and deer flies were not a problem.  I sure am glad for that.  I knew that they would not be a problem for too long, as I can not remember them being a problem for too long last year.  Plus I got a tip from a friend who told me that when I go near the water, be sure to be on the coast where the wind was blowing on shore and they would not be a problem.  She was right, I think that I only had to swat one the whole time we were there.
    I took a little nap so that I would not run out of steam for the fireworks at the harbor.  I did make it up there with some friends and again, we were in a line of traffic all they way up and then joined the masses once there.  Again, it was a little surreal being in that place with all those people.  I have been up there at times when the dogs and I are the only ones in town (except for the people who live or work there).  It was really neat to see all those people up there.
    I did manage to snap a shot of one of the shells exploding just to you all could say that you saw the fireworks in Copper Harbor this year!  It is quite the status symbol you know.  The show was pretty good.  Although, it may be hometown pride speaking, but I thought that Lake Linden's were better.  The harbor's show started out great, with some of the biggest shells I have ever seen.  You know that they are big, when you can feel them as well as see and hear them.  But by about halfway through, they stopped with the big ones and even had some breaks in between the shells.  Then the grand finally was sort of a bust, with a repetition of the same kind of shell exploding over and over and over.  I was told that usually they are better.  Still, it was worth the trip.  Watching the sun set and create a red and purple backdrop to the harbor was a show in itself.  That place sure is beautiful.
    After the fireworks, we put on our own little show waiting for the traffic to clear out a little.  Here is Dustin showing his 4th of July spirit and having fun at the same time.
    We got home at 1 am and 4 hours, 15 minutes later I was at work trying to get through the day.  It was worth it and I look forward to next year.  This place is lots of fun for the 4th, the next fireworks I think I will see I will be sitting on my sled somewhere on the portage, when Tech's Winter Carnival is going on.  With that thought I will close.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
July 2-
    Well, the hounds and I made it through a little heat wave we had yesterday.  It did not get really hot, but we made it into the mid 80's and the dewpoint rose into the upper 60's, which is plenty hot and humid enough for me.  Salvation came in the form of a cold front last night.  Mother nature got the jump on we humans and provided her own little show in the sky last night with the thunderstorms.  It was the first real batch of strong storms we have had this summer.  Some have passed to the north and some have passed to the south, up until last night.
    The cool air did not arrive until early this morning, but then did not fool around.  I awoke to a cold bedroom, as the fan I had put in the window the evening before to bring in the cooler air was drawing in the 50 degree air that had settled over the Keweenaw.  As the day progressed today, the skies gradually cleared and the humidity continued to drop and on our afternoon walk today, a sweat shirt was actually required.  It was really pleasant to be walking through the woods with the crisp air and sunshine.  One of my favorite phrases is "Canadian High Pressure".
    It is only the beginning of July, but already I am finding my thoughts drifting ahead to the coming winter.  The day length is getting shorter now every day and in three weeks we will have turned the corner on the average temperature trend and that will be heading down for the season.  In two months the kids will be back in school and in three months we will be at our peak of the fall colors.  I really need to think of other things so that I do not drive myself nuts.  This summer has been so beautiful so far that another 2 months of this would be awesome as well.
    No pictures to share with you tonight.  About the only thing that has happened so far has been a friends wedding and the Heritage Dance up in Calumet.  Tomorrow starts the real festivities with all the stuff in the park here in Lake Linden, the fireworks tomorrow night in town and then the Gay Parade and fireworks in the harbor on the 4th.  Looks like the weather will cooperate and bring us dry weather and nice comfortable temps.
    One thing I plan to do is to get up to the airport and find out what their snowfall totals were for the season so that I can update the historical weather page.
    Guess that will do it for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -