.
Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
Journal
September 28-
    The main story continues to be the color change.  There is not an area up here that is not coming closer and closer to peak.  The trees in my neighborhood are about 50-75% changed and that is about the same for most of the area.  Some areas are right at peak and a few are still in the 30-50% range.
    Took a walk on the trails with the hounds yesterday.  This is one of the areas that is at about 70%.  It was a cool day, with temps only in the 40's.  Still a nice day for a walk, but I am having to wear more and more to keep myself warm.  Yesterday evening, I had wished I had my gloves, as it had cooled even more.  A day with highs only in the 40's followed by a clear, calm night can only lead to one thing and that is a hard freeze.  Got to add a date to the "Firsts and Lasts" page.  That is something new to the site if any of you missed that addition.  The link to that is actually on the "Historical Weather" page.
    The temps here this morning read 27 degrees at 5 am, but I did see that the airport here dropped to 24 in the middle of the night, so I would not be surprised if we got even cooler here in the valley.  In any rate, it was an official hard freeze. We still had some frost around after the sun came up so I snapped some shots of the front of the house and some pines in the field across the street to show the frost.  It is not snow, but at least it is ice crystals and a step in the right direction.
    Today I took the hounds to a place we have never been before.  I have drove past this area at least a hundred times, maybe more, but never stopped.  It is hard to not see it, I am willing to bet that almost everyone who has taken Hwy. 26 from Hancock to Lake Linden has seen it.  It is about as noticeable a relic from the mining era as anything up here.  What am I talking about?  It's not the Quincy Mine, it's not the Hubbell Stamp Mill ruins nor it is the power plant ruins in Lake Linden.  Nope, it is the dredge beached on the Mason Sands.  Just what is this thing?  Well, back when copper was being mined in the area, the mined material was taken to stamp mills along the shorelines of the areas waterways to be separated from the rock.  I will not get too deep into what a stamp mill did, as I am not fully knowledgeable on the topic, other than to say that the mining material was crushed by gigantic machinery and the copper was then able to be separated from the mining rock.  The crushed rock became "stamp sand", that black, sandy type material seen up here all over the place.  Anyway, somehow, some copper found it's way into the waterways and that is what the dredge was for.  It would ply the waterways, sucking up stuff off the bottom, some of which was copper.
    The one thing I have noticed about the things still up here from the mining era is that everything from that era was huge!  I don't mean just big, but huge!  Almost prehistoric.  Going up to this thing made me feel like I had suddenly shrunk.  The windows were huge, the crane was huge, the pulleys were huge, the pipe was huge, even the bolts on the thing were bigger than anything I have have ever seen.  I suppose that everything had to be so large because they were dealing with such massive quantities of material, but I can't help but wonder if egos somehow got involved as well.  One company trying to out do the other with bigger and better things.  Or maybe it was a man vs. nature thing.  Anyway, the leftovers from the mining area are all huge, nothing small about them that is for sure and this thing was no exception.  Here is a shot with a closer view.
    To give some perspective on how large this thing is, look at the front of it, where the intake is.  From the ground to where the intake bends to the right is about 6-7 feet.  The window in the pilot house is about 5-7 feet in height.  The top of the boom is about 40 feet high, maybe more.  This thing is big.
    I also took the pictures to illustrate the colors.  See 'em in the background?
    Well, I think I have run out of material, so will close for tonight.  Looks like some warm weather coming, no chances for snow in the next week, maybe more.  I'm not too concerned.  Not yet anyway.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 26-
    Autumn in the Keweenaw.  Everyday brings a new look to the trees.  Some areas are near peak and others are over a week away.  Around my house, we are still about a week or more away.
    In the last journal, I talked about the walk the hounds and I took Sunday, but forgot to add the picture.  We walked to a flooded quarry up the hill from Lake Linden.  I was hoping that the quarry would be full of clear water, thinking it would be a neat place to swim in during the summer.  It was not dirty, but had levels of tannin in it that make it look like tea.
    Monday we did some exploring in the bush up the Traprock Valley.  We found ourselves in bear country as there were plenty of tracks and some droppings underneath an apple tree.  I was a little worried, as we were walking in grass and weeds over waist high and I thought we might surprise one.  I was sure to make plenty of noise and we did not run into any bruins.  To spook me even more, at the beginning of our walk, Burt was out ahead of me, we were on a road, and all of the sudden he let out a growl and the hair was standing up on his back.  He also had a pose that I have never seen him take before.  I'm sure he saw or smelled something and it was not a deer or small mammal, as he would have chased them.  Got the blood pumping anyway.  On the way home from that walk we passed through a section of the valley that had a bit of color to it, so I snapped this shot.
    Today the hounds and I traveled south.  There is an area up here that reaches it's peak sooner than the rest.  It is around Toivola.  I don't know why this happens for sure, as it is not much further away from the lake than other areas that peak later.  It is higher in elevation, but is not higher than Trimountain and Painesdale which do not peak as early as this area by Toivola.  Anyway, I figured that the colors would be close to peak there so today would be a good day to visit that area.
    One of my favorite beaches is near this area and is at the mouth of the Misery River in Misery Bay.  It was a fabulous day for a walk on the beach, temps in the 50's, some sunshine and a breeze.  We also had the beach to ourselves (nothing new this time of the year) and what would a day at the beach be without a swim?  Here is a shot of the Misery River spilling into Lake Superior.
    A cold front was in the process of pushing through.  The front might even bring enough cold air to cause some flakes to fly tonight and early tomorrow up here.  I doubt that they will be seen in the lower elevations like Lake Linden, Houghton and Hancock and even if they do fall in across places like South Range, Calumet and Mohawk, they will likely be combined with some rain as well.  All of this activity will be lake effect.  Driving home today, I looked out to my left to see the clouds produced by the front and a little snow shower falling out of them.  The snow is the white streak in the middle of the shot.  It did not make it to the surface as snow, as the temps were still in the 50's down there.  Driving through Houghton and Hancock on the way home, a few sprinkles hit the windshield.  Those must have been some of the melted flakes.
    Also on the way home, we decided to take a long-cut and ventured off into the woods on a logging road to tour the local color show.  It was a beautiful, tranquil and relaxing trip and well worth the extra time.  In fact, I did not even think of it as taking extra time, I viewed it as special time.  My conversion from a country boy at heart to a country boy in mind, spirit and attitude continues.  Time is becoming something to be treasured and measured in quality, not quantity.  Life is becoming more of a journey than a destination.  With journeys like this afternoon who could not feel the same way.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 24-
    It is not too often that I hope one of my forecasts bombs.  First, I am paid to be right and second, I just do not like to be wrong!  So Saturday morning when I pulled myself out of bed at about 8 AM and saw the sun shining brightly, it was one of those odd moments when I was feeling good that my forecast for temps in the 40's, with clouds, light rain and drizzle as well as strong winds might be wrong.  Why was I so hopeful my forecast would be wrong?  Well, we had a golf tournament to play on Saturday, and weather such as I had forecasted was not too fun to play in.  Our tee time was for 1:12.
    I futzed around cooking breakfast and getting ready for the day and took the dogs for a walk by 9:30.  By then the clouds had rolled in and the sky looked threatening.  By 10:30 it was raining lightly and the winds had picked up.  Those conditions continued up until tee time.  Here in Lake Linden, the winds were not too bad and I was thinking that with my wet weather gear and proper layering of cloths it would not be too bad golfing.  When I got to the course (up on the hill near Calumet), the winds were blowing at 25-35 mph, the temp was 42 and the rain was falling at a fairly steady clip.  Some of the groups opted to sit the tournament out, but our group would have nothing to do with wimping out.  I must say that those were likely the worst conditions I have ever played golf in.  It would have actually been better if it was snowing, that way it would not have been so wet.  Thankfully the rains stopped after we had started the third hole.  But then the temps dropped even further and I could have sworn that I saw a few tiny flakes fly by.  It was so windy, it was hard to tell if they were really flakes.  One of the guys I was golfing with also thought he saw some flakes, so I guess I was at least not imagining things.  However, what I saw will not go down as the first official flakes of the season.  Those need to be a for sure deal.
    Considering the elements, we did not do too bad.  Our group shot a 1 over par.  Last weekend we shot an even par, but it was in the 60's and sunny then.  I was happy to be done with the round and also glad the tournament was only 9 holes!
    It got to 32 this morning in the valley, with some scattered frost.  We still have not had a hard freeze, but that is not unusual, being so close to the big lake.  None the less, no bugs are left, even the bees and wasps seem to have hung it up for the year.
    The colors keep chugging towards peak.  It seems like we are at least a week or more away.  At least here in the Valley and the surrounding areas.  I hope to head towards Misery Bay this week, as the road near Toivola usually peaks a week or so ahead of things up here.  I will be sure to bring along the camera.
    Today we took a hike in the woods.  I wanted to take a route we had never gone on, but knew about.  It turned out to be a pretty popular route, as we had several cars and trucks pass us, as well as a few hunters out trying to get some partridge.  The partridge crop has been really small this year.  I don't mind that too much as they sure can scare a person, with their explosion from their hiding spot.  To make matters worse, they usually do not explode into flight until you are about right on top of them.  I use the word "explode" because that is just what they do.  Their wings explode and make quite a loud noise as they hit the leaves.  This all occurs about ten feet or less from me and in a peaceful and very quiet wooded setting.  It is enough to send a rush of adrenaline through the system, and trying to anticipate the flushing of one of those things does not help any.  Scares the crap out of me every time!
    No snow in the forecast right now, well, none that I feel very confident about.  A few flakes my fly Wednesday morning and another shot is showing up for next Sunday, but neither of these systems have me feeling very confident about.  I am still not overly hyped about the prospect for snow.  Anything that falls now will not last anyway.  I will likely start to get a little more excited about things around Halloween.  However, it will still be neat to see the flakes fly.  Along those lines, I will likely be updating the seasonal forecast sometime this week and will likely be starting the daily updates to the forecast in about a month or so.  The drum roll will start soon, it is getting close!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 22-
    I am getting an early start this evening, because tonight is going to be a perfect night to start a fire in the fireplace and settle into the couch and do very little.  It is Friday, I have had a busy week running around the Keweenaw doing sales (with great success I must add!), the temperature outside is 45 degrees, skies are battleship gray and there is a light rain and drizzle falling.  So rather then eat dinner and then head into the office to write up the journal, I am getting it out the way so that I can just relax after dinner.  Leftovers too boot, so I will not have to even worry about lots of dishes to clean up!
    As I said, today is a cold, cloudy, rainy day.  Typical dreary autumn weather.  Fitting I guess for the first day of astronomical autumn, even through I like to think of autumn of Sept, Oct and Nov, as does most of the meteorological community.  We have had a mixed bag of weather this week.  Some days started out cold and dreary and turned out nice, while others started out nice and turned nasty in the afternoon.  Today it has been "disagreeable" all day.  I still managed to get in two walks with the hounds, but we stuck to the neighborhood streets.  Lots of fires were going, either in fireplaces or in wood heaters and the smell of the burning wood is what triggered me to think about getting one going in my fireplace.  It will be the first one of the season and I am looking forward to it.
    Some other milestones were met this week.  I had to use my furnace for the first time Wednesday morning.  It was just too cool in the house and the thick overcast would not allow the sun to warm my house like it normally does.  The other milestone met was the changing of bedding from pressed cotton to flannel.  That took place yesterday, but really could have taken place a few days earlier.  I sure did sleep good last night in the flannels and am actually looking forward to a good, long, nights sleep tonight.  It's the simple thing in life!
    I mentioned in the intro that I have been running all around the Keweenaw doing sales.  This week took me to Houghton and Hancock several times, as well as Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor.  Here is a bit of info for you snowmobiliers (and auto drivers), the Shoreline Resort will be open all year long and has gasoline.  So there is now an additional place to fuel up in Keweenaw County, always good info to have when driving around in the sparsely populated Keweenaw County.
    I took the hounds with me on my travels to Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor, figuring the sales would not take up the whole afternoon and we would be able to find a few places to explore.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate too well, so we did not do any exploring, but we did get in a walk up to Lake Manganese, dodging the lake effect rain showers that were falling.
    The colors continue to intensify up here and it seems like the October 2-7 period will be the peak.  The covered drive (US 41 south of the harbor) was looking pretty good on the way home, so I snapped this shot.  Sorry about the motion blur, but I did not want to come to a complete stop on the road.
    Back at home yesterday afternoon, the hounds and I went for a walk on the snowmobile trail in the valley by my house.  It was a glorious sunny autumn day, quite a bit different from earlier in the day and all of today!  Snow has been in the forecast out in the 5 and 6 day period, but then as we draw closer to the time of reckoning, the potential for snow disappears.  For a while it looked like Sunday would bring the chance for a few flakes, but not anymore.  Now it looks like maybe Wednesday.  We will see.  I am not going nuts waiting for it.  I know the routine a little better this year.  We will most likely see our first flakes fall in the next week or two, with the first accumulation in the higher elevations not too long after that.  Here in the Valley, we may see a dusting by about the beginning to middle of October, but I should not really hold out any hope of seeing the ground covered until around Halloween.  For some reason, I am really under control this year.  Maybe it is because I am so busy with the site and trying to get businesses to join the Northwoods Directory, or maybe I am just becoming a "seasoned local".  I would put most of your money on the former, not the latter!
    Speaking of the Northwoods Directory, if anyone has checked, the Keweenaw is starting to fill up.  I still have some to add and am waiting for info for more and a few more businesses to contact.  I am doing all the sales up here face to face, as I wanted a really good representation.  So far it as worked, with all but one business saying yes.  For the other areas I will be sending a marketing piece in the mail along with a response card to try and get the other businesses to sign up.  Businesses will be added in those areas in about a month or so.  So hang in there.  I hope it will become the "bible" for making reservations and plans to play in the northwoods.
    Well, it is dinner time and I am out of things to say anyway, so will sign off for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 19-
    Going for the hat trick.  He shoots...He scores!  Yep, three in a row.  Wonder how long it has been since I did that?  No, you don't have to tell me, I don't want to know!
    The main story up here is the changing colors.  Yesterday I said that the changes are happening on a daily basis up here and that is true, maybe even faster than that.  It looks like it will be a good color season too.  That is surprising to me, as I would have thought our colors would be poor due to the dry spring and summer.  I would not be surprised if this year turns out to be better than last year.  It seemed like last year about half the trees changed the last week in Sept. and the others changed the first week in Oct.  This year it seem like they are all changing at about the same time and look to peak around the first of Oct.  I don't mean to sound like the chamber of commerce, but if you have never been here for the colors, it is pretty mind blowing.  I will be sure to get lots of shots for those of you who cannot make the trip this year.
    Took the afternoon walk with the hounds on the snowmobile trail today.  I dressed them in their blaze orange collars to insure that they were not mistaken for something that could be shot at.  It was still a bit warm for those, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.  Walking along the snowmobile trail, it seemed like the trail was even anxious for the snows to fly so that it would not sit out there all lonesome.  No I have not lost my mind, just a weird feeling I got while walking along.  Even though I said that it looks like most of the trees will reach the peak color at about the same time, the trees are at different stages of color right now.  Here are some that are not as far along, and here is one that is about at peak.
    One thing that helps this regions color show be so incredible is the fact that the majority of the trees in the area are maples and those are the ones that turn the bright orange.  Plus you have the deep blue skies and the dark greens of the evergreens.  Throw in the speckling of white that might fall later Saturday and things will be perfect.
    What's that I just said?  Speckling of white?  Did I mean snow?!  Yes, it is possible we will see our first flakes of snow fly later Saturday or early Sunday.  What is more incredible is that I really would rather see 60 degrees and sunny on Saturday, as I have a golf tournament to play in.  Oh well, if I have to golf in the snow, I have to golf in the snow!  I can sure dress for it!  Actually it looks like the conditions for snow might not come until late Saturday or Saturday night and our tee time is 1:12.  Rain would actually be worse than snow as far as I am concerned.  Of course all this may be for naught, as it is still a bit far out, especially this early in the season.  The first snows are always touch and go, with the lakes warming influence.  Still is neat to be forecasting the possibility, maybe a good omen.
    I have not updated my seasonal outlook, but I can say that if the current pattern holds, it will be a good year, a very good year up here.  The cold air has been trending to deepen as it moves into the region.  Last year we had the opposite occur, with shallow layers of cold air moving in, bringing some light lake effect events, but the atmosphere was just to stable to produce the heavy snows that this region is known for.  Only time will tell, and I am still trying not to think about it, but if it snows this weekend, I may just loose some control over my emotions.  Guess I will close with that.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 18-
    Do not adjust your computer, this is a new entry, back to back!  I felt so bad about being away for so long, that it was on my mind all day to put out one today.  We had a summer like day today, with a high of 81 and quite a bit of sun.  Humidity was not too bad, with dewpoints in the 50's.  It's back to reality for the rest of the week, with temps dropping into the 50's, maybe even 40's by the end of the week.  Maybe, just maybe the season's first flakes will be seen in the higher elevations this weekend.  A bit of a long shot, but I'm keeping an eye on it.  Funny part is we might be playing golf in it, as I have a tournament we are in Saturday!
    With temps in the 80's, it was a beach day so the hounds and I headed off to Big Traverse for a walk and a swim (only the hounds swam!).  This late in the season, no matter how nice the day is, I can almost guarantee that we will be the only ones out there and today that was the case.  It is not that I dislike people, but with the dogs (wet dogs) it is just nice to not have to worry about them running up to say hi to someone who is not as glad to see them as they are to see the person.  It was a good day for the hounds to swim and we spent about 30 minutes fetching the stick.  They seemed to grow tired of that so we went for a walk.  There were a few left over waves rolling in from the easterly winds we had earlier, but the waves were not too large.  Burt will go out in about any sized waves (he was in 3-5 footers last fall), but is not particularly fond of the bigger ones.  When I was younger in age my family would take vacations to the west coast of Florida.  On those trips, I loved to walk the beach and would play this little game of trying to walk right along the waterline, but not get hit by the incoming waves.  Today, the waves along the beach at Big Traverse transported me back in time and geographical location to those moments on the beach in Florida and I found myself playing that game of walking the line.  I was doing fairly well and then one snuck up and "got me".  I let out a chuckle and quietly congratulated the lake on it's accomplishment, as I tried to shake the water out of my Air Jordans.
    Even with the summer like temperatures, it is hard not to notice the signs of fall.  The trees are shifting into high gear on their trek towards autumns color show.  The changes are actually taking place on a daily basis now.  Trees in my yard and across the street that were not showing any signs of color change are now breaking out in the yellows, oranges and maroons.  The trip back from Big Traverse took me along the Rice Lake road where I was treated to sights like this and like this.  On our walks in the woods I will be starting to dress the hounds in their blaze orange turtlenecks to make sure that they are not mistaken for a bear (early season in progress right now) and deer (bow season starts Oct. 1).  Now before I get tons of e-mails from hunters, let me say that I know that 99.9% of the hunters are very careful of their shots and would never mistake one of my dogs (or me) for a bear or deer while lining up their shot, but it only takes the 0.1% to ruin the day.  I'd rather be safe than sorry, just my nature.
    73 more days until December 1st!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 17-
    I'm back, sorry for the long absence!  I had hoped to put out an entry when my family was here, but was either working, entertaining or sleeping!  My parents, brother and nephew came up to visit from southern WI.  They arrived Wednesday evening and stayed until Saturday.  We saw a lot of the keweenaw in that time.  These shots were taken while at the mouth of the Montreal.  The water level was so low that we were able to cross without getting our feet wet.  Of course it did take some agility and bravery, but my brother, nephew and I were able to make it without any wipeouts.  Well, almost without any wipeouts.  My brother brought his two dogs up and of course Burt and Baileys had to go along and everyone had a good time exploring the falls.  It was a good day for a hike, with temps in the low 60's and a mix of clouds and sun.  Also a good day to be at the falls.  Of course, is there ever a bad day to take in sights like this?
    In addition to the mouth of the Montreal, I took them to see the Hubbell Falls, Houghton/Douglas Falls, the beach at Big Traverse and the beach at Tamarack Waterworks.  The weather all the time was about perfect for the sightseeing.  Maybe a touch too cool in the evenings, but still quite nice for the middle of September.
    Saturday was a recovery day for me once they left.  Some naps, some hikes with the hounds and then a dinner with a friend down in Jacobsville.  The weather yesterday was even better, with temps in the upper 60's and lots of sun.
    Today was filled with some walks, some work and the Loading Zone II golf tournament.  It was a 3 man/1 woman best ball scramble held at the Calumet golf course.  Our team did pretty well, seeing as though one of the men does not golf too much and the woman was playing for the first time.  We ended up with a 36 for 9 holes and the really amazing thing was that we ended up using the woman's tee shot on one hole.  Not amazing because she is a woman, but because she was playing for the first time in her life!  We have a similar tournament at the same course next weekend and our goal is to beat our score today.  The winners today shot a 33, 3 better than our score.
    I was a great day for golf, almost perfect if you ask me.  About 65, no humidity, and plenty of sun.  The only negative aspect was the winds, which were blowing at about 20-25 mph.
    Looking out at the forecast for this week and the following weekend, it looks like some chilly air is on it's way.  Almost cold enough for some snow, but not quite.  I am doing pretty good at keeping my excitement level in control.  One thing that has helped is to be so busy!  However, the way the pattern is set up right now would bring a very good winter, and it is hard not to get at least a little worked up, especially since the rain/snow line keeps getting closer and closer.  The way things are going, it will not be long before I will be writing about the first flakes of the season.  Can't think of a better thought to close with.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 11-
    I suppose the biggest news I have to report is that the air conditioner will come out of my window this evening.  I actually used it Friday night, as it was a tad bit warm and humid.  When I tell you all just how warm and humid, you may laugh a bit, but I would rather be comfortable than sorry.  I believe the temp Friday night got to about 64 with dewpoints around 61 or 62.  A cold front is in the process of pushing through the region and the air behind it looks to be plenty cool and dry.  Not cold, but no need for air conditioning that is for sure.  It is about this time of the year that the northern Midwest sees a big 'ole Canadian High pressure build in and shove all the humidity south, where it usually stays until next spring.  Occasionally it can return for a day or so, but that is a rare occurrence and like I say, does not last for more than 24 hours in most cases.  The forecast actually looks to support cool, dry, Canadian air across the upper Midwest for the next week, possibly 10 days.  By then it will be the third week in September and the need for air conditioning is all but gone.  A day ago, one of the forecast models actually indicated a fairly decent little snow storm for the northern sections of MN, WI and the UP for next week.  I did not put much faith in it, as it looked highly unusual.  My concerns were played out today, when the model did not indicate the chances for snow.  Still, it is a good feeling to see the rain/snow line being shown to slip into the lower 48.  I have been watching it slip south week after week and hopefully it will not be long before it is here to stay.
    More and more snow shots have been coming into me to post in the gallery.  That too is really getting my blood pumped for the white stuff.  It is funny, many locals I talk to say "just wait, a few years of living here and you will not be as fond of the snow as you are now".  I highly doubt that will come true.  There are really no aspects to the snow that I do not like.  I do not mind to drive in it, I actually like to remove it from the driveway (as long as the 8 HP Toro is working!) and now that I have the proper tools and methodology down for clearing my roof, I do not even dread that.  However, I suppose that I cannot say that I love to shovel off the roof.  Now, I will admit that I have yet to have to make it through a 350" snow season, and that may be the ultimate test, but I am ready for it.  Last year's 150" seems like nothing.  I can only remember about 2-3 halfway decent storms.
    Not much else to talk about.  The leaves are just beginning to turn wholesale.  We are still several week away from the peak, but it is neat to see the change taking place.  The temps later this week will really make it feel like fall.  I have accomplished much of the outdoor work I wanted to get done.  I still have to put up the outdoor Christmas lights (won't do that until about Halloween and will not light them until at least after Thanksgiving) and secure the front bushes (won't do that until October), but the stuff I wanted to get done now is done.  Now it is time to clean the inside so that my parents, brother and nephew have a clean house to stay in.
    Getting back to the "Guest Shots" snow gallery, I do hope that people will send their pics in.  I realize that many of you may not have a digital camera or a scanner, but you can also take your prints to places like Walmart and they have a machine that will scan them and save about 5 or 6 of them to a 3 1/2" floppy for about 5 bucks.  I thank those who have sent me pics and can't wait for more.  Keep in mind that any shot with snow will do.  They do not have to be snowmobiling related.
    Guess that will do it for now.  Sorry this was sort of news less, but things will start to change soon.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 7-
    Not sure how long this one will be, but I do have some pics to share with you all and a few stories to tell.  I have been very busy running around to the different Keweenaw businesses to see if they are interested in placing their info in the Northwoods Directory and/or on some other ad vehicles the site will have.  So far the old sales campaign has been quite successful.  I have yet to be turned down.  I suppose that when I can make an offer that their info will be in the directory for 1 year for only $25.00, you can't go wrong.  Many of them have a hard time believing that the site averaged over 300,000 page views in both December and January and that the site was averaging over 6000 different visitors a day.  I too was totally blown away with those statistics, but my previous web host did confirm those numbers.  I sure hope that the businesses outside of the Keweenaw that I cannot meet face to face will see the benefit to them.  I would love for the Northwoods Directory to become a great tool for everyone to use with their vacation plans.  I suppose only time will tell.  One thing is for sure, it does look like just about every business in the Keweenaw will be on it.
    Yesterday my travels took me up to visit the good folks in Ahmeek, Eagle River and Mohawk.  I got to see the inside of the Sand Hills Lighthouse, meet up with a recently made friend at the Eagle River Inn and Fitzgearlds, and met some new friends and the new owners of the White House Motel in Mohawk.  The new owners of the White House Motel: Marlo and Chris Condotti are recent transplants from the Chicago area, who like me got fed up with the rat race and settled for the magic of the area.  They are snow lovers and riders and really neat people.  I ended up talking to them for several hours and we could have easily gone on for hours more I am sure.
    A nice thing about making sales calls in the Keweenaw is that I can take time out breaks and go for walks on the beach or woods or whatever.  On our way to Eagle River the hounds and I stopped off at the beach along 5 Mile Point Road.  I really do like that beach for some reason.  I think because it is beautiful sand and is usually desolate, plus the road is high up on a bluff and away from the beach so you do not hear any cars driving along.  That is my only bone to pick about Great Sand Bay.  However, when I am just driving through and not beach walking, then that is an asset to Great Sand Bay, in that you are afforded the great view without having to even get out of the car!
    As mentioned, the stretch of beach at 5 Mile Point is usually empty and yesterday was no exception.  Sure there were some birds flying around, but no other humans.  It was an overcast day, and the skies threatened rain, but that did not deter the hounds and I from making a trip down the sand.  Almost every time I go there, I do have some other plans for later, or some appointment I need to keep so at the start of the walk, I am always thinking that we will only go about halfway down the beach and turn around.  Just as many times, I never keep to my original plan and inevitably end up walking all the way to where the beach stops.  Yesterday followed that same course of action.  Walking the beach at this time of the year is always filled with neat surprises, as the autumn storms wash new and interesting items up.  Here is a piece of driftwood, Keweenaw sized of course.  I do not remember that being there the last time I walked down the beach.  I always wonder where things of that size originate.  I looks to have been dead for many years and it's size speaks of a massive tree at one point, but yet those sorts of objects are washing up all the time.  Maybe they just get transported from one location to another by the changing winds and seas.
    I have noticed that ever since I did the entry dedicated to a day in the life of the hounds, I have not included much of them in the pics, so for all the fans of Burt and Baileys....here's the hounds.  They were actually moving pretty quick when I shot that.  I was wondering if the camera even picked up Burt, as a fraction of a second later he was already past me.
    With the lake levels down, the shoreline has a different layout than last year.  Things that were under a foot or more of water are now high and dry.  That created a situation where a sand bar was left exposed, but the very top of the wave action would just make over the front of the bar and then spill over into a pool behind the front of the bar and then the water would slowly drain off the far end of the bar.  I must have a fairly simple mind, because watching things like that take place will entertain me about as much as watching anything.  It even got to be a game to see if I could determine which of the waves would have the energy to be able to make it over the front of the bar to spill their water into the pool.  Don't worry, I do still have all my marbles, I guess I just take pleasures in the more simple things in life.  Here is a pic of what I just described.
    For those of you who missed the cloud formations in the last pic, here is a shot of the sky.  There was a multitude of layers of clouds, in all different shapes and forms.  I also love to watch the sky and see if I can figure out just what is happening with the atmosphere to put on the show it is putting on.
    Well, I guess that this turned out to be a little bit longer than I thought, but I'm sure you all will forgive me!  ha,ha.  I am looking forward to the weekend.  I need to do some straightening up around here to transform the bachelor's pad into something my parents, brother and nephew will not mind staying in for a few days when they arrive next Wednesday.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 4-
    Magnificent!  That is the only word I really need to describe today.  But for the benefit of creative writing I guess I can go on to say things like a few cotton ball, fair weather cumulus clouds set against a backdrop of cobalt blue skies.  Bone dry air and temps in the 60's.  About as good a day for a hike as I can think of.  Notice I said "hike" and not walk?  I did that for a reason, as we took an honest to goodness hike today, spending about 4 hours total time walking.  I even decided to head out of the county and head north into Keweenaw County.  It's funny, I'm sure I have mentioned this before, but anytime I feel like I want to take a vacation, all I need to do is hop in the car and head north into Keweenaw County.  Since I get up there about once or twice a month in the summer, and also since it really is quite a bit different from much of Houghton County, it feels like I have traveled to some place new.  I suppose that since it is an area that relies heavily upon tourism, that also helps to put me in the tourist mood.
    Anyway, we headed up towards Gratiot Lake, but stopped short when we got to the power line running near the Keweenaw Academy.  That is the site of some fun times last winter and more to come this winter I am sure.  I wanted to see what it was like in the summer so that is where we took our hike today.  This shot is looking east down the clearing we hiked through.  Our starting point is beyond the rise in the background.  The shot on the bottom is a winter look taken on February 21.  This second shot is looking south down the other direction of the clearing.  The bottom shot is from February 21 as well.  Way off in the distance is Lake Superior.
    It was a really enjoyable hike.  The three of us are fairly tired though.  Burt and Baileys are sound asleep and I am in a very content mode of exhaustion ...That feeling you get when your muscles are tired, but not sore, and your mind is still fresh from the cleansing it got while out exploring.  We saw lots of signs of bear on the hike, but no actual bruins were seen.  One of the signs was really interesting.  We came across a hornets nest that had been torn apart.  It is really something how those animals can get into something like that and not be stung to death.  I would have taken a picture, but was afraid that some hornets might still be around and still a bit upset about their dwelling being demolished, so we moved right along.
    Another reason why this day was so extraordinary is because since Thursday, we have been in a heavy overcast with not a peak of sun.  Plus the temps were in the 50's.  I know that in the last entry I said I did not mind the cooler temps and gray weather, but after three and a half days of it, the sun and warmer temps were a welcome change.
    The cool and damp weather did not keep us out of the woods the previous three days, actually just the opposite.  We took many a walk.  Here is a shot of the hounds walking down a country road near my house.  It is too bad that the depth of field is not better represented, as off in the distance is the Traprock Valley, really a pretty sight.
    A few weeks ago I also spoke of some kind of disease which has impacted the health of the Aspen trees in the area.  Here is a shot of the leaves of one of the infected trees.  The disease seems to be confined to the area around my house, as I have not seen it in any of the other areas up here.  I haven't a clue what it is, nor have I read or heard anything about it.  Hopefully it will not kill these trees, I really like Aspen trees, I think that they are very beautiful, with their white trunks and quaking leaves.  In the fall they turn a golden yellow.
    On our drive back from our hike today we passed through the town of Copper City.  Every time I pass through this town I am taken by a sight that I believe is quite unique to the Keweenaw.  Sort of says it all as to how much snow we can get up here.  Hope they have to dig that bugger out this winter!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
September 2&3-
    While September 21 may be the last day of astronomical summer, August 31 is the last day of meteorological summer.  Meteorologists define fall as September, October and November.  Then winter as the next three months and so on and so on.  So as far as we meteorologists are concerned...welcome to fall everyone!
    The weather here in the Keweenaw must have been keeping an eye on the calendar.  On the 31st, we had a cold front push through and have spent the time since in the 50's, with an overcast skies and some drizzle from time to time.  While I am not a big fan of gray skies and damp weather, it is really nice to be feeling the change in addition to just seeing it happen on the calendar.  The front even produced the first real rains we have had up here in well over a month.  I reported 0.10" with a few showers Wednesday evening and then 0.47" with the showers and storms that rolled through Thursday evening.  There are now some puddles on the trails and things even smell different in the woods.  The rains were very welcome, as things had been very dry.  I began to water my lawn a few weeks ago so that it would not be dormant this fall when I apply the over-winter fertilizer.  When I started watering, the grass was totally brown.  It would actually crack and crunch as you walked across it.  To the casual eye it looked totally dead.  Thankfully, grass is clever enough to go dormant in droughts and will just sit there until conditions become favorable for it to grow again.  After the first two waterings, the grass was still totally brown, sort of gave me a scare that maybe it was dead!  About a week after the waterings started, some hints of green began to appear and the combined effect of my watering and mother natures watering has the whole lawn a nice shade of green again.  I will now be able to put down the winter fertilizer in a few weeks and have it absorbed by the grass.  The Keweenaw's climate is actually a great grass growing climate, maybe a touch too dry, but nice and cool.  The biggest problem is the amount of snow we get.  It can cause serious problems with snow mold.  That is why I make sure to put the winter fertilizer down, as it is formulated to help the grass combat any diseases that try and attack it over the winter and into the spring.
    Enough about my grass!  The weather has causes some in my neighborhood to fire up their heating sources in their houses.  Many in my neighborhood use wood to supplement their main source of heat and on our walks, the air has been dressed with the smell of burning wood.  I really like that smell and it has my blood pumping that summer is all but gone and soon the magic season will be here.  I am looking out into the future and see nothing that would call for me to need to use my air conditioner.  However, I think I will not jinx things and keep it in there for another week or so.  With the web redesign behind me, I can now concentrate on my remaining outdoor projects.  Things I need to get done while the weather still permits it.
    The other nice thing about the cooler weather is the hounds and I are now free to go anywhere we want on our walks.  I guess we have always had that freedom, but when things are hot and humid, I don't like to have them in the woods too much.  Especially when there are so many places we can go to give them exercise in the water and stay cool.  Yesterday we took a walk up the Traprock Valley, along the local cross country ski trails that I found and then helped expand last winter.  Even with temps in the low 50's, a low overcast and brisk wind, things were very beautiful out there.  The foliage is continuing to turn colors ever so slowly.  However, some plants are not easing into things, like these ferns.  It is too bad that the sun was not shining when I took the picture, the yellows, oranges and reds of the ferns would have really stood out against the back drop of light green of the birch trees and dark greens of the fir and pines.  Not to mention the deep blue skies that this area provides.  A little further down the trail, we came across this sign that once the Traprock Valley was heavily used for agriculture.
    Another thing that got me pumped for the winter was I got to ride a snowmobile Friday.  Friends of mine were "testing", practicing and making adjustments to their sleds for grass drags in Marquette this weekend and then the grand daddy at Haydays next weekend.  My friend wanted me to ride his sled so he could get a good look at how it got out of the hole.  It was great to be on a sled again.  Even if it was not on snow and was basically an all out sprint.  It sure is a rush to start out in a dead stop and then travel 500 feet in 6.2 seconds!
    Well, guess I will finish for this entry.  I will try and make a point to update this more often now that I have more time.  I will just have to try a little harder at remembering things to talk about.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
 
 
 
 
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