.
Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
Journal
September 30-
    I always try to end the month with a journal, although some times it just does not work out.  Well, I did have some free time tonight and do have some shots sitting in the camera, so I figured I would get one out.  As usual, I do not have anything earth shattering to report from Gods Country.  The trees are continuing to change and seem to be picking up a bit in pace.  The color change is actually the pictures I have so I may as well get to them right away.  The dogs and I went out to the school forest yesterday.  It sure is getting pretty out there.  Even with a dull gray overcast, some of the trees were starting to glow.  It was one of the few moments in the past several days when it was not raining.  Things were still wet, my shoes are still trying to dry out and with all the rains, the ground cover is not crunching, more like squishing, but most of the trails were dry enough to pass through and it was great to walk in the woods, with a warm jacket on and even gloves.  Nothing much better in life than walking through the northwoods of the UP.  The hounds seemed to agree as well.  Nothing too special about this next shot, but if you like the northwoods, then you will like this.
    Back to the color show, some trees are really coming along and just about every tree is about 10-20% changed.  In this shot looking down the school forest road, way off in the distance you can see the difference of colors in the trees.  The trees are a bit too far off in the distance to get the full idea of the color change, I should have used the zoom more, but I think you can get the idea that things are at least not all green anymore.  I would say that sometime during the second half of next week the colors will be at their peak.  There will be about 20-40% color this weekend and I think that by the following weekend things will be past peak.  Past peak is not the best time to view the colors up here.  We usually have some pretty wet and windy days in October and the leaves do not last long on the trees once they change.  I have seen things go from peak to almost bare in just a few days if the right weather occurs.  So I guess what I am saying here is neither weekend looks to be all that good, I would plan a visit for the end of next week, sometime in the 11th-14th, although that could change.  If they do not change at a standard clip from here on out, then the weekend of the 14th and 15th would be the peak.  I will be sure to keep you all posted.
    I would like to thank all of those that gave me advice on a GPS.  All the tips were great and I did end up getting one, or at least ordering one.  It is on it's way and should be here Wednesday or Thursday.  Along with the advice from visitors to the site, I did end up spending many hours on the web, doing research on GPS units.  I was able to find a site dedicated to GPS devices and found it to be very helpful.  I even sent an e mail to one of the authors of the site and got a great response.  It just amazes me everyday the info that you can get on the web.  So the good news is that I have a GPS coming and it is a unit that has all the features I wanted, but the bad news is to get a unit with all the features I wanted I had to buy a top of the line model.  I usually shy away from getting a top of the line model in electronics because they are so expensive and in just a few months will no longer be top of the line and no longer be as expensive  Computers usually drop 50-60% in price in the first 6 months of being released and other electronic devices also drop quickly.  However, there is a lot I plan to do with this device in the next few months (exploring the bush by truck, foot and sled) and to wait until 6 months or more passes would cause me to miss out on all the fun, so I bit the bullet and bought a top of the line GPS.  However it does have many features, like the ability to tune in 12 satellite channels, so I will get a good signal even in the trees, it also has a built in electronic compass, so I do not have to be moving in order to get a compass bearing.  It also has a built in barometric altimeter, so I do not have to be moving to know how high I am.  It also has a great graphic display that will not only show where I have been, but will also allow me to create a trip and then show me the way to go.  I ordered a CD Rom that contains all the USGS quadrangle maps on it and I can download those maps to the GPS.  I also bought some third party software that takes the USGS data and combines it with hi resolution digital mapping data and can make maps in 3 D and instantly plot exactly where I am when the computer is connected to the GPS.  I plan to take the laptop on my trips into the bush with the truck and map out my routes.  It will be very helpful to be able to see right where I am at and also know just how to get back.  Plus, for all of you, I will be able to produce a map of my travels and put markings on where the shots were taken.  Here is an image generated by the software of Mount Bohemia looking in from the lake and here is a shot looking down from the top.  In the software, I can actually "fly" through the image.  Really cool software from a company called MapTech.  Of course, I am also a bit of a map freak.  Anyway, it will be a new and hopefully neat addition to the journal, but don't count on a whole lot of maps of my snowmobiling adventures.  Some things need to be kept a secret!
    Yesterday on our afternoon walk I wore a fairly warm jacket and even the gloves that I wear when I am cross country skiing to be comfortable and today I was in shorts and a golf shirt.  Yep, we were about 25 degrees warmer today than yesterday, with even a bit of humidity.  We even had some thunderstorms today.  Tomorrow I'll be back to a jacket and by Wednesday it looks like the gloves will be back on.  Still no good chances for snow, but there is a chance seen towards the end of next week, but that is way too far out to be very confident in at all.  I'm not worried, it will snow up here, that is a given.  I'll just settle for the crisp autumn days.
    Not much else to say, I think I will not be playing golf too much more.  Not only is the weather starting to get too cool, but tomorrow is the opening day of bow season for deer and most of my golfing partners will either be out hunting or preparing their sites for the hunt.  That's ok too, more time to head out into the woods and enjoy things.  For now I need to sign off and get some rest for tomorrow's adventures.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
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September 27-
    I was hoping to be able to get a journal out last night and also have lots to share with you, but as I was writing the entry, the computer crashed and I was just too tired to start over.  I don't know why it crashed, but it did it very suddenly.  I guess it is ok, because once again, the weather did not exactly cooperate with the weather guy's day off yesterday and we did not take our adventure as planned.  Actually, I must be truthful, it only rained half the day, the other half of the day was in mostly sunny skies.  Still, I was planning on driving over an hour and a half to our destination and did not want to chance it and get rained out, so we stuck close by home yesterday.  The weather today was perfect, with clear blue skies and temps in the 50's, so we did get in our adventure in and I will have some shots to share with you from that.
    When it is not raining, the weather has been just awesome.  Temps in the 50's with dewpoints in the 30's and usually plenty of sunshine.  With the humidity levels so low, the visibility is excellent.  I love it up here when the air is so clear, I can see for miles and miles.  I would estimate the visibility to be at least 50 miles, possibly more.  The only place where the visibility was even greater was when I was living in Wyoming.  At times, I could see objects 100 miles away like a mountain range.  Well, the mountain ranges up here are not big enough to be seen 100 miles away, but up on top of Gas Plant Road the Huron Mountains were clearly visible off in the distance.  They are about 25 miles away as the crow flies and are almost never seen in the winter, except the occasional day when the snow is not flying.
    It seems that a lot of folks living outside of the Keweenaw are wondering how our colors are coming along and all I can say is - slowly.  I would say that most of the trees are a pale green or lime green and there are also "splashes" of the traditional autumn reds, oranges and yellows, but we still have a long way to go locally to reach peak.  On our trip into southern Ontonagon County, we did encounter areas where the colors are further along than in my neck of the woods.  The colors from about Mass City to just north of the Twin Lakes looked to be about 35-40% changed, where I would put them at less than 10% from Painesdale north.  I still think that this color season will be something to behold.  I am not sure why, but my gut just tells me that once they finally do change, they will be spectacular.  And you can be assured that I will be covering them fully.  This nice autumn weather has really given me the explorers bug and I have been busy breaking out the maps and looking for interesting places to go.  I have even ordered some mapping software for my laptop and I think I will be getting a GPS soon too, so that I will be able to explore areas that may not even have trails going to them, or at least trails that are on any maps.  The software allows you to instantly plot where you are on the USGS Quadrangle maps, so I can take the GPS and laptop along in the Blazer and know exactly where I am.  I may even throw them into a backpack and take them on foot in some cases.  I also hope to map some KSE routes. Now all I need to do is figure out which GPS would suit me best.  I am open to suggestions.  What I am looking for is the ability to upload data from the GPS to the laptop (something that I hear almost all GPS's do now days), as well as to be able to upload the map data from the laptop to the GPS.  I am also interested in one that is best suited for hiking.  Not one that is good with road maps or marine uses.  So anyone that wants to drop me an e mail or post something in Ask John as to their suggestions about a GPS for my purposes, I would be greatly appreciative.
    Well, back to the colors. This shot was taken up the Valley from me a few days ago.  As you can see, we do still have quite a way to go.  I would say at the earliest about 10 days away and probably at the latest about 18 days away.  So for those of you trying to plan a visit to the Keweenaw to catch the colors, I would say sometime in the October 7th to 14th time period.  Some areas will be sooner, but that time frame should be about the average for the area.  Yesterday, with the weather clearing in the afternoon, the hounds and I took off for some exploration.  It seems like there are places that we go to every year at the same relative time.  I did not realize this until I looked back at the past journals and saw that where we went yesterday, we also visited at nearly the same time last year and the year before.  It is neat to look back at the past journals and read about what I was doing.  I hope I can keep this up for years to come and have years and years of journal entries to go back and read.  So where did we go yesterday?  To the top of the Cliff Range near Phoenix.  Here is a birds eye view of the forest and colors, or lack there of, in Keweenaw County.  Anyone that has traveled on HWY. 41 through Phoenix has seen the beautiful Church on the north side of the road.  It is one of those places that is just as picturesque as can be at anytime of the day and anytime of the year.  One of my favorite shots is of the church all lit up in the middle of winter, draped in feet of snow.  Well, no snow yet, but here is a view that I bet few have seen before.  I sure do love my camera's zoom!
    Last year on our travels to the Cliff Range I stopped to snap a shot of the west branch of the Eagle River running at the foot of the Cliff Range and here is what it looked like yesterday.  I will try and make that one of my stops when the hills of the Cliff Range are ablaze in autumn color.  No sooner did I snap that shot that Burt and Baileys decided to jump in for a swim.  Like I say - You can lead a Lab to water, but you can't keep them out of it!
    Today started out with very thick fog and even some frost in areas.  I did not have any frost and I do not know what the temp was in the valley, but the airport dropped to 33 degrees for the coldest morning of the season so far.  We have yet to have a hard freeze up here, the latest that has occurred since I moved up here, but I am not worried.  I see no connection between the date of first frost and the winter to follow.  Actually, if the pattern we are currently in occurs this winter, it will be a good winter.  f course, that is still a few months away.  However, I realized a few days ago that in just two months, the start of sledding season will be upon us.  Not that we usually have enough snow to ride in on December 1st, but if we do, the trails will be groomed and the season will be going.  It is really hard to think that the riding season is so close.  Every year I gain more and more patience.  My first year I was looking for the first flakes as soon as Labor Day came, whereas this year I have really not paid too much attention to when we might see them.  Places in northern MN saw flakes a few days ago, but I really do not see any chance for us in the next week to ten days.  No biggie.
    Once the fog burned off this morning, the hounds and I piled into the car and headed south.  A few years ago, I read in Dan Urbanski's Wilderness Journal about his exploration of the Norwich Bluff and noted it as a place I would like to explore someday.  That someday came today.  I called Dan a week or so ago and asked if he would like to join us, but he had to decline as this is a very busy time of the year for him, but he was gracious enough to supply me with a map and instructions on what to see in the area.  I was very glad that he did that, or we might not have seen much of what we saw today.  We had never been there before and I really would not likely have gone down trails we went if Dan had not told me what was to see down them.  The fire road up to the top of the bluff was closed to vehicles, so we had to park at the base and hike up to the top of the bluff.  That was not too much of a problem, as the road was only about 2 miles long and had only a gentle slope up to the top of the bluff.  There were a few puddles to jump over or navigate around, with all the rain we have had in the past 4 weeks, but again, it was not enough to keep the hounds and I from pressing on.  Here is a shot of Burt on the fire road up to the top of the Bluff.
    After about 45 minutes of walking the fire road, we made it to the top.  There was a foundation left from an old fire tower and another benchmark.  I sure wish that one of those old fire towers were still around, the view from them sure must have been great.  Of course, that was their purpose, to provide a great view!  Anyway, there was mining that went on at the Norwich Bluff in the 1850's and there is still an entrance to one of the mines up near the top.  It was flooded, so we could not go in.  Darn.  Actually, if it were not flooded, we still would not have gone in.  I am not that fond of going underground.  I am not claustrophobic, but do not like to be in caves and stuff like that.  I did go into the Delaware mine and found it very interesting and was not too uneasy being in it, but something like we saw up on the bluff I would take a pass at.
    The main purpose of the hike to the top of the bluff was to take in the sights from the top.  There was not any view from where the base of the fire tower was, but thanks to Dan's advice, we followed a footpath and were treated with a nice overlook of the Matchwood Plain several hundred feet below.  The footpath we were on is actually a segment of the North Country Trail.  That is a hiking trail that stretches from New York to North Dakota.  I have been on the trail near Victoria Reservoir and I saw a sign near the bluff that indicated the Reservoir was about 10 miles away.  I think it would be fun to hike that section someday.  I would need an accomplice, so that we could park one car at Victoria and then drive on to the bluff and hike back to the car at Victoria.  This would probably be the best time of the year to go as well, temps cool enough for comfort, but not too cold and no bugs!  The trail is also very well marked with blue blazes are on trees every 100 feet or so.  The trail also follows the ridge line of the bluff and there were several more overlooks along it.  From this one you are looking west, back towards where we came from.  The rock outcropping on the right is where the first overlook shot was taken from.  The hills off in the distance are the Bergland Mountains just to the north of Lake Gogebic.  Very pretty country.
    We reached the third overlook and our last for the day in about another 15 minute walk.  There was a little bit of shade near the overlook, so the hounds and I stopped to rest for a bit and take in the view.  I did manage to get myself up from our shady resting spot and over to the edge of that overlook to snap a shot looking east towards Victoria Revision and the Ontonagon River Valley.  That would also have been a really neat place to have a picnic.  Next time.
    So all in all, it was a very successful day.  The hounds and I are pretty worn out from our hiking.  I would guess that we hiked 7-8 miles today.  Not a ton, but still a respectable distance, seeing as though there were some changes of elevation involved.  I talk about the the changes in color in the trees getting underway, but that is not all that will be changing in the next several weeks.  The preparation for winter will be taking place.  Things like bush protectors will be going up as we get towards the end of October.  Plows will be going on some trucks or at least put out to where they cane be hooked up easily.  Snow throwers will be getting tuned up and most Christmas lights will be put up before Halloween arrives.  That's just the way things go up here.  Wait too long before getting ready for winter and you will be sorry.  Last year and my first year up here were late arrivals, but it is not unheard of to have snow fall at Halloween and then have deep snow by the second week of November and have it only get deeper.  But for now, I guess a few more rounds of golf are in the offing and lots of exploring.  Stay tuned!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
September 22-
    I have some good news, after a bit of a picture drought, I have plenty to share with you tonight, over twenty.  Now, the bad news is that I am wondering if I have the energy to say all that I want to say and even remember to say all I want to say.  The adventure that the hounds and I went on to get most of the pictures today has really worn us all out.  Right now Burt and Baileys are sound asleep by the fire.  I think that it would actually take the house to start on fire in order for them to move.  I suppose that if a squirrel were to find it's way into the house the dogs would spring to life as well, but the three of us are a trio of exhausted explorers.
    As mentioned in the last entry, I said that I was taking a couple of days off and was planning on doing some exploring at places I have not been to yet.  Well, the weather did not cooperate with the weather man's days off.  What do you suppose the odds are that the first back to back rain days in about 5 months occurred on the exact two days that I took off?  It was just amazing, it rained almost all day Thursday and Friday.  There were enough breaks that the dogs and I could sneak out and get in a few walks, but I did not chance going very far from home and we mainly stuck to either the snowmobile trails or the school forest.  Then yesterday I had the final golf tournament of the season to play in, so today was the day that we did our exploring.  Today was not totally dry either, we had a bit of a lake effect event going on.  Not snow, but rain, but it was still great to see the lake machine fired up again.
    The leaves up here continue to change very slowly.  There are some with a little bit of red, but for the most part, the color could best be described as a lime green.  Here's a shot of the snowmobile trail.  Notice the puddles?  Lots of rain up here late last week.  I guess the good news is that there is no risk of a forest fire.  Campers and hunters can go into the woods and not worry about either causing a fire, or getting caught in one.  My grass is still growing at a summertime clip.  I have to cut it about every 4-5 days.  Hopefully with the cooler temps we are in now, the grass will start to slow it's growing pace.  If we are going to have another wet autumn, then I hope that it at least gets cold by the end of November, so we can freeze things up.  We certainly do not need a repeat of the mud bowl that we had at the beginning of last snowmobile season.  It did not impact me that much, as I just stayed off the DNR trails and took the bush, but what a mess for those that had to ride through it.  Pray for cold.
   Now onto our adventure of today.  We went down into southern Houghton County to explore the area around Prickett Dam.  Prickett Dam is on the Sturgeon River and forms Prickett Lake.  The dam is owned by Wisconsin Power.  I did not see any power plant at the dam and there was no fume like there is at Victoria Dam, but I suppose that the power company owns the dam for its potential to generate power, or maybe it used to generate power and does not anymore.  At any rate, it did not look like it was generating any power now.  Walking along the shores of the lake, I really had wished that I had a boat.  It would be so much fun to put in and explore the lake.  I would also love to explore Victoria Reservoir by boat.  Both bodies of water have no development on them (at least for now) and it would be neat to go along a lake that has not one single building on it.  Victoria Reservoir actually has only one way down to it and Prickett Lake had only two.  Since we had already seen one end of the lake, the hounds and I did not venture down the other road to the lake where the boat launch was, instead we headed to our next destination, Silver Mountain.
    Silver Mountain is a 1300 ft hill at the south end of Prickett Lake.  I am not sure of the elevation of the Lake, but it seemed like once we were on the top of Silver Mountain we were at least 500 feet above most of the rest of the terrain, including the lake.  On the maps I had, it indicated a lookout tower on the top of Silver Mountain, but when we got to the top, there was no tower.  There were several overlooks on the top of Silver Mountain, since there was no clear peak.  One of the overlooks gave a good view of the valley carved out by the Silver River.  That same spot also provided a 160 degree panorama of the land to the south.  In that panorama, the Silver River Valley is on the right and the Sturgeon River Valley is on the left.  We did a little more exploring and did come across a USGS Benchmark.  If I remember correctly, the benchmark had a elevation of 1302 feet.  The benchmark was not out in the middle of nowhere.  It was actually at the base of where the lookout tower used to be.  Here's a shot of Baileys standing over the benchmark, located right by one of the old foundation elements for the tower.  The tower was torn down in 1971 because it had become unsafe and was no longer in need with the advent of other fire monitoring methods.  Imagine being up there all day and night, looking for a fire.  Beautiful view, but I would imagine it would get pretty lonely.  On the way back down, we took the more traveled way and that provided us with some stairs to go down.  I was just bouncing my way down the stairs, thinking nothing of it and I looked back to see two dogs, moving very cautiously, almost crawling down the stair.  The stairs were pretty steep and also pretty small and were up off the ground about 100 feet at times, making the dogs feel a little uncertain as they headed down.  It was funny enough that I decided to capture the moment for you all.  I think that they would much rather have gone down the natural way, without the steps!  We all made it down safe and sound and climbed back into the Blazer to try and get to our third destination.
    I say try and get to our third destination as I had never been there before and the maps I had were rather unclear on if there was a road or trail leading to it.  Where I wanted to go was the Sturgeon Falls and the Sturgeon River Gorge.  On the maps I had it looked like they were pretty close to each other, possibly in the same spot.  Driving down the road we were getting near the spot where the road would be going by the falls and gorge and we passed a little trail marked with a National Forest marker and so I thought that we would head down it and see where it went.  It ended up heading out to the river, but then seemed to stop when it got to the edge of the valley.  I was beginning to wonder if we would be able to see the falls and gorge, but was not bothered by the prospect of not seeing them, as it had already been a pretty successful trip and even the trail we were hiking down was taking us through some pretty neat forest.  We happened along some pretty old red pines.  I guessed that they were well over a century old, because their trunks were over 2 feet in diameter at the base.  In the school forest, there are some red pines that are 50 years old and their trunks at only about 10-12 inches in diameter at the base.  I know that may not have been the most exciting thing for you all to experience over the net, but for me it was pretty neat.  To think that we were just walking along this nameless trail and happen along some 100 year old+ trees.  Especially since about all of the UP and northern WI was clear cut 70 to 100 years ago.  These trees likely escaped that clear cutting for some reason.
    We walked back to the Blazer and headed down the road in hopes of finding the trail to the falls and gorge.  Soon we came across a large sign that said: "Parking for Sturgeon River Falls Access Trail" and pointed to the left.  Across the street from the lot was the foot path to the falls and gorge.  There were a few cars at the lot, the first cars we had seen in over an hour and the last cars we had seen since pulling off HWY. 38 onto the Prickett Lake Road.  The footpath to the falls was well worn and was not hard to follow or hike.  There were a couple of options to take, but it was clear what they were.  The main trail eased it's way down the side of the steep valley down to the river and the other options were just trails that cut the switchbacks and basically headed straight down the hillside.  We pretty much stuck to the main trail and took the last switchback cut when it was clear we were nearing the valley floor. The footpath then followed the valley floor for about a half mile and soon we could hear the unmistaken roar of a waterfall.  I am not sure if it was the roar of the falls or the smell of the spray but the hounds picked up their pace as we got close.  After about another 100 yards of hiking the trail we were rewarded with a view of the falls.
    The Sturgeon River is one of the biggest rivers in the western UP, actually, it is probably one of the biggest rivers in the entire UP.  That is one reason why I really was hoping to be able see the falls, because I knew that the high volume of water going over them would likely create a pretty neat waterfall. And it was.  It was probably about a 20 foot drop which was not that dramatic, but the volume of water was high and it was a dramatic set of falls.  As we got to the water just below the falls, a couple of guys were just getting ready to take their canoe out onto the river. They had portaged the falls and were heading back onto the river to follow it downstream.  Perhaps to Prickett Lake.  There was a little footpath that followed the river, so the hounds and I decided to follow it to see where it would lead.  This footpath was much less traveled, with downed trees (Baileys's favorites) blocking the trail in spots and some tricky footing in others.  It did provide a different view of the falls so I snapped another shot of them of you all.  The footpath did lead us to a reward (most of them do).  It lead us to the gorge.  The gorge was formed by the river cutting a couple of 100 foot cliffs in the sandstone.  In that last shot you can see the canoeists on the left side of the bank scouting out a set of rapids.  They also lend a bit of perspective to the height of the cliffs.
    As mentioned earlier in this entry, today was our first lake effect event of the season.  For the most part our travels down at the Lake, Mountain and falls were without incident.  Most of the precip was falling further to the north, but on our way back from the gorge, we got into a little rain shower and actually had the first frozen precip of the season fall for a period.  It was not flakes of snow, but graupel, or sleet.  That is when a snowflake partially melts and then refreezes to form an ice pellet similar to hail, only the process of formation is different.  At any rate, here is the first frozen precip of the 2002/2003 UP season!  They were the tiny white balls on the ground.
    We hiked back to the falls and actually upstream of them a little bit.  Here's a shot of the river just before it heads over the falls.  A fairly respectable fall was out there and I wonder of the guys in the canoe went over it before getting of the river.  If so, I bet was a bit of a surprise!    I tried to get a shot of the falls from above, but it was just a little to dangerous to be heading out on the wet and slippery rocks.  A fall there could mean the end and I still have some stuff I want to accomplish in life so the hounds and I played it safe.  Here is a shot from a safe vantage point.
    After the falls hike we piled back into the Blazer, pretty worn out from all of our activity, but when we came across a sign pointing out the "Bears Den Overlook" I could just not resist.  So again we all piled out of the vehicle and headed down another footpath.  Thankfully it did not go to far before reaching the overlook and we were given a very pretty view up the Sturgeon River Valley.  Unfortunately the camera just does not give a good perspective of the vertical extent of the valley.  Here's a shot of the river below, giving a little better perspective on how high we were up.  I would estimate it to be about 500 feet.  I actually have a wintertime shot taken in the same spot as that last one, it is in the guest shots, gallery 5, under the name of "Big Bill".
    The last item of interest on the way home was the Baraga Plains.  It is an area of sandy soil that supports only the hardiest of vegetation.  Some pines, grass, ferns and a few other weed type vegetation is all that can grow out there.  Reminded me a lot of the vegetation out in the high plateau country of Wyoming.  It was amazing to me how fast we went from the hardwood forest near the river to the sparse vegetation of the Plains.  It seemed to happen in a matter of a few hundred feet.  Then, almost as quickly as we entered the vegetation of the Plains, we entered back into the vegetation of the hardwood forest about a mile or two south of the old logging village of Alberta.  I was going to go to Alberta and take a few shots of the old Ford Motor Company Sawmill and the pond across the highway, but it was getting late, I was hungry (no lunch) and I just felt like getting home to dinner and some dry cloths.  I did not ask them, but I had the feeling that the hounds were fine with a direct home route.  We made it home safe and sound and it was a very successful adventure.  The weather looks pretty good for next Thursday and Friday for our next adventure.  With the cooler temps, I can feel some more explorations coming on.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
September 18-
    Well, tonight is like a Friday night for me.  I am taking my first non-holiday, non hospitalized vacation from work in over 3 years.  Actually, the last time I took a day off that was not given to me was when I came up here in February of 1999 to look for my home.  At that time, I took 2 days off to come up here and look for homes, plus get in an afternoon ride with Jack, the owner of Dan's Polaris.  I am not taking a week off, just Thursday and Friday this week and Thursday and Friday next week.  That will give me two long weekends.  Plus, I will not be totally free from work.  I will be monitoring things just to make sure that a weather event does not pop up that would make my customers need my services.  Even so, It will be nice to be able to sleep in for more than 3 days in a row.  I think that I have not been able to do that for a long time.  Even when I took the days off to come up here, I woke up early, especially to get up here.  I woke up at about 4:30 am, so that I could get up here in time for the afternoon ride.  Anyway, it will be nice to have some days off and I plan to do some exploring of some places I have yet to go to ever.  I have heard about them and done some research on them with maps and look forward to seeing them.  Now if the weather would only cooperate!  It looks to rain off an on tomorrow, so I think that site number one will get visited Friday and site number 2 will get visited next week.
    Speaking of the weather, we have been more like summer up here than fall.  Temps have been 10-15 degrees above average.  Normally this would make me uncomfortable and complain of the weather, but since our average high for this time of the year is 63, the temps have only been in the 73-78 degree range.  With low humidity and night time temps dropping into the 40's and 50's, I am not complaining at all.  I am actually enjoying things completely.  We have been able to go into the woods, or beach or anything in between.  Today was the beach because it was a tiny bit humid and when we headed out for the afternoon adventures it was sunny out.  By the time we got to the beach it was cloudy out and almost a bit chilly, with temps by the big lake only in the mid 60's, but we survived just fine.  The forecast looks to almost bypass autumn up here, with summer going almost to winter.  I say almost because it almost looks like it will snow.  The conditions will be getting very close and some areas away from the lake may even see some flakes by Saturday night or early Sunday, but for those of us close enough to the lake, it looks like the big lake will keep us too warm.  We'll just see some lake effect rain showers.  But it is gonna get cold, cold enough to crank on the heat, cold enough to build a fire and cold enough to bundle up when we go outside.  That's autumn in the Keweenaw.  So with this forecast on hand, I have celebrated by taking the air conditioners out of the windows and put them in storage for the next 9 months.  I could have actually taken them out at the beginning of last week, as I have not needed them since then, but decided to be safe rather than sorry.  But now they are out and I am seriously considering putting the flannel sheets on the bed.  Monday morning I almost froze when the house dropped into the 50's because all the windows were open.  I decided to be defiant and not turn the heat on.  My hands were actually cold while I was doing my work that morning.  So I'm a little weird, who isn't?
    I sure hope that it also gets cold enough to eliminate our misquito crop.  I just heard on the news today that the first dog has died from West Nile disease.  Up until now, it was thought that dogs were immune from the disease.  Not so.  I guess it is a good thing to know, so that I can try and avoid exposing the dogs to any misquitos, but now I will also worry when ever I see one flying around them.  I sure hope that they come up with a vaccine soon.  There is one for horses, so hopefully dogs will not be too far behind.  Humans too.  There have not been any reported cases here in Houghton or Keweenaw Counties, but Ontonagon County has had a case reported in a dead crow.  So, hopefully it will get cold enough to take care of the misquitos for this season.
    Yesterday I played golf in what is called the Greenskeeper's Revenge.  It's your basic two man scramble, with a twist.  The greenskeeper puts the holes in the most difficult places on the green and sometimes not even on the green.  The pin on number 4 was actually on the practice green, right in the middle of the hill between the two tiers.  The first time around Al nailed a 20 footer on the first attempt, the second time around my partner and I each had 6 tries at making the put and ended up having to take a 10, the limit for each hole.  The other team we were playing with also had to take a 10.  Some of the tees were not even on the tee boxes, but were in the flower planters behind the tee boxes.  It sure makes the course difficult in those conditions.  Even so, we managed to birdie a few holes and ended up with scores in the mid 40's.  This Saturday we have to play in another tournament.  The last one of the season.  Looks like we'll be shooting in the 40's again.  Temperatures that is.  The temps up here look to be in the 40's, with some rain showers and northwest winds of about 20-30 mph.  Our first round of golf was played in temps in the 40's this April and it looks like the seasons finale will be played in similar conditions.  Fitting for a season of golf in the Keweenaw I guess.  But I am sure going to dress warm!
    The trees up here have not changed much at all.  I am not one to easily say that the colors will be early or late in any particular year, but it is hard to see how we will go from the level of color we have right now to peak colors in about 2 weeks.  In the last entry I said that there were a lot of trees with a little color in them and things have not changed much at all since then.  That was 5 days ago.  I have seen the trees change quickly up here, but they will sure have to change very quickly in order make the peak which would normally occurs at about the 4th to 6th of October.  It's gonna be close, that is for sure!
    Well, I guess that does it for another day.  I have been bringing the camera along on our adventures, but we have not seen anything that I have not already taken shot of.  I am sure that I will have shots of my adventures this long weekend I am taking and then again the next weekend.  Who knows, maybe even some snow shots!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
September 14-
    Been a busy boy lately.  Some by choice and fun and some not by choice and not fun.  The fun part was that my older brother came up with his two dogs to visit.  He arrived Tuesday evening and left Friday morning.  We were blessed with great weather to go out and about, exploring the Keweenaw.  The not fun part came Wednesday evening, when my hard drive was not responding on my primary computer.  It is amazing how much of my life is on that little device.  All my e mail addresses, all my files needed for work, a lot of other important information.  All gone, or so I thought.  I tried to reboot the machine several times and each time it could not read the hard drive, so Thursday morning, while I was working (using one of my backup computers), my brother brought my broken machine into the computer guys so that they could try to fix it.  Thankfully it looks like all that was wrong was a loose cable.  I suppose I should have checked that, but I did not see why that would be the case, as the computer had not been moved immediately before it went out.  Anyway, I was very grateful that the hard drive was not fried.  I had that happen 2 years ago and it was not fun.  It has made me more serious about finally backing up my essential files!  I have not yet done it, but plan to tomorrow.  The website would not be lost, as it is on a server and they backup that data as well.  Although I suppose it would not hurt to do a backup of the website every week or month.
    Well, back to the fun stuff.  I was at a bit of a loss as where to take my brother.  He has been up several other times and we have seen a lot of things.  He's been to Mountains Baldy and Bohemia, to most of the beaches and lots of the falls.  So I broke out the map of the Keweenaw and looked hard for some places to take him that he had never been to.  I came up with the upper falls of the Montreal River.  He had seen the lower falls, but never the upper falls.  Plus, I had actually never seen the upper falls either, so it would be a fun adventure for me too.  I decided to do that Wednesday because the weather that day would be better for walking in the woods, temps in the 60's and sunshine.  Thursday was suppose to be warmer and I thought that might be a good day to walk the beach so that the dogs would be able to cool off.
    So Wednesday afternoon we all piled into the Blazer and headed up north to the Smith Fisheries and then up to the mouth of the Montreal.  I did not take any pictures of that, figuring that the many I already have as well as the video from earlier this summer would do.  As mentioned, I had never been to the upper falls and had not really explored much beyond the lower falls.  I knew the approximate location of the upper falls and also figured that if we stuck close to the river itself, we would not miss it.  There is a little foot path that heads up stream and we followed that.  About a quarter mile up stream we came to a large pool that was in the river.  It must have been about an acre at least in size and I am not sure how deep, but deep enough for all the dogs to get some swimming in. It's really neat to go places that I have never been to and come across unique features such as this pool.  I bet this is a pretty good fishing hole in the spring!  Here is a shot looking up stream at where the river dumps into the pool.
    We kept on following the footpath that ran along the river and we could tell that the further up the river the less traffic the footpath saw, as it became more and more grown in and there were also a lot of fallen trees across the path that had to be crossed.  Poor Baileys, with her hip problems, getting over the fallen logs is really hard.  She can walk without much problems and even can run for short periods of time without much problems, but jumping is really quite difficult.  I was having to lift her over many of the logs on the way up to the upper falls and I ended up having to lift her over all of them on the way down.  She was actually so sore that night that she could barely walk and was quite sore the next day.  She has recovered and is back to "normal", but I will be careful next time and help her over the logs rather than have her get so sore.  We did eventually make it to the upper falls.  They were pretty impressive, dropping about 30 feet through a narrow cut in a rock face.  That shot was taken a quite a distance from them and it's hard to gauge just how big they were, but we were about 45-50 feet above the pool that the falls dumped into.  The footpath works its way around the pool and eventually back to the rivers edge, just above the falls.  If one was brave enough to go over the falls in a kayak, this would be their view.
    I said the footpath gets a little grown in and covered with fallen trees, here is a section of the "trail" we were walking on to get to the upper falls.  Many of the trees are cedars and thus they do not rot once falling, so unless they are cut, they will be around for quite some time, creating an obstacle to get over.  On the trail from the Smith Fisheries to the lower falls, many of the fallen cedars have been cut and the walk is much easier.
    On Thursday, the weather forecast for warmer temps did pan out and we rose into the low 70's.  The dewpoint was only in the low 50's, but with the skies mostly clear, it was still warm enough that we and the dogs would be most comfortable at the beach.  Since my brother has seen Big Traverse, Calumet Waterworks, Bete Gris and Great Sand Bay, I decided to take him to Misery Bay.  That is one of my favorite beaches, with the only drawback being that it is also about 45 minutes away.  This is also one of my favorite times of the year to go there.  No bugs, no people, just lots of sand, water and sun.  Plus the temps are still very comfortable.  Here is a shot of my brother and the 4 dogs.  Going to the beach also worked out well, because Burt and my brother's two dogs could get all the exercise they wanted, fetching sticks and Baileys could rest.  She did do some swimming too, but also did quite a bit of laying in the sun.  My brother actually took about an hours walk down the beach with his dogs, while I laid in the sand with Burt and Beez.  It is amazing how sitting in the sand, just watching the waves wash up on the beach for an hour can remove just about every bit of stress you might have in your system.  I was able to completely forget about my hard drive problems as well as anything else that was bothering me at the moment and was able to just totally relax with my two best friends in the September sun.  I think that they enjoyed it too, as the three of just just laid there for a period of at least 20 minutes, although Burt could not stay still too long and did manage to find some things to do while we waited for my brother and his dogs to return.
    Today we were mostly cloudy and even had a few light rain showers at midday.  It did stop raining in time for us to head out to the school forest for our afternoon walk and I must say that it was a great afternoon for a walk in the woods.  It was one of the first times that I wore long pants and a jacket to walk in.  Temps were about 60 degrees and with the winds and overcast skies, shorts and a T-shirt would not have been enough.  The skies then cleared at about 5 pm and temps have dropped quickly once the sun set.  Right now our temp is 48 degrees and we could actually see some upper 30's tomorrow morning.  I doubt that I will need to turn on my heat, but I did close most of the windows in the house and will likely keep only the sliding glass door in my bedroom open just a bit so that the room in nice and cool for sleeping.  I am also debating on if I should take the air conditioners out of the windows.  It sure looks like we will not be needing them anymore.  I guess I will wait and see what the models say tomorrow morning and if it still looks like I will not need them, then they will come out.  That is sort of a symbolic event that signifies summer is officially over.
    We have not had a frost yet and actually most of our overnight temps have been in the 50's or 60's.  As a result, plants that would normally be changing colors are not.  By the past 2 Labor Day weekends, the ferns had been changing from green to yellow and then brown, whereas this year they are all still green.  Up until about 24 hours ago, it was hard to see any changing of the colors in the trees.  Then just today, I noticed more and more trees beginning to change.  They are not changing much, but before today it was hard to find a tree that had much in the way of color other than green in it and today it was hard to find too many trees that did not have some sort of a change in it's color, be it to pale green, yellow or orange.  In three weeks we will be at peak and driving to and from the school forest today really started to feel like autumn was upon us.  I bet there might even be a few wood furnaces cranked up tomorrow morning on our morning walk.  It will be rather invigorating to have a chill in the air and smell the wood burning on our walk, I'm looking very forward to it!
    I suppose it chant be long before we see the first flakes fly as well.  For a while it looked like possibly the 25th through the 27th of this month might provide the opportunity for some flakes.  The models have backed off that idea a bit, but it is still a remote possibility.  Hard to believe that in a month, the woods will be bare, the chill in the air will be permanent and thoughts of playing in the snow will be creeping into my head more frequently.  This is really a great time of the year, full of excitement of things to come.  But now it's bed time.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
September 9-
    Not sure how long this one will be, as I do not have too much to say and I also am quite tired.  I made the mistake of staying up late to watch a program on the events after September 11th.  It was very good with interviews of many of the political entities involved in the actions we took in Afghanistan like all of the Presidents Cabinet members, Russia's President, Pakistan's President, the new Afghan President as well as many special forces that were in the thick of things in Afghanistan.  I finally turned it off at a little after 11 pm and did not even watch to the end, but that was plenty late enough for me.  Then with all the images of what I had just seen still spinning through my head, I tossed and turned and did not fall asleep until a little before midnight.  May not sound too late to all of you, but then I start work at about 4:45 in the morning, so less than 5 hours of sleep was not enough.  I have heard that you cannot "catch up" on sleep lost by getting more the next day, but I think I may have to disagree with the experts on that one and plan to prove them wrong tonight!
    Anyway, when I last left you, I was mentally and physically preparing me for the last heat wave of the season and it did hit.  Just as hard or maybe harder than was expected.  We did set two new record high temperature records with 90 on both Saturday and Sunday.  That was up at the airport, which enjoys the cooling effect of being about 600 feet higher that me here in Lake Linden and also the fact that it is usually just on the fringe of the lake breeze.  I recorded a 94 on Saturday and a 93 Sunday here in beautiful Lake Linden.  Marquette set records over the weekend and today as well.  In fact, their 93 today was not only a record for the day, but also an all time record for the month of September.  Never been hotter in Marquette in the month of September than it was today.
    Needless to say the hounds and I spent our afternoons near the big lake this weekend.  It was amazing how much cooler it was by the lake.  20 degrees on Saturday.  The thermometer in my Blazer (which does seem to do a pretty good job measuring the temps) read 94 when we headed off to the beach Saturday and when we got to the beach it was 74.  It also felt like it was 74 and we were able to stay out there under the sun for much of the afternoon.  The nice thing about these September heat waves is that it still cools down some at night.  Both Saturday and Sunday mornings were cool enough for the hounds and I to take our regular morning walk through the neighborhood.  We did take it fairly early, at about 9 am rather than the 10:30 like we do on work days, but it was still quite comfortable due to the cooling produced by the earlier sunset: 8:15 pm and later sunrise: 7:30 am.  I must say that I am enjoying trying to get to sleep when the skies are actually fairly dark.
    When I was not at the beach with the dogs, I spent much of my weekend in my basement wood working shop.  As part of my office relocation, I plan to do a lot of organizing of publications and office equipment and that required some furniture, so I have started building some of the office furniture I need like a storage curio and some bookcases.  That was some of the first real wood working I have done since I move up here and I was amazed to realize just how absorbed I get in it when I am doing it.  I completely lost track of time and even where I was.  I get so focused on the work I am doing.  Late yesterday, I thought about it and I realized that is one reason why I got into it so much when I lived in Chicago.  It allowed me to escape for a time and become absorbed in my wood working.  It also made me realize why I have not been nearly as active in the shop since moving up here as I was when I was living in Chicago.  Not much to escape from!  Quite the opposite actually.  The thought of going down into the basement to work on something is not nearly as attractive as walking in the woods, or on the beach or certainly not as attractive as snowmobiling through the bush or skiing through the woods.  I can see when I have my home on my property with the work shop in the pole barn at ground level, I will likely spend more time wood working.  I actually would like to get back into the business of building custom furniture for people, just like I was doing before I moved up here.  My dream scenario would be to make my living off of this website and woodworking.  Who knows?
    Other than the heat up here, there is not much to talk about.  I actually wish that I could take a picture of the heat and humidity to help me be more expressive about it, but that is not something that is too easily done.  The best I could come up with is a hazy shot of the Lake Superior shoreline looking from Tamarack Waterworks towards McLain State Park.  On a cooler and less humid day, the view of the hills would not be nearly as obscured.
    The trees have not changed much at all.  They will not likely change too much more until the end of September, then will make the explosion into full color in the first week of October.  The cold front that will be drawing our summer weather to a close is just upon us.  Here is a shot of the clouds associated with it off to the NW of us this afternoon.  The cooler air is actually lagging a bit behind the front itself, but the winds have come around to the west and there is some cloud cover.  I cannot wait to open up the windows and let the cool air in.  The AC's have been going since Friday, keeping the house comfortable, but it is just not the same as a fresh breeze through the windows.  I am excited to have the freedom of being able to go anywhere we want to on our afternoon walks.  It even looks like this weekend or early next week a jacket will not only be wanted, but will likely be a necessity, with temps only in the 50's for highs, or do I dare say 40's?!  There have even been some indications of the first flakes possible up here in the models.  It is way too far out to be confident in at all and the models usually do not hang onto the idea of a possible snow up here for too long, but we are getting closer and closer to the time when the flakes will fly.  Seems impossible to comprehend right now with temps in the upper 80's and a dewpoint higher than our average temperature for the day at 65, but it will come.  The crisp autumn days and cool evenings will be here very soon.  Guess I better bring some firewood into the house and give the oil company a call and get the tank topped off.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
September 5-
    I must apologize to everyone.  I forgot to wish you all a happy autumn in the last journal.  I know, I know, most folks go by the thought that autumn starts on or about the 21st of September, but I am not an astronomer, I am a meteorologist and we go by the premise that autumn starts September 1 and ends November 30th.  So happy autumn!  The past few days have felt a bit like autumn, or at least a waning summer.  Temps in the upper 60's Tuesday and Wednesday, with a dewpoint in the upper 40's to low 50's.  Not exactly crisp weather, but not hot and humid either.  Today it was cloudy and rainy for the am hours, then just cloudy the rest of the day.  Clouds at this time of the year up here means cool temps and I think we topped out near 70.  However, the dewpoint is on the rise, with it hovering in the upper 50's and low 60's right now.  It looks like Mother Nature will throw one more round of summer at us for tomorrow and the weekend.  It actually looks like she will get it about as hot and humid for a 4 day stretch as she can this time of the year.  I am not sure if records will be broke, but to be in the 80's for four day's in a row at this time of the year is quite a feat.  One day is not a big deal, I suppose we could hit the 80's for one day even as late as October, but that would only be for one day, out ahead of a cold front, with the strong southerly winds and compressional heating.  So it looks like our hot and humid summer will go out with a bang.  I am not too upset about it, as it does look like by Tuesday a front will be passing through and that will be it.  No more summer, at least for a prolonged period.
    Now I suppose there are those of you out there that are wondering how I can make such a statement.  How can I say that summer is over Tuesday?  Well, I suppose there is the chance it may not.  The forecast could change, but here are my reasons.  1) The front will be strong enough to send us into the 60's for highs and 40's for lows.  The temps a few days later do not look to warm all that much, maybe in the low 70's, but then cooler temps are seen to build in progressively and keep us in the 60's, maybe even the 50's or do I dare say 40's?  That takes us into the 3rd or 4th week or September and summer is definitely done up here by then.  Like I say, maybe a day of Indian Summer, but not legitimate summer.  So if the forecast holds, then 4 days of hot and humid, then bye, bye.  I sure am ready!
    I am ready for fall, not winter.  Not yet anyway.  I still have way too many chores do get done before the snow flies.  I have to build an even stronger bush protection system, build a new snow station, get my sled fixed up, get snow tires and a pair of crappy rims for the Blazer and either get my old snowthrower fixed or buy a new one.  No, fall is just fine with me right now.  Every year up here I am a little more patient for winter to arrive.  Notice I said patient for it to arrive, not less excited for it to come.  I bet I will always be excited for it to come, I am just learning to be more and more patient.  Last year I made it all the way until about the 5th or 6th of December and then when we lost what snow we hand and the forecast did not look promising, my patience ran out and I got depressed.  It did not last that long, and in a few days I found myself laughing at the lack of winter we were having in December.  Hopefully my patience will not be tested as much as it was last year, but I can say that my state of mind right now is much different that my first autumn up here.  That year I was dying for it to snow from about the first of September on.  I suppose it did not help to do that little climateological study and see that the earliest day for snow up here is actually September 7th.  My mind kept thinking that it was just around the corner.  It did come by early October, but seemed to take forever and then it was pretty much done for until the middle of December.
September 6-
    Well, I got a late start yesterday and was not able to finish things, so I will finish them today.  I guess I can even add a little to yesterday's discussion on the pending heat and humidity.  First, it looks like today will not be too bad.  The humidity has risen, but the temps will likely remain in the 70's.  However, the weekend does look to be hot and may even break the records for both Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday's record is 89 and Sunday's is 87.  We'll see.
    I have been bringing the camera along on my walks with the hounds, but we have not come across anything ultra interesting so I had not taken too many pictures.  Then I realized that for all of you reading this, they do not have to be ultra interesting in order for you to be interested in them.  I suppose that is the one pitfall about living up here is that like anything else, one does start to take some things for granted.  So I just decided to snap a few shots of things I saw on yesterday's walk down by the Calumet Waterworks.  This first shot is simply the road that the hounds and I were walking on.  It is my favorite road up here to walk on as it gets very little traffic.  Normally we will walk on the beaches or woods, but sometimes when it is wet we stick to the roads so that we do not get all wet and/or muddy.  Things were still a bit wet after yesterday mornings rains, so we stuck to the road.  Plus, if it gets too hot, we can always walk the beach back to the vehicle and the hounds can cool off in the big lake.  Yesterday it remained cool enough to walk on the road the whole time, so that is what we did.
    It has rained quite a bit up here in the past few weeks.  Other than greening up my lawn and making me have to cut it every 4 days, it has also made some of the smaller creeks start to run.  Many of these creeks only run during the thaw in the spring.  So it is kind of neat to see them running right now.  Besides my grass, the other plant up here are nice and green.  Certainly no threat of a forest fire up here.  Something I am thankful for, especially since I own some of the forest up here now.  Some of the green plants up here also are sporting late summer color.  While all of this greening up is going on, some of the early fall color is continuing to sprout up.  Actually, some of that early fall color has been going for about 10 days now.  It really has not increased much since then.  Our peak is still about a month away.  A month exactly, actually.  I have seen this commercial on the TV recently, I do not even know what it is for, but it shows some great autumn shots.  Watching that commercial, I can almost feel the autumn chill and smell the forest.  I love that smell, even though it is the smell of decomposing leaves.  Just something about it that brings a good feeling for me.  I suppose it could be the fact that I know what autumn leads to...The best time of the year.
    About the only other thing I have to mention is that I did make my first "improvement" to the property.  As mentioned, I picked about 2 gallons of blackberries last Monday and part of my planned uses for them were to plant them on my property.  The other evening, the hounds and I went out to the property and I planted about a gallon and a half out there.  Some I just spread on the ground and others I buried under the soil by an inch or so.  I sure hope they take.  I don't see why not, that is the way they spread naturally, so they should go to town.  I also found out that the wild blackberries do not provide berries in their first year, but do on the second and then die after that fruiting season.  So to have a crop that produces every year, I need to plant berries next year too.  That is if they take hold with this planting.  We also did a little more exploring, but the underbrush is still so thick that we did not go too far.  There were quite a few trees down with the winds of 3 weeks ago, so I may go at those this fall.  I know I do not want to do much to the land.  I would really like to have a home in as natural a woods as possible.  The thicker the better, if you ask me.
    So I guess that about does it for another journal entry.  I suppose the next time I write I will have endured the last heat and humidity of the season and will be looking forward to some comfortable temps.  It won't be long before the colors start to show up more and more and I am sure I will have some adventures and shots to share with you once my brother arrives to visit next week.  Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
September 2-
    Happy Labor Day everyone!  Feels more like the 4th of July if you ask me.  This is the first Labor Day since I moved up here that it has not been cool and damp.  We actually may be just a few hours away from that type of weather, but right now it is about 80 degrees out with a dewpoint of 65, the nasties.  It has actually been pretty warm for the past 5 days.  The only little bit of saving grace is that it cools off pretty well at night.  Most of the lows have been dropping into the 50's.  However, with the dewpoint not dropping much, every morning since last Wednesday we have awoken to thick fog.  The fog then burns off by about 9 or 10 and then skies are partly sunny.  We did have some great storms last night.  I went to dinner with Chris and Marlo to the Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor and mother nature sure put on a light show for us.  The nice thing was that there was no severe weather, just a lot of lightning and some heavy rain.  Then it stopped raining just long enough for us to get to the car.
    I have been busy all weekend moving my office.  I ran out of room in the one room I was in, so I took over the room that was serving as the guest room.  It is about twice the size and will allow for a little more freedom for me.  The walls were really starting to close in on me in the smaller room.  Of course, now my commute to work was doubled, going from 10 feet to 20 feet!  Now all I have to do is make some bookcases and some storage cabinets and my new office will be pretty organized.
    I went blackberry picking today and managed to pick about 2 gallons of berries in just over an hour.  It was prime picking, with tons of ripe berries and little in the way of berries that were not yet ripe.  I would say that in another few days, they will be done.  I should not have had breakfast before going out because I did not have much room for the berries.  With the rains last night, they were all freshly washed.  Of course I brought the hounds along and a friend.  The hounds just crack me up when they start eating the berries.  They actually do a pretty good job finding some of the better patches.  Sometimes I end up just following them around to the better picking spots.  We went to my secret spot and I think I could have picked about 10 gallons if I wanted to, there were so many.  I think that the way the weather went this year, the blackberries benefited the most.  I think that the late, cool and wet spring really benefits them.  Plus I think that the dry June and July did not hurt them, but the rains we had in August did help.  The other berries like blue, rasp and thimble were not nearly as plentiful this year.  Sort of worked out well for me as blackberries are my favorite.  I think I am going to take about half of what I picked and spread them in a few spots on my property to try and get some patches growing out there.  It would be neat to have some well established blackberry patches going by the time I move out there.  I figure I will just try and emulate the way mother nature would propagate the bushes by dropping the berries on the ground and letting them do their stuff.  I may help some by burying them a little, but I think that they will take hold just by having them hit the ground and then have the leaves cover them up.  We'll see.
    I played in a Moonlight Golf Scramble on Saturday.  They have that moonlight scramble every year and this year I decided to give it a try.  It ended up being a perfect night for it, with clear skies, but the temps holding in the upper 60's.  We ended up teeing off at about 10:15 and did not finish the 9 holes until about 12:15.  We used a special ball that was the same size of a regular ball and had the same dimple pattern, but was clear and had a little hole going all the way through it.  We then stuck a small glow stick in the hole and the ball would then glow in the dark.  It was actually very easy to follow the ball once it was hit.  They do not travel as far as a regular ball, but even a 200 yard hit is able to be followed.  You can use a flashlight to get to the ball and prepare to hit it, but then all lights have to be put out when you hit.  Hitting a golf ball in the pitch black is very weird.  I had some good shots and some not so good shots.  Putting was also a bit of a challenge, trying to figure out the breaks and such.  The flag sticks had glow sticks on them as well, and that is how you knew where to hit the ball.  Once on the green, then you took an extra glow ball and put it in the cup to light it up.  It was a shotgun start, meaning we all start at the same time, but on different holes.  Our first hole was the par 3, hole 6.  We ended up paring it, but it was all pretty much down hill from then.  Our score was about a 61 or something like that.  Not too bad, all things considered.
    So other than moving my entire office, playing night golf, watching storms roll through and picking two gallons of blackberries, the hounds and I have been laying pretty low this weekend.  We have gone to the beaches some.  It has been too warm for the woods.  I am really, really looking forward to some autumn like weather.  We will get a taste of it in about 3 hours that will last through tomorrow, but then look to warm up a bit beginning Wednesday and by Friday or Saturday, we could be back in the 80's with dewpoints in the mid to upper 60's.  It then looks like we could cool off by Sunday and that may be it for the summer like heat and humidity.  I really do hope so!  I am ready to don a jacket on my walks.  See my breath as we walk through the woods, with the leaves crunching underneath my feet.  I got a little bit of an adrenaline rush this morning as the one model that goes out to 16 days indicated that by about the 15h of September, we could actually see a little SNOW!  I tried to keep my emotions in check as things that far out in the forecast are really up for grabs.  However, it was hard for me to wait until the next run of that computer model came out so that I could check to see if the idea of snow for us on the 15th or 16th was repeated.  It was not and the run after that also did not indicate it.  So it looks like that was just a little head fake by the model.  I suppose that I really should not be looking for any kind of real chance for snow until we get deeper and deeper into September.  The earliest record of snow since the NWS started using their standardized recording methods was September 7th in 1956.  Only a trace was reported, so I suppose it is possible that some flakes may have even flown earlier than that date.  I bet next Saturday (the 6th) when we are in the 80's with a dewpoint in the mid 60's it will seem almost impossible that it could be snowing on that day.  Who knows, maybe the forecast for this Saturday will change and it will feel more like September than July.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
 
 
 
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