.

 
Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
Journal
April 25-
    Gonna sneak in one last journal before I head south.  I do have plans to do at least one journal while I am down south, so you will not be left without anything for the week I am gone.  Anyway, lots of signs of spring around here-  all the snow from my back yard is gone and most of the snow in the front yard is gone, I have some tulips popping up through the ground, I have seen tons of Canadian Geese heading north and the hounds are loosing fur by the handful!  I am not sure if my parents have ever seen the dogs in full shedding form, but if not, they are in for a big surprise!  Actually, Burt does not loose that much hair and what he has is short, so it is not much or a problem.  However, Baileys is a different story. She has lots of hair to loose and makes sure she looses as much as possible every spring.  I guess the good news for my folks is that Baileys will be spending at least 2 days at the hospital, maybe 3 and she will come home with one leg and hip fully shaved.  But I guess that is enough about how my dogs shed!
    Our weather up here has been easing into spring.  With the exception of the day or two we had two weeks ago, we have not poked into the 60's this month.  It seems like just when we start to get a bit of sunshine and warmer temps, an area of low pressure rolls through and brings us cold and damp weather again.  I'm a little surprised that we have lost as much snow as we have, but I guess the sun is pretty strong and it does not take all that warm of temperatures to melt things off.  Not all areas up here are snow free.  Yesterday the hounds and I decided to go to the north shore for our afternoon walk.  It was a mild day, with temps in the low 50's, but also lots of clouds.  We parked the car and walked to the lake shore first to check it out.  I was a little surprised to see all the ice gone from the shoreline, but even more surprised to still see some snow on the beach.  Actually, quite a bit of snow is still on the beach there and there are very few areas where there is no snow.  I suppose that right up along the lake there the temps are kept in check and that shoreline is shaded from the sun all morning and into the early afternoon as well.  Although, I think that is the most snow I have seen out there, this late, ever (or at least in the last 4 years).  Another place with some snow still in it was where the hounds and I took our afternoon walk today.  Today we went over to the Lake Linden sands and there was still about a foot of snow down in the grove of pines just above the camper area.  I am speculating that this snow still sticking around can be attributed to two things.  First, these trees basically sit at the edge of the sands and the rest of the sands is wide open, with no trees.  So the snow likely is blown across the sands and then hits the grove of trees and then is deposited as the winds slow down through the grove of trees.  Secondly, the trees themselves likely shade the snow and help preserve it.
    The third example of winter still trying to hang on is the Torch Lake.  Still pretty frozen, but is it trying to break up.  There are sections of open water and if I were a betting man, I would say that by the middle of next week, it will be totally open.  That will be good news for the areas fishermen and women.  I suppose that there are folks just chomping at the bit to get out and get a line wet, much the way I start to chomp at the bit to get out and play in the snow around Thanksgiving.  I'm getting excited for my own summertime activity and that is chasing the little white ball around the golf course.  I have not heard any news of when the meeting for the league will be.  It is not important that I go to the meeting, but I do need to make sure I let the powers that be know I am going to play this year and do not loose my slot in the league.  It will actually be a lot more enjoyable this season, with Nora here, I will not have to worry about getting back in time to feed and let the dogs out.  I actually have automatic feeders for them now, so feeding them is not an issue, but I would still have to worry about letting them out to do their business and with Nora here, I will not have to worry about that.  Don't worry, I have not made the assumption that Nora will do this for me, we have already talked about it.
    Not much else to share with you, I plan to start up the summer forecasts about a week after we get back from going down south, so that would put the start up date on or about the 12th of May.  I can say I have enjoyed my little break from providing the forecasts for the website.  It has allowed me to get a few more things done in the morning hours and just generally relax.  However, I am also getting ready and psyching myself up to start the summer forecasts up.  I was thinking about just providing two forecasts a week, one on Monday that would highlight things for the week ahead and then an update on Thursday that would highlight the weekend, but think I will continue to update the forecasts Monday Friday, but make the most dramatic changes on Monday and Thursday, with more subtle changes in the text on the other days.  I don't have any new items for this summer, I will still provide the precipitation forecast maps as well as wind direction and speed maps and then the text.
    The last bit of info I have to share with you is a shot of the Laurium Glacier.  It was taken yesterday.  Some folk's guesses have already gone by the wayside and I have a feeling that guesses earlier than the middle of May will also go by the wayside.  I would have to say that if your guess is towards the last week of May, you are in the running.  Of course, if we keep up with the cool temps and limited sunshine, then perhaps the early June guesses will take the prize.  I need to go through the list and set up a calendar with the guesses posted to it so I can be ready for the winner.
    I guess that will do it for now.  I need to go and take care of some things before we head south tomorrow.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
This business helps sponsor pasty.net
which helps to make johndee.com possible.
April 22-
    They say that time fly's when you are having fun, I suppose that's why the 9 days that Nora spent up here seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.  Even though the weather did not cooperate much with us, we had lots and lots of fun.  She is such a great person and we get along so amazingly well, just thinking about it makes me smile a big old smile.  We are on the home stretch now, just a little over a month and she will be here to stay.  So even though she has gone back south below the bridge, she did leave some things behind to remember her by.  At least 30 items, to be exact.  You see, she has an strong liking for Longaberger Baskets and left me with 30 of them- all of different shapes and sizes.  She did warn me about this passion she has for these things and I did not have any problem at all with them.  They are pretty neat actually and some are actually being put to good use already for such tasks as holding tissue boxes, the dogs toys and even the odds and ends that seem to accumulate on one of my kitchen counter tops.  I was going to take a picture of her, surrounded by all of the baskets, but they started to get put in the different locations and we did not feel like pulling them all back for the shot.  Anyway, I have been looking forward to her moving up so that the house could loose some of it's bachelor feel and even though the changes have been very minor so far, the house already has more of a touch of class and I like the changes.  Some of the most dramatic changes will likely be taking shape outside as well as inside as she is a big gardener and is already sketching out plans in her head for where planters can go and where some flower beds can be placed.
    As mentioned, the weather was not the best for her visit.  It could have been worse too, I suppose, but lots of rain some freezing rain and even sleet.  There were a few days when it did not rain or throw some other form of precip on us, but it was also pretty cold for most of her visit.  Things did not get much better after her departure.  Sunday it rained almost all day and was cold and then yesterday we had a rain/snow mix all day.  No accumulation here in Lake Linden, but I did spot white ground in the NCN cam for Ironwood and on my trip to Marquette yesterday there were spots in the upland region between L' Anse and Negaunee that were coated in white as well.  Today is the first totally sunny day we have had in over a week.  It's funny, I really hate the cold and damp weather we have in April.  So much so that it is about the only time of the year that I would not mind spending some time away from the Keweenaw.  Yet, the weather in April is not that different from the weather during the second two weeks of October and into the first two weeks of November, and I do not have a problem with the temps in the 40's and rain at that time of the year.  Just goes to show you that perspective is 9/10ths of happiness!
    Really not a whole lot going on up here once again.  With all the rain, the Traprock River reached flood stage yesterday morning.  It did not rise much above flood stage and did stay at flood stage very long and is already about a foot and a half below flood stage.  I was not able to tour much of the valley yesterday, as the hounds and I had to go to Marquette to see the vet.  However, I did drive over to where the Bootjack Road passes over the Traprock and snapped a shot of the swollen river on it's to the Torch Lake.  I love those names too; Bootjack Road, Traprock River-  don't know why, but they just seem fun to say!
    The snow is just about all gone from my front and back yards.  My back yard may actually be free of the white stuff by the end of the day, while the snow is a little deeper in my front yard (from the snow thrower) and may take a few more days to finally leave.  I could take down the bush protectors, as they are all free of snow, both from the top and the front, but I think I will wait until I get back from my trip south next week.  The hounds and I leave Saturday for southern WI to spend the week with my parents.  Baileys will be going in for her hip surgery next Monday (the 28th) and my parents live about an hour away from the vet we are taking her to at the University of WI in Madison.  I think the surgery will actually be done on Tuesday, but they want to see her for the examination on Monday and then she will spend the nigh there Monday and Tuesday at least.  The good thing is that I hear the recovery from the hip replacement surgery is very quick.  In fact, they say that the hard part about the recovery is keeping the dog quiet while the surgery and repairs can fully heal.  I guess there is almost no pain and all the dog wants to do is run and play because the pain they had from the bad hip is gone and there is no residual pain from the surgery.  So the angst I will be going through while she is away will be worth the life she will have after all is said and done.  I cannot wait to see her be able to run around again.
    As mentioned, the hounds and I took a trip to Marquette yesterday to see the vet.  All went well with that trip, it was just their annual checkup and vaccinations.  I have mentioned in the past that while it may seem a bit extreme to have to travel 2 hours to see the vet, I do not complain too much about the trip (except to Nora yesterday morning!).  The scenery changes quite a bit in that two hours and that helps to make the trip seem less than 2 hours.  At times the weather can be a bit of a challenge, that is why my initial trip slated for last Thursday was put off until yesterday.  Yesterdays weather also provided a bit of a challenge at times, but we made it safe and sound.  I have been wanting to bring a camera along on the one of my trips and show you some of the different scenery that I get to see along the way and yesterday I finally remembered to bring the cam, so the rest of the the journal will be about my trip to Marquette.  To see my trip back, just read the next paragraph or two in reverse!
    The trip starts out going through some very familiar territory for me, I travel down Hwy. 26 through Lake Linden, then Hubbell, Tamarack City, Mason, Dollar Bay, Ripley and eventually into Hancock and across the Bridge into Houghton.  I wanted to take a shot while crossing the bridge, but there was too much traffic to do that safely and did not want to take a shot of me getting into an accident while crossing the bridge, so you will just have to imagine that part.  I then travel through Houghton, past MI Tech and then down through Chassell.  Over the Sturgeon River, past the Sturgeon Sloghs and then up the Snake River hill into the "farmland" south of Chassell.  There are just a few areas in the UP and even less in the Keweenaw where farming is done with any significance and the area of Houghton County to the south of Chassell is one of those areas.  After driving through the farmland south of Chassell, the road encounters the waters of Lake Superior at the Keweenaw Bay.  It then follows the shoreline all the way south to Baraga and L' Anse.  Usually the view along this stretch of roadway is magnificent, with the blue waters of Keweenaw Bay in the foreground and the green hills of the Huron Mountains, including MI's highest peaks- Mt. Arvon and Mt. Curwood.  However, yesterday the mountains were socked in clouds and snow and the waters of Keweenaw Bay were reflecting the steel gray skies above.  You could even see some of the flakes of snow in that last shot, but the roads were clear and the snow was not even accumulating on the grassy surfaces.
    After passing through Baraga and then L' Anse, I leave the waters of Keweenaw Bay behind me and the road starts a gradual incline.  It is a pretty long incline, lasting about 8-10 miles and climbing about 800-900 feet in that distance.  It is at this time of the drive that things can get interesting, weather wise, especially on day's like yesterday, when the temps are just enough above freezing to be melting the snows at the lower elevations.  Near the top of the incline is the historical village of Alberta.  It is where Henry Ford had a sawmill that would process the wood that went into his automobiles.  The sawmill is still there and is now a museum, but the only persons living there now are seasonal residents that are part of that complex as well as seasonal workers that do summer work for the state.  I like think of Alberta as the gateway to the uplands of the central UP.  Much of the elevation in this area is 1400-1600 feet above mean sea level and higher than most other spots in the UP.  As mentioned, this is where the weather can get interesting on days like yesterday.  The increase in elevation leads to a decrease in temperature and also an increase in the precipitation.  The net result can be heavier snowfall than is occurring in the lower elevations.  Such was the case yesterday.  At times, it seemed like winter was returning, with several inches of snow on the ground.  Thankfully the roads remained wet and did not get slick.  Interestingly enough, this area does not get as much snow as the Keweenaw does in most winters.  It sits downwind of the Keweenaw and thus in the Keweenaw's snow shadow.  It sure would be a different story if the Keweenaw was not there.  I would imagine that seasonal snowfall totals in this area and even a little further to the north and closer to the lake would be in the 300-400" range, with the LES being dumped on it rather than the Keweenaw.
    About 10-15 miles past Alberta, but still in the uplands, I come to the Three Lakes area.  It is actually part of a larger area of the uplands where not all of the water from the snow melt and warm season rain finds it's way to the Big Lake via a stream or river.  Some of that water is trapped in lakes and swamps.  If it were not for the more dramatic changes in elevation in the forms of small mountains or large hills, this area would remind me a lot of northern WI, with all of it's small lakes.  One of the bigger lakes in the region is Michigamme.  Some day I would love to get out on that lake on a boat.  I bet the view from the water is really neat, with the topography jutting up pretty dramatically where the lake meets dry land.  The view from land is pretty good too, but not that good yesterday!  Getting to Lake Michigamme also means that I am closing in on my planned destination, only about 20-25 more miles to the western fringes of Marquette and the vet's office.  The lake itself is long and narrow and it's length is oriented in the same east/west direction I am traveling, so by the time I am done passing by it, I am even closer.  So close, that in just a bit more travel time, the relatively unspoiled country side I have been driving through changes to the more urban look provided by Ishpeming and then Negaunee.  Ishpeming is home to the National Ski Hall of Fame and Negaunee is home to the Worlds Largest Golf Ball Stuck on a Tower.  Actually, that is the dome housing the NWS dopplar radar.  Shortly after passing the radar dome, it is down the hill a bit, past the Menards, Super Walmart and then to the "Doc's".  After the Doc's, I made my traditional stop at the Menards.  I have come to the conclusion that it is a good thing we do not have one of those, or a Home Depot or Lowes up here, I would be broke.  I did pretty good at Menards yesterday, spending less money than I could have, but it was tempting!
    So that is the trip to Marquette from Lake Linden and also the last of my material for this journal.  I will try and get out one last journal before I travel south, but no guarantees.  However, I have already thought of a subject for when I am away.  Over a year ago, I was asked if I could do a journal that highlights my experience of moving up and I have actually been jotting down some notes for that topic and will write that journal while I am at my parents.  That way we will not go too long without a journal.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 17-
    I think I should get brownie points for putting out a journal tonight.  As you all know, Nora is here with me, so there are certainly other things I could be doing right now.  Not that I want you all to feel bad about me writing a journal, but I'm sure you can understand where I'm coming from.  We have had an interesting weather day today.  When I woke up there was some freezing rain falling and a light glaze on everything.  As the day progressed, the precipitation only increased in its intensity and also changed over to primarily sleet.  As I look out the window, the ground is all white again, but this time with sleet not snow.  Schools were canceled today due to the nasty conditions.  It actually caught most of us by surprise, even the road crews were not out in full force this morning and I think that is one of the big reasons why they decided to not have school today, as the roads were in pretty bad shape early this morning.  I certainly do not mean to be critical of the road crews, they do a fabulous job up here.  It's probably as much my fault as anyone's, as the forecast did not call for any of the precip to start falling until about midday today.  But instead it came a little earlier and caught most of us offguard and the road crews had to play a little catch up, which they did and even with the freezing rain and sleet that we have had all day, the roads are in pretty decent shape.  I actually had plans to go to Marquette today, it's time for the dog's annual checkup and that is where I take them.  However, I rescheduled the appointment so that we would not have to travel in the nasty conditions.  I heard there was a bad accident on Highway 41 somewhere between Covington and Three Lakes.  It involved three semi tractor trailers and a Greyhound bus, but I also heard that there were no serious injuries, so that is very good news.  I'm sure there were many other accidents up here, in fact on the way down to Houghton this afternoon, I saw a freshly damaged guardrail.
    Nora and I have been keeping pretty busy, thankfully with fun stuff and not work.  We got all the work out of the way this past weekend, so now we can play.  Most of our activities have involved waterfalls, tis this season.  I mentioned in the last journal that Monday was so warm, that we went to the beach.  On Tuesday it cooled off considerably and was only in the forties.  So Nora, the hounds and I went up into the woods to check out the Hungarian Falls.  The water levels on the creeks and rivers up here are pretty high, but not as high as its been in the previous years.  Even so, the middle falls of the Hungarian River were still very pretty.  The lower falls are actually the most dramatic, but also the hardest to get a good picture of.  The best vantage point would be had by rappelling down the side of the gorge just below the falls, but I was without my rappelling equipment Tuesday so you have to look through the trees to see the falls.  Another unique vantage point is achieved by hiking up the bottom of the River Valley and then looking up from the very bottom of the falls. However, Bailey's is not really up to doing any serious hiking and Nora did not have good hiking boots with her, so we stuck to the regular trails.  We did not even hike up to the Upper Falls, we sort of got on the path that runs down the upper edge of the gorge from the Lower Falls and followed that all the way down to the old railroad grade and then back down to the truck.
    Yesterday, Nora, the hounds and I went up north into Keweenaw County and explored a little bit of the Gratiot River.  It too was running pretty good.  The place where we park and walk in to get to the river does not really take us to the most dramatic falls on this river. But, it is beautiful none the less.  The land is so unspoiled back there and the river just seems to carve out such as scenic path through the woods, that you don't need any big waterfalls or even a tremendous amount of water flowing down the river to make it a neat spot to be at any time of the year.  There are a few spots where the river takes a few drops, and the water was falling over those spots. But, by far the most dramatic drops are further downstream, but again with Bailey's and her hip, I didn't want to go too far.  In less than two weeks Baileys' will have a new hip and this summer we will be able to get back to some serious hiking.  After hiking back to the truck from the Gratiot River, we decided to take the long way home, via Eagle River and Eagle Harbor, that way we could get in a few more falls, namely the Eagle River Falls and Jacobs Creek Falls.  If we had more time I would have loved to have gone up to the Harbor and taken in the Manganese Falls and then swung by Lac La Belle to see the Haven Falls.  Plus, if the weather ever clears up maybe Nora the hounds and I will try to get in to see the Douglas Houghton falls.  I have a friend who owns land on the north side of the falls, so we can get in to see them that way. The other way is closed.  Maybe if the weather and time permits we can even get down to see the Sturgeon River Falls, but I seriously doubt that we will be able to make it there, as that is a long way off and the weather looks to be pretty nasty through most of the rest of Nora's stay here.
    Not much else going on up here, there was a little bit of excitement in the village Tuesday morning.  The guys from the village were just finishing up picking up the garbage when the roadway gave out underneath the truck.  It seems that a section of an old brick storm drain washed out and that undermined the dirt underneath the roadway, and the garbage truck fell into the large sinkhole.  Here is another image from the other side.  My thanks to Gus Linja for providing me with those shots.  They actually got the truck out pretty quickly and by the time I had gotten there in the afternoon, all that was left was the hole.
    I guess the last thing I have to share with you is a picture of a the Laurium Glacier.  Still pretty big. I think anyone with the guesses earlier than mid May will likely be disappointed.  I know my guess was actually May eighth.  That was made back at the end of March when we were going through a pretty serious thaw.  Judging by its size and the forecast I'd have to say it's not going to be that much smaller about a week from now and unless we get some really, really warm air, it might just outlast last year's final day.  The forecast is closed for this year so now all we have to do is wait.  I guess that will do it for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 14-
    Wow, it has been almost a week since I last put out a journal.  I can say with all honesty that I did have intentions of putting out a journal earlier, actually as early as last Friday, but I got a little surprise Friday evening.  Nora had sent me an envelope containing several smaller envelopes each with the date on them.  I was instructed I could open the first two after 5 p.m. on the date given on the front of the envelope.  The last two envelopes I could not open until I was told.  So on Friday I went about my normal business, taking the dogs for a walk on the Lake Linden sands, and then running a bunch of errands in Calumet, Hancock and Houghton.  I then got back about 5 PM and was just getting dinner ready when my phone rang and it was Nora, she was calling me on her cell phone as she most often does and told me it was time to open up the third envelope.  However I had to go into my office and be in front of the computer when I did so.  Inside the first two envelopes had been a little poem that she had wrote about us, the third also contained a little poem, but the last line in the poem had a sentence that read "So hurry up already and come give me a kiss!!".  I actually caught on immediately upon reading that sentence and knew that she was up here.  She sure did catch me offguard, I was totally surprised!  So surprised, that the house was pretty much a pit.  I was actually planning to give it a pretty good cleaning on Saturday and Sunday so that it would be fairly clean for her arrival later Sunday.  I consider being caught with a dirty house a small sacrifice to pay to have her here two full days earlier, which also means two full days longer.  I put what I was making for dinner aside and we went out for dinner to the Loading Zone II and then came home and had a nice relaxing evening together.
    Our relaxing time did not last too long, as Saturday was spent cleaning the house.  Nora did most of the cleaning, but I helped out as well, she ended up doing a much more thorough job than I was intending to do and by Saturday afternoon we were both pretty tired out from the day's activities.  Sunday also proved to be a pretty active day, as we set about getting the garage straightened out.  That job ended up being a much bigger job that I had anticipated, but the result was exactly what I had been hoping for- a nice clean and organized garage with room for the second sled that I hope to have in the not-too-distant future.  I purposely set the heights of the shelves so that I can fit things like the lawnmower, snowthrower, and even a sled underneath the lowest shelf and still have room to store things on the shelves above.  I was actually surprised that a lot of the shelves were already filled up, I suppose in another year or two I maybe building more shelves!  Better yet, an outside storage shed would probably be a better item to have, maybe that will be this autumn's project.
    So, with Nora's arrival Friday, I found myself suddenly a little too busy to sit down and write a journal.  Actually I was just plain too tired to do it Saturday evening or Sunday evening.  I did take some pictures last week that I was hoping to put in Friday's journal and I guess they will be just as entertaining in tonight's journal.  The first one was of the front of the house and it was taken either last Thursday or last Friday, I think last Thursday after the dogs and I had returned from our morning walk.  As you can see there was still quite a bit of snow on the roof as well as on the bush protectors and here is a shot taken this morning with the roof clear and the bush protectors clear and a lot less snow on the yard is well.  Been losing a lot of snow the past six to seven days, probably close to 2 ft..  Last Thursday week we got to 64° and last Friday we rose into the low seventies.  Today we were in the mid upper seventies and I think we might have even reached 80° in a few spots.  The airport was a little bit cooler because it was closer to the lake and the winds did turn in out of the West by this afternoon, so that would have made them cooler there.  With temps in the seventies, it seemed to be a good idea to go to the beach.  I had initially thought that the North shore would be the place to go but decided with winds off the Lake it might be to chilly out there, so we headed out to Big Traverse.  That turned out to be a good idea as it was plenty warm there, so warm that Burt decided to go for a swim.  Believe it or not this was not his first swim of the season.  That actually took place last Friday while we were walking around on the Lake Linden sands.  Bailey's went for a swim as well, but didn't last as long and had more fun sticking her head in the sand.  I'm not quite sure why she does that, but it is a regular thing for her to do everytime we go to the beach.  Seeing the icebergs still floating around in the lake, I decided to not to even dip my toes in the water. I'll wait for another month or so to brave Lake Superior.
    Getting back on the subject of some pictures I took for last Friday's intended journal. I took the camera along when the hounds and I went to the sands.  We had the place to ourselves which was not a very big surprise, lots of open spots for campers right now.  You just have to figure out a way to clear the snow good enough to get your camper in there.  Amazing to think that in just a couple of weeks, there will be some campers there and kids at the Beach, things sure do change in a hurry up here.  But for now, not much of a beach, but there was some open water starting to poke it's head out.  While I'm on the subject of the sands, I went to the meeting on Saturday where they discussed the potential of building a golf course out there.  It turns out that it's not to be some rinky-dink set up, but rather a 7200 yd. championship quality course.  The course would have 11,500 ft. of lake frontage, with water coming into play on both the front nine and the back nine.  It would be a true links style course, with no trees but lots of bunkers and rough.  It would also have a 320 yd. driving range that would utilize both ends of the range as well as facilities for practice pitch and putt.  In the wintertime the miles of cart path would serve as cross-country ski trails, and one of the cart paths would be wide enough to serve as a 50 ft. wide right-of-way for snowmobiles.  The course was designed by a professional course designer who has won many awards and I believe designed over 120 courses so far in his career.  Obviously, there are a lot of things that still need to be worked out before the course becomes a reality.  Things like what could pay for it as well as the exact features to the course, but it sure seems like they are in the right track, and with the course being of the design that it would be, it would not really be in competition with the other courses in the area, it would be a much higher end facility and anything the U. P. has to offer.  I guess the only downside might be that the sleepy little village of Lake Linden might not be as sleepy in the summertime.  I'll keep you all posted on the events regarding this. It sure would turn out to be a huge thing for the village if it in fact became reality.  For those of you living in the village and reading this and could not make it to the meeting, the course would not be built using funds raised as a result of increased taxes within the village. They are looking at other avenues, including grants, bonds and private financing.
    The last thing I have to share with you, is a picture of the sap boiler and action.  The conditions we had late last week were ideal for the running of the sap, actually a little too ideal, as the guy who collects all the sap could not keep up.  Some of the buckets got so full that they actually fell off the trees. So he had to remove some of them just so that he could keep up with the buckets that were still on the trees.  As of last Saturday he had already made 28 gal. of maple syrup and that boiler has been going full steam since then.  It will be interesting to see how many gallons he makes during this round.
    So I guess that will do it for another one, Nora is in the kitchen making some cookies and I think she needs a guinea pig to test them, so duty calls!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 8-
    After looking out the window this morning at close to 2 ft. of snow on the ground and a temperature reading of two below zero, it's hard to believe that in just about four weeks I'll be cutting my grass and maybe even playing some golf.  Temperatures did warm today, topping out in the upper thirties and low forties and with the sunshine it actually felt like spring around here.  Tomorrow we are supposed to warm to close to 50° and reach into the 50's by Thursday.  We should see lots of sunshine in the next two days as well, so that should take care of a good percentage of our snow.  If I'm sounding like I want to get rid of the snow, I guess there's a part of me that does want to see it gone, but there is still a part of me that wouldn't mind seeing one last big storm.  My sled is still in the shop, so there won't be any riding for me in the next couple of days and actually I'm probably done for the season.  I suppose with the warmer temps and all the snow on the ground, there might be some water skipping that gets done this weekend, but I won't mind sitting that one out.  Water skipping is OK, but you do get pretty wet and with temperatures only in the forties this weekend it would be a pretty cold ride.  Plus there will be work for me to do and I plan on attending a meeting on Saturday.  The meeting is actually being held to discuss the plans to build a golf course on the Lake Linden sands.  Yep, that's right, there are some plans in the works to build an 18 hole public golf course out on the remediated sands.  Nothing final yet, they did hire a designer and also have the Michigan Tech school of business working on a feasibility study, so will be interesting to see what kind of work has been done so far.  It goes without saying that I would love to have a golf course so close to home, the down side would be that I could no longer ride my snowmobile out there.  Give-and-take I guess.
    I have been keeping busy doing lots of woodworking.  My first task is to get the garage organized.  I have built six rather large shelves that Nora has agreed to help me put up when she arrives.  In addition to the shelves, I have also been busy building a large professional type tool chest.  I suppose I could have just gone and ordered one from a catalog or even gone to see if the local Sears hardware store has any stock, but I will spend only about half as much money on the materials and there will be a certain sense of satisfaction looking at the chest when it is all done, knowing that I built it.  The construction phase is actually almost completed, the frames for the chests have been built and I almost have all of the drawers built.  I did run out of some material this afternoon, so production was put on hold until I can get the materials needed to finish the job tomorrow afternoon.  Then, as with all woodworking projects, the second half of the production phase takes place and that is the finishing phase.  That phase may take even longer than the construction phase, which is often the case with many of the things that I build.  The drawer slides were ordered and will be in on Saturday, I need to get the painting done before I can attach them, but I seriously doubt the painting will be done by Saturday.  So with Nora arriving on Sunday and then staying for a little over a week, and then the dogs and I traveling south for a week, if I don't finish it by Sunday afternoon, it will not likely be done until sometime the week of May 5.  I'm certainly not going to rush things, I have learned that that is the fastest way to mistakes and poor craftsmanship.  When I first started woodworking all I could think about was finishing the project, that would cause me to rush through the project and then when it was done I was not as happy with the finished product as I would have been had I taken my time and done things the right way all the time.  I have learned and now enjoy the process as much or more than the product and the result is gallery quality furniture.  I'll be sure to take a picture of the finished product so you all can see what has been keeping the busy the past few days or so.
    As I am sure I have mentioned before, this is really a slow time of the year for material for the Journal.  I have lost my desire to go cross-country skiing and with the amount of snow that we still have on the ground, either skis or snow shoes are really the only way to get around out there, so I don't have any exciting pictures.  I do have some pictures that I took on one of the walks around the neighborhood with the hounds.  I guess you could say that the title to the round of pictures that I have would be "the beginning of Spring".  I do have to point out that my good camera that I purchased last summer has been sent away for repairs.  It started acting up this winter and the problems only got worse and worse, so I was forced to pack it up and ship it off to a repair shop near Minneapolis.  I have no idea how long it will take to get the camera back, but it will not cost me anything because the camera is still under warranty.  So until further notice all of the images that appear in the Journal will be from the old camera.  The first shot was actually taken Sunday morning as the hounds and I were returning from our morning walk.  Technically it was still looking like and feeling like the dead of winter when that shot was taken.  The next shot is truly a sign of spring, it is a homemade sap evaporator.  As you can see it has been in use a little bit this season but the cold temps have been keeping the sap flowing slowly.  However, with the forecast temperatures that we are supposed to have the rest of this week, I would imagine that the sap will start to flow at full speed and when it does, the neighborhood maple syrup maker will be ready.  The next sight of spring is actually a shot of a car emerging from its wintry hibernation.  Almost all winter long the snow completely covered this vehicle.  Not only are buried cars emerging from winters snowy grip, but so are the roadways.  That was actually a look down my street, towards the south and towards the center of the village.  It's nice to not have to worry about traction when driving.  The last sign I have to share with you of the emerging spring is the emergence of my old snowthrower.  It got the boot from the garage and into the back yard in order to make room for the new one I purchased this last fall.  It's for sale- I'm currently taking bids.  No deliveries though!
    So other than the pictures, I don't have much else to talk about.  Nora will be arriving on Sunday, so maybe the four of us will be able to get out and about and take some pictures.  Depending upon how much snow melts between now and then maybe we can even get over to some of the waterfalls.  Other than not having to get dressed up as an Arctic explorer, I think the waterfalls are the only other upside to spring around here.  If I could, I would not mind going straight from winter to summer.  I sure do love the fall, so I would never want to do away with that season, but spring I could do without, at least spring as we know it up here.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 3-
    I really am at a loss for things to say to you all tonight, but it has been four days since my last entry and we even entered a new month, so I figured I better put something out.  Since it is not as much of a job with the voice-recognition software, I figured I could sit down and in about an hour's time, come up with something interesting to talk about.  We have definitely slipped back into winter around here.  Not just with all the snows that came a week ago, but with a little bit of light snow that has come this week and temperatures that are also winter like.  High temperatures today struggled to climb out of the low twenties and an east wind blowing at about 15 to 25 mph really made it feel more like January around here and the beginning of April.  I'm not going to complain, as I know that the days are coming when I will be complaining about the heat.  We still have 2 ft. of snow on the ground in most places and 2 1/2 feet down and others.  So not only does it feel like winter it looks like it too.
    The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District had a tree and plant sale, the orders needed to be in by the first of April, and the plants will be ready for pickup at the end of April.  I ordered some trees this year as well as some strawberry and blueberry plants.  The nice thing is the price is right for the trees and plants, the only downside is the quantity that you have to purchase.  My main reason for getting the trees was too start to provide some shade for the house.  Once summer comes it literally bakes in the sun all day long and without air-conditioning is a sauna.  Now, I realize the trees I will be getting will be more like twigs then trees and it will take many years for them to attain a height and size where they will provide decent shade, but unless I plant now, and be patient about things or pay big bucks for a big tree I'm out of luck.  I ordered some sugar maples as well as some white spruce.  I may plant a few of the white cedars on the edge of my property here to provide some privacy but most of them will actually be going out onto the property that I bought last summer and where I plan to build my dream home on in the coming years.  Their purpose will be to provide even more privacy than the land is providing already.  There will be 50 of the white spruce coming and 10 hard maples.  About 3 or 40 of the maples will be planted here along with 2 or 3 of the spruce, the rest will go on the land up by Mohawk.  The thing I just realized is that I have to pick up the trees on the 25th or 26th of April and I am going to be headed down to Wisconsin that same weekend, so that I can take Baileys in for her hip surgery on the 28th.  So it looks like I'm going to be a pretty busy guy just before I head down to Wisconsin planting all of those trees!
    Even though we have slipped back into winter, the dogs have gone into spring mode, and are starting to shed their winter coats.  It's a rather slow clip right now, but I'm sure that in not to long it will be coming out in handfuls.  Spring is actually full of many things that seem to aggravate me and that's just one among many.  I certainly don't blame the dogs for their shedding, it's just one of those things.  However it's no fun having to sweep up and vacuum up dog hair on a daily basis and it also is not much fun to brush them out on a daily basis either.  Some other issues I have with spring is the mess that it makes up here when all the snow melts.  Things sure do get wet and messy and it's hard to keep just about anything clean- floors, cars, clothes, automobiles, you name it!  I look very forward to the first or second week in May when things finally dry out enough that life can get back to normalcy.  I suppose that since we are still so cold right now, our period of messy times could be shorter.  Last years was pretty short, I think that in the course of about two weeks we were able to get rid of about 3 ft. of snow, and then did not have to worry about too much messy weather after that.
    It will be interesting to see if I get any more riding in for the season.  My sled is over at Al's shop, I decided to just let him put it back together.  It was all stuff that I could have done myself but I have been pretty busy with some other chores.  I know that Al has looked at the sled, and could fix it in probably a days time but I told him there was no big rush, so it could be a week before I get it back.  It was interesting what I had to do to it so that it would be able to be driven down to his shop yesterday.  I picked yesterday because we picked up a couple of inches of snow and the plows did not run, so there was enough snow on the roads to get it down there without tearing up the track or carbide's.  However, due to the right hand ski suspension being rather torn up I had to use a combination of plastic ties, a nylon hold down strap and even some baling wire to get that right ski to be strong enough and track well enough so that I could limp down the road to Al's shop.  I got her there OK, but should have really taken a picture of it as it sure was goofy looking.  Al wanted me to mention that his sled is for sale, he rides the '03 900 Mountain Cat 151".  I don't know how many miles it has on it but if I had to guess, it is probably somewhere around 1000.  He told me that he would let it go for $6500.  Seems like a great deal to me, and I have actually been tempted to pick it up myself, but am working on a few other deals.  If those two not pan out and Al's sled is still available then I may just be riding it next season.  Of course if any of you are seriously interested, let me know and I can put you in touch with him.
    I don't know about the rest of you but I still am watching a whole lot of TV, channel surfing between the news stations to catch coverage of the events in Iraq.  I don't know why I find it so fascinating, I suppose it's because it's something that does not happen very often, and also the fact that at times I am able to watch a battle going on live.  Thankfully it has not impacted my ability to work, but I don't believe I've watched as much TV in the past year that I have watched in the past two weeks.  I'm grateful that things have been going so well for us so far and am cautiously optimistic that all could be over soon.
    I have also been getting down into my woodworking shop in the basement recently.  I have started to get ready for Nora's arrival this June.  There is not going to be a major transformation that takes place prior to her arrival, but this house seems to be set up best for a single person or maybe even two separate persons having their own rooms and closets and whatnot.  So some of the things I am working on and will be working on up until her arrival are to provide more storage space for clothes and other personal belongings.  She's actually coming up a little over a week to visit for a little over a week and will be bringing the first load of personal belongings, she has told me that she does not have a lot and I believe her, but I want to provide her with as much space as possible and make her feel at home.  We both are getting very excited for her to arrive for good.  With us having a long-distance relationship for the entire time we have known each other so far, sometimes it almost seems impossible that she will actually be here to stay in not that long.  I almost can't imagine how great it's going to be to have someone go for walks with me every day, share meals with me and all the other things I have been doing solo for so many years.  I'm even looking forward to having a woman's touch added to the decor of the house.  It's definitely lacking in the softer side and creative side of decorating, so I look forward to that.
    Well, my hour is just about up, and I am out of things to say anyway, so I guess I may as well sign off for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
 
 
 
.