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Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
Journal

January 28-
    Wow, a back to backer!  But seriously, let's try this again, shall we?  I did not ride with the afternoon portion of the KSE ride today, so that I could get all caught up in things that needed to be done.  I paid 16 bills, did 7 guest shots (two more came in since then), got to the post office, the bank, did my grocery shopping and also took the hounds for a ski at the school forest.  So now I have a bit of free time to get out a journal.  As mentioned, Nora and I met up in Newberry for the weekend.  That was my first real exposure to the eastern UP, or at least points east of Marquette.  I had driven on M-28 to the intersection with 123 south of Paradise this summer, but that was to drop off some boys with their aunt and then the woman I was dating at the time and I turned around and headed right back, so I really do not count that summer trip as true exposure to the eastern UP.  I was a anxious to get there, it had been 3 weeks since I last saw Nora, but seemed longer than that.  Things went very, very well and we had a great time.  The eastern UP has been the recipient of the heaviest snow in the Midwest so far this season.  Strange how things work, because last year, this area was struggling to put together enough snow to play in.  So far this year, Paradise has almost picked up all of what it picked up last year.
    One of the things I had on my "to do" list while there was to go and see the Tahquamenon Falls.  There are some shots of it in the winter in my guest shots section, so I knew that there was some kind of access to it, I was just hoping that it was only by snowmobile.  Thankfully, the road to the parking lot to the falls is kept open and then the falls themselves are not too far of a walk.  So Nora and I drove into the lot and the first thing I noticed was a large building on the right and the second thing I noticed was all the snow on it!  It reminded me of being out west in the mountains in the winter, with all the snow on the buildings.  There had to be close to 4 feet on the roof and other objects out there.  Plus, it snowed pretty heavily when we were out there both Saturday and Sunday, that shot was taken as the hounds, Nora and I were walking out to the falls Saturday morning.  We were there at about 10 am and things were pretty quiet.  Anyway, the building houses the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub, which is in my Northwoods Directory.  They are open year round and sure did a great business on Saturday when we were there.  It was too early for us go want to eat lunch, so we took a short trip over to Paradise to see what that was all about.  It was actually snowing so hard there Saturday morning that we could not see much of anything!  Pretty crowded with sleds there too and since it was snowing so hard, we decided to just turned around and headed back to the falls.  By the time we got back to the parking lot, it had filled up considerably with snowmobiles.  There is a trail that takes you to the parking lot for the falls, then you can park your sled and walk the 1/8th of a mile or so to see the falls.  I estimated there to be about 130-150 sleds at that lot when I took the picture.  There were actually more off to the left and right of the image and more that you could not see off in the distance.  I doubt that they even need to pack down the foot trail to the falls, as there are so many people walking on it.  Here is a shot taken at about 10:30 am Sunday.
    As mentioned, the walk from the parking lot to the falls is about 1/8th of a mile or so, there are several spots where you can stop to take a look at them and snap a photo or two (FSV).  They were everything I would have imagined them to be and lived up to all my expectations.  I believe that they are the second largest falls east of the Mississippi River, not the second tallest, but largest in terms of the volume of water going over them.  They were still pretty tall.  From that vantage point it is hard to tell just how big they are, but later on some snowmobiliers on the other side of the river went over to where the large icicles are hanging down to the left of the falls and I was able to guess that the falls were about 40-60 feet high.  The footpath to the falls led to a set of stairs that led even you even closer to the falls, but they stairs were made of metal grates, and Burt and Baileys did not want to have anything to do with them, so we turned around and headed back to the parking lot.  We took a different path back and it was nice to be off on our own.  Nora also loves to take the path less traveled and that is just one of the many ways that we are perfect for each other.  This path was more narrow and also not as packed down, so it was a little more work, but that helped to keep us warm too.  Here is a shot of the hounds and I on our way back on that path.  By then we were both hungry enough to have some lunch so we went in and had some soup and I also had a sandwich.  All fueled up we decided to see what the lower falls were all about, so we drove down to see them, but they must not be as dramatic or as big a draw, because the lot was plowed out, but the 3/4 mile trail to them looked pretty untraveled.  The snow at the lower falls was probably as deep as I saw anywhere all weekend.  The lot looked to have been cleaned up with a snow-go, as the banks were basically straight up and down and the snow was not piled up, but was rather just as deep away from the bank as it was at the bank.  I did not have my measuring stick with me, but I did park the truck next to the bank to show you that it looked to be about 4 feet deep out there, and still counting!
    Upon our arrival back in Newberry, we had dinner and then went for a relaxing swim in the motels swimming pool.  The next day dawned very cold and there was some light snow falling.  We were planning on skiing out at the falls, there are some cross country ski trails out there and it looked to be the perfect place to ski.  No signs telling us dogs were prohibited and lots of nice woods to ski through.  The only issue was the temps.  It was about 5 below that morning and the temps were not forecasted to move much.  Nora having lived in the UP and also having yooper blood and me living here for the past 3 and 3/4 years decided we were not going to let a little cold air spoil our plans.  It was chilly, but the wind was not too bad, so we all had a good time skiing. The weekend went by far too quickly, the sure sign that we were having fun.  I think I got the better of the two drives to Newberry.  Mine only takes about 4 hours, while Nora's takes almost 5.  Plus, I get to drive through the beautiful UP the whole way, seeing everything to the flat lands and swamps of the Seney stretch to the beautiful shore line between Marquette and Munising as well as around Baraga and also the hilly terrain of the Huron Mountains between L'Anse and Marquette.  She gets the interstate most of the way, but I don't want to trade.
    So lots and lots of snow over that way.  We also have been getting more and more snow up here.  Since January 8th, it has snowed every day and we have picked up 5 and a half feet, or 66".  I am at about 2 feet on the ground, but the snow measurer up near Phoenix is closing in on 3 feet on the ground and I bet tomorrow when I ride, I will be able to find places that it is close to 4 feet deep.  I actually have not been on my sled since last Wednesday, so I cannot make any reports on the trails, except for what I have seen from the road and the trail cam and that is they look pretty good.  I know they are grooming and traffic has been down a bit as well, at least in the past 2 days.  I have actually yet to see or hear a sled go by on my travels.  That was not the case in the past 2 weeks, when I could hear the sleds running the trail up the hill from town and also saw lots of sleds at the trail crossings.  I plan to ride the bush tomorrow and will bring a cam to share the experience.  I suppose we might find ourselves on the trail for a short time and will try and capture a shot or two from them if possible.
    Right now I am just hoping my sore muscles can recover in time to ride!  I climbed up on the roof to clear the snow off.  Usually I just to half the roof one day and then the other half a day or two later, but yesterday I got on a roll and did the whole thing.  As joked about in yesterday's brief journal.  If you ever plan to move up here, I strongly suggest you take into consideration the roof size and slope.  I have a large roof (ranch home) and a gentle slope and those two factors lead to lots of work to clear the roof of snow.  It took me about an hour to clear the roof, but then another 80 minutes to clear the snow from things on the ground like my driveway, front walkway and also in the backyard where the snow piled up.  The new snowthrower worked awesome, it would have likely taken me an extra hour with the old one.  Money well spent.
    So I guess that gets you caught up for now.  It was actually strange to write about something other than life in the Keweenaw, but I figured you all would enjoy my take on the eastern UP.  Looks like a great place to ride, lots of trails and also lots of snow.  I hope someday I can get over that way to see what the trails are like.  For now, I will stick to my beloved Keweenaw.  Still lots of places yet to explore on sled here and I hope to do some of that in the coming days and weeks.  KSE is actually filled up until Valentines day, so it is a good thing Brian got a new/used sled.  He bought a friends Highmark.  It will be interesting to see how that die hard Arctic Cat fan likes his Ski Doo!  I bet he likes it.  Anyway, until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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January 27-
    I just wanted to drop a quick note to tell you all I have not forgot about you.  I was out of town for the weekend and am back, but am swamped with things to take care of, plus I just finished clearing the snow off my roof and am way tired.  My best advice to those of you wishing to move up here- don't buy a ranch home with a gentle sloped roof!  Look for the house with as small and as steep a roof as you can!  I have plans to join up with a KSE tour tomorrow, so I do not know if I will be back in time to write one tomorrow either, but maybe.  I had a very fun time with Nora in Newberry and have some nice snow shots to share with you, man was it deep north of Newberry!  Anyway, I will try and get out a real journal ASAP!  For now...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 23-
    Boy, just when I thought things could not get any busier for me with the site, I was absolutely deluged yesterday with notes and some ask johns.  This morning I went to go and clean out my "sent" folder in my e mail program and I had sent 155 e mails yesterday alone!  Now, some of those (about 10) were business related, but the rest were related to this site!  I am not complaining here, just letting you all know that I may have to give up my tradition of replying to every e mail I get.  Many of them are notes that do not ask for anything, but rather just say thanks.  I realize that the senders of most of them never expect a reply back, but I have always thought that if that person had the time to write me, I could find the time to give a quick thanks back.  Although, my fingers are just about raw and I do not even want to try and figure out the time involved in sending out those 155 e mails!  So, in case you send an e mail to me and do not get a reply some day, you will know why!  As long as we are on the numbers game, I went to look to see what the hit counts for the month so far were and most of the data for the month got temporarily misplaced, but I was told it will be back.  At any rate, the site is not running at a clip of a half million hits a day.  That would work out to roughly 15 million hits a month (smart aren't I!).  Busy, busy, busy!  I also got a call from a business owner in the Lake Gogebic area and he told me that a gas station in the area pumped 40,000 gallons of gas.  I forget if it was over the weekend or in one day, but in either case, that is a whole bunch of gas to be putting into a sled 7-10 gallons at a time!  Also speaks for the volumes of riders in the area.  The trails up here have been holding up pretty well.  I do not have any pictures to share with you, nor have I spent much time on them, but comments from riders have been the same- most of the trails are in fair to good shape, with some poor and some excellent.  The two trouble spots remain from about South Range to Houghton and then on the main trail starting from the Gay-Mohawk trail head to a few miles north of Mohawk.
    I have not just been sitting around answering e mail and ask john's, I have gotten out for some rides and also some skis with the hounds.  On Monday, I went for a ride with friend Bill.  I talked about that ride to Gay and back in the previous journal.  Then Tuesday went for a ski with the hounds.  It has been snowing non-stop since last Friday night.  Sometimes just flurries and sometimes at the rate of 2-3"/hr, but for the most part, just a steady light snow.  We have been averaging about 3-4"/day.  Just perfect if you ask me.  Not so much that it causes major problems with people trying to get around or that one spends half their morning moving it around, but yet enough that tracks get completely covered in a day or two and in 3 days it looks like you are the first person through as there is 9-12" fresh.  Another bonus is that I can actually ski some of the less traveled roads up here.  On Tuesday I knew I wanted to take the dogs for a ski, but also had to run to the bank in Calumet, so I decided to try my luck and see about skiing down on the road that runs from Calumet Waterworks to Tamarack Waterworks.  It is a road that I will visit to walk many times, but I already had my ski boots on and they are not very good to walk distances in, so I was hoping for the best.  Luck was on my side as the road was nice and snow packed and made for a great ski trail.  Almost no one drives down the road, as it dead ends and we did not have a single car to deal with in our 45 minute ski to one end and back.
    Yesterday was a riding day.  On those day's I still like to give the hounds some exercise, but we usually stick to the neighborhood and just walk.  The goal of yesterday's ride was to make it to the pole line and play in some of the deep stuff up there.  I have to admit, on the ride through the valley, it was all I could do to keep from being side tracked into playing in some of the fields there.  I have some friends that own land and their fields were full of about 2 feet of powder.  My riding partner Mike and I did manage to play in the fields of powder a bit, but kept up a pretty steady pace up north to the pole line.  We snuck in the back way and were given some nice logging roads full of powder to ride in as well.  The one problem with great riding conditions is that I never want to stop and to take a picture I need to stop.  So I do not have any pictures of the fields we were riding through or the logging roads that we were breaking through the deep stuff in.  However, when we got to the pole line, it did not take either of us too long to get our sleds stuck.  Getting stuck presents the perfect opportunity to take a picture, so here is my first stuck of the day.  The snow was up past my waist up there, so it is deeper than 3".  In spots, I would sink up to my arm pits, but those were likely depressions that just filled in flat.
    We did manage to stop while not being stuck.  I noticed my sled was sporting a nice white capping of snow so I decided to snap a shot of it.  This past week I added some vent screens to help block the snow from being sucked under the hood and into the air box and eventually into the carbs.  I think that is what has caused my carbs to freeze in the past and it also causes a pretty big bog in the horsepower of the sled when a pile of snow forms on top of the air box.  So yesterday was the test of my little invention and it worked with flying colors.  After taking that last shot with all the snow piled up on top of my hood, I opened up the hood to find just a tiny bit of snow on top of the air box filter.  Not enough to cause much of a problem at all.  For those of you wishing to do the same to your sleds intakes, all I used was some scotch brite pads and cut them to fit into the openings on the hood.  I then used a little piece of stainless steel picture hanging wire to secure the pads to the intake screens.  The pads will allow air to flow through them without any meaningful resistance, but will not allow hardly any snow to get through.  I am very happy with the results, even found some that match the color of my sled pretty well!
    The pole line proved to be a total blast.  It was tracked up in some spots and in others, no one had been down in a few days, so there were almost no noticeable tracks.  But like any good thing, there is always a price to pay and that price was digging out.  At one point I looked back to see if Mike was still coming up behind me and did not see him.  I stopped my sled on a flat spot and it settled into the snow up past the bumpers.  I was not too concerned, as it had gotten out of that type of snow many times.  I waited about a minute and no Mike, so I decided to turn around and see what had happened.  I gave my sled some gas and it popped up out of the snow and I hung a left to turn around.  It was snowing pretty hard and the snow surface was rather hard to make out the details, and what I thought was a relatively flat area turned out to be a little hill.  Not a big one, but enough to get my sled stuck.  So now we both were stuck, too far apart to help each other.  So I stated wading through the snow and packing it down around the sled.  After that was accomplished, I set to the task of turning it around.  My plan was to get it turned enough so that it was not pointing up hill anymore and then ride out and back to the area where the snow was more packed down.  After about 10 minutes of hard work, I was once again on the sled and it was making it's way through the snow.  Problem was, I was still headed in the wrong direction and needed to turn around, and would you believe I got stuck again!!!!  I could have just about died!  So once again, I went through the process of packing down the snow, turning the sled around and riding out.  This time my plan was to turn the sled 180 degrees and ride out the way I came in, that way I would be pointed in the right direction and would not need to worry about turning around.  After about another 10-15 minutes, I finally got it out and headed back to find Mike.  I was really hoping that he was just stuck and not hurt and my hopes were met.  He had managed to get sucked into the tree line.  Thankfully he was experienced enough to know the best thing is to just stop and get stuck and not try and "pull out" before going into the trees.  I have had to dig one too many a rider out of the snow in the woods and with the trees, it makes things way worse, because sometimes you cannot turn the sled around and it almost has to be carried out of the woods.  Try carrying a 500 pound sled through waist deep snow 20 feet and you will know the meaning of exhaustion!  Mike had also packed down the snow nicely around his sled and had turned it around and when I got there, about all I needed to do was give him some applause as he got back to the "safer" place on the pole line.  After all that digging out, I was sweating pretty heavily (despite the sub zero temps) and pretty worn out, so we both decided that we would catch our breath and then just head to the Vansville Bar to meet up with a KSE ride and then head back to Lake Linden after warming up and drying off.  While catching our breath, I snapped a shot of our two trenches through the snow.  Notice there is a line in the snow from the track and in many spots no lines in the snow from the skis?  I had the old XLT wide open for much of the powder riding and it did great.  The engine just kept pulling and pulling and pulling and most of the time, the skis were off the snow.  My favorite kind of riding!
    We actually met up with the KSE tour before even reaching the Vansville and rode down with them.  Put some gas in the tanks and went in to thaw out.  It is always funny to sit with a group at the tail end of a KSE ride and listen to the stories.  Yesterday was no exception, with stories of nose dives off sleds and deep stucks.  One of the nose dives over the front of the sled was performed by our very own KSE guide Al.  He managed to pull some muscles in a very sensitive spot and was having a real time trying to walk.  I talked to him earlier today and he was actually on crutches he had laying around the house it hurt so bad.  From the sounds of his injury, I think he just has a severe pulled muscle or two and some rest will help take care of it.  I hope so, I would not want him to be out of commission for more than a few days.  I know what it is like to sit out the better part of a riding season!
    Today was a ski day again.  I took the hounds up to one of our old stomping grounds before we found the school forest.  It is much closer to home and with all the stuff I had to do today, the time saved in driving was critical.  Thankfully we did not have to sacrifice on scenery, with a beautiful snow frosted woods to ski through.  It is really starting to look more and more like the Keweenaw that I grew to know in the wintertime.  The snow is piling up on anything it can find.  In some cases, it starts to pile up on something and then keeps piling up on that object and also starts to pile up on itself and in a little while a little tree stump becomes a snow mushroom.  It has been piling up on my driveway and I have been giving the new snow thrower a daily workout.  It has not been tested with the really deep stuff too much, but the plow banks the past few days have been about 2 feet deep and it cut right through it with no hesitation.  I am looking forward to the 12"+ snow it has to cut through, but I hope that does not come this weekend, as I will be out of town.  I am going to meet up with Nora in Newberry.  Nora in Newberry - has a nice ring to it doesn't it?  Anyway, because of my travels, I will be suspending the ask John until Monday.  I am afraid that if I kept it up, I might come back to about 30-40 questions I need to answer and I figure the most of you will live a few days without it.  I wish there was a way that I could allow you to view it, but not post any new questions.  I asked at Christmas time that folks not ask any questions, but that did not stop them, so I need to take matters into my own hands and just shut it down for a few days.  Before I go, I would like to share a story I got from a visitor to the site.  It sort of sums up the generosity and good nature of many of the folks living in this area:
My name is Kurt I live in Green Bay, WI.  I was riding from Sidnaw to Houghton on Saturday the 18th with a friend of mine.  I broke down approximately 8
miles south of Chassell.  We rode double and towed my machine into town.  There we determined that the engine had blown a piston and wouldn't be rideable.  A lady
named Paula O. was selling pasties to other riders in the parking lot of the gas station where we had stopped.  Upon seeing that we were in a bit of a jam she offered
us a ride back to Sidnaw where we had left our truck.  We were so grateful we bought the rest of her pasties, gave her some money to cover the gas and a little extra.  We
couldn't get over how she would just offer to take us back to our vehicle.  The distance had to be at least 100 miles round trip.  Not to mention it was snowing, getting
near dark and the roads were becoming slick.  We really owe that lady a debt of gratitude and are thankful for her kindness.  Hope to be up that your way again in the
very near future.  We are lucky to have a place to ride that is not just close, but is also very beautiful.
With that I will offer you a fond good bye and talk to you after my weekend with My Love.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 20-
    I have decided that I either need way more time in the day or to figure out a way to function without any sleep.  As I sat down to my computer this afternoon, I went to my e mail and there were 28 new messages waiting for me.  Those 28 were on top of the 10 or so that I could not get to at midday.  Many were e mails thanking me for the work I do on the site, some were ask john notices and I think three were spam or junk mail.  I still have all the ask johns to do, but I figured you all would rather get a journal tonight rather than me answer the ask johns.  Maybe I can just create a new discussion group and no one will notice that I did not answer the questions sitting out there right now!  Ha, Ha.  Just kidding.  I can't even believe that I actually had the day off from my weather forecasting duties for the commodity businesses, it seems like I was just swamped all day.  I did have to do my usual radio stuff and actually, it was a little more than the usual, as they were doing a live remote and wanted me to be there for part of the time too.  It was at Mc Donald's, so at least I got a free breakfast out of it!   Plus I did get to do some playing this afternoon, so that is another reason why I have so much on my plate this evening.  And I am not complaining about all I have to do, it is my bed, I made it, so I will sleep in it.  Although I have been toying with the idea of suspending the ask john for a week or so, just to get a break.  Every time I get ready to do it, things quiet down a bit, then I have days like today, where they just come in like ants to a picnic.  I guess the one good thing about being so busy is time is flying by.  Another day closer to being able to see Nora (this Friday!) and another day closer to her moving up here for good!  Speaking of Nora, she has been a gem at accommodating all my doings with this site.  Many a time she has called and I was in the middle of a journal and she was gracious enough to let me finish and called me back in an hour or so.  I have even answered some e mails or ask johns while she was on the phone.  She just waited for me to finish and listened to my fingers peck away at the keyboard.  Who knows, maybe after she moves up here I can put her to work manning the KSE reservation line or the e mail responding job or even some of the ask johns that are not weather related!  She is probably reading this and rolling her eyes, double thinking if she should really move up and get sucked into this "John Dee.com" thing.
    I had a little scare this morning, I awoke to a very cold house.  I have one of those programmable thermostats and I do let the house drop off to about 62 at night, but at about 2 or 3 in the morning, it seemed a whole lot colder than that and by a little after 4, I knew something was wrong, as the heat had not kicked on to warm the house for my out of bet time at 4:45.  I climbed out of bed and shivered at about 4:30 and checked the thermostat first to see if the battery had gone dead or something.  Nope, it was working just fine.  I then went to the basement to make sure I had oil.  I was almost positive I did, as I got a fill up about 3 weeks ago and a tank will last me about 2 months at least.  Yep, still plenty of oil in the tank.  I went into the room housing the boiler, turned on the light and had a look around and could not tell one thing from the next.  Upon close inspection, I noticed a box with a little read button on it that said: "To restart, push button".  So I pushed it and then music to my ears, the furnace fired up and I had heat again.  By the time I got the furnace restarted, my house was a balmy 48 degrees and the zero degree temps caused it to heat back up slowly.  Plus, I have hot water heat, which is very comfortable, but also takes some time to bring a house up from being cold.  So by 8 am, it was 60 degrees and reached the target temp of 67 by about noon.  I am nice and toasty now, but that was a little scary.  Even the hounds seemed to think it was cold this morning as they were all cuddled up with each other to keep warm.
    Brian (friend and KSE guide) had not just a scare, but an actual disaster happen to him Saturday night after parking his sled after the KSE ride.  He went into his house, did a few things and noticed a glow outside.  Wondering what the heck was making that glow, he discovered his snowmobile was on fire.  He called the fire department and then went out and tried to put it out by throwing snow on it (did not have an extinguisher), but it was just too engulfed in flames to be able to put out.  Sunday morning he gave me a call to tell me what had happened, so I headed out to take a look at it.  I arrived in a blinding snow storm, but even the snow could not disguise the damage done to the sled.  He was in pretty good spirits about it, all things considered and we joked around a bit and then I asked him to climb up on it for one last ride picture, so here is Brian on his "Fire" Cat.  Sorry, I could not resist!  I saw him testing out a used sled today.  I don't know if he is going to buy that one or look for another, but he will be needing one ASAP, as he has a ton of tours to take in the next 2-3 weeks!  We do not know what caused the sled to catch fire.  It is speculated that a stuck carb might have allowed fuel to get into the engine and maybe even the exhaust and it started there.  At any rate, I am letting my sled sit out for an hour or so before I pull it into the garage, that's for sure!
    Speaking of the KSE tour, we had a great time Saturday.  We awoke to about 6" of fresh snow and then picked up another 2" by about noon.  It was a big group, but even bringing up the rear, I was able to find some fresh snow.  I broke off from the group after the midday warm up break and head back to tend to the hounds and stuff like that and missed some real deep powder riding.  I guess Al and Brian managed to get just about everyone stuck and almost got stuck themselves.  It has to be pretty deep for Al to get his 900 mountain cat with the 151" track stuck.  We picked up about another 4" overnight and it has been snowing all day.  Most of the time lightly, but at times, the visibility drooped to about a quarter mile in heavy snow.  Watching it snow, I got the urge to get up to the spot where the snow is deepest and play in it.  I had plans to ride with some friends and because I sort of had the day off, I would be able to get an earlier start.  I got all suited up for the ride, went to start the sled and got the feeling something was not right when it took me 3-4 pulls to start the sled.  It normally starts on the first pull every time.  I know, I know, most sleds take at least 3-4 pulls to start and I should not assume something is wrong if mine does not start on the first pull, but ever since figuring out where to set the choke when starting it, it has always started on the first pull.  Anyway, I got on the sled and headed down the street to the gas station, which was the meeting place and my one carb ended up sticking.  Not sure if any of you have had that happen, but it can be a startling experience, you go to let off the throttle and it does not let up.  I was quickly closing in on the stop sign, but was able to hit the break and also hit the kill switch to stop the sled before the intersection.  I tried to monkey with the carb for a minute to get it going, but that did not work, so I walked back to my house, jumped in the car and headed to the gas station to let my riding partner Bill know what was up.  By the time we got back to the sled, the little bit of engine heat that had been generated was enough to unstick the carb and it ran great the rest of the day.  I do use gas line antifreeze with each fill up, but with all the powder riding I do, some snow always gets sucked into the air intake and that is why my carb will freeze on occasion.
    With the delay, I decided we would not head way up to the deep snow spots, but rather stick fairly close to home and play in some of the fields in the Traprock Valley as well as take some of the lesser known logging roads in the area.  The fields I picked proved to be all virgin snow and except for some deer tracks, the logging roads were also totally untracked.  It was one of those rides where I am just so glad to live here, know some off the beaten path trails and be able to take advantage of those facts.  I stopped to take a shot of the sleds and a snow covered hood = a big smile on my face.  While on one of the logging roads we came across a monster of a tree.  For some reason, the loggers have left this one standing and I hope they continue to do so, out of respect if anything.  It is still living, as there were still some leaves clinging to the upper branches.  I really do not know what type of tree it is, but bet is is several hundred years old, with a trunk that large.  We managed to find our way to the little hamlet of Gay and relaxed and warmed up at the bar of the same name and then it was back out into the snow and cold for more playing.  We rode a slightly different way home, more untracked logging roads and a few more fields and then back to the village of Lake Linden.  The sled ran fine the rest of the day, better than fine actually, with the cold temps.
    So it looks like I have reached the end of another journal.  The snow is finally getting more like it should be this time of the year.  We are on our 13th day in a row for snow, with 38.5" being measured in that same time frame.  More has fallen in other places of the Keweenaw and more is on the ground in other places of the Keweenaw.  22" is being reported by the county road commission in Delaware and also off the Phoenix Farm Rd.  There is also lots of deep snow in the eastern UP, places like Munising, Grand Marais and Paradise have been getting daily snows of at least several inches.  The hounds and I are actually headed to Newberry this weekend to meet up with Nora for the weekend, so I will be able to see all the snow they have been getting over that way.  More snow is in the forecast for just about every day this week and I plan a ride for at least Wednesday.  I hope to get to the deep stuff by then and will share it all with you when I do.  Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 17-
    12 years ago, on this very day and just about at this very time, I set foot on Keweenaw soil for the first time.  Well, actually I did not touch any soil, but did touch lots of snow.  That is a day that changed my life forever and also a day I will never forget.  My brother and I had come up to visit and snowmobile.  We brought with us two 1974 Polaris Colts which we learned were not quite up to speed for the super-trails here.  They could get us around the corn fields and wooded areas of southern WI just fine, but riding full speed we were still passed by just about everyone up here!  Anyway, we had checked into our quaint little room in the Katalina Motel in South Range.  It was dark so we did not see much of the area as we drove up to the motel, not much but lots of snow, woods and some houses.  Being two highly cultured city slickers, it seemed like we were at the edge of the world, miles and miles away from any form of civilization.  We got unpacked and rested on the beds after the 8 hour drive and were watching the network news when Peter Jennings said that they were going to cut to a feed from CNN because there was some activity going on in Baghdad Iraq.  Boy was there ever activity going on!  I'm sure that many of you can share a similar experience about remembering where you were and what you were doing when you saw the air campaign begin in Iraq that night.  We both just sat there, eyes fixed on the screen, jaws on the floor in awe of what was going on over there on the other side of the world.  We were watching a war start in real time on the other side of the world, from this place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula that I thought was at the edge of the world and would have sworn that the rest of the country had forgot about.  The Keweenaw was a bit different back then, not as many businesses or stores.  The mall was pretty much void of stores, no Walmart, Shop Ko, Office Max or even some of the supermarkets that are available now.  Things have changes, some say for the better, some say for the worse.  I suppose change is always viewed from different perspectives.
    The regions popularity for winter recreation has also changed quite a bit in those 12 years.  I found the place by applying my knowledge about lake effect snow and geography.  I spotted this little finger of land jutting out into the middle of Lake Superior and figured: "That place must get a lot of snow".  After some research into the climatology, my speculation was confirmed, this was the land of deep snow and I fell in love with it almost immediately.  By the end of the first day here, I was pretty well convinced I would live here some day.  I just never thought it would be so soon.  A lot has changed in my life in those 12 years as well.  When I think back to my first day up here, sometimes it seems like only yesterday, yet when I stop and think about all that has happened since then, it seems like a lifetime.  But I am here now, here to stay and am very grateful for that privilege.
    Changing the subject completely, I was alerted to some unkind words being spoke about me on one of the snowmobile trail conditions web sites and so many alerts came in to me, I decided to check that site to see what all the hubbub was about.  I have to admit, it was strange seeing "JOHN DEE" posted all over the discussion for upper Michigan trail reports.  I was not able to find what started all the commotion, but it seemed like someone accused me of inflating the snow totals or something like that.  Some visitors to the site chimed in and defended me - THANKS! - and a few others decided to take the anti-John Dee stance, which is fine with me.  People are certainly entitled to their opinion, although some of their opinions were a little off mark.  To comment on the idea that I inflate the snow totals for this area really confuses me.  Maybe I am missing something here, but I have always believed that this sites popularity has grown to the point that I am going to get over 10 million hits for the month of January alone BECAUSE of my honesty, not lack there of.  I know I have always tried to go out of my way to present the truth about how things are up here.  When I talk about the trail conditions, I always try and have a picture to back up my words and as far as snow reporting, I always go the extra mile to make sure those are accurate as well.  I think one of the questions raised was if I was piling snow up around the snow stick on the AL Cam.  That is true, I do have to throw snow in around the snow stick, but it is only to fill in a depression that occurs when the wind blows or the snow falls, but does not fill in around the stick.  I do make a big effort to make sure that I use fluffy snow so that it will compact at roughly the same rate as the snow around it and also make sure that if I throw too much snow in there, I scoop some out with a little spade shovel to make sure it is even with the surrounding snow.  So I can see how someone would see some snow that looks like it was thrown in around the snow stick and question what was going on.  That is why I put a little FAQ out on things seen in the AL Cam.
    Another post said that I am getting very wealthy off of KSE, which is about as far from the truth as it can get!  I started the back country guide service with friends of mine who are either unemployed in the winter or have job slowdowns and they are the ones doing the guiding.  I honestly do not know enough of the backwoods to feel comfortable being a full time guide.  I can take a tour or two, but then would run out of fresh snow.  The other guides can run 5-8 different routes to ensure that they are riding the freshest snow.  Plus, I have a full time job to attend to and cannot take the time off needed to be a guide.  So I am basically the booking agent for KSE.  I will get out on some of the weekend rides like the one tomorrow, but that is just to be able to ride.  I will not get paid for going along.  I will also try and hook up with some of the rides for the late afternoon, as many people riding with KSE would like to meet me, but again, I do not get paid for that.  So KSE is not a money maker for John Dee, but I am very happy that I can help out my friends a bit and also that I get to tag along on the rides and ride the back country for free!
    There was at least one other negative post, but I guess that is enough of this topic.  Like I say, I am all for freedom of speech, even if that means being critical of me, but I did feel the need to clear a few things up and thankfully about 95% of the persons coming to this site are smart enough to realize my lying about trail conditions or snow conditions would be the worst thing I could ever do and I won't concern myself with the 5% or less that are stupid enough to think I could possibly gain from that.  And as far as the KSE money is concerned, even if I was getting rich off of that, I do not see what the problem is.  This is the United States of America right?  We can still attempt to make a living in any way we choose, so long as we are not breaking any laws or bringing harm upon anyone, right?  Everyone that rides with us is doing it of their own free will and accord, so I really don't see the problem.  Some may thing the price is too high, but we are booked almost solid for the next 6-7 weeks, so it must not be that high!  Many of the riders are return customers, so they must have had a good time and felt they got their money's worth.  I know before I lived up here, I was dying to find a local to guide me around the back country and could not find a one.  I was willing to pay 100 dollars for a days riding.  Anyway, enough of that.
    I did get out for a ride yesterday.  I rode with two new friends, Bill and Mike.  Mike is a MI Tech Grad and Bill moved up here from Detroit for much the same reason I did, to escape the big city and live the simple life that the Keweenaw embraces.  It was decided that we would ride in the terrain to south of Houghton.  There are some higher elevations around South Range, Trimountain and Painesdale and they get dumped on too.  The only down side to riding those areas is that I have to ride the trails to them, I cannot just hop on my sled, ride out my garage and into the bush like I do when I ride up here.  However, it did afford me the opportunity to take some shots of the trail conditions and report back to you.  Before I do so, I will say that you should never expect conditions to be the same when you arrive up here.  In fact, the trail conditions can be much different in just a few hours up here as was what I experienced on yesterdays ride.  With that said, I would have to say I was pretty impressed by the conditions overall.  There was a really nasty stretch of trail between Houghton and South Range and I will get to that in a minute, but on average, the trails were in as good a shape as I have seen in several years.  After filling up with gas in Lake Linden, I shot up to the main trail and snapped this shot of to unsuspecting riders stopped right near the access trail to Lake Linden.  I did not know them and I bet they had no idea that they would be thrust onto the internet!
    I then went up to Bill's house and we proceeded to take the upper trail (# 17) down to Hancock.  That trail was also in fine shape and we did not have to slow our speed for any moguls, just to be safe in turns and also once we got to Hancock, where the speed limit is 10 MPH through town and enforced!  So watch it!  One of the spots where the trails have been lacking for snow cover is in the towns of Houghton and Hancock.  There they run very close to the roads, so they pick up a lot of sand and salt from the roads.  Plus they see a lot of traffic and sunlight, so about a week ago they were pretty bare, but this is what the trail through Hancock looked like yesterday.  Again, not too bad in my opinion.  Then south of the bridge is where things got nasty. Tons of moguls and dirt on the trails.  It really had looked like that section had not been groomed in days, but I was told that it gets done every day.  I was pretty skeptical of that daily grooming at first, but we did come across the groomer heading south and on the way back, the trail was much, much better.  The snow was still pretty dirty, so it will not hold a grooming as well, but at least they are out grooming it.
    After meeting Mike in South Range, we headed into the bush for some powder riding and were able to find some decent snow.  Not the deepest that the area has seen, but still enough to get stuck in and have lots of fun in.  Here is a shot of Mike and Bill resting after digging Mikes sled out of the snow.  Here is a shot of Bill standing in the trench I carved through the snow on my way through the bush.  We still had to be a little careful for stumps and stuff like that, but if you ride slow enough, they are not much of a problem, as I proved with my quick halt upon one.  We climbed higher and higher and the snow got deeper and deeper until finally it was too much for the Pol Cat to handle.  After playing in the bush we headed south even more and road some off trail spots around Toivola.  Some more powder riding and hill climbing and then it was starting to get late, so we decided to call it a day and head back.  A light snow had begun to fall when we started our ride and by the time I said good bye to Bill, it was fairly steady.  We picked up about 2 inches overnight and more is on the way in the next 4-5 days at least.
    I can say this, even though the trails were in pretty decent shape overall, they were busy.  Way more busy then I have ever seen on a non-holiday Thursday before.  It was more like a weekend or holiday up here, especially on the trail south of Houghton.  With that kind of traffic, you cannot expect them to hold up well and I would imagine the trail between South Range and Houghton looked like it had not been groomed for days again this afternoon.  I don't mean to discourage someone at all, just trying to prepare you.  As long as our area remains one of the few to be able to ride in, then it is going to be busy.  It looks like enough snow should fall that the trails will remain covered, but the bumps could get a bit out of hand from time to time, so bring the Doans and Ben Gay!
I almost forgot... could the "Mike" that wanted to have an NCN in Grand Rapids MN please e mail me your phone number?  I have tried to respond to your e mails but they keep getting bounced back to me!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 15-
    It's finally starting to look and feel like the Keweenaw in winter around here!  It just stopped snowing for the first time in I don't know how long and the skies are actually clear.  It looks like we could be in for a cold one tonight.  Clear skies, calm winds and a good snowpack.  My thermometer reads about 12 degrees, but I bet we dip below zero here in the valley by tomorrow morning.  I guess I could have underlined the word "starting" in my opening sentence, because in all fairness, we have about as much snow as we typically should by about the second or third week of December.  The plow banks are just starting to get waist deep and I have finally climbed above the 12" mark at my snow stick.  More is on the way and if we get what it looks like we could get, then in another week, it could look like it is suppose to look around here in the middle of January.  I really cannot complain one bit.  Based on what things were like around here last Wednesday and Thursday, we made a nice recovery.  I have gotten in 3 good rides since Saturday and a couple of good skis.  Another ride is in the cards for tomorrow and I'm sure a ski will happen Friday before another ride on Saturday.
    I was very glad to have picked up the snow we got yesterday, even if it was more than I was forecasting for!  I take it as a good sign or a good omen.  The weather seems to like to follow itself and the same can be said for the weather element of lake effect snow.  In the 4 winter that I have been up here to follow the lake snows on an intimate level, I have noticed that the same areas will get pounded time and time again for several weeks, then another area will either join in on the action or take over.  Last year it was the area around Mass City/Rockland that got pounded with snows around Christmas time.  Two years ago, it was the area from Phoenix to just past Lac La Belle that was hammered.  Three years ago it was areas around Paradise that were hammered.  I'm waiting for that year that Lake Linden is ground zero!  Actually I am not really waiting, as we will never likely be the center of snowfall activity, but will most likely end up with as much or a little less than surrounding areas in the higher terrain like Calumet.  The cold for next week does look to be a little different than it was this past 4-5 days.  Not only does it look to be more intense, but it looks like the winds will have a bit more of a westerly component to them and that favors the Keweenaw.  The more lake the winds can pass over, the more ability the lake has to add heat and moisture and thus make the clouds that make the snow.  A west wind gives us almost 2.5 times as much water for the air to pass over as a NW wind.  The colder air may not be of much more help.  It can actually get too cold to produce really heavy LES.  The really nasty cold stuff is also very dry, so the lake has to add more moisture than if the air were a bit warmer and had more moisture to it.  Also, the really nasty cold air is usually more stable, so the lake clouds cannot grow as tall and thus the snow is not as heavy.  None the less, I am keeping my fingers crossed for the more westerly component to the winds next week.  I also am telling myself on a daily basis that the Keweenaw is not known for their big dumps day after day.  Sure we get some big storms every year, but for the most part, we do not grab the headlines as far as big snow totals are concerned until it is time to tally things up for the year.  Somehow, we seem to just chug along all season and get enough to be either the King of the Hill or close to it for the entire Midwest, year in, year out.
    As I got ready to ride yesterday, the hounds watched me and they seem to get a little depressed when they seem me preparing for a ride.  I don't know if it is because they know I will be gone for a few hours, or if they are worried that this will be like the time they did not see me for a week (the time I broke my leg).  Anyway, as I was bundling up, I looked over towards the living room and there were these two sad faces looking back at me.  Sure makes it a little difficult to leave to go have fun, but I took one look outside and saw the fresh snow on the ground and the snow still falling at a decent clip and I told the hounds I loved them and would seen them in a few hours.  Another thing that makes it easier for me to go and also stay out a little longer are their automatic feeders.  They both have one and the feeder will dispense a precise amount of food at a specific time, so now I do not have to worry about getting back in time to feed them.  For the entire Autumn, I gradually worked their time to go to the bathroom later and later, so that they are used to going late in the evening now.  So theoretically I can stay out until about 9 pm without disturbing their normal input and output cycles.  Although last night I got in at about 6:30.
    After bidding the hounds good-bye for a few hours, I hopped on the sled and took off towards Al's shop to meet up with Brian.  It was just going to be Brian and I.  Our plan was pretty specific...to have fun and find the deepest snow.  We succeeded in both of our objectives  I can always tell it is going to be a good ride, when I get to ride through about 6" of powder just going down my street.  Brian was making some last minute fixes to his sled and then we hit the road, or shall I say the trail.  All day I had been looking up north and the ski seemed darker up there, so I figured they were getting some pretty decent snow.  They always do seem to get some good snow and we decided to run the valley up to some of the higher terrain in Keweenaw County.  I did bring my camera along and was looking forward to getting some decent powder shots.  As we rode up through the valley, the fields were starting to fill in nicely and there were even some nice drifts to bust.  My apologies for the missed timing of that shot.  My current camera takes about a second longer to snap the shot than the old one did.  Anyway, we continued north through the valley and the snow remained a constant 6-8" of powder on top of about 8-12" of base.  We worked our way further and further north and also began to work our way higher and higher and before we knew it the snow was coming up and over the windshields.  Ahhh, the blessed Keweenaw Powder!  After cutting some 2 foot trenches through the powder, I stopped to snap a shot and the darn camera was froze again!  I just about cried.  The sled were totally covered in snow and were sitting in snow up past their bumpers.  Brian was standing along side his sled and the snow was up to his knees.  I tried warming the camera up, but all to no avail.  We did end up finding some really deep stuff at the 1400-1500 foot level.  Deep enough to get us both stuck a few times and also for me to sink up to my waist in snow as I hopped of my stuck sled one time.  Darkness came way too early, so we hopped on a logging road we knew would take us to the groomed trail near Phoenix and then headed to go warm up for a bit at one of the local establishments.
    It was the first real test for the trusty Pol-Cat and she passed with flying colors!  My only stucks were for good reason, one time we were going up a steep hill and I was actually gaining on Brian, I let off the gas a bit and when it seemed like that would do me in, I decided to try and shoot past him, so I grabbed a handful again.  Just about at that moment, Brian decided to break off the climb and try and turn around and he ended up turning right into me.  Not a bad crash or anything, but the rear of his sled did hit my skis and that caused me to lay off the throttle and come to a dead stop almost immediately in the deep snow.  The second stuck happened because my track spun down to a buried log.  My track is not studded, so it just spun on the log and I went nowhere.  One of the other stucks might have been rider error, I am not sure, but I know it was not the sleds fault.  At times through the really deep stuff, I could keep it wide open and that caused the front end and skis to be pulled off the snow, I would keep it that way for a few hundred feet until it was safe to lay off the throttle again.  With the exception of possibly a longer track, that sled is one heck of a bush sled!  After warming up for a bit, we hit the trail for a bit and then some more bush trails and soon we were back in the valley and home.  An excited welcoming from the hounds, some dinner and a giddy talk with Nora on the phone for an hour or two (she is putting up with all my sled talk very well) and then I drifted off to sleep with a grin ear to ear.  Tomorrow's ventures are south of Houghton where the snow is also said to be very deep.  I will be bringing BOTH cameras to capture it all for you!
    Today the hounds and I took to the school forest for our ski.  I figured I had better get out there and start breaking a trail in.  It is not that deep yet, but it is best to not let it go too long, or it becomes quite a chore to cut a trail on the skis.  Without the strong winds the past day or so, the snows have finally been able to start accumulating on things.  I can still remember my first year up here.  I could not believe how much snow was on everything.  2-3 feet of snow coated everything from rooftops to mail boxes to street signs in some cases!  Just amazing.  Anyway, the trees in the school forest were starting to get all nice and flocked with snow.  One of the main objectives to the ski today was to also check out my little foot bridge and hopefully pack down the snow on it, so that it would become passable.  When we got to the bridge, it was hard to even make it out under all the snow.  With all the cold air and low snow, things are really freezing up nicely.  Brian and I did encounter some wet spots in the bush yesterday, but they were not as bad as they usually are.  The creek that the little foot bridge I made goes across is usually open and is now froze.  Even so, it will be nice to have the bridge there.  That way if or when we get a thaw, I will still be able to cross with no problems.  I packed, or shall I say panked, down the snow and we are good to go.  The hounds were able to cross without their paws going through, so I know I have a nice solid base for the rest of the seasons snow to fall on.  It snowed lightly the whole time we were skiing and that made for a nice atmosphere as well.  The woods were so quiet, all I could hear was the wind in the trees and the snow flakes hitting the ground and trees.  While I love the whine of a 2-stroke, it is also very nice to be out in the woods and hear nothing but the sound of falling snow.  Yes, it actually does make a sound.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 13-
    Another back to backer!  That's two in one week!  Wha!  Actually, this will be a rather short, but very informative one.  I took a ride this afternoon and brought the camera along, took lots of pictures, encountered about all you can encounter on the trails and will spill the beans to you all.  But first, I can say that we have been picking up at least a few inches a day for about 4 days now.  About a foot of new snow has come down in my backyard since Friday morning, with more in other spots up here.  Al and Brian's KSE ride was a no show so they took their sled via trailer up to the higher terrain of Keweenaw county to play yesterday and they reported a lot of snow down up there.  They were telling me of snow over the hoods and all that jazz.  I believe them, as it was almost to that point on our ride Saturday.  Anyway, here is a shot I took while on my ski this afternoon with the hounds, it shows how much snow is in the bush.  I guessed it to be about 14-16", more than I have in my back yard and I need to explain that my snow station is probably sitting in one of the lowest snow total places up here, due to it's exposure to the winds.  A lot of the snows that fell have been blown by the winds.  If you get into the woods, the snow is noticeably deeper than in my back yard.  There is deeper snow in my back yard than where the snow station is for that matter.  What ever happened to the snows without the hurricane force winds we used to have up here?
    So after my ski, I sacrificed life and limb and took to the groomed trails to get you all a first hand report.  I hope you all appreciate me doing that, I really do hate the groomed trails you know!  Ha, just kidding, sort of.  Actually, they are not that bad, I just have this terrible fear of hitting head on with another sled.  I guess one too many close calls with knuckle heads riding too fast and on the wrong side of the trail for me.  All my encounters today were very good, with the riders under control and well on their side of the trail.  All in all, it was a pretty good ride and it was also pretty quiet.  In the hour and a half I was out, I passed by about 3 groups of 2-3 sleds and one group of about 10-15 and that was it.  I started out by getting some gas in Lake Linden and then headed up the road/access trail to trail number 3.  Much to my delight, it had been freshly groomed and I was first tracks- it does not get any better than that!  And no, I did not plan that, just to get you all to come up here!
    I headed north on #3, my plan was to ride north until I hit some nasty stuff or Phoenix, which ever came first.  Riding the freshly groomed trail was awesome, not a bump to be had and lots of clean white snow.  I did encounter a few spots where the snow was a little thin and some rocks were mixed in.  Wait a minute, rocks is not the best choice of words, pebbles would be a better way to describe them actually.  I guess I am just not used to seeing anything but snow on the trails, so my vocabulary is not as precise as it should be!  Continuing north on #3, I got to the junction with the upper trail, #17, and was expecting things to go down hill quickly, but much to my surprise and delight, the trail there was flat too.  It was apparent that there had been more traffic on that section of trail than was on #3, as there were more pebbles, mostly in the corners, but sometimes on the straight aways too.  Occasionally, I would come across a few bumps, but for the most part, the section of trail that the Lake Linden Groomers take care of was in good shape.
    The junction of the main trail with the Gay to Mohawk trail is where the changing of the guards, or shall I say changing of the groomers, takes place.  The Lake Linden groomer turns around and heads south and the groomers from Phoenix turn around and head south.  It was extremely apparent that this was the case too, as the trail from that point on north was a disaster.  1-2 foot moguls the whole way, the moguls actually hitting bare ground, so that the pebbles were mixed into the snow a lot more too.  Now, I sort of have to hold my tongue, because I am practically related to one of the groomers out of Phoenix, but I was really, really disappointed at the shape of that trail.  It is always one of the most neglected sections of trail, which is a shame, because it is also one of the most heavily traveled sections of trail.  Look on a map, and you will see that the section from the Gay-Mohawk trail intersection and Phoenix consists of only one trail.  The Gay to Lac La Belle trail is closed, for the most incredible reason (which I will not disclose in this forum because of legal issues), so that just leaves one trail for everyone that wants to ride from Houghton, Hancock, Lake Linden and Calumet to places like Copper Harbor, Lac La Belle, Eagle Harbor or Eagle River.  I am willing to bet that trail was not groomed since Friday at least.  I was on it Saturday early evening and it was in pretty bad shape and today it was even worse.  I highly doubt that it could have gotten that bad in about 40 hours.  Possible, but not probable.  I am sure that the trail conditions improved a ton once you got to Phoenix, as that is where the team of groomers is stationed and they all must have headed north.
    I did not travel too much further north on the main trail.  I basically turned around on the access trail that goes to the Mohawk Mobile and headed back south.  I did not even take that trail south, but took a short cut through the bush to pick up the main trail as it went through Ahmeek.  I then decided to keep on the main trail and instead of going home the way I came up, I would travel through Calumet to see how things were there and then take a short cut through the bush back to Lake Linden once I was a few miles south of Calumet.  The trail in and around Calumet was not too bad at all.  Here is a shot of the trail just to the south of the HWY. 41 crossing near the Northgate Motel.  Pretty flat and no major issues.  There were a few bumpy and dirty spots, but the bumps were basically tolerable and really did not require me to slow my speed all that much.  Once I was south of town, the straight aways that head to Hancock were flat and I was surprised at the amount of brushing that was done this fall.  I was told that they had done a lot of brushing of the sides of the trail in that area, but I had no idea it would be that much!  It really opens up the trail, improves the visibility and makes it safer to ride it.  I had the trail to myself, so I was not too shy with the throttle.  In just a few minutes, I was a few miles south of Calumet and reached my jumping off point to take me to the lower trail.
    My short cut from the upper trail to the lower one brought me in very close to my trail cam, so I shot south on number 3 to go and check on the cam.  All was well, and the trail there was in pretty decent shape too.  A far cry from last Wednesday when it was all mud!  It did not take me much time at all to get home from the trail cam.  The trail was flat and there are plenty of straight aways and the only place that slowed me down was the area around the Hungarian Falls, where the trail takes lots of twists and turns.  I arrived safe and sound and with a fairly good representation of the trails.  I'm sure that in and near the towns of Houghton and Hancock, there are more bare spots of dirty spots, as the traffic is worse there and also because the trails make more road crossings, so they get more road grime on them, but for the most part, I think that I would say the trails I was on were fair to good, with the exception of the snow cross track around Mohawk, which I would rate poor.  If they run that stretch from Mohawk to the Gay-Mohawk trail intersection once or twice, it will be in pretty decent shape.  Not good, but tolerable.
    Last Monday I made predictions that the trails would hold up to the pending thaw pretty well.  Well, they did not do nearly as well as I had anticipated.  Thankfully this Monday, I have no thaws to contend with.  We do not look to pick up any big dumpings of snow, but several (2-6) inches of snow is likely every day this week.  A 6" snow would set all the trails up well, while the 2" snow would freshen things up, but I doubt that the pebbles would go away.  There are just so many sleds with 1" to 1.25" lug tracks on them that they do a lot more harm to the trail than the .50" lug tracks of 10 years ago used to do.  I think that I can say that in general, conditions will only improve from what I rode on today.  Temps will be plenty cold and some fresh snow every day for the rest of the week.  If you are wondering if you should make the trip, I cannot say for sure.  It all depends on what you are looking for.  Perfect trails? No. Tolerable to good ones? Yes.  All in all, not too bad considering what this winter had dealt us so far.  I do have plans to ride the bush at least twice in the next 4 days, so I'm sure I will have some shots from those rides to share.  Who knows, maybe even a video or two.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 12-
    That's it, I'm moving!  Yep, I'm packing things up and heading to the east end of Lake Ontario, to the Tug Hill Plateau.  I'm not sure how many of you have been keeping an eye on things out there via the cam in the NCN, but if you want to see snow, just go to that cam, but be patient, because it takes some time to load the image and if you are there, do not stay long, as he can only have 40 people looking at it at a time, so don't hod the cam.  Places on the southern edge of the Plateau have seen almost 4 and a half feet of snow since Friday and the location for the cam out there has 4 and a half feet on the ground right now.  That is more snow than I have ever had in my back yard.  They are having quite the season and it is not over yet!  It looks like quite a bit more snow will fall out there in the next 10-14 days, they might just set their all time snowiest winter if things keep up.  I am not totally sure what that is, but I think it is over 400".  Wha!  That is a ton of snow!
    Actually, I am not going anywhere.  My love for this area is for more than just the snow it gets.  I love everything about it actually.  However, I am really aching for some serious snow.  We have picked up some fresh in the past few days and it is snowing as I type.  All told, since Thursday night, we have picked up about 11-12".  It has been the lake effect fluff variety and the winds have been so strong, that the snow station depth has not increased much.  I did move about 6" off my driveway Saturday morning and got to use the new snowthrower for the first time in over a week and for the second time in about a month!  It's just been one of those winter.  I suppose I am preaching to the choir though.  At least we have snow and more is on the way.  I really cannot imagine what the folks in places of MN and WI as well as central MI must be thinking.  This has to be the worst winter on record so far.  Places like Rhinelander and Eagle River, WI and Brainerd MN have not had more than a few inches on the ground all winter.  I'm not sure if it is better or worse, but it has also been a pretty cold winter for them, or at least not mild.  I suppose the cold at least freezes up the lakes, so the ice fisherman can have their fun.  If you are reading this from places like that, my heart goes out to you.  If I could make it snow there for a week straight, I would.  That sad part is I really do not seem much snow for you.  The mother of all Alberta Clippers was indicated for a week from now, but that is not in the latest round of computer guidance.  A storm will develop in the Plains by about Wednesday, but looks to take low road and impact the southern and central Midwest once again.  So places like St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cincinnati will likely pass up places like Minneapolis, Green Bay, Eagle River and Minocqua for seasonal snowfall.  Weird, weird weather indeed.  El Nino?  Probably not.  It is just one of those weird, weird winters.  And keep in mind, it is not over yet.  There is still time for those places to get hammered, I just do not see it happening anytime soon.
    Well, enough or my weather synopsis, back to happenings in the Keweenaw and UP.  As mentioned, we have had snow since Thursday night.  It has stopped for a few hours at a time, but for the most part, it has been snowing.  Not always that heavy, but at least the flakes have been flying.  I even managed to take my first ride in the bush yesterday.  We had a KSE tour planned for yesterday, but the group opted out because of the snow conditions.  So KSE guides Al, Brian, and I as well as two others took to the sleds and went for a ride.  I was actually pleasantly surprised at some of the snow we found.  It was thin in spots, especially the fields, but once we got into some of the higher terrain in Keweenaw County, the powder snow was over my bumper and we were the first ones in it!  Al and Brian took a tour out today and have one planned for tomorrow, so I would imagine that they are hoping for some decent snow from this next event that is just starting.  I did bring my camera, but this was the inaugural trip for that cam and I learned that it does not like the cold that much.  The batteries and camera basically froze and I was not able to take any pictures of our trip.  It was a shame, because as mentioned, I could have provided some decent powder shots.  I do have a fanny pack type waist pouch that I can put the camera in and put it under my coat to keep it warm and I will be able to use the cam on future rides, but sorry, no powder shots this time around, soon.  I can almost all but promise that!
    I don't know if it was because the ride was the first one of the season, or if the conditions were really that good, but I really had a great time.  On a scale of 1-10, I would rate it an 8.5.  The only thing missing was the really deep stuff and the wide open fields of powder.  I really love those the most and with all the winds we have been having, the fields are really low in snow.  It was actually weird to be riding through the fields of the Traprock Valley and see weeds and plants sticking up out of the snow.  I have actually never ridden in them when I could see any vegetation other than trees and bushes.  There was about 6-8" of snow in them, but not the 2-3 feet that is usually there.  All in good time I am sure.  One plus about the cold and lack of snow is that things are freezing up well.  Traditional wet spots in the bush are almost totally frozen up.  We did have to jump a few wet spots yesterday, but they were not bad at all.  In fact if we do get some deep snow, they are small enough that they will just be blown in and covered up.
    The only bad part about the ride yesterday was the half mile or so that we had to ride the trail.  We only were on the trail through Mohawk and it was it's traditional washboard, only it had small rocks thrown in as well.  I suppose some grooming might have helped, but there really was not much snow on it.  That is just one busy section of trail and I cannot remember the last time that it was in very good shape at all.  We were also on the Gay to Mohawk trail for a short time and it was tolerable and the trail around Lake Linden continues to shine, with daily grooming and quite a bit of snow to groom at that.  On Wednesday when I went to set up the trail cam at it's new section, the trail there was mud.  Not snow, not rocks, not dirt, but mud.  A very depressing sight.  It got cold late Thursday and we did pick up some snow Friday and by the time I got out there Friday afternoon, this is what the trail looked like there.  If you did not notice, the trail cam is up and running again and updating every 60 seconds now.  I need to straighten out the cam a bit, but that is not something I feel like doing when it is so cold.  So the next time it looks like we will be warming to at least the mid 20's without any strong winds, I will get out there and get the cam straightened out enough that the trees are not leaning so much in the image.  I guess I can warn that it may crap out from time to time until get things straightened out with the dialer and capture program, but for now it is running.  I think next year I will be getting a better cam, that is for sure.  Wouldn't it be nice to have this image updated every 60 seconds?  Send in those donations and I'll get it going!  Just kidding, many of you have been very generous with your giving and I will just get by with the current setup for the rest of this season and make improvements for next season.  That was taken in the exact spot the trail cam is, I just held the digital still cam above the web cam housing.  I doubt that I could get a live image to look that good, but the cams that the MTU Cams (links section) and Paradise Cam (NCN) are using are really nice.  Problem is they are about 600 dollars. A bit steep for my budget right now.  By the way, that good trail cam shot was taken this morning, but it looks like the live trail cam is showing a little more dirt and a few more bumps at the moment.
    Besides the snowmobiling, I have also been doing a bit of skiing.  The hounds and I took to the school forest yesterday.  Conditions were quite good with the new snow and although I am craving the deep powder to arrive, I did not miss having to break trail in knee deep snow.  I had 3 or 4 inches of fresh snow to glide across, enough to keep me off the icy old snow underneath, but not too much for the hounds to have to trounce through.  There was some snow falling and it really felt like we were in the northwoods again, the quiet stillness than can only be experienced in this place.  No hustle, no bustle, no stress no noise.  Just the sound of the flakes hitting the branches and ground and the crunch of the snow as the hounds and I moved across it.  Pretty impossible to have any stress left in your system after some time in the woods like that.  Although it was not all fun and play, there was some work to be done.  There is a little creek that sits at the end of a small little hill.  The creek never fully freezes, at least not enough to support me or the hounds.  So I decided to build a little bridge over it this winter, so I do not have to ski around the creek.  The work went pretty quickly, with the hounds helping me to gather some sticks to put across the creek.  In no time we had our little bridge across the creek and now all we need is enough snow to cover it up so that we can cross it.
    So things are starting to look and feel more like the Keweenaw around here.  The snow is not nearly as deep as it normally would be, but we will get there.  I just have this feeling and I do not think it is wishful thinking.  I just have this gut feeling that the deep stuff will be here in not too long.  It is already pretty deep in some places of the Keweenaw.  The deepest stuff is found in the western UP.  Newberry, Mc Millan and Paradise seemed to be the winners with this latest round and even more looks to fall there.  We'll get ours, I can feel it in my bones.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 9-
    I decided to get a quick one off for a number of reasons.  Number one, I has been three days since I last wrote and things have changed quite dramatically trail condition wise and also because I will likely be busy tomorrow and also because I hope to add some hope amongst some of the doubts for the lake snow that has yet to arrive.
    On the first topic, we really took it on the chin Tuesday and Wednesday.  In fact, we broke a high temperature record Tuesday and came within one degree of tying it on Wednesday.  On my walks with the dogs yesterday, it really felt like it was April.  The air felt mild, the sun was warm, the snow was melting, there was not a lot of snow on the ground and what was there was pretty dirty.  If I had just awoken from a coma and did not know any better, I would have for sure guessed it to be late April up here.  Well, the warm temps are gone and we did pick up about 1-2" this morning.  The accumulating snows then shut down for the rest of the day, but we did pick up some flurries.  The trails really took it hard.  They were so dirty that the mix of sun and clouds we had with the warm temps Tue. and Wed. caused a lot of the snow to melt.  I was out setting up the trail cam in the mild air yesterday afternoon and the trail there was all mud.  No snow what so ever, just mud.  I did not have my camera with me, but it does not take that much imagination to vision a trail that is basically mud.  So you can go back to the picture taken on Monday and posted in the previous journal of the trail near the new trail cam site and get a feel for what happened between Monday and Wednesday afternoon.  I did go up to the trail by my house today and snapped a shot.  Things there were tolerable, but that is representing about the best that things are up here right now.  So if you were wanting to ride right this minute, you would have some really poor conditions to ride in and some tolerable.  I'd say we need about 5-6" of new snow to fix things up to where everything is at least tolerable and other spots are good.  So will we get those 5-6"?
    The answer to that is yes, a definite yes.  The question is how long will it take for us to get that?  Right now my best guess is that in the next 24 hours we will get it.  It is possible that by tomorrow morning we will have it.  The latest NWS forecast out of Marquette for this area has us in 3-6 tonight, 4-8 tomorrow and 3-5 tomorrow night.  Add them all up and I get 10-19" by Saturday morning.  I really cannot argue with their thinking too much.  That may be a tad bit high, but 10" by Saturday morning seems quite reasonable.  So by Saturday, things should be in fairly decent shape.  The biggest questions will be the traffic and how the trails hold up to that.  I guess one good thing will be the fact that the first few inches will come when most sledders will be sleeping.  Then the early birds will get out early tomorrow and hopefully be gentle with the new snow and pack it down.  Then hopefully the groomers can get at it and pack it down even more and then we can get some new snow tomorrow and tomorrow night and that will improve things.  Another good thing is it will be COLD.  Cold temps do wonders for the snow on the trails.  It gets packed down and is rock hard.  Sure that may mean some hard bumps, but is also means that if it is flat, it will stay flatter longer.  Now, if that were not enough optimism, it also looks like the snow will never really fully stop all weekend, with a few inches likely both Saturday and Sunday and another period of heavier snow is possible by later Monday and into Tuesday and maybe another by the end of next week.  So I hope I have just brought a little bit of optimism to you all, because I know I sure did for me!
    So the thousands of folks coming up to ride this weekend are really hoping things pan out.  However, I know of about 20 people that are really hoping the forecast pans out and we get the high end of the 10-19" by Saturday.  We have three KSE rides sitting at the gates for this Saturday, Sunday and Monday and I know it is not just the visitors that are chomping at the bit to get out.  Guides Al and Brian are also chomping at the bit to get out and if my little sore throat I have tonight does not worsen, I too will be heading out to play in the new snow this weekend.  I took the sled to Al's to have one last bit of work done on it today and riding it home this evening, with the cold air, it was extra crisp on the throttle.  I really cannot wait to see how it does in the bush.  It seems like it is set up just perfect.  Man I hope I am not catching a cold!  Wouldn't that just be it, the seasons first big dump and I am sick!  Don't worry, I'll think positive, get lots of sleep and drink lots of fluids.  I was also instructed by my on private Dr. Nora to take vitamin C, so I have taken that too.
    The thousand or two visitors and the 20 or so KSE folks are not the only ones praying for the snow.  Even lots of locals are praying for the snow.  Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival starts in a few weeks and the folks there need snow to build all of their snow statues.  There is also Hancock's Finnish Snow Festival.  I am not going to even try to spell that, it is two Finnish words, full of vowels and I have not lived here long enough be to that level.  I just graduated from names like Koski, Riutta and Maki and hope to get past the middle level names like Kinnunen and onto the advanced level names like Ruonavaara.  I will likely never pronounce them correctly, but at least I will be able to spell them!  Anyway, the cities of Houghton and Hancock build snow houses for the finnish festival.  They are believed to be the only two snow houses in the entire US and gained the two cities national acclaim last year.  So they need snow for them too.  So lots of folks are hoping for the white stuff.  With that much hope floating around, I think we will be ok.
    Well, I guess that about does it for this time.  Hopefully the next journal will be filled with lots of powder riding shots and beautiful snow scapes.  I am all ready to get stuck and love it!  Keep those fingers crossed!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 6-
    Wow, a back to backer!  This is going to be a pretty short one, but I did take a ride on the snowmobile this afternoon and have some shots to share with you from my ride.  It was not a long ride at all, but I did want to ride far enough until I got to some poor conditions, so that I could show you the whole gambit up here.  First off I guess I can say that for only picking up about 6" of snow in the past two weeks and having to handle all the holiday traffic, things could be a lot worse.  Don't get me wrong, the trails are not in good shape up here, at least not most of the trails, but they are not a total disaster either.  I guess I may as well start out with the start of my ride.  I was thinking about saving the best for last, but the best conditions were encountered at the start of my ride.  Here is a shot of the trail #3 just north of the Norman Rd. which is just north of Lake Linden and north of my house.  It is actually the trail junction if you were to ride from Lake Linden to Gay.  You ride Normand road down to the Cemetery road and take a right on it and run it for about a quarter mile until the trail gets back off the roads.  At any rate, I would give that trail a rating of good.  It had been groomed and there was 100% snow cover.  Of the 20 or so miles I put on today, about half were on trails like that.  A little further up the trail, I came to a corner and that is where things went down hill a bit.  Still not too bad, but certainly some dirt mixed in.  If you ever wondered what snirt is, here it is.  Still no bumps though and actually, I encountered very little in the way of bumps.  We just do not have enough snow to create much in the way of moguls.  I guess that is one good thing about having low snow!  And I also have to hand it to the groomers up here.  For all the hard times I have given them in the past, I can say that they are making the best of a pretty bad situation.  I can speak from direct experience for the trail system around Lake Linden and have it from a reliable source that the system from Mohawk north was not all that bad either.  At leas considering the low snow and heavy traffic.
    After going north about 5 miles, I turned around and headed back south.  The sled was running like crap, only running on 2 of the three cylinders.  I took it down to Al's to have a look at it and it turned out that the choke harness had gotten knocked out of alignment and it was causing one of the chokes to be on and that is why I was only running on two cylinders.  After getting things straightened out, I decided to continue south and check out the new location for the trail cam.  It is about a mile south of the Hungarian Falls.  I had figured that the trail by the falls would be in bad shape, it always was in the past, even with lots of snow.  To my surprise, things were not as bad as I had anticipated.  There was some snirt and even a few bare spots in the turns, but still not a total disaster.  The hill up to the falls on the south end was always a mess, with low spots and wet spots and no matter how much snow we got, it would be a mess.  Well, this past fall they went in and put in some culverts and also filled in the low spots with mine rock.  That is rock left over from the mining days, most pieces are about baseball to softball sized.  At any rate the trail there had some rocks sticking up out of the snow or on top of it, but they were not big enough to do any damage.  I can say that even though there are some rocks sticking up that section of trail is in much better shape than it used to be.  With some snow, it will be in pretty good shape and because it is now flat and does not have any water running on it, it will stay in better shape.
    Soon after going down that hill, I reached the new spot for the trail cam.  I think that will be a better spot for it.  I was hoping that there were some street lights there, then I could keep the cam on all night, but I do not think that any are close enough.  I hope to make use of some milder temps tomorrow and Wednesday and will get the cam and computer over there.  I also need to get a phone line hooked up at the friends house where it will be plugged in, but hopefully that will not take the phone company too long.  The last time they had to do that, it took them a few days and it was up.  So if all goes as planned, I should have the trail cam up and going again by the end of the week or so.  On the way back, I stopped at the Hungarian Falls to snap a scenic shot.(FSV).
    So, in conclusion, I can say that things were not as bad as I had thought they would be.  I can also say that I did not ride very much of the entire trail system at all.  Just a small sampling to be exact.  The trails and near the bigger towns of Houghton, Hancock and Calumet are in worse shape, almost completely bare in spots.  However, some of the trails that I rode today were as good as they almost ever get, no matter how much snow we have.  So, if you are the type of person that can roll with the punches and make the most of any situation and really want to ride, you could come up right now and ride. If you are someone looking for all fair to good trails and do not like to be surprised by anything worse than you were told, then stay home, you will not have a good time.  There still looks to be some decent snow arriving later this week and through the weekend.  They way things look right now, we should pick up about 3-6"/day starting Thursday and continuing through Sunday.  If that does happen, it will do wonders for the conditions up here.  We do look like we will see some warmer temps tomorrow and Wednesday.  Our high tomorrow may tough 40 and Wednesday may reach about 35.  So things will get worse before they get better, but the snow we have on the ground is a hard, dense snow, so it will not melt too fast.  The sun angle is still low, so any snow in the woods will last just fine.  I will be keeping tabs on things and hopefully the trail cam will be up and running soon so that it can give a live shot of how things are.  It looks to be in a place that takes it on the chin a bit, so that is good.  At least it will be showing a spot that is not perfect all the time.  So I guess that will do it for another one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 5-
    As I start this journal entry, I feel like there should be a drum roll or something.  Usually what I have to say I feel is not that earth shattering or exciting.  I mean, I realize that just sharing the simple events of my everyday life with you all is entertaining and most of the time I can see why.  I get to live in such a fantastic place and get to do such fun things and see such neat stuff, but for me it is just part of my everyday life.  So to me, there is not much fan fair to it.  But what I am about to share with you all is not an everyday event and I really feel like this deserves some fan fair.  So if you want to have a little drum roll go off inside your head just for dramatics, feel free.  I do have to admit, I have gotten a little chuckle reading about what folks think has been happening with me.  To be fair with you all, I guess I can see how many of you would have thought I was getting engaged or something of that nature.  This past summer I had mentioned how I started dating someone, but also went on to say I would not be sharing much of that with you all, then about 6 months later I start talking about a girl and some exciting things that will be happening related to her, but still do not say what, so I guess I would have probably been thinking the same thing.  However, the woman I was dating this summer I am no longer with.  We had a fun time for a few months, but then things did not work out.  We remained friends and did a few things as friends for another month or two, but then sort of slipped back into our own lives and have not seen each other in several months.  So that clears up that side of the story.  Now I can introduce you more completely to Nora and our adventures thus far.
    It all started out at the beginning of November when I received an e mail from Nora's aunt.  She goes by "Cupid" in the Ask John, so I will just call her that in this forum too.  Cupid lives up here in the Keweenaw, about 10 miles from me, but I had never met her, she knew me from the website and my radio work up here only.  Anyway, in Cupid's e mail she said something to the effect that she had a neice that she thought I might get along pretty well with and that we might make a great couple.  This neice grew up in Lake Linden, but does not live up here now, she lives in the downstate Port Huron area.  She mentioned that her neice was planning on moving back up here permanently in a little while.  At first I was thinking that it did not sound like anything I would be interested in exploring.  Port Huron is a long way away, I had no idea what this neice looked like or what her personality was like and it just seemed like something someone desperate would do and I was anything but desperate.  Pickey yes, desperate, no.  But I thought a little more about it and figured that Cupid probably knew a lot about me, even though she had never met me, through the reading the journal.  She also obviously knew her neice, so when she said she thought we had a lot in common I figured she might be right.  So I adopted the attitude that a few e mails back and forth could not bring any harm, so I responded to Cupid's e mail and said that I would send her Neice, Nora, an e mail or two.
    Well, Nora had no idea what her aunt had been up to and when she found out was a little embassared and a little mad, but she soon got over it and we had a nice e mail correspondence going on.  We were able to make a good connection through the e mails and felt very comfortable talking to each other and about a week later we had our first phone conversation.  The phone conversations went equally as well and soon we were spending lots of time on the phone, and I mean LOTS!  In an average day I would say 2-3 hours and on weekends, easily 5 hours.  The conversations went so well and it never even seemed like we were talking so long.  Thank goodness for free long distance as well as nights and weekends on cell phones, or I would have had to take out a second mortgage on the house for my phone bills!  Anyway, spending that amount of time on the phone each day, you can get to know someone very well.  Kind of hard to keep up any kind of a false front or something, so be both knew what the other person was like.  I can also point out that a few days after the initial e mail, Cupid had sent me some pictures of Nora, so I was able to see that she was a very pretty person.
    Nora and I got to know each other very, very well.  We had 2 out of the 5 senses down, but were longing to get the other 3 under our belts.  Before being introduced to me, Nora had actually planned to come up here to visit with a friend during the holidays, so we began a countdown to when she would arrive.  Her arrival date was December 29th, so for me, Christmas this year was almost an obstical to get beyond in order to finally be with Nora in person.  So the phone conversations and staring at her pictures kept up and, I know this is going to sound a little hard to believe, but the two of us managed to fall in love without even meeting each other in person.  I do have to say that I am about the last person who thought that he would ever start a relationship this way, but I can also say that there are some definate advantages to having it start that way.  We really were able to become friends first, get to know each other pretty well, then fall in love.  As far as the actual meeting each other was concerned, it became pretty much of a non issue as far as our feelings for each other were concerned.  We had pictures of each other, so we knew what each other looked like.  We talked with each other probably as much or more than most married couples talk on a daily basis, so the communication was there.  So we had actually managed to build a very solid foundation on which to build our relationship.  Now don't get me wrong, I was really looking forward to the touch, smell and taste part of the relationship too, but was extremely happy with the relationship we had up to that point so far.
    So a week ago today, December 29th- the doorbell rang, I opened it up and there she was.  I could finally kiss those lips I had been staring at in pictures for weeks.  Run my fingers through her hair and hold her in my arms.  I was a little nervous at first.  Well, I guess not really nervous, but it was a unique experience to finally be with her in person.  To be with someone I knew so well, but was seeing for the first time.  We hit it off as good in person as on the phone and even with all the hype that we put on our first meeting, things went as good or better than we had hoped for.  We spent as much time as we could with each other and got to ring in the New Year with each other.  We had fun with her friend that made the trip with her as well as with some of her family that lives in the area, and the best sign of how good things went was when it came time for her to head back to Port Huron.  Not a fun thing at all.  I spent most of the day yesterday in a bit of a fog and she was in no better shape.
    Before meeting her, I really believed my life was pretty complete and I was pretty happy with the way my life was going.  I knew it would be nice to be able to share it with the right person, but as pickey as I am, I was not pinning my happiness on me ever finding that person.  Well, after meeting her, I now can see just how much was missing from my life and how important she is to me.  Of course Burt and Baileys took to loving her right away.  They can sense a great thing when the see it and she loved them too.  She will be moving up this June and we will be getting together many times before then. I thought I would never say this in my life, but I cannot wait for winter to get over with and for summer to arrive!  Of course I will enjoy the winter to it's fullest and just deal with spring as best I can, but this summer is going to be a ton of fun, I can tell that already!  A few weeks ago I posted this years Christmas picture with the hounds and I, but I feel that this is the real version.  So Merry Christmas- again!
    So I guess that is about all the beans I can spill up to this point.  On one of our walks we managed to get over the the Gratiot River and I took some more shots over there.  Things did not look that different from when I was there at the beginning of December.  There was still about 8" of snow on the ground, the river was open in spots and frozen in others.  A very beautiful spot and some beautiful sights, but words cannot describe how great it was to be able to share it with Nora.
    I have yet to get out on my sled and really have not been out to see the trails much at all.  I know they are still grooming, but the snowpack in many spots is thin.  We have had less than 8" in almost 2 weeks and with all the traffic, we need fresh snow bad.  Mother nature does look to delivier the goods by the end of this week and I do have plans to get out there and play in it.  I also will be getting the trail cam set back up in it's new location.  I hope it will be running by the end of this week.  There should also be quite a few cams added to the NCN in the coming weeks as I have been overwhelmed with folks wanting to add their cam to it.  Plus, there are a ton of Guest Shots pouring in, so even though my journal has been lacking for pictures lately, there are some fresh things on the site and the journal will be coming around soon.  We just need some new snow.  So until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 1-
    Happy New Year!  I hope everyone's welcoming of the new year was as good as mine, although I seriously doubt that any were better!  I know I promised to tell you all more about what is happening in my personal life and I promise I will.  However, it will not be tonight.  I am afraid that getting up to work at 4:45 yesterday morning and then staying up until a little past midnight without any little nap as really made me tired tonight and I really want to be able to spend the time to tell the story right.  However, I will share a picture of My Love and I.  That was taken just today out at White City Beach.  We took a little trip out that way this afternoon with her friend Pam and the hounds.  I guess in my haste, I did not even mention her name, it is Nora.  I have to admit that when I start even thinking about her, I can get a little scatter brained!  Must be love, huh?  Anyway, as mentioned, we did do a little exploring down in the Jacobsville/White City area today.  There was a bit of a chill in the air, with temps around 20 and it was pretty windy at the beach, so we took a walk in the woods.  It was neat because Nora was able to take me to a place I had never been.  Just a two track going off into the woods, but I sure to love to go places that I have never been up here and could not imagine better company!  We saw quite a few deer on our walk as well as some coyote, bobcat and rabbit tracks in the snow.  Quite the hub of activity out there.
    We did pick up some nice fresh snow yesterday and believe it or not, I think that Lake Linden did as well or better than just about everywhere else in the Keweenaw and even the UP with the snows.  It started snowing at about 11 pm on the 30th and kept up all day on the 31st.  All told I picked up about 5-6" of the white stuff.  It was the lake effect fluff, but was still great to get!  Just another 5-8" and I think the bush riding can commence!  I really am looking forward to getting back out into the bush to do some riding.  The trails up here are pretty beat up.  The snow yesterday did help a bit, but the place has just been so busy that the grooming cannot keep up with the traffic.  I heard the groomer go by on the trail up by my house at about 11 am in the morning yesterday and at about 2:30 yesterday afternoon I drove by that trail and it was already pretty bumped up.  We do not have enough snow for the bumps to get too big, but it was certainly not flat and if you did not know any better, you would have though that the trail was not groomed in a day or so.  I did snap a few shots of the trail at the road crossing yesterday afternoon.  This trail number 3 at the Gas Plant Road Crossing, looking north.  Here is a shot looking south.  I used the cameras zoom to make it look like it was really snowing hard.  It actually was snowing pretty hard at the time the shot was taken, but probably not quite that hard.
    Our destination yesterday was the north shore.  It was very windy and I though it would be neat to see the angry lake and maybe even catch some ice castles in the making, then we could walk the road north of Calumet Waterworks, as it is nicely sheltered from the wind.  We got to the lake and walked out to the shore, but could only stay briefly as the wind and the cold made it pretty uncomfortable to be out there.  The waves were rolling in and the ice castles were also forming, so I snapped a shot and then we headed to the comfort of the protected road.  Once there, we enjoyed a nice relaxing walk with the hounds, the snowflakes gently falling to the ground and the snow crunching under foot.
    The only picture I took on today's walk (other than the one Pam took of Nora and I) was of a fishing boat returning to port.  I am not sure where they made their port, but I can only imagine how glad they were when they finally made it in off the cold, wet and windy lake.  By the looks of all the seagulls following the boat, I would imagine that they were successful in their venture.  Those were the Huron Mountains in the distance behind the boat too.
    Well, I am afraid that this one is coming to an end.  I want to get this posted, then answer some Ask John's and then get to bed.  I can barely keep my eyes open, so will have to be brief.  I guess as far as coming up here to ride, my statement made a few days ago still stands.  And that is if you really, really want to ride and do not mind some bumps and even some traffic, then come on up.  We have enough snow so that you will not harm your equipment.  However, if you are looking for good to excellent conditions and little traffic, you will not be happy by what we have up here.  The trails are getting groomed, but there really is only so much that can be done.  The forecast for us and even much of the northern Midwest looks encouraging as we head into next week and the time frame beyond, so that is nice to see.  It is just that at the moment, we are one of the only places to ride in the Midwest, so we are absorbing a lot of traffic.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
- JD-
 
 
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