It's been an
interesting last couple of days, for those of you who may have missed it,
we got a little bit of snow up here- 26" to be exact. That
is actually the biggest single storm total that I have experienced so far
in my lifetime. There have been periods up here that it has snowed
steadily for days and days and we have picked up 30 to 40" of snow, but
those were not exactly just one event. Some other snowfall totals
from this storm for the area include 27" at Phoenix, 20.7" at Mohawk, 18.4"
at Marquette, 15.7" and Bruce Crossing, 12.7" at Ontonagon and 25" and
Cornucopia WI, which is in the Bayfield Peninsula in Northwest Wisconsin.
The first part of the storm provided a very wet and heavy snow, while the
second half of it was a lighter and fluffier variety. Too bad this
was not one of the first storms of the season, it would've provided an
absolutely perfect base for the rest of the season. Oh well, I guess we
have to take what we get, when we get it, and just be happy for it.
I do have lots of pictures to share, and a few interesting stories as well,
so let's get on with that shall we?
The snow started falling
Thursday afternoon at about 4 PM, pretty lightly at first, but then by
about six or seven o'clock it was coming down hard enough to start accumulating.
The roads still had a little heat left in them from the dailight, so the
snow was little slower to accumulate on them, but once the sun went down
the snow started to accumulate on the roads as well. When I went
to bed at about 9 PM, there was about 2" on the snow station. When
I woke up the next morning at about 4:30 there was about 10" and at that
point I figured we were in for a pretty big storm, because I knew we still
had about 24 hours a fairly heavy snowfall to go through. It did
continue to snow throughout the day on Friday, however temperatures were
close to freezing so the snow compacted and even melted a little on the
snow station, that is why even though we picked up about 6" during the
day on Friday, the depth on top of the snow station did not increase.
Friday's snowfall measurement was actually taken from my driveway, as I
cleared off all the snow Friday morning and before going to bed took the
measurement which showed 6" new. Then overnight Friday night into
Saturday morning is when we picked up the 10" of powder. Here's a
shot of the Al Cam Saturday morning as the storm was winding down, with
on top of the snow station. The depth on the ground at that point
was 31", one inch shy of tying the deepest depth of the season. Ever
since building the snow station and having the Al Cam, I have dreamt of
a storm like that, with the snows piled up so deep on it. The only
other time it did that was two years ago at Christmas, while I was away.
So even though I was actually ready for the snow to go away completely,
this was an awesome storm and I'm happy that we got the snow we did.
The plows were a little
later than usual getting to my end of the village, but by 10 a.m. both
Friday and Saturday the roads were clear, and one of the amazing things
is that with the strong late March sun, most of the roads were actually
free of all snow by Saturday afternoon and many of the busier highways
were actually dry. Both testament to how well the road crews take
care of things appear, as well as the strength of the solar radiation at
this time of year. Here's a shot that I took Friday morning looking
down the road I live on before the plows had come. You can see
how wet and sticky the snow was, even sticking to the power, cable and
phone lines. The wet heavy snow did bring down a few tree limbs,
but I don't think that there were widespread problems with trees were tree
limbs coming down under the weight of the snow. Another amazing thing,
to me at least, was how the local population treated the storm. Schools
were already out for spring break in most areas so they were not canceled,
the few that were still in session did have classes canceled, but other
than that it was pretty much business as usual around here. All the
stores were open, there was no mad rush of persons trying to stock up,
just another day in the Keweenaw basically. In fact, the local newspaper
did not even do one-story on the storm, except for on Thursday, buried
on page two was a brief little paragraph about the storm coming.
Put 26" down just about anywhere else in the Midwest and that is front-page
headlines for at least several days.
On Friday, the dogs
and I got in both our morning walk and our afternoon walk and then I fired
up the Pol-Cat to go and play. My plan was to stick to groomed trails,
figuring that they would be safe, with no obstacles underneath the snow
that could cause me problems- I was riding alone, so I did not want to
get into any serious trouble. I actually ended up choosing to go
down the Dreamland trail, as I figured no one would be down it yet and
I would have all the fresh snow to myself. In order to get to the
dreamland trail, I needed to use the main trail for a bit, and there was
tracks on it yet either. It was actually a strange experience
to be riding in an area and on a trail that I must have ridden on at least
a dozen times this winter, but to almost not recognize where I was or even
where the trail went. With all the fresh snow, and nobody down the
trail yet, it was actually hard to make out exactly where the trail went.
I was grateful that I was riding on a familiar trail and was able to
stay on it. Just really weird though as it seemed like I was
riding in a foreign land. My sled started bogging down and I could
not immediately figure out what the problem was, I checked all the plugs
and they were fine, so I decided to not chance things and headed back to
town and to Al's shop to see if he could help me figure out what was wrong.
We tried a few things, but were not able to get it fixed. I was pretty
bummed to not able to take advantage of all the fresh snow, but still had
fun testing it out on the Lake Linden sands, and powdering
So Friday night I just
hunkered down with the hounds, built a fire and watched it snow.
I was not planning to do any more riding, but waking up on Saturday and
seeing 20" on the snow station, a bug was planted in the back of my mind
to try and figure out a way to get one last ride in. I called Brian
and he said I could borrow an extra sled they had, but I did not feel comfortable
riding a foreign sled in the conditions we had. So my next step was
to call Al and see if he had any ideas on why the sled was doing what it
was doing. He said that he was going to be up on the trail doing
some testing with a friend, and that I could bring it by and he would look
at it there and see if he could figure out what was wrong with it.
So I dressed up and head out to meet up with Al and BJ to try and get the
sled running good enough for one last play in the powder. Just getting
to the snowmobile trail turned out to be a bit of a challenge, the way
my sled was running. Had it been running in good form, I could've
just carved a trench
through the snow and had no problems. However the trench carved
in that last shot took all the sled had in it and there was no way it was
going to make it up the steep little hill that gets to the trail, so I
circled around to head back down. The sled was pushing so much snow,
that I just had to stop and take a picture of it because for me to say
that the snow was up to the windshield would have probably been unbelievable
to most of you- but
here's the proof. I did have to move a little of the snow away
from the front of the sled to get it going from there, but it didn't take
much and I was on my way back down to the road and onto the other way to
get to the main trail. Once at the main trail, I figured that somebody
else would have been down it by then and I would not have to worry about
getting down to where Al and BJ were testing. My hunch proved to
be correct as there
were a few tracks on the trail, made by whom I could not tell, but
I bet they were loving every minute of it! Can you just imagine being
the first one down that trail and putting on 20 or 30 mi. in that snow?!
A dream come true.
Anyway I made it down
to where Al and BJ were testing and let Al
hop on on the sled to see if he could figure out what was wrong.
He really is one heck of a mechanic as only took him about 60 seconds of
riding it to figure out that it was something wrong with the secondary
clutch. We took off, took it apart, did a few things to it, put it
back on and then I tested it and wala, no more bog. It was not running
as perfect as it did before, but still plenty good enough for me to take
an afternoon ride with the gang. BJ was trying to get his 700 RMK
dialed in just right and here he is coming
back from a test run. So with my sled running good enough to
ride, I headed home to take care of a few things, including having lunch
and taking the dogs for a quick walk before meeting up the boys the ride.
Before heading out
for the afternoon ride, I took a shot of the front
of house with all the new snow and the sled already to go. We
all met up at Al's shop, there turned out to be 7 of us in the group, three
on long tracks, the rest of us a short ones. Nobody really had any
strong ideas of where we should go, so we just headed out and decided to
go wherever the sleds took us. We actually started down the same
trail that I was going to take the afternoon before and turned around because
my sled was running so poorly. Any sign that I had been down there
less than 24 hours before was long gone and burried and we were actually
breaking fresh snow the whole way, while riding the DNR trail the whole
time. It actually was quite a challenge to ride. I was number
three in line, with two huge trenches to either try and stay in, or make
my own. At times I rode in one of the trenches already carved and
at times carved my own. Anytime I got off into untouched snow and
I had to carve my own path, I had to keep the throttle just about wide
open. The handlebars were pretty much useless except to help tip
the sled from one side to the other to turn, the snow was so deep and so
powdery that the skis were of little help to actually turn the sled.
I'm glad that I had the power riding experience that I have, but it still
took 100% concentration 100% of the time to keep from going off the trail.
Case in point, I turned back for just a moment to make sure that the person
behind me was still there and in that split-second got sucked off the trail
and into a little gully. I was able to recover, but it was a little
harrowing, driving through some bushes and looking at a rather large tree
not too far up in the distance that needed to be avoided.
We got to the point
where the trail actually intersects a road and then used the road for awhile.
I'm glad that whoever was leading, I think that was Brian, had decided
to stop and rest for a minute because that four or five miles of trail
riding in the deep snow actually was pretty exhausting. Here is a
shot of the group
and their sleds, many with their noses powdered. I bet many of
you have been on this trail, it's the one that goes from Lake Linden to
Gay. However, I bet very few of you have ever seen
the Post Road looking like this. How about that for the groomed
trail?! We actually broke off the trail at that point did some playing
around in a field and then headed off into the bush to do some bush riding.
After about 5 or 6 miles of riding in the bush, I felt a sudden jerk and
very quick decelleration of my sled- fast enough to eject me from the sled.
I turned out okay, just managing to do a somersault and landing on my rear
end in all the fresh snow. However, my
sled was not so lucky. I managed to rip out a few radius rods,
the rear mounting bolt for the the right hand trailing arm and a few other
things. Luckily I was able to ride the sled up the bush trail about
a mile to the road, where we called a friend and he came and picked me
and my sled up in his pickup truck and my day of riding came to close.
In all the rides that I have taken in all the past years, this is the first
one that I have actually had to bow out because of sled damage. There
was that one unfortunate incident two years ago where I had to bow out
because of a broken femur, and two weeks ago I wouldn't have minded bowing
out after I took my little spill. So I was not too upset that I had
to bow out yesterday, especially since I was doing so with all my body
I did leave my camera
with Brian so he could capture the rest of the ride for me, as fate would
have it, it did not take long for the next rider and sled to fall victim.
This time it was
Brian, maybe that camera was bad luck! His event was similar
to mine, hitting something that was buried under the snow, but I guess
his must have been a little worse since his windshield looks to have been
broke and there's a bigger mess around the spot where his sled came to
a rest. Brian got he and his sled back home somehow, I don't know
how, because they did not call me. The day's events were not done
yet, as I guess Al blew a chain and his chain case and there was one other
incident that I do not know the details of. Here is a shot of what
was left of the group by the time Al blew his chain and here they are
Al's sled into Brian's truck. I guess everybody in the group
was ejected from their sled at least once during the afternoons ride, with
some guys hitting the ejection button three or four times. The nice
thing about it was that we were never going fast enough to really get hurt
and you always had a pretty soft landing after the injection.
I guess Brian wasn't
through riding just yet, because when he got home he took out the spare
sled that he had offered to let me ride and went out with one of the guys
from the afternoon ride. He also was not done being ejected, as I
guess he hooked something under the snow the sled turned sideways and he
went flying through the air, only to end up landing
in a wet spot. I think at that point he decided to call it a
day and headed for home. He did leave me one last shot, I'm not sure
if it was from the scene of his ejection, or just a shot of the trenches
they were carving through the bush trail, but in either case it was a pretty
shot, my 19th, and my last for this journal.
So I've got a fairly
crippled sled in my garage and I'm trying to decide whether or not I want
to fix it in the next couple of days. The forecast actually holds
some more snow in it, or at least chances for snow. The models are
indicating a couple of inches for Monday night and then the potential for
even heavier snow by Thursday or Friday, however some of the models are
indicating could be rain by Thursday or Friday. I suppose I will
look into getting the sled fixed whether I do it myself or maybe have Al
do it. I sure would hate to put it off only to get a bunch more snow
and not be able to play in it. Plus Nora will be up in two weeks
and I don't want her to see HER sled sitting in the garage all busted up.
Yep, I've pretty much made up my mind that I'm going to be riding the different
sled by next season. I do not know if it will be a brand new sled,
or an '03 sled that has yet to be taken out of the box, or perhaps an '02
or '03 sled that has a few miles on it. In any case it's going to
be a 700 or 800, 144" or 151". So Nora will be adopting the Pol-Cat
and I bet it will be happy to be out from underneath me, especially the
way I've treated it the past couple of weeks!
Well I guess that will
do it for this entry. It's amazing, it looks more like the middle
of winter around here rather than the beginning of spring. I'm sure
that in a few weeks it will look more like spring again, but any thoughts
we had of golfing in the first week or two of April are gone. I bet
those with early guesses as to when the Laurium Glacier will melt have
to be a little disappointed, and those that went for the later date have
to be a little enthused. I'm going to refrain from taking any pictures
of it until the contest is closed to any additional guesses. So hang
in there and in a little over two weeks I'll start posting some pictures
of it. Take care and until next time....
Good night from the Keweenaw..
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which helps to make johndee.com
Well don't really
have a whole lot to say, but I thought I would get a quick little journal
out because they think the next couple of days are going to be pretty busy
around here. The good news is that all of the activity will probably
be snow-play related, and I should be able to get some pictures off to
you. If you haven't heard, the season's biggest storm is headed into
our neck of the woods. In fact, it may very well be the largest storm
this area has had an at least several years. The way things look
right now we could receive anywhere between 14-20 inches of snow, and some
places may even pick up 2 ft. The snow just started to fall about
a half hour ago and I like the way things are developing with the storm,
it looks as though the storm is behaving as it is supposed to up to this
point. There are some pretty hefty QPF numbers coming out, that stands
for quantitative precipitation forecast. Right now the models seem
to be in pretty good agreement on the fact that we will pick up 1.50-1.75
in. of liquid equivalent moisture. The snow will be fairly wet and
heavy, so the snow to water ratio may be close to 1 in. of water equals
12 in. of snow, but even at that will ratio we would end up with 18-22
inches of snow. Combine that with winds of 25 to 35 mph and I think
we'll have a pretty good storm on her hands tonight and tomorrow.
Schools are already out for spring break, but if they were not, I can almost
guarantee that they would be out to to the storm. It will be days
like tomorrow that I am especially thankful that I work out of my home!
My leg is pretty well
healed, it still gets a little sore at the end of the day and there is
still a little bump left where I banged it, but I have been walking around
on it for about a week now, taking it kind of easy, but still using it
so that the muscles do not get stiff. So I don't think there will
be any problems using it to take a spin on the sled a couple of times in
the coming days. If all goes as planned I may actually be riding
at this time tomorrow.
There really has not
been much going on at all up here, we've lost a little snow since the last
time I wrote and the depth in my backyard is now close to a foot.
It will be interesting to see how long the snow sticks around with this
new batch we look to receive in the next 36 hours. Some of the guys
were actually thinking that this weekend might make for a good weekend
to head over to Brian's and play in some of the puddles and flooded creeks,
that was a few days ago when temperatures were still somewhat mild, but
I did interject in the conversation and let them know that we might actually
be riding in some pretty deep new snow this weekend. To tell you
the truth, I don't think the creeks or low spots would have had enough
water in them to support much water skipping play. I would imagine
that when this new snow starts to melt we will be given much better opportunity
for some puddle and creek skipping.
I don't know about
the rest of you, but I have been spending a lot of time with the war coverage.
Not nearly as much as I was when it first got underway, but I still find
myself spending quite a bit of time watching the different reports from
the field. Most of them have been very captivating, but what really
made a huge impact on me was the interviews done with some of the injured
soldiers that were in the hospital in Germany. To hear them give
their first-hand accounts of what happened and how they got injured made
me incredibly grateful that there are such brave people out there doing
a job that is so dangerous, and doing it for absolutely no personal gain.
I know that opinions differ on whether the war should be happening or not,
but I don't know how anyone could not be thankful for everyone serving
in our military. Like all of you, I hope and pray that the conflict
will be over soon and that the suffering on both sides can be as limited
as possible. It does seem as though things are going very well for
us, but my mind is boggled by some of the reports of what some of the most
loyal troops to Saddam are doing. In a way, I am kind of surprised
that our military is not trying to videotape some of the reported a productions
and other mistreatment of their own soldiers and civilians, maybe they
are and we just haven't seen that footage yet. At any rate I don't
really want to harp on the war all that much, I guess it just wanted to
speak a few words on the subject.
Well, believe it or
not, I think I am out of things to say. The most incredible thing
is that I started this journal only about 45 minutes ago, and thanks to
the voice-recognition software things have gone rather quickly. I
continue to work with the software teaching at to learn what it is exactly
that I am trying to say and it is getting better and better. I'd
have to say that in everything that I have said so far in this journal,
it has only made about 10 mistakes. That may seem like a lot, but
in reality it is not that much and when I first started using the software,
it seemed to make a mistake at least once in every sentence sometimes more.
I guess there is one last thing that I can say, tomorrow will be my final
snowfall forecast of the season. It has been a very busy but also
very rewarding winter for me and the site. I would like to thank
everyone went out of their way to tell the businesses that they visit while
playing in the north woods about me and my site. I had many, many
businesses contact me out of the blue wishing to advertise, and the reason
they contacted me was because they had many of their customers tell them
about me and the site. This summer and fall I'm going to make a concerted
effort to try and contact as many businesses as I can in the upper Midwest
to see about getting them to advertise in the directory or with the banner
ad. This site has exploded and has become such a useful tool for
so many that the next logical step seems to be for businesses to get exposure
on it. I have long thought that the directory could actually become
as popular as the site itself, especially when every region has a good
representation of the businesses for that region. At any rate, please
accept my gratitude to all of you who put in a good word for me, it really
does work and I thank you.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
for not getting out the Journal sooner, but I guess this is a really slow
time of the year for material. I actually hadn't even realized that
it had been five days in the last time I put one out. I suppose like
many of you I have been caught up in the events taking place halfway around
the world. Being in such a beautiful place such as the Keweenaw,
it really seems impossible that there are Americans in the situation that
our soldiers are in right now. Up until today, the news has been
generally favorable, but as I'm sure you all have heard today has not been
a day of good news from that event. My thoughts and prayers are with
all of our service men and women as well as their families, and my hopes
are that this will all be over very soon. At times I almost feel
guilty, having such a different life from what those soldiers are going
through right now.
As mentioned, this is a very
slow time of the year for me. We are kind of in what I call the in
between season. Spring up here is different from what most people
associate spring to be like. We do get some warm and sunny days,
such as we are having today and such as we had last weekend. However,
with about 2 feet of snow still on the ground things are quite wet and
quite messy. The trails are shot as you can tell from the trail cam,
however they are still too wet and messy to be able to walk on, so the
hounds and I are kind of stuck to the roads for our walks. My leg
has improved to the point that I can take walks and both the hounds and
I are very grateful for that. There is still a rather large bump
right where I banged my shin against the side of the running boards of
the sled, but all the other swelling is gone. It still gets stiff
and there's still some pain in the mornings when I first use it, or after
I have been sitting for a long time. I chose not to head up to a
party yesterday where everyone was bringing their sleds. The leg
probably could have been able to handle things, but I thought it best to
just take it easy and let it fully heal before I do anything to crazy.
There is actually some
snow in the forecast for the end of this coming week and if some of the
indications right now are correct, I could actually be riding in 8-12"
of new snow by next Saturday. I sort of have mixed feelings about
getting new snow at this point, I'm sure that if we get 8-12", then I will
make good use of it and have lots of fun. On the other hand, all
the snow has finally melted from my roof, so the dripping has stopped.
The roads are all clear so it's not waste of time to wash your vehicle,
and I also do not have to spend five minutes wiping down the dogs before
they come into the house. So this time of the year, there is definitely
an upside in the down side to getting new snow.
I continue to work
with the voice recognition software, and am using it to write this journal.
Things are improving on a daily basis, it still gets words wrong from time
to time, but I'd have to say it's recognizing over 90% of the words that
I speak at this point. Until you use a program such as this, you
never really realize how many words in the English language sound so close
to each other. This program is actually powerful enough to be able
to distinguish between many of the close sounding words. All I have
to do is bring up the training feature of the program type in the word
that I wanted to learn tell the program to listen to me say it, and then
save that. If all goes well, then the next time I say that word it
should be able to recognize it. There have been a few glitches, but
I find that if I train the software to recognize both the word that I am
trying to say and the word that it mistakes it for, then the next time
around it usually does a pretty good job. One of the biggest problems
I am having, is that every time I say the word "point", it wants to insert
a ".". I would imagine there is a way for me to override that problem,
and all I need to do is due some exploring and I can get that problem figured
out. Another error that has occurred since I have been dictating
this journal was rough being mistaken for roof. But like I said in
the previous journal when I was first using the software, I can tell that
this is going to be an enormous help for me and not just creating a journal
entry, but it any document that I have to do a lot of typing. I am
using it in my commodities forecast, my forecast text for this web site,
e-mail correspondence, and even answering that ask John's.
Switching gears a little
bit, instead of going to the party yesterday and riding my sled and decided
to go up to the Houghton County Airport and watch some of the competition
with the clean air challenge. This year's competition was moved to
the Keweenaw, because as I understand it they were running into a few problems
with it being held out by Yellowstone. Unfortunately, we didn't have
the best of conditions for the competition to take place. One of
the events in the competition is an endurance race, where the sleds need
two ride for 60 mi.. Now 60 mi. may not seem very far, but most of
these machines have engines in them that are highly experimental and are
tuned right on the edge just to get them to run. So going 60 mi.
in one time period is quite a challenge for them, and a few could not live
up to the challenge. Initially the course for the endurance segment
was going to be for the riders and their sleds to go from the airport up
to Copper Harbor. However, the trails were in such bad shape, that
they just trailered up to the harbor and then wrote on one of the loops
out there several times to put in their 60 mi.. Some of the competition
yesterday included sprint races, breaking, and of course the most important
part of the competition emission and sound. I did bring my camera,
but as luck would have it, it decided that it did not want to work yesterday.
I think I am as much to blame, because the batteries were just about dead.
However, I can say that most of the sleds did not look that much more unusual
from the stock sleds that are out there today. There was only one
sleds that really stood out as being modified, it's hood had to be raised
about 3 to 4 in. in order for the engine to fit underneath, and a few had
some different looking intakes on the front but that was about it.
I can say from watching them go, they did not seem to produce much less
noise that a stock sled, but I guess I don't really think that most stock
sleds are that noisy anyway.
All of the sleds seem
to have a pretty decent acceleration, at least for them being prototypes
such as they were. I asked around and found out that the majority
of the sleds where actually four stroke engines, with just a few being
two stroke. After finding out that many of them were actually for
stroke, I was surprised at the noise levels they put out. I have
heard one of Arctic Cat's four stroke run and it was very quiet, sounded
much like a small automobile. Maybe these guys were more concerned
with performance and sound emissions. At any rate it will be interesting
to see how the different sleds matched up against each other, I did hear
that many of the teams are already thinking about switching their plan
of attack from four stroke to direct injection two stroke for next year.
I did charge the cameras
batteries overnight and took a few pictures today. The hounds and
I went to the north shore for our afternoon walk, I don't know why it is
but that once quiet road is getting busier and busier. It doesn't
go anywhere, just dead ends, so anyone going down it has to turn around
at the end and drive back, I guess it away that doubles the traffic that
was down it. In any case, if that trend continues I may have to give
it up as a road that the hounds and I use for walks when we have to walk
on a road. I'll have to look to see of the next road just north of
it was put in, if so, then that may become our new road to walk on, as
it is harder to get to and I doubt that much traffic would be going down
it. I think that some of the traffic going down the road we are currently
walking on our folks trying to follow the lake shoreline as far as they
can, and the start of that road is just off of a road that does follow
the lake shoreline all the way from the north entry. I don't have
a lot of pictures to share with you, the only one that I took down at the
north shore was of the
big lake. The other picture that I took was of the new
groomer this year, it was parked up at the tourism council's office
in Calumet for some reason. I have never seen a groomer parked there
before, it will be interesting to hear why that was. I suppose with
the trails being in the shape they are, that is as good a place for it
as any! Speaking of trails, I did drive up to the one that runs just
above Lake Linden today and took a
shot of it. You can consider this to be about as good as it gets,
if you want to see a better representation of how the trails are, look
at the trail cam.
So I guess that will
end it for another entry. Hopefully something exciting will happen
soon and I will be able to write about it. But until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
going to be the first official journal using voice recognition software.
It came in yesterday and I was able to load it and run through the initial
tutorials to train it to be familiar with my voice. And all seems
to be working pretty good so far. I must admit though, that this
is a rather strange experience to be speaking into a headset rather than
typing out the words. I really seem to be more subconscious of what
I'm saying, sort of like I'm speaking to an audience rather than just typing
out the words as I think of them. I'm sure it's just like anything
else, I'll just have to get used to things and, the more I use it, the
easier it's going to become and I'm also sure that it will end up saving
me time- Not only in writing the journal or answering ask John's, but just
about any other thing that I have to type. The software is actually
so powerful that I would not even need a keyboard or mouse to do anything
that I want to on the computer. It would take an extensive amount
of training to get to that point, but you can train the software to open
documents, open Web browsers, open e-mail programs. Just about anything
that you would normally do using a keyboard or mouse, you can do using
this voice-recognition software.
Don't think this is
going to be that long of a Journal. I really don't have a whole lot
to say, I have not been able to get out and do any snowmobiling or cross-country
skiing because of my injured leg. The swelling in my lower leg only
got worse and worse both Sunday and Monday, so I decided to go see the
doctor about it on Monday. I wasn't thinking anything was broke,
but since the swelling was getting only worse, and not better, I figured
I might as well have a doctor look at it. Nothing was broke, but
the doctor in the emergency room was concerned about the swelling.
I guess it can cause problems in cutting off the blood supply to the muscles
in the leg, and then that cut off of blood to the muscles can cause problems
of its own. There really isn't much that I could do, other than keep
the leg elevated and stay off it. That means I have been leading
a very quiet lifestyle for the past 24 hours and it does seem to have helped,
the swelling has gone down, and when I went to the doctor to have things
looked at today, they said that everything looked fine and I didn't have
to worry about the swelling cutting off the blood supply to the muscles.
So, at least I don't have to worry about any serious damage done to my
leg, but I will need to take it easy for the next couple of days.
It doesn't look like any riding will be done this weekend and I'm actually
wondering if I'm going to be able to do any riding the rest of the season.
Not because my leg will take weeks and weeks to heal, but because the snow
might all melt before my leg is completely healed. We had more sunshine
and temperatures above freezing today so we had more melting. My
driveway is just about clear and one side of my roof is just about clear
and the trails are basically shot. I feel kinda sorry for the dogs
not being able to get out and do much exercising. I have let them
outside to let them play around in the snow little bit, but we have not
been able to take neither our short morning walk, nor our longer afternoon
walks or skis.
I guess one thing I
forgot to mention in the previous journal was why I was not able to take
the entire site on Friday. It seems a road commission crew in Marquette
County was clearing a path for some runoff of the melting snow when they
inadvertently cut through the fiber optic line that supplied phone service
to much of the central and western Upper Peninsula. For some reason
I was able to view my site as were others but I could not update any of
the files on my site. Another strange consequence was the fact that
I could post text to the ask John but I never got a confirmation that that
message had gotten posted, that is the reason why that at one point there
were five posts of my forecast in the asked John and it appeared as though
other viewers were having a similar problem as there were some multiple
posts from them as well. It was kind of a bummer because I was just
finishing up updating all of the files for the web site and would've been
uploading them to the web site in about an hour when that phoneline was
cut and my ability to upload the files was taken away. when it first
happened, I did not know what the problem was and so I did not know when
service would be restored so I continued on updating all the files.
I sure wish I would have known the service would've been out the rest of
the day I could've actually taken the rest of the day off or at least not
updated all of those files.
Not a whole lot else
going on around Keweenaw, I suppose just like everywhere else in the country
the talk is about impending war with Iraq. Some other interesting
news items had to do with Michigan Tech athletics, the Michigan Tech football
program was eliminated today, budget cuts forced the University to get
rid of the program. In addition to that the Michigan Tech hockey
coach retired. I was unable to catch the reasons why, but I suppose
the results over the past couple of years were not to his satisfaction
and decided just call it quits.
The trail report for
this area has been unchanged, if anything, things have got worse since
Sunday. I was actually a little amazed to hear the sound of snowmobiles
this afternoon when I was outside with the dogs. I realize that there
are some folks out there that just have to get in that one last ride and
I suppose that there's enough snow out there to facilitate that, but conditions
are really, really, really, bad. The way I figure it we would need
a good 8 in. of snow in order to allow for decent riding conditions again
and that would be barring any further melting. It's a shame that
in basically two days we can take trails from very good to very bad, but
I guess that's just the way it goes sometimes. If in fact my season
is over, I can look back on it and say that all in all was a pretty good
Well it looks like
I've reached the end of another Journal, this is been a real experience
dictating my first Journal. There've been more than a few corrections,
the software is still learning to recognize my voice and I'm still learning
how to navigate the software, but I can tell that the software will be
an enormous help and time saver for me in the near future. I believe
that I have forgotten to even mentioned which one I got, I purchased ScanSoft
NaturallySpeaking 7. anyway I hope that my leg heals in time to deal
to get out and play in what remaining snow we have left, and that I will
also be able to supply you with some pictures and interesting stories.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Quite the difference
a week makes in the weather up here. Last week at this time it was
just flat out too cold to do anything outside. Temps were struggling
to get to the plus side of zero and winds were creating wind chills of
-20 to -30. Today the temps are pushing 60 degrees here in the valley.
Up on the hill and closer to the lake, the temps are in the mid to upper
40's, but still a far cry from just last week and actually even just a
few days ago. Before I forget, I will say that the trails are pretty
well cooked, done for. We rode the bush up to Phoenix yesterday and
then the trails back and they were mess. A mixture of snow, mud,
rocks and water and lots of bumps. With the temps so warm, I doubt
that the groomers were even out. Even if they were, it would not
have made any difference. I am not going to tell everyone to not
come up here anymore, but if you do, just be prepared, things were a mess
yesterday and with the temps so warm and the sun so strong today, they
only got worse. The bush was OK, but even there, things were starting
to get sloppy.
Not only is the weather
of today and yesterday strikingly different from last weekend, it is also
quite different from just this past week. On Thursday I went for
a bush ride and we ended up at Lac La Belle, then took the trails back
home. I would have to say that other than a day where it is just
pouring snow, the weather on Thursday was perfect for riding. Temps
in the 20's and lots of sun. The snow in the bush was great and the
trails were actually in great shape. All in all, it was a very nice
trip, of course a foot of fresh powder would have made it even better,
but as I rode down trails
like this through the bush, I could not help but think how lucky I
was to be able to roll my sled out of the garage, start it up and take
off for an afternoon ride. It seems like as I reach this time of
the season, I always wish that I had taken more rides like that, yet during
January and February, it always seems like I have plenty of time left.
So I guess it is like anything else in life, we all need to appreciate
what we have right now rather than put our main focus of happiness on things
down the road. Anyway, back to the ride. Most of the trails
we took had not been used in over a week, so there was fresh snow on them.
Underneath the fresh snow were old tracks, but it was still a pretty comfortable
ride and it is nice to look back and see only your
own trail in the snow.
The snow is still plenty
deep in the bush. We came across a road that has been kept clear
all winter and while crossing that road, I stopped and took a picture to
show you how big
the plow banks are out there. I have been out there in the summer,
and that is not a sunken road, meaning that the ground is not higher on
either side of the road, at least on the left hand side. So those
snow piles were about 6 feet high. We ended up making it to Lac La
Belle, that is actually the furthest north I have been all winter, and
went in to have a little refreshment. After a diet pop, my riding
partner Bill and I took off for home. It was getting late and taking
the bush back would have kept us out past dark and riding the bush at night
is not something that is good to do, so we decided to take the groomed
trails back. And groomed they were, we encountered nice
flat trails all the way home from Lac La Belle and actually made it
from there to Lake Linden in about an hour. Sometimes when I write
a sentence like that last one, I am fearful that people will think that
I am talking like the chamber of commerce of painting too rosy of a picture
of things, but the trails really were in good shape all the way home.
I did not have to slow down for any bumps, just the turns in the trails
and the stops at road crossings. So riding home on the same trails
yesterday, but in the bumps, rocks and water, it was hard to imagine them
being in such good shape just 48 hours earlier. Kind of glad that
I did not do a journal Thursday night and show how good things are, only
to have lots of folks come up here and encounter what I did yesterday!
Yesterday's bush ride
was a lot of fun. We compiled quite a group, 9 in all. Some
regulars and some others that do not ride with us as often. Usually
with a group that large and riding in the bush, a sled or two are bound
to either hit something and break, or just break down on their own.
My sled has yet to be one of the ones to break down for any reason and
I am always a bit worried that it will be. I can say with great thanks
that "Old Reliable" the Pole-Cat did not break down and I did not do anything
to her that caused her to break down, although there was on incident where
I banged up my left leg pretty good. I am ok, nothing broke, but
I do have a nice big welt on my chin and a big limp in my walk to show
for the incident. A "ride-in" type party is slated for next weekend,
so I am hoping that I will be all healed for that one, as it has promised
to provide some fun riding in the past few years. We did have one
break down on yesterday's ride. It happened early enough in the ride
that we were able to get a replacement sled for that person and continue
on with the ride. Yesterday's ride did end up being a little more
adventurous that we would have liked. By that I mean that the bush
riding got to be a little more "bushy" than most would have liked.
We were doing pretty well, following a fairly clear trail through the woods.
Then the trail got more and more grown in and then we hit the Tobacco River.
Thanks to the cold winter, the river was pretty solid and crossing it required
just picking a good spot to drop down the bank and more importantly up
the other side, as
Brian Illustrates here.
Once we were across
the Tobacco, things only got more confusing as to where to go. One
group went to the left and one went to the right. It became very
clear, quite quickly, that the trail to the left ended up be the wrong
way. That was the group that I chose to follow, but thankfully I
did not travel down it too far and all I had to do was turn my sled about
90 degrees and I was able to ride out and get back to the river bank and
then head down the trail to the right. That trail seemed to be a
little better, but was also a
bit grown in and soon it became apparent that it was not going to allow
us to go much further, so we all picked a way to turn around and ended
up back tracking to there the trail was perfectly clear and then just found
another way around to where we wanted to go. My little incident happened
towards the end of the day's bush riding, for which I was grateful, as
I could not even stand on my left leg after it happened. The bush
riding was not that much of a challenge in that condition, but the trail
riding on all the bumps proved to be the biggest challenge. 7 of
the group of 9 stopped in Phoenix to gas up and refresh their bodies.
Myself and another just wanted to get back and had enough gas to do so,
so we headed down the bumpy trail. I spent half the time sitting
on the sled and absorbing the bumps with my back and rear end and the other
half of the time standing on my right leg and letting it absorb the bumps.
We did manage to get to just south of Mohawk with enough daylight left
to ride the bush back the rest of the way, so we took the bush the rest
of the way to Lake Linden and with my sore leg, I was actually quite glad
to be getting off the sled. All in all, it was a good ride and a
So things are melting
pretty quickly up here. I will be glad when two things happen.
One the roads become all clear and secondly, my roof becomes all clear.
Once the roads are clear, I can consider washing my truck and once the
roof is clear, I do not have to worry about the constant dripping.
Of course, I seriously doubt that we are done with snow for the season.
In fact, it looks like by the end of the coming week, we could be getting
into some snow and there are prospects for more before the month is over
and I would imagine April will also supply some snow. I have been
handling the thaw pretty well, actually better than I thought I would.
I must say that I was at the park with the hounds today and the warmth
of the air and the sun on my face felt really good. I took a ski
on Friday and did not have to wear a hat or even gloves and that also was
really nice. So I guess I have just resigned myself that winter has
ended and soon we will be on the beaches and in the woods on foot.
That is a pretty good thing as well.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
This could possibly
be the last journal that I will have to type out in it's entirety.
Thanks to some great advice from you viewers out there, I ordered some
voice recognition software on Sunday. I ended up ordering NaturallySpeaking
7 from ScanSoft. I am hoping that it will be here in the next day
or so and then I can work with it so that it will be able to recognize
the little quirks in my voice and have it ready to type my journals for
me. I think that the software will help me out in all of my duties
on the computer, but believe that this journal will be where it helps the
most. I type this in a format that is most like what I talk like.
The forecasts are more like technical journals that require more thought
process and may be a little weird dictating to. At any rate, thanks
all for the advice, it was most helpful.
Even though meteorological
winter ended 12 days ago and astronomical winter will not end for another
8 days, I think that here in the Keweenaw, today or maybe tomorrow will
be the last day of winter. Spring looks to arrive Friday, with temps
climbing into the 40's, maybe even reaching 50. And even though we
will most likely have some snow before the season is over, since we will
be going through a several day thaw before any new snow arrives and any
snow that falls after that thaw will not likely stick around all that long
before the next thaw arrives, I think that spring will spring on Friday.
I have been trying to physically and mentally prepare myself for the thaw.
Physically, I think I am ready. The bitter cold of January and February
will make the warmer temps quite welcome. I have also raked the snow
off the eves of my roof and have the bush protectors pretty well cleaned
off, so the physical chores are done and I am ready for the thaw in that
manner. However, the mental aspects of the thaw are harder.
I suppose that if it were mid April, my mental picture on the thaw would
me much different. No matter what the case may be up here, by mid
April, the snow always leaves. So knowing that even though we will
be loosing some snow, that more is on the way, kind of makes the upcoming
snow loss a bitter pill to take. I would just as soon get it all
out of the way at one time, not in stages. Sort of like the snooze
alarm. I hate to be woken up, so I do it just once. The alarm
goes off, I get up. No need to be woken up again and possibly again
in 10 minute intervals.
Even with the warming
temps, the riding will likely be satisfactory for the rest of the month,
in the bush that is. The trails could actually be cooked in a few
spots by next week, especially in and around the towns. Away from
the towns and in the woods, they trails may hold up until the end of the
month, but it is really hard to say. Needless to say, my riding time
is slowly drawing to a close. I did take a ride with Brian and his
wife on Monday and am heading out tomorrow afternoon. Brian went
back to work on Tuesday, so riding with him during the week is not possible
anymore. I'm sure that come the weekends he will be ready to ride,
so hopefully we can head out this weekend. Monday's ride was very
nice. We took the bush up through the valley and then eventually
up to Phoenix and then back down into the valley. We spent very little
time on the trails, probably about 3 miles total. I can say that
they were incredibly bad just south of Mohawk, actually right where the
trail runs across my property line. 1-2 foot moguls, I doubt that
the trail had been run over in at least a day, maybe more. Just as
we were leaving Phoenix, the groomer was pulling in and it had come from
the north, seems to me he should have kept heading south before pulling
Anyway, the bush was
nice. We did manage to find some trails that had not been ridden
in a few weeks. Since the snowfall in the past month has been so
limited, it is really easy to tell when the last sleds have been.
Anywhere with no visible tracks means there have been no sleds through
in at least 2 weeks. Tracks with a few inches of snow on them mean
that there have not been sleds down that trail in about a week and fresh
tracks mean that sleds have been there in the past few days at least.
Here is a look at one of the trails we were riding with almost
no visible tracks on it. That is actually the only photo from
Monday's ride. I did try and take a few more, but the camera pooped
out on me. At any rate, we did find some trails with even more untracked
snow on them. There was about 8-10" of powder on them and the snow
underneath was also soft enough that we could lay'er down and not have
to worry about hooking a ski. Since the warm day that we had about
3 weeks ago, a crust had formed on most of the snow and if you get your
ski under the crust, you run the risk of flipping your sled. Happened
to a friend last week! So it was great to be in that snow and be
able to get the sled on edge in the turns. Not too many days like
that left this season, that is for sure! Of course some of the bush
trails we were on were so run over and bumped up, I have no idea why anyone
would go on them. Those sections of the bush are quite well known
by the visiting sledders and are easy for us to avoid, thankfully we only
had to ride about a half mile on one. That was plenty for me, could
have used a grooming! Don't know for sure where we will go tomorrow,
but I would imagine it will be out in the bush again.
I was going to take
the hounds for a ski today, but for some reason did not feel much like
it when the time came. Of course, I would not deprive them of their
afternoon exercise and they would not likely let me! I had some business
to take care of in Calumet, so I decided to take them to the north shore
for a walk. The wind was not too bad out there, so we actually headed
to the shoreline to survey things, unfortunately the "shoreline" was nowhere
to be seen. Burt
and Baileys tried looking for it, but came up empty. Burt actually
looked like he was ready to hike to Isle Royal, but I called him back.
No need for an ice rescue! The day was mostly sunny, at least over
our head, but off to the north, a
little snow shower was going on. Looking out over all that ice,
it is hard to imagine it every thawing, but I would not be surprised that
in a month the shoreline could be opened up. Superior is a big and
deep lake and does not like to have ice on it. Satellite images today
indicated a lot less ice on it than in previous days. The strong
winds over the weekend really helped to break things up on the lee side
of the land masses. On the south shore of the Keweenaw, from the
south entry north, all you can see is water and that water stretches out
into the lake for 30 to 40 miles. In Keweenaw Bay it is a different
story, the ice is said to be 2 feet thick and I have heard stories about
people driving their trucks almost right up to the shelf of the sheet ice.
Not something that I would recommend, but to each his own I guess.
After our short little
venture on the "shoreline" we went back to the road for the main portion
of the walk. The sun was out most of the time and with temps flirting
with 20 degrees, it was a great day for a walk. We must have disturbed
a coyote or two when we pulled up because there was quite a commotion in
the woods when we were walking on the road. Either that, or they
managed to take down something. Calumet Waterworks is a spot where
the deer herd up for the winter, so maybe one of them fell victim.
If you were wondering what the road was like that we were walking on, your
wondering is over. Not the most exciting picture, but I suppose
if you were not there with me, it did help to set the scene. I think
I even got a little sun kissed today, as my cheeks feel a little warm.
After the walk, we
headed back home, but I did stop by the Laurium Glacier to take a photo.
I suppose it is time to start up this years competition for when it will
melt. For those of you new to this, it is not a real glacier, it
is just an enormous drift that forms along the side of the road just outside
of Laurium on the hill down to Lake Linden. The snow manages to last
there as long as just about anywhere that I have seen and two years ago
I decided to start a little competition to pick the date when it will be
all melted. Last year it was May 22nd and two years ago it was May
18th. This year? Hmmmm, I don't know, but it sure seems to
be bigger this year
that in years past. You can place your guesses in a discussion
I placed in the Ask John. The contest will be open for guesses through
April 15th. Good Luck!
So I guess that will
do it for another one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
My how time
flies when you are having fun! When I started this entry, I almost
did not believe that it has been 4 days since my last entry. It seems
like just 2 or 3 days since I last typed one out. Speaking of typing
one out, I am seriously considering voice recognition software to aid me
in my journals and forecasts. I have heard that the software has
come a long way in it's abilities in the past several years and if anyone
has any experience with such a product I would love to hear from you.
Now, onto the news and events of the past 4 days. I can say with
great thankfulness that no more fires have sprouted up in the village.
The big problem has been ice. So much of a problem that the village
is allowing us to run our water constantly to help keep the pipes from
freezing. They will then just charge us a flat rate for the water
usage and that flat rate actually looks to be a bit less than my usual
monthly usage is. I have not had any problems so far and my water
pressure does not seem to be diminished, but I am running one of the faucets
all the time, just to be on the safe side. It is actually weird to
have the faucet going all the time, I have this strong urge to turn it
off, sort of a unavoidable natural tendency to shut if off. My neighbors
pipes froze, but that is because their house has been vacant all winter
and the water was not being used. As I walked by the village employees
working to thaw the line out, they had an impassioned plea for warm weather.
It seems as though they are averaging 3 frozen pipes a day and today when
I called the village to put myself on the list of constant running water
folks, I was told that they had 6 today. I have decided to leave
the snow on my driveway the rest of the season in order to help insulate
my line. I know that it runs at least partially under the driveway
and I also know that energy travels from hot to cold, so if I insulate
the pipe from any further cold then that should help keep it from freezing.
The pipe is deep enough that any heat from the sun right now would not
get to the pipe, in fact that heat might not reach the pipe for a month
or more after all the snow is gone and our average daily temperature is
above freezing. Most of the heat to thaw out the ground down deep
will come from the ground itself.
In the last journal,
I talked quite a bit about the cold and we have had lots more. I
talked about records on Sunday and Monday, but we also had them on Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday. Here are my morning temps for the week: Sunday
-23, Monday -26, Tuesday -11, Wednesday -23, Thursday -24. Today,
Friday, a balmy +22, almost beach weather! The one thing I have discovered
is that my furnace cannot keep up with cold like that. On Monday
I mentioned how it had dropped to 58, that was because I let the programmable
thermostat let the house cool to 62 for the night time period. Tuesday
I kept the temp at the 67 all night and with it only dropping to -11, it
stayed there, but on Wednesday, I let it stay at 67, but with the -23 the
house still dropped to 61. I had to bring a space heater into my
office, just so I could type without freezing my fingers. Strange
how I can be outside in 61 degree weather and my hands are fine, but sit
at the computer and try and type and the fingers just go numb! Anyway,
the furnace was new when I bought the place. It did not pass the
home inspection, so I think the biggest fault lies in the windows.
They are the original early 1970's windows, they do have storm windows,
but are also single paned. So I should either get on replacing them,
or use that plastic stuff next winter. Actually, this winter is the
first time I have ever had problems and until this winter, it seemed like
my house was pretty tight and my heating bills were not that bad.
60 dollars a month for heating the place from October through April, seems
less than I paid down in the Chicago area. Anyway, it looks like
one last round of arctic air this weekend and early next week, then maybe
no more for the rest of the season.
The one saving grace
to all of our cold mornings has been the fact that temps have warmed to
the plus side every day. That has allowed the hounds and I to get
out and enjoy the great outdoors. It seems like I have been alternating
skiing and sledding all week, a nice mix. Had a half day KSE tour
to take on Tuesday that was fun. The 5-6" of snow in the previous
few days helped to provide some cushion to the bush trails that we rode
and the temps were mild enough to keep us from being uncomfortable, although
we did take a brief break and go inside one of the local watering holes
a little over half way through to warm up. The temps have been almost
perfect for skiing. Not too cold and not too warm. My face
and hands do not get cold, nor do I end up in a big sweaty mess by the
end, plus the snow has been in good shape for skiing. Wednesday was
a ski day, and I decided to take the camera along. I did not expect
to see anything unusual, but early in the week, I actually had gone back
and read some of the journals from last year earlier and found myself enjoying
looking at all of the shots, no matter what they showed, so I figured I
did not have to take any special shots to provide entertainment.
I do have lots of shots to share today and even two videos. Some
of the shots are from skiing and some are from snowmobiling and both videos
are snowmobile videos. So let's get on with it, shall we?
The neat thing about
fresh snow and going to a place that has little human traffic, but considerable
animal traffic like the school forest, it that we get to see what has been
going out there since our last visit. My ski tracks from Sunday were
all covered up, but there were fresh tracks in the snow from animals as
large as a coyote to as small as a field mouse. The woods were very
beautiful as well, quiet as can be with a
late winters sun trying to take the chill out. Burt likes to
get out ahead of us when we are skiing. Not far at all, and I never
have to worry about him running off, but still he likes to be in the lead,
point man. Baileys likes to hang back with her daddy and I could
not leave her out of the
picture show. As we made our way through the trails in the school
forest and circled back around towards the cabin, we encountered many tracks
from some snowshoes. Looks like a PE class or something had taken
place out at the school forest prior to our arrival. We skied past
all the snowshoe tracks and back into the woods and again the stillness
of the woods inspired me to take another shot of the
beauty around me.
The next round of pictures
has to do with the Pol-Cat. A few weeks back, maybe more, I talked
about how I was going to re do the graphics on the sled to match the seat.
This past fall I recovered the seat and used a color that I thought would
match the existing graphic on the sled, but was off
by a few tones. So as luck would have it, I was contacted by
a company, Lettertech that does
custom graphics for things like snowmobiles, boats, personal watercraft,
trucks, trailers, you name it, to do some advertising on my site.
We got to talking and decided to do a little swap, I would provide the
advertising and he would supply me with my new graphics. It turned
out to be a great deal for me and I hope that it turns out to be as good
a deal for them. I was very happy with the service from Mark and
his group. I underestimated how many decals would work on my sleds
hood and they were great about getting me some more in short order.
They worked with me to get the exact colors right and also provided me
with a few custom products. So a few weeks back, I set out to remove
all the existing decals to my sleds hood. At first, it was a very
slow go, pulling little chips off at a time. I was doing it in my
unheated garage, so I had to use a hair drier to first warm the decals
to help get them off. It probably took me about 2 hours to get about
one half of the graphics off and just as I was finishing up that first
half, I started to get the hang of things and the decals were coming off
in larger ribbons. The next day I got on to taking off the rest of
the graphics and it went much quicker, it took me about 30-40 minutes to
get the other half off. The trick is to heat the decals enough to
soften them, but not too much. If they are too cold, they will tear
and if they are too warm they will also tear. Seems like they need
to be just a bit warmer than room temperature. Anyway, I managed
to get all the graphics
off the sleds hood, and was excited to get the new ones on. I
did not have to wait too long and they came. Again I had to deal
with the cold temperatures. The decals need the surface to be about
45 degrees in order for them to stick, so one afternoon I built a little
tent in my garage and put the space heater in it and was able to heat things
up enough to get the decals to stick just fine. The decals were very
easy to work with. I could actually pull them up and restick them
if need be. So I got the first set of decals on and then decided
I really needed a few more, so called Mark up and he was more than happy
to send me some more, he actually ended up sending me more than I asked
for, which was great, because I was able to use the extra ones as well.
The custom graphics that he included with my order was the word Pol-Cat,
as well as some bullet holes. I think I could have done a better
job telling Mark exactly what size and number flames I could use, but it
was hard to picture where to put them on the blank hood. You would
think it would be easy to figure out where to put flames and not, but not
for me! All in all though, it
turned out pretty good, and I am happy with how things turned out.
The graphics now match and I really like the custom look. They even
sent me some graphics to put on my helmet, so
my helmet now matches my sled too. In addition to the link here,
there are links to Lettertech in
my Northwoods Directory and also as a banner. If you are looking
for some custom graphics for just about anything, I would highly recommend
them, they were great to work with and I know I will contact them the next
time I wish to have some graphics.
Now onto yesterday's
ride. It was one that had all the implications of being a fun ride.
Brian and I were planning to go and it was possible that a few other locals
would join in. Our mission was quite simple, have fun. We started
out on a little hill near Brian's house to do a little playing. That
is where the two movies were shot. This first one is of Brian and
a local with the nickname of "Chicken Hawk" climbing
the hill and catching a little bit of air at the top. The second
one is of Chicken Hawk climbing the hill and then falling off his sled
at the top, only to be almost run over by me who was following close behind,
maybe a bit too close. The hill is not the type that one usually
wipes out on and Chicken Hawk is a very good rider, so I never figured
he would fall off. I actually missed him by about 6 feet, although
it does not look like it was that far in the movie. After playing
some in a few ravines, we headed over to another friends place, Phil, to
play in his fields. It was about this time last year that Brian and
I and another Bryan went to play in Phil's fields. At the top of
one of his pastures, is a very large rock. It sticks about 25-30
feet up out of the ground and presented quite a challenge to Brian last
year, but this year it was no
match for his 151" of track. The biggest problem with the rock
is not the climb up, but rather the way back down. It is pretty small
and lonely at the top and an old hard maple tree on the other side limits
the way down. The last thing you want to find out on a sled is why
they call them "hard" maples. Brian managed to find
a way down and all was well, mission accomplished. After Phil's
fields, it was time to head back into the bush and seek out some fun play
spots. It is still possible to find some untracked powder to ride
in out there, but you have to make sacrifices, namely dodging
lots of trees. I actually like that type of riding, especially
now that the stumps are all pretty well covered. Not all, but most.
Here's a shot of Brian
heading through the woods on our trail. Picking your way through
the tress is a challenge in itself, but then throw in some hills and things
really get interesting. That was Brian picking his way up a small
hill through the trees. We found some larger hills and watching Brian
and Chicken climb them with their 151" tracks made me wish I had a long
track. It did not take me too long to REALLY
wish I had a long track. My jealousy was eased a bit soon after
I took that last shot, as I watched Chicken Hawk try and climb the same
hill I was on and get
stuck too. That was an 800 RMK - 151 Brian and Chicken were trying
to get unstuck. After about another 40 minutes of the tight quarter
riding, we decided to find some open spots again and an old mine rock pile
got the call. I had never been to this one before, but had seen pictures
of Brian and some others playing on it two years ago when I was recovering
from my broken leg. Yesterday I got to see it first hand and we took
it. That was Brian, this
is me and here is Chicken,
going right for the top. He made it.
After the hill, we
headed over to one of the local watering holes to warm up and get refreshed
and then headed back down towards Lake Linden. We managed to take
the least direct way and most fun way home. I did not get any more
shots, but just picture more woods, some fields and a few swamps.
All pretty much untracked snow. Nice to be a local! I sure
hope we get to go out a few more times before the big thaw hits at the
end of next week. Not that all the snow will melt, but things will
change, that's for sure. I really hope that the thaw does not last
too long, I am just starting to really get into riding! Oh well,
I suppose I can get on the chores I need to accomplish before Nora comes
to town to stay in June! Some snow and cold in the forecast for the
next 4-5 days, so those chores will just have to wait.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
No, your eyes
do not deceive you, I am doing a back to backer. I have some things
to share with you, including pictures, and some time to spend on a journal,
so I figured I may as well get one out. Lot of excitement going on
up here in the past 24 hours. Some provided by mother nature and
some by other means. The mother nature provided excitement came in
the form of record cold across much of the UP last night and this morning.
Last night, before midnight, both Houghton and Marquette set new record
lows for the day. Houghton with a -23 and Marquette NWS with a -25.
The temps were not done dropping though, with Marquette NWS breaking both
the record for March 3rd and the entire month of March this morning with
a -30. The Houghton County Airport actually managed to warm somehow
early this morning, but still broke the record for the day at -18.
I was at -26 and many reports came in to me with temps in the -30's.
There is an automated station at Michigan Tech and it is calibrated to
report down to -30. For a while this morning it was reporting ??.?,
which means it was below -30 there. Other frigid numbers from the
UP include Newberry at -27, McMillan at -29, Wetmore at -35, Champion at
-36 and the winner (if you want to look at it that way) was Ewen with an
unbelievable 42 degrees below zero! I am actually a little skeptical
of the -42 degree reading. Not that the reporter was lying, it could
have just been a misfunctioning thermometer or something. That report
was 6 degrees colder than the next coldest station and about 15-20 degrees
colder than the majority of reports across the region.
At my house at 9 am
this morning, the sun had been out for about 2 hours, but it was still
-24. My poor house really had a hard time warming up this morning.
I awoke to it being 58 degrees, 4 degrees below the overnight setting of
62. By 9 am it had warmed a few degrees to 61. I had to go
and get a space heater to warm up the office a bit, my fingers were actually
numb from having to type in the 58 degree air. We are not suppose
to get nearly as cold tonight, but will most likely dip below zero, so
I am just going to keep the heat set at 68 all night. No sense in
freezing my keester off again tomorrow morning. It did warm up to
about -10 by our morning walk, so the hounds and I braved the elements
and took a walk. It actually did not seem too bad out, with no wind
and some filtered sunshine. I remember at the beginning of winter,
walking in about 25 degree weather, freezing, and thinking: "How am I ever
going to make it through the winter if it is 25 out and I am freezing?".
Well, I guess the human body just gets adjusted to it, because 25 would
feel more like 75 right now and the -10 was actually tolerable. The
dogs can handle it without problems to about -20, then their paws seem
to get cold because this morning when it was -24 out and they were out
doing their business, they both were lifting their paws because it hurt
them. I do have booties for them, but they are ok for a few minutes
before the cold starts to hurt and then seem to realize what is going on
and hurry back into the house. Plus, they really hate the booties.
I got them when we were living in downtown Chicago and the city puts 3"
of salt down after 1/2" of snowfall. The salt really burned the dogs
paws and the booties worked great, but they hate to wear them.
We also have picked
up some new snow. Not a lot, but it started snowing at 10 to noon
today and we have picked up about 1/2". We'll probably pick up an
additional inch or so before it ends. More snow looks to be on the
way for Thursday and again Saturday. Not the deep powder I would
wish for and that we were getting last year at this time, but enough to
make everything all white again and make it feel like the Keweenaw in winter
as well. This -30 degree stuff is nuts! I'm used to 0 with
snow falling, while looking at northern MN and northern WI in the -20 to
-30 degree range when these arctic air masses drop in. I wonder how
all the animals are doing with the cold. At least the snow is not
super deep and they can get at some food.
The other excitement
up here was some structure fires in the village. Yes I did say structure
fires. The Village of Lake Linden, which probably averages
about 1 house fire every year to year and a half had two today. The
first one started at about 8 am on Pine street, way up by the clay pits
and snowmobile trail. The Lake Linden volunteer fire department responded
and had it under control in about 30 to 45 minutes. The house was
under some remodeling and the exposed framing timbers allowed the blaze
to spread quickly and the house
was gutted. The LLFD was assisted by the departments from Hubbell,
Tamarack City and Bootjack. Just about the time they were getting
that structure under control, the call came in of a chimney fire in another
part of the Village. I can just imagine the LLFD hearing that they
needed to respond to that chimney fire and wonder: "respond with what?!".
I guess some of the Bootjack department went down to take care of the chimney
fire and in the few minutes it took to get there, the structure was fully
engulfed, so the call when out for additional support and at one point,
6 different departments were on had to battle the blazed in the village.
On our morning walk,
I saw the smoke from the second blaze, which ended up being at the corners
of third and hecla (up behind Lindells). From my vantage point, I
could tell it was a big fire and my initial thoughts were that perhaps
Lindells or the Loading Zone II was on fire. I got some more of my
morning work done and when I had a few minutes to spare shot over to do
my "Scoop Dee" impersonation. The
fire was still going strong, with 3 departments going
at it, Calumet, Laurium and Bootjack. I'm not sure how many of
you have witnessed fire fighters in action, but it really is inspiring
to watch. To add to that inspiration, we had three
departments, all from other locals, all volunteers, putting themselves
at risk to put out the fire. All in conditions that would be just
about as bad as possible for fighting a fire, temps of -10 to -25.
I would imagine the only thing that would have been worse would have been
if it were really windy or perhaps in the 90's.
The one thing that
amazed me was the amount of water being poured onto the fire and the amount
of water that was
then oozing all around the area. That was the house across the
street's front yard. They did create a path for the water to go past
the house and hopefully there was not too much water damage in the home.
The water from the fire ended up causing some flooding on the main drag
through town and the village and county were busy sanding and plowing all
the ice off that street when I went through this afternoon. Before
heading back to the office, I snapped one last shot of the house, fully
engulfed, but under control.
Later this afternoon,
I swung by the scene of the second fire to see how things were going.
About half of the personnel on scene to fight the fire had gone back to
the station and the rest were putting out the last few glowing embers of
a once beautiful old
victorian. I walked around the corner to get a different vantage
point, which revealed
even more damage than the other did. It was still plenty cold
out and many of the fire fighters had been out in it for over 6 hours.
All that water and all that cold led to frozen
fire fighters and frozen equipment. Something tells me that there
will be more than a few saunas fired up across the Keweenaw tonight.
About the only way some of those guys will be able to get out of their
So I guess that gets
you all caught up on the excitement in my neck of the woods in the past
24 hours. I sincerely hope that tomorrow is a little more quiet,
especially since I am taking a half day KSE tour!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Seems hard to
believe that it has been 5 days since I last wrote, it does not seem like
that long at all. Some interesting weather up here. We had
these strange white flakes fall from the sky late yesterday. It was
rumored to be snow, I am still checking on the exact details, but what
ever it was we picked up about 3" of it. Seriously though, it was
very nice to see the flakes fly once again and we even got some help from
the lake. When I woke up this morning, it was snowing and the snow
was 100% lake effect, as skies were clear in Canada to our north and the
classic signature of lake effect snow was showing up on the Marquette radar.
We are about 50 degrees cooler today than we were yesterday at this time.
Today actually looks to be the coldest day of the season, with highs remaining
below zero. Even with my thermometer sitting in the sun it is remaining
below zero, but I check the airport and it has been at about -9 to -11
all day so far. Wind chill this morning was at -36, so the hounds
and I did not dilly dally too much on our morning short walk. Actually,
the cold really does not seem to phase them a bit. We just got in
from the afternoon walk and while I was kept warm by thermal underwear
and at least 2 layers of fleece as well as a gortex wind breaker, the dogs
did just fine with what the good Lord gave them. My cheeks are actually
still stinging a bit from the wind chill, which is about -32 right now,
but other than that, I have no ill effects from the afternoon walk.
I was hoping to be able to take a ski, but thought I better play it safe
and not head off into the woods alone to ski. I have yet to fall
this year and actually do not believe I have fallen in a few seasons of
cross country skiing, but it would be just my luck to turn an ankle or
something on a day like to day. With temps where they are, it would
not just be uncomfortable to be unable to walk or ski out of the woods,
but could end up being life threatening.
I do not have any pictures
to share with you, was hoping for some on the ski this afternoon, but when
the ski turned into a walk, the picture ops went with it. I have
taken some rides in the past few days. In fact, since last Saturday
(the 22nd), I have probably put as many miles on the sled as I did almost
the whole winter leading up to then. All that with probably some
of the worst conditions we have had all winter! With almost no fresh
snow in two weeks, just about every clearing through woods as a track through
it. We have managed to find a few untracked roads up here.
Some of them have dead ended and others connected with trails that allowed
us to keep going without the dreaded turn around. But even the turn
arounds have not been too bad. The snow is so settled that you can
just about ride anywhere and not get stuck. I know yesterday I was
taking my sled in places I would never dream of when the snow is still
fresh and powdery. In another week or so, I suppose we will be riding
anywhere we want, just pick your line through the trees and go.
I found it funny this
morning being all excited about the 3" of new snow we picked up overnight.
Normally, waking up to 3" of new snow is sort of like waking up and seeing
the sun rise. You are thankful for it and it is beautiful, but also
is a daily event, so you get used to it, it is really no big deal.
Mother nature looks to bless us with some more snow in the coming week.
A clipper tomorrow and then Thursday and then possibly Saturday could all
bring us another couple of inches of fresh snow. With the base we
have down, 6-8" of fresh snow sure would make the riding great again.
I know I am keeping my fingers crossed! Plus, what is nice about
riding this time of the year is we can stay in the bush until about 6:30
because it is fully light out at that time. In January, by about
5 pm, we are looking to get out of the bush and onto a trail or some path
that is well known and safe to ride when it gets dark. It sure would
be great to have the daylight hours we have in the summer occur in the
winter as well. Daylight until 10:30 pm! Of course if I had
to choose, it would be a hard choice to make- golf until 10:30 or
snowmobile?! Looking out at all the snow on the ground and at the
thermometer's pointer stuck below zero, it's hard to believe that in about
2 months we will be golfing. Although even with the snow and the
cold, I can tell spring is coming. The sun's rays are noticeably
stronger, even on the days we remain below freezing, the roadways will
melt some. That never happens in December, January and the first
few weeks of February.
So I guess I will have
to try and prepare myself for the spring thaw and all the mess it brings-
vehicles coated in road grime, boots full of slush and dog bellies covered
in slush and road grime. Spring cleaning around here does not happen
until May. No point, the house will just be a mess in a few days
Well, I suppose that
will do it for another day. I have been sitting in front of the keyboard
for about 5-10 minutes, trying to think of something else to say and could
not think of a thing, so I will take that as a sign that I am done saying
what I have to say and shut up. Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..