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Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
Journal
March 30-
    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 21" 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 no 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 its nose.
    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 parts intact.
    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 loading 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..
-JD-
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which helps to make johndee.com possible.
March 27-
    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..
-JD-
March 23-
    My apologies 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..
-JD-
March 18-
    This is 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 one.
    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.  Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
March 16-
    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 good day.
    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.
-JD-
March 12-
    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 in!
    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..
-JD-
March 7-
    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, the 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 turns highmarking 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..
-JD-
March 3-
    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 equipment!
    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..
-JD-
March 2-
    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 anyway.
    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..
-JD-
 
 
 
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