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Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
Journal
Sept 30-
    Well, it came...The seasons first snow.  And even though we are only a week into astronomical autumn, I feel compelled to wish you all a Bon Hivar, or Good Winter.  Of course the snows did not stick around too long and any snows this early are not going to, but still, for a while, it looked like winter was here.  Personally, I am hoping for a round of warmer weather to settle in for a week or so because I have lots of outdoor chores I want to get done before the real chill of autumn and winter sets in.  It was interesting to see who got the snow and who did not with this batch.  Looks like it was mainly the western UP and far northern sections of WI.  I checked radars and web cams and did not see much in the way of snow outside of those two areas I just mentioned.  A sign of things to come?  Well actually, I have not found too much correlation between the seasons earliest snows and what the rest of the season brings, but it is interesting to note that the places in the UP getting hit the hardest around Christmas time also seem to get hit the hardest the rest of the year.  So we still have a few months to try and figure out who in the UP might be the favored local for LES.
    Today's early morning forecast (5:30 am) was a tricky one, as I saw the precip out over the western lake getting ready to hit us, but had no clue what form it was in.  To make matters even worse, had I even received reports of what the precip was, these early season events can be snow for one area and 2 miles away, just rain.  Elevation makes a big difference.  So I had to play it safe and call for a "mixture of rain and snow" to fall, but in reality, it was mainly snow.  The first flakes hit at about 6:30 in the morning, just as I was doing my first live weather segment and were actually mixed with some sleet.  That activity continued until about 7:30 and then tapered off a bit.  By the time it got brought out, there was still some remnants left, so I made the AL Cam snap a shot before it was scheduled to, just in case that was all that we were going to get.  I was afraid that by 8 am, when the cam starts to automatically take shots, rolled around, all the evidence of our frozen precip would be gone.  Quite frankly, there was not much at 7:30, but you can see a few patches on the ground and the biggest sign is the white on my neighbors roof in the background.
    The precip started back up and for awhile it was a rain/snow mix, but then changed over to all snow and actually came down pretty good for a while.  After taking care of the things I needed to for the morning work, having breakfast and taking a shower- Nora, the hounds and I piled into the truck to head up the hill to see how much was on the ground in the higher elevations up by Calumet.  They always do much better than Lake Linden does in these early season storms and a few late season storms to boot.  The drive up the Calumet Hill actually got a little tricky with the snows coming down at a faster clip than could be melted off by the residual heat from the summer.  After making our way through Laurium and then into Calumet I decided to swing home via the Golf Course Road.  Before getting to the golf course we passed an old barn slowly getting covered in a fresh blanket of snow  (fsv).  I guess I can call that photo "Early Snow in the Keweenaw - 2003".  I have always wanted to find a suitable moment to capture the beauty of that old barn and I think that this morning was as good as any.  We got to the golf course and surprisingly there was noone out taking in a round.  :)   Although I suppose it might have been pretty hard to see your ball given the fact that the visibility was only about 1/4 mile.
    We got back down the hill and headed back up 26 to get to Lake Linden but could not help notice the steam rising off the Torch Lake.  Sensing another photo opportunity I pulled into the Village Park and hopped out to snap a shot of someone's sailboat shrouded in the snow and fog  (FSV).  I suppose I could call that shot "Double Lake Effect".  With both lake effect snow and fog occurring.  Just like the golf course the beach was also pretty quiet, except for a few lonely seagulls.  After the beach we arrived back home safe and sound.  As the snows started to taper off Nora grabbed the camera and snapped a front of house shot.  Just to prove that we really did get out first trace of snow, actually it was about 1/2" and up in Calumet they had about 1".  It pretty much stopped snowing at about noon, but I am eyeballing a new disturbance that looks to swing through tonight and early tomorrow that could get things going again.
    I was actually glad that the snows stopped as they were really so slushy that it would have made for a sloppy afternoon walk with Nora and the hounds.  As it was we had a delightful walk along the road that runs north from the Calumet Waterworks.  It was chilly, and along the lake shoreline, there was a stiff breeze, but the road is protected by about 200 feet of dense forest and the winds along the road were very light.  At times the sun would peak through the clouds and after having my spirits lifted sky high by the first flakes, I did not think it could be possible to lift them any further. But walking with Nora and the hounds down that road made me feel like I was as close to heaven  (FSV) as I could get without actually being there.  How did I ever get so lucky?!!!
    On a pathway leading down to the beach, I spotted some remaining piles of snow.  I was actually surprised to see some snow down there.  The areas right up against the lake are usually the last to get any snow with these early season events.  The "warm" waters of the lake create the marine layer (a warmer body of air) and it usually melts the snow before it can reach the ground.  There must have been some pretty good lift going on with this morning's snow event to be able to put snow down right up against the lake.  As we were climbing back into the truck to head home from the north shore, I spied a flock of Canadian Honkers on their way south.  They were actually flying south and seemed to be pretty determined at that!
    I have just one last shot to share with you.  It was taken two days ago before all the excitement of the snow came.  Nora, the hounds and I went out to the school forest for a walk and I wanted to show the extent of the colors.  Starting to get underway out there, but in other spots they are really quite well along.  Driving out to the north shore, we came along a spot where they were about 70% changed.  Looks like the peak will be pretty much on time this year and I would put it in the Oct 6-10 time period.  This weekend will provide some pretty good color in spots, but I think the following weekend will really be the weekend for the show.  I hope to be able to get out to Keweenaw County in the next few days to see how things are progressing up here.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
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Sept 26-
    It's a day not fit for man or beast.  Temps in the mid 40's and a steady rain.  Even the hounds know that we will not be going outside today and don't seem to mind much.  Nora, on the other hand, said that it is a good day for baking!  I'm not one to argue with such a beautiful, smart and talented woman, so she is in the kitchen making some cookies!  With the smells coming from the kitchen right now, I think I am going to end up liking this day after all!
    The weather is definitely the topic of the day, not just today, but previous days events and the events to come.  On Wednesday, we had a good old November gale blow through, with winds sustained at 35-45 and some good wave action.  It has actually been quite a while since I have been to the lake while a big blow is going on.  I missed the one a week ago and winds were stronger then, but promised Nora that we would head to the lake on Wednesday to take in the winds and waves.  As I just mentioned the winds on Wednesday were not as strong as they were on Friday, but were still quite formidable, especially walking along the shoreline near the Calumet Waterworks.  The wind was picking up the sand and whipping it into our faces and it kind of stung.  When we finished the walk  the hounds had lots of sand stuck in their coats.  It was neat to walk along the shore line and watch the big waves come in.  Each one is different and it is fun to guess which wave will travel furthest up the beach.  I did manage to snap a shot looking south towards the north entry to the Keweenaw Waterway. (fsv)  The north entry was actually the other place I wanted to take Nora to see the waves.  The reason is, it seems to have deeper water just off shore that allows most of the bigger waves to make it to shore before breaking.  In other parts along the north shore, the water gets fairly shallow and the big waves out in the deep waters of the lake break before reaching the shoreline.  So while the waves near Calumet Waterworks were in the 3-6 foot range, the waves at the north entry were quite a bit bigger. (fsv)  I'd say they were likely running in the 7-10 foot range, even some that were 10 feet+.  As a person dedicated to bringing you the best shots and most dramatic happenings in the Keweenaw (ya right!), I risked life and limb to go out onto the breakwater a bit and shoot a video.  I really need to figure out how to compress those videos more so that I can shoot longer ones.  That little bit of video is almost 1 1/2 megabytes!  Anyway, it was amazing to me how much stronger the winds were out on the breakwater.  I did not go that far out as I could have lost my life had I been where the waves were hitting it, but the winds were so strong that I did almost get blown off the breakwater a few times.  I would have been ok- cold and wet, but in calm water and been able to climb out without battling 10 foot waves at least.  I have a feeling that we will have a few more big blows before the winter kicks in and will try my best to get some more shots.
    Yesterday was a pretty nice day with temps in the upper 40's and some sunshine.  So I decided that it would be a good day to head out and set up the trail cam.  Things went pretty smoothly. It was great to be doing it in fairly warm weather and had I brought the right extension power cord I would have had to say that it was a perfect success.  It was great to have Nora along to help with carrying things out there as well as the aiming of the cam.  The new cam has better resolution as well as a zoom feature.  I may need to do some tweaking of it to make sure it is properly focused, but I think that it will be a better image than I had last season.  I am also using a larger image size.  It takes more time to download, but provides a better view.  So now you can watch the colors change and the first snows cover the ground.
    Speaking of first snows, we sure do look to have a great chance to see it early next week.  I heard that Negaunee and Ishpeming already saw some flakes Wednesday night and if what the models say will happen early next week does happen, I would not be surprised at all to hear about someone in the LES belt of the UP picking up a foot of snow.  Quite a chunk of cold air coming in Mon-Wed of next week and the rest of the parameters needed for LES also look to be in place.  The Keweenaw will probably just get a mix of snow and rain, with some higher elevations possibly picking up some accumulation, but these early season events are not good for the Keweenaw.  Still it looks very good that our first flakes of the season will fall early next week and that is a good thing.  You folks in northern MN and northern WI might see a few flakes too, but probably more flurries than accumulating snow as the majority of the moisture will be gone by the time the cold air arrives.
    The color show continues to creep along.  You can certainly follow the show on the trail cam now and I will point the AL Cam towards the maples on the side of my yard as soon as they start to pick up some color.  But the main color change has been my grass, going from brown to green with the steady doses of light rain we have been getting for the past 2 weeks.  I am actually glad it was able to green up before having to endure 5 months under snow.
    So I guess that gets you caught up in things up here.  I have actually still been busy with stuff, more website related than other business.  Seems like everyone starts to think of the winter at this time of the year and that means that they are thinking about my site too.  Lots of new businesses will be added for you all to be able to use in both the banner and northwoods directory.  Some are in and some have to be added, but I just really want to thank all of you for helping to support the site by patronizing the businesses that advertise on the site.  I have turned away some businesses that have nothing to do with snow, the UP, Northwoods or even outdoor activities, because I want to keep everything on topic on the site, including the advertisers.  The way I see it, it is a perfect 3 way relationship.  I win because I get some money from the advertisers.  The advertisers win because their ads are seen by potential customers of theirs and you all win because you are given more exposure to things that might interest you or places to stay or eat up here.  So please keep supporting my advertisers and let them know where you heard about them.  That is the most important and I know many of you do because I get it reported back to me from the advertisers and they return year after year.  It actually makes me feel really good that we have this win-win-win scenario.  Well, enough of that...Take care and...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
Sept 22-
    Boy, do I feel like a slacker!!!  Almost a week and no new journal.  I have been pretty busy, trying to get things all geared up for the startup of the winter version web site.  The latest project has been to get the trail cam up and running again.  Over the summer, I did purchase a new cam.  It has better resolution and also has some other nice features, such as zoom and advanced image controls, so I think that the image that gets posted will be far better than was getting posted last season.  I am still playing around with the settings on the software, but hope to have it up and running by the end of the week.  It will be great to be able to do the setup in the warmer weather and also great to have Nora be able to help me with the aiming of the cam as well.
    The weather has provided some excitement up here in the past 6 days.  When I last wrote, I was in shorts and the next two days saw temps reach 80 degrees.  The cold front hit early in the AM on Friday and we dropped our temps about 20 degrees.  By Friday evening, the temps were in the 50's and winds were howling at 40 mph, with gusts to 55 mph.  A lot of the folks up here thought it was due to Isabel, but it was not.  Just a good old fashion autumnal storm over Lake Superior.  Nora and I went to dinner and then came home and relaxed on the couch.  We talked about going to the lake to view the waves, but I kept getting sucked deeper and deeper into the couch.  I wished I had gone, as I talked with some locals that said the water and waves were as high up the shoreline as they have seen in many many years.  Speaking of Isabel, I have seen two photos floating around on the internet that were supposedly taken of the approaching hurricane.  Both look to be legitimate photos, but are of severe thunderstorms, not the hurricane.  If you have not yet seen them, I have them for you to see (hopefully I will not get into trouble for posting them, but I do not know the photographer(s), so I cannot ask permission).  One is of a ship approaching the storm and the other looks to be taken on land.  Both are shots of wall clouds extending off the bottom of severe thunderstorms.  Hurricanes actually have their clouds extending out ahead quite a distance from the eye.  In Isabel's case the storm had a radius of about 250 miles.  So I guess what I am trying to say here is that a hurricane does not approach like a thunderstorm does, the weather actually goes down hill fairly steadily for hours before the eye of the storm arrives.  Had that ship actually been closing in on the hurricane in that shot, the waves would have been about 25-35 feet high (waves were actually 50 feet high when the storm was a category 5), enough to roll over the top of the ship for sure.  Plus, I am by no means an expert on transport ships, but that looks to be a lakes freighter, not an ocean going ship.  At any rate, I just wanted to clear up that little misunderstanding that is floating around the net.
    As mentioned, last Wednesday and Thursday were very warm up here, with temps hitting 80 degrees-  beach days to be sure.  On Wednesday we headed down to White City Beach and enjoyed having the place to ourselves.  We walked over to some relatives of Nora's to say hi, but they were not home.  On the way back, I snapped a shot of the south entry light.  As you probably saw in that shot, the winds were blowing pretty good that day and were blowing pretty good the next day too.  That helped to take any discomfort out of the 80's we had.  Plus the temps did cool off nicely in the evenings, so it was good sleeping weather with the windows open.  The next day we headed out to North Betsy Beach for our afternoon adventure.  There was an interesting event happening in the sky, some Altocumulus clouds were rolling overhead and precip was falling out of them.  Altocumulus clouds are up pretty high in the atmosphere and the air is cold enough there for the precipitation to be frozen.  So, the precip that was falling was snow.  The snow did not even get close to reaching the ground before melting and had it made it that far down, would also have melted.  But I can say I saw the first flakes falling in the Keweenaw!  I will not count that in my "firsts and lasts" section though!  However, it may not be that long before the first flakes are seen.  Once chance is this Thursday and a better chance is this weekend.  Actually, it may just be rain in the Keweenaw, but some of the inland areas could see some flakes or even graupel (a snowflake that has melted into a tiny ball of slush, then refrozen).  Northern MN might see some flakes either Thursday and this weekend.  Might that be a sign of things to come?  Well, I did do a seasonal outlook and you can find it in the forecast text section.
    Back to the day at North Betsy...The hounds enjoyed a swim and I just took it easy on a beach chair, occasionally tossing the stick into the surf when Burt brought it to me, or watching Nora toss the stick for the hounds.  There were still some blueberries hanging on and Nora picked a few and gave the hounds a treat.  Baileys is particularly fond of blueberries.  After about an hour at the beach, soaking in the early autumn rays, we headed back home and got some dinner.
    Friday was plenty cool enough for a walk in the woods, so that is where we went.  Saturday was a busy day for me, I had a golf tournament (yep, still playing golf up here) and then met up with Chris and Marlo from the White House Motel for dinner.  They are living in Chicago now and having some folks run the motel, but they come up from time to time and we try and get together when they are up.  Saturday morning, Nora, the hounds and I went out to the property to do some exploring.  We went to some places we had never been before and found a big old white pine growing, so Nora had the hounds and I pose in front of it.  Not quite what you would find in the Estivant Pines or sections of the old growth in the Porkies, but still neat to see a tree like that on my property.  It was still pretty healthy too.  Nora and I both decided it would be fun to start making some walking trails out on the property and that may become a regular event on Saturday's- weather permitting.
    Today we took a walk in the woods again.  This time up on the tracks the snowmobile trail uses.  Something strange was seen out there- puddles!  Yep, we are finally getting rain again.  In fact, twice as much rain has fallen in the past 9 days than fell in the previous 9 weeks!  This is a good time of the year to get some rain, as the woods would otherwise be very dry and prone to fires.  Plus it is too cool to get the bugs going too much anymore.  So I don't mind walking around some puddles while on our walks.  Another feature to our walk today was some trees and limbs down from the winds we had on Friday.  Not a lot, but a sign of things likely to come this autumn, with the gales of November and October coming.  As far as the color show goes: after what looked to be a strong and early start, things have slowed down some and it looks like we will probably be pretty close to the seasonal peak of Oct 4-8.  The woods do have some splashes of color and more and more trees have at least lost their pale color, but I seriously doubt that we will be too early with the color show this year.  One last bit of excitement happened on our walk, I shot my first buck of the season!  Looked to be about a 4-6 pointer.  But seriously, I am not a hunter myself.  I personally have no problem with the activity, just cannot find it in me to pull the trigger (I like my meat already packaged in plastic wrap!), but I am thinking about setting up a stand on my property to try and get some shots of whatever might come along.  The way I see it, if I can shoot it with a camera, I could have shot it with a rifle and that will give me the bragging rites along with all the other boys at camp this fall.
    Well, I can sense that a lot of you are starting to get the winter itch.  Guest shots are starting to come in, the Ask John has picked up and so have the e mails.  It will start to feel more like the winter is approaching in all of the Midwest later this week and weekend.  The geese have started their southerly fly bys and it should not be too long before some flakes are captured by my cam or even some of the cams in the NCN.  I'M READY!!!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
Sept 16-
    Even though I am still wearing shorts and have been doing so for the past several days, I think I can declare autumn officially started here in the Keweenaw.  I know there are those out there that like to stick to the official "celestial" first day of autumn which is still one week away from today, but I go more by the weather than the exact position of the suns rays in the sky.  A stronger indication of the season change is the fact that Nora has taken all of her summer clothes down into the basement for storage and has brought up her winter ones.  I think that pretty much seals the issue!  In other weather news we finally got some rains over the past day, in fact, it rained all day on Sunday and was a bit chilly too.  Our totals from both Friday's and Sunday's rain was only about .70", but it has helped to green my lawn some and with the .25-.75" we could see Thursday, I may just have to start cutting the grass again!  Have not done that for a long time.  Even though we could hit 80 tomorrow, I am seeing our first snow potential in the forecast.  It is way down the road, not until Sept 26th or 27th, but October 1 is the average first day of snow up here, so it sure is not an impossibility.  We might not be the only ones to get snow during that event either.  The way the models are indicating things to pan out, areas of northern MN and northern WI could also see some snow.  Won't that get the juices flowing!
    Nora and I had a good time with my brother visiting. He likes to do a lot of hiking and exploring and between Nora and I, we kept him pretty busy.  Even the rains did not get in the way all that much.  We did take the camera along on all of our exploits and have lots of shots to share with you.  Our first expedition was up to what we call North Betsy Beach.  Last Thursday was a warm day with temps reaching to 83 and dewpoints in the low 60's.  There was a strong south wind that day which made North Betsy even better- and on shore breeze.  We probably spent close to an hour out there letting the hounds and my brothers  two dogs get some swimming in.  Dinner time was closing in, so we headed back and all 7 of us chowed down.
    Friday our plan was to head up the Estivant Pines near Copper Harbor.  I had to work which meant that we could not get up there until the afternoon and the afternoon forecast promised rains so we decided that Nora and my brother should go up there in the morning and take in the giant pines before the weather turned sour.  The forecast did end up verifying with the rains starting by about 1 pm.  However, the weather was plenty good for their trip through the Estivant Pines.  They took some pictures and I was surprised to see the amount of trees that have come down.  One looks to have come down due to a severe thunderstorm and maybe even a lightning strike.  It looks to have been broken off about 20 feet above the ground and the tree next to it was all burned.  They came along another of the downed giants and my brother thought it would be a good place to take a little nap.  I have to say that after seeing that shot, one thing that came to mind was what a waste of wood, letting that tree just rot away.  I realize that it will decompose in time and resupply the forest soil with nutrients, but the wood from that tree would be absolutely fabulous to build furniture out of.  It is old growth white pine and is just not available any more.  The old growth trees have very tight growth rings and that makes the wood extremely stable. I could not see the full size of the tree, but there was a bunch of money laying on the ground right there!  Nora also managed to capture some of the changing colors out there.
    After the E Pines, they headed up to the top of Brockway, where they said the winds were about 30-35 mph sustained, with some higher gusts.  I believe them as I don't think I have ever been up there when the winds were not blowing pretty hard.  I have been up there in the winter when it is pretty hard to stand!  While on top of Brockway, they did take a few shots.  Here is one looking south towards Lake Misquito...er Medora.  Through the haze they also captured a shot of a freighter making it's way upbound to some port at the western end of Lake Superior.
    On Saturday, my brother and I headed south for some sights in southern Houghton County, central actually, but to me it seems like anything south of the Bridge is southern Houghton County!  Anyway, our destinations included Prickett Dam, Silver Mountain, the Sturgeon River Gorge, Sturgeon River Falls and then the Baraga Plains.  For the past several weeks I have been mentioning how dry it has been up here, but this should be a good example of just how dry things have been. Here is a shot of the Prickett Dam Back Water.  Those were tree stumps that are usually buried under at least several feet of water. In fact, it looked like the water level on the lake was down about 10 feet.  The boat launch was closed and here is a shot that I took at roughly the same location last year at this time.  Another interesting fact is that this spring the water was so high from the spring melt and a heavy rain that they were a little concerned, so it has really dropped a ton since then!  They had one of the gates opened slightly and that was allowing the water to drain out pretty quickly, probably a little faster than it was coming in anyway.  I am just speculating, but I suppose they want to keep the water flow on the Sturgeon up because it is such an important fish and other wildlife habitat.
    After that we piled into the truck and headed up to Silver Mountain.  The events of this day were pretty much the same that the hounds and I did at the end of last September so I knew where to go and what to expect.  There is nothing too dramatic about Silver Mountain. The views from the one side are pretty neat and last year I was hoping that the old fire tower still noted on the map would be there but it has been taken down, probably quite a while ago.  Still, you can get some nice views of the Silver and Sturgeon River Valleys and the Prickett Dam Back Water.  The colors were really starting to change up on the hill and I snapped a shot of my brother and his dogs getting ready to head down one of the sets of stairs they have to help you make it to the top.  With all the leaves on the ground, for a moment, it really felt like autumn.  Speaking of stairways here is a shot of one taken from the bottom.  You actually cannot see the top of it as I was actually standing at the top and the point of the picture was to show me at the top.  Oh well!
    The next stop was to the Sturgeon River Gorge and the falls there.  I figured that even with the drier weather, there would be enough water going over the falls that it would be worth the trip and I was right, it was a pretty sight.  However, the water flow was much less than was occurring last year as can be seen in this shot.  That neck of the woods is really some pretty country.  The river flows through the Sturgeon River Wilderness.  I'm not sure just what is and is not allowed in there, but I do know that no motorized vehicles are not allowed in the wilderness.  This was a shot taken just below the falls, looking down stream.  For the next shot I climbed up and above the falls and took a shot looking up stream.  One last stop in the Sturgeon River Gorge area to take in the overlook at the Bears Den, no shot from there this year (I forgot the camera), but here is a shot taken from the Bears Den last year.
    My brother, his dogs and I returned home pretty well worn out.  Nora was not feeling all that well, so she stayed home with Burt and Baileys, but all 7 of us did manage to take a walk later that evening.  Since my brother got to see the bookcase that I built for him, I can now show all of you.  That is not the shot that I wanted to use, because it does not really show the detail that really sets that case apart from others, and that is the sides.  The shot that showed the sides did not turn out, and by the time I knew it was bad, the case was gone.  Anyway, the detail to the side was made by forming panels out of 9 strips of different length wood that made a southwestern style "cutout" in the panel.  It was not a true cutout because the openings were not actually cut out of a solid piece of wood, but were formed by the different lengths of wood.  If you look close at the picture above, you can sort of make out the cutouts.  It was made with all wood to wood joints and the only fasteners used were the brads that hold the back of the case on.  We had to wrap it up pretty good so that it would not get wet in the rainstorm that he drove through all the way from here to his place outside of Milwaukee, but he did say that it arrived dry.
    So I guess that gets you pretty caught up in the goings on up here.  The walleye tournament was a big success.  The state record was not broken so no one won the 1 million dollars, but it sounded like all the participants loved the area and want to do it again next year.  That would be great as it really gave a shot in the arm to the local tourism economy for what is usually a slow time.  After I finish this I plan to take the AC out of one of the windows and will do the others this Friday.  I suspect that the flannel sheets will be put on the bed soon and a fire will be built in the fireplace soon as well.  Gonna get chilly up here pretty soon!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
Sept 11-
    Good old mother nature is really testing my patience on the final departure of summer weather.  The past 3 days have been in the low 80's with humidity up there, with dewpoints in the low 60's.  Not exactly torturous and not breaking any records, but still 15-18 degrees above average.  The nights have been cooling into the upper 50's, so that helps a little.  I am just glad that I saw this coming and did not remove my air conditioners!  Although I do believe I may pull them this weekend.  Cooler air is headed in by Saturday and there looks to be just one day of warm temps possible for next week, so it may just be time.  I think this is the latest I have kept them in since moving here.  I have been very busy with work related projects and that is why I have not done a journal until now.  Plus, my brother arrived yesterday and was a little busy getting ready for him and then did not want to have him spend his first evening with me writing a journal.  He and Nora are walking to the store right now, so I have a few minutes to get the journal started and then will find some time to finish it this evening.
    I spent some time browsing the internet for web cams out in the Rocky Mountains yesterday.  They were getting a little early season snow storm and I figured that it might be fun to see some flakes fly, even if they were not out my window.  My first stop was at the Grand Targhee ski resort in western Wyoming.  I suppose that if I could not live in the Keweenaw, then that might be a place that I could call home.  It is not all foofy like most ski areas out west have become.  They average about 500+" of snow a year (something I could handle with no problems!) and have very nice summers.  Anyway, here is a shot from the base of one of their ski lifts.  Nice.  My next stop was to a place that I have been to skiing, it is the Little Cottonwood Canyon just to the east of Salt Lake City.  This shot was actually taken at the base of Snowbird Resort and I skied just up the road at Alta.  I could probably live there too, but they really are not allowing any development in that canyon, so I am out of luck.  Even if they were, I could never afford the price of the land, let alone to build a home up there.  They also average about 500" of snow a year and the year I went they were a little down, but when I was there in March, they still had 14 feet of snow on the ground.  I checked some of the cams from Alta today and there was still several inches of snow on the ground.  Nice.
    So I guess you could say that I sort of got my snow fix, for now anyway.  I really hope to have seen my first flakes of the season in person in a month from now and I have a feeling that I will have.  With the weather the past several days, it seems strange to think that it could have already snowed here by now and that 6 days ago we had frost form on the cars and rooftops.  I did get one chore done in preparation for the cold season and that was to drain the pool and pack it up.  I wanted to use the water in it to water the lawn, so I let it sit for a while without the chlorinator in.  That was a little bit of a mistake, as the water really greened up quickly.  It took about a day to drain it and when I started draining it, the water was just a little green.  By the time the final bits of water were leaving, the water was really green and really stinky!  The water did not even make a dent on my lawn, so next year I will just keep the water free from algae and drain it somewhere where it will not kill the grass or anything else.  That will spare me the nasty job of having to clean up the pool before I put it away.
    On Sunday, Nora and I were invited to a fish boil out at Lac La Belle.  Not at the lodge, but at a private residence.  I am not a big fish person, but thought it would be nice to socialize and meet some new folks, so we headed out.  The location of the gathering was actually right above the Haven Falls Park so I walked up to the edge of the falls and snapped a shot.  Not much water going over that fall right now!  We have been so dry, only about an inch of rain in the past 8 weeks.  They also had a sauna out there and Nora being the Scandinavian she is decided to hop in for a little bit.  Actually, it was not fired up and the main reason we even went up to see it was that it was a very unique sauna, it was portable.  I actually thought that was a great idea.  You can take it out to your summer camp or hunting camp and use it there and then bring it home and park it in your back yard and use it there the rest of the year.  It was actually plenty big in side, it could probably fit about 6-8 people very comfortably.  I may have to build one of those some day.  Actually I have already been instructed by Nora that the new home out on the property will have a sauna.
    Even with the warmer temps, we have been sneaking into the woods with the hounds.  In the shade, it has been comfortable enough so that we can take our afternoon walks out there.  There are more signs of the pending season change out in the woods, even if the weather does not seem like it right now.  Of course, the majority of the trees are still green, but more and more are starting to get some color in them and it really seems like they might be a little early this year, not a lot, but maybe a few days.  It will be interesting to see what some cooler temps will do to the color progress.
    This past Tuesday may have been my last regular golf day.  I suppose if the weather is good next week, I may get out, but we had our league banquet that night and also the "Greenskeeper's Revenge" tournament.  This is a tournament that they have at the end of the year where you scramble (for those non golfers the way you play a scramble is to allow both players to hit their shots, then the players determine which is the best shot and then both hit from that best shot.  You then do the same with every shot the rest of the round).  They also do all kinds of strange stuff to the places where you are to tee off from and also the hole placement.  For example, on the first hole, the tee box was about 50 yards to the right of the normal location and the hole was not even on the green for that hole.  There is an old green that is to the right of the current green and they used that for the pin placement.  Here is a shot of the tee box and "fairway", the tee box is between the two red balls at the lower left and the hole was up and over the tree line to the left.  If that were not enough, they did not trim the grass on the "green" as low as would normally be done, so it caused the ball to jump all around and to be hit much harder than you normally would hit it.  If those were not enough, they added one more obstacle to the mix and that was to guard the hole with some wire hoops.  Believe it or now, Al and I actually got a 4 on that hole, which was par.  The next hole's tee box was not in too difficult of a position.  I think I even managed to put my drive out to where I would be happy to on any given day.  Once to the hole, we were putting for a birdie, but they placed the hole right on the slope between the upper and middle tiers of the green.  That alone would present a challenge and my putt actually hit the hole and would have gone in, but they decided to do a little something extra to the hole and put a false plastic bottom in it about an inch below the surface of the green.  So not only did you have to have the right aim, but you had to have the exact right speed so that the ball would just barely make it to the hole and drop in, otherwise it would just roll out the other side and then because it was on the hill, would roll about 4-5 feet from the hole.  Our birdie putt on that hole turned into a triple bogey (3 over), having to 5 putt.  The real kicker to that hole was that if we had managed to see a little note that they had in the left sand bunker, we would have known that if you hit your ball into the bunker, you could then put your ball 1 foot from the hole, which would have been close enough to put it in with just one try!  What a day to not hit it into that trap!  You can bet that we read every note on every other hole!  The only hole with an elevated green was used for the decoy flags.  The rules were that you could not go up to the hole to see where the hole was, so you just picked a flag and hoped that was the right one!  One of the other dirty tricks was to place the tee box right at the back edge of the tee platform.  That causes your back foot to be about a foot lower than the ball and your right foot.  Not an easy shot either.  On that hole they were actually pretty generous, on a few others the tee box was right at the back edge.
    I have been saying how loaded the apple trees have been this year and I (actually Nora) took a few pictures to prove my point.  I have been saying how there are some trees where the limbs are just about ready to break due to the load on them from all the fruit.  I think that limb would have broke had some of the apples not reached the ground first.  In some cases, it is just amazing how much fruit is crammed into one small area.  Perhaps it is mother natures way of preparing the wildlife with a good set of meals before an exceptionally snowy winter!  One can only wonder.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
Sept 5-
    Although some may argue, I'd have to say the weather in the past week or so has been just about as perfect as you can get.  Temps in the 60's and low 70's, low humidities and a mix of sun and clouds.  Even Tuesday's 81 did not feel hot as there was a fresh breeze and the dewpoints were in the upper 40's.  Plus, with the longer nights coming into play the temps at night are cooling to great sleeping levels every night.  We even had a frost occur this morning, mainly on the autos and roof tops, and it was more of a frozen dew than a frost, but still mother nature created ice this morning!  Actual air temps dropped into the upper 30's and you could see your breath.  Today we did warm into the mid 70's so it was not cool for long.  Anyway, if you ask me, the end of August and first 2-3 weeks of September are the best time of the warm season to be up here, no bugs, warm days and cool nights and usually a lot of sunshine.  Plus, you pretty much have the place to yourself, as the tourist season has trickled down to almost nothing.
    Another thing I just love about this weather is to be able to have the windows open all day and all night and be comfortable.  That is one thing I miss about the winter and summer, having to keep the house all bottled up.  Seems like the air gets stale, especially in the winter.  I have yet to take the air conditioners out of the windows, although I do believe I have the day out of windows sighted.  It is one week from today.  We look to be in the 70's and maybe even hit 80 this weekend, which can be warm enough to use the AC, especially in my office, with all the machinery.  Then we look to cool a bit for Monday and probably Tuesday as well, then warm for Wednesday and maybe Thursday, but during the day Thursday a front looks to move through and then that will be all she wrote as far as any summer like temps are concerned.  I suppose we can still get the stray upper 70 and low 80 all the way into the first few days of October, but no humidity and the overnight temp is also cool enough that the house will remain cool through the day, even if it does get warm outside.  So that is the weather report from the Keweenaw.  No snow yet, but some is actually being forecasted by one of the models for the weekend of the 20th, but that is a long, long way out and I will believe it more when it is about 8 days away, not 15!  In any case, it is nice to see the rain/snow line slipping further and further south and actually being forecasted for our area, even if it is too far out to have much faith in.  I would think that in a month, we should have already seen our first snow, or at have it forecasted to occur within the next 5-7 days.
    We were cool enough the other day to take a hike up Mt Ripley.  I did wear shorts and a T-shirt and Nora had wished she'd done the same, as the sun was strong, but the air temp was probably in the 60's.  Nora and I have been taking fairly regular evening walks.  They are about 2-3 miles in length and we walk at a pretty brisk pace.  The hounds stay home because they could not keep up with us at that pace or make it that long without having some pretty serious sore joints, so the hike up Ripley was not as hard as past climbs have been.  We did stop once, but we could have made it all the way to the top without the break.  We did bring the hounds and they did great with both the climb up and down.  Strength is really not an issue with them, it is the endurance and speed.  While I would never want to climb the big peaks like McKinley, K2 or Everest, every time I hike up one of the "hills" we have around here and take in the view, I can see why those that do make the climb to it.  At the top of Ripley, you have an eagles eye view of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and Houghton.  Using the cameras zoom, I was able to close in on the county courthouse and it's brand new copper roof.  They used a chemical to turn it green, just like it would after a period of time, but I think it would have been kind of neat to see it all shiny copper colored first, then let the weather turn it green.  Oh well, maybe there is some reason they pre treated it before installing it.  Looking off in the other direction we had a birds eye view of the north end of the Portage Lake, the southern end of Point Mills and even the Huron Mountains way off in the distance.  The nice thing about hiking up a hill or mountain is that the way down is less strenuous, at least for the lungs and circulatory system, but can actually be harder on the legs.
    Big news in the garden department was the picking of a ripe watermelon and the opening of the sunflower heads.  Yesterday I decided it was time to pick one of the watermelons.  It had been the same size for about 3 weeks and had a pretty hollow sound to it when I hit it with my knuckles so I took the plunge and cut it from it's vine.  The variety was the type that does not get real big and has a dark green color to it.  I was glad that we kept the little tag that came with the seedling because we then had a picture of what the ripe melon should look like.  Otherwise I would have thought that these things were never going to get big enough to pick.  Here is a shot of me in the kitchen with the melon that was taken just moments before I nervously cut into it to see if it was ripe.  I was very relieved to see a nice red flesh inside!  Nora and I both had some for a treat before dinner and I plan to finish the rest off this weekend.  I don't know if the others will make it before a frost comes.  I think two of them might be about 1-2 weeks from being ripe and the other is at least 3 weeks.  But I can say that watermelon can grow in the Keweenaw!  As mentioned the sunflowers finally headed out.  The plants are huge, standing about 10 feet tall and the flowers are about 8-10 inches in diameter.  Pretty cool plants actually.  It is amazing how they were able to withstand all the winds this area has.  I don't know if we will be able to harvest any seeds, that will also be a race against time.  Nora has actually stopped picking the cucumbers, we have too many of them already and she does not want them to rot in the fridge.  We have bags of green beans and raspberries and blackberries in the freezer too.  All we need now is some livestock and we can skip the grocery store!  All joking aside, it has been fun having a garden going this year and will be fun to add to it next year.
    Not much else has been going on up here.  I have been busy working on the bookcase for my brother.  I finished the construction Wednesday and completed the finishing process this afternoon.  No pictures of it yet, you will have to wait until he sees it first, then I can show you all.  I am very happy with it and think that it really looks hand made.  Certainly not something you would find in a department store or even a furniture store.  That is always my goal when I build something, to do it in a style and manner that sets it apart from factory furniture, even to the untrained eye.  To the trained eye, it is very clear that this was not factory furniture, with almost every joint a wood on wood one like mortise and tennon or dovetail and not held together with nails or screws.  The next project is actually outdoors and is a little fence for the far side of the house, I plan to get that done tomorrow and then one indoor project to help with some office storage, some fixtures to help out in the woodworking shop itself and then it should be about time to put the woodworking on hold so I can play in the snow!
    For you fishing fans, the Professional Walleye Tournament hits town next weekend.  It is billed as the super bowl of fishing tournaments so that is pretty cool that they are having it here.  The SDC (where MI Tech plays hockey) will host the weigh in shows.  I hope all goes well.  I guess that most of the pros are already in town and finding their secret spots.  As a bonus, if the state record is caught during the tournament, the one who lands it gets 1 million dollars.  I'm not that big into fishing (probably because I am not that knowledgeable at it), but I do think it is really neat that the Keweenaw waterway was chosen for it.
    Well, I guess that gets you all caught up for now.  In a few weeks, I will have some color photos to share with you.  Some of the trees are just starting to turn, especially up in Keweenaw County.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
Sept 1-
    Happy Labor Day everyone!  I tried to do one more journal before the month ended, but fun times got the better of me and I ran out of time and energy yesterday.  This weekend has been warmer than was anticipated, at least Sunday and today were.  I am not really complaining as it has still be pretty comfortable, with highs in the 70's and dewpoints in the low 50's.  But I would also have not minded highs in the 60's.  The warmer air for us is all part of a major flop on the part of the models for the weekend.  They all over anticipated how strong the high building in from Canada would be, so all the rains across MO, IL, IN and OH that were not really suppose to happen are also the result of that high not being as strong as was indicated, thus the rains were able to advance further north.  If the high had been as strong as it was indicated to be (I almost said "suppose to be"), all the rains would have been shunted down across the OH River Valley.  I guess the farm fields across MO, IL, IN and OH needed the rains, so they were a good thing, but too much of a good thing for some areas.
    I'm glad that I did not jump the gun and remove the air conditioners from the windows yet.  I ran the one in my office yesterday afternoon, as the sun comes into that room in the afternoon and the computer equipment can throw quite a bit of heat out as well.  I just leave my computers running 24/7 and turn the monitors off when I am not in the office, but the computers themselves throw out a lot of heat.  Nice in the winter time but a real challenge to keep this room cool in the summer, especially in the late afternoon and early evening with the sun blaring in.
    Both Friday and Saturday were cool days, in fact, it was so cool that I was able to wear jeans on the afternoon walk Saturday.  You have to understand that I can wear shorts in the wintertime outside for a while and still be comfortable.  I would be more comfortable with something full length and warmer, but can go with shorts for at least a little while in the winter.  So it really does need to be cool for me to want to wear jeans and last Friday and Saturday were cool enough for that.  On Friday, Nora, the Hounds and I went out to the School Forest.  I figured with the cooler temps and winds, I would be comfortable in jeans and a sweatshirt and also the bugs would not be an issue.  Turned out to be right on both accounts.  It was great to be back out there as it is one of my favorite spots to both hike and ski.  We still have a few months (weeks?!) before any skiing will be taking place, but are entering into the prime hiking time for places like the School Forest.  It was as pretty as ever, and the hounds immediately remembered where that area and led the way down the trail.  The bugs were basically non existent as well which made the walk out there even more enjoyable.  We even decided to stop and pose for a "family picture".  Notice the jacket Nora is wearing and the fact that the hounds are not panting to keep cool?  This is really a great time of the year, still very comfortable weather to be outside, but also most of the bugs have cycled through and are really on the outs.  Some dragonflies and an occasional deerfly, but nothing to a bothersome level.  Plus, the dragonflies actually prey on the other flies.
    We happened along some of the blackberry patches that are out in the School Forest and had a little snack.  Nora and I ended up going out to my secret spot Saturday evening and picked nearly 2 gallons (7 quarts) in about and hour.  We nailed them right at their peak and actually did not have to stray more than about 20 yards once we got into one of the main patches.  Please do not ask me where this secret patch is.  If there is one thing I have learned while living up here, that is keep the secret berry patches to yourself.  The fact that this patch is so easy to get too also makes it that much more important that we keep it under wraps.  Tell just one person and then they will tell a few and before I know it there will be tons of folks out there and no berries left to pick.  I did see some other tracks out there so others do know about it, but they also seemed to just hit the easier bushes to get too.  A little deeper looking and you hit the motherload.  Anyway, Nora has already made one batch of jam and is going to make another tomorrow, plus we had a cobbler for dessert tonight and there may be left overs even after all that.
        Saturday morning Nora, the Hounds and I went up to the property in the morning and had a look around some more.  There was a pair of deer up there and Nora tried to get a shot of them, but the Hounds and I spooked them and they ran off before she could snap a shot.  We further familiarized ourselves with the land and I further tried to imagine just how to situate the buildings, but it seems like just when I get the idea of how I want things I see a reason to change my mind.  This time around, I changed my mind because the way I had things laid out, the home would be too close to a stand of cedars.  I do not want to encroach upon those cedars for two reasons:  1) They are pretty trees and I do not want to destroy them and 2) Cedars also usually mean wet ground and while the ground was dry now, I could tell that it does get wet in there and that is not a good place to have a home.  So, I will have to adjust the placement of the home about 50 feet or so, no biggy, but it is funny how I just cannot nail down the exact placement of things yet.  Very unlike me, I usually can picture things very easily and pull the trigger very easily.  I still have plenty of time though.  Don't plan to build anything for at least a year, maybe more.
    After getting back from the property we decided to start up the sleds.  It was cool enough and not too early in the morning so we uncovered them and fired them up.  Well, at least one of them.  I forgot that I had run the gas out of the PolCat about a month and a half ago.  I need to have the seat done again and since the gas tank is part of the seat I wanted to run all the gas out of it.  Unfortunately, I did not remember that until about 30-40 pulls on the starter cord later!  Thankfully it does not have the compression that the RMK has or I would have keeled over of a heart attack for sure!  Even though we did not start it up, Nora still enjoyed sitting on it and imagining 3 feet of fresh powder surrounding her.  I was able to get the RMK started in just 2 or 3 pulls and it was nice to take in the blue smoke, if even for just a short while.
    Yesterday, Nora and I took a long evening walk, starting out at the trail head for the trail down to the mouth of the Gratiot River.  The trail on the north side is now just for non-motorized traffic only.  You can still use the trail on the south side of the river to get there by vehicle.  Anyway, it is probably just shy of about two miles from the parking area to the mouth.  A nice hike, all downhill on the way to the lake, so all uphill on the way back, but none of the hills are really all that challenging, so not too bad.  We basically had the place to ourselves as it was not too far from sunset.  Lots of bear sign on the trail, but we did not see any actual bear.  Nora saw one crossing US 41 right near the property last week, but I have been shut out so far this summer.  Anyway, the hike down was very pretty and the reward in the form of scenery once you are at the mouth defies words (FSV).  Nora needs to get the credit for that shot, as well as this one (FSV).  Feeling a bit insecure about the fact that she probably snapped two great photos I asked for the camera and took a shot of the shoreline looking south (FSV).  But, she still kicked my fanny with her shots.  It is great to have someone to help supply shots for the journal.
    While not out berry picking, or hiking, or starting up the sleds, or playing some golf, I have also been busy in the shop working on the bookcase for my brother.  He arrives in 9 days and I will have it done for sure by the time he arrives.  I actually have maybe an hour or two left of construction and then will need to stain it and topcoat it.  I'm glad I had an extra day off from work this weekend because we sure did squeeze in as much as we possible could in the past 3 days.  I think I will sleep very well tonight.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
 
 
 
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