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Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
April 29-
    I am getting an early start on this because I have a busy late afternoon and evening planned.  Nora will be getting home early enough to join us on our afternoon adventure and then we plan to go to Houghton this evening to get some shopping done.  So since I have a bit of free time right now, I figured I would try and get out a few words.
    The recovery of Baileys continues.  Today she got to have some regular dog food added to her meal.  Up until today it was just pasta.  The goal is still to have her back on to all regular dog food by about next week at this time.  I don't think we will have any problems, she has been able to handle everything just fine and it seems that her only complaint is not getting enough food!  Her energy level seems to be about where it was before she got sick, so it looks like a full recovery is underway.  Burt is also doing very well and he and I both are very glad to have her along on our walks.  I don't mean to leave Nora out, but she has been working when we took our walks this week.  Although I am looking forward to having her along for our afternoon walks today and tomorrow as well as the weekend.
    We have not been doing anything too special lately, just enjoying life and having everyone home and healthy.  The weather has been doing a roller coaster ride up here.  Monday we had rain and snow showers most of the day.  Tuesday was cool and we had a few snow flurries in the evening.  Then yesterday we rose into the upper 60's and low 70's with lots of sun and today it is back down into the low 40's and threatens rain and snow.  I must say that it sure felt good to be able to be outside yesterday with shorts and no jacket on.  As much as I love the snow season, it also is very nice to have the change of season and the warmth of yesterday really felt good.  Also put me in the mood to play some golf!  I am not sure when the Calumet Golf Course will be opening, but Portage has been open for almost a week now.  I would imagine that Calumet should be ready in a week, if not less.  Maybe no carts, but still able to get out and hit them.
    Yesterday the hounds and I went over to the village park.  No campers yet, but in about a month the campground will be opening up for the summer and it will not take too long before all the spots are filled.  I figured that it being such a warm day, they might feel like taking a swim, and I was right.  They did not go all the way in, but enough to get cooled off.  I am sure that Burt would have gone all the way in if a stick was involved!
    Nora and I both have been busy with the remodeling tasks.  I have been working on the fireplace surround project and hope to have the construction done in a week to ten days.  It actually is not that far along at the moment, but I did not work on it at all last week and most of the work that has been done to it this week is the planning type.  The actual construction phase should not be more than about 20 hours.  I am taking shots as I go and when it is all done, I will present the project in it's entirety with photos.  Nora took on the project of resurfacing the lone countertop that I did not do 5 years ago when I moved in.  I showed her how to do the tile layout, cut the tiles and then set them.  She did a great job and is a very fast learner, besides being beautiful!  She also seemed to enjoy doing it.  I think she really wants to be able to look at it and know she did all the work because she warned me to not even think about doing the grouting.  That will be done this afternoon or evening and then that task will be out of the way and all the countertops will finally have the same surfacing!  I've only been planning to get that done for the past 5 years.  Actually I was thinking about a butcher block top, but then decided to go with the ceramic tile to match the other countertops as well as ease of maintenance.
    This afternoon Nora, the hounds and I are going to go up to the property and mark off where we want the buildings to go.  I just plan to place some rebar (1/4" steel bars used for reinforcing concrete) at the corners of where we plan to put the buildings and then maybe even run some surveyors tape between the rebar to act as the walls.  That way we can get an idea of how things will look and also be able to know where we should plan the 100 or so trees we have coming next weekend.  A few of the trees will get planted here at the house, but I'd say no more than 2-4.  It's getting exciting to get to the serious planning stages.  Depending on the financial resources and our free time this summer and autumn, we might actually do a bit of ground breaking!
    Things have been pretty quiet outside of our household up here.  With most of the days being in the 40's, most of the folks have been keeping themselves inside up here.  I feel there will be this huge explosion of outdoor activities once the weather finally turns nice.  I know I am chomping at the bit to do things like go to the beach and play some golf, or even just wash the truck.  Something tells me that if we would not have had the mild and rather snowless Feb and March then we might still have some snow on the ground right now.  Actually, there is still snow in the woods up north of me.  I talked to Matt earlier this week and he said that there is still enough snow in the woods up there that we could ride if we wanted to.  Believe it or not, I could probably still be tempted to!  Just one last time for bragging rights!  I think Matt's sled is still broke and I don't know anyone else that would want to go, so I think the RMK will be staying in the garage.
    Well, I guess that gets you caught up in what is going on up here.  I suppose I will not be writing a journal tomorrow, so I guess that means I'll talk to you next month!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
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April 25-
    It is with great pleasure that I can write this journal with my little girl sleeping by my side.  She made a wonderful recovery late last week and she is home with us and recovering very well.  Nora, Burt and I went to visit her on Thursday and she was doing very well.  So well that it looked very good that she would be coming home this weekend.  Nora had a meeting Friday and could not go, so she stayed home and took care of Burt.  I drove to Marquette and brought a bag of clothes with me in case it looked good that she would be coming home on Saturday.  When I got there Friday afternoon she was out of her cage and playing with some of the assistants behind the counter.  She saw me and ran over to see me, tail wagging and happy.  They had given her some crackers to eat and she kept them down.  So we hung out together, taking some small walks around the building and then laying down in the back by her cage.  I read a book and she napped.  It looked really good that she would be going home on Saturday.  In fact the Dr was toying around with the idea of going home Friday.  However, I think he was thinking of me too, knowing that I lived so far away and wanting to perhaps save me a trip back home and then back to the vet on Saturday.  I told him that I did not want to rush anything on my account and told him that I had brought a change of clothes and was planning on staying in Marquette Friday night if it looked like she was going home on Saturday.
    So it was decided that she would stay one more night and then go home with me on Saturday if all went well.  As I sat with her I started thinking what is the difference if she spends the night in the vet alone or with me in a motel. So I asked her Dr if it was ok that she spent the night with me in the motel and then we could come back Saturday morning for the final ok to go home.  He did not have any problem with that, so we grabbed her stuff and went off in search of a motel that would take dogs.  The first three we tried all had signs at the door saying no pets.  The fourth was the Holiday Inn and it had not sign on the door, so I went in and checked with the front desk if they allowed dogs and they did.  Baileys and I checked in and spent a relaxing evening together and kept in touch with Nora and Burt via phone.
    After a good nights sleep (first true one in over a week), we headed back over to the vet.  I did give her 6 more crackers and some water Friday night as instructed and she kept them down just fine.  She did not enjoy the crackers that much, but was so hungry she still ate them down.  Saturday's look over went very quickly.  I had a list of questions for the Dr and once he finished answering them all we were off for home.  It was really neat to see how Burt and Baileys reacted to her homecoming.  They had seen each other at the vet's on Thursday, but the homecoming was really special.  Burt was out front keeping Nora company while she did some yard work and came running over as fast as he could when he saw that it was us pulling in.  Baileys bound out of the truck and was so excited to be home that she did not even know which way to turn first.  It did not take long for her to get settled in.  The first thing she did once inside was to check for food in her bowl and then make sure everything else was in it's place like she left it on Monday.  We gave her some more crackers and some beef bouillon the rest of the day and like Friday, she ate it, but was hoping for something different.
    We then all piled into the truck and headed up to do some exploring at the property.  They really are becoming familiar with it and get excited when we get close.  They know right where to go to get from the road to the building spot.  There is still a bit of snow out there in spots and here is the Beez making her way through a pile of it.  The building spot was pretty much snow free, and Nora wanted to get a shot of the three of us near where the road will enter to the building spot.  The dogs were more interested in exploring than posing for photos, so we let then get on with their exploring.  Nora managed to capture Baileys giving her brother a kiss.  Neither of them will ever fully let on how much they missed each other, but I know better!  Not sure what got their attention in this shot, but they were sure interested in something!  After exploring around the property a bit, we headed back home.  The dogs took a nap after all the excitement of earlier and Nora and I got on with the yard work.  That consisted of the bush protectors coming down along with the snow station.  We put up the bird feeder and did a bit of trimming of the raspberry bushes.
    Today we actually had a bit of snow, at one point we even had a dusting on the ground.  Baileys has been able to graduate from crackers to pasta and could not be happier.  The pasta is plain, but she does not care.  Pasta is actually one of hers and Burt's favorites and I am glad, because she is suppose to just gradually work into a normal diet.  The Dr said that the goal is to have her on a fully regular diet in two weeks.  We are going to be switching both of their foods to Eukanuba Senior diet to try and remove as much fat from their diet as possible.  I guess they could still get some table scraps as long as there is no fat.  However, for the sake of being consistent, we have just decided to forsake anymore human food treats.  They will get their spaghetti dinner for their birthday, but it will be minus the sauce.  Since part of her recovery diet includes pasta, I think plain spaghetti is fine for a birthday dinner treat.
    On Saturday morning there was a big fire down in Houghton.  The offices for Gundlach Construction went up in flames.  Our brave reporters Burt and Nora drove down to capture the event for you all.  Here is a shot of the smoke plume as they drove towards the bridge on the Hancock side.  Here is the building fully engulfed.  I have not heard what caused it or if they even know at this point.  I would imagine the building was not occupied at the time of the fire and I do not know if there were any injuries to any of the fire fighters on the scene.  I guess I can go out on a limb and say that it looks like the building was a total loss.  Those shots were taken around 8 am and by the time Baileys and I drove by at about 11 am, the fire was almost totally out.  Here is one last shot.
    Today was a good inside work day with the snow and rain, so I worked on the fireplace remodel and then Nora and I worked on the tile for the island countertop in the kitchen.  All I need is some adhesive for the tile in both projects and can move forward.  With all the back and forth from Marquette last week, I slipped a little behind in schedule. But should be able to catch up and have all my projects done in the general time that I was hoping to.
    Yesterday Nora, the hounds and I took the long way home from the property and drove by the Laurium Glacier.  Looks like it still has a few more weeks left in it.  Maybe more if we stay as cool as we have been.  That was the last picture in the bin and I am out of things to say.  Except that I would like to thank Dr. Dale Aho and his crew at the Animal Medical Center of Marquette for their excellent diagnosis and care of Baileys.  Right now the little girl is sitting by my side (her usualy spot) and it is a dream come true to be able to reach over and pet her.  I would also like to pubilcly thank Nora for being so great through all of this.  She was there in anyway that I needed and has shown me how lucky I am to have her in my life.  I would also like to thank all of the friends of the site for their well wishes, prayers and concerns.  Knowing that so many people cared for Baileys really was special.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
April 24-

Look Who's Home!!!

It's a Great Day in the Keweenaw!
April 21-
    This is just going to be a quick one to update you all on Baileys and my thoughts on things.  For those of you who did not know, Baileys started getting sick last week and we took her to the vet on Friday.  Initially the thinking was that she just had an upset stomach as there was no swelling or obvious discomfort.  He sent us home with some meds to help calm her stomach.  They did not work so we took her back in on Monday.  X-rays indicated she had a lot of gas trapped in her stomach and intestines, but other than that, nothing obvious.  Her blood work was fairly good with just one elevated liver function.  Temp was pretty close to normal too.  The vet wanted to keep her overnight to do a barium test to see if there was a blockage in her digestive tract.  The good news was that she passed all the barium, so there was no blockage. But the bad news was that she probably had something more serious.  We found that out at about 6 pm yesterday.
    Today Nora, Burt and I went to visit her and all I can say is that it was very good for all of us to see each other.  My main concern is for her comfort- both physically and mentally.  I have been in the hospital more times than I can even count and the best thing about them is leaving.  So I have been a train wreck knowing that she is there and not really understanding what is going on.  To make matters worse, she is in Marquette, which is 100 miles and 2 hours away by car.  Donald Trump would not lend out his helicopter, so we are stuck driving to and from.  We did not go yesterday as she was having the tests done.  I guess it probably is a good thing as the Dr's said that she was in really bad shape yesterday.  She just laid there and did not even respond to their touching her or calling her name.  They speculate that it could have been one of the meds they gave her.  At any rate, she was much better today.  She still looked worse than when we dropped her off, but I guess that is to be expected, seeing as though she has not eaten or drank anything in over 24 hours and has not really kept anything down for about 4 days.
    They have her on an IV and when we showed up she was resting comfortably in her crate.  I was very happy to see her comfortable in the crate.  They even have blankets and pillows in the crate for her.  It seems that they do it for most of the animals and just change the bedding when things get messed.  She did not jump up right away when we arrived, but did dish out the kisses and we spent about 2 hours with her.  We did not bring Burt in as we thought that might make her really want to leave and feel left out. Plus we did not want to confuse him.  Nora took Burt for a walk and gave him a dog treat while I visited with Baileys.  Nora is a true saint!  Anyway, Baileys was able to take a short walk with me and even went pee, which is a very good sign that at least that part of her organ system is working.  Some other good news is that her blood counts are all still in the normal range, so that also means that her critical organs are working pretty good.
    The Dr's are still not sure if it is a tumor or pancreatitis.  The tumor would basically be fatal as tumors of the pancreas spread very quickly.  The condition called pancreatitis is when the enzymes the pancreas secrete to digest food in the small intestine actually start digesting the pancreas.  If stopped in time and allowed to be quiet for a period of a few days, the pancreas has a fairly good chance of being ok, which means the animal (even human) will be OK.  There can be complications like further bouts of pancreatitis or even diabetes, but right now we are hoping for two main things.  One that it is not a tumor.  The vet told me it is about a 70/30 chance that it is not.  We then have to hope that if it is pancreatitis, the pancreas has not been severely damaged and no other organs were.  Right now with her blood work in normal levels, the damage was likely minimal.  Yesterday the vet told me her chances of survival were 50-50.  I am not sure if they were upped at all today, with the counts being normal and her being more alert.  I would like to think yes and the vets did seem to think that all that has happened since yesterday have been steps in the right direction.  But she is far from being out of the woods.
    The plan is to keep her on an IV and administer some antibiotics.  Come Saturday she will be given a very small meal like a cracker or two and maybe some water.  If she keeps that down then we have just crossed a major hurdle.  From there we just continue to get her back on normal food very slowly and she can probably go home in a few days.  If she gets sick then they want to do exploratory surgery to see what is going on (tumor, major damage to the pancreas or something else).  So I guess Saturday will be the big day.  Nora and I will be going to visit her again tomorrow and then I will go Friday and I think we both will go again Saturday.
    I will try and keep you all as up to date as possible.  We really appreciate all the prayers and well wishes.  Before I close I would just like to say one last thing.  One thing that can cause pancreatitis in pets and humans is a very fatty meal.  The numbers of pets with the condition spike around the holidays because of all the leftovers being fed to dogs.  Obviously not every dog that gets leftovers will develop this, but I can say that my dogs are off human food for good.  They do not have to have human food treats to survive or even be happy.  I used to rarely give them any and got soft in the past year or so.  In my eyes it is just not worth the risk and I wanted to pass that along to you all because I thought it was important.
-JD -
April 17-
    And the meltdown continues...Today the view from the AL Cam became free of snow.  There are still a few patches left out of the cameras view- off to the left, but they are so small, that they will not last much longer.  We have been having lots of sunshine and temps reaching into the upper 40's and low 50's.  Even warmer than that in spots.  Yesterday we had to take Baileys to see the Dr. in Marquette and while driving through Champion the thermometer read in the low 70's!  There were people riding motorcycles with no jackets on and lots of folks walking around with just t-shirts on.  Kind of weird though, as when we got to Marquette about 20 miles east and 20 minutes later, the temp was about 50.  I am almost positive that it had to do with the wind direction and the fact that Marquette is closer to the lake than Champion, but it was nice to be riding in the truck with the windows down for a while!  As we drove by the L'Anse golf course, they were out golfing and even using carts!  Portage is hoping to open up next weekend and I would not be surprised to see Calumet open in about 2 weeks.  They will not likely be allowing carts onto Calumet until probably sometime later in May, but golf season is just around the corner in the Keweenaw.
    And while all of that is happening one could still ride a snowmobile up here.  How neat would that be to go snowmobiling in the morning and then get in a quick 18 in the afternoon?!  I'll show you some shots later where one could still ride.  But for now I want to talk about the thaw that is underway and what it is like up here at this time of the year.  My little statement about riding in the morning and playing golf in the afternoon could actually get done, but you would have to do a bit of traveling.  As mentioned, L'Anse is the only course in the area that is open right now and the riding would have to be done up in the higher terrain of the northern Keweenaw, so you would have to get your riding done fairly early and have a tee time for the mid to late afternoon because the two spots are about an hour and a half away from each other.  However, you do not have to travel great distances to observe different levels of snow still on the ground.  In fact, in some spots you do not even have to turn your head.  Nora, the hounds and I took a walk along the road near the Calumet Waterworks and as you could see, the side of the road that faces north still had over a foot of snow on it and the other side was bare.  That is really a testiment to the power of the suns rays.  That is also why my back yard is almost completely bare and you can still find a foot of snow in the woods in some spots up here.  On the way back from our walk, we drove past the Laurium Glacier.  It has been doing a bit of melting too, but still has a way to go!  It looks like it is about on track to melt by the third week of May or there abouts.
    While out and about today, it is hard to believe that just a week ago, it was snowing and two weeks ago I had to drive through a snowstorm to take my last ride.  It really is amazing how diverse the weather can be at this time of the year.  It really is just as easy for it to be in the 30's and snowing as it is for the temps to be in the 60's or even low 70's.  Al and some of the regular gang are out riding ATV's today.  I'm sure that they had a blast, but for some reason I do not feel like I am missing as much as if they were riding sleds.  I suppose it is because I know that I do not have that much experience on an ATV and they all do, so I know that I might either hold them back a bit or even be so nervous at times that I might not even enjoy myself riding with them.  I had a total blast riding with Troy from the Lac La Belle Lodge this past autumn and can see myself having an ATV sometime in the not too distant future, but I guess for now I just don't have this burning desire to get out and ride them.
    I did actually feel a burning desire to ride the sled one last time.  Nora and I took a ride up to the Lac La Belle Lodge today to visit with Troy and Cathy and on the way there passed some places that would have been pretty fun to ride.  This first picture is actually of the trail that crosses the Lac La Belle Road and heads to Copper Harbor.  There is actually still enough snow to ride on that, but before any of you pack your gear and head up, about 80% of the trail system up here is free of snow.  What really got my heart beating was the view of some of the logging roads up there.  That's plenty of snow to ride on and I would imagine I could probably burn up a tank of gas tooling around the higher terrain of Keweenaw County and never really cross my tracks more than once or twice.  In fact, if I had the trailer at my house and the forecast was not calling for rain tomorrow, I could certainly see taking one last ride tomorrow with Nora.  Nothing extreme, just tooling around the logging roads up there and having fun in the remaining snow.  Of course if I did want to get a little more daring there is enough snow in the woods to do some picking through the trees and hill climbing.  That patch of dirty snow in the foreground was the bank along the side the of the road.  I did not even get out of my truck to take that last shot.  So it's funny how I can never fully shake that itch to ride.  Here it is the end of the season and I could still actually go for one last ride.  I guess maybe it is also part bragging rights.  I could say I went for a ride when most areas in the country are done, even in the west.  The mountains out west have been so warm and dry since March that places like Wyoming are basically done.  The parking lot at Togwotee has been bare for weeks.  I'm sure that the highest terrain out west still has tons of snow, but the higher up you need to go, the less real estate there is to play in.
    I did manage to regain my composure and we headed down to Lac La Belle.  We took a quick trip over to Haven Falls to take in their grandure.  I'll have to see if we can get to some of the other falls while the water is still high.  I know I would really like to get to both the Montreal Falls and also the Sturgeon River Falls when the water is high.  I have only been to those two falls when the water level is at almost it's lowest.  The problem is, both are not a quick trip.  They both take up almost a whole day for the round trip, especially the Sturgeon, so we'll see.
    I got started on my living room project this week.  The demolition is all done and the mess cleaned up. Some of the materials have been ordered, some I have and some I still need to figure out how much I need.  Namely cherry veneer plywood.  To figure out how much I need I still need to finalize my plans and I just about got that done today.  I hope to be done with the entire project in about 3 weeks.  Actually I should be done with most of the construction in about 2 weeks, but one item I ordered this past Thursday will not be in for about 3 weeks.  Thankfully I can add that at the very end.  It is just a 2 1/4" thick cement slab that will be the hearth for the fireplace.  I'm pretty excited to be finally getting this project done.  It is something I wanted to get done 5 years ago when I move up, but for various reasons was never able to get it done until now.  I think that it will really make the house more valuable too, sort of a win-win situation.  I did take a before shot and will take some during and after shots as well, so you all can see what was done.
    Well, I guess I do not have much else to say, so I will leave you with a front of house shot taken this afternoon.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
April 13-
    We'll see how long this one is!  I have been sitting here trying to think of an opener for a few minutes and have been drawing a blank.  I really do not have a ton to talk about either, but I figured since I had some free time I would get out a quick one.  I also hope to get to some more Guest Shots before calling it a day.  Speaking of Guest Shots, I did a count of how many are in the barrell waiting to be posted.  I was thinking about 35 or so and ended up guessing way wrong, there are actually 65!  So needless to say that my hopes of getting all caught up with them in the next 2 weeks are gone.  I will continue to hammer away at them every few days, but I would have to do 5 a day for the next 13 days straight just to get caught up and I am sorry, but I just do not feel like keeping up a pace like that.  So it looks like it will take me a while longer than the next 2 weeks to get caught up.  The down side to that is those of you who are waiting for your shots to join the Gallery, you will have to wait a while longer.  The up side to that is that the rest of us will get to see fresh guest shots into the warm months.
    It has been anything but warm up here.  We had light snow or flurries fall just about constantly from the weekend into yesterday.  Not enough to make a difference as far as using the snow is concerned, but enough to make a mess when it would melt.  Overnight we would pick up about 1/2 inch and then once the sun would rise high enough in the sky it would start to melt the snow and by about 10 or 11 in the morning the snows would be pretty much fully melted.  So far it seems like we are having pretty much the type of spring that I do not really like all that much, but it has not really impacted my attitude either.  If we would have had enough snow to play in all this time then this would have been the perfect spring, but there really is not enough snow to make playing in it easily done.  I am sure that I could trailer up north and find over a foot of snow on the ground to play in.  Phoenix Farms was reporting about 18" just a day or so ago and I am sure that there is that much or more in some of the spots we traditionally play in.  But I just do not feel like going through all the trouble to find someone that wants to ride, then haul the sled up there and ride.  I guess I just get spoiled being able to ride from my garage, but I have a feeling most of you would too if you were in my shoes.
    So it looks like I have taken my last ride.  Actually that was back on the 3rd of April, but technically I still could be riding.  I have a feeling that by next weekend, even the higher terrain of Keweenaw county will not have enough snow to ride in.  Today is sunny and in the mid 40's.  Tomorrow is the same and we should be in the mid 50's by Thursday.  It looks to cool off into the 40's by the weekend, but that should be enough to just about do in the remaining snow pack in most places.  Sure some deeper piles will remain, but my yard should be pretty much clear and some of the trails that we walk on should be too.  So that means we can start getting back into the woods.  That will be nice because in less than 2 months the black flies will have firm control of the woods.
    Today Nora and I took the hounds to the park for the afternoon walk.  Most of the snow is gone, but the campground is not quite ready for business.  It is actually hard to believe that in just a short time that place will be filled up with campers and folks enjoying the shores of the Torch Lake.  The lake is still pretty well frozen, but the shallows near the shore are open and Baileys was the first to take a dip this season.  She did not last too long and I could not get the camera ready in time, but take my word for it, she did venture into the water.  Really surprised me because Burt is the bigger water fan of the two.  He actually did not even go in today. But I bet he wished he could have had the chance after the walk.  Even though the temps were only in the mid 40's, the sky was blue and the suns rays were strong, and it felt warm out.
    I have not been laying around doing nothing in my off time.  With regards to the site I have been working on getting another discussion board up and going.  The Ask John had sort of been taken over by general discussions and I thought it would be a good idea to add a second board for those types of discussions and let the Ask John go back to questions specifically about the weather.  The new board is a newer version, so it will have some new features, both from an administrative end and from a posters end.  It will be moderated by myself as well as a few others, so we should be able to keep it free of the trash that can collect on boards that are not moderated.  It will have several topics like discussions for trail/snow conditions as well as questions about where to stay or eat or rent sleds in a location.  I plan to leave the threads up for about 2-4 weeks after the last post has been made.  That way it will not turn into a big mess that is too giant to even keep track of, but people will not have to visit every day to keep up with discussions and add their input.  I am pretty close to being done and it should be up in a week or so.  Once it is up, I will go in and remove all the posts not relating to the weather on the Ask John.  I wish I could transfer some of the more helpful ones, but that is not possible.  I suppose if there is a thread put on the new board that is very informative, it could remain indefinately.  The rules to the new board will be pretty simple and straight forward, but will also be firm.  Things like no foul language, or personal attacks and no advertising will be the big three.  I am looking forward to having that second board.
    I have also been working on getting my weather station up and running.  I was moving along pretty good when all of the sudden the computer died on me.  It actually runs so I think it is a software issue.  I do not have a boot disk for it and even if I did I probably would not be able to determine what the problem is. So I will take it in to my computer friends at Next Century and let them try and figure out what the deal is.  I need to build a shelter box for my temperature sensor.  Right now it is reading 65.1 degrees and I know that is not true.  I may just have the shelter box double as the snow station next winter as well.
    In addition to that work I have also been running around getting the materials for all of my spring projects.  I finished the ones I needed to for the shop, so it is all set to help me with my projects.  I have enough materials to get me going, so I plan to start some of the demo work this week and then have the construction done in a month or so.  One project is to resurface a countertop in the kitched with tile.  I did most of them back in 1999 when I moved in, but the island's countertop has been sitting there with the same formica top ever since.  I also will be finally getting around to my fireplace surround and bookshelves.  Another will be ripping out the cement front steps (which are in a state of decay) and replace them with a set of wooden steps and landing.   Last but not least is the bed frame for my brother.  All that needs to be done before golf season kicks into high gear about the first of June.  Will I make it?  Only time will tell!
    So I guess that gets you caught up for now.  This actually turned out to be a little longer than I thought, but Nora is not home yet from visiting a friend and I have been able to type away before dinner.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
April 10-
    I think I must really be enjoying my almost vacation as it does not seem like it has been 5 days since I last wrote.  Not much exciting has been going on up here and when I realized that I should do a journal soon- as in today, I was a little worried that I would not have much content.  However, Nora, the hounds and I did a bit of exploring today and managed to take some shots and capture some experiences to share with you.  It also seems strange to think that it has been a week since I last rode my sled, in what I think will also be my last ride of the season.  Believe it or not there is still plenty of snow in the woods to ride in and if I were really just aching to ride one last time, I could.  But I feel fairly satisfied with my riding for the season.  I have not checked the odometer on the sled, but I think it is somewhere around 1500 for the season.  That may not sound like a lot, but for bush riding that is pretty good.  Plus, when you think that the sled was out of commission for much of January and the weather in Feb and March was not ideal, I'd say 1500 miles is not too bad.
    The weather this past week has been sort of bland.  We actually picked up about 1/2" of snow overnight and some flurries fell into the late morning hours today, but the sun is out now.  This past week was much the same, with a few flakes of snow falling every now and then, but then also some sun.  It was even warm enough on Wednesday for me to wash the truck outside by hand.  As you can see from the Al Cam, there is still snow around and probably will be a week from now.  The first half of this week looks to be plenty cold enough to keep it from melting much and I seriously doubt that we can loose all of what is left in just a few days.  It's really too bad that we had the rather dry and mild Feb and March.  With a "normal" Feb and March, the snowpack that we piled up in January would have only been added to and with the cold April we are having right now I have no doubt that the trails would still have enough snow to ride on and the bush riding would be excellent.  I've always wanted to take my last ride in May.  Maybe one of these years.  Brian and some others did it in 1996.  Mothers Day to be exact.
    Anyway, we started out our adventure today by just heading up to the property to do some more walking around.  I figured the snow would probably be set up pretty good again and we would be able to walk around on it without too many problems.  I was about half right.  About half the time we would be walking along the top of the surface and about half the time we would break through and be standing in knee deep snow.  Yep, that is really how deep the snow is in the woods up here.  In that last shot you will also notice that Burt was still on top of the snow.  The hounds had no problem staying on top of the snow with their webbed feet.  It's cool to watch them spread out their toes as they walk across the snow.  Pretty smart!  We did not do as much walking around at the property as we did last week.  It is pretty hard to get around when every other step or so you are suddenly sinking up to your knees in snow.  In fact, not long after that last shot was taken, I took a tumble in the snow.  The hounds came running, not to make sure I was ok, but to pile on.
    I was feeling a little bad about not walking much with the hounds, so I asked Nora if she wanted to head north a bit and take in some waterfalls and the beach.  She said sure. So after getting back into the truck we headed north to Eagle River to see the Eagle River Falls  (fsv).  The water was rolling over it pretty good, but not as much as it was a few years back.  That was back in mid-April of 2001.  A big snow year and also a year when we lost much of it in a very short time as well as picking up about 4" of rain at the same time.  After taking in the Eagle River Falls we drove northeast up the coast to to see the Jacobs Creek Falls.  Here is the Jacobs Creek Falls back in 2001.  After the Jacobs Creek Falls, we headed northeast even more and stopped when we got to the Great Sand Bay.  I figured we would probably have the place to ourselves and was right.  Even though there were a few flurries falling and the temps were in the upper 20's, it was a nice day to be at the beach.  No swimming by Nora and I and even the hounds did not do any swimming.  Although something tells me if we had tossed a stick into the water, Burt would have gone and got it.  They both have been swimming when there was still ice in the waters.
    As we were walking down the beach, Nora asked for the camera.  She really has an eye for the subtle things that we come across.  I think I might have actually missed this little ice coated branch, laying on the beach if she would not have pointed it out.  Not long after that, I spotted a shot, but it was not of the subtle, close up variety, it was more along my style.  A broad landscape with a unique piece of subject matter.  In this case the unique subject matter was the new Monastery, nestled on the shores of the Big Lake between Eagle River and Eagle Harbor.  Nora spotted another subtlety as we walked along the beach.  An oak leaf leaf lying in a shallow pond of water in the sand.
    After our little exploration on the beach we headed up to Eagle Harbor.  Along the way I spotted some neat ice and rock formations and stopped to take a few shots of them to share with you.  In this shot, I really wish I could have added a human to the top of the pile of ice/snow on that rock to help lend some scaling.  It was actually about 10-15 feet thick.  If it was snow I am not sure how that much snow got on that rock.  If it was ice, it did not look like ice.  I think it was probably an accumulation of slush that occurs along the lake shoreline.  Slush will form near the shore and then the waves come in and splach the slush up onto the shoreline where it will then freeze.  That is how the ice castles form along the shore as well.  The mystery may never be solved but it was impressive none the less.  Just to the right of that shot was an ice bridge.  Looks like it might have even been strong enough to support a human, but there was no way I was going out there.  That water is really cold!
    We managed to make it back to the ranch safe and sound.  My plans now are to maybe take a little nap, then watch some of the Masters golf tournament and maybe even get some more Guest Shots out of the way.  They are actually still coming in, but at a slower pace.  I think I am actually gaining ground on them.  I just hope I can get them all in before the onslaught of new ones start rolling in next season!  Actually I hope to have them all done in about 2 weeks.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
April 5-
    Just when I thought I was done for the season I found myself back on the sled for one last ride- maybe!  Friday evening Brian called me and said that some of the gang was planning to go for a ride on Saturday and was wondering if I was in.  Earlier that day I had actually already thought that I would not ride and so I told him I was going to take a pass.  I figured if there was enough snow the weekend of the 10th and 11th, I would go.  Not long after hanging up with Brian I talked to another friend and we discussed some of the places that the group might ride the next day and it did not take long for me to change my mind and so I called Brian back and told him I was in for Saturday.  He needed to know because there were logistics involved in getting the sleds up there with spaces on trailers and such.  I must say that I am so very lucky to have the most understanding and easy going woman in the world, as Nora did not mind at all that I had changed my mind and decided to spend yet another Saturday out on the sled instead of with her.  I'll have to figure out a way to make this all up to her.
    Anyway, Saturday morning about sunrise it started to snow and by about 9 am was really coming down.  By the time I headed north with the truck, trailer and sled, the roads were already quite nasty.  Here is a shot of the road that our property is on.  I was hoping that Hwy 41 would be in slightly better shape and it was just that- slightly better!  The plow had gone down 41, but the snow was falling so fast that it did not take long for the road to become snow covered again.  I think the wet and heavy stuff is worse than the powdery snow as far as driving is concerned.  I did not go much faster than 40 mph the whole way up 41 to the turn off to the road that takes me to Matt's house.  I knew that the road to Matt's would be nasty as it goes up pretty high in elevation and would be exposed to the winds and the heaviest snow falling in the Keweenaw that morning.  So I just took it easy and made my way up and up and up.  Here is a shot taken while nearly at the top of the hill I had to go over to get to Matt's house.  It was cold enough there that the snow was a little more powdery, but things were still very slick and the visibility was only a few hundred feet.  If that were not enough the down hill portion of the drive to Matt's is even steeper than the uphill and all I can say is thank goodness for anti lock breaks!  I was only doing about 15 mph when I hit the steepest part of that hill, but that was still not enough to keep the truck from skidding.  I just kept the break peddle mashed to the floor and let the anti lock breaks do their thing.  They did manage to hold my speed, but I could not actually reduce my speed.  I made it to the bottom and so did the rest of the guys driving north to Matt's. But the first thing that we all said when we got there and got out of our vehicles was:  "How about that hill?!!!".
    We got unloaded and wasted little time in hitting the trails.  The snow was still falling at a pretty good clip and about 4" new had fallen at Matt's.  It was nice to have some fresh snow, but that also made things a little more dangerous as objects that could have been seen just above the surface of the hard pack snow could be buried under the 4" of fresh.  There was still about 2 feet+ of base down with maybe a bit less on the logging roads.  Enough to have a good time and that we did.  We played on some hills up behind Matt's house and then worked our way north to Lac La Belle and eventually found our way all the way up to the tip of the Keweenaw.  Well, almost the tip- Keystone Bay.  Along the way we stopped to take a few breaks.  Soon after arriving at Keystone, the snows stopped and the sun even poked it's head out for a few brief moments.  We enjoyed a little break on the beach at Keystone where one of our riders discovered he had lost the use of one of his pistons.  The best we could diagnose out there was that his rings had failed as he had no compression on the one side, but when we poured a tiny bit of oil into the spark plug opening, he had compression for a few strokes.
    If one were to pick a spot in the Keweenaw to have a break down, that location would rank pretty high on the list.  To get to Keystone, you have to run down a bush road and cross a beaver pond.  With it being spring the beaver pond was already breaking up.  Not much of a problem with a sled that has it's engine running fine, but water skipping is not the type of thing you want to be doing with only one of your two cylinders working.  None the less he managed to get his sled through and over all the challenges and made it all the way back to Matt's on the one cylinder.  I do think that he was very lucky to get it all the way back.  I was expecting his bad cylinder to eat the ring(s) that had failed, but nope, he got back ok.  The same cannot be said for two other sleds in the group.  Matt had the same problem develop with the steering on his sled that happened about a month ago and another rider blew out one of the spring mounts for his rear suspension.  You all know me and know that I am not a brand basher by any means, but I guess I can say that it was a pretty good day for team Polaris that day.  No problems with that brand.  The others were a Yamaha, Ski-Doo and Arctic Cat.  Really, it was just a luck of the draw and that is really all it ever is when things break on rides.  All the big 4 make very reliable machines in my opinion.
    On the way back off the beach both Matt and Brian decided to take a short cut from the point we were relaxing on to the part of the beach where the trail comes out on.  It was about a 1/4 mile water cross over Lake Superior.  I decided to sit that one out.  The water was probably about 33 degrees and about 10-20 feet deep in some of the spots they were riding and we were a long way from any kind of help should they sink the sled and need to pull them out.  But I did shoot the event on video just in case something unexpected happened.  Nothing out of the ordinary did happen, but the videos are still fun to watch.  A bit long, so they use about 2.5 meg of data.  Here is Matt and here is Brian.  I wonder if they were holding their breath the whole way across?  I know I might have been!
    On Sunday morning, Nora, the hounds and I decided to go up to the property.  It was a cold night and I figured the snow had likely setup again so we could probably walk across it without sinking in.  I was right, even though the snow was still about 15-20" deep up at the property it was firm enough to support all of us.  It was pretty cool to be walking around on the snow.  It also made it very easy to go just about anywhere we wanted to.  A lot of the fallen trees were still covered in the snow, so we could just walk over them rather than have to climb over them.  At one point I thought we had spotted the elusive albino timber wolf, but it turned out to be Baileys walking through the woods.  Here is a shot of me and the hounds out at the property and here is one of all three of my loves.  I am looking forward to getting back out there after the snow melts, but before the bugs come, and doing some more clearing.  I might even begin to clear a path for a road, if we can get the building site cleared up pretty good.
    On the way out to the property Nora spotted a woodpecker on a tree.  So we stopped to take a picture of it.  Now you might wonder: How in the heck did Nora spot that woodpecker in the tree while sitting in a moving truck?  The answer to that is the woodpecker has been very busy lately!
    It's funny, I have been thinking about golf more than anything else lately, but still will likely get one more ride in long before I get to swat my first little white ball.  I drove by the Calumet Golf Course the other day and saw some snow drifts that were still several feet deep.  Maybe I'll have to head down to L'Anse or even Houghton for my first few rounds this year.  Should not be too long for those courses, if it ever warms up and stops snowing!  Did I really just say that?!!!!!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
April 1-
    Well, I did it, I survived another snow season up here!  Although back in January when the site is going at full speed, I was wondering if I would make it!  It seems like just about the time I can't take any more, things start to slow down.  Snow Central has gone into hibernation mode for a few weeks.  I will occasionally update things like the AL Cam and Historical Weather and of course the journal is updated all year round, but today was my first day of not updating the forecasts and it felt kind of weird.  I suddenly had all this free time and did not know what to do with it.  It will take a bit of adjusting, but I think I will be able to find things to do to keep myself busy.
    There is no question that spring has sprung around here.  The snows are melting and we even have some tulips that have broken the surface of the ground.  Tons of sunshine yesterday and today and the forecast is for more of the same tomorrow.  The temps have not been all that warm though, mainly staying in the upper 30's.  That is just fine with me for now.  We still melt of the snow, but do so in a controlled manner.  No flooding of the creeks and rivers up here and our basement has been doing pretty good with seepage.  A little, but nowhere near the problems I have had in years past.  I think having the gutters up has helped, but also the fact that we just seem to chip away at the snowpack and not try and melt it all off in a week.
    I'm not sure if I am done riding for the season yet, but I have a growing feeling that I might just be.  There is still enough snow in the woods to do some riding of the drier logging roads, but I would have to trailer to get there and the trailer is back over at Brian's.  I also suppose that the semi-annual Traprock Valley Water Skip could still take place this year, but with only about a foot to foot and a half of snow left on the ground and the creeks pretty low right now, the odds on having enough flooded creek beds and fields to make for good water skipping is pretty low.  I know that the guys were talking about this weekend being the weekend, but it is going to be too cold, even if we did have enough water.  I like to do my water skipping when the temps are in the upper 40's or low 50's at least and there is some sun.  No fun getting all wet and then cold.  So the sledding might just be done for the season.
    Today the hounds and I took a walk on the trail up by my house.  I figured that the snow would be shallow enough on the trail that we would be able to walk through it with no problems.  The season is over, so I am not doing anything wrong by being up there and the chance of us seeing a sled were pretty much zero.  So I drove the truck up to the road crossing, parked and the hounds and I took off down the trail.  I must say that I had mixed emotions while walking down the trail.  On the one side I was happy to be back out in the woods with the hounds.  We did not do that much skiing from about the beginning of Feb on.  I am not sure why, but just did not go.  If we don't ski, then we pretty much have to stick to the roads and if we are going to do that, then we usually just stick around the neighborhood.  So to be back out in the woods walking with the sun shining and the hounds running around and smelling everything they could made me feel good.  However, as I walked down the snowmobile trail that was clinging on to the last remnants of snow, I could not help but feel a little sad that the season is over and soon all the beautiful snow will be gone for another 6 or 7 months.  It was just less than 2 weeks ago I was riding on that trail and it was still in great shape. Not that it was in totally bad shape today, one could ride on it and still have fun, but there is just something about riding on dirty snow that seems wrong too.  Am I spoiled or what!?  But seriously, that is probably the best that most of the trails are up here.  Look at the trail cam and you will see the worst.  No snow and there has been no snow at the trail cam for about a week now.
    It is just amazing how strong the sun is at this time of the year.  It makes a huge difference in the snow depth in the woods.  South facing slopes are turning bare, while north facing slopes still have a few feet of snow on them.  Those two shots were actually taken just about 200 feet from each other.  With the snows melting, all the creeks are running.  Even ones that are dry for the rest of the year are running now.  It is definitely a wet time in the woods.  Not much sign of wildlife just yet.  I have actually seen a few flying insects, but as far as deer and other tracks go, I have not seen much sign of that.  I suppose they will stay yarded up for a while longer.  But soon the snows will be gone and things will start to green up and the animals that survived the long winter up here will be able to feast on natures buffet.
    It is always interesting to walk the trails in the spring.  There are quite a few tidbits left behind from the season.  A beer or soda can or two are usually the most common, but sometimes things like pieces of sleds appear.  A broken piece of a windshield, or maybe a broken tail light.  I have found studs and the occasional blown belt.  I try and pick these items up and carry them out of the woods.  The woods are nicer that way.  Sometimes I even find functioning items, like today I found someone's adjustable wrench.  Look familiar to anyone?  From the looks of it, I don't think that the person spent too much money on it and I don't know what I will do with it.  I suppose I might clean it up, oil it and throw it in my sleds tool kit.  I think the hounds and I will take a few more trips out to that section of trail.  Who knows, maybe we'll find some money!
    A local that taps a lot of the maple trees here in the village is busy collecting the sap and boiling it off to make his syrup.  It seems like the weather has been about perfect for him.  Warm sunny days and clear cool nights.  That really gets the sap running.  I know last year was not so good for him.  It takes anywhere from 18 to 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  That might be something I try when we get settled into the property.  Plenty of maple trees up there.
    With the decent weather and a clear roof, I finally took down my Christmas lights.  Now I know that might seem like way too long of a time to leave them up, but this is actually one of the earliest that I have taken them down.  I have to wait for the roof to be clear and I usually like to wait until a pretty nice day as well.  The year I broke my leg, I don't think they came down until June and at that point I was pondering leaving them up, as I would be putting them back up in about 3 months!  They did come down though.  Last year I think they came down about the middle of April.  So this year they are actually down pretty quick.  The bush protectors will be the next outdoor chore to take care of.  Although I still have about 3-4 feet of snow in front of one set of them, so it will be a week or two before I can get at them.  Once the bush protectors are down, I usually have to think about cutting the grass in a week or so.  This year we will have some garden soil to turn over as well.  Ahh, the chores never stop!  That's OK, I am not one to enjoy sitting around the house and doing nothing all day.  At least for very long!
    I'm not sure what this weekend holds in itself for activities.  It might actually snow a bit late Saturday and into early Sunday, but not enough to get excited about riding.  I suppose a waterfall tour might be fun, but that might work better when there is less snow, more water and warmer temps too.  No matter what we do, I will try my best to bring the camera and share with you all the changing season up here.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
 
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