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Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
July 31-
    Well, it's the last day of the month and I figured I would get one last entry in under the wire.  Nora and I were going to go out to the property this evening to get some more work done, but we had a pretty active day already and I was feeling a bit tired already, so we decided to stay home.  I did a little straightening out in the shop and she is working on wedding stuff and now I figured I would use the last hour or two before bedtime to put some words down.
    I guess I can start out with the weather, we finally got some rain last night.  A good soaking as a matter of fact.  I picked up 1.04" in my rain bucket.  That's the first good rain we have had in 23 days and saved my grass from going completely brown.  It still is a pale green to tan in some spots, but it looks like more rain is headed our way in the next week or so, so hopefully it will green even more.  It's been warm, but not too hot.  In fact, the hounds and I have been going for our afternoon adventures in the woods almost every day and not the beach, so that should tell you how hot it has not been getting!  We are heading into the heart of berry season.  The blueberry bushes I got for my birthday this year from Nora are putting out their berries and they taste great.  I am looking forward to a few years from now when they are making quarts of berries rather than just a handfull.  The raspberries are also starting to ripen.  We are not going to have nearly as many this year as we had last year, but still enough to enjoy as a snack or on cereal.  I forgot to take pictures of the raspberries, but you can just look back to the July and August journals from last year if you really need to seen them!  The thimbleberries are also starting to ripen.  Nora wants to make some thimbleberry jam this year, so I think that I will be escorting her to the property to help pick some thimbleberries.  We have a ton growing in the spot where the buildings will be going, but she does not feel comfortable trouncing around in there by herself as there is a momma bear and her cub hanging out in the area.  I guess Nora figures that since I cannot run very fast due to my leg I broke a few years back, she does not have to worry about having to outrun the bear, just me.
    Today on our afternoon exploration Nora, the hounds and I headed up to Keweenaw County to walk the Phoenix Farm Road.  The temps were in the upper 60's, dewpoints in the 50's, there was a mix of sun and clouds and a comfortable breeze- perfect for a walk.  I figured that road would be pretty quiet and figured right.  We walked for about 45 minutes and saw only one pickup truck the whole time.  There were tons of wildflowers growing along side the road.  Some of them Nora and I could recognize, like this Black Eyed Susan and these Sweet William and even a wild rose.  We're not sure what this was though.  I thought mabe the early start of a lemon-lime tree, you know where they get the juice to make Sprite and other lemon-lime items?!  I hope you all realize I was joking, of course the lemon-lime trees can only grow in the tropics!
    I was actually feeling pretty proud of my shot of the Black Eyed Susan, thinking I had the picture of the day and to top it off a macro shot, which is Nora's specialty.  Well, we got home and I downloaded the shots we had taken and low and behold she had out done me again with this shot.  My hat is off to her on that one, she sure does have the eye for the details when we are walking.
    From the road we spotted an old run down building and decided to go check it out.  It looked to actually be an mining era house that was turned into a hunting camp cabin many years ago and the tough winters we have up here, especially up there, took it's toll on it.  We did not go inside and actually did not spend too much time over by it as I'm sure someone owns that property and we wanted to cause as little a disturbance as possible.
    On the way home I stopped off at the sawmill where I was told there was some cherry wood for sale.  The owner was not there, but as luck would have it one of my friends was there and had talked to the owner and he was on his way.  It turns out he did have cherry wood, lots of it.  2000 board feet to be exact.  For those of you not familiar with board feet it is a way that hardwood is measured.  It can best be described as a board that is 1" thick by 12" wide by 12" long.  Most hardwood boards are not even close to 12" wide, more like around 6" wide.  So a board that is 1" thick by 6" wide by 2 feet long would be one board foot in size.  He took me up to the pile of cherry and I had a look at it, liked what I saw and said I would take some.  Problem was the hounds were still in the truck and that limited how much I could take home.  So we worked out that I would return later in the afternoon to get a load.  I ended up getting about 240 board feet, which is enough to probably make an entire dining room set including a table for 8 as well as 8 chairs and a nice hutch, or perhaps a bedroom set, including a nice raised pannel bed, a couple of nightstands, 2 chests of drawers and a full length dressing mirror.  Bottom line is it was more cherry wood than I will use in 2 years or maybe more.  I even have to build another lumber storage rack for it all, but it was worth it for the price I paid.  I do not want to get into the details, but suffice to say that it was a great deal.  So great, I think I may go up and buy another load.  Cherry is not very common up here and the wood was all very good stuff and I may never be able to get it at this price ever again and it will last for as long as I want it to.  So, no reason not to get more other than I have no idea where I am going to put it!  Maybe I just found a real good reason to build a storage shed!
    Well, other than that, not much going on up here.  August is almost here and before I know it September will be here and with it some of the nicest weather we have up here- at least in the warm season.  We are closing in on the two month countdown for the big day.  Nora finished addressing the invites and they will be going out this week.  She is working on the favors we are giving away at the wedding and she has also been practicing her vows.  I managed to sneak a shot of her when she was practicing her vows and it was so cute, I thought I would share it with you here.  I can't think of a better way to end this journal!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
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July 27-
    No question about it, summer is here in the Keweenaw.  It has not been what I would call hot, but we have been warm and it looks like the majority of the next week to ten days will spent in above average temps.  Our average temp actually peaked out at 77 in the period last Wednesday through Saturday and we are now on the slow journey down.  Seen as how much of June and July were spent in below average temps, I knew the other shoe had to drop and temps would swing above average.  I was just hoping that it would come at the end of Sept and beginning of Oct which would mean highs in the low to mid 60's, not at the end of July and beginning of August, which means 80's.  The one saving grace has been that the humidity levels have been fairly comfortable so far.  Dewpoints over the weekend were actually in the upper 30's and low 40's in the morning and then rose into the upper 40's to mid 50's during the day.  The low humidity levels, clear skies and calm winds over the weekend allowed our morning temps to bottom out in the 30's.  We had a 37 on Friday (as I wrote in the last journal), then a 38 Saturday morning and a 39 Sunday morning.  Great sleeping weather and I even smelled a few wood stoves going in the neighborhood.  I must say that it even felt good to have to put on a light jacket for our morning walks.
    We did begin to warm up on Sunday, hitting the low 80's here in the hot spot of the Keweenaw- my back yard.  But that was OK as Nora the hounds and I went to the beach and had a great time.  Yesterday was a strange day with our temperature one of the warmest in the entire Midwest.  My temp peaked out at 87, with the airport hitting 81.  Compare that to the low to mid 70's in most other cities in the Midwest.  That is not something that happens very often.  In addition to the temperature oddities we have been having, we are also in a bit of a drought when it comes to rainfall.  Our last real meaningful rain came almost three weeks ago on July 7th.  With as regular as the rains were in June and the first week of July, I was wondering if this summer would be one that produced fairly regular rainfall all season.  My first 4 summers were not that way.  We always had at least a 3-4 week period with little to no rains.  The grass would brown up and things became very dry and dusty.  Two years ago we had such a dry summer that I did not cut my grass for 8 straight weeks and then it took over a month to get the grass to green up once the rains returned.  So far the grass has been able to hold on to some of it's green and I am hoping that the forecast for at least some rain in the next week to ten days will keep it green.  I hate to water because my sewage bill is tied into how much water I use and it can get pretty expensive.  If we were planning on living here for the rest of our lives, I would sink a spike well and use that for outdoor water use.  I was told you only have to go about 15-25 feet to hit water here in the neighborhood.
    The cool weather Friday and Saturday made for some good lumber jacking up at the property.  Nora and I really went to town and got the entire north side of the cleared section cleaned up.  We put in about 2 hours of work on Friday and some time on Sunday.  I am waiting for a timberjack to arrive that I ordered from a mail order company.  It is basically a long pole with a hook and lever at the one end.  You hook the log and then use the pole and the lever to lift the log off the ground to make it easier to cut.  There are a ton of trees on the south side of the clearing, probably more than on the north side.  However, unlike the north side where some of them were hanging up on other trees, the trees on the south side are all laying flat on the ground.  So that will make for less complicated and less dangerous cutting, so we should be able to move a little quicker through them.  However, I never get rushed or careless when working with the chain saw.  Although I have really grown comfortable with using it.  As mentioned, I really enjoy the hard manual labor as well.  It is a refreshing change from the desk job.  I'm not sure I would want to do it full time.  Perhaps if it paid as well as my desk job I would.  Being out in the woods all day would be nice!
    We have been keeping the hounds at home while we do the work at the property.  It is just easier to not have to keep an eye on them all the time as well as keep them out of the way of the work.  However, we did take them up to the property Saturday morning to walk around a little and show them all the work we have been doing.  I seriously doubt that they comprehended the amount of work it took to get things to the way they are now, but they sure know when we are at the property.  Both their noses start sniffing on overdrive as we head up the county road that runs along the property.  I am also happy to have a place to pull in to rather than pull off onto the shoulder and then scramble to get the dogs out of the car and off into the woods where they will be save from cars.  Nora and the hounds walked a bit ahead of me as I was checking out the work that still needed to be done.  I tried to snap a shot of the three of them, but Burt saw me stop and came running to see what I was doing.  Baileys came over as well.  Nora called the dogs over to them, but Burt did not want any part of the picture.  In any case, I was able to get a picture of the two beautiful ladies in my life.  Maybe Burt will feel like joining them in the next photo op.  I can never have enough pictures of the three loves in my life.
    I finished my brothers bed the previous weekend.  I finally got around to setting it up and taking a shot of it.  I sent the photo to him and so I can now share it all with you.  I am happy how it turned out and sort of wish I was keeping it!  I am taking a brief break, but have ordered some wood that is needed for the next project and once it arrives I plan to get underway with the craftsman style free standing bookcase.  I did get a line on come cherry wood up here, so I plan to check it out.  Cherry does not usually grow very well up here.  It is narrow and has lots of twists.  By Cherry I am talking about Black Cherry, not the type that produces the edible fruit.  Mature Black Cherry trees in the wild look similar in form to trees like Walnut, Maple, Ash and Hickory in the wild with a long straight trunk that produces the wood that gets worked.  There are noticeable  differences in the bark and leaves of all these trees and the wood they produce is also different in many aspects.  At any rate I hope that the cherry up here that I plan to check out is good enough to work with.  It would be neat to use wood growing and processed locally.
    Well, other than that, I really do not have much else to talk about.  With the warmer temps I am starting to focus in on the end of summer and the cooler temps that September brings.  I also have a strong feeling that September will go by in the wink of an eye.  With the wedding the second Saturday of October, I think that Nora and I will have enough things going on that we will blink and September will be gone.  Too bad because September is my second favorite time of the year up here.  Second only to the time from Thanksgiving to Easter.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
July 23-
    Mmmm...A little taste of things to come this morning.  37.7 degrees for a low.  Cold enough to see your breath and almost cold enough for a frost.  We actually left all the windows open overnight, so it was a great sleeping night, but was also a bit chilly when I got out of bed.  I actually needed to wear the same cloths when I worked that I would in the middle of winter.  It's amazing to me how the weather will influence my mood.  It's not that I was all down in the dumps with the hot and humid air we had earlier this week, but this morning I could just feel my spirits lifted by the nice crisp air.  Today is just beautiful with lots of sun, temps in the 60's and low humidity.  Wednesday was a different story.  Temps in the upper 80's and low 90's and dewpoints in the low 70's.  I'm sure I am preaching to the choir here, with temps and humidity levels being even higher where a lot of you are reading this from.  But heat and humidity is not something that the shores of Lake Superior are know for.  I saw some other chilly lows this morning, a 35 at Watersmeet and a 34 at Champion.
    I did have plans to write yesterday, but injured my eye doing some work up at the property.  Nora and I were up there yesterday evening and were doing a lot of cutting.  I got the chainsaw tuned up and blade sharpened and it was just slicing up the wood like a hot knife through butter.  I was pulling down a small tree that was no longer connected to the ground, but was hanging in some larger trees when a branch came down and poked me in the eye.  It all happened so quick- it's amazing how fast you can react when something is in or near your eye- that I really am not sure exactly what happened, but I do know that there was some material in my eye and under my eyelid that we were able to flush out with some bottled water we had up there.  We got home and flushed it out some more as well as used some eye drops.  It hurt the rest of the night and my vision was blurred from it, but I got a good night of sleep and awoke to no discomfort and good vision, so all is well.  I was wearing safety glasses, but somehow the branch got past them.  We were only up there for about an hour, but managed to get a lot of work done.  About 1/2 of the wood was cut up and stacked on one side of the road.  We are going up there this evening (I'm writing this to you in the early afternoon) and it would be great to get the rest of that side cut and stacked.  The weather this evening will be perfect for doing that type of work this evening and looks to be good this weekend, so hopefully we will be able to get lots of work done.
    If you did not notice, I was able to get the wind gauge for my weather station working.  I finally gave up on the idea of keeping it up on the roof and just bought 15 feet of 1 1/4 galvanized threaded pipe and mounted it at the top of that.  I used the ground and weather shelter box to secure it and I doubt it is going anywhere.  It is still looks to be reading a little low.  I'm not sure why, but my brother seems to think his reads a bit low as well.  The direction is right, so at least you all will be able to tell which direction the winds are coming from.  I do plan to call and see if there is something up with the speed sensor.
    Yesterday the weather was cool enough for a walk in the woods.  It has been pretty dry up here lately, so I decided to brave the School Forest.  Please remind me that I need to stay out of that place during the bug season!  The mosquitos were not the problem, neither were the black flies, it was the deer flies that were the issue yesterday.  Of course if you ask Baileys, she'll wonder what the heck I am talking about.  With her light color, they did not even recognize her.  Poor Burt had about 2 dozen flying around his head for most of the trip.  It sort of looked like a cloud of dust was following him around the woods.  I had to deal with several for most of the period, but was wearing a hat so they were not too much of a problem.  Deer flies are pretty particular where they like to get you.  They like to land on the back of your head or near your ears and do their nasty things.  I guess they figure that they are least threatened when they attack in that spot.  A hat is a great way to combat them.  Maybe I can just rig up a hat for Burt next time.  Actually I will just wait for another month or so before going out there again.  Deer flies tend to taper off as we reach the end of August.  There are some other wooded areas that we can go to and not be bothered by the bugs and I plan to head to one of them in about 30 minutes.
    We've sort of settled into the mid summer quiet period up here.  I am sure that there is some sort of an event going on this weekend, but most of the major festivals are over for the summer.  I'm not sure why so many things happen up here so early in the summer and then things quiet down for the end of the summer.  Maybe it's because after such a long and hard winter, the locals are so excited for summer that they want to have the summer festivals as soon as possible.  Or it might be to get them done early so that they can have the second half of the summer to do things like camping or just hanging out at the beach.  In any case, things are fairly quiet up here, except for the steady stream of tourists up here visiting.  Strange to think that in just a month the tourist season will be slowing down and kids will be getting ready to go back to school.  We're closing in pretty quickly on just 2 months until the wedding!  Nora hopes to have the invites done this weekend and out soon after that.  I guess there's no turning back after that!  Not that I would ever consider it, but perhaps Nora will come to her senses before they go out!!!  Maybe I'll see if there is any more help she needs to get them done!
    Well, I think that I have covered most of the activities up here for this one.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
July 18-
    Ahhh.... COC weather!  That's Chamber of Commerce weather.  It has been about perfect up here for the past week.  Temps in the 70's and low 80's with pretty comfortable dewpoints and the only rains have come overnight.  I really felt sorry for the folks that came up here during the 4th of July, as the weather was pretty nasty.  Anyone that has been here for the past week has had to have thought that we have THE BEST summer weather on the planet.  Perfect for just about anything one wants to do.  We have been able to choose from walking in the woods or hanging out at the beach and have done plenty of both.  With the temps and humidity levels a bit higher than they have been for most of the summer, the hounds and I have been going to the beach more and we were thankful that Nora could join us this weekend.
    Nora and I have also been getting dirty lately.  Now, now, get your head out of the gutter!  We have been going up to the property to try and get things cleaned up from where the trees were knocked down.  It basically entails us to level out the ground by filling in the holes and removing the hills as well as cutting away the trees and brush.  We do not own any mechanical equipment that would aid us in our work.  Even a 4 wheeler with a little plow on the front would have been a big help with what we have had to do so far.  Instead we are doing it the old fashioned way with shovels and rakes.  We actually have made good progress with our work.  We have been able to get things cleared and leveled about 2/3rds of the way into the build site.  That's about 150-200 feet.  We might actually be up there right now, but the chain saw blade needs to be sharpened and Nora is also busy putting together the wedding invitations.  I figure we probably have about two more work sessions to get to the point where things are cleared and leveled all the way in.  Then we need to cut up all the trees and get some burn piles set for this autumn.  I think I might even have some mine rock put in to the build site so that will be out of the way as well.  Right now as long as we have not had any heavy rain, I will be able to drive the truck in across where we have cleared and leveled.  The soil is well drained and also firm.  Hopefully we will have that same type of soil where we want to put the septic field!
    It has been very hard work, both of us come back just coated with dirt, sweat and bug dope.  However, it also feels really good to be doing such hard manual labor, especially when we know it is for our property.  When all is said and done, I think that we both will enjoy driving into our house, knowing that we did so much work on our own and with our own hands.  I am still tossing around the idea of building the log home myself.  That would be a huge task, but I think with my background in working with wood and knowing that building a project is a long process with many stages that cannot be rushed, I should be able to keep my head in the game and not get frustrated or overwhelmed by the job.  Plus I will have picked up a useful skill and will certainly enjoy living in a log home that I built with my own two hands.  Of course there are also some advantages to having the home built by a professional log home builder!  We'll see.  I think that we are still a few years away from the construction process.
    As mentioned, Nora is hand crafting our wedding invitations.  She did our Christmas card and it turned out great, so I was excited to know she wanted to make the wedding invites.  They are beautiful and all the special touches sure does show that they were made by hand and not mass produced.  I have helped out on the invites a little as well, by doing some of the layout work on the computer.  She wants to get them out in the next week or two, the big day is getting closer and closer!
    Yesterday, Nora, the hounds and I went to the beach at Big Traverse.  I figured that there would be a lot of people there as it is actually a township park now, but I also figured it is a big enough beach that we would be able to find a spot where there would be no folks and the hounds could run and swim without causing anyone problems.  I guessed right on both accounts.  There were lots of folks at the beach, but there was also a spot where we could hang out without any problems.  The weather was great for being at the beach and a good time was had by all.  At the risk of jinxing things, the major nemesis at the beach up here in July have been relatively absent.  That is the horse and deer fly.  There have been a few horse flies that have had to be swatted at, but nothing like we usually have to deal with.  And the deer flies have been basically non existent.  I don't know if this year is just a down cycle for them, or if the cool June we had was the reason, but I am not complaining.  Those flying nasties are basically the last hurdle for the summer.  They tend to tail off as we go through August, so we should have just a few weeks left and then they will not be as much of a problem.  By the end of August and into September just about all the flying nasties are gone.  The mosquitos are still going pretty strong in the woods, but the Deep Woods Off handles them just fine.  Last night when Nora and I went up to the property to work, they swarmed us as we first got out of the truck, but once we were sprayed down then we had no problems.
    On the way to to the beach yesterday we spotted a bit of wildlife.  I believe that was a Great Blue Heron that Nora snapped a shot of.  Today on the way home we spotted two sand hill cranes.  It seems like these birds have been more numerous this summer than in the past.  I don't know if there are more of them, or they are just more visible this year, but I have seen more this year than in any other year.  Today we headed up to one of our favorite beaches that is located south of Point Isabelle near Lac La Belle.  Again, the day was perfect, with a hazy sunshine and temps in the 70's.  Burt fetched the stick no less than 1000 times while Nora and I took turns relaxing.  Baileys took a dip too, but then decided to lay in the sand and relax.  It was really about as perfect a day as you could get at the beach.  When I closed my eyes, I could have easily been on a beach in Florida, the Caribbean or any beautiful beach in the world.  The only difference was that we had it to ourselves.  I'd have to say that if we won the lottery, I would build one house up in the higher terrain of Keweenaw County for the heavy winter snows and also have a house on that beach to enjoy in the summer.  That would be about perfect, but it is also wonderful to be able to go to these beaches for the afternoon if we want.  This sure is a great place to live!
    I talk a lot about the natural wonders of this land, but there are also some great things that involve humans.  I know, humans are part of nature, but you know what I mean!  There is a real sense of community up here, folks pitching in to help one another.  I'd have to say that the amount of money given by folks to help others up here is second to none when you figure it as a percentage of total income and not actual dollars given.  Sometimes those good deeds do not come in the form of dollars given, but in manual labor.  Yesterday Nora, the hounds and I drove down to the shop where I bought my snowthrower to buy tickets for the annual chicken dinner put on by the Bootjack Fire Department.  It is a fund raiser for the department and they also cook up some really tasty chicken.  Anyway, when we got to the shop, I could see a bunch of pickup trucks parked there and about 2 dozen guys all in work clothes.  The guys were all standing in an area where a slab and foundation was being poured for a pole barn.  Turns out they were all there to help with the cement work.  I knew many of them and they were all mainly from the Bootjack area.  I guess there is an informal group of guys that all pitch in to help one another when they have a big project to do.  It was really neat to see all the guys together to help out a neighbor for free and it was actually hard for me to leave and not be part of the job, but I had promised Nora and the hounds that we would go to the beach.
    The bottom line is this is one area where the sense of community is still very strong and just another reason why I love it so much.  Today when we drove down to the Bootjack Fire Hall to get our chicken dinners, I saw many of the same guys helping out; directing traffic, boxing dinners or cooking.  I know the big cities and suburbs have things that this area will probably never see, but I would gladly trade all of them a thousand times over for the things that this area does have.  And by the way, if you are up here when the Bootjack Fire Department is having their chicken dinner fund raiser, I strongly advise you to head down and take it in.  They make some VERY tasty chicken!
    Well, I guess that about does it for this one.  Hope everyone's summer is going well.  Hard to believe that in just over a month, it will be over.  Already some back to school sales going on up here.  I suppose that does not make the teachers or students all that happy, but back to school time is now one of my favorite times of the year!  Won't be long!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
July 13-
    I'm going to try and sneak one under the wire here.  I have my golf match later this afternoon and will likely be home too late to get one out after that.  Then the hounds and I are traveling to Marquette tomorrow to get Baileys staples out from her surgery back at the end of June.  I am usually pretty worn out from the round trip to and from Marquette, so would not likely get to a journal tomorrow.  That puts the earliest I might be able to do one (if I don't do one quickly right now) Thursday. That would be almost a week since the last one-  too much time.  I don't have a whole lot to talk about, but will do my best to entertain.
    The weather has turned much more summerlike up here.  Temps since Saturday have been running in the 70's and 80's.  I am really greatful to the NWS for giving me the instrument shelter.  I always thought that the temps here in the valley were much warmer than up at the airport and now I get to see exactly how much warmer.  It seems like my temp is around 5-7 degrees warmer than the airport on average.  Sometimes more and sometimes a bit less, but if the sun is out, I seem to be warmer.  For instance, my high temp on Saturday was 88 degrees, while the airport reported a 79.  Yesterday I hit 86 while the airport hit 80.  At night the opposite occurs, with my temp about 5-7 degrees cooler than the airport and sometimes up to 15-20 degrees cooler on a really clear calm night.  I have seen my early morning temp sit in the low 30's while the airport is in the upper 40's or even low 50's.  That is not the type of setup I wish I had.  I wish that it was the opposite, with me living in the coolest spot during the heat of the day and the warmer spot in the chill of the overnight hours.  I do enjoy the crisp morning weather we have, but do not enjoy the daytime heat.  I guess that is one of the things I will not miss when we move out of Lake Linden.  The property is located on the Keweenaw Spine, which is the ridge of high ground that runs down the middle of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  Temps up there will also be around 5-7 degrees cooler than they are here.  In addition to that, I am going to try and build the home so that it is shaded by the summer sun as much as possible.  I'll be using the decidious trees up there, that way in the winter their leaves will be down and the sunlight will be able to hit the house and warm it some.  Of course the other thing I will not miss about living here is the slightly lower snowfall that Lake Linden gets vs. the higher terrain.
    Speaking of the property we have not done any work up there since the access road was made.  My neighbor up there that did the clearing did put in some mine rock at the beginning of the access road so that we can park a couple of vehicles on it.  I would like to get the access road cleared out and leveled out enough to be able to drive the truck in there as soon as possible.  Hopefully Nora and I can do a little bit of work at a time this Thur, Fri and weekend and have it done.  The next step is to have a septic test done.  There is then some uncertainty as to what will come next.  Keweenaw County has a rule that says that a pole barn may not be built on property that does not already contain a residence.  One of the reasons I have heard for that rule is that people will get a permit for a garage or pole barn, then move into it and use it as their residence.  They skirt higher taxes by living in a building that is not taxed at a residence rate.  Plus many of the garages and pole barns are not build to code for a residence.  I just wish that they would do it differently and punish the folks that break the law and live in a pole barn or garage, rather than punish the folks like me that want to have a building on site to aid with the construction of the residence.  I have been told there there are some things that can be done to allow for the pole barn to go up before the residence is fully built, so I will be checking into what those things are and will do all I can to get the pole barn up first.  I have a feeling that that is just hurdle one of the many that I will have to cross to arrive at my final destination, but I am ready and determined!
    Up until yesterday the weather has been comfortable enough to allow us to stick to the woods.  Even on Saturday we were able to be int he woods and not overheat.  Well, yesterday was too warm and too humid, so I broke down and went to the beach.  The vet did not want Baileys exercising too much, including swimming, for several weeks following her surgery.  She could have gotten her stiches out last week and since when we go to the beach, she pretty much wades in the water and that is it, I figured she would be ok with that.  So we headed up towards Eagle River since I wanted to stop off at the courthouse and get some info on permits and such and stopped off at the beach near 5 mile point.  It was a great day to be at the beach, the sun shining and winds off the lake bringing in the cooled air.  Temps were about 20 degrees cooler by the lake and I almost needed a jacket to stay comfortable.  The hounds enjoyed getting back to the beach.  Burt took little time to take a dip and start fetching sticks.  Baileys did her wading in the water and enjoyed it's coolness.
    When the humidity is so high up here, the lake front can always provide some interesting sights.  The warm and humid air gets cooled by the cool lake and fog banks will form.  The winds will then swirl around those fog banks and create some interesting sights.  Here is the back door of one of those fog banks as it heads up the coast.  Out over the lake the fog looked really thick, I can't imagine it was too easy to navigate out there.  With as chilly as this summer has been so far (Houghton Airport is -5 degrees since May 1), I wonder if the big lake will ever be warm enough to take a dip in.  Usually by August, even this old wimp will find a pocket of warm surface water and take the plunge.  Most of the waters in Superior are still in the 40's and I have not even been brave enough to stick a toe in it.
    Well, I failed to finish the journal before golf.  I am back now after getting my rear end kicked.  I don't know what happened, but I just fell apart on the last 4 holes, shooting a 7 over par in those holes alone!  Oh well, win some and lose some!  I did get to see the Presidents plane fly overhead.  We were just teeing off on number 1 and this 747 flew overhead at an altitude that was much lower than any plane of that size does in this neighborhood.  It was still climbing so it had to be Air Force One.  He was in Marquette for a visit and then was on his way to Duluth after that.  He is only the second sitting president to visit the UP, the first being Taft back in 1911.  I watched a bit of the local coverage of his visit and he seemed to be having a good time.  The coolest thing about the whole event - I thought - was when Steve Mariucci introduced him (Mariucci is a UP native) he said "Mr. President... Welcome to God's Country!".  It would have been even more fitting had he been visiting the Keweenaw, but Marquette is not so bad a place either.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
July 9-
    Well, the hounds and I are bachelors again (actually Baileys would be a bachelorette).  No Nora did leave us, but she is out of town visiting with one of her girlfriends from down state.  So the hounds and I are on our own- party time!  Already the sink is full of dishes, cloths all over the floor and empty pizza boxes littering just about every room in the house!  Actually, anyone that knows me knows that such a site would be a very rare thing in the Dee house hold.  I am not a neat freak, but certainly do not keep a messy house.  If anything, I guess you could say that I am to the clean side of average.  One could call me an organization freak.  I like my office and shops (woodwoorking and garage) organized.  They may not always be clean, but I believe that there is a place for all tools and equipment and they should be in those places.  It makes finding things much easier.  Anyway, it looks like a pretty quiet weekend around here.  The hounds and I will get out and take some short walks, but Baileys still needs to take it a little easy, so no big explorations will be taken.
    I have actually been busy ripping, burning and loading.  Cleaning up the trees at the property?  Nope, those are actually terms used when working with music and electronic equipment like computers.  One of the drawbacks to living up here is that the number of radio stations is pretty limited.  The quality of the stations is not that bad (especially the ones that are my clients!), but with 2 country, 3 rock and one elevator music station to choose from, the music on them can get a little old.  When traveling in the truck, the choices get even more limited and there are places where the choice may drop to only one station.  With all the time I have been spending in the truck lately I started looking for other options.  The truck does have a cd player in it, but it was a pain trying to fumble with the cd's while driving and it was also a pain to try and keep cd's that I wanted to hear in the truck, but then miss them in the house.  So my choice came down to either satellite radio or a hard drive based mp3 player.  For those of you not in the know mp3 is a format that audio files (like songs) can be saved in.  The mp3 format compresses the data and allows you to put a whole lot more music on the storage device.  My truck stereo is already capable of taking in the satellite radio.  All I needed was the receiver and to pay the service.  I almost went that route, especially when I saw that Walmart was selling the satellite receivers.  However, I opted for the hard drive mp3 player instead.  The reasons were many: No monthly fees, I can use the player in the truck or as a portable player while hiking/cutting the grass/etc, I can have all the music I want (3000 songs) on the player, which allows me to keep all the cd's inside the house, plus I can put only the songs I want on the player- a truly custom setup.
    So I have been busy transferring songs from my cd collection to my player.  So far I have about 300 songs on the player and am about 1/4 of the way through my collection.  The process is actually quite simple, not as simple as it could be, but certainly not complicated.  I use a software package called Music Match to "rip" the songs from the cd to my hard drive.  That puts them in the mp3 format.  I then just use windows explorer to transfer the mp3 files from my computers hard drive to the players hard drive.  The player then indexes the songs, albums and even categorizes them.  I was going to get the iPod from Apple or the Dell Jukebox, but after doing some research on the web, I saw that the player from iRiver was getting good reviews.  The model I got was the iHP-120.  It did what the Dell and iPod could do, plus has an FM tuner built in and can record via an external mic- all for less.  So far I am very happy with my decision to go with a player and the player itself.  I have hooked it up to the truck and it works great there too.  Plus, if I want tunes that I don't currently have, I can get them online from a variety of sources for anywhere between 89 and 99 cents a song, or 10 dollars an album.  Can't go wrong with that.
    The mp3 player is not the only high tech gadget I got for myself.  I also purchased a DVD recorder.  Not the kind you put in your computer (have one of those too!), but the kind that sits out by your TV like a DVD or VCR player.  I got this device to copy all of my video from VCR tapes to DVD so that I will last the rest of my lifetime and maybe longer.  I have lots of footage of the hounds, going back to their first day home.  I also have some other video that I want to transfer to DVD and can also record any TV shows that I miss or like to DVD.  I am just figuring that thing out, but hope to be converting my VCR tapes to DVD soon.
    Other than that, not much is going on up here.  All the excitement from the 4th is over.  Lake Linden is a sleepy little town again.  No more waiting more than 2 cars at the stop sign and no bumper to bumper traffic through town.  Things might actually be unusually slow up here right now because the weather has been anything but July-like.  Tuesday and Wednesday we spent in the low 50's for highs, with rain and/or drizzle both days.  I do not know about Houghton County's records, but for Marquette both of those days not only set daily record low maximum temps, but also tied for the record low July maximum.  Simply put, no other July day has ever had a lower maximum temp than was seen this past Tue and Wed.  A very rare feat, but even more rare to have them back to back.  The locals are getting very restless, almost as restless as they were getting at the end of this past January when we were in the midst of a 30+ day in a row snowfall.  Thankfully things were a little better yesterday and almost summer like today.  With upper 70's and low 80's to shape up for the next 3-4 days, that should appease the locals some and also help out the tourism business up here.  I actually did not mind the cooler temps, but the rain and drizzle was not so great.  We even postponed the golf match.  My partner wanted to play, but I was not so big on playing in those conditions, nor were our opponents, so it was 3-1 to reschedule and we did.  The match will take place this Sunday.  Hope it does not rain!
    Even with the cool temps, the berry season seems to be pretty close to on track.  The strawberries are coming on line- Nora and I have already had several ourselves.  The raspberries are still a few weeks away as are the blueberries.  No blackberries in the gardens, but they are not ripe until mid August.
    It's hard to believe that in two weeks, our average daily high temp will start down and in just 2 months summer will be over here and in 3 months we could have already had our first snow.  Plus three months from today Nora and I will be tying the knot!  That's really exciting!!!  We continue to chip away at things that need to be done.  When she gets back in town and the paper arrives, the invitations, RSVP cards and maps will get printed and then sent out by the beginning of August.  We need to meet with the minister and then Nora needs to work on her details for the decorating of the church and anything else she is involved in alone.  I think most of my duties have been taken care of, nothing left to do but sit back and relax!  With that thought I will sign off.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
July 6-
    A full week this time, sheesh, I'm really slacking!  Actually, since we cannot do much exploring or even going to the beach because Baileys needs to take it easy, I honestly did not have much to write about until yesterday.  I even missed the fireworks and parade here in town.  Nora went to a friends house for the fireworks while I stayed home and tended to the hounds.  Baileys really, Burt is fine, but Baileys still has her stitches in and I did not want to leave her alone.  No biggie really, I do enjoy fireworks as much as the next guy, but have seen plenty in my 38 years of existence on this planet, so to miss one show was not a problem.  We actually caught the tail end of the parade as we were headed to Houghton and the parade was not yet over.  The staging for the parade is just a few blocks away from our house and the last few entries were just getting ready to hit the start of the parade route through town.  So we got in line behind the last few fire trucks and then instead of following them through town, took a right and headed up the hill to Calumet to take the long way to Houghton.  It's pretty neat, most of the the parade participants in Lake Linden continue south on 26 and give Hubbell and Tamarack City a parade and some even go as far south as Dollar Bay and help out in their parade.  Sort of like killing three birds with one stone!
    So anyway, things had been pretty quiet up here as far as the Dee household was concerned last week and even over the weekend.  We did take to the woods for a few very short walks.  Baileys was not to get too much exercise in the first few weeks home, but they did say we could go around the block or two and so we went in the woods and walked a block or two there.  The bugs are almost non existent at this point- at least there.  It had been very dry for the past 3 weeks and that likely knocked down the population quite a bit.  We actually got an inch of rain on the 4th (timing is everything!!!), but up until that we had received less than 0.25" of rain for the past 3 weeks.  I really felt sorry for all the folks that came up here for the 4th of July activities.  It pretty much rained all day on the 4th.  Heavy in the morning, and then a steady light rain and drizzle the rest of the day.  Plus it was in the low 60's so it was cool and damp.  The activities in Lake Linden regarding the 4th were all done in good weather, but the parade and fireworks in Copper Harbor were impacted big time.  I'm not even sure if they had either up there.  Lake Linden-Hubbell did have it's all school reunion this weekend and the activities on the 4th were done in tents and in nasty weather, but at least they had Saturday to get out and about and catch up with old friends.
    It never ceases to amaze me how this sleepy little town wakes up and becomes the hub of activity for the 4th of July.  Then a few days later it is back to being sleepy little Lake Linden, with the sidewalks rolled up an hour before sunset.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Seeing all the bodies in town for the 4th is fine, but it also makes me very appreciative that it is not that way all the time!  A person can get very used to and very comfortable with never having to wait in line for a gas pump to open up, or to have to park more than a space or two away from the business you want to go into, or to have more than 2 cars in front of you at a stop sign.  Heck, even Houghton and Hancock are too big city for me now!!!  It will be interesting to see if when we move to the property we adopt Mohawk as our new hometown or hang on to Lake Linden.  The mailing address will be Mohawk, but we will be just about a mile from the far north end of the Traprock Valley and most folks that live in the valley will say they are from "Traprock", but also seem to claim Lake Linden as their hometown.
    I finally got around to drawing up the plans for my brothers bed.  I even went so far as to get the wood for it on Friday.  With the rains Sunday I got myself down into the shop and got to work.  I went back down on the 5th in the morning and got to about 3/4ths of the way done.  I came up and had lunch with Nora, then we decided to head up to the property to have a look around.  So we headed north and got out and went into the property.  We walked into the building spot and the bugs were not too bad.  We checked out some of the trees and bushes we planted this spring and they all seem to be doing pretty well.  We could hear my neighbor doing some work with a piece of heavy equipment and decided to see what he was up to.  He bought his land about a year after I bought mine, but owns some big equipment like a bull dozer, front end loader and excavator and has been doing some clearing for his future home.  He is a super nice guy and it is always nice to talk to him and see what he is up to and also get some tips about how to move forward with our development of the property.
    We got to talking about how we wished we had a little clearing off the road where we could park the truck when we visit the property and he offered to take his excavator and clear out a path from the building site to the road.  I still have a considerable amount of big city boy left in me because my initial reaction was to sit down and draw up a contract.  When this was mentioned to him he gave me a fully look as if to say "You can't be serious?!!!".  Rather than make me feel bad, he told me he would do it for free...right then and there!  It's pretty hard to pass up free and even harder when it will happen immediately, so Nora and I agreed to let him clear out the trees from the building site to the road.  There is an old skidder path (a path that was used to skid logs out) that connected his property to the building site, so he drove the big old excavator over to the building site and then followed my layout marks to the road.  He really had to drive that big machine carefully to get it down the old skidder trail.  He even worked carefully to make a pin point turn to avoid having to knock down the tree that Nora and I were standing under when I proposed to her.  I am not sure if that tree will last through the years, or even past the construction phase, but it did survive yesterday's activity.  As he drove the excavator over, Nora took the hounds home so that they would not be in the way and then came back with the camera.
    I must say that I had mixed emotions about the whole process.  In a way it was very exciting to see the changes take shape.  On the other hand it was a little sad to see the changes take place.  We had grown pretty accustomed to walking the intimate foot path that led from the road to the building site.  Here is a shot taken from that path looking towards the building site and at the excavator doing it's work.  Right after taking that picture, I worked my way around the destruction site and got in behind the excavator so that you could see what things looked like from the building site.  I then gave Nora the camera and let helped guide the clearing as much as I could.  Nora snapped a shot of the the spot where the road in to the property will meet the county road.  Strange to think that was the last picture taken with the woods looking like that.  In less than a half hours time, he had punched a path through the forest and had made it to the road.  All in all, it took him less than 2 hours to drive the machine over to the build site, clear a path to the road and return.  If Nora and I had gone the route of cutting the trees down and then hauling them out of the way, I would have taken days and been a lot more dangerous.  We still have a lot of work to do.  All the trees that were knocked down need to be de-limbed and then cut into lengths that are easy to manage.  I then hope to find some folks that want some free firewood.  Since most of it is softwoods, it should not be burned in a fireplace or anywhere that a chimney fire would be a risk, but for outdoor wood boilers it would be just fine.  Wish I had a way to make it last for about 4-5 years, then I would use it when we move up there, but softwoods usually do not last that long once they are cut down.  I could probably get them up and off the ground and have them last 3-4 years, but that would be a lot of work given my current equipment situation.  I did haul out the chain saw and did a little bit of cutting, but it was starting to get late in the afternoon and I needed to get home to take care of some work.  Even though he had offered to do the work for free, I felt uncomfortable about it and gave him some money for his hard work.
    So the property has officially been "developed" now.  I consider all the work we had done up until yesterday as maintenance.  It was hard work, but did not change the look all that much.  We also have lots more work to do now, with the cutting up of the logs and I also want to get some old mine rock down on the soil to make it better to drive on.  But it will be nice to be able to drive the truck into the build site if we want to.  It will also make all future work that needs to be done by what ever equipment that is needed a lot easier.  The other nice thing is that my layout of the road and the build site worked out.  You cannot see the build site from the county road or the county road from the build site.  Really hard to believe that in just a few years we could be living up there in my dream home.
    About the only other item of interest has been the weather.  It's back to the cool weather again.  As I type this (July 6, 2 PM) the temp is 55 degrees and there is a light rain falling from a battleship gray sky.  Looks more like the end of September out there than the beginning of July!  Add to that the fact that my golf league is tonight and we usually play in the rain, unless there is lightning.  I just checked the lightning data and the closest strikes are about 800 miles away to our south.  Looks like I need to bundle up for golf this afternoon.  After golf I will be heading up to the Keweenaw Point Advisory Committee meeting.  If you don't know what that is all about, you can check it out by going to the link on the main page of the site.
    Well, I better sign of for now so I can dig out the snowmobile suit for my golf match!  Take care and
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
 
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