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Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
May 30-
    Happy Memorial Day everyone.  Well, technically it is tomorrow, but I doubt I will be writing tomorrow, so I figured I would say it today.  We have been busy up here, both with work and play- probably more play than work though.  Lots of pics to share with you and I even dusted off the video camera and have been shooting lots of video.  I actually had been meaning to shoot video of our adventures up here so that we can look back years now and watch them and enjoy the memories.  Funny how it takes something like all these health issues to really get me to get on the ball with that plan.  I have probably shot more video in the past 4 days than I shot in the previous 4 years!  Anyway, I plan to get as much footage of the adventures the hounds, Nora and I take as possible and then transfer them to DVD and make a few backups.
    I can tell you all right now that the journals are going to contain a lot of material involving the hounds.  Of course it will not be all about the hounds and will generally be in the context of where we have been exploring, but these journals will serve me just as much as you all in the years to come.  I already find myself going back and reading past entries to see what we were doing either at this time in years past or even just to read things that we were doing at other times of the year.  Nora even used the journal to find out when we first spotted the lump on Burt's back last summer.  So, the journals will contain lots of pics of our adventures and those pics will likely contain the hounds.  I am not apologizing, just letting you all know why you will be seeing lots of the hounds in the future.  One thing that I know you all will enjoy is the fact that the exploring bug has been awakened and we will be doing lots of that again.
    Last Wednesday the hounds and I headed out to the school forest to do some exploring and I covered that in the previous journal.  On Thursday the weather was overcast, windy and temps only in the upper 40's, not the best weather for for the beach most folks would think, but I actually enjoy the beach on a day like that.  For one we usually have it to ourselves, another thing is the bugs are usually not a problem and neither is worrying about getting a sunburn.  Plus, the beach just seems to have a different face on.  Not an angry one, but different from when the sun is shining, the temps are warm and it seems to have a big smile on it's face.  I guess it just feels like we are getting to know the beach a little better than the fair weather folks do.  Of course, the hounds could care less what the weather is like when we go to the beach.  Sometimes I think that they actually enjoy the gray days more.  Baileys took enough time off from exploring to pose for meBurt is not as much into posing as she is and it can be a real trick to actually get him looking at the camera.  Watching them run around at the beach Thursday, you would never think that they have been dealing with health issues and I was very glad that I had both the still and video camera to capture them playing at the beach.
    There has been some construction going on at Big Traverse.  I'm not sure if the lighthouse is functional, but that sure is an addition to that sleepy beach!  Even with the thick overcast, the visibility was good on Thursday.  Good enough to see the Huron Mountains and even the Huron Islands directly in front of the mountains.  Those features were about 15-18 miles away.  Of course that was with an 6x zoom and I also did not compress the image which would have made the islands look smaller.  We ended up having a great walk down the beach, but missed Nora.  She sure does complete us all and as nice as it was that afternoon it would have been perfect if she was there.  I am sure that we will be taking more evening walks in the coming weeks and months when she gets home from work.  Right now I think the hounds and I need to get ourselves into good enough shape to handle two explorations a day!
    Friday the sun came back out, but I planned to have dinner close to being ready when Nora got home so that we could also head up to the property and have a look around up there.  So we did not travel far for our Friday afternoon adventure, but the great thing about living here is that we do not have to travel far at all to get to some fun spots.  The woods are continuing to fill out and with temps in the mid to upper 50's, I figured that heading up into the woods would be a good place to do some exploring.  The blackflys are starting to get more and more numerous, but they are the early season variety so far.  I find that the early bird variety of the black fly are sort of like the pickets for the main charge to follow.  They go out as the advance guard and just sort of get a feel for the lay of the land and scout out the enemy.  So while they are out there and hone in on my CO2 and body heat, they just seem to buzz around my head.  In a week or so, the more tenacious members will be out and short of covering myself in a bug net, I will be picking those nasty creatures out of my ears, eyes, neck, and just about anywhere else they choose to invade.  Or better yet, stay out of the woods and wait for things to quiet down by early July.  The trees are not the only things filling out in the woods.  The berry bushes are are also busy filling out in order to produce their goodies in a few months, here is a thimbleberry plant.
    Yesterday we got a lot of work and play in.  It was a beautiful day, with clear skies for most of the time, temps in the upper 60's and a gentle breeze.  The main event for the day was to go to the beach that Nora, the hounds and I started going to last summer.  We nicknamed it "North Betsy" because it is north of Betsy.  It has become our favorite beach even though it is about 40 minutes away.  It is really nothing special, just a patch of sand with barely enough room to walk when the waves are rolling in.  I guess it is just one of those places with so many great memories built into it already that even though it does not have the whitest sand, hidden coves, million dollar views or other physical features that make it a famous beach up here, it is special to Nora, the hounds and I.  For Burt, as long as there are sticks to fetch he's happy.  For Baileys- some items along the beach to sniff out and explore are a plus.  For me- maybe a piece of driftwood to sit on for a while and just take it all in with my buddies.  For Nora-  well... I can't really speak for her but she hangs out with me, so I don't think it takes all that much to make her happy.
    Speaking of Nora, sometimes she takes a great picture, but because I did not take it, I really do not know how to work it into the journal.  Anyway, here is a shot of a little "kettle" carved out of the sandstone by wave, water and probably some pebble action.  It's even filled with some pebbles.  There is actually a section along this beach where there are many of these "kettles" that have been made. A little further down the beach we came across another interesting sight.  At first it was hard to make out what it was, but as we got closer we could see that it was the root system of a once proud white pine that succumbed to the elements up here many years ago.  Just another one of mother natures sculptures.
    As mentioned, we have been doing some work around here too.  Nora has her gardens not only prepped but planted.  I almost finished the front steps and the weather shelter box is painted, put together and in the ground.  I even have the instruments in and tomorrow the data from the instruments will be displayed on the AL Cam page.  I meant to take a picture of the shelter box but it started raining in the past hour or so, so that will have to wait.  But fear not, you will be getting lots of looks at it this next winter- it will be the snow station.  I modified the platform from the old snow station to fit on top of the shelter box and come this winter will put that platform on top.  I did manage to take a picture of the new front steps.  They are almost done.  I still need to make some pieces for the tops of the posts.  I then need to do a little sanding (removing those pesky stamps on the wood) and then stain it.  Actually Nora said she wants to stain it, so my work is almost done!
    So now all I have left to do is finish the fireplace remodel (still waiting for the parts) and build my brothers bed frame and my woodworking projects will be done for a little while.  However, I think I have just about enough wood left over from the fireplace remodel to build a really cool craftsman style bookcase for the living room, so I may add that to the list too.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this time around.  I hope you all are keeping your feet dry and that you enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
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May 26-
    I have a whole host of different subjects to cover in this journal, I hope I can remember them all.  First on the list of items is some subject matter that I had in the May 21 journal.  I talked about and had pictures of some in our group driving ATV's through water up here.  It was brought to my attention that doing that is against the law.  No one in our group was aware of that and at first I thought it was not true.  After all, all the crossings we made were where forest roads cross the creeks or ponds.  These roads get used all the time, yet no one ever mentioned to me that it was illegal, and I have a feeling that many others that go through those bodies of water also do not know of their law breaking.  Ignorance of the law is never an excuse, but I wanted to remove the pictures so that I would not be giving others the wrong idea.  I did want to make a point of this though.  The reason for this rule is so that the banks of the bodies of water are not eroded by the vehicles.  It makes sense to me.  So if you are coming up to ride ATV's, be careful not to ride through any bodies of water.  I can point out that the law applies to all of MI, not just the UP or Keweenaw.  WI has similar laws from what I understand.  Here is a direct quote from the MI DNR's website - " It is unlawful to operate any ORV in or on the waters of any stream, river, marsh, bog, wetland or quagmire."  I think riding through the puddle in the first picture of the May 21 was OK.
    The second issue is that the Laurium Glacier melted yesterday at about 6 pm.  Nora drove by it at about 4 or 5 pm and there was a small area of snow.  I drove up to check it out at about 7:30 pm and it was gone, with just a bit of water left behind.  Now, part two of this issue is that I accidentally erased the list with all the guesses on it yesterday morning!!!  I was going through the Ask New Questions group on the Ask John.  I was getting rid of the off topic posts and by accident erased the post with all the guesses.  So I really do not know what to do here.  I am sure that someone guessed May 25th and it is also possible that that person knows they were the first one to guess that date.  So if you are that person, please E mail me.  If I get only one E mail, then I will thank all of you for being honest.  If you are not sure at all, then perhaps it will be best to not just take a chance at it.  If I get more than one E mail, I will figure out a way to best handle that.  Nora had a suggestion and I think I will go with her idea if needed.  I am sorry for the screw up!!!!  I should have made note of the guesses on a calendar once the contest was closed to prevent this from happening.  I tried to resurrect the post with the guesses in it, but was unsuccessful.  Anyway, that is issue 2.
    Issue 3 has to do with Burt.  Yesterday we drove to Marquette to get is stitches out.  They also had the preliminary report from his biopsy and it was not good news.  The biopsy indicated cancer, sarcoma in nature.  I was told that this was just a preliminary report and that sometimes the final report comes in and is different.  That is hope number one, although I really can't see how they would send out a prelim report indicating cancer and then say that there was no cancer in the final report.  Hope number 2 is that all of the cancer was removed with the surgical procedure he had on the 15th.  If that were the case, then there would be little to worry about.  We cannot tell if the entire cancerous portion was removed as the piece sent to be biopsied indicated cancerous cells all the way to the median or edge of the tissue sample.  However, it was just a section of what was removed, not the whole thing.  So we do not know if the cancer cells that go all the way up to the cut mark are the cut mark from where the tumor was removed or from where it was cut to produce the sample that was sent to be biopsied.  Hope number 3 is the fact that he lived with it for almost a year and showed no signs of any ill health other than the lump itself.  So it does not look to be an extremely aggressive form of cancer.  Hopefully the final report will come in soon and we will get some more useful information.  For now we just need to keep feeling for the return of any lump where he had the tumor removed.  If nothing comes back, then all is well.  If a lump comes back, they go back in and remove that and take it from there.
    Needless to say it was not the news that we were looking for and has had me in a funk ever since.  I am not going to let it ruin things though.  The way I see it we have two choices, we can dwell on all the negative issues and potential problems regarding this, or we can go on and live life one day at a time and be thankful that we were able to catch it at this stage and also be thankful for today because he feels fine and is living a good life today.  I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know that it will come in it's own time- always does!  These dogs really have taught me to try and live my life one day at a time and that is exactly what we are going to do with this.  We may have months or years, I don't know and probably cannot control much, but what I do know and can control is how we handle this minute and this day.  We are going to take full advantage of the time we have together and love life and the gift of today.  That is how I have tried to live my live for many years now, but sometimes it is hard to avoid getting sucked up into the big plans we have for our lives. I still have those plans and will strive toward achieving them, but there will be a little more emphasis put on today and what is has to offer.
    With that thinking in mind, the hounds and I took to the school forest to take a nice afternoon walk in the woods.  We have been regulars at the Lake Linden Sands the past week or so, so it was nice to get back into the woods.  The bugs were noticeable, but not so bad that we could not be in the woods.  I think in another week or so, the woods will be pretty much off limits until after the 4th of July.  It was a beautiful day, with just a few fair weather cumulus and temps in the low 60's.  With the beautiful weather and wonderful woods to walk in, it did not take to much effort to be in the moment.  However, the school forest was not as peaceful as it usually is.  The have been doing some logging out there and were at it today, so we could hear the equipment for our entire walk. It was kind of weird to be out there and hear noises other than that which nature provides.  Still though with the trees greening up and the sun shining there was not much better place to be this afternoon.  It was also pretty wet out there.  I never realized how wet that area is, I guess we are walking out there mainly in the late summer and autumn when things are usually pretty dry up here, or are skiing and all the wet spots are frozen and buried in feet of snow.  One puddle we came across was actually big enough for the hounds to take a little swim in.  We even spotted or first bear track of the season, but no actual bears spotted yet.
    Some tourists spotted though!  On our way to Marquette we must have passed about 20 motor homes heading west.  Not sure where they all were headed, but things will start to get busier and busier around here in the coming weeks.  Memorial day is the traditional start to things up here, but in reality, things really don't get going full speed until about the 4th of July.  I'm sure that there will be a few campers at the various campgrounds up here this weekend, but half of them will probably be locals getting out of the house for a while.  On our walks at the LL Sands, we have seen them getting things ready.  The bath/shower facility looks to have been spruced up and all the camp sites were given the good going over and are all set for the masses.
    The last bit of info that I have to share is my project progress.  I have finished all I can on the fireplace project.  All I have to do is wait for the shelf standards which have now been pushed back even further.  They were to be in at the catalog house by Friday and now I am told next Wednesday.  I bet I could have made them by now!  Last Friday I decided to start the demolition of the front steps.  My plan was to get the metal railings out and take the wood boards off to expose the concrete.  Then I would rent a jack hammer and tear down the cement stoop on Saturday and then start the reconstruction process this week.  Well, the demo went a lot smoother than I had figured.  I even was able to demolish the cement with just a sledge hammer and did not need to rent a jack hammer.  Nora helped me haul the cement pieces to the side of the road Friday evening and Saturday morning I went up and got the wood for the new steps.  I was all fired up to build the steps on Saturday, but it rained all day and I was shut out.  It threatened to rain all day Sunday, so I did not get any work done then.  Monday afternoon I got to work on it and by 8 pm had the steps and landing done.  I put some more time in on it today and am almost done with the railing.  I am getting a little fancy with the railing and that is taking me a little longer.  If I went with standard railings, I could have easily finished it.  If we can clear out tomorrow, then I will get it done then, otherwise the weekend looks like it will have some good weather.
    Well, I guess that covers it for this time around.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
May 22-
    Forgot to give you a look at the Laurium Glacier.  Here is a shot from this morning.  Looks like next week it may be gone.  -John
May 21-
    I decided I wanted to "clear my schedule" for the weekend, so I am once again writing to you during the afternoon rather than the evening.  I don't have anything extra special planned for the weekend, but as busy as my past few weekends have been, I guess a weekend without any major plans could be considered extra special!  The weather does not look to be too great, but that does not matter.  I have plenty of stuff I can do or not do if the weather is not so great.  I have actually finished the major construction for the remodel of the fireplace.  There are a few minor things I still need to take care of with the shelves and I am still waiting for the shelf standards.  They are said to arrive at the company I ordered them from in a week from today, so hopefully I will have them by very early June.  I do plan to put the finish on the woodwork soon, but would like to wait for a day or days that it will be warm enough that the windows can be open so that the fumes do not get too nasty.  It feels very good to finally be done with the majority of this project.  I am holding off my real excitement (as well as pictures) for when it is all done.  Hopefully in less than 2 weeks.  My next project will be the front steps and hopefully that will not take more than about 3-4 days.  A day or two for the demo and a day or two for the actual construction.
    Before I go on with what has happened since I last wrote, I want to talk about something that I forgot to mention in the last journal.  While waiting for Burt to recover from his surgery last Saturday, Nora and I got to tour the NWS office in Marquette.  We were shown all the neat equipment that they have at their resource to produce their forecasts as well as some of the means that they transmit the forecast.  They guys that were on duty that day were very nice and really knew their stuff.  One of the things they mentioned in our discussions was the fact that it is NOT the Huron Mountains that block out the radar signal from reaching the Keweenaw and large sections of western Lake Superior.  It is actually a set of hills just to the northwest of the radar site that actually are the culprits.  Looking at the pattern to the shadow, it all makes sense now.  If it were the actual Huron Mountains doing the blocking out, then the shadow would be much smaller.  They mentioned to me that when the new radar and building housing the NWS Forecast Office was going to be built, the NWS wanted to have things constructed at the former Air Force Base- KI Sawyer.  That location would have provided no radar shadow across the Keweenaw and western lake.  However, politics got involved with the placement of the radar and NWS office and the airport authority won out over the NWS and the radar and office were constructed at the Marquette Airport.  Seems plausible to want to have a radar and forecasting office located on the same site where you have commercial air traffic.  The kicker to all of this is that a few years ago, the operations for the Marquette Airport were moved to KI Sawyer and now the radar and NWS Offices are sitting at what could best be described as a ghost airport!  Oh well, such is life!  They also mentioned that the old radar was transported to MTU and is currently in the Keweenaw.  I knew this and you can see the old radar dome and tower sitting in some MTU property up by the airport.  I was told several years ago by some faculty at Tech that they needed about $ 30,000 to get the radar up and running.  They planned to use it for research.  I had always thought that it would not be very useful as a forecast tool because the old radar was not as effective at "seeing" snowflakes as the new Doppler is.  However the folks that I talked to at the NWS office told me that it would actually be effective enough to help fill in the blanks in the current radar patterns across the Keweenaw and western lake.  They thought that since the radar equipment has been sitting around dormant for so long that it would take more than 30K to get it operational now, but even if it is double that, seems to me that someone somehow could come up with the 30-60K to get it up and running.
    So I learned a bunch at my visit to the NWS Offices and plan to make return trips when they have some interactive meetings with the public and media type.  I was also able to pick up the instrument shelter that I will be putting my thermometer and hygrometer in to get accurate temperature readings.  It was in need of a fresh paint job and I have already scraped, sanded and primed the box and am just waiting for some warmer temps to put the top coat on it.  All I need is a few hours of warmer temps and I will be able to get that top coat sprayed on.  I will get the instruments all set up and then add the weather station data to the AL Cam page.  The current setup does ok with the humidity sensing all the time and does ok with the temperature when the sun is down, but the temp reading gets all messed up once the sun gets going.
    Yesterday I went for an ATV ride.  As many of you may have remembered, my first ever ATV ride was back last October when I went with Troy and his hunting guides from the Lac La Belle Lodge.  I got the invite from a visitor to the site (and KSE regular) to join him on a ride sometime from yesterday through Saturday, so I picked yesterday knowing that the weather would be best that day.  As luck would have it, the guides were up at Lac La Belle helping Troy with some other things and one of them, Matt, was able to join us on our ride and performed the guide service.  Matt knows the land in the northern Keweenaw as well as anybody, so it was great to have him as a guide.  I actually think it is more fun to just tag along than guide, I don't have to do much thinking and can just sit back and enjoy the scenery.  We ended up going to some of the same places we went in October and also going to some new spots.  The riding conditions were a little different this time around.  We have had a lot of rain the past week or so and that coming on the heels of the snow melt has left some puddles to have to get through.  One of the nice thing to riding in most of the Keweenaw is that there is usually a pretty solid base under any water and mud, so getting stuck is usually not a severe problem- although I am sure there are places where it could happen without too many problems up here!  Our travels took us to the Montreal River.  Not the mouth, but about 2 miles up stream.
    After exploring some more of the hidden spots of the tip of the Keweenaw, we ended up almost at the very tip- Keystone Bay.  It was just a little over a month ago that I was taking my last snowmobile trip of the season to that very spot.  Kind of weird as I almost never get up that way in the first place and then to be there twice in just over a month, one time on snowmobile and the next on ATV.
    I must say that ATVing is fun and I sure hope to have one or two in the not too distant future, but it still cannot hold up to snowmobiling.  I guess it's partly due to the fact that once there is enough snow down, you can almost go anywhere on a snowmobile up here, while an ATV is still confined to areas where some kind of path has been blazed.  Nothing like blazing your own trail through the snowy woods!  Although I can see Matt and I going on a few more rides before the snow flies next autumn!
    It was interesting to see the difference in the foliage in the woods between the northern end of the Keweenaw and down here in the more "southerly" reaches of the peninsula.  The trees in my neck of the woods all are filling out.  Most still have a way to go, but you can definitely see leaves at the ends of the branches.  All the leaves on the trees in the northern Keweenaw are still tucked tightly away in the buds.  We could very well have a full canopy while theirs might still be bare.  All that in about 15-20 miles of distance.  This sure is a unique place in more ways than one.
    Well, Nora has an early day at work today and the hounds and I are going to meet her at the Lake Linden park for a walk so I had better sign off for now.  Until next time...
Good night (afternoon if you want to be technical) from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
May 18-
    My how time fly's.  I can't believe that it has been 5 days since my last writing.  Needless to say we all have been busy since my last writing.  On Friday, Nora and I got over and took care of the remaining brush at the property.  It is really nice to have that done, although that is just a tiny bit of the work that needs to be done.  All the standing trees still need to be cleared and then the heavy equipment needs to come in and take care of stumps, leveling out the build site and maybe even dig the hole for the septic.  Not sure when the next phase is going to take place.  This autumn would be perfect, but I think we may be busy with other things!  Maybe we can do some work late this summer when it cools some and the bugs ease off.  There should also be some time after the wedding that we can get some work done.  The bottom line is I am glad that we got the clearing done that we did and can move on to phase two anytime we choose.  I am also glad for the rains we have picked up since last Wed.  The trees we planted are all doing very well and many of them might just make it.
    I have been busy with the fireplace remodel work.  It is going slowly, but forward.  I seem to be putting about an hour or two into it every day or so.  It is almost done as far as construction is concerned.  I'd say probably about 85%.  I still have to wait for the special shelf standards to come in before the construction will be completely done, but I will be able to move on to the finish stage before the standards arrive.  I am really tempted to post a picture of it as is, but will stick to my guns and wait until it is done.  The parts should be shipped in 10 days and it will not take more than about an hour once they arrive to reach completely.  I think Nora is just as excited for it to be done as I am.  She has been handling all the construction great and I can tell you I will be glad when it is all done.  The work I have been doing for the past week has all be on site, which means that I have been doing a lot of traveling between my shop in the basement and the fireplace at ground level.  I did some built in work about 10 years ago and promised to myself that I would never put myself through that again.  A pretty short memory I guess.  The problem with built in work vs. free standing work is that with built in work you are impacted by the accuracy of the carpenters ahead of you.  1/8th of an inch might not be that much to be off when building a wall, but in the world of furniture, it may as well be 3" off.  Part of my design was done to incorporate the off square issues with the carpentry, but there have been items that could not get around that.  So I make something perfectly square down in the shop, bring it up to the fireplace, try and fit it in place and end up having to take it back down and readjust the size and shape to fit.  I really want things to fit well, so there is a lot of trial fittings involving ups and down between the shop and work site.  One thing is for sure, I am getting my exercise!
    As mentioned in the last journal, we had to take Burt to the vet on Saturday to get a lump removed from his back.  The surgery went well, we got him in at 8 am and by 10:30 am he was on his way home.  A little groggy, but not too worse for wear.  The Dr had drawn some samples from it when it first appeared about a year ago and found only fat.  I guess fatty tumors are fairly common in dogs, especially labs.  So we did not worry about it.  Then in March Burt got a steroid shot to take care of something on his paw and the item on his paw went away, but so the the lump on his back.  Well, it may not have completely disappeared, but it did go down a ton.  That worried the vet as he said that fatty tumors will not respond to steroids like that.  So we had it removed and now a piece of it is on it's way to Colorado to have a biopsy done on it.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that's for sure!  I'll be sure to let you all know how things turn out with my buddy.
    With the rains last week, the grass needed it's first cutting.  I think that is about right on average.  The 15th of May seems to be right around the first time of cutting no matter what the winter and spring brings.  I also fertilized and will apply the weed-b-gone soon.  Last year I did not do much in the way of fertilizing or week control (other than hand weeding) and the lawn is in need.  I don't like to use chemicals that much with the dogs going on the lawn all the time, but I will try and keep them off while the chemicals are doing their stuff.  Nora has been busy gardening.  Not in the gardens themselves, but in the pots.  That way we can bring them inside the garage if temps threaten.  I think the garden will get planted in about 10 days.  The trees are still pretty bare, with the leaves still just barely out of the buds.  The bugs are not too bad and from what I understand we are too far north to be impacted by the cicadas.  That's a nice thing.  I remember those things in previous years and they are nasty!  The main thing I remember about them was our black lab eating them.  They were like candy to him.
    On Sunday I got my first golf game in.  I could have played weeks ago, but waited for the home turf to open and then for the weather to get nice enough.  I actually shot better than expected and I would be happy with my Sunday score any time of the season.  I am not a great golfer, basically a bogey golfer.  But Sunday I shot 6 over par for nine holes, which is excellent for the first time out and pretty good for me anytime of the year.  I have a meeting for the league tonight, that is why I am writing this early today.  I think they plan to start the league on the 25th.  Summer is just about here!
    Well, I guess that gets you all caught up on my doings.  I do plan to go by the Laurium Glacier this afternoon so I will take a picture of it and post it in the next journal.  The last time I went by it, it was still plenty deep and looked like it might make it through May.  It has not been too warm since, so we'll see.  Until next time...
-JD -
May 13-
    4 days since my last writing, that's not too bad.  I really do not have too much to say.  I have been pretty busy working on my project for the fireplace.  It is coming along, but it will not be done at the end of this week like I was thinking.  The main reason is that I am waiting on some parts that were back ordered.  I wanted to use some special shelf standards and unfortunately they will not be in until May 27 at the earliest.  I can get the project basically done without them, but it has also caused me to not be in a big hurry to get things done.  I also needed to order some more cherry veneer plywood and that should be in in a day or two.  It is coming along nicely and the other day when I had finished a bunch of work I could not help but stop and stare at my work for a while.  It's really going to be neat.
    Another reason why I am not going to be finished this weekend is that the hounds and I had to go to Marquette yesterday to see the vet again.  Nothing serious or life threatening, but still something that needed to be attended to.  So yesterday afternoons work was canceled.  We are going back Saturday so Burt can have a lump removed from his back.  The Dr. tested it a while back and it showed it was just a fatty deposit, but yesterday while we were there for Baileys' issue he felt the lump on Burt's back and it felt different (hard) from before, so he thinks it is best to remove it and take a look at it.  Hopefully it is just a fatty deposit that got hard for some reason.
    We had some interesting weather on our ride to Marquette and back yesterday.  It was warm up here yesterday with the official temperature at the Houghton Co. airport reaching 86- however, several local thermometers rose into the low 90's.  The thermometer on my truck (which I have found to be relatively accurate) read 84 when we left Lake Linden yesterday afternoon.  As we drove through Houghton and Chassell, it read 86.  When we got to the stretch of 41 just north of Baraga that runs close to the lake, the temp dropped to 52.  Then just past L'Anse, it read 91.  So in the course of about 5-8 miles the temp had risen almost 40 degrees.  That is a great example of the influence the lake has up here in the warm months.  On the way home it was still in the mid 80's, but then we ran into some strong storms driving through Baraga to just about Chassell.  The storms cooled things off into the 60's and temps slowly sank into the 50's overnight.
    We did keep the sliding glass door in the bedroom open all last night and I don't believe I have heard the heat kick on yet today, even though we held in the 50's for most of the day and are now in the upper 40's- plus we had thick overcast all day today.
    We ended up picking up about 1/2" of much welcomed rain.  On the way home from Marquette yesterday we came across a little brush fire that had burned an acre or two just off the road near Michigamme.  It had been put out by the time I drove by it.  A good thing as the winds were howling and the ground cover prior to yesterdays rains was a tinderbox.  The only thing I can figure is that someone was not thinking and tossed a cigarette out the window and that caught things on fire, because it was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, or at least were some other human element would cause a fire to start and I can't see how it would have started on it's own.  Anyway, it drizzled almost all day today and has also rained a bit this evening, so things are greening up and the fire danger is way down for the moment.  Plus all the trees we planted this weekend have now gotten a good drink of water.  More rains look possible for later this weekend or early next week so that will only help the tree survival rate even more.
    The rains have also caused the grass to grow enough that it needs its first cutting of the season.  I don't know when it is going to get cut though.  Saturday we will be in Marquette and Nora and I plan to get up to the property and do the final bit of brush removal tomorrow.  Temps are suppose to be in the 40's for highs, so that should keep the bugs in hiding and the rains are to stop too.  The trees are starting to pop their buds.  It will probably still be at least a week before there is any real cover to the trees but we're getting there!  No golf for me yet either.  Next Tuesday is the league meeting so we are getting close to that too.  I had better get a round or two under my belt before that starts!
    Five years ago tomorrow the hounds and I moved up here.  I cannot remember much from 5 years ago today, except that my dad and I spent the entire afternoon loading the moving truck with all my belongings.  I can remember almost everything from the day of five years ago tomorrow and I bet I always will.  It was such a huge day in my life and so full of excitement. I think it will be forever imbedded in my memory bank.  As I type and look out at the rain coming down with temps in the mid 40's, I am really glad that  we had sunny skies and temps in the low 60's greeting us for the unloading process.  Of course rain and temps in the 40's would not have dampened my spirit at all.  It has been a fabulous 5 years, better than I could even imagined.  I love this little corner of the world so much it really is a dream come true to be able to live here.  I don't know what the next 5, 10, 20 or even 50 years holds in store, but I like it that way.  Life's a journey, not a destination.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
May 9-
    It's a good thing that I ended up writing that last journal when I did.  My idea of a busy week last week was sure correct!  In fact, things were even busier than I thought they might be.  This journal entry will be more about what is going on in my life rather than what is going on up here.  Nora and I have been very busy all last week and even into the weekend.  Last week after Nora came home from work  we went out to the property to do clean up work.  There were a ton of tops (of trees) out there, left over from when the previous owner went in and had all the birch logged out.  From time to time the price of one particular species of tree will be elevated and that is why sometimes they will go in and just log one particular type of tree.  Anyway, Birch does not do well holding up to the elements once it has been cut down and all of the branches left over were too rotted to burn, but still too firm to just mulch into the ground.  So Nora and I spent a few hours every evening last week, cutting and hauling the branches off the build site and into the woods.  In a few years the branches we did haul off into the woods will be decomposed into dirt.  We almost finished the entire build site, having only to clear the spot where the home will go.  That should take us about 2 hours and then we will be completely done with that phase of the work.
    The next phase will be to get some estimates on putting in a road to the build site as well as flattening out the build site and bringing in some mine rock as a base for the driveway and buildings that will be on a slab like the pole barn and guest cottage.  There is quite a few trees that will need to come down.  Most of them either hard maple or some kind of a fir.  My thought is that the lumber is of some value and I might be able to work out a deal with the person that does the dozer work and not have to pay as much, or anything at all.  I do want to keep some of the hard maple to use as firewood for the outdoor wood boiler, but I don't want to keep all of it as I could never burn all of it before it went bad.  Plus, there will always be a tree or two that comes down on the property that we can chop up and use in the wood boiler.
    On Friday, the trees that we ordered from the tree sale the Houghton-Keweenaw Conservation District came in. So on Saturday Nora, the hounds and I planted 100 trees!  Actually 97, we planted 3 of them here in Lake Linden on Friday.  In addition to the 97 trees, we also planted 10 blackberry plants at the property.  I am hoping they will spread naturally out there. But if not I can always get more next year or help the spreading process myself by digging a few up and transplanting them.  I also planted 10 raspberry bushes and 5 blueberry bushes here in Lake Linden.  I am really excited to see how the blueberry bushes turn out as they are some of my favorite berries and there is nothing better than fresh picked fruits or vegetables.  We also got 25 strawberry plants that we temporarily planted in flats.  It is still a bit too early for them to be outside permanently.  Temps can dip into the low 20's without much difficulty for the next week or two.  I think that in about 2 weeks we can put them in the ground.  It will also be neat to have fresh strawberries.  I doubt that the blueberry bushes will produce this season, but I would not be surprised if the strawberries do.
    All of the trees that were planted at the property were conifers.  My main goal in planting them was to end up with some nice seclusion in a few years.  50 of them were Norway Spruce which is a fast growing pine that keeps it's limbs all the way to the ground.  It will end up being 50-60 feet tall, but I am just hoping for about 10 feet in 10 years.  Most of them were planted between the road and the build site and if most of them do end up making it then there will be no way to see the road from the property or the property from the road.  In the summer the deciduous trees and bushes fill out enough that you cannot see the road from the build site or the build site from the road, but it will be nice to have that seclusion year round.  I do plan to replace any that do not make it with trees of the same variety next year.  The other 2 types of trees that we planted were Balsam Fir and Majestic Blue Spruce.  The Balsam Fir are also fast growing and will get to be about 45-50 feet high.  They can also provide some food for animals like seeds for the birds and squirrels and even the deer will eat the needles when food is scarce.  The Blue Spruce is more of an ornamental.  It grows pretty slowly and they were planted in groups near the building site for looks only.  Depending on how the blueberries do here I may use them as ornamentals at the property too.  They are pretty bushes, being a deep green in the summer and then turning a bright orange and yellow in the autumn.  Plus it would be nice to be able to step out my door and get some fresh blueberries for my breakfast in the morning!
    The plants all seemed really healthy.  The place that the H-K Conservation District got them from must have really been using some root growth hormones as the roots were about as large as the above ground portion of the plants themselves.  The Norway Spruce were only about 6-8" in height, with another 6-8" of roots.  The Balsam Fir were about 12-15" in height with equal roots and the Blue Spruce were about a foot and a half to 2 feet in height.  So hopefully with the good root system the plant will have a good chance at survival.  We did manage to water all of the Norway Spruce that we planted between the road and building site as well as all of the Blue Spruce.  I put a 35 gallon trash can in the back of the truck and filled it 3/4 of the way with water and then we (actually Nora) shuttled water from it to the trees once they were planted.  We look to get some rain tonight and then more by about Wed-Fri, so that should also help with the survival rates of the trees.
    The other 25 Norway Spruce and the 25 Balsam Fir were just planted in a scattered nature out in the woods within a few hundred feet of the build site.  At first we were taking time to figure out where they would go best, but by the time we reached the last 25 or so, we were pretty much out of steam and just planted them anywhere there was a little clearing.  The holes did not have to be very deep, but still digging 100 holes gets to be a lot of work.  Throw in the fact that the black flies were starting to come out and bite and that made things even less enjoyable towards the end.  If the black flies are really coming out- which I think they are as I experienced some this afternoon here in Lake Linden, then the next chilly day Nora and I will have to get out and finish up with the clearing.  The black flies seem to be less active on the cold days.  At any rate, it will be interesting to see what takes and what does not.
    In addition to all the work at the property I have been busy all week with the wood work for the fireplace area.  I was able to finish the drawers and got them mounted in the cases.  The case and drawers are fitted into the openings and today I was able to get some of the wood working done for where the shelves will be.  I figure I probably have about 15-20 hours of work left on the construction and if all goes well, then the construction will be done by the end of this week.  I will continue to take some pictures along the way and will share all of them with you when I am finished.  It's turning out good and even though I have yet to even use one piece of cherry, I can really get a feel for what it will look like when it is all done.  I think it will actually make the room look bigger.  It will be so nice to have storage for all the CD's, DVD's and VCR tapes.
    The hounds are both doing very good, they were with us the whole time we planted trees yesterday and I think that they were actually glad to leave.  They did have fun exploring, but then seemed to get a little bored as they never really go beyond eyesight of us and we did not go very far, sticking pretty close to the build site.
    Other than that, I guess there really is not much else to say.  The Calumet Golf Course opened up Friday. But as of yesterday there was still a bit of snow on number 2!!!  I wonder how many golf courses in the world have to wait to open up until May and then do so with some snow still on the course?!  I have yet to play or even hit out any practice balls.  I really want to get my projects done and then will be in more of a mood to enjoy my playtime.  I still have the whole summer ahead of me, so there will be plenty of time for things like golf.  Still, it was neat to drive by the course Friday and see some golfers out on it.  Almost felt like summer!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
May 3-
    Once again I have a moment of time so I figured I had better get on writing another journal before I get into what looks to be a busy week and then before I know it is has been nearly a week since I last wrote.  Besides I do have some stories to share along with some pictures.  The weekend was a busy one, with Nora, the hounds and I going out to the property to do some marking of where we want the buildings to go.  Plus we did some exploring of the property, going to a few places we had not been to yet.  And yes I did say buildings. As in more than one.  Actually it is going to be a mini compound.  We plan to build a 60 x 30 foot pole barn a small (about 20 x 30) guest house as well as the main home.  The guest house will actually serve as the living quarters for us as we are building the main home.  Then become the guest home once we are all moved in.  The pole barn will house both my woodworking shop and an area for storing/fixing things like the snowmobiles, lawn equipment and any other toys we accumulate along the way.  The floor will be heated and zoned so that I can keep my wood working shop comfortable and the other area just warm enough to keep things from freezing or allow them to melt.  It will be so nice to have a woodworking shop on ground level.  I have either had them below ground or 2 stories up.  Not much fun to haul all the raw materials down or up to the shop and then the finished product up or down.  I have actually had to finish construction on a few of the projects outside of the shop because I would not be able to get them out of the shop when they were fully assembled!  Plus it will be nice to have an area to work on the sled that will be fairly warm, or at least above freezing!
    I'm toying around with the idea of building the log home myself, or at least with another up here.  He is someone that builds logs homes on the side.  He is currently building his own and I was out to see it yesterday.  He uses the Scandinavian full scribe building method, which is where you scribe the one log to match up with the log it will rest against.  You then end up with a tight fit and basically a full log.  I am not really big on using the logs that have a flat top and bottom machined on them and then you just stack them.  I really like the rustic look of Scandinavian full scribe.  Anyway, the idea is to have him show me how to do it.  From what he has said once you do a couple of logs you pretty much know what to do for the rest of the house.  It is just a matter of choosing the right log so that you can keep your courses within a reasonable margin so that when you finish the walls are all the same relative height and not much trimming needs to be done to make the walls all the same height.  The home would actually be built on his property just outside of Lake Linden, using his tools and machinery.  It would then be disassembled, hauled up to the property and re-assembled.  Once re-assembled we would then do the roof and I would take over from there, finishing out the home while living in the "guest cottage".  The other method would be to just pay a log home company to build the shell and put it up on our site and then I would finish it out.  Needless to say there is still a lot of planning to do and building it myself would be a huge undertaking, but one I would love I know.  I can't even imagine living in a log home that I built with my own hands!
    As mentioned, Nora, the hounds and I went up to the property this weekend to do a rough layout of where the three buildings will go.  Now is a great time to be up there, with the snow gone and the bugs not out yet.  Plus the brush is still bare so it is easier to get around too.  We actually were planning to do some marking on Friday, but forgot the tape measure, so we just just dropped off some of the materials we were going to use to do the marking and then walked around a bit.  On Saturday we remembered to bring the tape and were able to get the guest cabin and pole barn marked.  Here is a shot of Baileys helping me figure out where to put the first corner.  Here is a shot of the layout for the guest cabin.  As mentioned it is about 20 x 30, but that may shrink a bit when I start designing it with a CAD program.  We will not need that much space and I plan to put the bedroom in a loft, with my office, the bathroom, kitchen and family room on the first floor.  The layout of the kitchen cabinets will be exactly the same as the layout in the home that way I can build the kitchen cabinets, hang them in the guest cabin and when the time comes, just move them to the home and hang them there.  All the roofs will be metal and be pitched enough that no shoveling will need to be done.  The pole barn might need some help by heating the loft above the work areas and below the roof and then maybe raking the eves to get the snow to slide off, but NO roof shoveling once I am out of this house!  We were not able to mark out the main house because we ran into some problems with the layout.  Both Nora and I did not want the view from the great room and kitchen to be out onto the pole barn and guest home. But the way I had things designed in the rough layout there was no way to make that work.  So we went home, I got back on the drawing board and redesigned the layout of the home to work with the layout of the building site.  On Sunday we went back out and finished the marking of the property.  Here is a shot of Burt, Baileys and I standing in what will one day be the great room of our log home.
    Saturday afternoon Nora came up with the great idea to take our afternoon walk out at the School Forest.  Things are drying out enough up here that you can go almost anywhere.  The lowest of lowlands are still wet and even flooded in a few instances, but most of the school forest is high enough ground that I knew we would be able to walk around without having to wade through a swamp.  It was really great to be back out at the school forest.  I think our last visit was either at the end of January or early February.  I don't know why we stopped going for the second half of the winter, but we did.  Things had not changed much at all.  There was a few new signs out on the trails, including the "You are here" type.  But other than that, it was the same old place, which as beautiful as it is, that is a good thing!  The hounds did not miss a beat.  It is really amazing how they can recognize things.  They knew before we even got there where we were going as they got excited when we turned off the Bootjack Road onto the road that goes to the School Forest.  Once there it was nose to the ground to smell what has been going on since they were last there.  After all we went through about 2 weeks ago I cannot begin to explain how magical it was to be walking in those woods with Nora and the hounds by my side.  They even managed to sit still long enough for us to get a shot of them.
    I guess I can warn you there is going to be quite a few shots of the hounds in the journal from now on.  When Baileys was sick, I found myself reading through the past journals to re-live our past adventures and I know the day will come when I will have to do it again, so I want to stock up!  Back to the walk on Saturday... It was not that warm out, but Burt still got hot enough that when we walked by a little pond, he decided to take a dip.  I modified the saying about leading a horse to water and is says you can lead a lab to water, but you just can't keep them out of it!  For Burt that pretty much rings true.  Nora was able to capture him shaking himself off- kind of funny looking.  With the stop motion effect of the camera, he almost looks like he is in pain.  My last photo taken out at the school forest is of one last remaining patch of snow.  It is where the plow piled it up and also where it sits in the shade.  With the warmer temps this week I bet it does not last much longer.  After getting home and having a nice meal, Burt and Baileys were out for the count.
    Today I drove by the Laurium Glacier.  I did not have the camera, but I can say that it is still going strong.  In fact I think it is currently as deep as I have ever seen it at the beginning of May.  I will try to remember the camera the next time, but I'd say that if we do not have a bunch of really warm weather it could make it longer than any of the previous years.  I don't know about making it to June, but late May might just be in the cards this year.  I sure wish I knew when it melted after the winters of 78-79 and 85-86.  I do know that in the spring of 86, there was some snow still on the ground in spots around Lac La Belle in June.  We had some flurries yesterday. I wonder if those will be the last flakes of the season?
    Today the hounds and I took to the tracks.  The old railroad tracks that are now the snowmobile trail in the winter.  Nora the hounds and I went there over the weekend but she was at work today, so we braved it without her.  The snow has been gone from the tracks for a while now, probably a few weeks.  Down in some of the deeper ravines there is still a few patches of snow.  It was a great day for a walk in the woods.  It's funny how I crave weather like this when we reach September, but right now I am looking forward to shorts and t-shirt weather that I almost think today is too cool.  But there are two, great hiking in the woods seasons.  Autumn and now.  The temps are just about perfect and there are no bugs.  Hard to believe that in a month we will be gearing up for the black fly season.  Hopefully with the snow melting off a little early and the river levels already dropping, the black fly crop will not be as bad.  They need cool, clear, running water to populate and that is the big reason why by the 4th of July they are dropping off. A lot of the smaller creeks that are fed by the snow melt have dried up for the season.
    If you haven't already noticed there is a new discussion board up and running.  It is for general discussions and the Ask John is strictly for weather questions now.  Hopefully this new board will lessen some of the work for me, but also provide a good forum for everyone to have some good discussions.  Nora is helping me clean up the Ask John.  We are going to remove all the off topic questions and leave just the weather questions in there.  That will make for an easier and more effective search for a specific topic or question.  We are taking some of the most useful and interesting off topic posts and will be putting them in a group labeled "Off Topic Classics".  I am also working on getting the weather station up and running.  Actually is has been partly going since late December, but I am now working with the software that will allow me to display the weather measurements it takes on my site.  The software is really neat, but like most software it needs to be played around with before becoming operational.  I also am getting a instrument shelter from the good folks at the NWS.  I do not have shade near my office, so in the afternoons the temperature will be much too high because of the sun.  Today it reported a 79.5 and I bet it never rose above 50 or 52.  I'm not sure when the shelter will be here.  But I figure I will probably have it about the time I have the other aspects of the weather station all figured out.  So look for some cool weather data displays in a few weeks or so.  I will also be starting up the warm season forecasts next Monday (the 10th).  My batteries feel pretty recharged and the warm season forecasts are not as time consuming as the snow fall forecasts.
    Well, I guess that gets you all caught up on life here in the Keweenaw.  Rumor has it the Calumet Golf Course will be opening this Friday.  I think I will be too busy with all of my projects for about another week, but I don't think I will be able to stay away for too long!  Especially if the weather turns nice.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
 
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