I don't know
about you, but I can't believe that October is almost over and in just
over a month, snowmobile season will be here! On our walk today it
seemed more like late April than late October. The temp is pushing
60 degrees the dewpoint is up near 55 degrees, the trees are bare in most
places and the creeks are running high from all the wet weather we have
had- it just seemed like a spring day. It also seems hard to
believe that Nora and I have been married almost 3 weeks. In good
ways it seems longer than that! I think because so much has happened
in those three weeks, seems more like 3 months. But don't get me
wrong, we are still happy honeymooners! In fact, I am writing this
early so that I can have it done by the time she gets home from work and
we can spend a nice Friday evening at home together.
Things are pretty slow
up here. The color season is over and there really is not much reason
for a tourist to be up here. Many of the seasonal motels have closed
down and their owners have most likely taken off for warmer climates.
The locals are gearing up for hunting season and those of us who do not
hunt are getting our sleds ready. As mentioned I am having my shock
rebuilt. It should be ready and I will swing by early next week to pick
it up on my trip to get the trail cam going for the season. Yep,
it looks like we should have all the connections going by Sunday.
I plan to head over there Monday if the weather is agreeable and get 'er
going. It's been an interesting experience getting the phone going.
I went there on Monday and did not spend as much time as I should have
trying to figure things out. Then on Wednesday I went over there,
but forgot to bring some of the equipment I needed, so yesterday I finally
remembered all the equipment and was able to get phone service down to
the cam. Power is there, but a few more connections need to be taken
care of on that circuit and then we'll be all set. It will be interesting
to see how it looks. The cam is physically a little higher off the
ground than it was last year and a bit further off the trail (the last
2 years it could not have been any closer or I probably would have been
in trouble with the DNR!). Plus the section of trail it views is
more open than the previous spot. I am sure that it will still give
a great view of the trail and it will also be a busier section, so lots
more action will be seen.
The weather has been
a little strange for the past week or so. Lots of clouds which is
not that strange, but temps not really cold, but not really warm.
The clouds have been keeping it from getting too cold at night. A
clear night this time of the year can easily make low 20's, but we have
been only dropping into the low 40's many nights. Yet in the day,
the temps only hit the upper 40's to low 50's most of the time. Today
is an exception with the upper 50's like I mentioned above. We even
have the chance for some severe thunderstorms this evening and tonight.
A very rare event at this time of the year. Next week it looks like
we could be seeing more typical weather for this neck of the woods at this
time of the year. Maybe even some snows. Not a lot the way
things look right now. At one point this week it looked like we might
have ended up with a 1-2 punch and maybe see some double digit accumulations
next week, but things changed and now it looks like just maybe some flakes
from time to time. I'm still not ready for winter to come and stay.
A few more chores need to be done, but hopefully if Sunday is as nice as
it is suppose to be, those chores will be taken care of.
The weather has also
presented some challenges to outdoor activities this week. We have
had threatening skies almost all week and at times Mother Nature has made
good on those threats with some showers falling. Nothing very heavy
since Monday, but enough to have to keep us indoors when we could have
been exploring. We did get out to the School Forest this week and
fully enjoyed that experience as usual. It's interesting, down near
the ground there was still a fair
amount of leaves left on the trees. Yet up at the top of the
forest canopy the stronger winds have stripped
the trees bare. Those shots were taken this past Tuesday and
by now most of the trees are bare.
It has been so damp
up here recently that I wish we actually had a bit of dry weather, then
got an inch or two of snow so that we could go and take care of the brush
piles at the property. Things are so wet right now, I am not even
sure I could get any of the piles started without resorting to some kind
of help. I suppose we could always leave them until spring and then
burn them once the snow is off of them but still remains on the ground,
but I would rather take care of it now.
So, we are at that
quiet time of the year and it looks like I am out of things to say.
It seems like I should have more and it seems like as I went through this
week I had things to say, but they always find a way to escape me when
I sit down to write. Maybe I should keep a little notepad in my pocket
so I can write down these ideas and then put them in here. Who knows
maybe I will!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
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are at the time of the year when I am glad to have a very sensitive sniffer.
Not nearly as sensitive as the hounds have, but I do smell things better
than the average person. I have always been that way and for the
most part I have considered it a blessing. Of course there have been
the times when driving to Purdue that I would pass through Calumet City
and Gary and wished I did not have this ability and once in the country,
passing by a few hog farms in the summer would also cause me some discomfort,
but then there is the up side. Walking in the woods this time of
the year the smell of the fallen leaves is just great. Add to that
the smell of some wood burning and I'm in heaven! Well, heaven on
This really is my favorite
time of the year to walk in the woods. The temps are perfect, all
I have to do is bundle up a bit. The forest is in a state of change.
We can walk the same spot day after day and each day it will look a little
different. Less leaves on the trees and more on the ground.
With less leaves on the trees we can see into the woods further, so items
that were hidden in all the vegetation during the summer suddenly become
visible. The leaves that are still left on the trees add some color
to the woods and those that are in the process of falling gave me a tease
of the snow to fly soon. It will be really neat when we live up at
the property. We will be able to experience all of that on a constant
I have been a busy
guy, but also very productive. On Friday I went to set up the trail
cam. For those of you checking in on the cam, you already know that
I must have run into some problems. I had thought that if all went
well that it would be running by late in the day Friday. Well, I
was able to get out there and get all of the
equipment set up. However, the power still needed some finishing
touches and the phone needed to be hooked up. I had called the phone
company and they said it would be set up on Friday and said that a technician
would be out there between 1 and 5 pm, so the hounds and I got there a
bit after 1 and got to work on it. I was done with my setting up
at about 3:30 pm and then took the hounds
for a short walk down the snowmobile trail. Lori from the Wildlife
Refuge Cabins told me that they recently graded the trail, so that is good
news for both the snowmobilers and ATVers that use that trail. Especially
the ATVers. We usually get plenty of snow to fill in any irregularities
that would exist on the trail, but the flatter surface will help with the
early season grooming to be sure.
After our walk we stopped
in and I talked with Lori for a while waiting for the phone person to come.
It got to be a little after 5 pm and I figured that the phone person was
not coming and somehow the signals got crossed. Today I called the
phone company and they said that the line had been activated and that many
times they do not need to send someone out and this was one of those cases.
So it turns out the phone line was live on Friday and I never even bothered
to check. So today the hounds and I went back out to try and get
things hooked up and it turns out I do need the phone person to go out
and do some hooking up. There are several lines already going out
there and I am not sure how to hook up the new one without disrupting the
current ones, so will leave it up to the pros. I was able to get
the power connection set up, so hopefully very soon the trail cam will
be live and well! Some additional news is that Dave and Lori agreed
to let the cam stay up all year long, so we all will be able to watch snowmobilers
in the winter and then ATV's in the summer. If you were wondering
about the proximity of the trail cam to the trail and cabins, I took this
shot while standing
on the trail and looking up towards the cabins. Talk about trailside
lodging! Plus you might think that the noise from the trail would
be bad being that close, but because the cabins are behind the hill, the
sound really is not an issue. There were some motor bikes going down
the trail and I could not hear them go by until they were well down the
trail and out from behind the hill. One last shot from my trip out
there Friday was of some remaining
snow from the previous weekend's storm.
Some of my other accomplishments
have been to get the bush protectors up. Nora helped me out with
that job yesterday afternoon. It is so much easier with her help.
I think that it took us under an hour to get it all set up. Plus
this being the 6th time I have had to do it, I am getting the hang of it.
I have all the parts marked clearly and the design has been tweaked through
the years to not only make the protectors more effective, but easier to
set up and take down. Nora and I also did a little bit of yard work.
We emptied two of the compost bins to get ready to fill them with the newly
fallen leaves. Our gardens took some of the composting leaves from
the past season and a spare bin took the rest. On Sunday I did a
little work on the sled. I have already replaced both trailing arms
and also the steering post. I also fixed the bracket for the reverse
Sunday I pulled
the rear suspension to check the bearings on the bogey wheels.
The suspension also had a little play near the fully rebounded position,
so on my way back from the trail cam, I stopped in at Dan's Polaris to
have them check the shocks. The rear shock was a bit low on pressure
so they are going to rebuild the shock and recharge it. I could have
just recharged the shock, but I figured as long as I had the suspension
out and in their shop it would be smarter to rebuild it now than potentially
HAVE to do it when I would rather be riding it this winter. Once
the suspension is back in, then the sled will be all ready to go.
The last (but not least) item that will be done before the season kicks
into high gear will be to have a clutch kit put in. I have been in
contact with the folks at Goodwin Performance and they will be taking care
of turning the RMK into a little rocket ship. They actually hope
to come up in late November or early December to do some testing and said
that they will put my sled on the computer and get it dialed in just right.
That should be very cool as I know what a difference the right clutching
can do! I will be sure to tell you all more about things as they
I am starting to get
a little more excited for winter to arrive. I am not at the point
where I am chomping at the bit, but I have a feeling that time is not too
far off. In just a week the snowfall forecasts will be starting and
I think that will get the blood pumping even more. If the current
forecast holds, I may even have something to talk about in my kick off
to the snowfall forecasts. We'll see! For those of you looking
for a seasonal forecast, it is coming. I am actually working on my
seasonal forecast for the energy traders who are my clients and as soon
as that is out and has been digested, then I will put one out on the website.
Hang in there!
I guess that about
covers it for this time around.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Boy, it did
not take long to jump right back into the swing of things with both feet!
I have been running around like a crazy man lately, trying to get things
all set for the winter season. I know it must seem like there is
not that much to address to get the site ready for the winter, but it really
is just the opposite. It has really become a business unto it's own.
I have accounts receivable, accounts payable, labor shortages, you name
it! Ad to that the fact that the hounds want to unionize! It
just never stops. But seriously, I have been keeping myself rather
busy these past few days. For one, if all goes as planned and the
weather cooperates tomorrow afternoon, the trail cam will be up and running
by tomorrow late afternoon. I moved it's location from the Tamarack
City area to South Range. The owners of the Wildlife Refuge Cabins
were generous enough to let me put it there. I knew that their establishment
was just off the trail, so I figured it would not be that difficult to
get power and phone to the trail side. Turns out they already had
power, but they were also going to be doing some upgrading of their parking
lot by putting some hookups for diesel, so they ran me my own power and
also ran phone down there, so all I have to do is get my equipment out
there and get it hooked up. I also had to call the phone company
to order another phone line for out there and the phone guy will be out
there tomorrow afternoon. So that is why I say if all goes as planned
and the weather can keep the rains out until later in the day, the trail
cam should be live tomorrow. It actually would have caught some nice
snow last weekend as they had about 4-5" there on Sat and Sat night.
I also got the AL Cam
into winter mode. Last spring I obtained an instrument shelter box
from the NWS and put that into the ground in the same general vicinity
of where the snow station sits. I figured it could just double as
the snow station in the winter and I think it will work out well.
However, in the process of getting that setup and the camera re-aligned,
the camera stopped functioning. I did have a spare camera and it
was a good one, so I just hooked that one up and got it posting and we
are all set for snow as far as that goes. I still have some personal
items to address as far as preparing for winter goes. The bush protectors
need to go up, the gutter guards need to be put in place, the snow thrower
needs to be brought to front and center and started up, the leaves need
to be raked and the Christmas lights need to be put up. Thankfully
real winter weather does not look to be in the offing for at least a week,
probably more, so I do have some time. Also my buddy Al was able
to find me an indoor storage spot for the boat, so I do not have to worry
about building some sort of shelter for it.
Speaking of winter
weather, my two favorite web cams out west did pretty well with snow over
the past day or two. Actually, the Alta
Utah cam did the best, with over 4 feet accumulating in the past 2
days. I guess they will get off to a good start. It looks like
at least two other storms will hit as well- lucky dogs! The other
site that has been fun to watch has been the Togwotee
Lodge in northwest WY. They actually have been back and forth
between rain and snow, with most of the precip today falling as snow.
Looks like they have picked up about as much as some of the higher terrain
around here did over the weekend.
It's funny I actually
can still wait for winter to come (yes I did mean to type can, not can't!).
I have so much to do before it comes that I would actually not consider
it a good thing right now. Thankfully I think I have at least 2-3
weeks before it would come in earnest and probably a little more than that.
Usually it starts to get a lot like winter around here the second week
of deer season. However, I know in a few weeks I will be chomping
at the bit for the snow to start piling up and I really do hope to put
a ton of miles on my sled this season. It looks like we will have
quite the supply of KSE guides this year with 3 guys available full time
and another 3 of us available for the weekends. That means that I
should be able to get one of the other 3 guys to take some afternoon rides
with me like Matt and I did towards the end of last season. That
really can be the best riding there is, just two guys off in the woods
breaking trail. No big group to try and keep together or running!
Of course the big groups have their pluses as well. There are usually
some entertaining antics to watch or be part of and the egos usually help
to push the entertainment threshold. So I guess you could say I really
don't care if it is just myself and another rider or a whole group, it
is just great to get out and enjoy the great outdoors!
I have been taking
my regular afternoon walks with the hounds this week. We have been
alternating between the school forest and the tracks. I figure we
will try and go to places that we will not be able to go once the main
firearm deer season kicks in on the 15th of November. That is when
we will go to the beach, the Lake Linden Sands and some of the back country
Even with all the wind,
rain and snow we had last weekend there is still quite a few trees with
leaves on them. In fact some areas have yet to see many leaves fall
at all, while in some areas the trees are bare. In general I'd have
to say that about 50% of the leaves have fallen which seems late to me.
We have so many trees up here that even with 50% of the leaves still up
in the them, there is a nice yellow,
orange and red carpet across the ground. That was the tracks
and in about a month and a half will be the snowmobile trail if the snows
come early and deep. After sharing 38 shots with you in the last
entry, that last shot was the only one I have to share with you this time.
I'm sure that I will take some shots of the trail cam setup and should
have some other interesting shots to share with you next time. If
not I can always scan in some more wedding shots!
Well, it looks like
I have come to the end of another entry, which is a good thing since my
eyelids are starting to drop on me. It seems strange to think that
in just a little over a week I will be doing my snowfall forecasts!
For some reason I am extra excited to get the site into winter mode.
Must be something to do with being a married man or something like that!!!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
I have a feeling
that this is going to be a fairly lengthy journal as I do have lots of
things to write about. For you picture fans, I have 25 of them to
share. A good many of them are not of the Keweenaw, but are well
worth viewing none the less. Nora and I returned from our honeymoon
yesterday afternoon and I can finally spill the beans where we went.
We traveled to northern MN to the Voyageurs National Park and stayed at
the Ash Trail Lodge.
The owners Steve and Deb Wieber and their son Tom run the facilities and
just spoiled Nora, the hounds and I completely! They are actually
between seasons right now, so Nora, the hounds and I had the place to ourselves.
We stayed in one of their 10 log cabins, the Riverside, and even though
we were there for about 3 days it felt like it had become our home away
On the way there, we
decided to take the scenic route, traveling up the north shore of MN.
I have heard lots of things mentioned about the trip and figured we could
not go all the way to northern MN and not take in the drive along the north
shore. After passing through Duluth, we drove up the lake shore road
to Two Harbors. There is a route a little further inland that is
a 2 lane divided highway and I would say anyone traveling north could take
that. The shore road from Duluth to Two Harbors did not have too
much to do or look at. Once past Two Harbors, we came to a little
roadside park. It had been raining since going through about Ashland
WI, but was just lightly drizzling so we stopped to let the hounds stretch
their legs a bit at the Flood Bay wayside park. A little further
up the road was stop one of the two main things I wanted to see along the
north shore drive- Gooseberry
Falls. That was actually the upper falls. There are middle
and lower falls too. Nora grabbed the camera to take a shot of the
hounds and I at the upper falls. We did hike down to the middle
falls as well as it was just a few hundred feet away. Here is a shot
looking up at the
middle falls, with the bridge for the north shore road behind.
I actually walked out into the river and stood up on a rock formation to
take that shot. The view
downstream was also pretty dramatic. Looking to shore was also
a pretty sight, with Nora
and Burt watching me climb around on the rocks. I think Nora
was making sure I did not slip and crack my head open on the rocks and
Burt was just jealous of me walking around out there.
We did not hike down
to the lower falls or where the river runs into the lake. It was
in the low 40's and drizzling pretty hard and we did not feel like getting
all cold and wet, only to have to travel in the car a few more hours to
the Ash Trail Lodge. So we hopped in the car and drove up the road
a bit more to the second thing I wanted to see along the way and that is
the Split Rock Lighthouse(fsv).
That and the lighthouse at the Huron Mountains are probably the two most
dramatic on Lake Superior. There was a state park at the lighthouse,
but we were not sure if the dogs could go inside and we also knew we still
had a bit of traveling to do, so after taking some shots of the lighthouse
from that lookout, we piled into the car to head inland and then north.
The elevation changes
almost immediately as you travel inland from the lake. We took highway
1 that would take us from the lake shore up to Ely in northeast MN.
Hwy 1 is a very pretty route, but be warned... once west of Isabella, it
becomes very twisty and turny! I would suspect that there was not
a section of that road that went straight for more than a few hundred feet
before taking a sharp turn. There was also almost no shoulder, so
you really had to be on your toes while traversing the turns. It
reminded me a lot of the section of Hwy 41 that runs south out of Copper
Harbor, only make the turns a lot sharper (90 degrees + in many cases)
and put a lot more of them in there! The trip to Isabella was very neat.
The terrain is very hilly from the shoreline to Isabella and the little
hamlet of Finland is one area that I think I could actually live in.
It reminded me of the areas up around Gratiot Lake in the Keweenaw, with
the big elevation changes and almost no civilization. Both Finland
and Isabella are stations that report snow depth in the wintertime and
it was neat to see them.
Once we finally reached
Ely and our eyeballs stopped rolling around inside our heads, we had a
choice: travel southwest to Hwy 53 and then up to the Ash River or
take 116 on a more direct NW route to the little hamlet of Buyck and then
over to Orr and then up 53 a short trip to Ash River. 116 would be
shorter in distance, but was also marked as a gravel road on the map.
Nora and I were still feeling a little adventuresome and with 4 wheel drive
and a brand new set of tires we decided to see the unspoiled reaches of
far northeast MN. At first 116 was paved and after going about 3-4
miles, I thought our luck was going to be good. However, soon after
mentioning to Nora how it would be great if 116 was paved all the way to
Buyck, we ran out of pavement and also ran out of much straight road.
So the 60 or so miles from Ely to Buyck turned into a 2 hour long trip
through the MN backwoods. It was very pretty with the road going
by lots of lakes and swamps and I will add that the last 15-20 miles of
the gravel road was very straight, so we were able to increase our speed
quite a bit from the 25-30 mph that we had been traveling. Another
nice thing about 116 was that it was flat, with almost no washboarding.
So it probably took us longer, but we did get to see some areas that I
bet a great many Minnesotians have not seen.
Once in Orr, it was
nice to be back in civilization. We stopped at the local mart to
pick up some supplies for our stay at the cabin (it has a full kitchen)
as well as some gas and a snack for the last 30 minutes of the trip up
to the lodge. I can say that as pretty as the trip was, Nora, the
hounds and I were all very happy to have finally arrived. It had
been about 10 hours since we left Lake Linden and we were ready to be out
of the truck! Deb saw us pull in and met us at the door of the main
lodge. Steven and Tom arrived very shortly and after a bit of chit
chatting, we decided to head over to the cabin to get unpacked and cleaned
up a little bit, then head back over to the lodge to join them in a light
dinner and some conversation.
The Weibers are really
great folks- just the type of person you need to be to run a business like
that. They are actually from my old stomping grounds of the NW suburbs
of Chicago and bought the lodge about 4-5 years ago. Nora and I chatted
with them for several hours while Burt and Baileys played with their two
labs Tucker and Lilly. I had been up since 4:30 and actually did
not sleep well the night before, so I started to zone out at about 10 or
11 so we headed to the cabin to get some rest.
The cabin was very
cozy and made both Nora and I excited to build our log cabin. Baileys
had to do her usual bathroom break at about 1:30 in the morning, so I went
out with her. The night was clear and calm and the northern lights
were dancing in the sky on the northern horizon. I could have almost
stayed out there for a while admiring the show that mother nature was putting
on, but it was chilly so I headed back in to get some more sleep next to
my bride. We are all used to getting up early around here (including
the hounds) so we were all up before the crack of dawn. However,
being that far north and with the time change it was really about 8:15
by the time the sun rose. The clear calm night had allowed temps
to drop into the low 20's and a heavy frost was covering everything.
After Burt and Baileys had their breakfast I walked around the lodge's
grounds a little bit. We headed out to the namesake of the lodge
and caught the steam
rising as the sun rose over the Ash River (fsv).
The sun rose a bit more and I figured Nora was probably done getting herself
ready so we headed back to our
cabin so that Nora and I could have some breakfast. I'm not exactly
sure when this next shot was taken, but this is of the
hounds enjoying a rawhide treat in the cabin.
The main order of business
for the day on Thursday was to have Tom take us out on the waters that
the lodge is connected to, but it was decided by all of us the night before
to wait until about noon when the temps would be a little warmer.
So Nora, the hounds and I piled into the car to do some exploring of the
Voyagers National Park. There are actually several places where you
can drive to and explore the park by foot, but much of the park is actually
the lakes and islands sitting between MN and Canada. We lucked out
on two fronts as there was one of these automobile accessible areas about
1/4 mile away from the lodge and on our little exploration of that area
there were a handful of little hiking trails that we were able to go down
and get some exercise and enjoy the great outdoors. The first trail
just took us into the woods and there was not much to see, so we did not
go all the way to the end. The second trail wrapped around a beaver
pond and then up to a rock outcropping where you could get a birds
eye view of the pond itself (fsv).
The third trail that we happened upon took us to a little overlook of Lake
It along with Lake Namakan are the two main bodies of water that you can
access via the Ash River, although you can also get up to Rainy Lake and
it's waterway system via the Kettle Falls Portage and also down to Crane
and Sand Lakes via Namakan. In the summer this means thousands of
places to fish and in the winter it means tons of places to snowmobile.
I was actually surprised to find out from Steve that the snowmobile season
is actually their busiest.
While exploring the
overlook near lake Kabetogama, we spotted one
deer taking a drink at the waters edge. There was another one
a meal on the edge of some woods. Lots more deer up there than
we have up here that's for sure! Of course those were the smart deer,
they know there is no hunting within the park itself.
It did warm up, but
also clouded up so it was still a bit chilly for a boat ride, but Tom was
gracious enough to still want to take us out and show us what makes this
part of the world so special. Deb even joined us and brought along
a thermos of hot chocolate to help keep us warm. We all also wore
snowmobile pants and winter hats and gloves to help keep us warm for the
ride. I managed to stay very warm, with just my face getting a little
chilled. It was well worth the trip though as the main lakes of Kabetogama
and Namakan are within the the Voyagers National Park, so there is no development
allowed, which means that you have 1000's
of miles of shoreline with no buildings. Deb told us that we
missed the peak colors up there by about 4-5 days, but there were still
quite a few splashes
of gold in the birch stands that are along the lake. We made
it to Kettle Falls Dam and parked the boat to have a look around.
Kettle Falls Dam separates
lake Namakan from Rainy Lake. There is a portage service that will
haul you and your boat around the dam for a fee, so as long as you are
not on a huge houseboat you could head over to Rainy
Lake and boat and fish there too. Rainy actually connects with
Lake of the Woods via the Rainy River and eventually with Lake Winnipeg
and that connects with Hudson Bay. So it might be entirely possible
to get from the Ash River Lodge to Lake Linden or any other spot on the
Great Lakes, major river systems of the world or ocean if you wanted to.
Although it took us about 45 minutes just to see a fraction of the waterway
of Namakan. So one could probably take a week or so to see all there
is to see on Namakan and Kabetogama. We did not opt to do any fishing,
but they were still pulling crappie and some walleye out of the lakes up
there. I suspect it will not be too long before they are ice fishing
up there. Before ending our boating excursion Tom took us up river
from the lodge to show us the Ash
River Falls (fsv).
That night Nora and
I stayed in and she cooked a spaghetti dinner. All the hours without
sleep the night before finally caught up to me and I found myself falling
asleep at about 8:15 Keweenaw time or 7:15 local time! The next day
threatened rain or even some snow, so Nora and I planned to go and visit
the "Icebox of the Nation"- International Falls. The folks of Embarrass
MN have recently taken on the task of trying to dethrone "The Falls" as
International Falls is called by the locals. I think that Embarrass
might be able to do it as I think they are in a basin which allows for
temps to hit rock bottom on clear calm nights. We did pass by the
airport at the falls, that is where the temps for International Falls is
recorded and it just sits out in the open and maybe even at a higher spot
than much of the rest of the city, so it does not "benefit" from the effect
of the cold air draining into the low spots on a clear calm night.
In either case, it gets cold up there in the winter. 30-35 below
is not a major accomplishment and is hit several times a winter.
The weather was raining pretty hard when we were in the falls, so we did
not take any shots. We did find a little nature trail to take the
hounds on while the rains subsided for a bit, then it was back down to
the lodge to unwind after our busy day at International Falls.
Nora and I then headed
over to the lodge for dinner where I got one of the best bacon wrapped
fillets I have had since moving out of Chicago. I was told they cut
their own fillets from a tenderloin, so they can trim any fat and also
cut the portion to size. The lodge was open for dinner that night
and some locals came in to grab a bite to eat or have a few drinks or both.
The lodge sits within a community of other tourism businesses, including
a houseboat rental operation, and some private residences and everyone
knows each other and are all good friends. It is neat to see such
a community exist. It reminds me a little of the smaller towns of
the Keweenaw like Lake Linden, Mohawk, Lac La Belle, Eagle River, Eagle
Harbor and Copper Harbor.
We stayed and visited
for a while with Steve, Deb, Tom and some of the locals and then headed
it off to bed for our last night in northern MN. On Baileys light
night bathroom trip that night it was snowing and by the time daybreak
came there was a dusting down. That was their official first accumulation
for the season and certainly not their last. Nora and I had a quick
breakfast in the cabin and then packed up for the trip back. No side
trips on the way home, it was time to take the shortest and quickest route
home. There were some flurries down to about Virginia, then cloudy
skies through Duluth and some more flurries once we got into NW WI.
The lake snow belt became very evident as we neared the Hurley/Ironwood
area with flurries transitioning into light snow and then even some bursts
of moderate snow. No real accumulations in the Hurley/Ironwood area
though, a dusting in spots. It was snowing pretty hard as we made
our way to the northern end of Lake Gogebic and then on to Bruce Crossing.
I was actually expecting things to be pretty snowy in that area as they
can do pretty well with these early season events, so I was thus a little
surprised when we had just wet roads and no major accumulations to deal
with all the way to Bruce Crossing.
There was one last
stretch of road I was worried about and that was from about Mass City to
Toivola or South Range. That area too can get some decent snows with
these early season LES events. That section actually ended up bringing
about what I had anticipated- moderate to occasionally heavy
snow, with accumulations on the natural surfaces and even some slick
spots on the roads. The county
trucks were out and doing their best to keep the roads clear, but it
was actually snowing so hard from just north of Mass City north that after
about 10 minutes the roads were snow covered again. About a mile
south of Twin Lakes we came across a mini van that had left the roadway
and flipped on it's side while going into the ditch. There was already
another mini van parked at the scene and with no cell service I figured
the best thing we could do was to head up to Krupp's mini mart to see if
911 had gotten word of the accident. I went in to check with 911
and they had received the report and were sending help. While I did
that, Nora snapped a shot of the
field between the mini mart and Krupps Resort. There looked to
be about 3-4" down at that point. After that we got back on 26 and
headed north to Houghton and then Lake Linden. I expected things
to maybe become a bit better between Twin Lakes and Toivola and then worsen
between Toivola and South Range, but they just kept getting worse.
We ended up behind an elderly couple driving about 25 mph while riding
the breaks, so the usual 20 minute trip from Twin Lakes to Houghton took
about 35-40, but that's ok, the couple make it to their turn off at South
Range fine and I doubt I would have driven much faster as that early season
snow is very wet and very slippery.
We made it home just
fine and the roads did improve as we headed down the hill from South Range
past Atlantic Mine and into Houghton and Hancock. It was snowing,
but the roads were just wet all the way to Lake Linden. It snowed
and blowed all night and this morning we awoke to about an inch or two
in our yard. I decided to head up the hill to Calumet/Laurium to
see what they picked up. I knew that it had been accumulating up
there yesterday, so I figured there would be a good amount down this morning.
Best I could guess they had about 4-5" down in Laurium. The main
road was fairly clear, but the side
streets were rather messy. I did see the village plows out taking
care of the side streets though. It is neat to see some winter time
scenes and nice to take some wintertime
shots. Even the Laurium
Glacier was getting itself underway! Back at home, I did manage
to take the first
"winter" front of house shot. Not much, but a whole lot more
to come in the next few months.
Nora and I did take
the hounds to the School Forest for the afternoon walk. The colors
out there are still pretty in spots (fsv),
although I would guess by the end of this week, the trees will be mainly
bare. So we are back home and back to reality. It was a great
honeymoon and nice little getaway. My thanks to the Weibers for their
wonderful hospitality. Nora and I will be back to celebrate future
anniversaries! In just two weeks I will be bringing the site back
to full update status with the winter forecasts starting. I will
be setting up the trail cam this week as the things that needed to be taken
care of for that have been done. I also need to get things like the
bush protectors up, the snow station taken care of and some other pre-winter
tasks accomplished. It does seem strange to think that in just over
2 weeks October will be history and in about a month winter will be here!
I am ready!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Well, I think this
is a first. After finishing the journal and getting ready to upload
it, I was browsing the internet and went to the snowfall reports from the
NWS Marquette for the latest storm. There were a lot of 3's and 4's
for the stations and then I saw a 14! To make things even more exciting
it was for the station up at Phoenix Farms. So being the snow lover
I am, I just had to head up there. Nora was at the store getting
a few things for this week and when she got home I told her we just had
to go there. She accepted my offer and so the four of us piled into
the truck to head up to where the deep snow was. I ended up taking
a bunch more pictures so the total for this journal is now 38. I
believe that is a record for one journal entry. It is getting late
and I want to get this updated ASAP, so I will not do a big narrative to
go along with the shots. But for you snow lovers just Jonesing for
some snow pics, I think I have your medicine.
Here is a shot taken
at the end of the
Phoenix Farms Road. Notice the 2-3 foot plowbanks that were up
there? Here is an
old 2 track that goes into the woods (fsv),
someone had driven their 4 wheeler down it. I kicked down through
the snow until I hit bare ground and there was about 8-10" still on the
ground up there. A wet and heavy snow means lots of flocked
trees. First snow
ghost of the season and it's only October 17th! Some
more flocked trees. A swamp
coated in the heavy snow (fsv).
How about a frosted
cat tail? On the way back down Phoenix Farms Road with Lake
Superior and Isle Royal (fsv)
in the background. Back in the lower country, still some snow here
is a swamp at the
foot of the Cliff Range (fsv).
Looking up the snowy Cliff
sagging under the weight of the snow along side of Hwy 41. The
Range coated in snow. And last but not least, for those of you
thinking about coming up to ride, here is the
snowmobile trail. Looks like the trucks and ATV's beat you to
the punch. Only a month and a half to riding season! Now I'm
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Well, it's a
done deal. Nora and I are officially husband and wife! Everything
went absolutely perfect. The weather was beautiful, the church was
beautiful, the minister did a great job, as did all of the attendants.
Cathy and crew up at the Seasons Restaurant in Lac La Belle did a fantastic
job with our reception. Things could not have gone any better if
we had wanted. The only down side to the whole event is that all
of our family and friends have departed and we miss them! Nora said
when she drove by the motel where just about everyone was staying that
she felt sad knowing that it was not full of all the folks we love.
Who knows maybe we can figure out a way to get everyone back up here at
the same time again some day.
As mentioned the weather
was just perfect. It did rain Friday morning and then again during
the rehearsal at the church Friday evening. Even a few flashes of
lightning and claps of thunder occurred during the rehearsal. There
were a few innocent jokes about that being an omen, but then on the way
from the rehearsal to the rehearsal dinner most of the participants were
treated to the most amazing rainbow. It make an entire arc across
the sky and even seemed to have one end sitting right where we had the
rehearsal dinner. I'll take the thunder and lightning as a omen as
long as it is followed by such a magnificent rainbow. I did get a
little scare by the weather Friday night, in fact it was the only reason
why I did not sleep perfectly all night. Baileys woke me up at about
12:30 in the morning because she had to go and do her business. When
I let her out it was pouring rain and blowing winds at about 35-40 mph.
I went back to bed, but kept thinking that it was not suppose to be doing
that and tossed and turned for a while. I decided to get up and check
out the internet to see what was causing the rains and saw that it was
just a little lift by the upper air low moving through. The skies
were already clear across all of MN and the clearing line was working through
the Ironwood area, so I was able to climb back into bed and fell fast asleep
Saturday morning broke
with clear skies and some fairly strong winds. The winds kept blowing
until about 2:30 pm and then died off just in time for the wedding at 3.
After the ceremony we all caravaned up to the property to take some pictures.
That is where the picture posted yesterday was from. As you can see,
the colors were just about at peak. In fact I think that the peak
in most areas will end up being yesterday through tomorrow. Could
not have had it work out any better. We did stop by the house to
pick up the hounds on the way to the property and they
joined in on some of the picture taking. The shots I post here
were taken by my nephew Jesse with my digital camera, so in some of them
we may not be looking right at the camera because we were looking at the
photographer's camera. Everyone was a real trouper and did not complain
at all about trouncing through the woods to take the pictures. Believe
it or not the black flies were actually still pestering us!
After taking a bunch
of photos at the property, we all caravaned up to the beach at Bete Gris
to take the second round of photos. It was getting late in the day,
but the conditions were still perfect, with little to no wind, temps in
the low 60's, a calm lake and the bear bluffs providing the backdrop
for the pictures. There were a lot more pictures taken by the
photographer and perhaps I can scan a few of them in for a future journal
entry. After the photos at Bete Gris it was on to fill our bellies
up at the Seasons
Restaurant. As mentioned, Cathy and her crew put on a great spread
for us. The lodge was decorated just the way Nora had asked, the
food was outstanding and the service was spectacular. Tons of people
commented on what great food and service we had and I know that Nora and
I did not have to worry about a single thing. We got to sit and relax
and enjoy the whole experience. If there was any issues that came
up, the folks at the Lac La Belle Lodge handled it and we never even knew
about them. Actually, I do know of one issue that came up (I found
out after the reception was over). They did not have enough chairs
so they took the chairs out of their own house to use at the reception!
That's what I call genuine Yooper Hospitality!!! So my huge thanks
to Troy and Cathy Wescot the owners of the Lac La Belle Lodge, Dave the
chef and their bartender and wait staff for a perfect evening!!!
Troy and Cathy were also gracious enough to let us spend our first night
together as husband and wife in one of their cabins.
The hounds also spent
the night with us in the cabin and made sure to get us up in time for their
breakfast. We had plans to have breakfast a little later with some
of my friends I had not seen in ages, so Nora, the hounds and I did some
walking around and were able to catch the sunrise out over Lac
La Belle and got to see Mt
Bohemia become all lit up in autumn splendor as the suns rays came
over the hills to the east.
After having breakfast
at the lodge we took my friends down to show them the property and where
we planned to build. After that we went our separate ways, with Nora,
the hounds and I heading home and my friends heading to the Keweenaw Mt.
Lodge to play some golf. It was nice to get home and unwind a bit.
We were able to unpack and open the wedding gifts. It was another
beautiful day so the three of us headed over to the school forest for an
afternoon walk. I forgot to mention that we received our shipment
of ThinkSnow merchandise from the JohnDeestore.com website last week.
I know this will sound like a biased plug, but the stuff is really high
quality stuff. I ordered a couple of hats, a fleece vest, a long
sleeve and short sleeve t-shirt, a denim shirt and a fleece scarf for myself
and a fleece pullover for Nora (she wasn't home at the time I placed the
order so I didn't want to chance ordering too much for her in different
colors etc). As it turns out, she was wearing some of her stuff on
our walk yesterday and I was wearing some of my stuff so we each did a
little modeling. Here is Nora
and the hounds with some ThinkSnow stuff and here are the
hounds and I. Nora also managed to capture some
of the colors out there on our walk.
Today we stuck somewhat
close to home because the photographer was going to swing by and drop off
the prints this afternoon. Of course sticking close to home does
not automatically mean that there has to be a loss of quality to where
we go or what we do. We headed up to the tracks to take a walk and
colors on Normand Road up by the tracks were pretty much at peak (FSV).
It's so neat to walk
in the woods at this time of the year. The forest canopy is like
a stained glass window. Not sure if the hounds really care all that
much, but they did enjoy the walk just the same. Here is a
shot looking the "udder" way as a yooper would say.
So it's been a busy
last couple of days and even a last couple of weeks. I guess my attention
will soon be turning to the snow season that is just around the corner.
Nora and I will be leaving for our honeymoon Wednesday morning and coming
back this weekend. We both will be bringing our cameras, so I am
sure we will have some sights to share. It will be neat because this
will be the first time that either of us have been to where we are going.
I do not want to give away the spot as we plan to have a nice and quiet
time with just the owners of the resort. All I can say is that it
looks like it might snow there Friday!
Thanks to all of you
that have expressed your well wishes on the discussion boards and to those
of you who did so in a more private manner. Nora and I are on Cloud
9 right now, just as happy as too newlyweds could ever be. I will
leave you with one last photo. It is of one of the gifts that Nora
and I gave to the friends and family that came to the wedding. It's
jar of homemade raspberry jam, with a note thanking everyone for helping
us "preserve the day". I am glad we have at least one left over.
I do not know how long it can last, but I think it would be neat to open
it up 25 years from now to have with the breakfast on our 25th wedding
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Ok, so I lied.
I was able to find a few spare moments of quiet time to spit out a quick
journal. I will admit that it has been like Grand Central Station
around here for the past 2-3 days, but for some reason the hounds and I
are the only ones in the house right now. Nora is off getting her
dress and I am not allowed to partake in that event. My brother and
dad as well as Nora's brothers and dad all had breakfast this morning and
they have all taken off. I actually have some shots to share and
a few stories so I figured I would clear the slate so that the next entry
will be all about the wedding events.
First off, the colors
have been just exploding the past few days. We went from about 20%
changed to about 65-70% changed in the past 2-3 days and it looks like
either Sunday or Monday will be the peak. Not bad since Nora and
I were hoping we would be near peak for the wedding. The hounds and
I did go to the school forest yesterday and I forgot the camera.
It was raining earlier today, but later this afternoon it stopped enough
to allow us to get out there so my brother and I took the hounds while
Nora and her sister inlaw got their nails done. Here is a
shot taken in the same spot this shot was taken
last Tuesday. Here is another shot of how
the colors are coming along. As my brother and I were walking
along through the woods, we started reflecting on how my life will change
and everything that will be happening once I am married and I soon became
overtaken with fear and soon had my answer to avoid the fate that stares
me in my face, mans best friend in times of trouble - Hemlock.
Actually, that is just a little of my brother's dry sense of humor.
I am not worried, nervous or concerned at all. The rehersal is in
2 hours, then the hounds and I will spend a nice quiet evening at home
and then the big day.
I received the new
video that Rick Dobson made of us riding in the Keweenaw. It is the
raw footage version of the Born to Ride 3 video and I loved it. There
is no music and no fancy editing, but there is tons of great riding footage
and it's cool to hear the engines of the sleds roaring and hear the guys
laughing as someone as a mishap. It is about 45 minutes of us climbing
hills, carving up fields with about 18" of powder and some great jumping
as well. I'm really thinking that this could be a new concept to
the snowmobiling video industry- raw footage. I just talked to Rick
and he will have the "Raw and Uncut" DVD for sale at the Milwaukee Show
this weekend and by next week you will be able to order it on his website
dobsonentertainment.com So if you want to see what my riding with
my friends is all about, this is a great way to find out!
In other news... On
Wednesday I did get the boat running and Wednesday evening one of Nora's
brothers, his son, Nora's maid or honor's husband, his son and I launched
the boat and it passed the first test- it
floated! Not only did it float, it also ran and ran very well.
I was very happy and a little surprised at how well it ran and I look forward
to doing tons of exploring with it next summer. Wednesday's ride
in the boat was more of a shakedown, we did not go too far, but did head
into "The Cuts" to try a little fishing. I do not have a license,
so I just did some watching. No fish were caught at the cuts, but
I did take my first "from boat" shots. Here is a
shot looking south through the cuts. Here is a
shot looking towards shore. It was an absolutely perfect evening
to be out on the boat. The temps were in the upper 60's, almost no
wind and clear skies. Not something we expect to have up here in
October, but we sure will take it! The cuts are an area that sits
between the Torch Lake and the Portage Lake. There was a natural
water passageway that existed before man arrived and then when they arrived
in the area they dredged out a canal to allow ships to pass through and
service the mills that were built along the shores of the Torch Lake in
places like Lake Linden, Hubbell and Tamarack City. Another thing
about the cuts are that they are a death trap in the winter. There
is a current that flows through and the water is deep and thus ice is almost
never thick enough to support anything and many times I have seen open
water out there in the middle of winter. So if you are thinking of
going through that section in the wintertime, forget it!
On the way back to
the boat launch we stopped at a little fishing hole that Nora's brother
Joel knew about and the second cast resulted in a nice
smallmouth bass being brought into the boat. That was Tyler,
Nora's maid of honor's son, posing with the fish.
One of the activities
we have done in the past 2 days has been to go and try on the Tuxes.
Most fit pretty good- needing only minor changes like sleeves taken up.
A few were in need
of more dramatic changes. That was ring bearer Tyler and his
shirt that looked more fitting for his own wedding, not ours! It's
a good thing we went as soon as we could to try them all on. Only
one member of the wedding party has yet to be fitted and he will not likely
be able to try it on until a few hours before the wedding, so we are all
crossing our fingers on that one!
Yesterday morning I
needed to run to the store early in the morning. Well not early in
the morning for me, it was about 7:45 in the morning, but with the hours
of daylight getting shorter up here, 7:45 is daybreak.
That was a shot of the sun getting ready to rise on what I call Little
Torch Lake. It is the body of water that sits just north of the Lake
Linden Sands and is actually connected to the Torch Lake. I have
not taken too many shots that I felt were worthy of a full sized version
(FSV), but I think that
one was. The interesting thing about taking shots at daybreak
and sunset is that the sky conditions change by the minute. If you
want to capture a shot like I was able to yesterday, you either need to
be really good or really lucky or maybe have a bit of both. In my
case I think it was a lot of luck and a little bit of the other part.
In any case, here is what things looked like about
5 minutes later.
Taking those shots
was really one of those serendipitous events in my life. I was just
headed to the grocery store and saw that the sky was turning shades of
red with the rising sun, so I grabbed the camera. On the way to the
store I looked over to where the LL-H Football Field is and saw the beautiful
scene developing. As I took the shots and watched the sky changing
colors before my eyes I also thought about all the unexpected pleasures
I have had since moving up here and also thought about all that I will
be having in the future- especially with my beautiful bride. I have
yet to figure out what it was that I did to be able to deserve all of this
and it is possible that I may never know. But one thing is for sure...I
will try my hardest to never, ever take any of them for granted.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
It's been almost
a week, but I do have things to say and some pictures to share. First
off I can speak a little about the JohnDeestore.com site. The site
is alive and kicking and you can now get all the JohnDee.com merchandise
your heart desires. All of my profits from the sale of things from
the site is going to the Copper Country Humane Society. It's the
animal shelter for Houghton, Keweenaw and I believe Baraga counties.
They have been having a fund raiser to build a much needed new shelter
and are almost there. The community has really rallied behind this
effort. I really wanted to be a part of the helping hands, but wanted
to be able to keep giving, so that is why I decided to donate my profits
to them. I must add that I am not responsible for the upkeep of the
store site, nor am I responsible for the production and distribution of
the products sold. I have some partners that handle all of the hard
work, so if you have questions it is best that you go to the online store
and send an e mail from there. My partners have really worked hard
on this and the store is filled with lots of good stuff. So hopefully
it will take off like the site did and the animals of the Keweenaw area
that do not have a place to call home yet will be able to have a good life
until someone comes along to adopt them and all of you will get to enjoy
some ThinkSnow! - JohnDee.com stuff.
My second order of
business involves the video that was shot up here last February.
It is now available and several visitors have already purchased a copy.
I received mine last week and watched it. I have to be honest, I
was under the impression that it was going to be a video just about the
Keweenaw. Not me, but the Keweenaw. Don't get me wrong, I do
not think it is a bad video, I do think it is a good snowmobiling video.
I just felt that I might have misled all of you into thinking that it was
a video exclusively about the Keweenaw. I talked to Rick Dobson the
videos creator about this and he and I both agreed that perhaps another
video that contains the raw footage shot on those two days could be a pretty
good seller. So he has plans to produce a new video that will be
just the raw footage shot of the KSE crew and I. He will clean it
up a little, but he does not plan to put a soundtrack to it or do much
editing to it. I actually think that it could prove to be very entertaining.
I know when I watch videos like that I always wonder what else happened
and this video should show all of that. Some of the footage may not
be the most exciting (especially the shots of me riding!!), but there will
be some cool things that were not in the Born to Ride 3 DVD. All
of the guys, myself, Nora and Rick and his film crew watched the raw footage
after the last day's shooting, so I know what is there for him to put out.
Rick seemed to think that if all goes well with the current projects he
is working on, then it should be just several weeks or maybe a month or
so before the raw footage video is available. I certainly don't mean
to shy you away from the Born to Ride 3 video either, I just felt that
I needed to let you all know what it's contents were.
The third order of
business is to say that we had our first flakes of the season yesterday!
They were not much up here. More like snow pellets really.
But it was frozen precip and in the form of snow not sleet, so it did count
as the first flakes. It actually came down hard enough for a few
minutes that there was some on the ground. I technically could have
called it the first trace or more of snow, but felt like that might be
better saved for something a little more substantial. That actually
might be coming about a week from now. I did not take any pictures
of the snow, sorry!
Item number 4 (don't
ask me why this journal is turning out more like a business meeting, but
I fell into the theme and can't seem to get out!) is the trail cam.
For the past 2 years the cam was at a friend of mines house- in his back
yard. I went over last week to see about putting it up and he was
out of town. His mom did ask me if I would mind not putting it there
this year. I certainly did not want to overstay my welcome, so I
thanked her for the past 2 years of letting me put it there and started
to brainstorm for a new place. I believe I have found the new site,
it is the Wildlife Refuge Cabins in South Range. They have power
right at the trailside for an information board and all I need to do is
either figure out how to get a phone line down there or switch to one of
those stardot net cams and utilize it's wireless capability. So there
is a bit of work to be done and I will be a little pre-occupied this week
and parts of next week, but I really hope to have it up and going by Nov
1. Sorry I could not have it up in time to catch the color change
this year, but some things happen that are out of my control!
The fifth item of business
is the color change itself. It is moving along and it looks like
either late this weekend or more likely sometime next week will be the
peak. There are some spots that have almost no color change yet,
while others are probably 65-70% of the way there. If you are planning
on coming this weekend, they should be pretty good. Plus the weather
looks to be very good. Nora and I look to really luck out with the
weather. Highs Saturday in the upper 50's and mid 60's by Sunday,
with tons of sun both days. This past Saturday Nora, the hounds and
I took to the School Forest for a walk. The colors out there are
probably the least along of almost anywhere up here. I don't know
why, but they are. Of course there are some
colors out there, but I'd have to say that the trees out there on Saturday
were 10% changed or
The hounds and I went
back out there today and the trees looked to be a little further along,
but in one spot they had
not even begun to change. Then a little further up the trail
there were a few trees that were pretty
well along. This last shot taken out there today probably best
represents how things are out there. Some
color, but about 20% or so. I can say that if past years are
any indication of this year, once the trees finally start to go for good,
it seems to take about a week until they are at their peak.
Nora, the hounds and
I also traveled north this weekend and traveling through the valley we
saw some of the most dramatic colors of the season so far, so today the
hounds and I decided to head up the valley and go check out the property.
We came across one of the areas that is close
to 70% changed. There are actually quite a few areas in the Valley
that look like that. Again I am not sure why, usually it seems like
the higher elevations up here change first but this year it is the Valley.
The hounds and I stopped off at the property and had a look around.
Since we had already been walking out at the School Forest, we did not
do too much at the property, but on the way home, I did stop to take a
shot of a section
of the property as seen from the road. The building spot is about
150-200 feet beyond the tree line.
So that is what has
been going on up here. Yesterday snow and today 65 degrees and sun.
The rest of the week looks pretty good and I was actually out trying to
get the boat running. Seems that the solonoid for the starter decided
to quit on me so I had to take that out and a new one will be arriving
tomorrow. It looks like we could get to use it Thur and Fri.
Nora's family will be arriving for the wedding tomorrow and Thursday and
mine will be coming Thur and Friday. I am not sure when the next
journal will be, but there is a good chance that I will be a married man
when I write it! So...Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..