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Past Journals
Construction
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George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam

Oct 28-
    I was hoping to update this sooner, in fact I have been working on a special project for several days now.  I initially thought it would only take a day or so to complete, but it turned out to be a much larger endeavor that I thought.  In any case, it is done and it is a photo album of the work up at the property to date.  I have done two albums, one for the clearing and prep work and another for the shop.  I plan to do one for the cabin and one for the log home as well, plus as any further work is done on the shop, that album will be added to.  You can see the albums here, plus I have added a link to them at the top of the journal page, so it will always be that close.  I hope that you all enjoy them, I know I actually have looked through them several times and will be a neat thing to have.  We have actually taken even more pictures than that and I have them stored away digitally, someday I suppose we may do a hard copy album.
    My other project this week has been to install the new weather station and get ready to add the cam to the property.  Yes, there will be a new web cam up at the property.  I will be calling it the "Construction Cam" while the construction is going on and then when we are all done with the construction, I will move the cam out into the woods and it will become the "Wildlife Cam".  The computer for the cam came yesterday- Thanks Paul Z!!! and the cam I was hoping to use with it did not want to run on it, so I got a different cam and hope to get everything up and running by this weekend.  For me, I think it will be neat to be able to see what is going on up there when I am not there.  For you I think it will be neat to follow the construction almost live and also be able to see what is going on up there at other times of the day.  Who knows, I may even put a few goodies up there to draw in some wildlife while there is no construction going on the rest of this autumn and early winter (the snow will be too deep to be able to get in with feed once winter really sets in).  I don't think I'll do anything too special, maybe just some apples or something.
    The weather station arrived on Wednesday and I spend Wed and Thur working on that.  Unfortunately the anemometer did not work, so I called Davis and they were great about helping me check to make sure it was setup right and then when that did not help, told me they would be sending me one out right away.  So about midweek next week the anemometer will be here and on Monday the software to be able to display the data on a computer and upload it to the internet will be here.  So sometime later next week or perhaps the following week I should be displaying weather data on the Al Cam page and actually plan to setup a separate weather conditions page with some cool charts and stuff.
    My other bit of news is that I have a new ride for the upcoming season.  Well, I actually do not have physical possession of it yet, but I do have a picture or two of it.  It is a 2005 RMK 800 with a 159" track on it.  It's kind of funny, if you had told me 3 years ago if I would have ever been riding a sled with a 159" track on it I would have said you were crazy.  3-4 years ago we were all just getting into the long track thing, except for Brian who had a Powder Special with a 136" track, and we all seemed to think 144" was as big as we would ever need.  Seems that every year we find more and more challenging places to go and more horsepower and track is wished for.  So, that's my new ride.  I was fortunate enough to be able to once again be treated to a great deal by my friends at CrashedToys.com.  My plan is to keep the 700 RMK as a backup and put the Pol-Cat up for auction on CrashedToys.com.  I will also be taking $500 of the money made on the auction of the Pol-Cat and donate it to the proceeds being raised for the Make-A-Wish foundation at this years inaugural JohnDee.com SnowFest Ride in.  So start saving your money! I will be sure to let you all know a few weeks in advance when the Pol-Cat will be up for auction.  It still really is a great little sled.  It still fires up on 2-3 pulls and with the clutch work that Al did for me a few years back, it still has a great hole shot and can run like the wind.  If I had any need for it at all, I would be keeping it, but I figure we really do not need the sled and it will be nice to be able to make a contribution to the Make-A-Wish Foundation as well.
    Speaking of the Ride-In, there are still about 30 spots available.  Not that I think we need to have all 100 spots filled, but that would be a neat thing.  We are starting to collect some nice prizes for a raffle we plan to have and I know we have some decent guides lined up for the informal rides.  We even have a little surprise or two lined up for EVERYONE that is registered.  This being the first year we are trying not to take on too much, but if this works out well and we make it an annual event, then I have some new ideas for next year that should make it even more attractive.  Who know, maybe some day this will be one of the premiere snowmobile events of the season.  The way things have happened with this site, one never knows!
    The weather up here has been not so good.  Not bad, but lots of clouds and we were dodging raindrops earlier in the week.  That has not stopped the hounds and I from going out into the woods. We took to the School Forest on Tuesday, but I forgot to bring the camera, so no shots of that.  On Thursday we went up to the tracks for our walk and I did bring the cam.  The trees are just about bare, kind of late this year.  I think this was just a strange year for the colors all the way around.  They took longer to change and they also took longer to drop their leaves.  In some areas there are still about 50% of the leaves on the trees.  Probably a good thing we did not get a snowstorm yet. On the walk Thursday we happened along a couple of guys out checking the trails and signs on the trails.  They have about 2 weeks left before that work has to be done.  Main firearm season starts the 15th of November and then runs right up to the date that the trails could open if there is enough snow.  Only about 20-25% of the seasons do we have enough snow to open the trails on December 1st, but in many years there is enough snow by the 8th or so.  It was strange to be walking up there and thinking that in just over a month I could be snowmobiling down it!  Things sure change in a hurry around here this time of the year.
    Today was a beautiful day, with clear blue skies and temps warming into the upper 50's and low 60's.  I took advantage of the warmer temps to wash the truck.  I want to touch up the paint on the rocker panels before the winter hits and we have to deal with the salt.  Ever since the state took over the state highways, they have been using a lot more salt on the roads than sand.  I liked the old way with sand.  I suppose salt is safer because it keeps the roads more free of ice or packed snow, but it seemed like everyone up here knew how to handle the roads just fine.  Sometimes it would take a snowstorm or two for some, but once the roads were snow packed for a week, everyone was back into winter driving mode and we all got around just fine.  Oh well, progress I guess.
    I also took advantage of the nice day to take the hounds to the park. Looking out over the Torch Lake, it looked like it would have been a good day for one last boat ride.  Not a boat to be found though.  I think most of them have been put away for the season, their spots on the lawns and driveways being replaced by plow trucks.
    It's funny, I run into a lot of locals that whether they like snow or not seem a little anxious.  Not necessarily anxious for the snow to come, but anxious for what this winter will bring.  There seems to be a true nervousness in many of the folks that all the warm weather we had this summer and autumn will be paid for this winter.  I don't have the answer to that, but I sure hope so!  I am not personally anxious for the snow to arrive.  It would be neat to see a quick inch or so fall, but it will melt this time of the year anyway.  In two weeks I bet my patience level will be a whole lot different if we have not had any snow yet and none is in the forecast.  After all, we get a fairly healthy amount of snow up here on average.  Keweenaw counties average for November alone is just 8" shy of Chicago's entire seasonal average!  Well, I guess that about covers it for this one.  Enjoy the photo albums, I know enjoyed making them!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

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Oct 23-
    It's been over a week and unfortunately I do not have much to talk about.  I can start out by saying that the workshop is officially done for the season.  Thursday morning I hung the garage door and Friday morning I attached the torsion spring and then Saturday Nora and I did some final cleaning up of the left over wood.  There is still some wood that I used for siding to store in the garage, but I am going to wait until we get the wood for the cabin stored and store it with that stuff.  So here is a shot of the shop as it looked when I was leaving this afternoon. Next spring I will still have to do the battons, a tiny bit of trim work and then stain/seal the wood.  Plus I will need to haul the workshop up there, but it is safe to say all construction for this season has ended.
    I must admit that I have missed having to go up there and work this past week.  As mentioned I did have to go up and install the garage door and had a lot of fun doing that. Both Thursday and Friday mornings were crisp with temps sub freezing, but also clear skies.  With power now going at the property, I did not have to have the generator going so it was nice and peaceful up there and I was even able to have a little radio going.  The phone was installed on Thursday too, so except for water (just needs to be brought in from the road), all the utilities are going at the property now.  However, it seemed all week like I was going through withdrawal from doing work up there!  I seemed to be trying to come up with an excuse to head up there and do something, anything!  This morning I had a few things I "needed" to do, so Nora, the hounds and I headed up there, I did what I needed to in about 10 minutes and we spent the rest of the morning exploring the woods.  Nora and I want to put some walking trails in up there that will also double as ski trails in the winter.  We only have 10 acres up there, so it's not like we will have this big extensive network of trails, but I think one that runs the perimeter of the property and a few that weave their way through the interior will be enough to provide some places to go and get some exercise.  If we are feeling overly energetic, then we can just do a couple of laps!
    The weather has turned decidedly autumn like.  It was cold, cloudy and rainy all day yesterday. So I built a fire and Nora and I spent the entire afternoon in front of the fire watching TV.  I have not had an afternoon like that in a long time and it seemed really strange.  I must admit I am not a big TV guy, so for me to spend the entire afternoon in front of it was strange.  I actually developed cramps in my legs from not standing or walking for so long.  Yesterday was also the first fire of the season and that was nice.  Something about a fire that really relaxes me. I plan to have just a wood stove in the cabin, but will have at least one rumford firebox in the log home.
    Nora got me a really neat gift for our first anniversary.  There is a guy up here, Rick (actually one of our neighbors down the street) that has an aerial photography business called SkyPixs.  So Nora hired him to take some aerial photographs of the property and we get to pick two that he will get blown up so that we can frame.  Here is a shot of the workshop that I have not shown before.  Here is a shot of the property itself. I outlined the rough boundaries of our land.  The building is all going on in the upper left hand side of the property.  What I think is something is that you cannot even see the workshop in the one shot. That is just how I wanted it, all nice and tucked away.  The one close up of the workshop was taken last Sunday with the other being taken more towards the beginning of the month. Neat pictures and a really neat present I think!
    About the only other thing going on up here is the slow march through autumn.  As I mentioned in the previous journal, the color change has been slower to play out this season than in others.  The same can be said for the dropping of the leaves.  They have been dropping sure, but slower than they normal do.  I can remember one year when it took less than a week to go from not quite peak to bare trees.  The trees up here right now are about 70% bare and I would suspect they will be completely bare in a week or so.  Early last week we met up with Nora for a walk at the Tech Trails and the woods there were at peak.  I was fortunate enough to be able to snap a nice picture of the colors.  I have not had too many shots worthy of a full sized version in my journals lately, but I think that one deserves one.
    Well, I think that about covers it for this one.  This is sort of a slow time of the year for things to write about and now that the shop is done for the season, the writing material may be hard to come by.  I can say that in a week or so I will be starting up the snowfall forecasts.  I have not yet decided if I will just start on Nov 1st or wait until there is some snow in the forecast.  I have enjoyed my time off, but am ready to go.  The lack of snow up here so far does not worry me at all.  In fact, it may be a good omen.  I close with that thought!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Oct 15-
    I'm getting better at this updating thing, every 4-5 days rather than a week!  I have a confession to make though.  I lied, actually not a lie, a honest mistake.  This weekend was the peak for colors from about the Houghton/Hancock area north, not last.  For some reason, the color show was longer this year than in past.  Usually it only takes about 3-4 days to go from 50% changed to past peak.  This year we were already past 50% changed last weekend and this weekend is definitely the peak.  So I hope I did not screw up too many folks plans for the color show.  In my defense, in a normal year if we are past 50% changed on one weekend, by the following weekend, the trees would be 1/2 bare.  I bet by next weekend, the trees are 75% bare.  Looking at the trail cam, those trees are already 75% bare.  I do have some color shots to share with you and will get to those in a minute.
    It seems like a lot of you have been interested in the construction process and I can say that I am officially done making sawdust for the season.  Not quite done with the work for the season and there will be some sawdust to make for the shop next spring, but no more dimensioning lumber for this build season.  I had another short week (or long weekend depending on how you want to look at it) this week.  I took Thursday and Friday off again.  Nora also took Thursday and Friday off and we took advantage of the time off from our regular daily work to work at the property!  I actually did some work on Monday and Tuesday and can say that I can drive the Valley Road with my eyes closed now, thanks to my 2-4, sometimes 6 trips on it a day in the past month!  Not complaining though as it is a very pretty drive anytime of the season, but really is pretty with the color show going on.
    Anyway, on Thursday Nora and I were able to get the siding on the upper part of the front of the shop hung and I was quite happy to not have to climb way up on a ladder anymore that I decided to do a little celebrating.  I went back up on Thursday afternoon and took care of trimming the bottoms of those boards up and then Friday morning Nora and I took care of the bottom boards.  I then framed out the openings for the entry door and the garage door and today we took care of the trim work around the doorways and this afternoon I did a bit of odds and ends work and then hung the entry door.  This is what things looked like at the end of business today.
    Really hard to imagine that just over a month ago there was nothing but a pile of sand there.  I can honestly say that I have enjoyed about 95% of the work we have done to build this thing.  The other 5% I will not talk about as I try my best to keep this a clean, family oriented site!  I can also say that I am not burned out at all.  If the weather and financial resources permitted me to be able to start in on the cabin, I would be out there tomorrow.  Of course I still need to hang the garage door on the shop, so maybe Monday I would be starting in on the cabin, but the bottom line is that I am not burned out at all and things went about as well as I could have ever hoped it would.  The only thing that was more work than I imagined was the roof and I will be ready for that the next time!
    I can also say that the building is really rock solid.  Yesterday I was inside doing something when this huge gust of wind hit.  Leaves were blowing all around, even some sand from in front of the building was picked up.  But the building did not even creak in the wind.  I think all that 1" thick wood siding really strengthened the whole building up a ton.
    The crew that the power company sub-contracts to do the preliminary work for bringing power in was out there on Thursday and Friday.  They actually do more than I thought they would.  The buried the power cable from the point where they will tap into the existing powerline all the way to my hookup.  Plus they put in the transformers for me and my neighbor.  So now the power company needs to drop a pole in where they will tap into the existing service, make connections there, at the transformers and then at mine and my neighbors meter boxes and I will have power.  They also ran a phone line at the same time the ran the power and I think I will be setting up a phone line ASAP as it looks like I will be putting a web camera out there.  A friend of the site was generous enough to offer to donate a computer for the cam, so I will go out and get a cam and once power, phone and the computer arrive, we will have a new cam to watch in the Keweenaw.  My plans are to put a snowstick out there for the winter, then aim the cam at the site for the cabin.  Then when we are building the log home I will have the cam pointed in that direction and once we are all done constructing the cam will become a wilderness cam.  I will put it out in the woods at the property and put out a few treats out there for the critters to come and enjoy.  I am sure that squirrels, deer, bear and coyote will be seen and who knows, maybe a bobcat or even a wolf.
    The funny thing about the whole power thing is that it looks like I will be all hooked up just when I don't need it for construction anymore!  Not really the power company's fault though.  I had to wait until I had something that we could run power to before I could put the order in.  I sent in the work order a little less than 2 weeks ago, so all in all, I think they have been pretty fast with their response.  Sure would have been nice to have power this past week or so.  The generator worked like a charm, but it sure makes a racket.
    So that's the story with the construction.  Almost done for the season, but still more to do next spring.  As mentioned, the colors are at their peak in my neck of the woods.  On Thursday afternoon, we all took to the woods to walk the tracks up behind our house.  It really was a really nice walk, with all the colors, an autumn chill in the air and my three best friends.  As we walked down the trail through the cathedral of yellows and oranges, it was hard to imagine that in just a little over a month and a half we could be snowmobiling down that same exact path.  I can't believe that October is half over.  It seems like it was Labor Day just a few days ago!
    On our way back from the morning work session at the property today, I snapped this shot of St. Joe's in Lake Linden with the color show popping behind it.  There are sights like that all over the place.  You would think that with things so beautiful up here it would be easy to take tons of pictures.  I suppose that could be true, but on the flip side I always try and look for the out of the ordinary photo op and they can be few and far between.  However, on my way home from the property yesterday I did spy an unusual scene.  It actually contained all four seasons in one view.  As I was entering into the north end of the valley, I spotted a rainbow.  That was spring and summer.  Above the rainbow snow was falling from the base of the cloud (white streaky stuff just beneath the cloud), that was winter.  On the ground were the autumn colors- that was autumn.  Not often you can have all four season represented in one picture.
    Today between work sessions at the property, Nora, the hounds and I took a walk at the School Forest.  The colors were at peak there too.  One of my favorite sights when the color show is going on is the contrast between the yellows and oranges of the maples and birch trees vs. the dark greens of the conifers.  A little taste of it in this shot.  My final shot of the day is of one of the trails winding through the school forest.  Nothing too fancy, but a good representation of what we got to enjoy this afternoon.  This truly is God's country!
    With the work at the property just about wrapped up for the season we will be able to turn our attention to all the chores to do here around the house.  The gardens need to be cleaned up a bit, the grass can be cut and in a week or so we will be able to rake the leaves.  Then there is the gutter removal and last but not least setting up the snow station and bush protectors.  So it would seem that I have enough to keep myself occupied until the snow starts to pile up.  Probably a good thing, I will not be driving myself and Nora crazy waiting for it to start to pile up!  Talk to you all again soon.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Oct 10-
    Well, the honeymoon is over!!!  Not the honeymoon way of life, but Nora and I are no longer newlyweds.  In ways it seems like a year has passed but in more ways, it does not seem like it has been a full year since we were married.  One thing is for sure, it has been a great year and I am a lucky man.  I am looking forward to at least 50 more!
    It is finally staring to feel like autumn around here and sure looks like it too.  In my last journal I forgot to mention that we had to turn the heat on for the first time all season last Thursday.  The old house just could not stay warm enough any longer.  The furnace kicked on just fine and really did not need to work too hard, but with temps in the 50's and a heavy overcast we could not stay warm on our merits alone.  We actually had our first flakes of snow up here on Friday as well.  Friday morning I went up to Calumet and there was snow on the roof tops and cars.  The grass and roads were just wet, but there was white up on top of the hill!  We had snow flurries here in Lake Linden briefly Friday morning.  Not enough to accumulate- except for Burt's back which was white for a brief moment.  It was nice to see the first flakes of the season fall and it sure did get me thinking a little about things to come.  I really do not know what kind of a winter we will have, but lots of locals seem to think it will be a rough one and the wood piles sure are big! Only time will tell, but I just have a feeling that things will be fairly timid for another month or so, then around the start of main deer season, it's just going to cut loose.  Hope I'm right.
    I must say though that as neat as it is to have seen our first flakes, I really am glad that we have been having the weather we have been having for the past several days, rather than the snow places like Denver is having.  Snow this time of the year just melts off anyway and makes everything messy.  Sort of like winter down where I came from.  The snow comes and then melts off and just makes things messy.  Once the storm finally wrapped up last Friday, our weather has been picture perfect autumn weather with highs in the 50's and even some low 60's and lows in the 30's.  We had a hard freeze several nights ago and just about every morning we have had frost as well.  Lots of blue skies too.  Yep, I'll take blue skies and temps in the 50's and low 60's over just about anything this time of the year.
    With the rains starting up last Monday night and continuing pretty steadily through Thursday we did not do a lick of work on the workshop Tuesday through Thursday.  I did run to Marquette to pick up a few items and return a few items on Wed as mentioned and on Friday we were able to get back to work on things.  Nora took Friday off from work as did I and we went up to the property to get some work done that morning.  We were able to get the upper portion of the back of the shop sided and I liked the way it turned out.  It was actually more work than I thought it would be, especially having to climb the ladder about 4 dozen times to make all the cuts as well as secure the boards.  On Saturday we took Nora's grandmother for a color tour in the midday and then headed up to the property (pics from the tour to follow in a bit).  We also decided to bring the hounds along to help us.  Nora and I were able to get quite a bit of work done on Saturday, finishing one side and almost all of the lower portion of the back.  There was just one small area of the back that we could not side because we ran out of trimmed boards, so I had the hounds and Nora pose for me in it.
    On Sunday we had plans to head up and finish the back and the other side.  We went and cut a bunch of boards and then finished up the lower portion of the back and just as we were getting started on the side, the air nailer died on me.  Turns out some part of the trigger mechanism broke, so it will have to be sent in.  I really did not feel like hammering in all those nails by hand and quite honestly I did not even have enough loose nails available to get the siding up.  So Nora and I spent the better part of the morning cleaning things up a bit.  We had a few extra sheets of roofing that we put up in the rafters and we cleaned and straightened up the wood piles.  I always like to get my shop all cleaned up and straightened up at the end of a project, but I must say that it is nice to have things all clean and organized now.  You can see the wood piles are starting to shrink too!  Here is a shot of the one side that was completed and here is a look at the inside with the side and back walls done.  Eventually the walls and ceiling will be insulated to sort of finish out the shop, but for now we'll be going with the rustic look.
    Today I went and picked up some screws and Nora and I went up and just about finished up the other side.  All I need to do is trim the bottom of the siding and secure the bottoms as well.  Once that is done, then all we have left to do is put the siding up on the front of the shop as well as hang the steel entry door and garage door.  Both Nora and I are taking Thursday and Friday off and I plan to do some work in the afternoons/evenings tomorrow and Wed, so we should be pretty close to being wrapped up by this weekend.  My only unknown is how long it will take to put up the garage door.  I am not stressing it at all, but I have not done anything like that before, so I cannot estimate the amount of time it will take.  In any case it will be neat to wrap up construction for the season.  There will still be some work to do next spring like seal the concrete floor and stain/seal the siding.  I also am leaving the siding short on the sides to allow for airflow, but I do not want birds and/or bees to build nests up there, so I will be putting some screening in those openings to keep them out.  But, once the garage door goes up, then we will throw the boat and other things we want to store in there for the winter, lock things up and call it a season.  Probably none too early either as there are plenty of chores around this house to do to get ready for winter.
    Part two of this journal will be a little sampling of the color tour we took on Saturday and also some shots we took on Sunday.  The plan Saturday was to head up to the harbor and have lunch, taking the valley road up to Copper City and then over to Cliff Drive and then 41 up to the harbor.  Saturday morning it was still overcast, but the colors were still pretty vibrant.  Had you walked out of the Vansville Bar Saturday, this would have been the view straight ahead of you. The color show in the "tunnel" between Delaware and the harbor was it's usual brilliance.  I tried snapping a shot while slowed down, but still traveling along that stretch of road.  A little blurred, but there really are not too many spots to safely stop along that stretch of 41.
    After a yummy lunch at the Mariner in the harbor, we headed back down towards home, taking a slightly different route.  This time we pealed off of 41 just east of Delaware and took the Delaware Crosscut Road to Eagle Harbor.  Nora wanted to stop in at the Jampot to get some muffins for a treat and I thought the crosscut would be a nice way to go.  It was and I spaced taking a picture, but imagine the last shot only with a gravel road.  After picking up some treats at the Jampot we headed down through Eagle River and then I took 5 Mile Point Road.  There is a stretch of that road that once you are away from the lake will be as colorful as anywhere up here and it did not disappoint Saturday either.
    Yesterday we took to the School Forest for our afternoon walk.  It was one of those picture perfect autumn days, with temps in the upper 50's and cobalt blue skies.  The contrast between the colors in the trees and the colors in the sky was just amazing and I tried to capture some of that with this shot.  Quite honestly, I could have spent the rest of the afternoon out there walking around and just enjoying the day and the company of Nora and the hounds, but Nora and I had an anniversary to celebrate and wanted to go up to Lac La Belle and have dinner at the Seasons Restaurant which is where we had our reception last year.  So after a nice hours walk in the School Forest, we headed home and got cleaned up for dinner.  The color show was going full force up at Lac La Belle and they were running the chair lifts at Mt. Bohemia for folks to go to the top and take it all in.  We did not partake in that activity, but after dinner we headed over to a locals place who was having his annual fish boil.  On the way over we passed by the Lac La Belle Post Office, which is probably one of the most colorful PO's there is this time of the year!  They are dredging out the boat launch at Lac La Belle, quite the operation and I am sure it will be a nice improvement for folks wanting to drop a boat in the water up there.
    Today the plan was to do a little boating of our own.  Nora gets home a little after three on Monday's, so the hounds and I were waiting for her to come home so that we could take old JHIF (Just Happy It Floats) for one last ride before putting her away for the winter.  We headed down to the Bootjack boat launch because I wanted to head south to the lower entry and then maybe even over to take some shots of the Jacobsville Lighthouse from the water.  We got JHIF in the water, but she did not want to start.  It almost turned over once, but then just would not even kick, so rather than try and monkey with it too much, we just pulled her back out of the water and headed home.  So instead of some nice color shots from the water, this is about all we were able to accomplish this afternoon!  Not sure what the problem was and not sure I am even going to fuss with it before putting it away.  Kind of a bummer, but the hounds got to go for a swim and seemed as happy as if we had gone for a boat ride, so all was not lost!
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this time around.  Who knows, maybe the next time I write I will be able to show you pictures of a finished workshop.  Well see!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Oct 6-
    Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, I am actually not waiting a week to write a new journal!  Truth is, it has been raining for about 3 days straight now and there really is not much else to do!  We have been having some wild weather.  A new record high of 81 degrees on Monday and more amazing than that was the dewpoint: 68!  I suppose some of you might be thinking to yourself: "68 degree dewpoint, big deal!".  Well let me just say that a 68 degree dewpoint is a pretty rare occasion in the heart of the summer, let alone on October 3rd.  There are no records kept for dewpoint at the airport, but that had to have been a record not only for the day, but for the month and probably a record for any day in the weeks prior to it.  The funny thing is that while I could certainly feel the humidity, it did not seem as bad as a 68 degree dewpoint does in the summer.  Neither did the 81 degree high temperature.
    The front arrived overnight Monday night and cooled us down about 30 degrees, with temps running in the 50's all day Tuesday and yesterday as well.  The front basically sat right over us both Tuesday and Wednesday and the strong temperature contrast on either side of it persisted as well.  Tuesday morning I saw that Duluth was at 54, while about 60 miles away as the crow flies Hayward WI was 78 degrees.  That's a 24 degree temperature difference in just 60 miles.  Pretty impressive.  Yesterday afternoon I traveled to Marquette and it was partly sunny and in the upper 70's to low 80's while in the Keweenaw temps were in the mid 50's and rain.  Driving to and from Marquette reminded me of when I travel by airplane.  Many times the place I leave has very much different weather than the place I am flying to.  That was the case yesterday.  It seemed like I was going from Florida back to Lake Linden, not Marquette back to LL.
    A strong temperature gradient like that can also fuel a strong storm and that is exactly what we got.  As mentioned, it has been raining since late Monday night, with just a few brief intervals with dry weather.  All told I think we are closing in on about 5" of rain since Monday night.  There is about 4" of rain in the overflow portion of my collector and the inner collector holds 1" exactly.  I think it's safe to say that our drought is over!  I cut the grass for the first time in 13 weeks just a few days ago and it already needs it again!  At least it all greened back up again.  I was a little worried that our dry summer may have done it in.  Really something how we can go for about 2 1/2 months with around an inch of rain and then get nearly 5 inches in just 3 days.  Places to our south and west have received even more than that.  NW WI was also struggling through a drought and areas there have picked up 5-10" of rain since Monday.
    Of course on the back side of this storm it has been snow.  First the mountains of the northern Rockies and then the northern Plains, with over a foot of snow in eastern MT and western ND.  We could pick up some snow tonight, but I kind of have my doubts.  I do think that the higher elevations away from the lake might get some, but it looks like this storm used up a lot of it's snow making energy in the northwest Plains.  It looked like NW MN would get into some snow last night and I don't believe they ever did.  That's ok, I am not worried about getting our first snow.  It will come and it can now!
    On Monday, Al and I finished up the roof on the shop!!!  I should really say Al did, as he was the only one up on the roof.  However, I did help by lifting the panels up onto the roof as well as screw down the edges.  He got the last screw into the ridge cap just about the time the last bit of twilight was fading Monday evening.  Pretty good timing too, as it started raining about 5 hours after that and as mentioned has not really stopped!  I have not been out there to do much work since Monday evening.  I did go out there with the hounds on Tuesday just to see how it survived the strong winds we had early Tuesday morning with some storms as the front came through and all was well.  It is so neat to be inside, look up and see a roof!  The other thing that was neat to do on Tuesday was to look off to the side and imagine having this view out my window while working on some wood working project.  For about 20 years it has been my dream to have a woodworking shop somewhere out in the northwoods and I really cannot believe that dream is actually coming true!  What will really be neat is to be inside working on some project and look out at 4 feet of snow on the ground with snow falling too!  It just gets my heart thumping thinking about it.  I am also excited to have lots of space and to be able to start from scratch in setting up the shop.  I'll be able to put things right where I want them and have tons of space.  Of course you can never have enough space for a workshop, but I think I'll be fine for at least a few years!  Plus it will be nice to have all my equipment right on scene when we build the cabin and log home.  No more hauling tools back and forth and no more starting up a generator every time I need power.
    As you might have seen in the photos of the shop, the colors are really going strong up at the property.  Here is a shot of just the trees up there.  That is actually where the log home will be going some day.  Nestled back in amongst those maples.  That is also where our wedding pictures were taken just about a year ago.  Seems hard to believe it has been a year already!  Time sure flies when you are having fun!  I sure am a lucky guy to have been able to find Nora.  Life sure is fun with her in my life!  I don't know who loves her more, me or the hounds.  Every day they hear her pull up into the driveway when she gets home from work and they run to the door so I can let them out and they can run out to her and greet her as she gets out of the truck.  Yep, we are ALL very lucky indeed!
    As for the color show across the region, I'd have to say that this weekend will be the peak weekend for sure.  Some areas may not be quite at peak, while others may be a little past, but in general most areas will be at peak.  Nora and I plan on a color tour this weekend and I am actually hoping to even take the boat out one more time.  The weather is suppose to be just perfect for leaf peeping this weekend, with tons of sunshine and temps in the 50's.  It does not get any better than that.  I will be sure to bring the camera so you all can get a look at things.  Looks like a good color show as well, despite the dry summer.
    I do plan to get the shop buttoned up before winter arrives, but I figure I have at least a month before things could become winterlike for good.  I want to seal the concrete floor on the first day that is warm enough for that and then get the sides up and doors in.  I figure a weeks worth of afternoons to get the siding up and probably a day to put the overhead garage door and steel entry door up.  So the bottom line is that all the stress of getting the roof done is gone and I am now going to get out and enjoy the Keweenaw a little more as well as get some work done on the shop.  I am actually on vacation today and tomorrow.  This is the time of the year when I can take a few days off, so I take some long weekends.  I will also be taking the next 2 Thursday's and Friday's off as well.  I have also suspended the forecasts until early November when the snowfall forecasts will start up.  So this really is my relaxing time of the year.
    Well, with that said, I think I will sign off for now and do some of that relaxing!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Oct 2-
    I  can promise right out of the box that this is going to be a short one.  I am so sore that I can barely bring my arms and hands up to the keyboard to type!  It's been a busy week up at the property, but the results were worth it.  I think when I last left off, I was talking about how much more work the roof purlins were than I thought they were going to be.  I did learn a few tricks, but it was still a pretty slow process.  By end of business on Monday we had nearly finished one side of the workshop, but still had almost the entire other side to do.  I knew that we had pretty good weather for most of the week, so I was not worried about getting all the purlins up and ready for the roofing by the weekend.  Tuesday and Thursday Nora and I worked at it and got 90% of the purlins up.  Wednesday was an all day rain out.  I have never seen it rain from sun up to sundown and only pick up around 1/4 of an inch of rain, but that is exactly what happened on Wednesday!  Anyway, the little amount of work we had left with the purlins I knew would not be a major deal on Friday and it wasn't.  It took us about 15 minutes to put the last remaining purlins up and then we got to work on clearing a path from the road to the back side of the workshop so that the power company can come in and give us power.  Tuesday the electrician went out and got the service and meter boxes all set up and we also have a fuse box inside the workshop that I did not take a picture of.  The clearing went a little harder than I had expected, but we got 'er done and now all we have to do is wait for the power company to come and do their thing.
    The plan was to take advantage of the clear and fairly calm weather this weekend to try and get as much of the roofing on as possible.  So Saturday, Nora and I got going pretty early putting that up.  I really did not know what to expect with that.  The whole roofing experience up to that point had been a lot more work than I had planned, mainly because of the fact that all the work is not being done at ground level, but 8-15 feet off the ground.  Well, the roofing did not really present any surprises, but it was slow going.  At first it was taking me about 45 minutes to install each panel.  The panels are 3 feet wide and about 18 1/2 feet long and weigh about 30-40 pounds.  So they are not heavy, just large!  The process is pretty straight forward, you just lift a panel up onto the roof purlins.  Get it where you want it and start screwing them down.  Each sheet takes 40 screws.
    By lunch time, Nora and I had managed to get 3 sheets up.  We could have done more, but my cordless drills battery died and the spare was not charged like I thought it was.  So we basically did almost nothing for an hour.  Well, almost nothing.  I did not like walking on the steel roof.  I know you can do it, but I just did not feel safe, even with a safety rope.  So I took advantage of the down time with the battery to build a little platform that I would place to the side of the panel I was working on and work off of it.
    Al has been helping us some in exchange for us storing his boat and if we have room one of his trucks.  He had to play golf in the morning, but thought he would be up there by 1:30 or 2 and be able to help us, so I was looking forward to having someone else get up there and help me screw down the roofing.  Well, 2 o'clock came, then 3, then 4 and then 4:30 and no Al.  I was out of steam by then, so we packed it in to call it a day.  All told, we were able to get 8 panels up.  One on one side and 7 on the other.  The building would take about 36 to cover it.  I was not angry with Al, I figured there was a good excuse for him not showing up, but I sure did miss his help!  Here is a shot of me up on the roof screwing down a panel.  Here is a close up of me in about the same spot.  You can see my little support platform next to the edge of the steel roof sheet.  I had a hammer in my hand as I found it easier to start the screw with a little tap and then drive it through with the drill.  I think those shots were taken about midway in the afternoon, because I think we put down another 3 panels before heading home.
    I was pretty well bushed yesterday and when I got home Al, had called.  He was up at the property and wondering where we were!  I told him he just missed us, but we would be up there bright and early today to put down more roofing.  He said he might go fishing in the morning, but would make it up there after that.  As luck would have it, about 5 minutes after Nora and I pulled in to start work this morning Al came up all ready to go.  He said he had to leave about noon, so we wasted no time getting on with things.  Between Nora, Al and myself, we were able to fly.  The going was a little slow at first because we needed to sort of develop the best strategy, but as we closed in on the noon hour it was taking us right around 10 minutes to put down each panel.  The best I could do with Nora helping me put the panel up and then me screwing it down was about 30 minutes per panel.  The noon hour was close approaching and I asked Al if we could do two more and he said sure.  So we got those two done and it was about 5 after, so I pleaded with him to do just one more.  That would leave me 2 more to do on that side until we got to the edge panel and the other side was already done except for the edge panel.  Thankfully he agreed to do one more panel and then we took a break to come home, cool off and grab a bite to eat.
    This afternoon, Nora and I went back up with the hounds to finish off the remaining two sheets.  I must have been really tired, because on the way out I thought that we could do those two and then tackle the end sheets that needed to be trimmed first, but I really struggled to put up those last two and figured there would be no way I wanted to tackle the end sheets.  They will require someone to be on top of them to screw them down and that is the way Al did them this morning, so I figure one final work session for Al and then he is released from any further duty!  We also have the ridge cap to do, which will require someone (Al) to be standing on the panels.
    I was able to muster up the strength to trim both panels with air sheers and I figure it will take about an hour to hour and a half to get those last two panels and the ridge cap in, but I am very happy to be as far along as we are.  Al coming out and helping us for those 3 hours this morning was the key.  All told I think we did something like 19-20 of them in that 3 hour period!  Here is a shot of me finishing up this afternoon, with all but the ridge cap and 2 end panels left to do.  There is a pretty big storm coming for Wed, so I would love to get the roof  wrapped up before then, but if not, then at least we have done what we have done and the roof will be fine as is through the storm.
    I can tell you two things:  One, I have really been looking forward to this point in the construction.  I know the roof is not 100% done yet, but we have such a small amount left, I am not concerned about getting it done before the weather turns nasty for good.  Secondly, I really do not like roof work!  I have more scrapes and bruises on my body than I have ever had.  Plus to be working and have the ever constant fear that one misstep and I could be in pretty bad shape.  Nora said today that she really likes it when I am back on solid ground and I think I like it even more!
    So other than all the roof work, we really have not done much.  I did head out to the trail cam on Wednesday to see if I could get it going, but it will take more than a simple restarting of the computer.  It was pouring rain and 46 degrees when I was out there Wed evening, so I did not tinker with it much.  With the roof done to the point where I cannot work on it anymore, I do plan to make fixing the trail cam one of my first objectives.  Not sure I will get out there tomorrow, but it will be this week for sure.
    My final item before I go and smother myself in Ben-Gay is to give you a color report.  The colors where I travel are really coming on strong and look like they will peak out around next weekend.  Maybe a day or so before the weekend, but this weekend will certainly be the "Peak Weekend".  I suppose there may be a few spots where they will reach peak even sooner.  It has really been something to drive up to the property every day (sometimes more than once a day) and see the color show progress.  There is one spot in the valley that seems to change sooner than others and it also seems to put on a pretty good show year after year.  Perhaps the fact that the trees sit in the yard of the unofficial "Mayor" of the Traprock Valley has something to do with it!  Anyway, here is what the trees looked like yesterday.  The colors are really popping out at the property and here is a shot Nora took up there today.
    While clearing the path for the electric service, Nora stumbled across an old pop can.  She said it must be really old because it did not have one of those "pop" tops.  Thinking that she meant the safety pop top, I did not want to show her my age and tell her I remember when cans had the type of top she found, I just kept quiet.  Well, when I examined the can a little later, I saw that it had NO pop top, safety or otherwise.  You had to use an opener to make your own holes to drink out of.  I can safely say that I am not old enough to say I can remember when pop cans had those types of tops!  Here is a picture of the can for your curiosity.  Any can collectors out there?  How old might it be and is it worth anything?
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
 
 
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