.

 
Past Journals
Construction
Albums
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
October 29-
    It is not 6 days yet, but it is a Sunday, so I figured I may as well sit down and get a journal off! I do have a few important things to cover as well. The first item (in case you missed it on the front page of the site) is that registration for the 2nd Annual JohnDee.com SnowFest Snowmobile Ride-In is going on. It took a little longer than I had hoped to get this up, but this year I am taking a more active role and with trying to finish the cabin as well as run the site and my regular business, I have been stretched pretty thin. I would first like to thank John Stachler for helping with the registration again this year and I would also like to thank Jim Formanek for his work on creating the registration page as well as the banner for the ride in. Jim sure does great work and I am grateful to him for donating his time and expertise to make those items possible.
    Now, onto what is up for this year's ride in. The registration process is very much the same as last year. You can use the PayPal link on the registration page or send an e mail and then arrange payment to John Stachler. The registration fee is the same at $50 dollars and that will get you dinner on Saturday at the Spica Restaurant up on top of the Best Western Franklin Square Inn in Houghton. Great food and a great view overlooking the Portage Lake and skiers flying down Mt Ripley. You will also receive a T-shirt commemorating the event and of course a large portion of the registration fee goes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Last year with only 100 persons allowed to attend we still managed to raise over 4200 dollars for the foundation and this year I think we should be able to go over the 10,000 dollar mark as we will be allowing the first 250 persons to attend.
    New to this years event will be a scavenger hunt. This will allow groups of riders to get together and come up with items that are on a list. It will not be a first in, first to win contest. I do not want folks racing around the Keweenaw trying to get done first and possibly causing an accident. It will be a fun way for folks to team up and see the Keweenaw. Nora will be helping me with the items on the list for the hunt. I will say that each team will need a digital camera or instant camera as some of the items will be a photo of a team member in a particular location in the Keweenaw. Of course there will be prizes for the winning team(s) and perhaps even for some of the runners up.
    The other item new to this years event will be snowmobile drag races at the Range Snowmobile Club. I know last year at this time we were having quite the heated discussions on some of the threads in the General Discussion Board about who's snowmobile was faster. I realize that most of it is just in fun, but it did get a little old and who really cares what someone SAYS about their snowmobile and how fast it is. The proof is made at the track and here is your chance to shut up and put up! The good folks at the Range Snowmobile Club will be handling the race completely, so there will be a separate fee for participating in the race. I believe it is $25 to race and $10 per class. If your sled is fast enough, you could walk home with a couple of hundred extra bucks! They host several races a year at their club grounds and will do a great job for us.
    I am in the process of trying to secure some entertainment for the Ride In banquet. There is actually a group up here that I have seen several times and I do know that they like to do charity work. Plus Nora works with someone that is related to one of the band members, so we'll keep our fingers crossed on that one. Have no fear, we'll have some entertainment there for all of you once the dinner is over, even if I have to bring all my old AbbA LP's and my Mr. Microphone.  So, head over to the registration page, get yourself signed up now while there is still spots available (last year event filled up in just a few weeks) and get ready to have a good time. I enjoyed meeting all the good people that attended last year and look forward to doing the same this March.
    The second item on tonight's agenda is the recent troubles with the General Discussions board. For those of you that missed it, sometime on Friday, most of the 3000+ registered users on the discussion board had their accounts deleted. I was out at the property from about 9 am until 9 pm on Friday and had no clue that this was going on until I got home. At first look, it appeared that someone had cracked the usernames and passwords for my account or perhaps one of the moderators because not all of the user profiles had been deleted. There were still about 500 out of the 3000+ that were valid, but the others were gone. Nora actually did a bit of research on the software's web page and I followed her lead and once I got into reading things it started to look more and more like some kind of an issue with the disk drive of the sever for the discussion board as other have had similar problems and that is what caused their problems. I also saw where the program makes automatic backups of some of the more critical files on the board and that the file containing all the user profiles is one that the program usually backs up. As luck would have it, the board had backed up the profiles and I waited until the pre-dawn hours this morning to restore those profiles. I waited until early this morning just in case I ran into problems I did not want folks wondering what was going on when the board is more active. No real problems with the restoring of the the user profiles. One of the moderators did notice that there were quite a few profiles created a while ago that have not been activated. He actually went in and deleted those accounts while we were at the 500+ list. Then when I restored the original list, I undid all of his hard work (sorry Paul!!!), so I went in and did some cleaning up this morning as well. There are actually a lot of accounts that were created months or years ago that had not been activated yet, so I cleaned up about 1/2 of them and hope to clean up the other half sometime soon. In any case, the board is back to "normal" and I will make a note to back up the file that contains the user profiles on my hard drive from time to time- just in case that happens again. Sure was a quiet board yesterday though!
    Of course we have been busy at the property since I last wrote and we do have much to show from the hard work. I took Thursday and Friday off from my regular work and ended up putting in about 10 hours of work at the property on Thursday and then another 12 hours on Friday. Nora came up both evenings after putting in a full day of work at the school and I am happy to report that we are about 95% done with the tongue and groove! There is just a little bit more to put up on top of the knee wall on the west wall, but it should not take us longer than about 30-40 minutes to get that done. There is also some trim work that needs to be done, but I can even do that after we move in if I have to. While we had the scaffolding still up, I wired in the lighting and ceiling fan in the cathedral ceiling. It it really starting to look like a home with walls nearly done and the lighting going in. We will finish up the tongue and groove tomorrow and also get back to work on the painting and should have that done by Tuesday night. Nora was a big help with the tongue and groove. She did all the cutting Thursday and Friday evening, handing up the pieces to me so I could nail them while up on the scaffolding- and she is a master with the sliding compound miter saw!
    The main reason why we did not finish up the tongue and groove today was that I wanted to get home and do some yard work. Tomorrow or Tuesday is one of the days that the village comes around and will pick up yard waste. The weather was pretty good for that today and the leaves were dry and there is only one more pick up day left, so I figured we had better get that work done while we had good conditions. Nora cut the grass while I raked the leaves. We still need to get the bush protectors up, but that only takes about 45 minutes and then we will be all set for this home to make it through the winter. It sure would be nice to sell this home before winter sets in, but the real estate market slows to a crawl up here in the winter. Something about trying to move into a new place with 4 feet of snow on the ground that seems to discourage potential home buyers. I may see how much it is to have the driveway plowed or may just find a used snowthrower and keep it down here. We'll see, maybe the home will sell before winter sets in for good- but time is running out!
    Speaking of time running out, it does look like we have some snow coming our way this week. Lake effect, so totals will vary, but it looks like a west wind, with most of the other conditions being pretty good, so we may end up with some "plow snow".  It is still too early for the snow to stick around for the winter, which is why I am not too concerned about not having the bush protectors up just yet. I guess I am really becoming a seasoned Yooper. The first year I lived up here I think I had the bush protectors up by the first of October!  This year may be the latest that we have put them up and hopefully the last year we will have to worry about them!
    I will be starting up the snowfall forecasts next week. I was thinking about starting them up this week, but would like to take advantage of the free time for one more week so I can get the rest of my shop in the basement packed up and hauled up to the shop at the property. I doubt that I will get the wood still sitting down there up this week, but I better get that done pretty soon. The only way to do it is through the casement windows in the basement wall and it will not be long before they will be buried under the snow.
    It is really strange to think that in just a few weeks we will not be living in this home anymore. I am excited, but a little sad too. Lots of great memories here. I will be able to take them with me, but still sad to leave the home.
    Not much else to say for this one, but I will leave you with one final picture. It is of my buddy Burt. He and I have been taking our afternoon walks out on the snowmobile trail near the house. It is one of the first places that the hounds and I discovered when we moved up here over 7 years ago and have put a lot of memories on it as well and will put some more out there before we move.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
This business directly sponsors johndee.com  

October 25-
    I have to admit that it actually seems like at least 6 days have come and gone since I last wrote. We have been very busy at the cabin and are getting closer and closer to being done. I think it is safe to say that we can count the number of weeks until we are moved in on one hand. If all goes well, perhaps the weekend of November 11th will be the big move day. One thing that might actually impact when we move will be when I can get high speed internet up there. My current provider looks to be out of the equation as it would cost several thousand dollars to bring cable into our site- even though our neighbor about 800 feet down the road has it. I have contacted another high speed provider up here, but was told it will be weeks, maybe months before they can even get out to see if I can use their wireless system, so I may just have to get a satellite system. I have talked to some that have it and while it is not as good as cable or DSL, it is better than dial up. I plan to stop in at the office of the wireless provider to see if perhaps we can speed up the site test a bit and I may call the cable company to see if we might be able to work out a deal.
    When I last wrote, we were getting ready for the kitchen cabinets to arrive. On Friday I painted the kitchen ceiling and put down the floor. As I was finishing up the kitchen floor Friday evening the cabinets arrived. As mentioned a friend of the site offered to build our cabinets and then come up and install them. His name is Jeff Stanley and his cabinet shop (Needle Creek Cabinetry, 847.774.8830) is located on Pyott Rd in Lake in the Hills, IL. Rather than have to haul all the assembled cabinets up in his trailer, he just made all the pieces and hauled them and all of his tools up in the back of his SUV and did the assembly here. I about 2 hours he had all of the base cabinets done and we called it a night for Friday. (That picture was actually taken first thing Saturday morning, that is why it is light outside!)
    It was hoped that we could finish up the rest of the work on Saturday in time for Jeff and his girlfriend Kathy to take in some of the sights of the Keweenaw, but unfortunately it ended up taking the better part of the day to get things all done. Here is a shot of us making the countertop for the breakfast bar. It will probably end up being a breakfast/lunch and maybe dinner bar! Even though it took longer than anticipated, the hard work was worth it as by the end of the day on Saturday we had all the cabinets installed as well as most of the countertops. Here is the cabinetry on the outside wall. There is still a little more work to be done like putting the countertop on the cabinet to the right of the stove, put the backsplash on as well as the shelf pins and doors and drawer fronts. I was initially planning on making the doors/draw fronts in the shop once we move up there, but with company coming for Thanksgiving and temps getting colder and colder, I have opted to have Jeff make some for me and ship them up here. That way all I need to do is install them. I still may make some raised panel ones if I get ambitious and have time next spring/summer.
    It felt funny standing around and helping out where I could when Jeff was here. Usually I am the one trying to figure out numbers in my head, or what is the next step in the building process. It was probably a good thing that I did not need to be on top of things Saturday as I was feeling really tired. Turns out I was coming down with a cold as Sunday I awoke with the old wobbly legs, sore throat and stuffy head. I am still getting over this little head cold I have, but it has not been too bad and every day there are improvements. I just hate that worn down feeling I had on Sunday and even Monday.
    After finishing up on Saturday, Jeff, Kathy, Nora and I all went to dinner. They left Sunday morning and Nora and I got back to work. As mentioned, I was not feeling so good on Sunday so we did not get a lot of work done. We cleaned up a bit, I readied the scaffolding for the tongue and groove work and then we stocked the wood boiler and went home. I was feeling good enough on Sunday to take Burt for a walk with Nora. We headed out to the School Forest for a nice afternoon walk in the woods. The woods sure are pretty quiet this time of the year. Not only is there an absence of humans, but with the leaves off the trees it seems like the place has been abandoned. Of course if you look hard enough you will see signs that there is still plenty of activity going on in the woods. The bucks are starting to feel their oats and leaving behind some scrapes and rubs. The small critters are busy gathering food for the winter, while others are just busy eating as much as they can to get them through the food sparse winter months.
    This has always been one of my favorite times of the year to walk the woods. I suppose it's because the weather is just about perfect- throw on a jacket, maybe a hat and gloves and you are all set, plus the woods are so quiet and because the leaves are off the trees you can see so much further into the woods. Hard to believe that in less than a month main firearm deer season will be well underway and we will be just a week away from opening day for snowmobiling. It sure has been a cold October. If this keeps up into November, there will be a lot more ice on the lakes than we usually have around here. I just hope that the atmosphere is not using up all of it's cold weather now rather than in January. October is the one month when I actually enjoy above average temps! Oh well.
    On Monday I got back to work at the property. I was still feeling a little weak, in fact I ended up taking a 90 minute nap in the morning and felt like I could have stayed in bed all day, but work duties called. Once I was back awake for a while I felt better and good enough to head up to the property to start the tongue and groove. I only worked for about 2 hours, but got some work done. Yesterday I got up there and was able to work for about 5 hours and between the 2 hours on Monday and 5 hours on Tuesday I was able to get just about half of the ceiling done. I was able to get another 5 hours done today and it looks like I should be able to finish up the ceiling tomorrow. I am actually taking tomorrow and Friday off, so that means I have all of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to devote to the tongue and groove and should be able to finish it in that time. The floors will be the last big job and then I think we will be able to stop putting in the long hours up there. While I worked on the T & G yesterday, Nora primed the bathroom and bedroom on the first floor. This past weekend she primed the walls in the loft that were drywalled. With a little luck she will be finishing up the painting as I finish up the T & G and I know she is looking forward to being done with the major jobs and is getting really excited to move in. It sure will be neat to live there and know that we build the whole thing.
    As mentioned in the last journal, the DVD that shot that includes myself as well as all my riding buddies is done. It is Born to Ride 5 (we are in #'s 3 and 4 too). We all received our copies on Monday and I was able to watch it Monday evening. I thought it was his best one yet. He really is good at not only shooting the video, but also the editing. The DVD is not the head banging/extreme riding that is on most of the other DVD's (most of us are getting to old and wise to attempt stunts like that), but is still enjoyable if you ask me. I know I would enjoy watching it even if I was not in it! I am also proud to report that I made it into other segments other than the bloopers too! Of course I did make the blooper segment too! I don't think that they have updated their website with this DVD title on it yet, but you can still go to their website (dobsonentertainment.com) and contact them through it to order BTR 5.
    I guess that about covers it for this one. Exciting to think that if all goes well, the next time I write we should be done with all the major work at the cabin. Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
October 19-
    I cannot believe that it has almost been a week since I last wrote. I think part of it is the fact that I did it on a Friday and lately I have been doing it on Sundays, so since it is Thursday, I should have a few more days before it has been a week. I am not sure if that last sentence even made any sense, but I am too tired to start over, so it is staying. I actually took today off from work. This is the time of the year that I usually take a couple of long weekends. Last week I made my Thursday and Friday a little less work, but still did work. Today I did not do any forecasting what so ever and tomorrow will do the same. That did not stop me from working though. Burt and I headed up to the property today to clean up the shop. Nora and I finished up making all the tongue and groove last night. That means that most of the big mess making is over for a while. I will still be using some of the machinery in there from time to time, but nothing like we did recently and I really like a clean shop, so Burt and I spent about 3 hours up there getting things all cleaned up. Here is a shot of the 1500 board feet of tongue and groove taken last night (along with some of the mess).
    We came back for lunch and to go to the bank and post office and then I headed back up there to paint the kitchen. Yep, in the painting phase already. The drywallers finished up on Tuesday. I sure am glad that I was talked into just having someone do that job! Nora and I could have done it and we might even be close to being done with it, but we also would not have been able to get all the other things done that we did while the pros were at work (like the tongue and groove) and it most likely would not have looked this good! That was just a snap shot of part of the upstairs bedroom. It is pretty difficult to take pictures inside a house. Seems like you can never really get the whole picture.
    Anyway, the reason why I am already painting the kitchen is that this weekend a friend from the site who owns a custom cabinetry shop in northern IL is coming up with the cabinets. He generously offered to build us our kitchen cabinets for cost and that was an offer we could not pass up! We figured it would be easier to paint the kitchen walls and ceiling while they were still bare, so that is what I was doing this afternoon. Well priming anyway. Tomorrow I plan to paint and then put down the flooring. Another day off filled with work! After this weekend though, the kitchen will be just about done.
    In addition to finishing up the tongue and groove this week, I also finished up the rest of the insulation. Since we are heating the cabin, that was high on the list of items to get done. Even though we are not "paying" for the heat, I still do not want to waste fuel. There was not a ton left to do, but it did require the scaffolding. I had loaned that out to Al so that he could use it to build his garage. Friday night Al dropped off the scaffolding and we got it set back up inside the cabin and I finished up the insulation.
    Our plan is to have me hang the tongue and groove next week, while Nora paints the rest of the drywall. If all goes well, then perhaps a week from now we will be getting ready to put the floors in the rest of the cabin and that will be close to one of the last things we do before moving in. I figure we still have 3 or 4 weeks before we move in, but it is getting closer and closer.
    I had plans to write last night, but got caught up talking to Rick Dobson, the videographer that makes the DVD's that we have been in recently. He finished up the latest DVD that he shot up here and at Togwotee last winter and will be selling it at the Milwaukee snowmobile snow this weekend. They sent a couple of copies up to us today, so hopefully they will be here in Saturday's mail. I know I am looking forward to seeing it. I did not get to see much of the footage he shot while in WY as I went to the room and tried to sleep rather than stick around the lounge and watch the footage shot that day.
    Well, I had a feeling that this would be a short one and I apologize if it rambled and did not read well, but I am a tired guy and my brain is frazzled. So this will do it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
October 13-
    Happy Friday the 13th everyone. For those of you checking in early (seems like I have been in an update on Sunday's only mode for the past few months), I guess this might be a bit of a surprise. For those of you used to the Sunday updates and checking in on Sunday, hopefully this will not be old news. One of the reasons I am writing tonight rather than Sunday is that I felt a little guilty not doing any forecasts for the storm that has been hitting the UP the past 2 days. However, I had planned to take my autumn vacation days in the form of three long weekends (like I usually do). The first long weekend was to be this weekend and I figured I may as well suspend the summer forecasts at the time I take my first long weekend. So that is why the summer forecasts ended Wednesday. I also figured that forecasting this storm would be mainly a novelty and not a utility like the winter forecasts are. Sure there may be a few folks wanting to come up and see or even play in the snow, but their numbers would be very small. In any case, I was feeling a little bit of guilt for not covering this storm better, so I hope this journal helps a bit.
    With that said, I do not have a ton of snow shots. Most of the heavier snow missed the Keweenaw. Calumet did pick up close to a foot, but temps today have been in the mid 30's and the snow is melting and settling a bit and they probably have about 6-8" on the ground at the moment. The winner so far seems to be Twin Lakes, with 2 feet fallen and about a foot and a half on the ground. It looks like it may still be snowing pretty good there right now and perhaps they will eclipse the 3 foot mark for fallen snow with this storm. When I first saw this system materializing last week my first thought was "man I wish this was coming in December". Had this same system arrived in December or January we would have seen 3-6 feet of snow fall. Think that is not possible? Just look back to what happened at my home here in Lake Linden the last week of December 2001: 50"+ of snow in 5 days and 62" in 10 days. Or what happened up at the property in mid December last year. I estimated about 70" fell in under a week and heard reports of over 100" falling in one week in sections of the Keweenaw. So it can happen.
    I have a funny story to tell. On Wednesday I was talking on the phone with my brother who lives in Milwaukee when I saw a post come in on the General Discussions board about one of their local weather guys being up in Baraga to cover the storm. It struck me as funny that a guy would drive over 6 hours to cover a snow storm in the Keweenaw and end up in the one spot that is considered the "banana belt" and misses just about all of the lake effect. So I half joking/half seriously said to my brother he should call up the Milwaukee station and tell that guy to get out of Baraga and head to where the lake effect really hits. My brother ended up calling the station and about 20 minutes after I hung up with him the guy called me here at home. He was a really nice guy and I chatted with him for about 10 minutes, telling him where his best bet for the biggest snow totals would be and even giving him some good spots for scenery and even to catch the big waves on the lake. The next morning things were all a buzz about Twin Lakes being featured on the Weather Channel and Good Morning America. Turns out this guy took my advice to heart and headed to Twin Lakes to try and catch the biggest snow totals. As fate would have it this storm has come in pieces and when he was broadcasting from Twin Lakes there was only about 4-6" down. Too bad he could not have stayed there until today and he would have seen what the buzz was all about. Of course Twin Lakes MI getting 2 feet of snow would have probably been preempted by Buffalo getting 2 feet anyway.
    We had lots of rain mix in with our snow last night. Just as the sun was setting it really started to come down and we were picking up 1-2" per hour and I though that we might end up with a foot of snow ourselves, but then the rain started mixing in about 10 pm and that put a halt to our accumulation. I really do not mind. This early season stuff is nice to see, but sure is a mess as well. Plus it will melt and cause a mess when it does so. Even the snow in Twin Lakes will melt. It will take longer, but they will see bare ground by sometime next week as well. I suppose if they have been using a front end loader to move snow around down there then a pile put in the shade has a slight chance to make it until winter sets in for good in a month or so, but snow now just does not last, so I just to not get as excited as I used to about it.
    I did not fire up the sleds and take a ride either. There probably was enough this morning, but we were still having a rain/snow mix and the 800 is still set up for out west, so I did not even tempt myself. Had we picked up 2 feet, then I for sure would have dug the 700 out and took a spin. Even though I did not ride during this event, I know that I could have and just knowing that I could have taken a spin on the sled in mid October is enough for me.
    It has been a very busy week at the property. On Monday the wood boiler arrived. Kind of a neat trailer they have to transport those things around. It sits on two steel bars while being transported and then they can lift the boiler up, remove the bars and drop it onto the spot. Our spot was the slab that we poured for it last Friday. On Tuesday they got all the outdoor connections made and the gas company came out, dropped off a propane tank and hooked it up as well. On Wednesday they got all the indoor connections finished and that was just in the nick of time as the snow started to fly on Wednesday afternoon. I have to say that I am sure the novelty of this device will wear off and loading it with wood will just become one of the daily routines that is not the most fun, but for now this thing is really cool! I am just amazed at how well it works. We have the water temperature set to be 185 degrees. As long as the water is 175 degrees or warmer, the damper on the firebox is shut and allows only enough air to keep the fire from going completely out. So the wood just smolders. Then once the water cools below 175 degrees the damper opens and a fan blows fresh air into the firebox and in no time there is a roaring fire going on inside. Then once the water reaches 185 the damper closes. There is a bit of a lag and even though the damper closes at 185 the water usually warms to 190-195. The process of warming the water seems to take about 15 minutes and so far it seems to take about 4 hours for it to cool. I am sure once the air temp is colder it will take less time between the "calls for heat", but then again the cabin is less than half insulated right now, so perhaps that time will remain the same once the colder air sets in but the cabin is insulated. The boiler is well insulated as the snow did not melt off the top of it when it was going. The tubing that feeds the hot water to the cabin is also well insulated, as there is still a bit that has yet to be covered back up in it's trench and snow actually accumulated on it for a while. Nora and I managed to run all the tubing, insulate it and put the water proof sleeve over it on Monday evening. Quite the job and I could barely lift my arms on Tuesday they were so sore from pushing the pex through the insulating and water proofing sleeves.
    The leak in the water line was found on Monday and fixed on Tuesday and then the helped back fill the trench from the shop to the cabin. On Tuesday Nora and I got ready for the storm by taking down the screen tent, the swing and also moving a bunch of the sawdust off the burn pile. You would think that sawdust would burn great, but in reality it burns very stubbornly. It basically smothers itself. So I did not want to have all of the sawdust from the recent planing of the boards for the tongue and groove on the burn pile as once it gets wet it will never burn and will also be a real chore to move. So we got it moved to a big hole we have on the property. Burt was there to help too.
    We awoke to some rain Wednesday morning and then as mentioned the snow started Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning I was able to take my first "front of house shot" with snow in it. Not too shabby for October 12th. Of course in a month or so the front of house shot will be taking on a new look, so I also took one from where they will be taken for the next several years until the look will be towards the log
home.
    On Thursday afternoon we took a walk up at the property before getting on with the work. We headed out to the snowmobile trail for our walk. No snowmobiles, but an ATV or two had been through. I love those shots with some color still left in the trees, but also the snow. On the way back to the shop I stopped to take a shot of Nora and Burt in front of the Dee Compound, complete with burning wood boiler. We got on to working in the shop, which is not heated. Nora and I were working hard enough to keep ourselves warm, but poor Burt had to lay on the cold cement floor in the shop and I think that combined with being a little wet from his walk he actually was chilled. Nora noticed him shaking a bit so they went and warmed up in the cabin for a while while I kept on working. After about 15-20 minutes they came back in and I put down a drop cloth for Burt to lay on and put my jacket on him to keep him warm. It worked as he slept for a while and did not get chilled. We were able to get all four surfaces on the boards dressed (S4S) and so all we have left to do is to put the tongue on one side and the groove on the other and that massive job will be done. Mark my words, I am never going to make my own tongue and groove again. Well only two conditions would change my mind. One if I only had a little to do or secondly if we got the wood for free! It was a ton of work and the time it took would have been nice to spend doing something else.
    Tomorrow and Sunday Nora and I plan to finish up the insulating. They drywall contractor has been busy all week. On Monday he had two helpers with him and they hung a bunch of the drywall. The rest of the week he was on his own and was able to finish hanging the drywall by Thursday. Today they came out and taped all the joints and tomorrow will put the first coat of mud on. Monday will be the second coat of mud and then Tuesday will sand and be done. It's really neat to see the transformation of the inside of the cabin take place with the drywall up. Some rooms look bigger and some look smaller. One thing is for sure, I am VERY glad that I did not take on this part of the build myself. I have watched them work a bit and they make it look easy, but I know it would not have been like that for us!
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. I am starting to fade off and I better get this posted before I fade off to sleep completely!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
-JD-
October 8-
    Hard to believe that another week has flown by. When I think back to what we have done it seems to blend in with the week before. These journals have been more of a recant of the week's construction since we started the cabin and I was all ready to talk about the water lines and septic being done, but realize that was last week's list of accomplishments! This week was taking care of the last minute items to be ready for drywall. The gas company came out and hooked up the tanks for the kitchen stove. We tested the iron pipe connections I made for the service and no leaks! The water company came out and turned on the service this past week as well and guess what? The water line had a leak! Not a big one, but enough to keep the water off for now. The guys that installed the water line said they would come out on Saturday and find the leak and fix things, but I told them we could wait until this Tuesday, that way they can help me fill in the trenches that are still there for the power and for the pex tubes from the wood boiler.  The boiler and pex tubing will be delivered tomorrow, so I will get the tubing laid in the trenches and they can back fill the trenches with the mini excavator which they will use to dig up the spots where connections were made in the water line. There are only 2, one right at the connection to the service at the road and then one about half way in where the two sections of pipe were joined.
    So in a way the water line leak was a blessing as it will not cost me any more to have them come out and fix things, plus I do not have to backfill all the trenches by hand. That would have been a pretty big job, with a 2 foot wide by 2 foot deep trench that is about 100 feet in length. The drywall was delivered on Friday. I realize I made the claim that it was going to be started on Thursday and finished this Tuesday or Wednesday, but the drywall guys were delayed a bit and will start tomorrow. No problem with that either. I sure can relate to how some jobs can take longer than expected and we were not under a strict time constraint to get the drywall in. It will be done only be about 2 days later has been initially anticipated, so no biggy there.
    Friday the cement truck came and we got the slab for the wood boiler done as well as a walkway along side the house. I had my buddy Dave help me with the concrete work and Burt helped too. Don't worry, the corner of the slab for the boiler will not be left dangling like it was in the picture. There will be backfilling done once the pex is in.
    One of the other items done this week was to finish up the water supply lines and make the connections for the baseboard heat up in the loft. So the mechanical room is all ready for the guys to come and hook up the boiler and all of it's items. I believe that is going to happen on Tuesday and Wednesday. I don't mind having others come to do work up there and things like hooking up the boiler are best left to the professionals, but I will be glad when all the sub contractors are done and we are back to it being just Nora, Burt and I doing the work and responsible for everything that gets done. If all goes as planned, that should be in a week. At that point we will be getting pretty close too, with the drywall done and working on hanging the tongue and groove. After that the floors, a bit of finish plumbing and wiring and then move in.
    The other job that has been going on up at the property is to make the tongue and groove. Since Thursday, Nora and I have been busy running about 1500 board feet through the planer. Normally the planing is one of the easier jobs. You just feed the boards in and they are drawn through the machine by the machine and then you just grab them as they come out the other side and stack them again. Well, the planer was not working properly from the start of this job. The boards needed to be "coaxed" through the machine rather than being drawn through by the machines power feeder. The feeder rollers were working, but for some reason not good enough to push the board through on it's own. I tried a few things at first, but still had the problems. Then finally after too much frustration and sore muscles with the first two passes (it took three passes for each board to be planed to the proper thickness), I decided to take the machine apart and re-calibrate things in side as well as change out the knives. It took a few hours, but was well worth it as this morning we were able to do the third pass through of all the boards in about 2 hours and the previous two passes took about 8 hours. Here is a shot of yours truly grabbing a board as it comes out of the planer and here is a shot of all the lumber that we dimensioned to the right thickness in the past 4 days. There is still quite a bit of work to do before it is tongue and groove. Each board needs to have one side jointed straight, then run through the table saw to get it to the proper width and then it needs two separate passes on the shaper to make the tongue on one side and the groove on the other. I figure at least another 8 hours of work, maybe more before we have a stack of tongue and groove.
    The race has sort of been on to try and finish up making the tongue and groove before the weather goes down hill later this week. Making it generates a ton of sawdust and we have been using the dust collector, with the collector right at the scrap pile outside. That way we do not need to haul the sawdust out there, it just goes out there automatically through the ductwork to the dust collector. Well, I cannot do that when it is raining or snowing, so I have been wanting to be finished before the rain and snow arrives later this week. The planing generates the most debris (about 80% of the total debris) and if push comes to shove, I can always just keep the dust collector in the shop and then haul the dust and chips generated by the other processes out to the burn pile.
    Speaking of the weather, it has been summer like up here the past few days. Friday we rose into the upper 60's and yesterday the mid 70's. At daybreak this morning the temp should have been in the low 30's at my house, but instead was in the low 60's. We hit 70 degrees late this morning before the front came through and cooled things down a bit, but not too much. Temps have been in the low to mid 60's most of the afternoon. Tomorrow and Tuesday do not look to bad around here, but then things get nasty for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A November type storm looks to roll through and drop temps big time (highs struggling to get out of the 20's by Thursday) and even bring the first flakes of the season. Some of the higher terrain up here may even see some meaningful accumulation.
    It is really interesting to see my attitude towards the first snow of the season change with each passing year I live up here. The first year I was thinking about the first flakes once the calendar went from July to August. The next year I think I was not going too nuts until September. Now I actually do not think much about it until this time of the year. Don't get me wrong, I am still a bonified snow freak, but I guess I am just turning into a seasoned Yooper. I know the snow will come and it will pile up to depths that most snow lovers can only dream about. I am excited for the first flakes to fly and I am sure that my heart rate will increase when it see those first flakes. But I also know that any snows right now will just melt and that any future snows up until about the start of deer season will also melt. So now I really do not get too excited about the accumulating snows until we get to the middle of November. Then it can snow until April!
    The Keweenaw will does not look to be the only ones to pick up snow, nor will the UP be the only ones or the Northwoods for that matter. It looks like flakes of snow could be seen deep into the Midwest. Places like Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Detroit should at least see some flurries, but perhaps even a dusting if a squall happens to be particularly vigorous. This storm at the end of the week will be so strong that it could pull enough cold air down that places like St. Louis and/or Cincinnati could see a stray flake of snow.
    The color show has reached and passed it's peak. Here in Lake Linden the peak was about mid week this past week. The Houghton/Hancock area was about the same. Up at the property the peak was last weekend and to tell you the honest truth, I have not been anywhere else in the past month, so I cannot say. But I do know it is safe to say that for the Keweenaw, the peak has passed and the leaves are coming down rather quickly with the strong winds. We did take some time this afternoon to take Burt to the School Forest for a walk this afternoon and I took this shot to show what is the average look around here with the colors. About 50/50, meaning 50 percent of the leaves are still on the trees and 50 percent are down. Up at the property I'd have to say that about 75% of the leaves are down. With the precip and very strong winds (55 mph+?) later this week, I suspect that the only colors you will see will be on the ground and they may be covered in a blanket of white in spots. Not that I want to discourage folks from visiting the Keweenaw this next weekend. If you have never experienced a November Gale (even one in October) in the Keweenaw, I strongly urge you to not cancel. It is really something to go through. Almost scary at times and definitely awe inspiring- especially if you go to the big lake at one of the breakwaters.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. Before I go, I will leave you with one last shot. Nora said it has been too long since we took a family picture, so we found a nice spot at the School Forest this afternoon and made a new one. So here are the Dee's.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
October 1-
    Welcome to October everyone! Seems hard to believe that in just two months snowmobile season will have started up here- conditions permitting. It has been another very busy week. Not just building, but website things and even some planning for the ride in. As long as I am on the subject of the ride in, I will remind everyone that the date for the ride in this season is March 2nd and 3rd (Friday and Saturday). We are going to increase the amount of people able to attend by 2 1/2 times from last year, so that means the first 250 folks registered will be able to attend. We have not set up the registration for it yet, but that should be coming soon. We are pretty sure that the fee will be the same as it was last year at $50 per person. Two new events for this year will be a scavenger hunt and drag races. The scavenger hunt should be lots of fun and hopefully will allow folks who have never met before to group up and try and find all the items on the list. For those of you who are always bragging about how fast your sled is, you will have the chance to show us all by heading over to the Range Snow Club and take part in the drag races that will be going on there Saturday. There will be separate fees required for the drag races, but the scavenger hunt will be free and open to all. The banquet, t-shirt hand out and sign ups for the scavenger hunt will all take place in the Houghton/Hancock area. We have not confirmed which hotels will be used for all of that just yet, but anyone wanting to get a hotel room booked now and wanting to stay close should book something in Houghton or Hancock, although you certainly can stay anywhere you like!
    As mentioned, it has been a busy week at the property too. On Monday I took a trip to Marquette to pick up some items. Then on Tuesday went up to continue working on things. They boys were busy working on the water line and septic system early in the week. Matt was able to get the 6 foot deep trench dug for the waterline. Just amazing how he was able to dig that 150 foot long, 6 foot deep trench all by hand! Just kidding, he actually used a mini excavator to dig most of the trench and dug out the area near the house by hand. After that it was time to dig the hole for the swimming pool. Just kidding again, that was the hole for the septic tank. Here is the tank going into place. It was actually a much bigger tank than we needed for that size building, but because we have to use a pump to get the fluids from the tank to the drainfield, it had to be a two chamber tank and those are the big ones. So big, the I-beam that extended off the back of the truck and lifted the tank into place actually flexed as the tank was extended out over the hole. The front of the truck also seemed to want to bounce a bit! It only took about 5 minutes to get the tank set, then they backfilled a bit, plumbed it to the house and the drainfield and covered up the front half. I have a plumber coming tomorrow to set the pump up and then we can cover up the rest.
    The water line was laid and connections were made at the street earlier in the week. Yesterday a friend and I made most of the connections in the house, so now all we need is the water company to come out with the meter and set that in place. I will finish up sweating a few connections inside the house and then we can turn on the water. With water and sewer going... you guessed it, no more trips to the woods! With the septic and water done, we could then pull power from the shop to the cabin and that was done on Thursday. I did not have the little collar that the service wire travels through as it passes into the breaker panel, so we could not get the power totally hooked up to the cabin on Thursday, but I did pick up what I needed on my way up to the property on Friday and made all the final connections and threw the breaker switches and powered up the cabin. As I was flipping the switches I felt like there should have been a band playing or maybe some kind of confetti drop, but instead it was just me up there alone at the property flipping a few breaker switches and then seeing how my wiring job went by walking around the house with an electric drill and plugging it into each outlet. I did not have 100% success, but I'd say that out of about 60 connections made, having only three need redoing was not too bad. Loose connections at the wire nuts were the culprits in all three cases.
    Even though we did have power running to the cabin via some heavy duty extension cords, it is very nice to be able to just plug in the tool I am using right into the wall outlet where I am working and not have to worry about dragging an extension cord into the work area. Plus we also have lights, which means we can stay out there past dark if we want to now. So let's see, we have power, sewer, the water is just a few simple connections away. The propane guys are coming on Tuesday to drop off a small tank for the kitchen stove and ready a site for the boiler. The wood boiler arrived in the Keweenaw on Friday and all I need to do is set a slab for it and then have it delivered, plumb it and fire it up and then we will have heat!
    There was quite the response to my asking for drywall tips. The drywall job will most likely start this Thursday and I am predicting that it will be done by next Tuesday or Wednesday. How can I be so bold with my prediction? Well, I have decided to just let the pros hang, tape and mud all the sheetrock. I really wanted to build this cabin completely by myself, but with so many folks advising me to just sub out the drywall work, I got an estimate and it seemed reasonable. They will be arriving on Thursday and I was told it would be a 4-5 day job from start to finish. While the drywall is being taken care of, Nora and I will most likely make all the tongue and groove and then once the drywall guys are gone we can take over with hanging the T & G. Once that is done, it will be time to paint the drywall and seal the T & G and then do the floors and then move in!
    Nora and I have been busy this weekend hanging insulation. I picked up about 30 bags of insulation (that was only about half of all I bought) and as luck would have it, the autumn is when all the insulation manufacturers seem to have their sales. So I was able to pick ours up on sale and also take advantage of a rebate that is going on and thanks to those to events happening, the insulation is going to cost us almost half as much as when I priced things out a few months ago. A little tip for those of you wanting to build a house, plan to purchase your insulation in the early autumn! We have already completed all the insulation work for where the drywall will be going up and I actually hope to get all of the insulation up before the drywallers come on Thursday. That way the bags will not be in their way and if we need to warm the cabin up a bit to allow the mud to dry quicker, it will be easier to keep it warm being fully insulated. However, I am also not going to stress out about it if we cannot finish the insulation job before the drywallers come as all the insulation that needs to be in before they come is in. Here is a shot of yours truly hanging some insulation in the kitchen.
    The other activity going on up here is the color show, which is reaching it's pinnacle in many areas. Here is a shot of the colors up at the property on Thursday. I did not take a shot today, but they were at peak today. By the way, I do not mean to rub it in, but that is the view out of the front of the cabin. Of course that view will be changing in a few years as that is where the log home will go, but for now that will be our view from the living room and dining room.
    It is a beautiful autumn day today, with temps in the mid 60's and tons of blue sky. This is about the only time of the year when I actually enjoy above average temps. In the summer it gets to hot with above average temps, in the winter that means the snow might melt and in the spring I really could care less. But temps in the 60's this time of the year is just perfect. Nora, Burt and I took advantage of the nice day to take a walk in the woods. We headed out to the School Forest and had the whole place to ourselves. The color show there is progressing, but like the colors here in town, I think they are still about 4-6 days away from peak.
    It looks like we will actually be enjoying a few more days of above average temps this week, which I will be even more thankful for as I planted grass seed where the septic work was done and it would be nice to get some grass going there before winter comes. The race will be on though as the days up here with warm temps can probably be counted without having to take your shoes off at this point. Thursday I even had to break down and turn the heat on for the first time this season. There were a few days earlier that I came very close, but decided to stick it out. Thursday morning it was 62 degrees in the house and 44 and cloudy outside, so I gave in. Not bad though, almost made it through the whole month of September without having to use the heat. There have been wood furnaces going in the neighborhood for weeks now, so this place is pretty well insulated.
    Well, I think that about covers it for this one. I need to sign off so I can finish my Sunday work for my customers and then head back up to the cabin to finish a bit more work for the day.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
 
 
.