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September 24-
    I am SOOOOO glad that Nora and I finished up all the outside work for the cabin already! The weather in the last week sure has been a challenge for getting things done. Friday and Saturday were complete washouts for outdoor activities and it looks like we will be having some more unsettled weather the second half of this week. I guess I may be overstating it when I say that we are ALL done with the outside work, because there is still a bit to do, but they are pretty small jobs and I took advantage of today's nice weather to take care of two of them. Out plumbing/heating inspector wants to see an air exchanger in all new residential construction up here. For those of you that do not know what these are, they are basically a device that pulls fresh air in from the outside and pulls old air out from the inside of the building. In the process of doing that it allows the incoming air to be heated/cooled by the air that is exiting. It is not 100% efficient, but the one I got will be more than 85% efficient at this. I was pretty much planning on getting one anyway, since the home will be tight and also will not have air circulated by a forced air system. So the air could get pretty stale in there. It is not a big deal to hook up in our case. I have two spots in the cabin where we will pull the stale air from and two spots where I will have the fresh air return. Then I had to cut two holes in the side of the house, one for the fresh air in and one to exhaust the old air and the job of making the holes happened with the better weather today. The job was accomplished and I also took advantage of the nice weather to clear a spot for the outdoor wood boiler that will be arriving by the end of this week or early next week. I will be pouring a small slab to put it on and while there is some heavy machinery out there (for the septic install) I figured I would have them drop a load sand and spread it out so that I could put the slab for the boiler on it. I was able to get the spot all cleared and that leaves just a few more small items to do outside.
    As mentioned the septic system is being installed. They started on Thursday and then took Friday off and will resume on Monday and plan to finish up on Tuesday. They also will be digging the trench we will be putting the water line in as well as the trenches for the electrical service from the shop to the cabin, phone from the shop to the cabin and the tubes that will carry the heated water from the boiler to the shop and then on to the cabin. Here is a shot taken last Thursday evening as they were finishing up the drain field. It still needs to be inspected and then they can put the fill on top and we can get some grass to try and grow on it before the winter sets in. It will be nice to have that done as well as water into the site and I am really looking forward to having power in the cabin. Right now I am running power via two heavy duty 12 gauge extension cords from the shop. They do the trick, but when it starts to get dark, I pretty much have to shut down as I have a couple of halogen lights, but they can only light up one area at a time and have to be moved when I move from one spot to the next and that is just a big hassle, so I generally quit when it becomes too dark to work. Plus to be able to have power at all the outlets will be nice too.
    I want to thank everyone for their drywall tips. I already had a rotozip and picked up a packet of the bits for drywall work. However, I may not even need them as I may just sub out that bit of work to a local drywaller. He came out on Friday to look at what needed to be done and depending on his bid he might do everything, or perhaps just the taping/mudding or perhaps Nora and I will be doing everything! It's not a huge job and I have done drywall work before. Not fun and I am your typical novice when it comes to drywall and have seen the pro's do it, so that is one reason why I decided to sub it out if the price is right. There are only two drywallers in the book up here and the other I could not get a hold of after repeated attempts, so this one bid will be the do or die one. I am sure that there are other contractors that would do it too, but they might not be any faster than me and so the price is likely to be higher for their extra time. Anyway, I should know pretty quickly how the drywall will get done!
    If he does it, then Nora and I can get going on making the tongue and groove and then installing that. Paint the drywall, seal the tongue and groove and then put in the floors, fixtures and move in! I figure we are still at least 4 weeks away if all goes well, but it is getting closer and closer! I already insulated one wall where the plumbing and heating manifolds will be on so that I could take care of those before the drywall gets done and it is neat to see a wall with insulation in it rather than bare studs and the wall sheathing. It will really be cool to see walls with drywall and tongue and groove on them!
    It just seems so hard to believe that in a few weeks we will not be living in this home in Lake Linden any more. It sure will be a period of mixed emotions for a while. I have so many great memories while living in this house. So many great things have happened and other than the home I grew up in Park Ridge, IL, I have lived in this home longer than anywhere else in my life! Of course living at the property will be a dream come true and the collection of great memories will be started from the day we move in up there (and already have started), so thus the mixed of emotions in moving. Which brings me to my next subject... If anyone is interested in a nice little ranch home in the Keweenaw, now is your golden opportunity! There is some interest from some folks we know up here and they have been over to see the place and if they are not interested or able to purchase the home, then it will go to a realtor. So anyway, if you are looking, e mail me!
    The other main item on tonight's agenda is the color show unfolding up here. I do not believe I can ever remember an autumn where there was so much diversity in the colors from one place to another. There is always some difference in the degree of color change in every year. Basically the higher terrain and areas away from the lake are the first to change and then the lower elevations and areas near the lake change later. This year it seems like you can be in one area and little color change is going on and then just down the road a mile or two and the colors are past half way. Case in point, here are the woods up behind my house where the snowmobile trail goes in the winter. Now here are some trees up the valley about 3 miles, but at a lower elevation. The property sits on the "Keweenaw Spine", so it is higher up in elevation and typically sees the colors peak about 4-5 days before here in Lake Linden, but this year it looks like the peak could be 10-14 days different. Here is a shot of the colors on the road the property sits on and the trees in my yard have not even begun to change. So it is going to be a weird color season this year. Not any less dramatic, but in about a week, some areas will be at peak and others still about a week to ten days away.
    We have all of our firewood made for this season (at least I hope!), but that is one of the activities keeping some of the locals busy this time of the year. Lots of pickup trucks driving around with wood in the back and this is a pretty familiar sight in the yards of many of the homes up here. It seems even more these last two years due to the price of natural gas, heating fuel and propane. We have yet to have to turn our heat on this season, but I have smelled the wood burning in some of the wood stoves/furnaces in the village the past 2 weeks- especially on our morning walks. It sure is a great smell, the smell of "winters coming".
    Well, I got a late start on this one and it's past my bedtime, so I will sign off for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
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September 16-
    Gonna sneak one in tonight rather than on Sunday. My mom and brother are up visiting for a few days and right now they are up at the Calumet Theater with Nora seeing a musical done to the "Wizard of Oz".  Seeing as though I am really not a musical kind of guy (with the exception of the Blues Brothers Movie) and as I saw the movie the Wizard of Oz, I passed that one up. When I found out that it was 3 hours long, I was even more grateful! So I figured while I am here alone in a quiet house, I would get to updating the journal.
    We had one of our last summer days of the season today. Warmed to 77 degrees and even had a touch of humidity, with dewpoints running in the low 60's. However, it is only about 7:40 right now and the sun has already dipped below the hills to the west and the temp is falling. Yesterday we hit about 82 at our house and fell short of a record high at the airport by a few degrees. Even with the warm days it has been dropping off into the 30's and 40's at night. If we could only have summer days and nights like this all summer I think I would be a lot more tolerant of them! With the sun setting so late in the summer, it just does not cool off until well after my bed time and the humidity on the hot days in the summer is usually much higher than I like to see. I even took the air conditioners out of the windows today and have not really needed them for over a week now. I suppose tomorrow or Monday I will even pack up all the summer clothes and bring out the cool season wear as it looks like Monday our temps will be struggling to rise out of the 40's and then most of the rest of the week will be in the 50's. Who knows may even need to turn the heat on here in the house.
    It was a more relaxing week at the property, we even had an entire evening off this week and Nora and I had dinner here at this house and then took a walk around Lake Linden! I finished up the electrical and passed both my plumbing and electrical inspections. A bit more work to do on both, but nothing major. I did not know it was code to have hard wired smoke detectors in a residence and I needed a 3 way light over the stairs, with a switch at the bottom and at the top. They all make sense and I actually took care of all of that this afternoon while it was raining out. We had planned to make a trip to the beach this afternoon and just as we were heading out it started to rain. So we went back to the house and Nora and my mom and brother decided to take a ride in the car and see the sights and I figured I could get a few hours of work done at the property, so Burt and I headed up there.
    It's funny, Burt is not real comfortable about being up at the property and inside the cabin just yet. Not that he is upset about being there, but it took a while for him to be comfortable with being in the shop and now he would rather lay down and sleep in the shop than in the cabin! I suppose it will take a few more trips with him to be in the cabin with me while I am working out there for him to become more comfortable and feel home. It would be nice for him to feel comfortable in the cabin before we move there! Of course when all the things he is familiar with here at this house like the couches, tables, etc. are moved up there, that will help too.
    Anyway, I have a few more things to take care of before we can start insulating and then closing in the walls. I figure that sometime next week we will be moving on to the insulation phase and then probably by next weekend start closing in the walls. If all goes as planned then in a few weeks we should be very close to moving in. My goal (although I have always been flexible and will not stress out of we miss the goal) has been to be moved in by the start of "deer season" November 15th. The packing process will likely take about a week and the actual moving in process should not take more than a weekend so we'll see how it goes. It just seems so hard to believe that this home I have lived in for the past 7 years will no longer by my home and we will be living up at the property.
    I do not have any pictures to share with you this go around. I figured that pictures of a wall outlet or switch or even the main breaker panel would not be too exciting and that is what has been going on this past week. I did miss the opportunity to take some pictures of one interesting that happened. There is municipal water at the road and Thursday and Friday they used a directional boring machine to drill a hole under the road that they could run the water line through. It usually takes only about a half day, but on the first try on Thursday the hit some rock and that caused them problems, so they tried again on Friday and the second drilling they got 3/4 of the way through and hit rock again. The third time was the charm and they were through by about 1 pm on Friday. The good news is that the water company pays for everything to get the water to my property boundary and then I pay for the rest. So that means I did not have to pay for any of the under the road drilling. I will have the contractor that is putting in the septic dig a trench to run the water line in to the cabin. Hopefully that will all be taking place this week. Once that work is done, then I can pull power from the shop to the cabin and we will have, power, water and septic at the cabin!
    I sure hope the drywall work goes well. I have never done this big a drywall job before and am contemplating renting a drywall lift. I know a friend of mine has one, but am not sure if he is done or even if it is his or his brothers, but will give a call and find out. I know I can rent one from the local rental shop too, but we just do not have a ton of drywall to do, so I am not sure if the price of renting one would be worth it. Any opinions? Plus any tips on hanging drywall would be appreciated. I have done a few walls in my life, but never a ceiling or entire rooms. The working around the outlet and switch boxes seems like it would be the worst part and most time consuming. I guess time will tell. Any drywallers out there that would like to swap a weekend hanging drywall with me for a backwoods snowmobile trip or two, I am offering!
    So that is where we stand right now. The cabin is moving along and there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel. It's hard to believe that just a little more than 2 months ago there was not even a wall standing there yet.
    The color change continues and there is more color for this time of the year than I have seen in my 7 years of living here. Nora, my mom and brother went to Copper Harbor via 5 Mile Point, Eagle River, Eagle Harbor and Brockway Mountain today and they said the colors up on Brockway were around 75% changed. Elsewhere the colors are about 15 to maybe 20 percent changed and I would say that the peak will still be around the 6th to 14th of October, although probably closer to the 6th. I think one reason why the trees on Brockway are so far along is that they did not see the soaking rains we saw in mid July, so in essence they have seen around 2 inches or less of rain fall since early June so the trees are under a lot of stress. Plus Brockway is a naturally stressful place for trees to grow (ever see the mini oaks that grow up near the top?), so those two elements are combining to cause the trees to turn faster there. My main reason for believing the peak color time will be around the time it usually occurs is because the color change is triggered more by the amount of daylight than anything else and that stays the same from year to year. So we'll see if my science is off, but it seems like in many years the early turners start going and we all think that it will be an early color show, but then the change almost halts and about the beginning of October, everything starts to change and by the end of the first week we are just about at peak. Only time will tell!
    I guess that about covers it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September 10-
    When I die I think I should donate my brain to science so that they might be able to get to the bottom of what is going on inside there. Not that anything is wrong, but I sure am a bird of a different feather! Why do I say this? Well, on Thursday we had clear blue skies, temps around 80 degrees, pretty low humidity and a nice fresh breeze, but when I went to bed that evening I had a hard time falling asleep because I was excited for what the next day would bring. That was temps in the 40's and low 50's, gray skies and even some light rain and drizzle in the morning. In fact when Burt and I took our short walk in the morning, the temp was about 47, there was a drizzle that had just ended, but the skies were battleship gray and a brisk breeze was blowing out of the northeast and I was all smiles! Not that I did not enjoy the weather on Thursday because I did. I took Burt to the local swimming hole and then went up to the property to do work, but there was just something about the dramatic change from mid summer weather on Thursday to mid autumn weather on Friday that just really brightened my spirits when I think most folks would have felt the opposite effect.
    So autumn has arrived in the Keweenaw. We even dipped below freezing both yesterday morning and again this morning. There may still be a few summer like days left up here. In fact it looks like maybe by the end of this week we could be running in the upper 70's for high temps, but those types of days will be harder and harder to come by and the sweatshirt weather will become more common place and as always- I am ready!
    It's been another very busy, but productive week at the property. Last weekend I was able to get the rest of the framing on the inside all done. Here is a before picture of the kitchen in the foreground and then the utility room on the left and bathroom on the right in the background. Here is an after picture with the half wall between the kitchen and dining room done as well as the wall between the bathroom and kitchen. There is even a pantry framed out in the back of the kitchen that has since been removed. We decided to go with more cabinet and countertop space rather than the pantry. We could not have both and still be able to fit into the kitchen from the utility room. On Tuesday I built the stairs leading up to the loft and then on Wednesday installed all the boxes for electric. Thursday I pulled all the electric wire for the first floor, Friday wired all the outlets for the first floor and yesterday got all the wiring done for the second floor. This morning I got started on the wiring for the outside and then came home for lunch. I plan to head up there this evening to finish off the outside lighting. Then all that will be left to do is make the connections at the main panel and get the panel hooked up to the grid and the electric will be done! Plumbing is next and should not be too bad as all I have to do is finish up some of the drain work for the kitchen and bathroom and bring in the supply lines. Get those two inspected and it will be time to start closing in the walls.
    Speaking of the walls, we took delivery of the wood for the tongue and groove this week. That will be a big job to get out of the way too. Nora has already transfered all the wood to the shop and we will get to making the tongue and groove later this week as I would imagine we should be pretty well set to start closing in things by later this week or next week at the latest. The floors will be a breeze to install as we are just going with that snap together laminate for most of the cabin, with carpet in the loft and vinyl in the utility room and bathroom. I know I have yet to pass the electrical inspection, but I was really surprised at how quickly it went. It was also nice to not have to be lifting anything heavy or working with too many heavy tools. I guess you could say it was nice to be using a little finesse rather than brute strength.
    On Friday, it was actually cool enough that it would have been nice to have some heat going in the cabin. I was not freezing, but did need a jacket the whole time. The cool weather was nice though. I was able to bring Burt with me and take a walk up at the property with him before starting in on the work for the day. With the cool temps and overcast skies, all that was needed to make it feel like autumn was really here was some color in the trees and mother nature provided that as well. Here is another look at the splashes of color that are starting to become more common up here. Another sign of autumn that I saw, but am willing to bet was one of the only ones up here to notice what they were was some lake effect clouds. We did not get any precip from them and the only way I was sure they were actually lake effect was because I saw them forming on the satellite imagery first! Still that was enough to get my blood pumping as well!
    No signs of snow for us, in fact as I mentioned earlier we are actually going to warm up as we head through this week. If you want to see some snow fly though you will probably be able to check out the web cams in the NCN for both Togwotee and Cooke City later in the week or next weekend and they will likely have some snow. This is about the time of the year when they can get their first snows, so if they do it will not be anything too unusual and will also melt off pretty quickly. Our first flakes typically arrive in about 3 weeks, but have fallen by now in one or two of the previous years.
    I think that about covers it for this one. Short but sweet I guess!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September 4-
    It seems like I have settled into a routine of writing a journal every Sunday and even though this is actually Monday, because it is also Labor Day, it seems like a Sunday- so here I am! Another week is over and a new one is beginning. We made great progress on the cabin in the past week. Nora and I were able to not only make all all the boards for the siding, but get them put up by midweek. On Wednesday we loaded the battens into the back of Old Blue and then on Thursday I headed out to start putting them up. Nora arrived in the early evening and we were able to work as a team and get all the battens put up. They needed to be trimmed and as I was about 1/2 way done with the trimming the circular saw gave up the ghost. It was a saw that I have had for about 10 years and it probably would have lasted longer, but it sucked in sand last autumn when I was trimming the battens on the shop. I was able to change out the brushes for the motor, but could feel the bearings going on the saw and knew it was just a matter of time. Thursday evening was that time. So we were not able to completely finish the siding on Thursday, but I picked up a new saw on Friday and after doing some shopping for things like our furnace we headed up to the property Friday evening and I put up the final corner trim pieces, cut then flush and then was done with the outside!
    Of course you do not have to be ultra observant to notice in that last shot we still had one small strip of metal roofing to put up on the back side of the cabin. There was also a similar strip needed on the other side. The strip on the back side was already cut and ready to put up, but the strip for the front needed to be re-cut, plus some minor trimming work needed to be done to the roof sheathing on the side of the cabin facing the shop. All in all, I figured an hour or two of work was all it would take to finish off the roof. On Thursday I had left a note with my friend who helped me with the roof that I wanted to get things wrapped up and that he should call me to let me know when he wanted to get it done. Well, after finishing up all the siding work on Friday and seeing that little bit of roofing work that needed to be done Nora and I decided to just finish things up ourselves Saturday. So up I went onto the scaffolding one last time and in about an hour and a half we had all the roofing finished and about 30 minutes later all the scaffolding was taken down and stored away.
    So by noon on Saturday we reached a major milestone in the construction of the cabin, all of the outside construction was done!!! Here is a shot of the back of the cabin. I guess if one wanted to be technical there is still some outside work that needs to be done, like building the deck on the front of the cabin and also staining/sealing the siding, but both will have to wait until spring. So we are all done with the outside work for this build season. I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was to have reached that milestone. It was not like I was worried that we would not be able to get the outside done before winter settled in, but it was still a HUGE relief to have that work out of the way and know that the weather will not have any impact on us working out there.
    There is not much rain seen at all in the next week to ten days, but we have been so dry (less than 3/4" of rain in the past 7 weeks) that what will probably happen is it will start to rain and not quit, but rather change to snow. And you know what? It can go right ahead and do so as far as I am concerned.  We still have to have the septic installed as well as the water line brought in and there is the furnace and propane that needs to be set up as well, but they are all basically things that can be done in more questionable weather and also are all things that I will not be doing, so that is why I am no longer concerned about the weather.
    The furnace we bought on Friday is an outdoor wood boiler with dual fuel capability, which simply means it can heat the water by either burning wood in it or can use propane if need be. That way we will not have to have someone come over and throw wood in it when we are away, the heat will not go off if we forget to stoke it with wood and also makes it easier to start the wood with the propane. That furnace will not only heat the cabin, but will also end up heating the shop, the log home, all the domestic hot water for the cabin and log home and might even heat the water in the hot tub when I get one some day!
    With the major milestone on the construction done Nora and I decided to take the rest of the day on Saturday off. It was a great day to head to the beach, so that is exactly what we did. Not too many great beach days left in this season, but as far as I am concerned, there probably is not a bad day to be at the beach. Especially as beautiful as all the beaches are up here. Burt wasted no time heading for the water and fetched his stick. I had a great time just relaxing and taking it all in, watching Burt swim. We kept the relaxing going Saturday evening by heading down to the Dreamland Motel for dinner and then went down to see Matt's new place. He bought a nice little home in the woods between Dreamland and Jacobsville. It is a great place all nestled in the woods that still needs finishing, but he got the home and something like 12 acres for less than most folks are paying for just the land up here. He is all excited to do work on his place and also plans to build a pole barn before the snow starts to fall. He built a little bonfire and we sat around and chatted for a while and then Nora and I headed home.
    Sunday was back to work for me. I headed out in the morning and got going on finishing up the rest of the rough framing in the cabin. We had a few more pieces of walls to build and I got some of that done in the morning, then came home, took a walk in the woods with Nora and Burt, ordered up some ribs from the Loading Zone and then we went back up to the property and I finished up most of the rest of the wall work while Nora painted the front door and Burt napped. This morning I finished up the rough framing work and built some temporary steps for the side door. We will have a walkway along the side of the house and a stoop for the doorway, but the steps will do for now. I also did a mock up of the stairs for the loft and plan to get the 2 x 12's for the real thing tomorrow and get the stairs done tomorrow. Then it is on to roughing in the electrical, plumbing and installing the heat exchanger and then we can insulate, put up the vapor barrier and then do the sheet rock and tongue and groove on the walls and ceilings. Then the cabinetry, floors and doors, finish up the plumbing and electrical and move in. I figure we have about 8 weeks or so to go, maybe more maybe less, before we move in. It's going to be a little sad to leave this home we are in right now, but also exciting to move into the new place.
    Other than the building process, things have been fairly quiet in our household. Summer is still hanging on up here. We hit 80 degrees today and it looks like we will remain on the warm side through Thursday. Although the nice thing about the warmth this time of the year is that the nasty humidity is done for the season and also it does not get too warm until about 11 am- rather than 9 am like in July. It also cools down by about 6:30 or 7 rather than 9 or 10 pm like in July. So warm temps this time of the year are a lot more tolerable and I will be able to tolerate the warmer than average temps for the next 3 days and then it may be sweatshirt weather by Friday and the weekend!
    It has been so dry in the past 2 months or so that many of the trees are already changing color. Usually we have a few early turners this time of the year, but usually only about 5%. This year it seems like about 35-40% of the trees have some form of color change going on. I do not think that you need to change your plans for visiting the area if you were planning on coming up in early October for the breathtaking color show we have up here. I think the main color show will still be then. It is just something to see so many trees changing right now is all.
    Well, I guess that gets you all caught up for this time. Welcome to September (and meteorological autumn) everyone. Who knows, perhaps in another month or so I will be sharing some pictures of our first flakes! I know I will be sharing pictures of the colors!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
 
 
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