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April 29-
    Looks like I am back into a Sunday update mode for the moment. For some reason Sunday evenings just seem to be a good time to sit down and catch you all up on things. This week has been pretty busy. Nora and I have been busy taking care of the last few things to get the Lake Linden house as perfect as it can be. I went down last Sunday and cleaned out the garage completely. We had cleaned out most of the items, but I am sure that you all know how garages can accumulate items and so there were a few more things left to get out to empty it completely. We actually still have some firewood out there. All cut and split and has been seasoned for about 8 years, so it is good stuff. I am debating whether or not I want to haul it up here to use for campfires or just leave it for the next person to use in the fireplace. We'll see.
    Then during the week last week, Nora and I painted the master bedroom and second bedroom that I had used for my office. We did the whole nine yards, by patching all the holes in the walls (even the ones we did not put in!) and then painting the walls and ceilings. There were a few walls that needed a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen, dining room and living room, so we took care of that as well. The third bedroom was completely painted about a year ago and the two bathrooms completely remodeled within the past few years, so they were good to go. We also took care of some yard work, took down the bush protectors and emptied the basement of most of its last belongings. I still have my lumber for my workshop down there and as soon as my shop up here has some space cleared out for it, I will be moving all that lumber up here and then the Lake Linden home will be completely empty and looking as good as it ever has. Sure hope we can sell it this summer as it would be very nice to have that off our hands. Anyone interested in a nice home at the end of the block and end of the village in Lake Linden, here is your chance to own the famous Dee House! Easy trail access and a great place to have as a second home up here and perhaps even rent out to help pay some of the costs. I have thought about keeping it and using it as a rental to snowmobilers and summer visitors, but just do not want an extra set of things to take care of! But I bet I could rent it out every weekend and many weekdays in the winter and summer with no problem. I'd even help any buyer advertise it on the site if they wanted to go that way.
    I have been doing some work in the shop too. I am about 75% done with building the storage in the attic. Once that is done, I can put some of the things in the shop up here. Then I need to make a storage rack for some tongue and groove that we have left over. Once that is done, I can start better organizing the tools. It still looks like I have done very little in there. The boat came out about a week ago and I put the sleds on the trailer and got them out for a little bit. I would like to store them inside, so once I have the room again, the sleds will go back into the shop. It would be easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of work to do in the shop, but I am just going to take it a bit at a time. Plus I think that right now the going is slow, but once I gain a bit more space then things will start to move more quickly. The tools will find their permanent spots, storage shelves will become full with the items they are suppose to hold and a couple of workbenches with storage spots will also help to get things organized. Today I dug out my table saw, cleaned it up and even used it to make some of the base molding I still need to put in at the Lake Linden house. It felt good to power up a tool in the shop again. Oh, I bought some speakers when we were in Marquette and hooked them up to an old receiver that was laying around my parents place, so now I have some decent tunes playing in the shop.
    Nora, Burt and I went to Marquette on Monday. I had to see the cardiologist and dermatologist for regular check ups and Burt needed his annual lube, oil and filter too. Then we stopped in at Menards and used up a rebate ticket we had received from some of the building last year and then came home. We left at about 9 in the morning and did not get back home until about 6:30 in the evening. Sure does make for a long day! We get to do it all over again this Wednesday as Burt needs to have his teeth cleaned and my cardiologist wants to re-do a test so that he can compare results with some tests done about a year ago. I get put into la-la land for my test, so Nora has to come along to drive Burt and I home.
    The weather last week was just perfect in my book. I could actually go for a whole summer of it. Temps were in the upper 50's to low 60's with lots of sun and a fresh breeze. I know those types of temps are too cool for most persons likes in the summer, but I personally do not mind having to wear a light jacket. Plus Burt and I can explore the woods and he does not become overheated. We did take advantage of that weather to do lots of exploring in the woods. We even cut a path through our woods so we will be able to walk them once the woods fill out in another month or so. I actually hope to be able to make a few more footpaths through our woods that we can walk. We do not have a ton of land, but with 10 acres we can make 3 or 4 out there to be able to walk on once the woods fill in with the summer growth. Here is a shot of Burt walking down the path we cleared. You can hardly tell where the path goes now, but in about a month it will be a lot more noticeable as the areas not cleared will be more filled in.
    One of the days last week was warmer and I generally let Burt decide where he wants to go. It is so cool to see him make the decision when we come to an intersection. I honestly believe that he knows right where he wants to go and why. My proof is that on that warmer day last week, he choose to take the path to the beaver pond back behind our property. I have looked on maps and it does not have a name, so we named it "Burt's Pond". Anyway, he led me there so that he could go for a swim and cool off a bit. Smart boy the Burt is. While out there, a pair of mallards dropped in for a quick break. They must be getting ready to start a family. We also saw a beaver popping it's head up every once in a while. Pretty cool to have such a place so close by. I am sure that Burt will be wanting to go there lots this summer. On the way back we took a different route and came across a spot where a deer had shed his winter coat. Pretty amazing how much they can lose in one spot, the ground was completely covered in that spot. I have been looking for sheds of their antlers too, but have not found any.  I know that porcupines like to eat them, but have not seen any porcupines around- thankfully!
    The Canadian geese have been flying by overhead, which is always a sign to me that winter is over. The peepers have also be creating their sounds in the swamps up here, so that means that the smelt must be running too. I have not been smelting in a few years and really do not miss it much. Kind of a fun thing to do every so often, but it is not that important of an event to me that I need to do it annually.
    On one of our trips down to Lake Linden, Nora and I swung by the Laurium Glacier to see how it was coming along. It has melted noticeably since the last time I saw it, but that was about 3 weeks ago and it still looks like it has at least 2 1/2 to 3 weeks left to go, if not more. Only time will tell when it goes for sure, but it always amazes me that no matter how weak or strong the winter is, that thing seems to pick it's own pace and stick to it, year after year. The last of our snow piles melted last night. It was a spot where the snow comes off the shops roof and is also shaded from most of the midday sun. None the less, it was on it's last legs yesterday evening and was gone this morning. Perhaps next year I can start a new contest to guess when that snow pile will melt. I think it would be more prone to variation- perhaps.
    I guess that about gets you caught up on most of our doings up here in the past week. A lot of work and some play and yesterday evening we even snuck in some good old fashioned relaxing. That spot in front of the cabin is really a great place to sit and enjoy the evenings. The pastime of sitting on ones front porch and relaxing had gone out of fashion by the time I came around. We had a front porch at the house I grew up in, but it sat empty for most of it's life. We do have a deck at the Lake Geneva home and it gets a ton of use. Best thing my folks ever did to that home in my opinion. But you just do not see too many homes being built these days with a front porch. Or at least one that is intended to be used. I can sure see why it was such a hit at one time and I sure do plan to make that a regular part of my life, even though we will not be able to watch the neighbors go by as they did in the "Good Old Days". Well, gonna go sit out front for a while, so for now...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
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April 22-
    Ahhh, a nice summer day. Hard to believe that it was just two weeks ago that we were digging out from the big snow storm and temps had been running in the teens. There is barely a lick of snow around anymore and temps the past 2 days have been in the 70's. I know that this weather will not last too long either, at least this time of the year. Heck, we probably still have a bit of snow to get through before summer really arrives, but it has been nice to be out and about in shorts and a t shirt.
    Even with the warmer temps we are still needing some heat in the overnight period and that means we still need to keep the wood boiler going and that means we need wood to burn in it. We were running low on the stuff I cut back on the 12th, so last Wednesday Nora and I headed down to Matt's place to make some more. He said he had a bunch on the ground and that if we wanted to come down and grab a load or two we could. At that point there was still snow on the ground up here and so we took him up on his offer and drove down there to make a load. Not only was Matt generous enough to let us have some of his nice hardwood, he even helped me cut it up and then helped Nora and I load the truck. In about 30 minutes we were able to fill the back of Old Blue up with some nice hard maple for burning. We spent another hour or so out there visiting with him and his family and then decided we had better get back so that we could unload the wood before going to bed. The unloading went smoothly with Nora's help and we have enough wood now to get us through about two weeks, maybe more. We really do not go through much wood at all  these days and actually have had the windows open the past few days. The boiler does heat our hot water too and I think most of its energy has been spent doing that. The snow is gone up here now and things are drying out, so I will be able to make wood from our own stash the rest of the season. Come autumn I will need to get serious about making wood for next winter.
    On Thursday I felt like taking a walk up in the higher terrain of Keweenaw County, so Burt and I loaded into Old Blue and headed north a bit. It's funny, Burt would rather just walk around here and not have to get into the truck to go somewhere, but then when we get close to the place we are going he will recognize it and gets all excited and seems very happy that we made the trip. There was still quite a bit of snow left in spots up there. Here is a shot of the trail through the woods we were walking on. I guess one could have still ridden their snowmobile up there had they wanted to. Problem is we also encountered spots on our walk with no snow or with just patches of snow. There were also some giant puddles out there from all the melting snow. There would be no snowmobiling down our way. We are higher than places like Lake Linden, Houghton and Hancock are and get more snow than they do, but still not as much as the highest terrain of the county. Here is a shot of the snowmobile trail down by us on Friday afternoon. Not so good for sledding, but pretty good for hiking. Some mud puddles too, but we just went by that same spot this afternoon and it was almost completely dry.
    On Saturday I actually got to go on an ATV ride. Many of the same group of guys that I ride sleds with also own ATV's and they have an annual spring ride once the snow is gone, but before things get too dusty. Dave had said that he would let me borrow his extra ATV so that I could experience the fun they have on those machines too. Back in March when the snow was melting off, the ride had been planned for the first weekend in April, but we got sidetracked playing in 4-5 feet of powder! Then it was though that the ride would take place next weekend, but the snow melted so fast and they really like to catch things before they get too dusty and before the bugs get a chance to pop out of hibernation that it was decided the ride would take place this Saturday (yesterday).
    I got a call on Thursday from Dave telling me the ride would be Saturday and that they planned to leave Dave's house at about 9-9:30 in the morning, so I drove down there and wondered what I was getting myself into. Knowing how these guys ride their sleds, I could only imagine how they rode their ATV's. I know there is not quite as much you can do, but still I was pretty much a rookie and our typical snowmobile ride is usually not one for a rookie. So I was a little apprehensive about things and also worried that I might slow up the group a bit. Once I got down to Dave's, got suited up and then familiarized on my ride, I felt a whole lot more comfortable about the whole situation. My feet could reach the ground just fine and I figured if I got it stuck, I could just pick it up and carry it out of any mess I got myself into. Things went just fine. I was able to keep up for the most part. There were a few spots that got a little hairy, but I was able to get through them. My legs did get a little cramped up by the end of the day, but I was not complaining, never to be the one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Ok. How many of you REALLY thought that I rode that little bugger all day long? Nope, I was three weeks late, but that was your April Fools Joke. That ATV is for Dave's two girls to ride around their property with. He had a full sized edition for me to ride. A nice Honda at that.
    Before I get into the details of the ride, I just want to say that pics of us going through spots where we were tearing up the trail were all taken on private property that was either that of the participants of the ride, their friends or family. We did not go and tear up any public land or private land that we did not have permission to be on. So now that the disclaimer is out of the way. On to the ride. I guess that these spring rides can grow to some pretty large numbers. Much like our snowmobile rides can gather lots of folks to them, there have been spring ATV rides that have had as many as 18-20 riders in them. Our group yesterday was nice and small and consisted of myself, Dave, Matt and two guys that I had never met, but were friends of Dave's and regulars on the ATV rides- Mark and Bill. Once Dave showed me how the ATV worked (shifting, breaks, reverse...) I took a few laps across Dave's fields and then we were off into the woods. It's pretty cool to be going down those paths through the woods on an ATV with bare ground. I have only been on them on a sled and with feet of snow on the ground. We weren't but about 5 minutes into the trip and we came across the first mud hole to play in. I actually remember this one from snowmobiling and sometimes if the water is deep and the snow even deeper, it can make for an interesting crossing via sled. This time of the year and on an ATV it just makes for a fun spot to play.
    A little further on down the line things got a little more interesting. Dave was leading and got hung up for a moment. Mark decided to get by Dave to the left by going over the log and took the lead for a moment. It was actually beneficial for me that Dave got hung up first, because I could watch some of the techniques used to get yourself unstuck. I have most of the tricks for getting a sled unstuck (lots of practice!), but did not want to resort to a rookie move on the ATV (like when folks will push all day on the rear bumper of a sled to get it unstuck!). So I was able to observe the rocking maneuver as well as the reverse technique and Dave had himself unstuck in a minute or so. Matt was next and true to his nature on a sled he is pretty fun to watch on an ATV as well. Never one to take the easy route through he got himself in a bit of a pickle as well. Dave hopped off his ride to give Matt a helping hand and Matt thanked him by spraying him with mud. Later Matt thanked Dave in a more traditional way.
    We got onto some logging roads and made our way towards Gay. We did not actually go to the hamlet itself, instead we headed north in hopes of finding some snow to play in. As we traveled north we did not encounter any snow. Quite the opposite we encountered lots of dry logging roads. Believe it or not, this is the exact same spot that we did some snowmobiling on just a week ago. Very hard to believe that not only was all the snow gone, but the road was dry too. A testament to how strong the sun is this time of the year and really makes me wonder how the heck the guys got to take their last ride in 1996 on May 18th! We did get far enough north to encounter some snow and actually stopped for a lunch break up on some property that Matt's family has. There was enough snow and wet ground that we were able to build a little campfire and grill up some hot dogs and venison burgers. Normally it would not be a wise thing at all to build a fire, but like I said we were on private property and the site was surrounded by snow and when it came time to put the fire out we just buried it under a mound of snow.
    After lunch, Matt led the way as this was his family's land and he knew it best. We actually encountered a trail that was completely covered in snow. It was not too deep that we could not make it through, but still deep enough to make things interesting. We came to a little gully crossing that had some meltwater running in it and this is where things got interesting again. The bank on the side you dropped into was not too bad, but the other side (the one you had to drive up) was quite steep. Steep enough that it required the helping hand of others to get the ATV up the bank and also keep it from flipping over backwards. We all made it with the helping hand and then it was Mark's turn. He decided that he was going to have a go at it by himself. He got a bit of speed, dropped into the gully, punched the throttle and was able to almost get up when things started to go a little wrong and then a lot wrong and the next thing you knew his ride was rubber side up. He was able to get out from underneath it before it came completely down and we got it righted in less than a minute and we were back on our way, but not after a thank you that he was not hurt and a few laughs at what had just happened.
    It was starting to get early in the evening so we started to head back down south. The one thing about riding an ATV vs. riding a sled is that you cannot make time as well. From our northern most point on our ATV trip I could have made it back to Lake Linden in about 30-40 minutes. On an ATV it would have taken us about 2 hours going that same direct route and the way we went took about 3 1/2 hours. Still loads of fun the whole way back, just something to keep in mind when you are out on an ATV. Leave enough time to get back! My last picture of the ride is of Matt climbing a little hill. It does not look like much, but these things do not climb hills like sleds. The like to flip themselves over much more easily (as the last picture can attest to), so it requires a whole lot more finesse rather than a handful of throttle. Here is a video of Matt climbing that same hill.
    We made it back to Dave's by a little after 7 pm. That was about 9 hours after we left. Something that I am not sure I could have done if we were boondocking on the sleds. 7 or 8 hours is about all I can handle on a sled. About the only thing sore on me at the end of the day was the part that sat on the seat all day. It is actually the only part on me sore today too! Dave, Matt and Mark all stood while riding for much of the day and now I see why! I did not crash or hurt Dave's sled in any way. Nor did I hurt myself in anyway. I did not get as crazy as some of the others, but had a lot of fun. This is certainly something that I will have to get to enjoy. The nice things is that they can be used for work too. It would come in very handy to use to haul firewood out of the woods with as well as plow those couple inch storms with.
    Today Burt and I took a walk in the woods. Nora has been under the weather a bit for the past few days and sat this one out. We did manage to come across a lingering patch of snow in the woods, but just about all the snow from around the cabin is gone. We are seeing ground in places for the first time since late November. I was also down in Lake Linden this afternoon and the grass is greening up down there. I suppose if we had grass up here around the cabin it too might be starting to green up! Another thing on the list of to-do's. However, I will wait another week or two just to allow the ground to warm enough to ensure germination of the seed.
    Not much else going on up here at the moment. I have been starting some of the projects that need to be done. The warmer temps have allowed Nora, Burt and I to sit out in front of the cabin. It is so peaceful and relaxing to do, I think the deck building project has been bumped up higher on the list. Not to the top, but about 3rd or 4th from the top. That will also help to keep us from dragging so much sand and dirt into the house. Well, I guess that does it for another one!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 16-
    I'm here, I am alive and doing just fine. I suppose I do not ever really need to explain why I did not write sooner, but feel compelled to anyway. This time around the excuses are that not much happened last week during the week. The snow settled a ton and melted a bit. Burt and I walked the trails some and the roads other days and that was about it. Then there were plans to ride on Saturday, so I figured I would wait until that happened, so I had more material and then got busy with other stuff yesterday and before I knew it it was too late to sit down, go through the pics and then write a journal. So here I am today!
    As mentioned, the snow has really shrunk since last week at this time. Hard to believe it was just about a week ago that is was still so incredibly deep and bottomless. But the April sun is very strong and even with temps not getting too warm, it sure can take its toll on the snow. Here is a shot of the trail near by back on Wednesday afternoon when Burt and I were taking a walk on it. Not too bad, bumpy, but still plenty of snow cover. Here is that same section of trail yesterday evening. Not something I would want to ride down, although there were some folks braving it yesterday afternoon! To further demonstrate how strong the sun is at this time of the year, here is a shot of a road near by, with the sun exposed side nearly bare and the shaded side still holding 3-4 feet. The air temps have been pretty mild too. 50's the past 3 days. I am actually fine with all of this. The big dump gave my one heck of a last snow fix and I am ready to move on with things now. In fact I was checking out some of the cams out east where the snow was flying and I did not feel one ounce of envy. Of course if we got snow (and we still could) I would not complain, but I need no more for this season. I am ready for spring and all of its activities.
    One of those activities is to make more wood. We are down to the bottom of the pile and in fact last Thursday I decided to take down a few of the dead standing trees not far from the wood boiler. I had a Dr's appointment on Friday and Saturday I knew I would be riding most of the day, so I figured I had better get some wood made to last us a few days. So I fired up the old Husqvarna and got on to some cutting. Things did not go quite as planned as two trees fell in the complete opposite direction that I had intended them to, but they did not fall on anything that I did not want them to, just caused us to have to haul the wood a bit further. Plus we got a good laugh watching the trees fall the wrong direction. I bucked the limbs and cut them to length and then Nora helped me carry them over to the wood boiler. We got enough cut and stacked to get us through the past 3 days and we still have enough for another day or so. I honestly do not believe the heat has even been on yet in the past 24 hours. The floor has been fairly cool that entire time. Not cold, but certainly not making heat. I am actually planning on keeping it going all summer to continue to heat the domestic hot water and we are hoping to get a swimming pool and would also heat that with the wood boiler. Once the snow is all gone and the ground firms up, then I can take the truck to get at some hardwoods that have fallen or are dead and still standing.
    As mentioned, we got out for a ride on Saturday. Still plenty of snow to ride in up this way on Saturday and for most of the day we were making first tracks. Of course with a crew like this, once we were all through there was not much fresh snow! I think we had something like 18 in all. It's funny, at one point I thought it might be just Al and I going for a ride because we were the only ones planning to go, then one by one more and more were added to the group and then it seems like once word gets out about a ride the size grows and grows. We all had a good time, no one got misplaced and we only had one minor break down. That person was able to limp back to his truck under his own power, so we did not even need to do any towing. I actually ran out of gas in the last mile or so of the ride, but we were able to siphon some gas from another and I was able to ride back to the truck under my own power.
    The day was beautiful for riding, with tons of sun and temps in the 50's. Hard to believe that just a week previous temps were in the teens and it was snowing to beat the band. This past Saturday sure felt more like a spring ride in April than the previous one did! The previous day could have been any day in January or February, but certainly not April! The group was fortunate to have Al and Matt leading us around because like I said we spent about 95% of the day on untracked snow that was still deep enough to carve up.
    With the strong sun melting the snow, the creeks have all swelled some. Thankfully things have not gotten out of hand, the melt off has been slow enough to keep any flooding from going on, but some of the creek crossings are getting interesting. Here is a member of the group crossing a creek Saturday. That one was about 8-12" deep. Shallow enough to make it across, but deep enough to cause the clutch to get wet if you do not do it just right. Most made it across just fine and a few got their clutches wet and a few more needed a quick tug to get up the other bank. Here is a video of Kenny crossing the creek. After that little taste of some water crossing we headed over to try and do a bit more of the real thing. We got to one our traditional water skipping spots and let it rip. My gas was getting pretty low, so I only took two passes and then sat and watched. I managed to snap this shot of Kenny heading across and then the batteries on the camera gave out. Some skipped the water and others skipped the water skipping and once the water skippers were done we headed back. No one sunk and there were no close calls either (no fun!). I would have made it across several more times before running out of gas, but am glad that I played it safe. I have yet to be the spectacle of a water skipping event and would like to keep it that way!
    So it looks like the riding season has come to an end. That was the talk among most of the gang Saturday. I bet if we really wanted to force the issue we could still get out sometime this week or perhaps even this weekend, but would have to go to our secret late season spots. These hold snow much longer than anywhere else for some reason. I am not about to disclose where they are, so do not even bother to ask! I don't give up secret riding or fishing spots! The view from the AL Cam shows bare ground, but this was the view of the front yard this afternoon.
    I actually got so confident that we would not be riding anymore, I gave the sleds the once over for the summer. Hit all the grease points and slapped a little sea foam into the gas yesterday afternoon. Of course if we were to somehow take another ride, then the sleds are still ready to go, but they are also ready for the summer snooze. If anyone were planning to head up, you better hurry! The trails are pretty well shot in most areas and the woods will be following suit soon. Temps look to be in the 50's for much of the week ahead and it looks like quite a bit of sun to boot. As mentioned, that is fine by me. I am ready for the next season and usually am by this time of the year. By mid April I am fully committed mentally to spring arriving and the fact that we still have snow on the ground at this point is a bonus this year. In a week the snow will most likely be all gone and then a week after that it will be May and things will be greening up.
    Just about everything on my list of things to do are still there. The first job at hand (other than to make some more wood) is this. Get the boat out and get the shop straightened out! It drives me nuts to walk into it and see things such a mess in there. We did not have much choice moving up here just as winter was hitting, but I am sick of looking at the mess and am excited to get going on that job. Getting that done will open the doors for the other projects as well. Plus straightening out the shop will be something that will be better to do when it is not too warm out. A good spring task.
    The warmer weather has also been bringing out the critters. We have seen several deer. Actually we saw most of them before the storm hit, I saw a few during the storm and there have been sign of them since. The other day a pair of partridge came running out of the woods and then took flight as they got to the driveway and as we were having breakfast on Sunday a coyote came trouncing out of the woods on one side of the yard and made its way to the woods on the other side of the yard. I was able to grab the camera and take a shot. However, I did not notice the cam was on the video setting, so I shot a quick 3 second video of the coyote, then stopped, switched to photo mode and snapped a shot. It looks like the camera was not quite ready for the shot to be taken as it was a little fuzzy, but still caught the bugger.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. Strange to think that this will be it as far as snowmobiling write ups go for about 7 or 8 months, but I am sure I will find other things to gabber about!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 9-
    There is a whole bucket load of adjectives I could use to describe the storm we just went through. Amazing, incredible, awesome, wild, unbelievable, fabulous, the list could go on and on. However, the word that keeps popping into my head is EPIC. It is a word that I would be very hesitant to use to describe any weather event as to me it seems like a once in a life time event. Perhaps a once in many lifetimes event. It is probably safe to say that I will probably never see an April storm like that occur and it is entirely possible that I may not even see another snow storm like that occur in any month for the rest of my life. Then again, I do live in an area that could certainly provide another in my lifetime. Anyway, epic would be the best way that I could describe it. It was a 5 day storm, with a brief break later Thursday, but the snows started back up early Friday and kept up through all of Saturday. The snows Friday and Saturday were all part of the same synoptic system, so they can and will be included in the storm that started at 11 am Tuesday. My final total for the storm was 43 1/2". The National Weather Service in Negaunee Township to the west of Marquette reported 48.5". The "Phoenix Farms" Coop Observer just up the road from be about 8 miles reported 57" of snow and the observer in Painesdale came in with 64.5".
    I have always dreamt of going through a storm like that and true to my nature, I was not happy to see it stop snowing! I can say that the sunshine on Sunday did feel really good, but I would have taken another foot or two of snow as well! Maybe it is because the storm was 5 days in duration, but it sure does not seem like it was a big as it was. I did move snow every day from Wednesday through Sunday and even had to move it twice on a few days. The snow banks and snow on the ground is very much like it is in January up here, so there are definite reminders of the storm. It just seems like it was not that bad to have to go through. Even the roads were in pretty decent shape, except on Wednesday when it was snowing heavily all day and the winds were up in the 30-50 mph range.
    I also have to admit that I am surprised I did not take more pics of the storm. I suppose because in some cases the weather was just too bad to be out in and then at other times it just seemed like a good old fashioned LES storm- only 5 days long! I did have some shots in the last journal and I have over a dozen to share with you in this entry, but seems like I should have taken 50 of them with such an "epic" event.
    In any case, Friday was spent clearing the driveway, doing some shopping and enjoying the day off. Saturday was the big ride with the gang. I woke up, had breakfast, cleared the driveway and then went to load the 800 into the back of old Blue. Yep, the 800. I was talking with Dave on Friday night and talked myself into getting the 800 re-clutched and re-jetted for this elevation. My fear was that the 700 and it's 141" track might not be enough with all the snow. I had heard about some monumental snowcover reports coming in from where we were planning on riding Saturday. Some of the gang was out on Friday and was saying they have never seen anything like it. So I spent some time Friday evening changing out the weights and spring in the clutch and the main jets in the carbs. After my chores were done Saturday morning, I went to load the sled into old Blue. It was not difficult to build a bank big enough to be able to drive the sled right into the back of the truck. Mother Nature pretty much took care of that for me. I used the same spot that I used all winter, the spot between the cabin and the shop. I fired up the 800, drove it into the section of yard between the cabin and shop and in an instant was stuck good. Nora was able to watch the whole thing from one of the windows in the cabin and wasted no time grabbing the camera to capture the moment. There is just something about watching someone else get stuck that makes you grab for the camera!
    I might have been able to power through that as the rear of the track had made contact with the ground and would have been able to gain some traction on it, but I did now want to roto-till my yard either, so hit the brakes immediately after reaching ground. The one nice thing about getting stuck in your own yard is that you do have a bunch of resources available to help you get unstuck. I do not own a come-along- yet, but that would probably not have helped much anyway. What I needed to do was just dig out the sled and get the track up onto some packed snow and drive that thing into the back of Old Blue. So that is what I did, I shoveled out the sled, prepared a path to the truck, caught my breath and rode it into the back of the truck. The shoveling part went well and so did most of the other parts of the task. When it came to driving the sled into the back of the truck, that was a little more hairy. I could not just burp it up there like I usually do. I needed to get the sled going and keep it going so I would not get it stuck again. All that while threading the needle in getting the sled into the back of the truck with about 2" to spare on either side. I did it, but it was a wild ride for about 15 feet!
    The plans for hooking up with everyone were not exactly etched in stone. Dave had to work in the morning, Al had some family obligations for a portion of the morning and others were not sure what they were going to do. I was hoping to just truck up to one of our spring dropping off points and ride from there. That way I would not have to ride much trail and knew that at the end of the day I could just head home in the truck, with the sled in the back. No complications. Things worked out in my favor as a plan came together to meet up at our spot at about 11 am. Brian and I decided to caravan up so that we would have support in case something happened. It was a pretty crazy drive up there with the snow and blowing snow, but we made it safe and sound. Soon after we arrived, the other arrived, including long lost Teddy. He was without a sled this season, but since Nick was out of commission from his shoulder incidents in WY, he let Ted use his sled. It was Ted's first ride of the season, but was a doosy!
    We all unloaded the sleds, warmed them up a bit and then took off to go tear up the powder. It took all of about 20 seconds for almost everyone in the group to get buried good! I do not ever remember seeing so many of our group stuck all at one time! This on sleds that have at least 141" of track (except for 2) and many with tracks of 150" or longer. And these guys know how to ride in deep snow! A lesson was learned in that first 20 seconds, that being today was not a day for being timid. You either went at things with 100% or you were stuck. Earlier I said that the snow total at the Phoenix Farms site was 57". Much of that had fallen by the time we were riding Saturday and we did ride by that local briefly. Many of the spots we were in on Saturday had considerable more snow on the ground than they did at Phoenix Farms. I can only speculate on the totals of fallen snow in those areas but would figure it was at least 70", perhaps even 80. I know in spots the snow on the level was 4-5 feet deep and the most I saw reported from any of the sites during this storm was around 38-40". The world will never know just how much snow fell in the hills where we were playing, but I have never seen fresh snow that deep in my life.
    All of that deep snow made for some epic riding as well, but it also caused me to not be able to take many pictures. I do have some more to share, but in most spots if we stopped, unless we were pointed down a steep hill, you were most likely to get stuck. There was one spot that was just incredible. It was about a 1/4 mile stretch of drifts that were 4-8 feet high. I can safely say 8 feet as I am 6'2" and they were towering over me by a good foot even as I stood on my sled. I was about the third one down that stretch and by the time I was through I was so exhausted I thought I was going to pass out! Heading through those drifts, I had the sled at full throttle the entire time, it would launch off one drift and smash into the next, then power through that one only to climb up the next. All the while I had to keep the sled pointed down the trail and also keep it from getting flipped over. I did not even get to see 1/2 of it as the snow was flying over the hood and windshield and into my face and goggles. Thankfully I I could shake my head violently to clear the goggles, or I would have had to take one had off the handle bars and that would have meant losing control and getting stuck or backing off the throttle and getting stuck. To be quite honest with you I am pretty amazed I made it through! I guess I saw that the others had made it through ahead of me and I honestly kept thinking that the drift area was going to be ending after each one, but they just kept coming and coming and coming! Finally they ended and I was able to relax a bit, back off the throttle and try to hyperventilate to catch my breath.
    We did encounter some spots where the snow was not "as deep" and we could stop and take a breather. Even there the snow was about 2 1/2 to 3 feet deep as you can see by the front of my sled right behind Matt's. Here is a shot of what lay ahead of us in that spot  (fsv). Riding the logging roads was a pure dream. No steering at all, you just carve every turn. The snow was so deep that it took very little effort at all to carve. When we have powder I try to carve as many turns in the bush as I can, but sometimes there is just not enough snow or the turn is too tight or I am just not good enough to carve the turn and have to slow down to allow the skis to work. Not Saturday. I could carve every turn with little effort and could weave from side to side with just as little effort. Just incredible. And then we got into the deep stuff again and the stucks happened again. Here is Al and Kenny stuck in chest deep fluff. Kenny was in the black and still standing on his running boards in that shot.
    I had my fair share of stucks too. I did not take any pictures, but most of them were doozies. My first happened on a hill that we like to jump. I do not know why I went down into the take off area as I do not like to jump, I guess I just figured that it would be a fun hill to climb with all the snow and not have to jump the top. What I did not see was that there was a nice 3-4 foot curled over drift about 3/4ths of the way to the top of the hill. Matt went first, nailed the drift head on. He did one of his fancy flips over backwards and landed the flip fine. His tether came out or he would have been able to ride down the rest of the hill all in one movement. I went next and decided to hit the drift were it was much smaller and with a lot less speed. I am not quite up to speed in having the sled come back over me and turing the sled so that it lands back on it's skis. I made it through most of the drift and almost made the hill, but then buried it trying to make it to the top of the hill. I know at one point I was standing in my trench and digging down and the snow was over my head and I still had more snow to go through to reach the ground.
    We stopped to get fuel for the sled and take a break at the Vanesville Bar in Phoenix and then headed out for more riding. It was about 4 pm when we headed out and you can easily ride until about 8:30 these days and at that point I felt like I could actually ride for most of the rest of that evening. About 2 hours later I had two more stucks that I ended having to basically dig myself out of and after the second dig out I was toast. I could ride the sled, but was a whooped pup. Just at the time I got the sled all dug out, Ted came riding up to find me and tell me that the gang was calling it a day and packing it in. It was bittersweet news as I was exhausted, but did not want to stop riding in these conditions. We all made it back to our trucks safe and sound. No nasty wrecks and we will all ride another day. Perhaps next weekend. On the way home I passed some homes that had not been plowed out yet, so after dinner Burt, Nora and I jumped in the Blazer and I took some shots of the homes. Here is a place just north of Mohawk with a nice 6 footer in the front yard and here is another home in Mohawk with their car encased in a snow doughnut. Imagine being the owners of those to places. You leave town with no snow on the ground to head to a place like Florida for spring break. You return to find that! My last shot is the view as you pull out of our driveway onto the road we live on (fsv). One day this past winter someone had stopped on the road and was standing next to their vehicle taking a shot of those very same woods. I was so interested in seeing what they were taking a picture of that I passed up our driveway. After pulling into the driveway, I hopped out and grabbed the newspaper and commented to the photographer how I was so interested in seeing what they were taking a picture of that I missed our driveway and they commented on how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful spot. I certainly do not take for granted the beauty where I live, but it is nice to have moments like that to reinforce the concept!
    The snow has stopped, but it looks like we could get some more later Tuesday and Wednesday and then again perhaps by the weekend. If the weekend storm does not prove to be a rain event, there will be some great riding to still be had up here. I will say that the trails that are marked up here are very rough. Traffic was not too bad this past weekend, but if you can imagine 3-4 feet of snow on the trails and it not being groomed at all, you can imagine that it would not be too hard to develop 2 foot moguls. That is what we have in most spots. The off trail stuff is much better, but you better know where you are going and you may still need a long track to at least break trail. Not trying to discourage or encourage, just trying to point out some of the facts. I know that unless we have a huge warm up the places we were riding this weekend will still be good enough to ride on in two weeks. Plus if all this snow decides to melt quickly, then some great waterskipping will be at hand.
    This snow is great in my eye for many reasons. It means that we will likely have a short window between when snow play can be made and when true spring will be occurring and we can have the fun that happens here once things have melted and the temps are warmer. Plus all the snow is fresh, which means that as it melts in the coming weeks it will basically stay pretty white. So things will stay pretty right up to the point the snow all melts. I mentioned the extended riding season and water skipping possibilities reborn. I guess the only down side to all of this is the fact that we are just about out of wood in the woodpile. As mentioned I do have some standing dead trees that can be harvested and brought to the wood boiler easily, so I am not worried about being out of wood, but that cut and stacked stuff will be gone soon!
    I think that about covers it for this one. My final note is to congratulate all involved in this years SnowFest Charity Ride-In for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Thanks to all those that participated, we raised $5420.00 dollars. That brings the two year totals to $9620.00. Something to be proud of for sure.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 5-
    WaaaaaaaWhooooooooo!!!!!!! So much for the spring doldrums! What a storm! Broke records for not just the biggest storm in April, but also gave us the most snow for the month of April- any April ever. If that was not enough this storm gave us more snow in 48 hours than we had for the entire month of December! I guess you could call this an upside down season. Either that or old man winter got lost somewhere early in the season and is just trying to make up for lost time. I really do not care what the reason is, just loving the snow! A lot of locals are pretty bummed. The early melt off had them thinking that spring was here to stay. But it was not in the cards. Winter is back- really. It looks like and feels like the middle of winter around here. I know it is early April and this snow will not last too long, but it sure did change the look of things around here and that look is pure winter. The snow has stopped for now, with my official storm total being 29". We picked up 12" from 11 am Tuesday to 8 am Wednesday and then another 16" from Wednesday at 8 am until today at 8 am. Only an inch today and the sun is peaking through some broken clouds right now. It looks like a little upper air disturbance will drop down and get the LES machine going again tomorrow and tomorrow night and we could pick up another 2-6" with that activity. We really do not need any more at this very instant, but I will not complain.
    I have to admit that I am a little surprised at how much we got. My initial thoughts were in the 8-10" range and boy was that off. In fact Wednesday morning with the 12" new on the ground and driveway, I thought I would just run Old Blue up and down the driveway and pank down the snow and get by without actually moving the snow. I figured another couple of inches after panking it down would not be a problem for us. The reasons for panking rather than throwing were two fold. One it is much easier to just drive the truck up and down a few times rather than spend 30 minutes behind the snowthrower. Secondly there was no mat down and I did not want to send a piece of the mine rock on the driveway through the snowthrower. It took about 10 minutes and I had the driveway pretty well panked down. Well, the snow did not let up at all and by about 4 pm we had another 6-8" on the driveway, so I broke down and ended up having to fire up the Ariens and move the snow. It was easier with the panked down snow underneath.
    Wednesday afternoon Burt, Nora and I took a walk around the neighborhood. Burt seemed pretty excited about the snow. Both Burt and Baileys really loved the snow- something that I am pretty sure they picked up from their old man. Even though Burt is getting up there in age, he still gets around pretty good. We cannot walk for miles and miles anymore, but he can do a couple of miles most days and had no problem pushing snow with his front bumper on yesterday afternoons walk. We made it out to the trail and decided to walk down it for a while. I wanted to get to the parts of the trail where the mud and water holes were that I took pictures of for the previous journal. I actually felt a little strange to be walking the snowmobile trail with that much snow on it. I kept thinking we would need to get out of the way of a group of snowmobilers, but none never came. It sure was coming down, with the visibility at around 1/4 of a mile for most of the day. The snow was knee deep in most of the areas we walked and even deeper in some other spots. We made it to the spot where the mud hole had been the day before and it was all covered in snow.  A little further up were the water holes and they too were pretty well covered up by all the snow too. There was a little spot of water that I could see, but was actually surprised at how much of the water was covered. A testament to how hard it snowed, with the snowfall rate overcoming the melting rate of the snow hitting the water. Of course those water holes were just covered up and not gone and after a few sleds go down the trail they will be fully exposed. On our way back we came across a 4 foot pine tree fully encased in snow. Back at the ranch I snapped a shot of the front of the cabin. If I were to post that pic 10 years from now in the middle of summer and were to ask 100 people to guess what the date (or even month) was when that picture was taken I seriously doubt that anyone would have guessed April 4th or even April. I know I wouldn't!
    It kept up snowing at a good clip the rest of the day and into the evening and as I laid my head down to sleep, I wondered if it would keep up like that all night- actually hoped it would! When I awoke at a little after 4 in the morning to start my day, one of the first things I did was go to the front of the cabin and turn on the front outside lights to see what was going on. The snowfall had diminished a bit, but you could not even tell that I had cleared the snow about 12 hours ago. It was hard to tell if the snow was that deep on the level, or had just drifted in again. So I got on with my workday and once the sun was up took a closer look. For the most part, we just got that much snow that you could not even tell I had cleared the driveway the evening before. Nor could you tell where Burt, Nora and I had waded through the snow on our walk yesterday afternoon. Sure looks like the middle of winter doesn't it?
    Before clearing the driveway this morning, I went around with my yardstick and took a dozen or so measurements of the snow on it to help with the 24 hour snowfall totals. I came up with an average of 8 inches this morning which was added to the 8 inches that I came up with yesterday evening for the 16 inch total for the 24 hour period ending 8 am. I have found that the driveway in front of the cabin is actually one of the best places to measure. It does not drift much (measurements this morning ranged from 6 1/2 inches to about 9 inches), but also seems to capture most of the snow that falls. I have a spot in the woods near by that I use for snow depth as the location of the snowstation is too sheltered by the trees near it. However, I needed to have a place close to the cabin to run the cables from the weather instruments to the computers in the cabin and also be able to have the webcam point at the snowstation without it being in the middle of the driveway, so that is why the snow station sits where it does.
    After taking my measurements, I gassed up and then fired up the snowthrower and got on with the morning clearing job. All my friends said that I would really be wanting to get a plow for Old Blue once I moved up here and there are times that it might be nice to spend less than 10 minutes clearing the driveway and sitting in the comfort of a heated truck cab, but I have always enjoyed moving snow and really do not mind being out in the elements and using the snow thrower, especially when the snow is so deep. Then it seems like my efforts are really worth it. It is when we get 2-3" of snow that it seems like a waste of time to be clearing the driveway with the snowthrower. Hopefully an ATV with a plow  will be available in situations like that next winter. In contrast to the cabin, the shop does cause some drifting to occur, especially with a west or NW wind. I found the snow there this morning to be 18-24" deep. Still no problem what so ever for the Ariens.
    I finished up, cleaned up the snowthrower and put it away and then realized I had not cleared a path to the wood boiler. It is not a very far path, but the snow thrower was all cleaned up (I clean all the snow off of it after each usage so that I do not end up with a machine encased in ice and snow after a half dozen uses), so I decided to just walk the path from the driveway to the wood boiler several times to pank down a trail. The snow there proved to be pretty deep and after about 4 trips back and forth it became clear to me that it would take a lot more trips on foot to pank down the snow enough to end up with a decent path, so I broke out a shovel and did things the old fashioned way.
    This afternoon Burt, Nora and I went down to the Lake Linden home to clear that driveway. We had not done it at all through the course of the storm, so I figured I had a pretty big task at hand. The driveway is not too big, but I worried a bit about the plow banks and also the fact that the storms full dumping needed to be cleared. I was surprised to see the amount of snow that was on the ground in Lake Linden. Not quite as much as here at the cabin, but not that much less. Here is a shot of the Lake Linden driveway after two swaths with the snowthrower. I got that driveway cleared in about 15 minutes while Burt and Nora took the afternoon walk around the old neighborhood. Last week when I was down there checking on things I saw the bare ground, the bare road and bare bush protectors and I had thought about taking down the bush protectors. Good thing I waited!
    We took the long way home via Calumet. Nora wanted to pick up a few things for dinner, I stopped by Keweenaw Motor Sports to pick up some jets for the 800 and on the way up to Calumet we passed by the Laurium Glacier. Before this storm hit I was thinking that it might not ever see the month of May this year. It was smaller than in years past and seemed like it only had a few weeks to go. After this storm, all bets are off. It will most likely see May and if we get some of the snows that are in the offing for later tomorrow and then again next week it may just see June! This sure will go down as a strange winter.
    Those were all the pics I have. So far. Yesterday was just too dangerous to be out and about taking pictures. All the heavy snow and 30-50 mph winds created whiteout conditions- some of the worst I have ever seen up here. Today it seemed like all I did was work and move snow. Tomorrow I have off from work and hope to get out and about more and then Saturday it looks like the gang will be taking a snowmobile ride, so I will be sure to take some shots of that adventure. So I am not done sharing the joys of this storm, but am for tonight.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 1-
    That Newton fella was a pretty smart guy. It is at this time of the year that things really slow down for me. It is a brief slow down, but a very real one for me. The snows are either melting or in the case of this year have melted off, yet the woods are too wet to really get out and enjoy them much. The weather is also too cold to do much outdoor play or work. I stop doing my forecasts for the website and things for my regular business have not yet gotten busy. So I spend a lot of time doing nothing. As I have mentioned, I am not real good at doing nothing. TV does not interest me all that much and I am not real big into reading books either. I like to DO things. Work or play it really does not matter, although I can say that if it is work, there has to be a purpose and results that occur because of my efforts. I am not good at busy work. I spent time working for the NWS in Washington DC and about 90% of the time did nothing or had nothing to do. My favorite days were Mondays when I got in at 7 am and stayed until 7 pm and worked my rear end off the entire time. The rest of the time was spent just trying to look busy which I did not like at all.
    So I have been doing a lot of nothing the past few weeks, basically since getting home from Wyoming. What does all of this gibber jabber have to do with Newton? Well, his first law of motion states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless an external force is applied to it. I find that law to best describe my life. In the busy times of the year for me I am going and going and have no problems keeping going. There are times when I wish I could take a break from it all, but I do not have any real problems keeping at it. Then I hit the slow periods and things come to a grinding halt. I do not have much to keep me busy and so I spend a lot of time doing nothing and it seems difficult to get going- like I am in a rut. It takes some kind of an external force to get me going again, something that I really enjoy doing.
    Now don't get me wrong, I am not depressed. This is my least favorite time of the year and my spirits are not as bright at they are in the winter or autumn or even many times in the summer. I would have to say I am just feeling lazy! Even though I am bored and wish there was something fun or useful to do, I do not feel like doing anything! Actually I think there is a mini battle going on within me. My body and a part of my mind says they need a rest and need to recharge my batteries after the busy winter. Then there is another part of my mind that is bored and wants to do something. Slowly the batteries get charged and the weather starts to cooperate and the next thing I know I am busy again.
    I do have my "jobs" all lined up up for me once the weather warms. I want to clean up the sleds and put them to bed for the season. I want to clean up and organize the shop and then build some work benches for it. I want to build a deck onto the front of the cabin. I want to do some landscaping around the property. I want to build a fire pit. I want to build a shelter for firewood and then start filling it up for next year. By next autumn I want to build out the rest of the shop for the toys, insulate it and have it ready to be nice and warm for to be able to work on the toys during the winter. Then of course I want to go to the beach, the woods and the hills with Nora and Burt all summer. I want to sit and relax on my new deck on the front of the cabin. I want to build some bonfires in the fire pit and watch the stars and northern lights come out in the summer evenings. I want to take the boat out with Nora and Burt, maybe even do some fishing. Heck, I even want to play golf this summer!
    So you see I do have lots of things I want to get done and believe that all on my list will be able to get done before the snow starts to fly next autumn. But first we need to get past the rest of this snow season. The snow is basically gone from most areas up here. Nora, Burt and I did take a walk in our woods on Saturday and there were some patches of snow left out there, but not enough to have any fun in. I am talking about snow that still needs to fall. Even though this winter was a dud for the most part and the snow patches on the ground are getting smaller and smaller, I know we still have some snow that will fall and I do not want to start doing things like pulling the boat out of the shop so that I can get going on organizing the shop. In fact it looks like we will pick up some system snow later tomorrow through Wednesday and then some lake effect for the rest of the week and into the weekend. It does not look like a huge storm, but we could pick up around 5-10" of system snow and then a few inches of LES every 24 hours or so (mainly at night).
    Now for those of you that are thinking of coming up to get one last ride in, I am not going to tell you what to do, but keep these items in mind: The existing conditions right now are like starting out in the autumn. There is basically no snow on the trails and very limited snow in the woods. Unlike autumn when things are pretty dry, all the creeks and streams are swollen with the water from the melted snow. In addition to the creeks and streams that are swollen, you have the water holes to contend with. Here is one example of what you would encounter out there and here is another. Also, new snow this time of the year does not stick around too long. Even with temps at or just below freezing the April sun is so strong that it will really take it's toll on the new snow. Not like in November or early December when the sun is about as weak as it gets all year long. If that were not enough, you have to be concerned about objects that are sitting on the ground, but may become buried by the new snow and also the fact that some places open to riding in the winter are now closed. Again, not to say that you should not come up, just some things to keep in mind if you see the snow and are thinking about it. Unless we get 18"+ and friends are calling me to head out for one last ride, I am done. No need to try and create some kind of bragging right this year. Next spring will be like 1996 was up here and we will be taking our last ride on Mothers Day like they did that year!
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
 
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