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August 26-
    Another week gone by and I would be lying to you if I said we did not get any rain in the past 7 days, but it would also be a huge exaggeration to say that the rains were enough to make a difference around here. In fact the rains both Tuesday and Thursday were not even enough to completely wash the dust off the thimbleberry leaves that are along side the snowmobile trail that the ATV's use in the summer up by me. Both Tuesday and Thursday evenings we had some very light rain fall. Tuesday's event lasted about 15 minutes and Thursday's event lasted about 2 hours. I actually golfed in the rain on Thursday and did not have to ever break out an umbrella and as we were finishing up I noticed that while the very top layer of dirt on the cart path was damp, the track that the golf cart tire made through the dirt exposed the dry dirt sitting just below. So the rains really did not help much at all. Combined totals from both events were under 0.10" and unless a miracle happens with our next rain chance coming later tomorrow through early Tuesday, this month will make the 15th in a row with sub average rainfall and this could very well end up being the driest June, July and August time frame we have ever had.
    Now I know that some of you reading this are in an opposite positions as us and are struggling through flooded basements, or even worse. My heart goes out to you. Thankfully I have never lived in an area where flooding was a real threat and I have never had to experience all the agony that is associated with flooding. So our dryness may seem rather trivial to you all, but in reality it is rather nerve wracking. Why? This is why. That was the little county rest area at the southern junction of Cliff Drive and Hwy 41 in Ahmeek. Just one careless cigarette and the park was a blaze. It was primarily a grass fire, but 1/2 of the cedar bushes they had up there are now completely fried. There is a log cabin situated at the rest area as well and thankfully it had some green grass surrounding it, or it could have gone up pretty quickly as well. I am not sure if there is any propane in those tanks either. The Allouez Township and Ahmeek volunteer fire departments were able to respond quickly to the fire and it is a good thing they did because the winds were blowing pretty good on Monday and the fire did manage to jump the Cliff Drive and burned about an acre or two of bush on the other side of the road. About another 5-10 minutes and the fire in the bush would have been able to spread to a size that would have caused some real problems.
    So that is the reason why I keep going on and on about how dry things are. Floods are no fun, but a fire takes all. Plus, now that autumn is starting to ease in, more and more of the foliage in the woods is starting to brown up, which only makes more fuel available for any fire that would want to get started. About the only thing we have going in our favor right now is that it has not been too hot lately and our evenings are really cooling off. In many cases we are cooling off to the dewpoint and thus a heavy dew is developing every morning, which lasts until about 10 of 11 in the morning here in the woods. As mentioned, there are some rains seen for later tomorrow through early Tuesday. I am not going to hold my breath for them as both rain events for last week were looking good until we got about 12-24 hours away from them and then the models pulled most of the rain out and that is exactly what happened. So we will see how this event pans out.
    In other weather happenings, things are taking on a more autumn like feel. Even though today we hit the low 80's it took until mid afternoon to get there and the humidity was nice and low. Most other days we have been in the upper 60's to mid 70's for highs and the humidity has been low. The sun is dropping below the tops of the trees at about 6 pm these days and sets about 2 1/2 hours later. It is also staying dark much later, with the first hints of sunlight not appearing until around 7 am rather than the 5 am we had several weeks ago. I have also been watching things cool in the far northern reaches of Canada and also seeing signs of honest to goodness autumn weather to invade the Northwoods in a little over a week.
    From here on out I pretty much love the weather for the next 8 months. For the next 10-15 days we will hang onto late summer weather, with daytime highs warm enough to go out and about with shorts and a t-shirt on (most days anyway), but not so hot that you do not even want to be outside. The evenings cool nicely and the sleeping weather is great. Then about mid September we will be seeing more and more days when shorts and a t-shirt will not cut it and the need for a light jacket will be in order. As we work into early October, it will be light jacket weather just about every day and we usually have a quick invasion of cold air that brings us our first flakes sometime in the first week or two of October. Deeper into October and early November it is becoming more and more like early winter, with more and more wintery precip events rather than liquid ones. A heavier jacket and even gloves and a hat are usually standard procedure by late October and early November and then by late November winter has arrived. The snows start to stick around for good and we can kiss seeing the grass good bye until sometime in April. Yep, from here on out the weather will bring me more joy than misery.
    Nora and I did take an ATV ride on Wednesday. We both really hate to leave Burt at home all by himself these days. In the past when Baileys was around we knew they had each other for company when we were out and in many cases did not even like to take trips to the store with us. That continued for a while once Baileys was gone, but for some time now Burt hops right up when we ask him if he wants to come along with us and it does not matter where we are going. It really broke my heart when my mom and brother were here and we all piled into his truck (along with his two dogs) to go for a walk. I knew Burt would not be able to walk the 3-4 miles we were going on, so he had to stay home. But the look on his face as we all drove off was not something I want to have to look at too often. It was not a look of sadness as much as it was a look of him saying "Hey you guys, did you forget me?". To get past those moments I remind myself that he has quite the life and that I make sure to do something fun with him at least once a day and we did do some fun stuff with him on those days we left him home too.
    Anyway, it was fun to be out on the ATV and we did some exploring of spots that I have wanted to explore. There are so many spots up here that while hiking or snowmobiling I have wondered where that little trail goes and the ATV is showing me. Some dead end and others go on and on and only lead me to further questions as to where they end up. No matter what their lengths are, they all share one thing in common, they are beautiful. One of the things the dogs really helped to drive home for me was to enjoy the journey as much as the destination and I have always been one to love exploring and the ATV has really allowed me to do both. Plus I get to share those experiences with my beautiful wife. We have been seeing some wildlife in our travels. No bears yet, but on Wednesday Nora did spot a big whitetail in the woods, so I stopped so she could take a picture of it. It did not have any antlers going on it and most males it's size should by this time of the year, so it must have been a female.
    More and more of the trees are starting to change color and in some spots the color is almost at peak. We were down at the trail cam in South Range trying to get it going again yesterday and again today and the trees up behind the Wildlife Refuge Cabins are at least 50% changed if not more. Things up this way are a lot less along. Most of the trees are still a shade of green, with some splashes of color thrown in. I do fear that this seasons color show will be like last years though. With one half of it occurring sometime in September and the other half when it typically does in early October. I will keep you all filled in as to how things are progressing where I travel. Speaking of the trail cam, I am still working on it. We had problems with the phone line a few weeks ago, but the phone company fixed that. Then 2 weeks ago I went out and got it running, but it only managed to take one picture before crapping out again. Lori from the Wildlife Refuge Cabins tried to reboot it and get it going, but had no luck. So yesterday I when down there with a hammer to try and fix things. Turns out I needed a bigger hammer, so got that today. Still no luck, but I think I am getting close. Have no fear, I will have it up and running by the time the snow flies, but hope to have it going even sooner than that. If it were not 45 minutes away, I would probably have it running even sooner.
    With the cooler temps we have been walking the woods more too. I have been going out with Burt and taking an inventory of trees that can come down to make firewood. There are many that are dead standing and I need to get out and mark them so that when the leaves come off all the trees I will be able to identify which ones are dead and not dormant for the winter. If we wanted I think there is plenty enough wood from the dead standing trees on our 10 acres to get us through the winter. The problem is some of the trees are in pretty hard to reach spots. The ATV will help and we even picked up a cart that can be towed behind the ATV which will help in the wood retrieval. I did finally manage to put the scout cam out in the woods and we put a bucket of apples down in front of it. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, it is one of those cameras that has a motion sensor on it and when motion is detected it takes a picture (or even video). It has a flash, so can take good pictures at night too. No pictures from it yet, but I did put it right on one of the deer runs in our woods, so I have no doubt that it will be snapping shots of critters in the days to come. I will be sharing the shots it takes with you all in the journal. On our walk in the woods yesterday I took a picture of a hornets nest sitting high up in a tree. A hornets nest high up in a tree... I wonder what that means?!
    One of the tasks I have been wanting to get done for about 10 months now is to bring down this big old tamarack tree that died a little over a year ago and threatened both the wood boiler and the shop if it came down in a particular direction. It was the tree standing directly behind the wood boiler in that last picture. It really could only be brought down in one direction safely and that was to put it between the shop and the boiler. I had about 25 degrees of error in my felling direction to miss the boiler and about 10 degrees to miss the shop. To help the tree fall in the direction I attached a line to the trunk about 15-20 feet off the ground, ran the other end through a ground anchor and then off in a 90 degree direction to the winch on the ATV. I then pulled the line as tight as the winch would take it without pulling the ATV across the driveway and began my notching sequence. I have felled a lot of trees in the past few years and almost all of them fell exactly where I wanted them to. However, there were 2 that did not. They fell harmlessly into the woods, but still not in the direction I wanted them to. It was those two trees that were giving me butterflies as I cut the notch on the side of the tree that I wanted it to fall and then caused my heart to race a bit as I cut the felling notch on the opposite side of there I wanted to fall. The lumberjack gods were with me on this one though as the tree slowly started to lean in the exact direction I wanted it to fall and then about 5 seconds later crashed to the ground with a surprisingly loud "crack". I really was not expecting such a large sound when the tree hit, but was just glad it fell within a foot of where I had wanted it to. So now I do not ever have to worry about that thing coming down on the shop or the wood boiler and we have some more firewood to boot!
    In addition to bringing down the tamarack, doing my 4 hours of Sunday work for my commodities customers and driving down to try and fix the trail cam today, we managed to sneak in some time at the beach with Burt today. Burt likes the beach in any weather and will swim as long as the water is in a liquid form, but true beach days will start to become fewer and further between as we finish off August and head through September. So I figured with the whole family together this afternoon we would head to the beach for some fun. With temps in the low 80's and plenty of sunshine it was a great day for the beach as well. The water was still pretty warm where we went and Burt swam and fetched his stick for over an hour. Burt has two sticks that we use when we take him swimming and both will find a permanent spot in our house when he goes on to be with Baileys again. He just loves to fetch sticks in the water.
    Well, looks like that about covers it for this time around. Strange to think the next time I write will most likely be September. Nice to think that too!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
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August 19-
    I can pretty much promise you that this will be a short one. I have only one pic to share and that being one I took about an hour ago just so that I could have one to share when I wrote this evening. I can report to you that is has been another 7 days without any rain. Not even a drop. I believe that the Houghton County Airport did report a few drops on Tuesday. Enough to measure 0.04", which is basically enough to dampen the ground for about 30 minutes. The state issued a burning ban for all of the UP and some areas of lower MI which are so dry. First time I have ever been in an area that had such a restriction. You cannot even smoke a cigarette if you are out in the woods, which does not bother me as I do not smoke, but shows how dry it is. With each missed rain event I just shake my head and laugh. Sort of one of those laughs of disbelief, not of any kind of joy. So far no fires at this end of the UP and there is the potential for some rains later tomorrow night into Tuesday and then possibly again by later Wednesday and Thursday. But once again the models are starting to run away from the idea of rains, rather than too them. Just last Friday it looked like we could pick up as much as 2-4" this week and now it is starting to look like we would be lucky to pick up just 1/2".
    We have been cool the past 7 days. Most days the highs have been in the 70's and I think we ran in the 60's both Thursday and Friday for highs. I know that yesterday morning my temperature dropped to 39 and the airport at a 35. The cooler temps help some by cutting down on the amount of evaporation that is taking place, but we just need rain- period. I hate to sound negative, but I have a feeling I know when it will really start to rain, right about the start of the second week of September through the 3rd week of October. That is my second favorite time of the year up here and when I do a lot of exploring of the woods. I will keep my fingers crossed, but I just have this feeling that once it finally does start to rain around here it will not stop.
    It looks like there are areas that would gladly switch with our predicament up here right now. Southeast MN and west central WI are battling some flooding and unfortunately the forecast holds more rain for them too. Strange how mother nature cannot just evenly distribute things, she needs to cause such extremes sometimes. I know the kind of extremes I am hoping for this winter!
    Hard to believe that we have only one more full week of August left and that in 2 weeks it will be labor day weekend and the 2nd of September. August really has zipped right by this year. It did last year, but because we were so busy. I have really been loving the cooler weather too. It has been so nice to sleep with the windows open and be able to keep the house open all day too. It's maybe been a bit too windy though. I have my brother and mom up visiting from WI and we wanted to get together with Skylar and his family for an evening at the beach yesterday, but when we arrived it was blowing about 20-25mph and made it not so good to be out there, so we packed it up and went to plan "B", which was to try and hook up with Lori and Dave from the Wildlife Refuge Cabins at their camp near the beach we were at, but I forgot some details as to where the camp was located, so we went to plan "C" which was to go to the Parkview Grill in Twin Lakes for dinner. We had a nice meal there, but were all wishing we could have been able to relax on the beach. Had the winds been lighter, it would have been a perfect evening for the beach.
    Even today it was a bit too windy at the beach. We went up to Eagle River and my Mom and Nora sat on chairs while tossed the stick for Burt and my brother and his two dogs too a walk up the beach. I was ok with conditions as I was moving around but both Nora and my Mom got a little chilled sitting there and they had long pants on and jackets as well. Again, had the winds not been blowing 20-25 mph, then it would have been perfect out there. Strange to have the winds be a problem up here. Usually I am hoping for more winds than we have in the summer and this summer has seemed to have a lot more wind that we typically have.
    Well, as promised it looks like this one will be a short one. We did not take the ATV out this past week. Partially because it is still all nice and clean and partially because we just did not have a lot of free time this past week. I would imagine we will be getting out on it this week and hopefully we can get enough rain to at least knock the dust down. I heard that the DNR is stopping ATV's to make sure they have their spark arrestors on their exhaust, so if you are coming up, better have that. Of course it would be not too wise to be without it now anyway. So before signing off, I will leave you with the one picture I took in the past week. It is of Eagle River beach this afternoon.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
August 12-
    I thought I would be able to start this journal entry talking about the wonderful rain we have picked up in the past few days, but it was not to be. The drought continues up here. We had chances come and go Thursday and Saturday. On Saturday we did pick up a tiny bit of rain. 0.04", enough to settle the dust for about 10 minutes. What is amazing is to watch the models say that we are going to get some good rain in events to come out about 7-10 days. They keep the rains in the forecast right up until about a day or two before the rains are suppose to come and then take them away. Both Thursday's and Saturday's rain chances came right up to our doorstep and fizzled out as well. Really frustrating. In fact, I am more anxious for rain than I get for some snows to fall up here. Things are just so dry. Not just this month, or this summer, but for 15 months now. There is hope for some rains tomorrow night and early Tuesday, although the models have gone from saying we would get 1"+ to saying maybe 1/4". It was nice to see it rain on Saturday, but too bad the steady rain lasted about 5-10 minutes and was over just as fast as it came.
    The one bright spot in the weather is that the fat lady is warming up as far as summer goes up here. We still have a few weeks left where heat and humidity could find it's way up here, but the forecast for this week looks to keep the heat and humidity out of here. That takes us to about the 19th of August, which gives us around 2 weeks of any potential trouble. With highs this week to be in the low to mid 70's and lows in the low 50's Nora and I decided to pull the plug on the pool. It would take a lot of energy to keep it warm with conditions like that and with no real heat seen anytime soon we figured we may as well start draining it and then take it down. We had a good run of it for living in the UP. I just wish that we could use the water on the lawn or something, but I got this chlorinator that makes the chlorine automatically by electrolysis. You add some salt to the water and it the device automatically takes the Chlorine from the salt (which is sodium and chlorine). There is not enough salt in the water to taste it, but I did not want to take the chance of there being enough salt in the water to kill my grass. So all that water is going into a ditch in the woods.
    The air conditioners are off today for the first time in weeks. You have to know that I do not like it to be very warm in the house at all and keep the house and bedroom cooler than most. So that is the reason for them being on for the past 3 weeks or more straight. Anyway, they are off and it does not look like we will be needing them for the week ahead. However, I am not going to challenge mother nature by taking them out of the windows. That event is usually saved for the early part of September when if there is no need for them seen then it is safe to take them out.
    Nora and I have been out on the ATV a few times. On Wednesday we did some exploring around here and in some areas to the north of us. Early on in our trip we passed by Seance Lake. A nice little lake that has a few pan fish in them, but nothing too big. The township we live in actually owns the lake and quite a bit of the land around it and has plans to put some things like hiking paths, a small dock, boat launch, beach and camping spots on it. It is fed by a small creek and for most of the summer was able to keep it's volume, but I think the creek stopped feeding it a few weeks ago as the level of it has dropped about 3-4 inches in the past few weeks.
    The next spot we went to was an area called "secret spot" by some locals. It is just a spot where a river flows through a small canyon and there are several small pools the river makes as well. I guess to keep it a secret I will not even say what river it is, but those out there with a keen sense of geography should be able to narrow it down to a couple of the ones that flow through the southern end of Keweenaw County. Not much water flowing through it right now, which allowed me to be able to climb out into the middle of it and take a shot of one of the lower pools. Here is one of the upper pools, with a large cut in the river bank. Here is a shot looking downstream. I think we will have to plan a visit down there in the spring when the river is flowing hard. It was a pretty warm and humid evening when we were riding, but down in the river hollow it was about 10 degrees cooler. There were also a few mosquitos down there. That was almost my first experience with mosquitos for the summer because of the dryness.
    Out final destination for the evening was the Cliff Range. There are several overlooks that one can get to- three that I know of. The one we went to is probably the least known and is also the highest of the ones I know of. Here is a shot of the Grizzly on top of the Cliff Range. It was a little cooler and less humid up there and there was a nice breeze too. I could have spent a lot more time up there than we did, just taking in the view and just enjoying the moment, but it was a school night and getting a little late for someone that needs to be wide eyed and busy tailed at 4:30 in the am. So we got back on our ride and took the snowmobile trail home.
    Yesterday evening we took another ride. This time we headed south and rode some spots between where we live and Calumet. Not as many places to ride in that direction, but there are a few that I know of and some areas that also needed exploring. I bought a winch earlier in the week and it came Friday afternoon. Friday evening I got it mounted and a few of the wires fished through. ON Saturday I finished the wiring and then on Saturday's ride we almost needed it. We crossed a spot where there was a bit of soft ground and a large bank on the far side and on the first attempt we did not make it up the other side of the bank. The second attempt was successful but I was ready to give the winch a try if we did not make it the second time. I really do not plan to get too crazy with the ATV, especially when riding by myself and even though I know a winch will not get me out of all spots, it will be a nice peace of mind to know that the winch is there in case. The ride did get pretty dirty on yesterday's ride, so when we got home I broke out the wash bucket, scrub brush and hose and gave it a nice rubdown. Today I even polished it and waxed it up. So right now it is all nice and clean and so it will stay in the shop until the snow flies and it will not get dirty or muddy. Just kidding, that thing will probably be head to toe in dirt and or mud in a few days. But it looks pretty good at the moment!
    Yesterday it was cloudy through early afternoon and with temps in the upper 60's around the time we usually do something with Burt, we decided to take him for a walk in the woods. That is something that we will probably be doing on an almost daily basis in a month, but is something we have only done a few times all summer. The green is still trying to hang on in the woods, but there are patches of brown gaining more and more ground. The berry crop that looked like it was going to be a bumper just a month ago has all but shriveled up. There are a few berries out there, but many of the plants gave up on trying to fill out the fruit. Interestingly enough, many of the vines with berries on them turned brown. The plant must have given all of it's resources to trying to make the fruit and let the leaves die. I really feel sorry for the critters out in the woods that would usually be getting fat off the berries. They are likely having to work a lot harder at making a meal.
    When we walk in the woods around the house, Burty invariably wants to go to the old beaver pond that we named "Burt's Pond". However, with the drought going on, old Burt's Pond has shriveled up to a mud hole with a bit of water left in it. This will probably illustrate pretty well how dry it has been up here. The water line on that tree is about three feet higher than the water level in the pond right now. What water that is left in there is pretty nasty, so we do not let Burt swim in it. He could probably walk across the entire thing at this point. There was enough water left in it to allow for a frog to take a little swim as Nora captured here.
    Another illustration of how dry it is up here is to show you what the unwatered grass on the local golf course looks like. As I mentioned at the beginning of this summer, Al and I switched from playing at the Calumet course to the one up by me called Sandy Pebbles. It is owned by a single individual and has come a long way in the past few years. They do water the greens and the greens up there are actually in very good shape. However, at the moment, the greens are the only things that are watered up there and everything else is brown as sand. Really too bad because earlier in the year the course was green and the grass was filling in on the fairways. I don't know what the owners plans are for additional irrigation out there. Obviously one person does not have the financial resources to drill tons of wells and set up irrigation throughout the entire course, but hopefully they will be able to set up some irrigation on the tee boxes and maybe some spots of the fairways. Plus given an average summer of rainfall the course would hold up much better too. A fun course though and very well laid out- especially for a man who is completely blind! By the way, in the shot of the tee box and fairway, the reason why you did not see the green is because that hole has a 90 degree dogleg to the right. The most extreme dogleg on the course and the most extreme I have every played on. The rest of the course is full of fun and interesting items.
    Today was a nice day, with temps in the mid 70's and dewpoints in the low 50's. We probably could have gone for a walk in the woods, but Burt loves to swim so much that we took him to the beach.  The wind was blowing pretty good too, so there were some waves crashing up on shore, but nothing that Burt could not handle. Even though the summer is wrapping up around here, I am sure that we will still have many more days at the beach with Burt before we close that activity down for the season. The fact that we can hop in the truck, drive 15 minutes and be at a place like this is just one of the wonderful things about living here.
    So the summer is slowly but surely drawing to a close up here. Further north the fat lady is already singing. just ten days ago southern sections of Alberta and Saskatchewan were in the 100's. This past weekend they had their first freezing temps. That cold was just a quick hit for southern Canada and they will be back in the 70's for highs and 40's for lows, but I am starting to see the first signs of the far northern sections of Canada starting to cool down for good. The nights are growing longer and longer in that neck of the woods and soon the cool down will be accelerating there. We are probably about 3 weeks away from our first chance for frost, or at leas the sight of it in the forecast. Our minutes of daylight are also shrinking at the rate of about 3 minutes a day. In about 2 weeks the sun will actually be setting as my head hits the pillow and a week or two after that and it will be dark when I go to bed. Hopefully the next time I talk to you I will be able to tell you about all the rain we have had!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
August 5-
    Whew, made it to August. Only one more month and this summer will be history. We got hot again this past week, in fact we set another record high (second one of the season) with a 92 on Wednesday. We also hit the low 90's on Monday and Tuesday, but the humidity this past heat wave was lower with dewpoints in the low to mid 60's and that made things a whole lot more tolerable. Plus I did not go outside much and when I was outside I was usually on the shores of the big lake.
    Nora was able to join Burt and I on all of our afternoon adventures this past week and we pretty much went to the big lake all week because it was so hot. Both Tuesday and Wednesday all three of us went in all the way swimming. That is not a big deal for Burt as he goes in all the way as soon as the ice is off, but I am not nearly as brave and I think Nora is somewhere in between Burt and I- closer to me in her cold water tolerance. Anyway, the lake had to have been in the mid 70's as it was comfortable to be in, not just for a quick refreshing cool down, but to actually just sit and soak. I did look at a map of the water temps for Superior and the warmest temps were occurring from about the north entry up to Eagle Harbor, so we were in the warmest temps the lake had to offer, at least on a large scale. The lake temps are now so warm that it is actually impacting our early morning temps. On Friday we only dropped into the mid 60's for a low, but areas inland like much of MN and the northern 1/2 of WI were in the upper 40's and low 50's for lows.
    Hopefully the lake is also warm enough that it will not play spoiler to the rains that roll off MN. We still are bone dry. There actually was an area of showers and storms that fired up out over the lake late Wednesday evening, but most of Houghton and all of Keweenaw County caught only the far northern edge of the rain. I reported a whopping 0.04" of rain. For the month of July I ended up with .68" and June was just over an inch. Those same storms Wednesday night sparked a fire on the east end of the UP between Newberry and Paradise. Last I had heard it had grown to over 5000 acres, but that was 2 days ago. I really fear for our own woods now. Up until this point I was not too worried, but things are just getting so dry. We still have green in the woods and even the bushes are green, but the ferns are giving up the ghost for the season and I worry that they would help to fuel a fire now that they are dying and not green. Typically they do not brown up until early September. There is a bit of rain in our forecast and I really hope we get it. Living in the woods is great, but when things get this dry I get a little nervous.
    It just boggles my mind to look back at the scant precip we have had for over 14 months now. The Midwest is really not an area that is prone to such a long period of drought. Dryness will happen in the Midwest almost every year for a few weeks or even a few months, but 14 months straight is highly unusual. It may sound strange and I do not even know if I have said this before, but I can honestly say I have forgotten what a good all day soaking rain is like. I cannot even remember the last time that we had an all day rain event. Heck, I cannot even remember the last time we had rains that lasted for more than an hour. Our two events in June that produced about a half inch or so both happened in less than an hour. It has been so dry that the water level in the pool is down several inches and it has a cover on it much of the time! I can only hope that our hot and dry summer will lead to a cold and wet winter.
    I can report that the mysterious clear beads floating in the water that I reported on in last weeks journal were identified. Thanks to a friend who was reading, he was able to remember something about it in his past and looked it up online and found out that they were the left over capsules from a micro organism called zoo plankton. I can also report that we have not encountered them again. Thanks Jeff for clearing that up!
    Back to the weather, we did cool it back down on Thursday and were comfortable on Friday. Yesterday did warm into the mid 80's, but the humidity was also low, so it was not that bad. Today we have had clouds all day and the temps were in the 70's. I can honestly say that it was a nice change of pace to have clouds overhead for the entire day. As much as I would like to have it rain all day, even just having some clouds was a bit of a nice break. Sounds strange, but sunshine every day is really not all it is cracked up to be, at least for me!
    I guess the biggest news of the past week is that we got a new toy. I got me a Yamaha 4-stroke. I bet it was not the kind of Yamaha 4 stroke that flashed into most of your minds, was it? Nora and I picked it up today. My buddy Joe from CrashedToys.com was able to find it for me. It was not a crashed toy, just one that the previous owner wanted to sell, so he contacted Joe and Joe contacted me and the rest is history. I have not put a ton of miles on it yet, but I can honestly say that I am really going to love this ATV and that it really is a nice piece of machinery. It has an automatic transmission, which before I rode it I was worried that it might not have the same response as an ATV with a manual, but is goes just fine. It has a 660 cc motor in it, so it has plenty of power. You can switch from 4WD to 2WD at the push of a button (which pretty much all ATV's have now) and it also has the ability to lock all 4 wheels to the drive train and not just 2 like most "4 wheel drive" vehicles have. So it looks like it will really take something to get this think stuck. Not that I plan to try anytime soon, but when the time comes it will be fun to put it through the paces.
    It also has the rear passenger seat, which is great because Nora can join me on the rides. In fact she joined me on the afternoon ride we took today. There is plenty of room. I was not bothered by her behind me and she said she was perfectly comfortable riding behind me. In fact, she said it was just like riding on the back of a nice comfortable Harley Davidson. We did not go too far today as I had work to do, but I know we will be spending quite a bit of time on it in the coming months. Lots of places to explore. Another nice thing about her being on the same machine as me and not following me on another ATV is that she does not have to deal with the dust off of my machine- or the other way around if I were following her. Someday we will get her her own ATV, but for now this passenger seat will work great.
    Before taking our afternoon ride, I took a little spin around a path through the woods near the cabin. Nora hopped on to do the same and zigged when she should have zagged and ended up missing the trail I took and got into the thick of the woods pretty quick. She backed out and got onto the path and had her fun.
    On the short afternoon ride we took, I headed north to go and play on some logging roads and some two tracks. It was a perfect day for a ride with the overcast skies and comfortable temps. It will be so fun to explore things on it. There are a bunch of spots that I go to on sled I want to take Nora to on the ATV and there are also a few spots that I have yet to be to via sled that I want to explore with Nora on the ATV. I also have some friends that have ATV's, so I am sure that I will be heading out with them to ride as well. Although I am not sure about riding second while things are so dry!!!
    In our travels I was amazed to come across a puddle out there. I know all of the puddles that are fairly common fixtures around the trails near our house have been long gone, so this really is a unique one and I wonder if it would ever dry up. I was hoping to get Nora out to a little body of water in the woods called No Name Pond and was successful at it. It sure is neat to be out in the middle of the Keweenaw wilderness and come across a pond like that. Not a single man made object (other than the ATV and the trail we were riding on) to be found for miles. There were some ducks out on the pond that Nora snapped a shot of. Here is a shot of yours truly enjoying the moment. Forgive the suspenders. I typically do not go around wearing them, but I was rushed for time when dressing for the ride and just grabbed my carpenters pants as the were long and dirty already and would do the trick just fine. Anyway, after enjoying the pond for a while we headed back. On the way back, Nora told me to stop for a second so that she could take a picture of something in the trees. I could not spot what she was talking about, but her eagle eye spotted a hawk or falcon of some type just hanging out. So much for the theory of ATV's disturbing wildlife! Kudos to my wife for spotting the thing in the first place!
    There were a few berries near the pond too. I was very surprised to see some blackberries ripe already. That is a berry that typically does not ripen until the middle to end of August. In fact it is always a worry with them that an early frost will catch them before they are fully ripe. I guess that the dry summer might be causing them to ripen early before the plant can no longer keep going on and goes dormant for the season. In any case, I may have to head over to my secret blackberry patch and see how it is doing. Nothing better than fresh berries! Except maybe fresh peaches, of which we can get from a roadside stand in Calumet right now. Picked up a bunch this afternoon heading home with the ATV and are they ever good. I am not a big vegetable guy, but I could eat fresh fruit for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. I am looking forward to some ATV trips in the next week and will be sure to bring the camera along. I feel a little bad in the summers that the journal is not the same interesting thing that it is in the winter or that it used to be when I first started writing. The ATV will be able to take us to some new and interesting places (even if we have to plop it into the back of Old Blue to get to a closer drop off point) and I am looking forward to sharing them with you all.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
 
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