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October 28-
    Wow, October is almost over. Seems hard to believe in one month we will be on the eve of the start of snowmobile season. Up until this week it would have been pretty hard to believe based on the weather. However, Wednesday we had our first official flakes of snow. I know that areas up here did see flakes back in the middle of September. I think I even saw a few flakes mixed in, but could not be 100% sure, so did not count them as the first official flakes. But Wednesday activity left no doubt. We did not get any accumulation, but it snowed off and on for a good portion of the day. I know even after dinner we still had a few flakes finding their way to the ground. Those first flakes Wednesday were then followed up by the first hard freeze Thursday morning. Hard to believe it took until October 25th to produce a hard freeze (28 degrees for at least an hour), but that is the truth. We did have some mornings with a hard frost, but the air temp on some of those mornings was at or above freezing. Friday morning, Saturday morning and this morning also had hard freezes occur. Interesting how it takes until this late in the season to get one and then the happen like it's no big deal.
    We then got our second snow shower event of the season yesterday evening. Just as Burt and I sat down to relax outside a few drops of rain hit, then some ice pellets a few minutes later and then a pretty decent snow showers occurred for about 10 minutes. It was enough to actually whiten things briefly, but then it melted. It must have come down a bit harder in Kearsarge because on my way back from Calumet this morning I saw some roofs and vehicles that still had a bit of snow on them. It looks like this Wednesday may pull more of a trick than treat for halloween (sorry, I just could not resist that bit of corny media talk). Rain and snow mixed, possibly changing to all snow. Of course all the kids up here are used to that. Every halloween costume up here comes with enough room to fit a snow suit under them.
    It is still pretty far out in the forecast, but right now it looks like about a week from now it could get really cold up here, with high temps in the 20's and maybe some lows in the teens and we could see some fairly decent lake effect to boot. Kind of hard to believe with the nice and sunny weather we have had the past 4 days (minus the snow showers yesterday evening). However, this really is a time of the year when we can have sunshine and 50's one day and 8" of snow the next.
    With all the overnight cold temps we finally had to break down and turn the heat on inside the cabin. As I believe I had mentioned in a previous journal I was holding off because I did not want to heat the entire slab up, only to have it go cold again once it got warm. Well, the truth of the matter is it did not take that much to heat the slab up. I turned the heat on at about 6 pm on Thursday and when we went to bed around 8, the floors were already warm. By the time I woke up at around midnight to let Burt out the floors were really warm and the cabin was nice and toasty. I was amazed at how quickly it warmed up. That also meant that it did not take a bunch of energy to get the slab heated up. I would say that it took just fractionally more firewood than had we not heated up the slab. So I guess the moral of the story will be that we can turn the heat on any time we want and the floors will respond quickly and we will not be using that much fuel to do so. It is not like I was keeping the house uncomfortably cold (Nora might argue that point a bit), the temp inside the cabin never dropped below 65 until Thursday. However, it is just so nice to have warm floors again! Especially getting out of the shower. Nothing worse than stepping out of a nice warm shower to hit a cold tile floor. Of course there are few things nicer than stepping out of the shower and onto a nice warm floor!
    With wintry weather starting to show its face around here I figured it was time to start thinking about getting the sleds ready for the season. Actually one of the things I wanted to do this off season was to polish the tunnel. I almost thought that I would not be able to get it done. I was planning on waiting until autumn and the more comfortable temps hit do start in on it and then Burt was diagnosed with cancer, so I put that on hold. Then when Burt seemed to be doing OK, I took some afternoons and evenings along with a whole lot of elbow grease and got it all polished up. I know, I know what a lot of you are going to say. "Looks good, but you should have done those rails too!". You are right, but that was a whole other project for a whole other time. Plus the way I see it, the rails are pretty much packed with snow all season anyway, so I will not even see them! The tunnel turned out nice though and the up side is if I am running late to meet up with the gang and cannot shave, I can always get in a quick shave while we are at a pit stop. I will have the mirror for it! The worst part about the whole polishing job was the edges of the running boards. They have these tiny little teeth that would shred the polishing ball and did not really allow me enough room to get my fingers and a rag into, so I ended up using my dremel tool with the felt wheels that come with it. That did the trick, but it was very tedious work. I also polished up the aluminum parts on the front suspension like the radius rods and parts of the steering assembly.
    Then on Tuesday, Dave came over and we ported my track. For those of you that might not know what I am talking about, you drill out holes in the track. The main purpose for that is to allow snow to escape the suspension more efficiently. The weight loss is only about 1.5 lbs and it is rotating mass so that could help. But really the big gains are that you do not carry all that snow around in your suspension when riding in the deep snow and the track does not have to work against all that snow inside your suspension, so you gain a few more ponies at the track when you need it most! Dave did his tracks last season and I know some guys out west that have been doing it for years with no problems. I believe even Ski-Doo is doing the porting on some stock setups they sell. In any case here is the track before porting and here is after. I used a 3-2-3 pattern and decided to leave the outside panels intact, although I have seen tracks with a 3-3-3 pattern and the outside panels done too.
    The tools we used were: 2 drills and two home made drill bits. The bits were modified hole saw bits (sorry for the poor quality, but the camera had a hard time focusing). What Dave did was to remove all the teeth of the hole saw and then put a knife like cutting edge on the tip. So the bits would cut through the track rather than saw through them. It worked very well because the bit would get so hot it would actually cauterize the rubber in the track as well as the reinforcement strands inside the track. It almost looks like the track was manufactured that way. The first bit we used was about a 3/8" one to make a pilot hole. Then we used a 1 1/4" bit to make the main hole. Inside that bit was a 3/8" blank rod that guided the big bit by running inside the pilot hole we drilled first.
    It's a pretty good workout as you have to push the drill pretty hard for the bit to get through. We kept the suspension on the sled and lifted the rear end up about a foot. Then we sat on a little shop stool and drilled away. Here is a shot of Dave making some large holes. We could only cut 3 holes and then had to pluck the rubber disks out of the bit before drilling more. Dave looked like he was having so much fun, I kept begging him to let me have a try. Finally he relinquished the big drill to me at let me have some fun! The truth of the matter is I offered to drill some and when Dave said he would do up until we saw the holes starting to appear on the other side, I did not fight that too much! Dave ended up drilling about 2/3rds of the big holes and all the small holes. It only took us about 90 minutes from start to finish to drill the holes. We did have to modify the templates he had made to mark the track, but that did not take too long either.
    The 800 is now down at Al's shop having the carbs cleaned and dialed in. The sled ran really fat on the low end almost all last season and that is a condition I just hate with the type of riding we do. We do not need that high end speed, but we sure do need that crisp, immediate response from the engine at low rpms. I had more than one close call when I went to bunny hop over something and the engine coughed rather than burped! The only other mods to the sled will be to add some ice scratchers and remove some outer bogey wheels. Loose some weight and gain some more carve ability- a nice combo.
    I am also happy to report that we are all done with our pre-winter chores. We have been done with all of our pre-winter chores up here for at least a week. Last Thursday Burt and I went to the Lake Linden house (yep, still has not sold) to rake the leaves. Nora joined us after she got off of work and we cut the grass and then put up the bush protectors. The fuel tank was filled, so we are done there until the snow starts to pile up and needs to be cleared. If it starts to look like we are going to have a really big snow season, I might just see about getting it plowed. Perhaps even one of my buddies with a plow on his truck would not mind making a few extra bucks. It would take less than 5 minutes to back blade that tiny driveway. We'll see. In any case we are officially all set for winter.
    The funny thing about being all set for winter is that I actually have NOTHING to do! I cannot even remember the last time I had absolutely nothing to do as far as chores. Even this summer in which I spent a lot of time doing nothing I still had things that could have been done. Now I don't even have them! I have actually been quite bored the past 2 days. The big excitement for me today was when the satellite guy came to realign the dish for my internet service. The dish sits on a pole in the ground, but the initial installer had not put the pole in correctly and the dish and pole were able to spin. So a different installer (heard the initial guy has been fired) had to come out, dig up the pole, put some "fins" on the bottom of it and then in case all of that into cement in the ground. That pole and dish will not be spinning anytime soon. We even got the dish dialed in a little better, so that was nice. Anyway, I have been so bored lately that I hung out with the installer like a little lost puppy dog! I don't think I asked too many questions, so I don't think I was a pest, but I did have to laugh at myself a few times for spending the afternoon out there with him.
    This is also a pretty slow time of the year for me. Both in my business and in my play time. The woods are all bare now. Soon the woods will be full of hunters and we will have to stay out. It is a bit too cold for the beaches, although we usually end up going to a beach or two during hunting season as long as the snow is not too deep. So we are really in a sort of in between time. It may not be as pretty as when the woods are all aglow in the yellows, oranges and reds of autumn, or the deep green of summer or even the deep frosted look of winter, but things still have their beauty- as illustrated by today's look at Burt's Pond.
    Speaking of Burt, he is still doing well. The lump has not returned to his neck. It has been almost 9 weeks since the lump was removed, so I am a little more optimistic for his future than we were 7 weeks ago when we got the news on what was removed. However, I also know that cancer is a funny thing. It can lay dormant for a while and then spring back full force. We are not concerning ourselves so much with the future, choosing to make the most of the present. We are thrilled that he as been able to spend these 9 weeks with us in such good health and hope for as many more as we can get. He does seem to be slowing down a bit, but it seems to be more due to his age. There has not been much of a slow down in the past 7-9 weeks, more in the last year. He still gets around pretty good for a dog of his age and size as well as all the joint problems he has. The medicines he is on seem to help a lot too as he knows when it is time for our afternoon adventure and looks forward to it as much as he ever did. I think that's what warms my heart the most is when I see him get all excited to head out for our afternoon adventure. It really is "our time" and we both cherish it fully and when Nora gets to come along it is a bonus!
    My closing topic is the Ride-In. Hope those of you that have come in the past are planning to come this year. It is my goal to keep making it better and better every year and I think we will be achieving it this year with the addition of "Big Vin" for live entertainment at the banquet. I can also make the announcement of another feature to this years ride-in. The crew from Dobson Entertainment will be attending the ride-in and will be shooting "film" to produce a commemorative DVD of the event. Rick is currently brainstorming ideas, but I know we plan to go around at the banquet and interview everyone and I know he is also hoping to tag along on some of the rides to catch some of that action as well. We will then be sending free copies too all that attend the ride in and will make copies available for sale to those that cannot attend. So I hope that those of you that could not make it in years past are giving it serious thought to attend this year. It's a really fun time and for a very good cause.
    Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
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October 21-
    Once again I have to say that it is great to be back at home here in the Keweenaw. Nora, Burt and I snuck out of town for a few days to visit with family and returned yesterday evening. It is always nice to get down to see my family and a few friends, but there is no place like home and words cannot fully describe the way it feels when we pull into our driveway after a few days away and a long drive. I have found that returning home is even more nice since we moved up here into the cabin. Nora feels the same way and it is clear to tell that Burt also feels that way. Just something about home that you cannot replace, even if you go to places that used to be your home.
    We returned to what looked to be the aftermath of a big blow. Branches were down and we even had 2 pieces of siding from the front of the cabin get blown off. Not sure how the wind was able to pull off two pieces of 1 x 6 wood siding that was nailed down. I think that perhaps the wet weather has caused the wood siding to swell a bit and that caused it to pull away from the house a bit and the wind was able to do the rest. There were a few other pieces that were trying to pull away from the house and when I was putting the two that came down back up, I made sure to tap the other loose ones back in and secure them with some longer finish nails. So we are good as new and hopefully I will not have to put any more of those back up ever again!
    I do not have any pictures to share this week as Nora, Burt and I left Wednesday morning and just returned yesterday evening, so that did not give me much time up here this week to take pictures. Plus we forgot the camera when we went south, so we could not take any pictures of our adventures there either. In addition to visiting with some friends and relatives I also took in the snowmobile snow that was in Milwaukee over the weekend. I went to the show Friday evening with my older brother and a friend that lives in the Milwaukee area. It may surprise you to know that it was actually my first snowmobile show. Yep, my virgin experience. I was not real big into snowmobiling before living here. I did grow up with a few clunkers that we would try and get going every winter in hopes that enough snow would fall in southern WI to play in. Most winters the weather did not cooperate very well (see even back in the 70's and 80's areas like southern WI did not have much snow). There were a few that bucked the trend in the late 70's and a winter or two in the 80's also would provide a weekend or two that had enough snow to play in, but for the most part we did not do a whole lot of riding when I lived down there. In 1991 I started taking one trip a year up here to play in the snow and that was the extent of my riding until I moved here. So I just did not have much of a reason to go to the shows. Then once I moved here it just became too difficult to get down to one of the shows.
    It was nice to take in a show, but I guess I was maybe expecting too much as I was hoping there would be more in the way of aftermarket stuff there. I had hopes of getting some ice scratchers and also a pair of goggles from Haber. I knew I would be picking up some copies of Born to Ride 6, which features my riding buddies and I in it. I was also hoping to pick up some DVD's from other producers and was able to pick up two other DVD's, but was surprised to see just Dobson and one other vendor there selling videos.
    I watched all three DVD's on the way home yesterday. I brought Nora's laptop down so I could do some work while down there and used that as my private movie theater on the way back up. The Born to Ride 6 was excellent. I suppose it helps to know everyone in it, but I really do enjoy Rick's camera work and editing way more than what is done in the other DVD's. Those other DVD's may have better riders in front of the camera, but Rick really has a way of making the most of what we give him. I have already watched the BTR 6 2 times and will probably watch it a few more times in the coming days. If you missed the Milwaukee show and would still like to get a copy of Born to Ride 6 with my buddies and I riding up here and Togwotee, you can go to their website and pick up a copy. If you like snowmobile videos, you will like his work. Not the head banging soundtrack either. Nice classic rock like Arrowsmith, U2, ect.
    The one downside to watching all the snowmobile DVD's I have in the past few days is I am now pretty anxious for the snow. Not so much anxious for the snow to come right this instant. I know that would still be a waste and would rather it wait for another 3-4 weeks. I am anxious for that 3-4 weeks to come and go! I see where Togwotee picked up a bunch of snow over the weekend and I would imagine that the ground out will probably remain white until spring. They may not hang onto all the snow they got, but it is getting to that time of the year when snow can stick around out there- especially what looks to be around 15-20" of it.
    So the bug has bit me. I am now officially getting excited for winter to come. We still have a bit more work to do in Lake Linden like rake the leaves, cut the grass and put the bush protectors up before winter can officially start around here, but all the work is done up here and I am mentally ready. The models have been hinting at a taste of wintery weather to occur in much of the northern Midwest for a few weeks now. It has always been out in the extended period, which to me is 7 or more days out and is also a time frame when confidence is pretty low unless the models have been doing a good job in that time frame. So I have not bought into those ideas yet, but we are getting to the time of the year where it becomes a trick to avoid snow rather than get it. Tomorrow our average high will drop to 49 and by months end it will be 44.
    The woods look ready for snow too. All the trees are bare up here in my neck of the woods. Today we took a drive out towards the lake (not all the way to it though) and some of the birch trees still had some yellow leaves on them out there, but all the maples were bare there and in a few days even those birch trees that held a few leaves will be bare. It was neat to drive home yesterday and experience the change in foliage. Where we left in S. WI, most of the trees were still green, with just a few splashes of color. The amount of color in trees increased and then hit peak around Wausau and then the trees gradually turned more and more bare as we headed further and further north. However, we really did not hit completely bare trees until just south of Twin Lakes. The southern UP and northern WI still had about 50% of the leaves in the trees. I suppose this warm autumn has delayed things some.
    Speaking of warm autumn, we still have not had to turn the heat on in the cabin. Pretty amazing thing. Even without us here for 4 days, the temp inside the cabin was 65 when we got home yesterday. It looks like we may need to turn it on sometime towards the end of this week, but it has been nice to not have to use as much firewood so far this heating season.
    Well, I have been sitting here for a few minutes trying to think of something else to say and cannot, so I guess that means that this will do it for this time around. Who knows, perhaps the next time I write I will have some snowflakes to talk about!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
October 14-
    Boy, hard to believe that we are nearly halfway through the month of October already. That is OK with me. I don't mind the month, but it does get us one step closer to winter by being past October. The weather has finally settled into more what we should be seeing this time of the year. We have had frosts the past 2 mornings, although the air temp has not reached 32 yet. So technically the growing season is still going, but Nora took all her plants down several weeks ago. Yesterday and today were also very nice autumn days, with lots of sunshine and temps in the 50's. I really do love those kinds of days. They are just so comfortable to be outside in. Wear a light jacket and you are all set.
    I forgot to mention in the last journal that this area was still so beautiful, even with all the rain and sloppy weather we had. When I was riding the ATV last Saturday in all that muck and overcast skies, even fog, it was still so beautiful out there in the woods. Not too many places that you can say is truly beautiful no matter what the weather is like. We sure are lucky to be living here. Living the dream.
    I think that this will be a pretty short journal. I have not written a short one in a while, so I guess that it will be OK. The truth is we had rain just about every day last week, so we did not do anything too exciting. The weather did afford some breaks so that we could get out and take our afternoon walks, but they were brief and it did rain for most of the rest of the days. Here is a shot of Burt heading back to the cabin after a walk out to Burt's Pond on Wednesday. Still some color hanging on, but we are definitely past peak and in another few days 90 percent of the trees up this way will be bare. For some reason the trees down around Houghton and Hancock as well as Lake Linden are not that far along. Must be the elevation. Sometimes I forget that we are now living in the "higher terrain" up here. Not the highest, but a few hundred feet higher than areas like Houghton, Hancock and Lake Linden.
    Today we headed up north a bit for our afternoon walk. We took the Cliff Drive as I noticed last week many of the trees there were birches and had not peaked out yet. So I was hoping they were close to peak and the mostly sunny skies would help to enhance the color show. Looks like we got lucky. Not striking color, but still not a bad show at all. It is just too bad that those darn power lines run along the side of the road, they really spoil the photo opportunities up there. I understand the need for power lines, but it is just too bad that they do not run them underground or somewhere else is all.
    About the only other excitement this week was we got the blazer back. It took a week for them to repair the damage caused by the deer, but they did an excellent job and it looks like nothing ever happened. Actually for all the work they had to do, I am surprised it only took them a week. My thanks to Keweenaw Auto Body in Calumet for their hard work and quick turn around!
    I have taken advantage of the nice weather we have had the past few days to do some pre-winter chores. Nora and I made some more firewood on Friday and then one last load of wood yesterday. I am finally feeling like we have enough to get us through the winter. At least the heart of the winter. If we have an abnormally cold late March and early April (I hope, I hope!), then we may run very close to being out, but we can always grab some from near the cabin, or go get some from a friend who actually sells it. I took some pictures of our wood supply for this season. The reason was two fold. One I want to show you all, but secondly, I want to have some kind of record of it so I can see next autumn how much we had for this season and use that info to help me determine how much we will need. Of all the pictures I took last summer and autumn as we were building the cabin. I do not have too many that show exactly how much wood we had going into last season. There were a few pictures that helped, but did not tell the whole story. Plus at least half of the wood we had last season was very dry softwood, which does not have nearly as many BTU's in it as hardwood does. In any case, I figure we have about 5 1/2 full cord of hardwood and about another chord and a half of cedar. Here is a shot of the length of the hardwood pile and here is a shot of the width. Here is the cedar pile, which I hope will get us through November.
    We actually have not even turned the heat on yet and the house has never been that cool. In fact we are still sleeping with the bedroom window open to keep it cool for Burt. He really likes to sleep in a cool room and so do I. Last winter we would sleep with the window open as well. I can add that now that the nighttime temps are dropping into the 30's that the window is not open nearly as wide as when the temps were dropping into the 40's and 50's and once the winter sets in, then the window is barely even cracked, but we must have done a great job insulating this place because all last week the temps were topping out in the upper 40's and low 50's and dropping into the low 40's at night. We also did not have any direct sunshine to heat the house, only thick overcast and we still did not have to start heating the place. Right now it is 73 inside and 50 outside.
    Well, not much else to talk about. Looks like this week will be spent with temps running a bit above average, so we may be able to get by without heat for another week or so. There are signs that some colder temps will drop in by early next week and we may even see our first snows of the season. There were a few flakes mixed in last week and also back in mid September a few flakes were mixed in with the rain, but the stuff next week would be snow only and not rain. Perhaps even enough to whiten the ground. Pretty far out in the forecast to be putting a lot of faith into, but we are certainly at the time of the year when the first snows happen. In fact making it through October without snow is pretty rare. Only about 15% of October do not have at least a trace of snow reported in them. It happened 2 years ago, but that was the only year in the past 20 that it did not. It really does not matter to me if we have snow in October or not. October snow are like teats on a bull. Useless. Last year places up here got 2 feet and unless you lived here and got out for the brief time it was around. It just melted away. I would just as soon get the first inch or two of snow sometime in late October or early November and then start building a snowpack in the last 2 weeks of November, with a decent base (12" or so) down by early December. And then it can snow every day until mid April!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
October 7-
    Ever since moving up here I have marveled at the strange and extreme weather that this neck of the woods can have, but it is usually a single event type of extreme like a big snow storm or big rain storm, or maybe even a big temperature drop. However, the past year or so has provided longer term weather extremes. First it was the mild and relatively snowless winter we had (excluding the huge April storm). Then it was the severe drought we had in June, July and August and now it is the rain! I am not going to complain about all the rain we have picked up in the past 5 weeks, especially because I was so desperate to get some just about 5 weeks ago. However, we have to be closing in on a record for 5 and 6 week rainfall totals up here.
    It rained all day Friday and Friday night and then parts of the day on Saturday. Today has been dry, but rains are likely for tonight, tomorrow, tomorrow night and Tuesday, maybe even Tuesday night. The rains are not little brief showers either, but events that will last at least several hours and in many cases for 24 hours or more. The drought is over and done with and we are now in the bonus as far as precip goes. In fact many of the rivers and creeks up here are running at levels only seen during a strong spring thaw. I have pictures to share with you, but there are rivers up here that you could have waded across or even hopped across on exposed rocks just a few weeks ago that would now likely threaten your life if you were to fall into them. Really amazing to see the change in conditions up here and the extreme switch in weather conditions. Sort of fits in with my idea that Mother Nature likes to even out the score over time and why I believe that one of these years she will make up for lost ground in the lack of snow and cold in the Midwest.
    One of the things that has happened with all the cool and wet weather lately has been an explosion of fungi in the forest. In fact I do not recall seeing so many mushrooms in the woods as we have right now. There are small ones and big ones (we saw a couple that were the size of a basketball yesterday) and round ones and flat ones. Red ones and yellow and white ones. Someone who was really into fungi would be in all their glory up here right now.
    Along with the wet weather, we have also been warm. At least warm by our standards. Today we are in the upper 70's to low 80's, when we should be in the mid 50's. The humidity has also been very high, with dewpoints running just a few degrees shy of the air temperature for days on end. Even with today's temperature in the upper 70's, the dewpoints are in the low to mid 70's. That is pretty much unheard of in this neck of the woods at this time of the year. All the humidity has led to lots of fog. Nora, Burt and I took a walk over to Burt's pond yesterday and even at midday the fog was like pea soup. In fact the fog stuck around all day long yesterday. Thankfully even with all the warmth and humidity we have been able to stay comfortable during the day and the night. Night time temps have been falling into the 50's at least and sometimes into the 40's. I learned my lesson from the last quick spike in temps we had about 2 weeks ago and closed up the house this morning and while it is pretty warm and very muggy outside right now things inside are very comfortable. I also am not taking any chances and have put the AC into the bedroom window as it looks like things will be on the sticky side tonight and no need to suffer.
   We have yet to turn the heat on this season and more often than not have actually had the windows open not just during the day, but at least cracked at night. That bodes well for our wood supply which we have just about completed. Although it does look like we may need to start the heat up this week. Temps look to drop as we go through the day tomorrow and by Tuesday we may only have highs in the upper 40's and low 50's and those would last for the rest of the week. The infloor heat we have is great during the heart of the heating season as it is so nice to have a warm floor. However, it is also a slower system to respond for the call for heat. Meaning that right now the slab is cool and the entire thing needs to be heated up before we can have any heat going inside the cabin. In the winter the slab is always warm, so it is always making heat and you really do not feel any lag. Plus it is always on. However, at this time of the year you can have moments when you need heat and then a few hours or days later you do not, so it can be a bit of a struggle for a few weeks as you make the transition to the heating season. So far no struggle, but I feel we may be heading into that time period this week and possibly next. We'll see, maybe it won't be a struggle and we will just need it and then need it from that point on. In any case, the boiler is going as it is making our hot water so we do not need to heat all of that water first before we heat up the slab.
    The color show is still going on, but as reported last weekend, the maples all changed before the birches and poplar. Thus, many of the maples are now bare, while the birches and poplar are reaching their peak. In a way I guess that is good because we have had an extended color show this year, but in a way bad because we never had most of the trees going at the same time. In any case there are still some pretty sights to be seen in the woods.
    Yesterday, Skylar his wife and daughter came up to go on an ATV ride. Being the meteorologist I am, I was watching the radar closely in the hour or two before they arrived and there was a big blob of rain heading our way that would have likely hit us not long after we headed out. That looked to be the last area of rainfall we would have to endure for the day, so we waited it out and then headed out and did not get rained on. However, we did not stay dry either! The trails were riddled with puddles, in fact I think that there were areas that had more puddles than dry ground. Some puddles are OK and are actually fun to ride through, but it does get to be a little old when you travel 15 feet through a puddle, then 15 feet on dry land before the next puddle is encountered. We did find some trails that did not have too many puddles on them and it was nice to travel them. We even lucked out when the fog briefly cleared when we were on top of the Cliff Range- affording us a view of the valley below, including the Old Church of the Assumption in Phoenix. The fog was still hugging the highest terrain up there like Praiseville Hill, the Buffalo Hills and Mt Horace Greely and it was not long after we started our decent from the Cliff Range when the fog rolled back into all areas (fsv).
    I said that I would be showing you some examples of the high water up here and this is my first example. Normally that water is about 6-8" deep and you can just hop across that creek on some rocks that stick up out of it. Not yesterday! That was Skylar and his daughter making their way across. Everyone crossed safely and it was actually pretty fun to go through it. The next example is when we were making our way from Eagle River to Eagle Harbor and crossed the Garden City Creek. Normally this creek is nothing more than a trickle. Something that might rival that which comes out of your garden hose. Not yesterday! That was about a 10 foot drop of raging water. About 2 months ago Nora and I took a ride on the ATV to a place called "secret spot" and there encountered one of the Keweenaw's more mighty rivers struggling to even have any water flowing between it's banks. Not yesterday!
    I figure that all the swamps have filled up and they are not able to capture any more of the water put into them, so all of that water is now flowing into the creeks and rivers that drain the highland swamps. The same thing happens in the spring when all the snow melts and we get some rains. It is just very strange to seen them all flowing so strongly this time of the year. It is nice to see these rivers flowing so healthy and on the plus side all of that water will find it's way into the Big Lake and raise it's levels even more, but I wonder if the extreme flow rates at this time of the year will have any negative impacts on the fish spawning that is- or should be going on right now. The other potential downside to all of this wet weather could be if it either stays wet up until winter starts, or we do not have much cold weather before the snow starts to pile up, things could be pretty messy for a while, with all the wet ground and high creeks being covered by the insulating snow. Nothing I am going to worry about until it happens.
    Today seemed like a beach day, so that is where we took Burt. He is still doing well. The lump has not returned to his neck and it seems like no new lumps have appeared, although he has so many little fatty tumors it can be hard sometimes to know if what we are feeling is a new one or one that was there. Or if it is an old one, if it has grown any. So far all seems good. He might not have quite the endurance he had a year or two ago or even that of what he had a few months ago, but he is also getting up there in age where any dog of his size would start to tire a little more quickly. Plus when he starts out in the afternoon fun he does not do it timidly, jumping and bounding around like a pup. Not bad for an 80+ year old! I am just glad to see him still getting around so well and enjoying life.
    Not much else to talk about- except for one last item: The dates for the 3rd Annual JohnDee.com SnowFest Ride-In have been set. They are February 1st and 2nd, with the banquet to occur on Saturday the 2nd. I plan to put the sign up and info pages for the ride in up on the site tomorrow, but just wanted to give everyone a heads up. Right now the events that for sure will be happening will be the backcountry rides and the banquet (including the raffle), but I plan to have some other activities for us all to enjoy and will alert you all to them when they are finalized.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
 
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