December 27-
    Home sweet home. It sure is nice to be back. It is always nice to see family and it was great that most of those in my family that have yet to see Grace in person were able to for Christmas, but this is home and it sure is great to be back. Nora, Grace, the pups and I snuck out of town on Wednesday and stopped off at my brother's Wednesday night before going to my Mom's for Christmas. The trip down was pretty uneventful. We did hit some snow just as we were pulling into Milwaukee. It came down pretty good for a few hours and a couple of inches fell- just enough to send all the Ricky-Rockets in their BMW's into the ditches. Just cracks me up how some folks can live in an area like Milwaukee and still have absolutely no clue how to drive in snow. Oh well, we made it safe and sound and it was nice to be riding in a new vehicle too. There is quiet a bit more room in the Pilot than in the old Blazer and so all were comfortable.
    Christmas Eve Nora, Grace and my mom did a bit of shopping and then I took my turn at the local Best Buy and picked up a DVD player for the vehicle so Grace can watch her Baby Einstein and Curious George videos. My brothers came up and then we enjoyed a nice dinner with my family Christmas Eve. We are always the first awake when we visit my family. For one, we are used to eastern time, rather than central time, but we are also early risers. So it was always Nora, Burt, Baileys and I that were awake for a few hours before the rest of the clan crawled out of bed. This year it was Nora, Gracie, the pups and I that were awake a few hours early. I told Gracie that Santa had come overnight and that there were some presents waiting for her. She got really excited, but was able to wait until the rest of the family woke up. Here is a shot of the two of us waiting for everyone to wake up so we can unwrap the presents and see what is in our stockings
    Grandma was the next to wake up and she and Grace had a fun time doing some "Pony Girls" while we waited for my brothers to wake up. Gracie sure loves doing Pony Girl. Finally everyone was awake and we could get to unwrapping the presents. My mom and dad started a tradition of hiding the names of the recipient of the present's name on an old Christmas card and attaching that card to the present. Before you can open up the present, you need to find the name. One of the problems is, you pick up a present and do not know if it is for you, so you can spend 10-20 minutes (or more) looking for a name, only to find out it is not yours! The goal was to slow down the unwrapping of the presents when we all were kids and it worked wonderfully and the tradition continues. Gracie was not exempt from this Christmas. Here she is all proud that she found her name on a card. Her methods of unwrapping the present was a little unconventional, but it worked!
    After our family Christmas in the morning, we headed over to my aunt and uncles place in northern IL to celebrate with them, my other aunt and uncle and two of my nieces and one of their husbands. That celebration was nice and it was the first time that all of them had seen Grace first hand, so she was by far the hit of the party. Although Huck and Millie were also an entertainment for all. I have to say that I was very impressed and happy with how well the pups behaved all weekend. They were pretty much perfect everywhere we went. I guess that was a sure sign of how good they are- to be in so many different homes and around so many new people, but to be so well behaved. Nora and I were proud parents and they got lots of praise.
    Saturday morning we got packed and headed out to come back home. Typically it is a 6 1/2 to 7 hour drive to get back home, but thanks to someone doing 25 in a 55 mph zone for about 15 miles before we could get on the interstate and an accident that shut down the interstate for a while, it took us a little over 8 hours to get home. The pups and Gracie took it in stride, but I think we were all VERY happy to get out of the car and be home.
    While we were gone, the region got quiet a bit of snow. Most of it came Christmas Eve and at one point I noticed the snow station had just shy of 12" of new snow on it. Temps warmed and then the precip did change to rain for a period Christmas Day, but most of the snow stuck around. However what we came home to was about 10" of wet and heavy snow on the driveway and vehicles that were left behind. We did not bother clearing the driveway when we got home yesterday, which was a good thing because it took Nora and I around 6 hours to clear the driveway this morning. We took turns. I started out, then she did some, then I did some more and she finished up. The driveway is clear and the wet snow did soften up the snow mat on the driveway a bit, but that was good because the mat had gotten too thick and is back to where it should be.
    I got most of the snow off the vehicles, but did not clear the roofs. Here is a shot of the Blazer and the snow from the storm. Here is Old Blue with the last storm, plus a few other snow events on top of it! Nora took the Pilot to the car wash this afternoon to get all the salt from the trip washed off and here it is parked in front of the cabin.
    As much of a pain it was to clear the driveway (you all can keep that wet and heavy snow, I'll stick to the lake effect powder!), the warm temps also allowed the shop roof to self-clear while we were gone. So that was the one shining star to getting all that wet and heavy snow and then a few hours above the freezing mark. It was a good thing because the shop roof was going to have to be cleared soon. It must have been a pretty violent clearing because usually there is some snow that stays along the ridge line and the slide zone on the ground next to the shop extended about 20 feet from the shop. I would imagine it all just cut loose at one moment and slid fast. There is still a bit that needs to be cleared from the lean-to and none of the snow came off the wood storage, so I need to try and get at least a bit of that snow off, but it is nice to have the shop roof clean and ready for more.
    The second to last item I have to share with you is pretty much hot off the press. Grace has been noticing the pups for many, many weeks now, but just this afternoon she tried to reach out and touch Millie. Nora was on the couch with Grace and Millie hopped up and laid down next to them and little Grace reached out to touch Millie. We kept a close eye on things, but were not too worried about anything Grace could do to Millie- especially the way the two pups beat up on each other! Anyway, there was some ear pulling and at one point Grace had a handful of one of Millie's gowls and was trying to put it in her mouth, but Millie loved the attention and Gracie has two new play toys! Later on Huck stopped by and Grace was just as interested in grabbing a handful of him as she was in Huck. We will continue to be very watchful of her with the pups until she understands that she can hurt them or cause them to do something in defense, but it is great to see her discovering them and wanting to interact with them. If the three of them only knew what the future holds for them!
   My final order of business is to remind everyone about the Ride-in coming up at the end of January. We have some fantastic prizes already in the hopper for the silent auction and raffle and many more will be coming in in the next few weeks. Sounds like there is going to be a good showing again this year and I know I am looking forward to it! So don't forget to sign up! Links to the event are on the home page of the site.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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December 20-
    'twas the journal before Christmas... Seems hard to believe that Christmas is just a few days away. I am ready. I finished the last of my shopping today and actually wrapped the majority of the presents on Thursday. I have just 4 more to wrap and will be able to sit back and relax. 
    I want to thank everyone for their notes of well wishes after last week's revealing journal. It's been a better week for me this week. I even took my first snowmobile ride of the season yesterday- more on that in a bit. I took it a lot more easy this past week. Still moved snow, but only with the ATV and plow. Nora took over cutting back the banks with the snow thrower and also stepped in and took over the wood loading chore. There were a few days where I tossed a few logs into the burner, just to make sure it had something to burn, but she took care of the meat of the wood loading.
    It was a less snowy week, so the snow moving was not as rigorous. We still had more days that needed snow removal than not, but at least it was not moving 12" around each time! In fact, the past day or so it has been perfect. A light and fluffy snow has been falling at the rate of around 4" every 24 hours. To me that is the perfect rate. It does not sound like a lot, but that is a foot of new snow every 3 days. Yet it comes at a rate that is much more manageable to keep up with. I would be perfectly happy having it snow like this all winter long. Non stop, a fresh 4" every day. Of course we would break the all time snowfall record for a season by a large margin, but I would not complain about that either!
    Not a whole lot went on this past week. I got out to fix the trail cam today and it was an easy fix. All of the components that make up the whole system are way more reliable now than they ever have been and that makes fixing things pretty straight forward. This time around all that needed to be done was to start the software that runs the fancy wireless equipment that was donated by a friend of the site. Not sure why, but that is all it took. It was so nice to go out there and spend 5-10 minutes fixing things rather than 6 hours! Hopefully it will not need any more fixing soon. I know it ran almost all summer long with no problems, so hopefully it can run the rest of the winter. If anyone is wondering about the pile of brush in front of the trail cam. Dave did some cutting near by and he and Lori plan to have a bonfire there someday soon. They said they will give me the heads up and try and make a little event out of it, with hot dogs and other treats. As soon as they come up with a date and time, I will put it on the trail cam page as well as mention it here.
    As mentioned, I took my first ride of the season yesterday. Nora's brother and family are up for a week or so and I thought it would be fun for him and I to head out for a little ride. I really did not know what to expect as far as my endurance on the sled goes, so all we planned to do was ride to Phoenix, stop in at the Vansville and then head back. All told around a 17-18 mile round trip on the trail. 
   So yesterday late morning we got suited up and ready to go. That last shot was me putting on my new pair of free ride pants from Klim. I have heard a lot of good things about the pants vs. the bibs for backcountry riding and thought I would give them a try. While our riding yesterday was pretty mellow, I can see how they will give more freedom to move around than the bibs, but will hang onto the bibs for those days when the powder may be up over my waist. 
    My sternum has healed pretty well, but I was wondering if I was far enough along to be able to start my own sled. I did, but was glad for the EFI and 2 pulls it takes to start the sled! We pulled the sleds out of the shop and before taking off, I snapped a shot of the Rt 12 Twins. We stuck to the trail on the way up to Phoenix and I took it pretty easy. Not only was this my first ride, but also the first run for the 2010 M8. I am running a tank of pre-mix in there, but also do not want to push the sled too hard just yet, so I kept it under around 6500-6800 rpm's yesterday. Even still, I can tell that the new motor Cat came out with is a screamer and am excited to see all of what it can do. It will also be neat to line it up against the 09 M8 and see how well the two match up. I gained a lot of HP with the mods I put on the 09 late last year.
    We made it to the Vansville just fine, in fact, the sit down trail riding was so easy that I told my brother in-law Jeff that I could have ridden all day. We did not have plans to ride all day, but I figured we could go in, warm up a bit and then take the backcountry home- which is exactly what we did. I still took it pretty easy when we got into the backcountry, but did do a little stand up riding and did carve a few corners on the logging roads and it felt pretty good. It did tire me out more and I could not ride aggressively in the backcountry for very long at all, but if I were part of a big group and hung towards the back and just took it easy, I could ride pretty much all day. We found our way home safely through the woods, stopping to take a pic for posterity. I am looking forward to getting out again and spending more time in the woods on the new ride.
    So I talked about the weather and I talked about my first ride, I guess that leaves the Gracie file. The big excitement this week was that we started giving her something other than formula to eat. We started with some rice cereal and after a few days started giving her some banana baby food. She took to eating it pretty quickly and seemed to enjoy it as well. Here she is with a pretty content look on her face.
    As mentioned, last week I wrote early because we had a Christmas party to bring her to. Lately there has been a throng of paparazzi waiting for us at the end of the drive way, so we thought we would try and disguise her a bit to throw them off. It seemed to work as about half of them stayed put as we drove by. Just kidding of course, there are no photographers at the end of our driveway. Grace got those sunglasses from one of Nora's friends as we decided to put them on her just for laughs. Grace did not seem to mind them at all, which is good, because we will want to put them on her for real when we go to the beach this summer. Grace did get to meet Santa at the party and even sat on his lap. She sure is a little angle and was perfect at the party.
    Well, I guess that just
about does it for this one. However, it being the last journal before Christmas. I need to wish you all a Merry Christmas from the Dee's. Getting two wild puppies and a baby and Nora and I to all look natural and pose for the camera is a next to impossible task and that was the best that could be done in many attempts. I think I will forever crack up looking at it, seeing the hat over Gracie's eyes and Millie staring down what ever it was she bolted after the minute I took my hand off her collar, but those things are exactly what makes a family Christmas picture and reminds me of all the takes we had as a family when I was growing up. We also took one with just Grace, Nora and I. Better, but I think Grace was watching the pups play in the trees or something!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
December 13-
    Good morning from the Keweenaw. This has to be one of the earlier starts to a journal in a long time, but I have not been feeling too great the past few days and I am hoping to be able to go to a Christmas Party for the local adoption group up here this afternoon, which means that the normal time I would be writing, I will be at the party and by the time we get home, I could have hit the wall and run out of energy.
    I am kind of bummed that I have gone the wrong direction in my health the last few days. I really thought I was making good progress and then late Thursday started to feel poorly and then Friday, Saturday and today I have that flu-like feeling I had when there was the fluid build up in my pericardium. I think I may have overdone it a bit this past week moving all the snow we got and doing other chores like loading the wood boiler and laundry and other household chores. Before I go on, I certainly do not want it to sound like Nora is being some kind of a slacker. I am doing all of this during the day when we have a sitter here watching Grace. Nora gets home from a full day at work and then takes over Grace full time, so she is working her rear end off too. Anyway, I just hope that the fluid can leave on it's own. I really do not want to have to deal with surgery at this stage of the game- especially with the holidays upon us. We'll see.
    I know that I have kept the initial surgery personal and was planning to keep it that way, but for some reason I just feel compelled to share it with you all. It has actually bothered me a bit that I did not say what it was and you all were SO good about letting me have my privacy, but it just seemed wrong to not let the friends I have through this site know. So, here it goes. On October 2nd I had open heart surgery to replace two heart valves. Both my aortic valve and mitral valve needed replacing. Both were damaged when I was a child and had radiation therapy to try and cure me of cancer. I say "try" because the ironic part is the first stage of chemo and radiation therapy I went through did not cure me, but the second round of chemo did. Back in the 70's when I had the radiation, they pretty much just carpet-bombed you with it and it was not as precise in dose and aim as it is these days. So they were trying to get my lungs and did, but my heart also took it on the chin. We have been monitoring the valves for the past 30 years and the hope was that they would not get bad enough to have to be replaced and things went well for those 30 years and then I started to become symptomatic this summer and went in for tests and it was determined it was time to fix them. 
    My cardiologist up here in Marquette knew it was going to be a pretty complicated surgery with lots of calcification of the valves and other heart structures, so they referred me to the Mayo Clinic. I met with the surgeon in Sept and was scheduled for surgery on the 1st of Oct. I went in, was all prepped and ready to go and then they had to cancel as the operation before me turned out to be more work and they thought it best to wait until the next day so that the surgeon would have "fresh legs". I had no problem with that! My surgery was also way more complicated than they thought it would be. Normally a patient having my procedure will be on the heart/lung machine (the pump) for about 60-75 minutes. I was on it for over 4 1/2 hours! I had a lot of calcification of my aorta that caused the long surgery. I was also on the breathing tube for over 2 days, when most patients are able to come off after about 6 hours. So it was a pretty rough surgery and I think that is why my recovery has had it's bumps along the way. I think you all pretty much know the rest of the story from there, but I just thought you all deserved to know what started all of these fun health issues I have been talking about for the past 2+ months! The good news is the valves are working just fine (mechanical) and my heart pumping function is also very good. So it may have been a rough surgery, but was a complete success and once I fully recover (6-8 months) I will actually be in better shape than I have been in a long time.
    So now back to our regularly scheduled programming... SNOW! and lots of it. Once again, we here in the southern end of Keweenaw County were not hit as hard as others. The big storm on Wednesday produced around 14", but Ironwood picked up 30" and just west of Marquette at the NWS office in Negaunee they picked up around 24" from the storm alone. LES then added quite a bit to much of the UP Thursday and it really looked like Friday would be our turn to be hit hard, but the pure west winds never really fully developed. They tried, but out in the middle of the lake, winds were from the NW and that kept the main banding just south of Houghton where it looked like the South Range area picked up around 2 feet late Thursday into Friday. We did get into the main convergence band snow briefly on Friday afternoon and it was coming down at around 4"/hr, but that only lasted around 30 minutes. Quite honestly, as I was starting to feel pretty run down Friday, I was actually a little glad we did not get hammered. Just more work and I am not up to speed to play in it yet.
    The pups are sure up to speed to play in the snow though. They just LOVE it! I can let them out and they will play for an hour straight. They play chase and tackle each other and from time to time take a brief break (Millie was actually standing in that last shot!). As the snow got deeper as the week wore on, they started carving paths through the snow and have quite a network setup through the trees and yard. Sort of reminds me of when you see those aerial photos of wolves in the deep snow and the paths they have. Anyway, I am glad that they can entertain themselves so well in the snow because then I do not feel obligated to have to take them for a walk for their daily exercise. In fact, they have way more fun playing by themselves than they have on a walk and they also get way more exercise. It will just be interesting to see what they do when the snow gets to be even deeper than it is now. Perhaps I will have to break trail on snow shoes or better yet the new M8!
    Speaking of that, I was set to take a short ride yesterday, but with me slipping a bit in the way I felt, I decided it was best to just rest. Hopefully I can get out next weekend, but strangely I am OK with having to wait so far. I think I am just looking forward to ALL that I will be able to do when I feel better that snowmobiling is just a part of it. 
    Needless to say we look to have all but guaranteed ourselves a white Christmas and I think we are actually working on a white Easter at this point and if we are not careful, we could end up with a white Mothers Day! Actually it is not that deep up here yet, but strange to think that just over a week ago we had nothing more than a dusting on the ground and now it is almost dead of winter deep up here. Something what 60" of snow will do! The cabin looks pretty all nestled in the snowy woods and the snow is getting deeper and deeper on the shop roof and will need to be cleared in not too long. With Nora's help the driveway is all nice and clean. Even when I don't feel so good, I can push most of the snow with the ATV and then Nora cuts back the banks with the snow thrower. If we were not going to be building a log home in a few years, I would just get a plow for the truck, but once the log home and connected garage is in, then there will be very limited places to push the snow and thus throwing it will be the only real way to deal with it. I do plan to get a riding mower/tractor with a blower and enclose cab once the log home is done as well. That is unless some farm supply store wants to send one up for me to show off in the journal! I'm not picky, John Deere, Husquvarana, Kubota, I don't care! :)
    I do have a funny story to share with you. On Thursday when we woke up to around a foot of new snow, Nora was getting ready to head off to work. She had cleared the hood and windows of snow, but the roof of the Pilot is very tall, so did not clear the snow off of it. As she is getting ready to drive off, she hits what she thinks is the dome light, but in reality is the moon roof and ends up getting an avalanche of snow inside the new car! No harm done, it all melted and nothing was hurt, but not the way Nora wanted to start her day!
    I have two last items before I close for this one. First, many of you have seen the new discussion board that went into place about 10 days ago. I hope that it has not been too much of a difficult transition to make, but it really had to be done. The old board was being overwhelmed by the activity on it and also had some quirky things that just did not make it as user friendly. The new board addressed just about all of the issues of the old board (except spell check, but there are add on apps for web browsers that can help in that dept.) and is also much more stable. A HUGE thanks needs to go out to moderator Paul for all of his hard work in getting things running with the new board. He did EVERYTHING! All I had to do was to make choices in how I wanted it to look as well as other features. The bottom line is that it could have never happened without his help and I am very grateful to him for all of his time and expertise. I owe him big time and just need to figure out how to repay him- if possible!
   The last order of business is the Grace file. She continues to do just great. She is the funniest little girl when she first wakes up. She is SO happy, just looking at her gets her to smile and shake her whole body! Of course she's also very cute when she is having one of her quieter moments. We like the quiet moments too!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

-JD-

December 6-
    I sure has been a busy week and I have lots to share, including 31 pictures for all you picture hounds out there. I am getting a late start because when I went to go down load the pictures from the camera, the battery died. The cam cannot be powered by the USB cable (about the only bad thing about this cam) and it also did not come with an external power cable, although one is available for additional cost- go figure! Anyway, I would typically be  sitting and relaxing, getting ready to go to bed in an hour or so, but here I am just getting started. So I may be a little condensed in my writing tonight, but still have lots to share.
    I suppose the main story was our jump from autumn to winter. Not just via the meteorological calendar, but in reality as well. The two did not align perfectly, but were only off by a few days. December 1st came in pretty much like November had gone out, with above average temps for the day and a little snow on the ground. The main firearm season for deer was over and that meant that the woods were open to exploring with the pups, so off into the woods we went. These pups are really smart and they pay close attention to where we are going once we get into the vehicle and after a few turns, they seemed to know right where we were going and by the time we got there, were bursting at the seams to get out of Old Blue to hit the trail. There was a dusting of snow on the ground, which at least made it feel a little like the first day of winter, but the pups did not care, they had a blast running up and down the trail and off into the woods a bit to play chase
    On Wednesday, there was a bit more snow on the ground. I had an inch or two and snows were also flying in the air. I had to get some blood drawn in Calumet, so we bopped down to the lake for our afternoon walk. It was a bit windy and chilly right at the lakeshore, so we walked a road that runs parallel to the lake, but is also sheltered from strong winds off the lake, so we put on about 2 miles and then headed back.
    I cannot remember what we did on Thursday, but I did not take any pictures of it, but on Friday the bigger snows started to come. We actually picked up around 3 inches on Thursday, then a break Thursday night, but things got going again Friday morning and it really came down for about 6 hours Friday morning and midday. Here is a shot of the front of the cabin Friday morning. Here is a shot of the snows covering up my excellent panking job that I did. I sure do love it when it snows like that. It's the best drug ever. Not that I have a lot of experience with other, but I just cannot imagine anything working any better to make me feel good inside and out. The snows started to taper a bit by around 3-4 pm Friday, but by that time we had picked up 10" fresh, that on top of the 3" that was already down. It was starting to look like winter around here!
    Saturday we had to go to Marquette, but not for health reasons!!! Nope, Nora and I bought a new vehicle. The combination of Old Blue and the Blazer was just not cutting it since Grace arrived. There was no way to take Grace in Old Blue if we had a passenger and while the Blazer could hold Nora, Grace the pups and I, it also has 220,000 miles on it and while still reliable, we both recognize that it could go at any moment now. So it was time to get a reliable vehicle that could hold the whole family. Nora fell in love with the Honda Pilot and I have had Honda vehicles in my past and know their incredible reliability, so we started shopping and came up with what we wanted. The closest dealer is in Marquette which will be a big downside when any repairs need to be done, but we bought a Honda with the thought that repairs would be few and far between. Let's hope!
    It did not snow more than flurries Friday night. Winds changed to a SW direction and put all of the lake snow banding parallel to the Keweenaw and off shore. But just as we were leaving the bands started to blow back in with a wind shift back to the west and the trip to Marquette was fine. We did all the paperwork. Grace tried out the new ride and so did Nora. The hounds and I then headed back home in the Blazer while Nora, Grace and Nora's friend Tammy stayed in Marquette to do a little shopping. The weather was clear as a bell from Marquette to about a mile away from Chassell. In Chassell, there was mix of clouds and sun and some snow showers falling, but no big deal. About half way between Chassell and Houghton the snow showers started getting heavier and by the time we got to the Tech campus, I could not see more than 100 feet it was snowing so hard. It was hard to judge how much snow had come down since we drove through Houghton on the way to Marquette, but an easy 6-7" new looked to be down. I stopped to get the pups some food in Houghton and then we started making our way home. I had mixed emotions as we headed across the lift bridge and towards home. First, we had just been on a 2 hour drive from Marquette and if it stayed snowing that hard all the way to our house it would take us at least an hour to get there. Of course if it was snowing that hard all the way to our house, that meant we were getting hammered at home too! Well, but Quincy Hill we went and the heavier snow tapered to light to moderate snows and it was snowing, but lightly when we got home. There was fresh snow in the driveway and when we got out of the car I could see we had picked up around 6-7" new since we left for Marquette. I was not there to see what happened and did not look at the computer to try and deduce what had happened, but I know the winds were SW Friday night and then switched to the west on Saturday. A westerly or even WSW winds is the perfect direction for northern Houghton and all of Keweenaw County. The rest of the UP sees sunshine, but we can get crushed. Many times a dominate band will form and within that dominate band snowfall rates of 2-3"/hr will occur. I have seen 4-6"/hr snowfall rates with that WSW dominate band. In fact, I have nicknamed the dominate band the Bayfield Bomber as it typically starts to form just north of the Bayfield Peninsula and really gets going by the time it hits the Keweenaw. So we had our first Bayfield Bomber of the season. It was a narrow one, about 4-6 miles wide, but underneath it, the snows were bombing! I have seen the dominate band or bomber be as wide as running from Painesdale to Phoenix. That one was in mid December of 1998 and I have a friend that said over 60" fell in 36 hours. I'm hoping the next one rivals that 1998 event!
    We got home safe and sound and rather than clear the drive way, I let the pups play in the snow. They just love the snow and it seems like the deeper it gets, the more they love it. Take after their old man! Plus they had been cooped up in the Blazer for 6 hours and a good leg stretching was in order. With the 6" falling on top of the 13" we had already, it was pretty deep in the "untouched" spots. Here is Millie in some belly deep snow. The woods also had some nice deep snow. Pretty tempting to break out the sled and ride, but I am still recovering and am not going to ride alone.
    Nora, Grace and Tammy got back safely as well. Encountering the same smooth sailing until around Chassell and then the white out conditions in Houghton and Hancock, with lighter snows just past Hancock to our place. It looks like the immediate Houghton and Hancock area was the big winner with this system that started Thursday and has sort of tapered to generic snow showers today. I do not have final numbers, but did see that at one point late yesterday afternoon 24" of snow was on the ground in Hancock. Other areas from around Twin Lakes north to Copper Harbor all did pretty well and I did measure some pretty deep snow in the higher terrain of Keweenaw County- more on that in a bit.
    Saturday evening I slipped into my office and did some work and with Nora watching Grace all day, I gave her a bit of a rest from that as well. So Grace and I got busy weather forecasting. The radar is her favorite right now.
   Today I shot down to Houghton to do some shopping and brought the cam along. My hope was to see as much of our neck of the woods today and share it with you all through a photo tour. Here is a shot of highway 41 as it travels through Calumet this morning at around 9 am. Not mid winter looking, but certainly winter looking! Here is a shot of the highway as it swings into Hancock. The banks are larger, showing the heavier snow they got. There are some sledders up here and here are a few riding the trail exiting Hancock and going towards Calumet. Here is a shot of that very same trail from just down the road a bit. Here are a few parked cars showing the frosting they got over the weekend.
    Got the shopping done, came home, ate lunch and then took Nora's new car for a spin. They all stayed home while I took a quick spin up the Keweenaw to see what I could see. The trip started out with a beautiful shot of some flocked pines at the end of our driveway. We are so lucky to look at that just about all winter long as we pull out or driveway onto the road we live on. Here is a shot of beautiful downtown Mohawk. We did pretty good in the snow department, but not even close to others up here. We traveled up highway 41 towards Phoenix. Here is a shot of the snowmobile trail at the Phoenix crossing of 41, looking southwest. Here is the same location, looking northeast. They have not begun to groom yet, but I am sure they will be out this week. I think their plan was to let the few sleds that got out pank the snow a bit and firm up any soft spots. Then they will get out and pan it to do even more panking and then with more snow start using the blades. Certainly enough snow down to start at least panning and I know that since the change in operations up here a few years ago, the groomers like to get out as soon as they can. 
    Speaking of groomers, all of the Keweenaw Groomers will be sporting new decals, courtesy of ArcticFX Graphics. We also are also putting out donation buckets this season to collect funds to help with the expenses of grooming the 200+ miles of trails in the Keweenaw. The Keweenaw Trails services is the grant sponsor (the DNR name for snowmobile club) that is in charge of the maintenance of the trails from Toivola north to the tip of the point. I became a board member of KTS about 18 months ago and one of the things I wanted to do was to let folks know who was in charge of things. Not just so that they would know who to praise or complain to, but so that they can help support us. Almost all snowmobilers know that it takes donations from the snowmobilers to make sure enough funds are available to groom the trails and brush them in the fall. So we developed that logo and want to make the connection between KTS and the Keweenaw snowmobile trails. So keep an eye out for that logo on the groomers and the donation buckets and help us out!
    Back to my trip this afternoon. I turned off of Hwy 41 and headed down to Eagle River. In many LES events, the areas right along the shoreline will not pick up as much snow. However in the case of the Bayfield Bomber, all areas get hit and sometimes the coastal sections can be hit harder because they will continue to see snow occur even when the main band has snaked off shore with a winds shift. Well, the shoreline locations of Eagle River and Eagle Harbor did not have more, but were certainly holding their own, with over a foot on the ground as well. Figured I would toss in a few scenic shots as well. Here is the Eagle River as it makes it drop down towards Lake Superior. Here are the Eagle River Falls in the process of freezing up. Here is a shot of the big lake at Eagle River. Here is a lakes freighter heading up-bound to destination unknown. Just a few weeks left for them to make their runs.
   I don't know if the stretch of Hwy 26 from Eagle River to Eagle Harbor has a name. I have never heard it called anything other than Hwy 26, but I have nicked named it Cedar Drive as it travels through a thick stand of cedar for the first few miles east of Eagle River. I bet there are some summer-only visitors to the Keweenaw reading this and saying: "Huh, so that's what it looks like in the winter!". I did travel into some of the high country of Keweenaw County today. Not too many plowed roads do that, but at least one is left. Most of the roads and living in Keweenaw County and northern Houghton is done in the low spots, where as in central Houghton County (areas like Twin Lakes) are all at pretty much the highest spots and if you travel west or east, you will start to drop off the spine (and into the lower snow). I find it interesting how that is so. Not sure why, other than most of the population centers in northern Houghton and Keweenaw counties were due to the mining and many of them are on bodies of water to allow for easy shipping of the mined product. Anyway, the higher terrain of Keweenaw County I went to did have some deep snow. I measured 23" of snow on the ground, which is nearly twice what we have here at our place. Here is my leg in the hole I dug to find bottom. Kind of hard to tell from that shot, but it went up to my knee. The last shot of my afternoon drive is of Hwy 41 on the way home. Hwy 41 travels from Miami FL to Copper Harbor MI and I have been on quite a bit of it in my lifetime. Without a doubt my favorite part is the section from just north of Mohawk to Copper Harbor and this is why.
    Of course what would a journal be without a Gracie section (even though I know the day will come when she does not have a special paragraph devoted to just her)? This first shot is of her just after coming home from church in her pretty green dress. Here she is showing us the "reach for the stars" dance move. I saved the best for last (at least in my opinion). Here is Santa's Little Helper. Can't think of a better way to end this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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