May 31-
    Boy, last day of May and based on our weather, you would never know it. We have been struggling to rise out of the 40's both today and yesterday and most of the past week was also cool. I am not complaining by any means as I would rather have to put on a light jacket than suffer through excessive heat. Plus the dogs do much better when it is cooler and it does allow us more flexibility on where we can go for our adventures. When it is hot we have to stick to the beach. The other upside to the cooler temps is that the bugs have been kept to a slower pace. There are still some of what I call black flies (midges to be more correct), but they really are not too bad. In fact we stuck to the woods today and yesterday for our walks and were hardly even bothered by them. Had to swat a few today, but we were in a spot where we would have been swarmed by them in a more usual year. 
    It also looks like it will stay cool for the next week or so and that will start to take us into the period where the midges start to die off. Usually they start to die off during the second week of June and by the 4th of July, they are not much of a factor. I suppose another reason why the bugs have not been so bad is that we have been very dry. I say that with rain bearing down on us as I type. However, in the past 4 weeks we have barely picked up a drop of rain. Our grass started to green with the melting of the snow and the arrival of spring, but has started to brown back into dormancy. I plan to see how much rain we get with this event and if there is any more in the near term, but may start watering so that the grass can at least do it's normal spring greening.
    Even with the dry and cold weather we have been having, the forest is filling in nicely. That is probably my most favorite part of living in the woods up here in the summer is that the woods do get so green and beautiful and the cabin becomes even more secluded. I think that once the snow has melted, but the trees are still bare and perhaps late autumn (after the leaves have fallen) are my least favorite times. Although with the promise of snow and sometimes more than a promise- a reality, the late autumn period is a lot easier to take.
    It seems like this spring has been a good one for the ticks though. Up until this spring, I think I have picked only two ticks off me the entire time I have lived here and none of them had attached themselves to me either. So far this spring I have picked 3 off me and again none have attached themselves to me. We have picked a few off the pups too, but they are on stuff to protect them from ticks so we do not worry too much about checking them after every romp in the woods. I suppose all the cool weather we have had is what is making their world more productive.
    It's been a quiet week. Al and I have even decided to not play in the golf league this season. It was starting to get to be just another thing to have
to do and was even getting in the way of things I wanted to do sometimes, so I know I was happy to be at home this past Thursday, rather than out on the golf course. I suppose I will get out and play once or twice before the baby arrives, but it will be nice to not have that commitment every week this summer.
    Up until yesterday I did not even have a single picture to share with you all, but Nora, the pups and I did take a nice hike up to the top of Mt Baldy and it was a perfect day to be up there and take it all in. A few weeks ago we went to the mouth of the Montreal. It is one of my favorite places up here. I would have to say that the top of Mt Baldy is either my first or tied for my most favorite spot up here. I suppose one reason is that we are typically the only ones up there because it is not an easy place to get to- requiring a 2-3 mile hike in and all up hill and then the same hike out, but downhill. Plus the view that you get from the top is really second to none.
    The hike starts out as a gentle uphill walk on an old logging road that becomes a two track. Here is a shot of the pups running ahead of us on the two track. The hike then starts to get a little more challenging as the terrain starts to get steeper and the ground more rocky. About 3/4ths of the way in, you encounter the first "bald". It is an area where the growing environment is so harsh that only a few types of plants grow there and the trees are very stunted. For those of you that have been on top of Brockway Mountain, it is one of these "balds" as well. Here is a shot that Nora took of me on the first bald. It is lower and has more vegetation on it that the top of Baldy and Brockway have. Here is a shot of Nora and the pups on the lower bald.
    There is a little saddle in between the first and second balds and the vegetation gets pretty well grown in between the two, but as you start to climb up the hill of the second bald, the vegetation starts to thin out and by the time you are at the top, it is truly void of any trees and about the only thing growing are some juniper cedar and a few other plants that hang onto the rocky ground. Here is a shot of Nora and the pups on top of Mt Baldy. We were not bothered by a single midge the entire time we were up there, which was almost a miracle!
    The view from the top is a spectacular 360 degree panorama of the northern end of the Keweenaw. To the north is Lake Bailey, Grand Marais and Agate Harbors, to the east is Lake Upson and Brockway Mountain as well as the higher terrain of the Keweenaw Spine. To the east-southeast you can see the top of Mount Houghton and Bohemia. All of this I captured in my own panoramic photo. Here is a close up of Agate Harbor with Lake Bailey in the foreground. Here is Mt Houghton and here is Mt Bohemia. To the south is more higher ground of the Keweenaw Spine, including Mt Horace Greely (home of the old Air Force early warning Radar Base), the Buffalo Hills and Praiseville Hill. Then to the northwest is the harbor and hamlet of Eagle Harbor. I zoomed in on the village of Eagle Harbor and the lighthouse to be even more specific. The camera had to look through so much air at different density that the shot came out looking more like a painting than a photo. It was so quiet up there that we could actually hear the waves breaking on the shoreline more than mile away. Way off in the distance I could make out a point that looked to have two reefs protecting it from the waves rolling in from the lake. I actually had to get a map out and do a little figuring to come up with what the point is and I came up with the eastern end of Great Sand Bay.
    After spending about 20 minutes at the top, we started the hike back down and it was nice to be going down hill. Most of the way was spent in an incline that eased your travel, but was not so steep that it burns your upper leg muscles. It had been a while since we were last up there. In fact Nora and I could not come up with the exact year, but believe it was the autumn of 2003 as both Burt and Baileys were with us and the autumn of 2004 we were busy getting married.
    Other than that, the week has been spent cutting some firewood (my winter supply finally ran out on Thursday) and taking the pups for a walk in the woods or on the beach. On Thursday we walked a stretch of beach that I had never been down before. Always such a fun thing for me to be in a place I have never been before. Even if it is like other areas I have been to up here. You just never know what is going to be around the next bend or over the next hill. Kind of like life I suppose.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-
JD-

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May 24-
    Happy Memorial Day Weekend Everyone! So far it looks like the weather has been pretty good for most of you. It has been nice so far up here. We even had a Saturday without snow! Temps have been in the 60's and lost of sun, my perfect summertime weather. It was kind of a crazy week for weather though. No snow, but a real roller coaster ride in the temp department. Our high on Monday was around 70, on Tuesday it was 44, on Wednesday it was 90 on Thursday it was back down into the 40's. The high on Thursday was a new record for the day, but more amazingly, we started the day at 33 degrees at 12:01 in the morning. That was only 4 degrees from the record, so we almost set a new record low and new record high on the same day! I don't have the time to go through all the data for the airport up here, but I would have to guess that the 57 degree warm up in 15 hours Wednesday was a record as well. It is pretty hard to warm things that much in that amount of time and a 57 degree temperature drop in 15 hours is pretty hard, but not as hard. I think I would compare a 57 degree warm up in 15 hours with 4 feet of snow falling in 24 hours. It can happen, but is very rare.
   So things then decided to settle down in the temp department by Friday and have been fairly stable since. As mentioned, lots of sun too. Although we could use some rain. It has been pretty dry up here and with the snow all gone, the woods are a tinder box. The very warm temps on Wednesday were accompanied by low humidity, sunshine and strong winds. Those are the perfect ingredients to bring about a forest fire and two pretty big ones broke out on Wednesday. One west and a little south of Marquette and the other north of L'Anse. Both have been contained and are pretty much out, but the one towards Marquette did burn quiet a few homes and camps. The woods are greening up, but we could use some rain to help the process along and it looks like we could get some by around Tuesday. Not that I like the rain all that much, but I cannot even remember the last time we had a wet summer. Last summer was dry, the summer before was also dry because I was trying to get our lawn established and had to water every day. The summer before was also dry because we were building the cabin and had it rained only twice the whole time the outside was unfinished (June through August). I do not know what the summer of 05 was like, but like I say, I cannot remember the last wet summer we had up here.
    The temperatures were about the only thing that was exciting up here this week. I really do not have much to write about and if it were not for the pups we would only have one pic to share with you and really no other stories.
    As I mentioned in the past journal, the pups took their first real swim a week ago and are like old pros now. No question they are labs, that's for sure! The trick now is to try and keep them out of the water! I also mentioned how they were afraid of the waves on Lake Superior, but that fear went by the way side this week as we went to the beach on Wednesday and it was waves be damned! Granted they were not huge waves, but enough to make them be afraid in the past. Now the waves are just another thing to have fun with by jumping over them or crashing into them. Both Millie and Huck had fun fetching sticks that I tossed into the water and at the beach we were at had no shortage of sticks to throw.
    Yesterday Nora and I took them for a walk and happened upon a pond. They did not need any coaxing to jump in and go for a swim, although we did toss a stick out there for them and they crashed into the water after it. With only one stick to fetch, they shared the duties of bringing it back and even came out of the water with reckless abandon. There really is very little that these two do with little enthusiasm. I suppose that is probably true about most puppies, but these two seem to have a little extra enthusiasm, which is good because I was probably getting to be a bit of a stick in the mud.
    Sometimes only one dog will go out and retrieve the stick, but that usually means the other is just lying in wait, like Millie is here. Then as the one with the stick nears the shore, it is ambush time and then usually some massive wrestling match ensues. After a while things quiet down and they politely await the next toss of the stick.
   On the way back to the car yesterday, they decided to do some more wrestling and ended up in a mud puddle on the side of the road and Millie started looking more and more like a black lab, rather than a yellow lab. That brought about the first "garden hose bath" when we got home, but neither of them seemed to mind it that much and that evening after they had dried off, we had two clean and good smelling pups. They managed to stay clean through the morning and so I decided to try and keep them clean by taking them to Lake Superior for our afternoon adventure today. They get wet and sandy, but the water is clean and when they dry, the sand comes off, so they essentially stayed clean.
    They sure are good dogs though. They are also getting big. Huck is closing in on 50 pounds and Millie 45. A bag of dog food is lasting around 10 days, although they are not the 45 pound bags that used to last Burt and Baileys 3 weeks. We are still doing lots of walking, putting on at least 4 and sometimes 7-8 miles a day. That is good for me too. It's fun to watch them walk. Millie seems to almost float across the ground like a butterfly. Huck floats too, but more like a battleship! He is one solid dog and really starting to get blocky in his facial features too, which is something that Nora and I both like in a lab.
    I guess the only other news to share with you is that the Laurium Glacier melted yesterday and there was only one guess for that date. I have e mailed the winner and we'll get the shirt off to him as soon as he gets me his color and size choice. Guess that about covers it for this one!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 17-
    Boy, it is hard to believe that May is over half done and next weekend will be Memorial Day weekend already. I realize that Memorial Day weekend is early this year, but still, seems hard to believe the month will be drawing to a close in not too long. This week was definitely back loaded as far as activity went. Not too much to talk about for the first half of the week, but then the second half was somewhat action packed. About the only item of note early in the week was that Nora and I finished burying the wire for the in-ground fencing system for the dogs. It was quite the task too. In all, over 800 feet of wire was put in the ground and I tell you what, I know Keweenaw means "place of crossing" or "portage" in the local Native American dialect, but I think it could just as easily mean "lots of rocks in ground"! I am very thankful to have the wire in the ground and tested the system and all works. Now all we need to do is start training the pups on how it works.
    On Tuesday evening when we finished putting the wire in the ground, I placed the little marker flags in the ground over the wire like you are suppose to, to help show the dogs where the fence is and to help them stay away. On Wednesday morning, the dogs were out and I was on the phone with a client, doing a recording for them. I did not have the fence on or the collars on the dogs, so they saw the flags and thought they looked like something of interest. I don't know which dog did it first, but soon both were going along and meticulously pulling every flag up and putting them in their mouths. If they dropped some, they would stop and pick them up. At one point I think they both had at least a dozen of the flags in their mouths. All I could do was watch and try and keep from laughing out loud as I did my recording. I failed and just ended up breaking out in laughter during the recording. It is not the first time they have made me break out in laughter while doing the recording, so I think the client is getting used to their antics. Anyway, I left the flags out for now, but I guess the good news is that they can see the flags and once the fence is on and the collars on them, they will learn what the white flags really mean.
    They sure are good pups though. Huck has started to become a little more vocal, but is learning that barking is not allowed inside the house. He's not fully there yet, but learning. Otherwise, I really cannot pick anything out that needs correction with them. They just keep getting better and better behaved and pretty much just sack out when I have to be working, which is what they are doing right now.
    The weather has been an issue this week. It was pretty quiet early in the week and temps were in the 60's, which was nice. Then on Thursday we had very strong winds blow. Gusts were to 50 mph+ at times. The pups and I went down to the big lake and while it may not look it in this shot, things were really blowing down there. So strong it was hard to breathe at times. Friday turned nice again, but for the second Saturday in a row, we had snow. No real accumulation beyond a wet coating, but still a fairly steady snow all day. In addition to the snow we also had very windy conditions again yesterday. Then like last Sunday, today is also quite nice out, with sunny skies and temps in the mid 50's.
    On Friday, we made a quick trip to town and decided to take the long way home and while cruising down one of the backwoods roads up here, we came across this little guy (or girl) along the side of the road. The pups were with us and were interested in it, but we tried our best to tell them that was not something they would want to play with!
    Yesterday I thought it might be fun to go with Nora and the pups to the mouth of the Montreal River. It is one of my favorite spots up here and even though the weather was not so great for a long hike in the woods, I knew the winds would be out of the wrong direction to slam that coastline and at least the snowflakes would keep the bugs away. So we piled into the Blazer and headed up Hwy 41 through the snow to the trail head to the mouth of the Montreal. Before we got to the trailhead, we came to this pretty view of the road and rugged coastline of the tip of the Keweenaw.
    As I mentioned, the winds were really blowing yesterday. In fact, I think they were blowing harder yesterday than on Thursday and with the snowflakes flying, it really seemed more like a November day than mid May day. The strong winds even caused two Lakes Freighters to huddle up in the shelter of Bete Gris Bay. You know the lake has to be pretty ugly for them to do that. Several years ago, I saw half a dozen hunkered down in the shelter of the bay and one of them was a container ship and I could see where the rough waters had ripped several of the containers off the front of the ship. The containers had to have been at least 20 feet above the surface of the water. While hiking back we even heard one of the ships blast it's horn for about 10 seconds. A pretty eerie sound, especially since it was during one of the heavier snow squalls and we could not see either ship.
    For most of our hike out to the river, we were sheltered from the winds and it was not too bad of a hike. However, once at the river itself, there is little shelter from the trees and the winds were howling. Plus the lake was really throwing some big waves into the coastline. Here is a shot of the coastline looking up towards Fish Cove. Here is a shot in the other direction, towards Lac La Belle and the Bear Bluffs (FSV).
    The hike out to the river is not an easy one. The trail is very rugged and there are trees down across the trail every few hundred feet or so. There are even a few spots where the trail has washed out and you have to walk across the roots that are still there, while hanging onto a few trees to keep yourself from falling off a 20-30 foot cliff into the big lake. I was very impressed at how well Huck and Millie did with the walk and all the hard work is worth it. You do get some pretty views of some sea isles along the way and I believe there is even a sea cave or two along the way, but you cannot see them from the footpath. The main reward is getting to the mouth of the Montreal itself. The river is very beautiful and there is a set of falls right where the river spills into the lake. 
    Once there, the pups and I wasted no time worrying Nora by walking along the slippery rocks near the river. One false step and we would have been thrown into the frigid 33 degree water, with hypothermia setting in in just a matter of a few minutes, all the while fighting a life and death battle with the rivers current and razor sharp rocks beneath the boiling river rapids. Ok, maybe that was a little over done, I am just practicing to be a narrator for The Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel and just wanted to slip that in there. Here is another shot of the Bear Bluffs, but this time with some snow draping them in a milky shadow.
    There is a second set of falls about a half mile upstream from the mouth and we decided it was such a nice day, we would continue hiking up to them. If the trail along the coastline to the rivers mouth is rugged, the trail up to the upper falls could be considered non existent. At least after the first 1/4 mile or so. In fact at times you have to stop and look to see exactly which path through the bush will be the easiest way through. The land is pretty unspoiled, which to me is part of it's beauty. You also get some very nice views of the river as it meanders through the woods. After picking our way through the bush, we finally arrived at the upper falls and sat for a while and enjoyed it's beauty. We eventually started our way back and on the way back, found a little patch of snow still hanging on in the woods. Getting back to the Blazer, it felt good to sit for a while and both dogs fell asleep quickly. Once home, the situation did not change, Millie found a spot on the bed and Huck curled up with his bunny and slept off the long walk.
    If yesterday was November up here, then today really was May 17th. Crystal clear blue skies and temps in the upper 50's. As tired as we all were after yesterday's walk, I was surprised that I was not sore today. Nora said she was not sore either and while the pups cannot speak to us in words, their actions this morning showed me that they were not too tired or sore, so we took to the woods again today for a nice walk in much nicer weather. Our walk today took us past a series of beaver dams. They were all pretty old, with no recent activity, but still holding water very well and that lead to the big excitement of the day. The pups first real swim. At times a snorkel would have come in handy, but they always bobbed back to the surface and we have two swimming pups! Huck really loved it as he went in all the way several more times. It was exciting to see them swim and I am really happy that they both did it all on their own and did not need any coaxing.
    Not much else going on. Thursday was my 10th year anniversary of moving up here. Lots of memories that are still crystal clear of that very important day in my life. I always thought that when I got to 10 years up here, I would feel like I had been here just about all my life. It does not quite feel like that yet, but the days of living in the big city do seem like a very distant memory. 
    The last item to cover is the Laurium Glacier. It is still hanging in there and looks to have about another week left with average weather. As it gets closer to melting we will start checking in on it twice a day. Should not be long now though.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 10-
    Happy Mothers Day! Weird to think that if all goes as planned, this will be the last Mothers Day that I can get by without making a big deal for Nora. For what it's worth, the pups and I did get her a card and if she wants, I plan to cook supper, but next year should be a bigger deal for us. Exciting to think about it.
    It's been a fairly quiet week up here, so I am not sure how long winded I will be today, but I do have some material and ten pics to share with you. So it will not be that short. I guess the first order of business can be the weather. We have had a little bit of everything in the past week. Some spring, some summer, some winter and some weather that has felt like autumn. We were in the autumn like weather early in the week, with overcast skies, a high in the low 50's and that nice dry air. The pups and I took a walk in the woods and it just seemed more like an October day than a May day. Then Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we rose into the low 70's, so there was summer. Then yesterday we had snow that fell from the sky just about all day. It never accumulated to more than a dusting, but still, the flakes were flying. Today is sunny and temps are once again running in the 50's, but with the sunshine it has felt more like spring. I feel sorry for the kids that tried to get in some ball games outside yesterday because it was just cold and nasty for that. Then we have today which is very nice to be outside.
    On Wednesday with temps in the low 70's, I decided to take the pups to the beach. The wind was not blowing very hard, so I figured I might be able to get them to take their first real swim in the big lake. We got down there and had the place to ourselves. Even the bugs have not come out for the season yet. So I let them off their leashes and let them frolic on the beach. They seemed more interested to check out a creek that was flowing into the big lake, so we headed over there and they had no problems exploring the waters of the creek. There were some pretty big sand banks along the creek. Some of them were 10-15 feet tall and almost straight down. That did not phase them and they had fun doing otter slides down the banks into the creek, then climbed back up and did it again. Pretty hilarious to watch.
    After playing at the creek for a while, I coaxed them over to the big lake and tossed a stick into the water to see if I could get them to go for a swim and fetch the stick. The waves on the lake were little 6" babies, but that was enough to keep them from going into the water. They would get right up to the waters edge and when a wave came on shore, they would back off like the water was boiling oil. They are just not too sure about what those waves are just yet. That water is way too cold for me to be dipping my feet into, so I think the next beach day I will bring my boots and wade out there and show them they have nothing to fear. Their uncle Burt would have been happy to show them how to fetch a stick in the water! After the beach, we got home and Millie laid in the sun, while Huck found a nice shady spot to lay in.
    One of the big events for me this week was the annual spring ATV ride. I was introduced to this event 3 years ago and have made it a point to go every year since and hope to be able to par take in it for years to come. It is a similar type ride as our snowmobile rides. We ride mainly off the main trails and try and find as much trouble as we can. There are some really big mud and water holes on Dave's property this time of the year and we always head to them to see who can get stuck the worst. The previous two years we had groups of around 6 or so, but this year the group swelled to 16. For a snowmobile ride that would be too many, but for ATV's that is not a problem. It almost seems like the more the merrier when it comes to an ATV ride.
    As mentioned, it was more like winter yesterday than spring, with temps in the low to mid 30's and snowflakes falling most of the day. Quite honestly, for the type of riding we do, I would rather have that kind of a day than one with temps in the 70's and sunshine. We do so much playing in the mud and water that we all wear water proof gear and it would get pretty hot in that gear with the sun and warm temps. So while it was cold, we were able to dress for it and I know I stayed pretty comfortable, right up to the very end and then I did get chilled in the last hour of riding as the sun set and we lost that little bit of warming from the sun behind the overcast skies.
    As I drove down to Dave's place yesterday morning I had that nasty feeling that I was forgetting something. Before I got too far away, I did a mental check list of the things that were most critical for my ride like helmet, gloves, food, drink. I had all of those, so figured what I had forgotten was not critical to me riding and I was right. It was a fresh battery for the camera. I was able to take that last pic and then two more and then the battery went dead. Too bad because we sure did get into some nasty spots. At any rate. Here is a shot of Nick playing in one of the water holes and here is Matt (on the right) and I believe Jeremy at another.
    We all got stuck several times and there were a few spots where at least 6-8 of the bikes needed to be winched across the mud holes. One of the holes caused two of the bikes to have the tires come off the rims. As the ride was finishing up, my bike developed an electrical gremlin. It stalled twice and the electric start would not work. Starting up a 700 cc 4 stroke engine is a lot harder than starting up a 700 or even 800 cc snowmobile engine, but thankfully the engine was warm, so it did turn over and did start right up. I will have to see if I can figure out what caused the problem and if I cannot find it, take the bike into the repair shop. I did spend 2 hours this morning cleaning it up and it is all nice and bright and shiny again. Seems like once a year is too long to go for such a fun event and maybe I will have to organize an autumn ride. Things may not be as messy, but I am sure we can still find some trouble to get into.
    Today Nora and her aunt took a drive to Baraga and Chassell for some Mothers Day fun, so the pups and I stayed home to man the fort. It was a beautiful day for a walk, so we took to the woods. The woods are still pretty bare, although the buds are starting to burst and in about 2 weeks we should have a pretty full forest canopy. 
    Initially we were walking down a trail that gets some foot traffic and there was a car parked in the lot, so I kept the dogs on their leashes. Then we found a little side road to go down and I have never even been down it, so I figured that we would not encounter anyone else, so I took them off their leashes. They are really getting good on their leashes. They almost never fight and even understand if they go around an obstacle to the wrong side, they need to go back around so that the leash does not get caught up on what ever sits between them and Nora or I. They also understand that when we take them off their leash, it means they can run and play at will and they have no problems doing that. They are also very good about sticking close to me when off leash. Just like Burt and Baileys did, they never go more than about 100 feet ahead of us or about 30-40 feet off to the side. They do spend a lot of time running back and forth and it took some doing, but I was able to get an action shot of them in the coming phase. We are putting 4-6 miles a day on in our two walks. It does seem to wear them out a bit and I know Nora and I are getting into better shape as well. When we started, 2 miles was a bit of work and now a 6 mile day is nothing.
    Well, it looks like I have come to the end of the road for this one. A good thing because I am getting tuckered out from all the hard play yesterday and today.
Good night from the Keweenaw..

-
JD-
May 3-
    I am willing to bet that as some of you went to check this journal entry, the first thing you were wondering was if I was able to take my May ride. As the week wore on and the rains fell, temps remained above freezing 24 hours a day and the snow melted, I was really beginning to wonder myself. The snow loss around our house was really big. All the snow in the woods melted by around Wednesday and even the piles of snow from the roof and snow thrower were shrinking quickly. None the less, I know that the area I was planning to ride in gets a lot more snow then we do and there was still quite a bit down the week before, so on Thursday the pups and I hopped into Old Blue to head up there to see how much snow was still around.
    It is really amazing how terrain can make such a big difference around here, because as I was driving up Hwy 41 towards the turn off for the higher terrain, there really was no more snow on the ground there than we had at the cabin. Mainly patches in the shaded areas. However, once I got off the highway and started up the road to the higher ground, the snowcover started becoming more and more prevalent. Then in the last 200 feet or so of elevation (mile to half mile of driving), the snow cover really popped and just about everywhere I looked was still white. We stopped at the spot where I had planned to off load and I snapped a shot of the snow. The temps were warming as we went through the day on Thursday and so was the humidity and that caused quite a bit of fog to form where the snow was, but there was enough snow to ride.
    So I got home and made some plans to ride. One factor as to when I would go was going to be the weather. As much as I wanted to ride in May, I also did not want to force the issue and ride in the rain and it looked like Saturday morning it might rain or snow a bit (which it did for about 30-45 minutes) and Friday afternoon looked dry. So I decided on riding Friday afternoon. Friday morning, Dave called me. He wanted to make sure I knew about the ATV ride coming up on May 9th and as we talked I asked him what he was doing in the afternoon as I was planning to take one last ride. I told him about the snow still up in the higher ground up this way and it did not take too much coercing to get him to join me. He needed to wait until the evening to ride, but with it staying light past 9 pm this time of the year, that was not a problem. He stopped by the cabin at a little before 6 and we then headed up to the higher ground to snowmobile.
    I have to admit that even though I had measured 8-12" of snow Thursday afternoon, I was still a little worried that there would be enough for us to ride on Friday evening. It did rain quite a bit Thursday afternoon and evening and the temps did not drop below freezing, so snow loss did occur between my Thursday visit and the Friday ride time. My fears were put to rest when we arrived at the drop off point and I could see Dave was pleasantly surprised to see so much snow still hanging around up there. We did not waste any time getting ready to ride and within a few minutes of backing the trucks up to the snow we were unloaded and all ready to ride. It was a beautiful evening to ride, with the sun out and no wind and just the two of us heading through the woods on one last snowmobile adventure for the season...in May!
    I have to say also that I did not want the ride to be a short little hop down a few hundred yards of snow. To me that is not a real ride, it is just a weak excuse to run the sled. So I was a little worried how much snow we would find and was happy to find mile after mile of snow covered paths to go down. All told Dave and I rode for 3 hours and put on about 25-30 miles. Some of my winter rides have been shorter than that, so I can claim that it was a legitimate ride. Many of the miles were spent on a new path too. It was not like we rode up and down the same path 20 times for 3 hours. We had a mix of large logging roads like the previous two pics were. Some smaller logging roads and even some genuine bush whacking. The only problems with the ride were that in the case of that last bush whacking shot. Objects that are covered up by 4-5 feet of snow in the winter become obstacles to have to go around. Sometimes the obstacles are not as clearly visible and pop up to bite you, as was the case with Dave on this one. The log actually got sucked into his tunnel and stopped him on a dime. I did not see it happen, but did see Dave laying in the snow for a bit after hitting his knee on the back of the hood and his back on the end of the A arms. But that was the only mishap we had in the 3 hours and we can have more than that in less time in the winter, so all told it was a pretty uneventful ride from the standpoint of bad things.
    We also passed through a few spots where the snow was deep enough and in an area big enough to try some carving. So Dave gave it a
whirl first and then I carved some turns. Of course what would a spring ride be without some water skipping. We found a large enough puddle to make that worth the effort as well. Here is Dave heading out across the water and Dave coming back towards me. Here I am heading out and me coming back. I did not want to get too adventuresome with my water skipping as I have not gotten that sled set up for that, there are still some cracks and holes in the belly pan and front suspension wells that need to be filled with silicone before I start going across large bodies of water, but that one was small enough that you could wheelie across the whole thing and keep the front end dry if you wanted to.
    The sun was starting to set and both Dave and I seemed to have our fill of riding, so we headed back to the trucks and got the sleds loaded and headed home. All told a very successful ride- especially for the date. We rode even further than I thought we would be able to and in good snow. Got in some final carves for the season and even did a bit of water skipping. Had it been in early to mid April, it would have been just another spring ride and probably nothing that would stay in the memory bank for too long. However, because of the date, I think it will be one of those rides that sticks with me for years to come- like the ride Matt, Brian and I had years ago in 85 degree weather (in shorts and t-shirts), or the ride in the 6 foot dumping in early April 2 years ago. Plus I can now say I have ridden in 7 of the 12 months up here, which is kind of cool. Perhaps an October ride next season? We've had the snow, I have just never gone. My thanks to Rt 12 Rental for getting me a set of handlebars and grips so quickly so I could use the M on that May ride!
   Back to the regular events of the past week. Nora and I decided to try and take the pups for a walk in the woods on Tuesday. Much of the snow around our place had melted, so Tuesday evening we headed out into the woods with Huck and Millie leading the way. Right off the bat we encountered some patches of snow that needed to be navigated around, but they were not insurmountable obstacles and were not very numerous. Puddles proved to be a bit of a challenge, but again did not cause us to stop and turn around. We even passed Burt's Pond and it brought back some fine memories of good old Uncle Burt and all the fun times we had hiking out to that pond to let him have a swim.
    I have some more pics from our Thursday adventure up to check out the snow in the higher terrain. On the way back, I noticed that the snow melt and heavy rain we had occur in the previous day or two had really swollen the creeks and streams, so I decided to take a little detour and check out the Eagle River Falls. Needless to say with all the water flowing down that river, the falls were quite impressive. In fact, I have only seen them with more water going over them once. That was in 2001 when we got around 4" of rain in a 24 hour period combined with snow melt. Here is a pic from that event
    Underneath the bridge for the vehicle traffic there was a big nest with some baby birds in it. I could not tell for sure, but it looked like ravens. Out on the lake I spotted my first lakes freighter for the season. I am sure several have passed by already, but that was the first one I have seen this season.
    After some clouds and a bit of light rain and snow mixed yesterday mid to late morning, the skies cleared and it turned out to be a pretty nice day. So Nora and I decided to take the pups for a walk at the beach. They have been doing very well on their walks and I even let them go off leash on Friday, so I figured we could do the same at the beach. They are really funny when they know they are off leash as they can sense that it is a different situation from when they are on the leashes and they just run and play with reckless abandon. They spent the whole afternoon running and chasing leaves around that the wind was blowing around on the beach. The waves were too big that they did not want to venture out into the lake, but sure enjoyed their afternoon at the beach.
    Today Nora and I took to the woods with them and went down a logging road that I knew they could be off leash and not get into any trouble on. Once again, they went ballistic and had a blast exploring all there was to see and sniff. Here they are in a puddle. Here they are checking out one of the last patches of snow and here they are running down the logging road. All told we walked close to 4 miles in the woods this afternoon and their mileage could have been doubled with all the back and fourth they did. That on top of a 2 mile walk this morning. We are ALL getting our exercise these days! It's amazing though, the four miles did not seem that long with all the entertaining the pups did for us.
    They continue to get better and better behaved. We still have some moments, but that is to be expected with dogs that are only 4 months old. I can say though that they are for sure very smart dogs and enjoy learning and pleasing us. We sure enjoy making them happy too. With the snow basically gone and the woods opening up to us, things are going to start to get really fun for us.
    Not much else going on up here. The M has already been washed up and put on the lift in the shop. I will do some final cleaning up and some other work to it and then let it have a nice slumber for the next few months. The ATV is all set to go for the ride next Saturday and I would imagine that will be one of the highlights to next week's journal. So until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 
 

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