April 24-
    Happy Easter Everyone! If you had looked out the window up here yesterday, you would have never thought that Easter was the next day. Old Man Winter came visiting again and left us with another 3-4" of the white stuff. We had actually just gotten rid of most of the snow from the previous weekend's snow and then awoke to more white yesterday morning and it snowed almost all day yesterday, finally ending late in the day. Today is a beautiful day, with temps in the upper 50's and clear blue skies. If I had my choice at this point in the year, I would much prefer the weather of today against the weather we had yesterday. The snow was so wet and not deep enough to do anything with- except to sit inside and look at it. If it were not for the fact that we have been looking at snow for the past 6 months, I would have much welcomed the frosting of everything in the white.
    Yesterday I was a total bum. Just sat around the house all day and either took naps or watched TV. It was relaxing, but I am actually chomping at the bit to start getting my outdoor projects done and I have to admit that I think I was a little depressed yesterday. Today was the total opposite. I took two walks; one with the pups in the morning and then one with Nora, Gracie and the pups in the afternoon. We still plan to play with Grace outside when she wakes up from her nap and I am going to fire up the charcoal grill for the first time in about 6 months to cook dinner.
    Just about all the snow from yesterday is gone. The only snow remaining is that which sits in the shade and I would not be surprised if it too has melted away by the end of the day. I am almost in disbelief, but there are ideas that Tuesday night into Wednesday morning we will get more snow and some of the ideas are for as much as 6-10" to fall. I might have to stay out of the public or hire body guards if that happens. I don't think there is a local up here (including me) that will be happy to see the snow. It's just so useless this time of the year and really only causes problems. Oh well, I guess we will just have to deal with it and move on. 
    One reason why I am chomping at the bit for Old Man Winter to finally retire for the season is that I have quite a few projects that lie in waiting. First, I want to re-build the wood shelter. I have my plans all set and excited to build it in the new and improved design. It will be built to actually allow the snow to slide off it and to slide to the correct side of the shelter. It's going to have the same footprint, but be a little taller, so it will hold a bit more wood as well. I really want to get that done before the black flies appear and that happens around the 3rd week of May. I figure it will only take a week or so to build the thing, but based on the weather forecast, it does not look like I will be getting to start it until next week at the earliest.
    Once that is done and the black flies make working outside unreasonable, I will move indoors and finish out the woodshop. I need to insulate it, put drywall and tongue and groove siding and a ceiling on it and then set up some storage areas and a dust collection system. Once that is done, then I can get on to building some projects for the cabin. I want to build a stand/food storage bin for the pups, an armoire for Nora and a pedestal with storage for the bed. We are really cramped for space in the cabin right now and I have to build some furniture pieces that will maximize our available space. If all goes as planned, in 2 years we will be breaking ground for the log home and once that is done, we'll be set for storage for at least a few years! :)
    In addition to all of that, I have some minor landscaping I need to do as well as build some planters for Nora and Graces flowers and vegetables they will be growing this summer. Of course there will be the day walks in the woods and romps at the beach with the pups and the afternoon swims with Nora and Gracie. So now you probably get a better idea as to why I am chomping at the bit for winter to finally go!
    We really did not do a lot this week. It really did take until Friday for all the snow to finally melt. It was still several inches deep on our driveway until Thursday evening and that combined with all the wetness on the other roads kept us from taking too many walks. The woods are definitely off limits now as they are still either full of snow or full of mud. It is probably going to take a few weeks until most logging roads are suitable for a walk with the pups. The beaches will be good places to go until that happens.
    Millie is doing really well and almost fully recovered from her surgery. We have to take her in for an x-ray to verify that things have fully healed, but based on her activity level, I can pretty much say that I think the surgery was a complete success. It's been great to see the two of them romp around outside again and I can say that is one of the plusses to the snow we have had, as they love to play in the snow.
    Little Gracie is doing great. Both Nora and I are having so much fun with her. Last Tuesday evening we got back from dog training class and I was changing her and getting her ready for bed while Nora drove the sitter back home. We were goofing around on the bed and I taught her to fall after I pretended to shoot her. The first time she did this, I had tears coming out of my eyes I was laughing so hard. We got it down pat and then waited for momma to get home to show her the new trick. It has pretty much become a ritual every night after getting her ready for bed. Here is a quick movie of her doing it.
    This is the first Easter where Grace has really been able to grasp what is going on, well at least the Eastern Bunny part. We are working on the religious aspect, but that is a bit much for a 20 month to grasp. Anyway, there is a child's playtime at the old Mohawk school on Wednesday's and this week Nora and I were able to take her to it and after I left to get back to work, the Easter Bunny paid a "surprise" visit. I was curious to hear how she handled it, as sometimes a 6 foot bunny can scare the heck out of a little kid, rather than make them laugh. Well, Grace was not scared at all and when he was busy doing something else, she went right to his tail to get in a squeeze. I think this look pretty much says it all when wanting to know what she thought of the Easter Bunny.
    Last night, Grace actually asked to be put to bed. That is the first time- ever -that she has done that. Many nights she will cooperate and go to bed when we ask, but she has never asked to be put to bed. We think it might have had something to do with the fact that we told her that the Easter Bunny was going to come to our house and leave her some treats while she was sleeping. I feared she would then wake up at 4 in the morning today and want to get up to see what was left for her, but she actually slept in. I went up to get her while Nora readied the camera and this was the expression on her face when she got the first look at the basket with all the goodies that the Easter Bunny had left. We did not go too overboard with things. She had about a half dozen plastic eggs with a little piece of candy in each one, a chocolate bunny, some bunny glasses and an Easter Bunny stuffed animal. Here she is checking out her stuff just before going to church.
    So, I guess that about covers it for this one. Have a good week and talk to you all next month!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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April 17-
    Boy, Old Man Winter just cannot seem to let go this year. After taking quite a hiatus in February and March, he has re-awoken in the past 2 weeks and has not been shy about showing he's still got it. We were just about down to just the plow banks and places where the snow was drifted or piled up in another manner. The grass on the septic field was even starting to green a bit, but not any more. The woods were showing the brown leaves from autumn, but are white again
    All told, we have picked up around 9-10" of snow since it started early yesterday morning and it is still snowing pretty good as I type. Not a monster storm by our standards- even for April, but certainly an eye opener. We have already had more snow this April than we had this March and March of last year and it's looking like we could also see more snow in April this year than February of this year brought us. There are even ideas of an 8-12"+ snow to arrive here for later Tuesday into Wednesday. Not all of the models are onto this idea, but it certainly is a potential. If that happens, a serious ride may have to take place Easter Weekend. At any rate, we are back to a snowy front of house shot for at least the next few days, if not the next week or two.
    While I was not exactly super thrilled to see the new snow, I guess it was a case where I was happier to see near double digit accumulations of powder, rather than a few inches of slop. The pups were happy to see the snow and took advantage of it by wrestling with each other for nearly an hour this morning.
    When I awoke this morning to see all the new snow, I thought I would ask Gracie if she wanted to take a snowmobile ride today. She ended up sleeping in way later than she EVER has (8:45 am), but when I went in to get her from her bed, I told her that we got a lot of snow and asked her if she wanted to go for a snowmobile ride. This was her answer. So I fired up Greenie and backed her out of the shop and called Gracie over to climb on board.
    This was not her first time on the sled, but it was her first time on it while it was running and thus her first time on it while it moved. I had her very well sandwiched between my legs and told her to hang onto the mountain bar, which she did very well. We only rode at around 5 mph or less, just letting the clutch engage and move the sled forward. Still, we both had a blast cruising around on the sled in the newly fallen snow. I doubt that she will actually remember this moment, but I know I will for the rest of my life. Here is a shot of us after just finishing pulling a wheelie! Or so the story will go 10 years from now.
    As I mentioned, she did very well hanging onto the mountain bar and while I did not let her touch the throttle, I did put her in charge of the nitrous button. We needed that to get enough elevation to pull off our double heal clickers. So let it be known to the world that on this day, a new sled head was born. Actually, truth be told, she has been pretty fascinated by snowmobiles all winter. One of her favorite "books" to read recently has been the 2012 Arctic Cat brochure. She has known to squeeze her index and thumb together when I make the "brap-brap" sound for months. I think a kitty cat or other 120 will probably be in the cards for next winter.
    Not much else going on up here for the most part. For some reason I had thought that Millie needed to keep from getting much exercise for the first 8 weeks after her surgery. The 8 weeks will be up this Tuesday, so last week I pulled the directions that we were sent home with to read them over to re-fresh myself on how we were to re-introduce her to exercise and it turns out that 2-3 weeks after the surgery she was OK to take short, leashed walks. Then we were to make them longer and longer and at 8 to 9 weeks she was free to pretty much do what she wants. So we started taking leashed walks last Wednesday and we have been letting her play with Hucky in the yard this weekend with the snow. It was nice to be walking again, although both Thursday and Friday mornings, temps were in the low 20's so it was chilly too. It will be nice to get back into the woods and do some exploring and get some good exercise. We ALL could use it!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

-JD-
April 10-
    Last week was bikini's and sunshine. This week will be snow suits and winter boots. That's right. After not even being home for 24 hours from sunny Florida, mother nature decided to treat us to a spring snow last Sunday and Monday. Not a huge storm by any means, but by the time all was said and done, about 8-9 inches had come down and we had a fresh, but very wet coating of about 6" of snow on the ground. 
    I must say that while I was really hoping to be greeted by mother nature with 60's and sunshine all week, the snow was pretty to look at. Temps were in the 30's the whole time it snowed, so it was a super wet and heavy snow and stuck to everything, including every tree branch in our woods. The new snow also gave me one last opportunity (perhaps) to take a front of the house shot with the cabin all covered in natures white frosting. We did not get enough snow to have to worry about moving it off the driveway, in fact, I think the plow will be coming off the ATV this week, to get it ready for the annual spring ride. 
    Millie is still in rest mode, so we could not get out on foot to explore the snow, but we did take a little car ride in the afternoon to see what we could see. The roads were pretty slick, so we did not go trouncing all over the Keweenaw, but did head up the highway a bit. We found ourselves up towards Phoenix and the Cliff Range. It was really coming down Monday afternoon when we took our drive and if the snow had not been so wet when it was falling, I think our totals could have easily been over a foot with with this storm. None the less, we got enough so to make the trails look very inviting.
    After seeing those trails looking so good, it was tempting to gear up and take one last ride for the season. However, I had things to do at the office and knew that if I ended up having problems, I would be all along out there, so opted to just head home and do what I needed to be done and not what I wanted to do. It was still coming down pretty good and even though our road had been freshly plowed, it was pretty slick. Here is a shot of our driveway with all the old snow covered in new.
    The storm wound down Monday night and then spring returned. We were still on the cool side Tuesday, but started warming as we went through the week and by Thursday and Friday were in the upper 50's and low 60's with sunshine. All the new snow was pretty much gone by Thursday or Friday and I even did things like take the truck to the car wash and work in the shop with the doors open by the end of the week.
    Some calls were made as the week went on and a last season ride started to come together with some in our group. Plans flip flopped around, but by Saturday morning, I was loading the Green Machine into the truck to head up to our taking off point. Since moving up here, the last ride of the season has taken on different personalities. Some have been done in early February, long before the season ended for most folks (the year I broke my leg), some have been done on a day with fog, some with a beak for shelter to wait out a downpour and one was made in 85 degree temps. Yes, I did type 85 degrees. If I had to pick the weather for the last ride, I think I would pick what we had yesterday. Temps around 60 and loads of sunshine. 
    When I left our property yesterday morning, we had about a foot of snow in the woods, so I knew that we would have plenty of snow to ride in. Once we dropped off and headed into the woods, I was surprised at how much snow was still down up there. We did not ride the trails, as the grooming and traffic all season wears down the snow there. Our choice for the day was logging roads with 12-15" of snow still on them. The group of riders was a bit smaller than the last ride of the season is most of the time, but that did not stop us from having a great time. The group consisted of some of the usuals, Dave and Brian, but look closely and you see a second yellow helmet on Dave's sled. His daughter Jenna came along with us for the ride and rode with Dave on his sled.
    We rode for about 5 1/2 hours all told and stuck to the logging roads for their snow quality and quantity, although some of the spots where we encountered the snowmobile trails, one could have had a good time on them too. Of course there were spots that we saw that were exposed to the sun and were not as pretty looking. We did do some exploring off the logging roads. We are always looking for that "Goat Path" that will lead us to an unknown honey hole. We actually did discover some spots and plan to head back to these areas next season to lay when the powder is deep. One of our goat paths took us to a little creek with a couple of beaver dams on it. The creek crossing was not too daunting, but we wanted to make sure there was a reason to even do it, so here is Dave and Brian surveying the situation to see if there was any sign of a logging road or goat path on the other side to make it worth crossing. A path was discovered and even though the process of water skipping did not go over too well with Jenna, we all crossed (only about a foot deep and 50 feet across) and continued on our merry way.
    The day of riding ended around 4 pm and we loaded up and headed home. No parts were broken and no one injured and I think we all got a little sun kissed. It was really nice to ride without goggles and just sun glasses and also be able to stop and sit in the sun while shooting the breeze.
    Once I got home, I got cleaned up and Nora and I actually went out to dinner. We got wind that Fitzgearlds at the Eagle River Inn had aquired a large smoker and were going to be opening up Saturday for folks to come and sample their new products. They had free samples of their ribs, pulled pork and brisket and it was all very good. That is great news as up until now, if I wanted BBQ, I had to fire up my own smoker. I will still be doing a lot of my own smoking this warm season, but it is nice to know that if I get the hankering, we can just head down there to get a quick fix without the time involved to smoke our own.
   I have only one picture of Grace to share with you all this week. I guess I figured with last week's entry containing over a dozen of them, I could slack by this week with one. However, it is a cute one of her with her buddy and a bottle. In other Gracie news, she has moved onto a big-girl bed. Actually it was just her crib converted to a regular bed and it was not by our choice. She has discovered that she can climb out of the crib and rather than risk a serious injury with her doing that, we have gone to the bed setup. Just another step away from being a little one!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 3-
    Ok, after two entries with not much to say and not a picture to share, this entry will finally be breaking the trend. The strange thing is this journal is suppose to be about the Keweenaw and what is going on with me in it and this entry is actually all about what happened outside of the Keweenaw.
    For those scratching their head wondering what I am talking about, Nora, Gracie and I busted out of town about 10 days ago and headed to sunny Florida. After last years trip with poor weather, me feeling like crap and Gracie having a very hard time with her teething, I think we were all hoping for a much different trip and boy was it ever. The weather was absolutely perfect. It did rain, but only at night. The days were either clear blue skies or mostly sunny skies. Temps were in the mid to sometimes upper 80's for highs and in the upper 60's to low 70's for lows. Grace was in much better spirits and was nearly perfect. She allowed Nora some down time every afternoon for a few hours and also slept the night through every night except for one. I also felt great. So everything that was wrong with last years trip was right with this years trip.
    We did not go to the same spot as last year. Both Nora and I enjoyed being on that exclusive island, but also missed being able to head to the store for something we needed or to be able to have some choices for places to go out for dinner. So we stayed on the mainland and did stay in southwest FL. We chose a rental home in Bonita Springs. It was not on the beach, but only about a mile from it. It was also about 1/2 mile from lots of shopping, so we never had to drive more than 5 minutes to get to stores or the beach.
    The place had it's own pool inside a lanai and the pool was surrounded by lots of vegetation, making it very private. It also had a hot tub that spilled water out of it over some rocks and into the pool. When looking for places to stay this year, the pool setup was actually one of the main selling points, although the house was very nice too. One of the best features to the pool was something that we did not even know it had until we got there and that was that the shallow end was very shallow. It allowed Grace to be able to wade around in and have fun with her toys and sea shells. As it turned out, Grace was a little fish. She took to swimming on her own instantly and spent as much time in water over her head as she did in the shallow end. If that was not enough, she also loved to jump in off the side of the pool and had no problems going all the way under the water. Looks like daddy is getting a little thick. I think some working out is in order! Speaking of daddy, he also was able to make good use of the pool.
    For as close as the beach was, we only went there 3 times and two of them were in the evening. Tuesday morning we did head to the beach for some playing around. It was a great day to be there, with sunny skies, temps already climbing into the upper 70's by mid morning and a nice fresh breeze. The morning started out for us by doing a little shelling. Here is Gracie displaying some of her pickings. After the shelling it was off for a stroll along the beach. Then a little break, sitting at the edge of the surf. Ahh...refreshing! Actually, the water was not that cold at all. I would have to guess it was in the upper 70's. A far cry from last years upper 60's! Burrrr!
    We also went to the beach one evening to take in the sunset. The west coast of FL is famous for it's sunsets and a lot of folks congregate at the beaches to watch the sun set into the blue waters of the Gulf. Here is Gracie and Nora taking it all in. Here is Gracie off to fetch some more sand and shells. Here she is coming back with her bounty and a big grin. Some clouds kept us from actually seeing the giant orange orb disappear into the Gulf, but we were still treated to one of mother natures majestic color shows.
    The city of Naples FL, which was just to our south, has a very nice zoo. Gracie loves animals, so we could not deny her a trip to see a bunch of animals. It was a hot day, with temps in the upper 80's and dewpoints in the low 70's, but we still had a great time and were able to see lots of animals. Here we are looking at some some leopards. Here she is with Nora checking out the lions. The zoo also had zebras, giraffes, bears, alligators, monkeys, and lots of other animals that I cannot remember. The highlight to the zoo trip came at the very end. Just before you head out of the park, there are some tropical birds there and a few of them said things like "hello" and "be nice". Grace just thought this was the funnies thing ever. I actually heard her laughing from inside the gift shop and came out as her laughing was winding down, but it was one of those belly laughs that will make anyone laugh out loud themselves.
    So the vacation was a ton of fun and here are the smiles to prove it. Grace had fun at every turn and was a great traveler to boot. For as much fun as it was, we also know where home is and were very excited to be coming home too. We had not seen Huck and Millie in nearly 10 days and we all missed them very much. 
    So here we are home safe and sound and watching it snow. The bare ground that was starting to show up is already white again and there are ideas we could see as much as 5-7" of snow before things end. Not sure if it will be enough to get me back out on the sled for one last ride, but we'll see. Other than that, we are sort of in no man's land, with winter pretty much behind us and true spring not quiet here yet. None the less, I am sure I will find some things to talk about by next Sunday! Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..  
-JD-

 

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