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January 31-
    Thanks for being patient everyone! I really do block out time on Sundays to write the journal, but when it came time to write yesterday, I was just on empty. For some reason, I have slept very poorly the past 2 Saturdays. This latest time, I went to bed early, at about 8 pm on Saturday, but woke up around a quarter to midnight and did not sleep the rest of the night! I did get out of bed and did some work early and then about 5 pm climbed back into bed and did fall asleep for a little bit, but I think that is the main reason why I just hit the wall at about 3 pm yesterday. Still a little out of sorts today, but thanks to Nora letting me pass out around 6 pm yesterday, I did catch up on some of the lost ground.
    I can hardly believe that it is the last day of January already. I think for those among us that are snow lovers, making the passage from January to February is not really something we look forward to. It is certainly not the end of winter- far from it in these parts, but February is a short month and I think that as we go from Feb to March, a lot of folks thoughts turn to warm season activity. In my mind, I really do not even start to think about winter ending until we head into the end of March and am looking forward to lots more snow-play in the coming weeks and even months.
    Speaking of snow-play. I did ride three times since I last wrote. Wednesday I got out with Matt and Nick for some goofing around. I had to work and both Nick and Matt had things to do in the morning, so it worked out well. We met up a little north of me and played in some fields, on some hills and logging roads. The snow was better than I thought it would be. I figured there would be lots of tracks from the weekend covered by just a few inches of snow, but as it turned out, most of the areas we rode had been missed over the weekend, so there was about a foot or so of fluff to ride across.
    The snow from earlier in the season is finally starting to set up, so it is nice, there is a bottom to the snow now and any new snow is just like icing on the cake. As mentioned, we did find some hills to play on and here is Nick heading up one of them. Here is a closer and more in-focus shot of him. We actually shot more video than still shots on Wednesday, but right now I am having problems downloading video to my computer, so I am not able to share any of it, but some of the footage is pretty good- especially the stuff of us carving up a field of powder.
   Towards the end of the ride, Matt kept trying to check something out on his sled. I guess it was not handling right and finally when we came to a road crossing, the problem was able to be discovered. He had a malfunction with his home made ice scratchers. Obviously, that was a carbide and not a home made ice scratcher, but we all had a good laugh when we saw that one.
    On Saturday, I got out for just about the whole day. Brian came back into town from working out of town and Dave joined us as did Dave's brother in law and some friends from the website. We picked up around 6" of snow Friday night and early Saturday, which helped to freshen up the snow in the woods nicely and also kept up my streak of riding in powder on every ride so far this season.
    About half the gang met at my house and the other half met at Brian's house and the two groups met up in the bush at a set spot and rode as one the rest of the day. Here is a shot of Brian and Dave trying to figure out where the heck we are! Just kidding, I think they were waiting for some in the group to catch up and figure out what the next move was. Here is a shot of the whole group at a pit stop in the bush. Two of the gang opened up their hoods and took out some special treats they had cooking in their "hot doggers". I have to admit that it was awesome to have a nice warm snack on that break and I am ordering up one for sure. I may even order up a couple for others in our group so that I do not have to share as much of my warm goodies every time we ride! Most of our rides are all day affairs, so it will be nice to know I have something warm to eat waiting for me under the hood. It will really be nice for our Togwotee trip as that is 6 days in a row of no warm lunch.
    Not much else is going on up here. I have been pretty busy preparing for this year's ride in. Everything seems to be all set up. There are still a few things to do, but I think I am over the hump with things to do. I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but getting ready for this event is pretty similar to putting on a wedding, but it is well worth it! We have around 150 persons signed up for this year's event and it looks like the cache of prizes for the silent auction and raffle is the best it has ever been. Tons of things from local businesses, aftermarket companies and even a 2 stage snow thrower from Ariens and a kettle grill from Weber. Plus it looks like the big storm will be over in the central Midwest in time for folks to dig out their vehicles and trailers and head up to play in the snow up here. See you all there!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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January 30-
    Going to take the evening off, but will write tomorrow! - John
January 23-
    Either I am nuts or dedicated- probably a bit of both, but I am typing this out as the "big game" has just started. I figure I am one of the only persons at the computer doing work right now, instead of sitting watching the game. I do have the game on and stop to watch most plays, but the honest truth is I guess I am not as worked up about the game as many I know are. I think it is very cool that the Bears are playing the Packers for the NFC Championship game, but I guess that is really as far as my excitement goes. If it were the Blackhawks playing to see if they went to the Stanley Cup Finals, then you can bet the journal would be delayed at best!
    It's been another snowy week up here. So far the running total for the month is 82 inches. If we keep up that exact pace, then we will set a new record for the month of January. Of course that is kind of comparing apples to oranges as I am comparing my totals taken here to totals taken at the Houghton County Airport many years ago, but I guess I made that point to show that this month has been very snowy!
    I am not sick of moving it yet, but it would be nice to get a break one of these days. I believe I have had to move snow pretty much every day for the past couple of weeks, if not the whole month. I must say that I have gotten lots better at the job. With all the practice on a daily basis, I have really developed a good routine for plowing and have gone from it taking me around 40 minutes on average to around 30 minutes on average. Bigger snows take longer and smaller ones take shorter. If this winter keeps up though, I will be running out of room to plow it and will have to spend more time behind the snow thrower. Right now all I need the snow thrower for is to cut back the banks on the driveway itself, as well as clear the path to the wood boiler and the side of the house. In the not too distant future I will be switching to a blower mounted on a nice John Deere tractor to do the clearing- especially once the log home is built, as my options for moving the snow will be a lot more limited.
    I did get out for a quick ride on Wednesday. I was not out for long and the one time a pic would have been good (a video even better) I was busy doing something else and could not get the shot. I also took some skis this week, but really did not see an opportunity where a picture was needed. I can say that I took 4 skis this week and every one of them I had to re-open up the trail. Two of my trips I could barely even seen my previous tracks. The pups just love to take skis. They have learned what it means when I walk over to my skis and grab them, it means we are going into the woods and they get to romp in the snow. That is exactly what they do to. Even though their paws have long since stopped finding the bottom of the snow, they still prefer to make their own way, rather than follow my tracks. It gives them a great workout though and after only 30 minutes of skiing, they are pretty tuckered out.
    I did get out to ride in the truck a few times this week and brought along the camera in case I came across something photo worthy. Nothing too crazy, but the banks on the sides of the roads are getting pretty big. Here is the view of Hwy 41 going through scenic downtown Mohawk. The banks are around 8 feet high in town. Calumet has already had the snow-go run through and take out the banks, but that was a while back and they have already built back pretty good.
    I have two spruce trees that are pretty well protected from the wind and have been accumulating snow on them for a week or two. They are about 12 and 15 feet tall respectively, but if the snow does not get knocked off of them soon, they will just be giant mounds of snow.
    Back when we had the quick shot of above freezing temps at the end of December, the roof on the cabin and the roof on the shop cleared completely. Looking at the shop now, you would never know it was snow free just a few weeks ago. Even the cabin roof has about a foot and a half of snow on it. It usually does not hang onto snow for too long as it is a 12/12 pitch and is metal. I think the amount of snow on it right now is the most it has had on it since we moved up here. I have no plans to clear it though as it will clear all on it's own one of these days.
    I do have plans to clear the lean-to roof though. It has 2-3 feet of snow on it and I did not engineer it to hold a ton of snow. Plus, after the first shop clear, the snow piled up to near the edge of the eaves on that roof, so I want to get the roof of the lean-to cleared, so when the shop clears, it will have somewhere to go. The roof of the wood pile shed also needs to be cleared off. It never clears itself and still has the entire seasons worth of snow on it. So I have my work cut out for me this week. Actually, I hope to get both the lean-to and the wood shed cleared off tomorrow. I have a dentist appointment Tuesday and hope to ride Wednesday. With snow expected much of this week, I do not want to push my luck to much longer.
    I did not ride this Saturday. I think that is the first Saturday without a ride in many weeks, but I had something much more important to do. I was again invited up to the Bear Belly Bar and Grille in Lac La Belle to guest bartend and have kick off the fund raising efforts for the Ride-In. I had fun meeting everyone that I did and I am sorry if I did not get to meet everyone. I am actually not too shy, but also not much of an extrovert, and to just go up to a table of persons that I do not know and introduce myself is a little tough. At any rate, I did get to meet some great folks and everyone seemed to be having a good time at the BBB&G as well as on the trails up this way. I can brag that the trails so far this season have been in very good shape and this weekend from what I saw, they were pretty much perfect.
   I do actually do a little work when I am up there. I am not pressured to actually bust my hump and work like the employees do, but I try and pitch in where I can. Here is a shot of Troy and Cathy's daughter Alex and I behind the bar. Here I am hard at work filling up a glass with soda for someone. Here is a shot of me with Troy in one of the quieter moments. We also took advantage of the quieter moment to get a group photo of everyone. In the front from left to right are Cathy and Alex and then Tom Katalin. Tom provided some live entertainment for us all. Back row from left to right is me, Troy and Dave. Dave manages the BBB&G for Troy and Cathy and is a great guy. Later in the day, Nora and Gracie showed up to partake in the happenings. Here is a shot of Grace with Troy and Cathy's youngest Gabby
    The fund raising was a big success again this year. The tip totals came out to just under $500, then Troy and Cathy generously match that and with a long distance donation and a few extra bucks tossed in from Troy, we came in right at $1000. A great start to the fund raising for this years Make-A-Wish donation and I am very grateful to Troy, Cathy and everyone at the BBB&G for their generosity as well as all of those that showed up to fill the tip jar.
    So I guess that covers it. I did get a map and some instructions done for the banquet for the ride in. You can find them on the ride in page. Hopefully they make sense. Hard to believe that in just two weeks the ride in will be all over.
-JD-
January 16-
    Greetings all. This will likely be somewhat of a short one as I am getting a pretty late start (for me anyway) and don't have a ton to say. Winter is still going pretty strong up here, although this past week was not nearly as snow filled as the previous week was, but even for the snowiest spot west of the Rockies, putting 2 weeks of 4 feet of snow is kind of hard to do.
    I sure was tired after last Saturday's ride and adventure of getting out of the creek bottom. I was actually more sore and tired on Monday- the second day after riding, than on the actual day after the ride. By Tuesday I was feeling pretty good, but still took the day easy to get some more recovery in and then by Wednesday it was business as usual the rest of the week. I even returned to the woods on skis Wednesday with the pups. I want to keep a loop open for skiing this winter and also wanted to check out my "bridge". 
    So I strapped on the skis Wednesday and we headed out. The tracks from just 6 days prior were almost completely covered up by all the snow that had fallen and the hole that the bridge spans was so filled in with snow that I almost would not have needed the bridge to get through, but it was nice to not have to drop into the hole and then fight to get back up the other side and also nice it will be that way for the rest of the season.
    It is funny to watch the difference in what Huck and Millie do when we go out for a ski when compared to Burt and Baileys. Burt and Baileys would stay right in the ski track. If the snow was really deep, then they would follow me, but if the track was pretty well packed down, then sometimes they would go up ahead of me. In either case, it was very rare for them to venture "off trail". Huck and Millie are the exact opposite. They run all over the place and rarely travel in the tracks. I suppose the main difference is their age and health. Huck and Millie are much younger and other than the little bit of arthritus bugging Millie in her right rear wheel, they are in very good shape and good health. I did manage to get them to sit still for long enough for me to take a picture of them. Huck's shot was blurred as the camera chose to focus on the branch in the foreground, rather than him and I could not tell while taking the shot. But Millies shot was crystal clear. I only say this because I am completely aware that I have nothing to do with it and am not bragging, but they sure are good looking dogs. Both of their furs are also smooth as silk.
    Thursday we took another ski and packed down the trail a bit more. I was thinking that once the trail is well packed down, we can take Grace out in her sled. Either Huck or I can pull her and the way that Huck runs all over the place, I think I will be the one doing the pulling. Maybe not though, maybe his good manners the first time being a sled dog were not a fluke.
    Friday I had to run to town briefly and then had an old high school buddy come up from the Milwaukee area to visit and ride for the weekend. He arrived in the late afternoon and then we headed out to do some riding. The plan was to ride somewhere for dinner and have Nora and Grace meet us there by car. One thought was to head to "the harbor" (Copper Harbor), but I did not want Nora to have to travel that far with Grace all by themselves with snow forecasted, so we chose the other harbor- Eagle Harbor and the Eagle Harbor Inn.
    It did start to snow just as we were finishing up dinner and then snowed the whole way home. It sure is fun to head out to dinner on the sleds and then have a nice ride through a falling snow on the way home. We were in no rush to get home and with full bellies, we just took it slow and enjoyed the ride. Once home, Grace was already getting ready to sleep, so my buddy and I stayed in the shop and chatted as well as did a little wrenching. Nothing serious, but I did want to swap out the stock skis for a set of aftermarket ones I had from previous years, so that is what we did. The food from dinner and then a few hockey pops while wrenching combined with my day starting at a little after 4 in the morning was enough to make this old buck ready for bed, so we called it a night and hit the hay to get ready for the next days riding.
    Overnight Friday night we picked up around 4 1/2" of snow and it was still snowing when we woke up. I moved snow and Nora and I made breakfast and then some friends from up here came by with a few out of towners for Saturday's ride. I ended up leading the pack at first. We played in some fields and hit some logging roads. Teddy found a nice place to catch a bit of air and then took over the group leader role about an hour into the ride.
    I do not have a ton of pictures from the ride as the temperature crashed from around 18 degrees when we started out to around 8 soon after. Usually ten degrees does not make a huge difference in how it feels, but that jump from 18 to 8 sure did. I was not really expecting that (it was my day off!) and while I was dressed properly for my legs, feet and trunk, my hands sure got cold and I could have used a fresh balaclava about midway through the ride. With it being so cold, I just was too wimpy to want to take my gloves off to take pictures. So Teddy's jumping shot was one from the ride. This group shot is another and I did manage to take a scenic shot as well.
    So those were the shots from the ride and I don't have any more to share with you. It was too cold to take Grace out for very long today and I did not even go out because I was not feeling too well. Nothing major, just very tired and achy, but not from riding. Hopefully it is something that will pass without too much fan fare. 
    Looks like a pretty snowy forecast is in the offing for the week ahead, so maybe I will see if I can get out during the week for a little spin. I will not be able to ride next Saturday as I will be up at Lac La Belle for the guest bartending event there. Be sure to stop in and say hi if you are in the Keweenaw. Plus, leave a big tip as all of the tips made while I am there will go to the fun raising for the ride in and the owners of the Bear Belly Bar also match the tips made, so it raises some good money every year.
    A reminder that tomorrow is the last day to be able to register for the Ride In. So be sure to get yourself signed up. I was over at the banquet hall this past week and it has been spruced up even more and looks very nice. Plus you will be able to ride your snowmobile to the event if you want. This week, I will be making maps of how to get there by road vehicle and by sled. Can't wait, it is always so much fun.
    Guess that will do it for this one, until next week...
Good night from the Keweenaw.. 
-JD-
January 9 addendum-
    For those that have read Sunday's entry already, I was able to find the "missing" shots from Saturday's ride. They ended up in the camera's internal memory and not on the memory card. For those that have not, once you read it, you will know what this addendum is about. Anyway, here is a shot of Dave wading over to get to stand in my trench. Here is Dave standing in my trench. Here is a shot of Dave standing next to his sled after stopping and here is a shot of the groomed trail.
January 9-
    What a week, what a week.....WHAT A WEEK! For a snow addict such as myself, who moved to the Keweenaw specifically to get dumped on, this is the kind of week that I live for. As mentioned in the past entry, it started snowing a bit last Saturday and then Saturday night kicked into higher gear and by Sunday afternoon we had picked up over a foot of new snow. It did not stop snowing for more than 20-30 minutes from last Saturday evening through yesterday evening. 7 straight days. 45 inches of snow. 
    I think the absolute proof that I am a true snow addict is that the only time I was sad was when it slowed down late yesterday and then stopped overnight. No worries though, looks like more, perhaps a lot more, on the way for the end of this week, into the weekend and early part of next week.
    I also had a pretty busy week, with a Dr's appointment Monday, Millie to the vet on Tuesday and then a dentist appointment on Wednesday. The news on Millie is mixed. She has arthritis in her right knee. There is no joint damage visible on the x rays, just the arthritis. The vet said he did not know exactly what has caused the arthritis to develop. Perhaps she has a very minor tear in one of the ligaments that does not show up on the x ray or perhaps she damaged it a while back. With the way she and Huck play with each other, I would not be surprised if it was in one of their romp sessions. In any case we have her on the glucosamine supplement and also a prescription similar to rymadil, but much less expensive. She still gets around very well and hopefully things will not get worse with her, she sure loves to run!
    Anyway, in my travels this week, I passed some interesting snow scenes. One was where the trees had been sheltered from strong winds and the snow had been allowed to collect on everything. Not only were the tops of the branches covered in snow, but all sides of the branches were covered in snow, as were the telephone lines and everything else. It had looked like someone had sprayed them down with foam.
    On Thursday morning, we awoke to another 5" of snow and it was still coming down pretty good. I wanted to update the front of house shot before updating the website that morning, so at first light I went out to snap a shot of the cabin all nestled under it's blanket of fresh snow. I did a ton of moving snow this week and have gotten a good routine for plowing. It does not seem like there could be an actual science to plowing, but there really is. Up here, we get so much snow, you cannot simply just move the snow off to the side of the drive or parking area. You need to be sure that you will be able to move future snowfalls as well and a lot of them. So I have been "ramping" the snow with the ATV and plow in a way that I will continue to be able to push the snow off the parking area. Ramping means that you do not just plow the snow to the edge of the plowed area, you lift the blade a little as you reach the edge and thus you end up with a ramp made of snow. Each time you plow, then you continue to build the ramp and eventually, you can flatten out the top of the ramp and then just keep dumping the new snow on the far side of the ramp. There is a person that lives on the main highway in Kearsarge that is very good at ramping his snow. By the end of the season, his ramp can be as large as 50-75 feet long as he moves just about all of the snow from his driveway onto the ramp. Although his ramp is only about the width of his ATV plow. My ramps usually only go about 15-20 feet back, but are the full width of the parking area. The ramps also come in handy when loading a sled into the back of the truck. All I need to do is back the truck up to the ramp and then drive the sled from the backside of the ramp into the truck. I guess I should really take a picture of these ramps to better illustrate things and will try to remember to do so for next week's entry. I do have a picture of the banks that get cut back by the snow thrower on the driveway. They actually are a good representation of how much snow is on the ground here as I end up running the snow thrower through all the snow that is pushed by the plow and the height of the banks are the same height as the depth of the snow on the level.
    On Thursday I decided to take my snow thrower in to have a few things done to it. Nothing too major, but it did need a new friction wheel that is part of the transmission. My reverse was not working so well, but is now since they replaced the friction wheel. I also needed the tube replaced on the right side tire and I had him throw a new spark plug in and give it a good lube job. I really should have done this before the snow began to fly, but I do have a temporary back up and did not even need to use it as I dropped off the snow thrower to be fixed Thursday afternoon and it was ready the next morning.
    The repair shop is down near the School Forest, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and took the pups over there for a ski. I think that this might have actually been the first time that they had ever been there. For sure it is the first time they had ever been there for a ski. I was just another fun place for them to run around in and explore, but to me it sure holds a more special meaning. I will never forget all the fun times I had with Burt and Baileys skiing out there. 
    I am still trying to get myself into shape, so we did not ski too far. I would say about a mile and a half, but did have to break trail the whole time. There was not nearly as much snow down in that part of the Keweenaw as I have here, but the 10" or so on the ground was plenty enough to ski on. In addition to it holding special memories for me, it sure is a unique and beautiful spot. I just love to ski through the red pine plantation part, the symmetry of the trees created by man, combined with the random coating of snow by mother nature is just really cool to see in my opinion. Most of the School Forest is typical Keweenaw hardwood forest, which is also very pretty to trounce around in any time of the year. The ski went well and I was feeling it pretty good in my arms, but it did feel good to get a work out.
    On Friday, the afternoon was spent running around and taking care of things to free up the weekend. I also picked up some materials to build a makeshift bridge for my own ski trail through our woods. Since moving up here I have skied the same path through the woods to get to some logging roads and in one spot, a big old white birch fell and pulled up it's root ball. That caused a large hole to occur, right in the spot where I ski through. There really is no other way around this spot, so I have always just dropped down into the hole and then fought my way back up the other side. It is not a big hole and my bridge "building" really just consisted of putting two 12 foot sections of 2 x 12's across the hole to span it. The only hard part was bringing the 2 x 12's out there. I strapped on my snow shoes and carried them one at a time and those buggers were heavy! I was huffing and puffing and my arms were sure burning by the time I got them both hauled out there, but they will make skiing that rout much easier.
    On Saturday we awoke to about 11" of fresh snow and it was still coming down. Before heading out, I went out to get some gas for the sled and on my way to the gas station passed a car that had not been shoveled out in the past week. This is what 45" of snow looks like on an automobile. Last week I showed you a perfectly clean roof of the shop. This is what it looked like just 7 days later. Looks like it will need to be cleared in not too long!
    I had actually planned to ride with the gang Saturday, but for a number of reasons, only 3 of us could go. Then one of the three had some electrical gremlins develop with his sled, so he had to bow out. That left just Dave and I. No problem though and we sure would be more nimble in our riding than if all of our group had gone out. We took off from our house and headed onto the trail for a bit and then into the backcountry. A few others had gotten to the initial jump off spot before us, but that did not surprise me. We had fiddled with the broken sled for almost an hour and by the time we finally got riding, it was almost 11 in the morning. It also did not bother me as I figured the tracks would stay on the more known paths and the lesser known paths would be left untouched. That ended up being the case and after traveling on someone else's track for about a half a mile, we were able to peal off and start making our own. 
    We had fun riding through the 2-3 feet of fresh snow on top of the foot or two of base that was out in the woods. Then I remembered a little skidder trail off of one of the logging roads that would take us to a different set of logging roads that have tons of places to ride and almost no one goes into. So I lead and Dave followed and that is where the problems started. The single skidder trail through the woods had been replaced with a network of skidder trails by some recent logging and in a short time we had lost the main skidder trail and were trying to work our way over to the other set of logging roads. At one point I though I had found the main skidder trail, but it just ended up being a creek bottom. We did out best to work our way through the creek bottom, but the snow got incredibly deep and the riding got very difficult as everything was buried, but the snow was so soft and with no bottom, that you would get tossed around as bunch as you rode over buried trees or stumps or rocks. At one point I was tossed from my sled and ended up sinking in about 4 feet into the snow. You could not tell from that picture how deep the hole was that I was in, but here is a picture of me standing in the hole trying to get back to my sled.
    We traveled on and just got into more and more trouble until the point I could no longer traverse the creek bed because of a 2 foot in diameter fallen tree. At this point I need to explain that for some reason the camera acted like it had taken a bunch of pictures on yesterday's ride, but failed to actually save them. I have no idea why, but have decided to spend the early part of this week researching and getting a new cam. One of the more impressive pics that did not get saved was of Dave standing in the trench caused by my sled and he is holding out his arm at a 90 degree angle to his body to show the depth of the snow. Dave is not a tall guy, but is also not short. I would guess him to be around 5'9" or 5'10" and the snow on either side of him was armpit deep on the level!
    We did manage to get ourselves out of the predicament, but it did take about an hour and fifteen minutes. At one point I thought we were there until spring. After that dig out and sled pulling session, it was agreed that we would stick to the main logging roads as much as possible and not get ourselves into too much trouble if we did not have to. I was actually pretty exhausted after the ordeal and could really feel my arms turning to jello after the workout they had both Thursday and Friday and then after the hour+ digging out session. We stopped and took a break. I had some sports drink and crackers and Dave just rested, but I never really recovered for the rest of the day. The riding on the logging roads was no problem for me as we were just floating through 3 to 4 feet of fresh powder the whole day. Another picture lost in cyberspace is of our two parked sleds buried in the snow with just the tops of the handle bars sticking up out of the snow as well as the very tip of my windshield.
    The further east we went, the less snow there was, so we stuck to the high ground running up the middle of the peninsula. Here is one picture from the afternoon that did manage to get saved to the camera.
    I also took some shots of the trails that did not get saved, but they just showed a flat ribbon of while winding through the woods. There is plenty of snow and the groomers were running day and night and the little bit of trail (2-3 miles) we rode yesterday were all in very good shape. Traffic was not exceptionally heavy, but not light either. Thankfully there is good snow just to our south down to our south and west through Twin Lakes, Mass City, Lake Gogebic and Ironwood as well as to our east from Marquette east to Grand Marais. So we are sharing the wealth with them as far as snowmobile traffic goes.
    I felt bad because by around 4 pm, not only were my arms jello, but the rest of my body was starting to fatigue pretty good, so I asked if we could stop for a warm up break and then just ended up going home after that break at the Cliff View. I know Dave was tired too, but he definitely could have ridden until dark, but was very accommodating of this old man. Looks like I have my work cut out for me to get in shape for our WY trip this March!
    With all the snow, Grace has been wanting to get out and play. She even offered to help me move snow the other day. Got all ready with her swampers and faux animal hide hat. In all seriousness though. She has been loving this snow too. I take great pride in taking her to the window several times a day and showing her the snow float down to the ground. She always gives a big old grin when she sees it.
    This afternoon while I was working on the journal, Nora was outside with Grace and the pups. I got a call from her and she said that I should really come down and see her. Turns out she enjoys riding on a shovel almost as much as she does her sled. Perhaps before the winter is over, we can take her to the sledding hill at Sweedtown and take her down it.
    Well, that just about covers it for this one. I also had a nice 30 second clip of Dave carving up a logging road yesterday, but for some reason the video is not able to be captured from the camera. I installed a new HDMI capture device into the computer and I think that has messed everything up. I plan to get in touch with the manufacturer of the card to see if they can help me get things going.
    Before I sign off though. I do need to remind everyone that the Ride-In is coming up very soon. We ask that everyone be registered by January 17th, which is just 8 days away. I will also be doing my guest bartending appearance at Lac La Belle on the 22nd from around noon to 6 pm. So if you are up here during that weekend, stop by the Bear Belly Bar in Lac La Belle and say hi. I really do enjoy meeting everyone that visits the site.
    Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
January 2-
    Happy New Year everyone! I suppose I am one of the only snow lovers in the Midwest that are giddy right now. The thaw and rain sure did a number on things in many areas. The NW portions of MN and the Dakotas did good with snow and quite honestly, we were not hurt too bad here in the Keweenaw. I have learned to try not to anticipate anything with a pending thaw, or if anything, prepare for the worst. It always seems like things turn out worse than I would think, but this time around, it was better. We did rise above freezing Tuesday and Wednesday, but the air was so dry, that the snow loss was very small. In fact, I went riding on Wednesday afternoon in temperatures that were in the low 40's and the snow was pretty powdery the whole time. I cannot remember a time when things got mushy on the entire ride.
   Then Thursday temps were in the upper 30's, but the humidity increased and we even had some drizzle during the day and rain in the evening. That was when all the damage was done because around sunrise on Friday, temps fell to below freezing and even to the low 20's by late in the day and we were done with the thaw. We did have some freezing drizzle Friday, but that did not hurt anything. Saturday we had about an inch of snow come down in the morning, then some flurries the rest of the day. At around 6 pm, the lake snow bands that had been running parallel to the peninsula all day Saturday turned inland and started to hit us. I awoke to around 5 1/2" of new snow this morning and the snow has only gotten heavier all day. Right now we are in a band that is putting down around 3-4" per hour and our totals since sunrise this morning is around 7-8". I thought I would refrain from using the term "hammered" to describe our snowfall so far, because 12" of snow is not really getting hammered, but at the rate the snow is falling right now, I would say we are getting hammered. It's hard to say how long we will be in this band of intense snow, but it does look like we will see snow of some kind of intensity fall for most of the week ahead, if not all of the week and beyond.
    So my spirits are pretty good right now and they never really got too bad during the thaw because I saw that we would get some pretty decent snow this weekend and next week as well.
    On Thursday, I even had one of those magical Keweenaw moments where I am reminded just how lucky I am to live where I do. The weather was not so nice on Thursday, with temps in the mid to upper 30's and some drizzle falling, but the pups and I still headed out in the afternoon to take our walk. I decided to head to Cliff Drive for our walk. They are only plowing the northern end of it, so I knew we could walk down it without having any vehicle traffic to worry about. So we parked the car and started walking. It was soon after that when the "moment" started. The view of the cloud shrouded Cliff Range was very pretty and reminded me that there are not too many places in the Midwest where you can take in scenery like that. However, what was really neat about our walk was that this is the first time I have ever walked down Cliff Drive. So by walking, I was able to look up at the cliffs and see every fine detail they had in them. I never knew that there was a section where the rocks had fallen in a way to create an amphitheater like formation. I have seen some ice clinging to the rocks while driving by in the past, but by walking on Thursday, I was able to see that there was actually a rather large ice fall nestled into the rocks. It was not enormous, but I would guess it to be around 40-50 feet tall. There were a few other features that I was able to see while walking that I miss while driving, but nothing too amazing, so I did not take any further pictures. We walked about 2 miles in one direction and about 2 miles in one direction and then turned around and headed back to the truck. The pups had a good time running on the road and then jumping off into the woods to play in the snow. I think we were all a little worn out by the 4 mile walk, but I decided to take the long way home and drove up to Eagle River to see what the lake looked like. As we got down to the lake, I saw a lakes freighter plying the unusually still waters of the big lake. I bet the sailors on that vessel were happy for such calm seas at this time of the year. 
    And so our afternoon adventure ended with the passing of the freighter, but it is so neat to have those magical moments happen and I am so glad that they are still happening. It's amazing how something so simple can just lift my spirits and make me feel like I am doing exactly what I was put on this planet to do and in the place that I was meant to do it. Never really had that feeling until I moved up here.
    The next day was not too different from Thursday, weather wise. The only difference was that instead of drizzle and temps in the 30's, we had drizzle and temps in the 20's. The road crews did an excellent job of treating all the roads and they were not impacted by the freezing drizzle at all. I decided to try another road to walk on with the pups, but this time opted for one down by the lake. Unfortunately the road I chose had been plowed, but because no one lives on it, it had not been treated with salt, so it was an ice rink. The truck did just fine, but I wish that I could say the same for me walking. I did not fall, but it sure is physically demanding to walk on ice! Even the pups had problems at times and I saw Hucky take a few spills. They wised up after a bit and stayed off the road for the most part and had fun running in the snow. We did stop to take in the lake for a short while as well. North winds had developed since the day before and the lake was a little angrier. I also noticed that the spray from the lake had coated all the trees along the shore with around 1/2" of ice.
    I guess one of the good things about the warm up was that all the roofs cleared. I am never worried about the cabin roof- at least I have never been worried about it yet! The shop roofs are a different story. There have been times when I have looked up to see 3 feet of snow on them and wondered how much more they can take. If I head up the air under the roofs they will usually clear on their own, but it is always nice when Mother Nature can take care of it for me. So Thursday afternoon I had nice clear roofs. All ready for 100" of snow. Friday's freezing drizzle coated them in ice, so it will be interesting to see if they clear more easily with the ice or not.
    On Friday I did stop to take two pictures of the trails up here. Keep in mind we have picked up about a foot of snow since these were taken, but some of the trails were actually in pretty good shape. Here was the crossing just north of Calumet by the old Northgate Motel. That was probably about as good as you would have found things on Friday. Here is the trail up by me where they did the re-route earlier in the winter. That is probably about as bad as you would have found on Friday. The reason being that they were still in there working until December 3rd, so all that great base making snow we got around Thanksgiving into the first few days of December were messed up by the heavy machinery used to make the re-route. Not to worry though as this is the look of that same section or re-route taken about 2 hours ago. Amazing what a foot of snow can do, huh?
    I was going to wait to clear snow until things let up, but it just kept coming on harder and harder around midday, so I decided to go out and clear the driveway. After clearing it, I took a shot of the truck under the fresh snow. I then took the drive to snap the shot of the trail and here was the look down our road at the time. Less than 1/4 mile visibility. We call that 4 star snow in the biz.
    I have been taking Grace to the windows to show her the snow all day and each time she had a big old grin on her face. So once I was done clearing the snow and back from taking the picture of the trail, we all went out side to play in the snow. As usual, she had a great time walking around in the snow and being pulled in her sled. She even had a snowball snack. The pups were in their element with all the fresh snow. They seem to have more of a spring in their step when the snow is fresh and deep. I suppose it is because they can flop around and be cushioned by the soft snow.
    After about 30 minutes of romping in the snow, we all decided to head in and Grace must have had enough as she actually did not fuss this time. I think that is the first time that she has not fussed when we came in. I wonder if it had anything to do with the hot chocolate bribe we made to get her inside. Look at those rosy cheeks! Right now she is sound asleep, so I think her outdoor adventure wore her out a bit.
    So that takes us up to the present. It is still snowing out pretty good and looks like there is probably 4-6" of snow down in the past 3 hours since I cleared the driveway. I don't mind at all and will probably have that little shoulder slump when I do look outside and see that it has either calmed down or stopped all together. I don't think I will have to worry about it stopping for maybe the next week or more, but I am sure it will slow down before too long. Before signing off, I will leave you with a beautiful winter picture of some snow flocked trees. Trees that were free of snow just 24 hours ago. Nice! 
Good night from the Keweenaw..

 

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