April 29-
    It is just me, or did this April take a long time to end!? When I look back at the first entry and see that it included our exotic spring break trip to Duluth, that seems like a lot longer than a month ago! Oh well, one more day and she is history.
    I'm not sure where this one will go as I have some material, but not a ton. The weather has been it's typical April, fickle, self. On Thursday we picked up about an inch of Yooper bug repellent and then today it is 60 and sunny. Most of the rest of the week has been in the 40's for highs and 20's for lows and we are dry. As I have mentioned in the past, we have two main fire seasons. One in the autumn and one in the spring and both are due to the dead plant material in the woods. A long spell of dry weather only worsens things and that is where we are at right now. We are still a few weeks away from the main greening of the woods, so hopefully we can get enough rain and folks can be cautious enough to prevent any major fires from happening. With the snow melting so early this spring, it has also made the "mud month" (period fro when the snow melts to when the woods green) longer.
    Speaking of the mud, our gang took it's annual spring ATV ride this past weekend, but it was significantly lacking in mud and much more mellow than in years past. I missed last years ride as I was stuck in a hospital bed at the Mayo, but every other ride was a pretty wild one- filled with lots of splashing through puddles and challenges as to who can go through the deepest mud and/or water hole. This years event did not has as much mud, thanks largely to mother nature, but also was missing some of the usual suspects. For one reason or another, several of our regular riding crew were missing in action. As a result, it was a much more relaxed ride, but still fun.
    It was a great day for a ride though, with clear blue skies the entire day and temps topping out in the upper 40's. As much as we usually want the spring ride to be full of mud, puddles and even some snow, we also like the weather to be dry and not too warm or cold. So from a weather standpoint, we were fine and dandy yesterday.
    We did manage to find some nice water holes to play in though, thanks largely to the step-brother of one of our gang. He owns some land where an old stamp mill used to be and there are water holes there- no matter how dry it has been. Some were deeper than others and not everyone partook in the wet fun, but I would have to say it was probably the highlight of my trip.
    Not much else happened this week. I spent Tuesday and Thursday coming and going from Marquette. Tuesday to get my pacemaker checked out and Thursday for my annual check up with the skin Dr. Both went well, but that trip pretty much uses up an entire day, so other than taking my usual morning walk with the pups, I was either in the truck or in the Dr's office both of those days. It would have been nice to coordinate the two visits to the same day, but I am just glad to have those visits behind me.
    The woodworking project is creeping along. Not a lot of work was done due to my traveling this week, but I did get the sides and front/backs made for the drawers. All that is left is to make the drawer bottoms, assemble the drawers, make the false fronts for the drawers and edge band any edges that will be exposed. Then put some stain and a couple of finish coats on it and it will be all ready to go. With a little luck, a week from now all I will have left is the staining and finishing to do.
    Nora and I have also been busy commuting back and forth from the Laurium Glacier. The warm days and cool nights have made it a little easier as all we need to do is check in the late evenings as it is getting cold and if it has not melted, then we know it will not the rest of that day as the temps are at or below freezing and will be until around midday the next day. Nora did go and check around mid morning today and it was close, but not yet gone. I plan to check later this evening to see if today was the day. If not, then I would be surprised if it makes it past tomorrow as it is getting very close.
    I guess that about covers it for this one...Talk to you all next month!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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April 22-
    Sometimes when I sit down to write, it seems like just a few days have gone by since I last wrote and sometimes it seems like weeks. I suppose there are a number of factors as to why that is so, but today it seems like it has been more than a week since I last wrote. In fact, as I was preparing the photos for the journal, I had to stop and think if some of the ones I was going to include of the weather happenings up this way on Monday really happened just 6 days ago.
    They did and I am here to talk about them. We had a bit of winter weather return to the region on Monday. Not as much winter weather as folks in northern MN got to see Monday. Some areas there saw double digit accumulations occur. For us, it was just a couple of inches of the white stuff- enough to cover the ground.
   The snow was not the only weather event going on up here Monday. We also had some very strong winds. There were storm warnings up for the western end of the big lake, with waves of 20 feet common and isolated to 30. So after my work was done for the day, the pups and I hopped in the truck and braved the icy roads to make our way down to the big lake to see what kind of a show mother nature was putting on down there.
    The winds were blowing out of the north-northeast, which is a slightly different direction than they usually blow when they are blowing hard. None the less, as we headed down the hill and the lake came into view, it was a mix of it's normal deep blue and streaks of whitecaps. With the winds out of the northeast and the off shore reef, I figured the waves would not be too big at Eagle River and that was true. However, just up the road a piece, the shoreline takes on a more easterly trajectory and that allowed some of the big rollers to get closer to shore and be photographed. It's sometimes hard to capture the true size of the waves during a storm. The last photo had some reference in it with the tree and boulders, but in an open water shot like this, monsters can end up looking like your average run-of-the-mill wave. For what it is worth, the wave in that last shot would have probably rolled over most of a single story ranch home.
    A little further up the road, the coastline gets a lot more ragged, with little in the way of beach and mostly scenarios where water meets rock. Each time I got out of the truck to snap a photo, I was met with some of the rawest weather I have ever tried to take a picture in. Temps were around 24 degrees, it was snowing and the wind was blowing around 35-40 mph. For safety sake, I left the pups in the truck, but they kept an eye on me too, to make sure no trouble be felled me.
    The raw weather also left it's mark on objects near the waters edge, as the spray from the waves coated trees, rocks and even buildings in a layer of ice. Before heading back into the comfort of the heated truck, I snapped one more shot of the angry lake and was glad that I was not out on it in a boat- of any size!
    With that thought in mind, when I got home, I checked a website I check from time to time called marinetraffic.com to see if there were any ships out braving the storm. There were a few, but they were all doing their best to hide from the storm. The Coast Guard ship Alder was in Bete Gris Bay, taking advantage of the protection that the Bear Bluffs and the rest of the Keweenaw provides. 2 transport ships were hugging the far northern shoreline of the big lake and the rest were all in port.
    While I sat cozy inside the cabin, checking the status of ships on Lake Superior via the internet, the pups were doing their best to take full advantage of what might be the last snowfall of the season. We'll see on that one.
    By Tuesday, the storm was all over. The winds had died off to a gentle breeze and by the afternoon, the skies had even cleared. That melted off most of Monday's snow and what was not melted off on Tuesday fell victim to a steady all-day rain on Wednesday. It was such an ugly day on Wednesday, I would have stayed in all day, but we had to pick up Grace from the sitters early and the pups were also anxious to head to town to check out what was waiting for us at the post office. 
    As ugly as Wednesday was, I was thinking how nice just one day of that would be in the summer. Not that our summers are hot and dry or anything, but we generally do not see an all day soaker occur and the past several summers have been pretty dry- at least at times. Now watch, we will have a bunch of all day rains this summer, now that I said that!
    The week finished off pretty nice, with mostly sunny skies for Friday and yesterday and yesterday I got out for a short ATV ride with a friend from the site. We did not have a lot of time allocated for the ride, but none the less were able to take in some very pretty Keweenaw scenery, such as this waterfall. We also were able to find some waterholes to have to go through on the trails. Which bodes well for next weekend, which is our gang's annual spring ATV ride. We usually try and do it when there is still some snow left and the puddles are at their largest, but that all took us by surprise when we should have still been riding in March. So it does not look like there will be snow around for our spring ATV ride, but there should be plenty of water holes.
    I have also been getting out into the woodshop a bit this past week. Not as much as I would like (which may not even be possible, given how much I love to be out there), but enough to put a solid dent in my latest project- a bed stand for our bedroom. Needless to say, we are really crunched for space in this cabin of ours, even more so with the pups and Gracie. So in order to eek out a little more storage space in the bedroom, I am building this stand which will include space for 7 storage drawers underneath. For those woodworkers out there, I may have something of interest for you all. It is my single stage dust collector. You can read more about it here, but the short story is I upgraded to a more powerful two stage machine and this one is no longer needed, but works great.
    I guess my final word for this entry will be that the Laurium Glacier is still around. I went by on Friday evening and saw that it had melted some since my last visit, but that it still had a few days to go. So I will be checking it every day this week and I guess the big questions is; will it last until May. Quite honestly, I am amazed it has lasted this long, given the strange weather the past few months.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 15-
    It will be interesting to see where this entry leads us. We are still at the time of the year where little is happening up here. In fact, many of the tourist related business are either shut down or on very limited schedules right now. Of course our economy up here in the Keweenaw is much more diverse than just tourism, so it's not like the area is a ghost town with stores closed, but you do need to be sure that some of the more tourist related businesses in Keweenaw County are open before you make the trek.
    As for the Dee's, we have been chugging along. Not much exciting to report on. All of our health is good, although I still battle some days with tiredness and a bit of fluid build up. It seems to be brought on by either lack of sleep and especially having a cold. I caught a cold back in March and still have a bit of a cough now and then and I think that is what is causing me to still have days when my energy is low- like today. It is not anything like last year at this time when every day was like this, so I am not too concerned and I also was feeling this same way back in late Dec and early Jan and went and had a full round of looking at and the Dr's said my heart pumping function was just fine and that I probably just walk the line between feeling 100% and feeling off and it does not take much to push me to the feeling off side. I suppose if in another couple of weeks I still do not feel good pretty much every day, then I will put in a call to the big guns at the Mayo and see if they have any ideas, but for now, like I say, I do have my very good days too. I just wish they were all like that as I hate not having energy to do all I want.
    The rest of the family sure has energy- especially Grace and the pups. The pups got their annual lube, oil and filter in early March and were a few pounds heavier than they should, so we have trimmed their food back a bit and also are back to taking our regular walks now that my leg healed and Huck has lost 3 pounds, while Millie is a bikini model, five pounds lighter! I think all the chasing squirrels and chipmunks is helping too. They will run around for an hour straight chasing them if they can- especially Millie. She is the hunter of the two. Huck just does what ever looks fun at the moment.
    Grace is entertaining us all too. She is a little over 2 1/2, going on 13! A pure sweet heart, but also her own person and as head strong as anyone I have ever known. I have no fear that she will be pushed around in life, but I fear for how soon I may be not be able to keep from being manipulated! She is trying hard already, but luckily Nora and I are able catch what is happening and stay one step ahead.
    She is still as fearless as ever and her new thing on the playground is to get a running start and superman (or superwoman) onto the swing and then fly through the air. I tried to get a picture of her completely airborne on her way to the swing and could not time it properly, but here is one that was pretty close
    All of this daredevil stuff scares the beegeebers out of Nora, so the other day I taught Grace to say in her best Austin Powers accent "Danger is my middle name". I might have to back off that one though as this little girl does not need any confidence boosting at the moment! When she does get hurt, she pretty much shrugs it off. On Friday, she was climbing on the wood pile and slipped. She did not fall far and did fall on her feet a bit and then onto her bum, but she also got some nasty abrasions on her back. I mean, anyone would have been writhing in pain. Graces initial reaction seemed actually to be mad that it happened and be mad at the pain. She did cry a bit, but then about 60 seconds later was onto the next adventure. Her favorite saying upon recovery from an injury is that she is "rough and tough and plenty good looking". That was actually a saying of my dads and it brings me great joy to hear her say it and I know he is looking down from the heavens with great pride.
    Grace is also really getting into work. Nora and, to a lesser extent, me have been doing some spring cleaning around here. Yesterday it was beautiful out and we all were doing yard work. Grace really wanted to pitch in and help. Today was inside cleaning and Grace was actually a little upset that we were not going to be washing the windows, so we let her wash the front sliding doors. The pups enjoyed supervising.
    The weather has been a little schizophrenic, wit some days in the 60's and then others in the 40's. Yesterday was the 60's and tomorrow looks like some snow will fall. It's actually not that unusual to have either at this time of the year and I will take it over tornados or even high heat and humidity. Even the cooler temps are warm enough for us to get out and do something and it is still too cool for bugs.
    I swung by the Laurium Glacier yesterday and it is still there, although I think by later this week, I will need to start keeping a close eye on it. It probably does not have much more than a week to ten days left- unless we stay cold and/or get much new snow.
    So other than that, I guess that is all I have to report on at the moment.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
April 8-
    Happy Easter Everyone! Before I get into the meat of this weeks entry, I am happy to report that the AL Cam looks to be alive once again. My apologies for it being hit and miss for so long, but one of the "automatic" windows updates through the operation of the camera I was using into a tailspin. It had to do with the drivers and when I went to update the driver for the cam, it did not work at all. So I picked up a new cam back when snow was still on the ground, but the replacement required me to be outside for much of the work as well as open up the chase that the camera cable goes through to get from outside into the house. All things that I would much rather do when the weather was a bit nicer. So I tried to let the cam run from time to time, but what would happen is when things went bad, the whole computer would just suddenly reboot, which is not good when I am in the middle of doing very important work.
    We had all that warm weather back in mid March, but still had snow on the ground and then things got kind of chilly again, but yesterday we hit 63 and it was sunny, so I went about finally replacing things. All seems to be going well so far. It is a newer cam, so it has a higher resolution, high def actually, but I am running it at a slightly lower res to save bandwith. Still a nice clear pic though and hopefully it will run on autopilot for a long time to come like the previous one did.
    Since it has been two weeks since I last wrote, I do have quiet a bit to share, including 27 pictures. Most of them are of Gracie with a few being the pups and some of the woods as such up here. So sit back and relax, this will probably be a long one!
    Going back about 11-12 days, the weather was still a little crisp out, but warm enough to get out and play, so we all headed out and Grace got some saddle time in on the swing given to us last September. She still loves that playground as much as the day we got it and I am so glad that she likes to play outside. That is the way I grew up (limited TV, you played outside) and I was hoping that she would like the outdoors as that is a big thing of what makes living in the Keweenaw so special. Of course the pups get all excited when we are getting ready to go outside and are very good at entertaining themselves while Nora and I play with Grace. Although we do pay with them as well and Grace is getting involved with that play time with the pups as well. It will be really fun to see Grace play with the pups in a few years. 
    Besides playing on the playground, one of Graces favorite things to do is to climb. She will climb anything there is to climb and I am planning on making her a little toddler climbing wall on her playground soon. In the mean time, she finds any tree that looks like it will be good for climbing and will use what ever method is best for the job.
    It seems like more than 5 weeks ago, but the very early part of March came in snowy. In fact, the snow depth the day I left for WY (March 4th) was the deepest depth we had had all season and probably the deepest depth in a few seasons. The unprecedented thaw in mid March took it all away, but the month could not finish without one last bit of snow and on the morning of the 30th we had a period of light snow whiten the ground. Certainly not enough to play in and it all melted by mid afternoon, but was enough to remind us all of where we live and to give the locals something to grumble about.
    My absence last week was due to a family trip Nora, Gracie and I took for spring break. No Florida this year. We are trying to save our pennies to start the new living quarters for us this autumn, but more on that in another entry sometime. 
    Nora and I still wanted to get away and take Grace to someplace fun and what's the next best thing after Florida for spring break? Duluth! Well, maybe not the next best thing, but it does have things that would entertain Grace as well as Nora and I and was a cheap alternative, so that is where we went. We stayed at the hotel that has the waterpark inside it (more on that in a bit) and also took in the aquarium and zoo. Plus we spent some time in the mall and I spent some time at Acme Tools :)
    The aquarium was nice and pretty impressive for a town the size of Duluth. I am used to the Shed Aquarium in Chicago with all of it's fresh and salt water exhibits, but Duluth's is primarily a fresh water one, with just a few salt water tanks. Anyway, Grace had a ball looking at all the fish. Here is a shot of her and I overlooking the harbor and their lift bridge (I think the Keweenaw's is better looking). Here I am pointing out to her where our house is on a map of the Lake Superior region (wouldn't mind having a map like that in my next office!). Here is Grace checking out the tank with fish like musky and sturgeon in it. They say you are never too old to learn something new and I learned that there are freshwater stingrays. The Duluth Aquarium had one and you could actually pet it. It actually liked to be pet as when Grace leaned over the tank, it started to climb up the side of the tank to get closer to her. Pretty cool! Pretty cool that Grace was completely fearless to stick her hand in there too!
    After the aquarium, it was decided by a unanimous vote that we should get some ice cream, so that is what we did. After the ice cream, I took Nora and Grace back to the hotel and they got in a nice nap. I went to a really neat tool store called Acme Tools. It is setup for professionals and I had a ball there. I am a total tool junkie. That would be my true addiction. I can never have enough tools, but try very hard to see if it is possible! They don't go to waste though, I have built our house with them and build our furniture with them and fix our toys with them. Still, I am a total tool freak and that store was awesome to be in! Good thing it is not any closer, or I would be there at least once a month! In a few years, I can see us going to Duluth, Nora and Grace dropping me off at that store and then heading to the mall for few hours! The really good thing about that place is that on my next stop in, when I buy too much to bring home in the vehicle, they have trailers you can buy to put all the stuff in and bring home! OK, enough of that.
    The view from our hotel room was pretty cool, it overlooked Lake Superior, which on Monday was really rough, with a stiff breeze out of the NNE. Several ships left port while we were there and it was interesting to see them leave port, then anchor for several hours just outside of port, before moving on. Not sure why they did that, perhaps to secure the hatches before heading out onto the open waters. Here is one such ship anchored out in front of our room.
    The main reason why we chose Duluth was for the waterpark in the hotel we stayed in. I know the Dells has probably the premiere indoor waterparks in the country, but they are a bit much for Grace at her age right now and we did not feel like putting up with all the masses and not be able to take advantage of all the rides, so the smaller park in Duluth seemed to make sense. Grace had a total ball and is still talking about it. Her favorite thing to do was to climb up the rope ladder to the tube slides, avoiding the waterfall that would occur from time to time and then head down the tube slide to make a big splash at the bottom. She did this almost the entire time we were down at the park and Nora and I took turns being the glutton that had to take the dousing from what we nicknamed "the bucket from he-double tooth picks". It was a giant bucket on top of the tube slide setup that would fill with water and then dump out every minute or so. A lot of fun if you are a kid wanting to splash around in the water, but probably against the Geneva Convention if you are an adult just there to make sure your kid does not get hurt or drown on the slides. 
    The waterpark also had a "lazy river" a pool with basketball hoops and balls and then two big tube slides. Grace and I did go down the one big tube slide once, but only once. They did not allow her to wear her swim floaties and I had to sit with her on my legs and not on my lap (we were on a double tube) and it was pitch black inside the tube, so I could not see where the next turn was and thus could not anticipate which way to keep Grace from flying off my legs. I was able to keep her on my legs and not off the ride, but not a ton of fun for dear old dad- although Nora said I should have seen the smile on Graces face as we came out of the tube into the landing pool. I am learning that the more terrifying something is for the average human being, the more fun it is for Grace. I just hope we can stay out of the emergency department for a few more years at least!
    The next day was a day to visit the zoo. Sometimes it pays to be a meteorologist as the day we went to the aquarium it was cloudy, about 45-50 degrees with a NNE wind of 25-35 mph- not a good day to be outside for too long and the next day was around 60, sunny with just a gentile breeze. Perfect to be outside. Again, the zoo was not spectacular, but pretty impressive for a city the size of Duluth. I think Graces favorite part was watching the groundhogs run around and scurry into their holes. And no, I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that they are my competition. She also enjoyed feeding some goats.
    After the zoo, we headed east and back home. Duluth is really not that far away, right around 4 hours or so. We stopped for a snack and to fill up with gas in Superior and then Grace was lucky enough to sleep just about all of the rest of the way home. She started coming too around Bruce Crossing and was fully awake by around Mass City, which is the final hour of our trip. We had boarded the pups at our friend's kennels- Top Dog Kennels and even though they were only there for about 3 days, the pups were really happy to see us. Of course they get excited to see me when I run into the post office for 60 seconds! Gotta love a dog!
    Nora had the rest of the week off and Grace also stayed home from the sitter the rest of the week. I worked both in Duluth and when we got home, but did get out with the family to enjoy the weather the second half of this week. 
    We took to the woods the other afternoon and of course Grace did some climbing and more climbing an then into the woodshed to do some more climbing. Sure shows how times have changed when she actually ASKS if she can go into the woodshed? :) Of course it has not been all fun and play. While out in the woods, we had a visit from our neighbors dog, Hannabelle. She is actually a sister of Huck and Millie from the previous litter. She must have heard us in the woods and came to visit. Huck and Millie love to play with her and we had fun visiting with our neighbor and watching the three pups play. Hannabelle is the bigger yellow on the right.
    With all of the snow gone (almost), we did some spring yard work and it is really neat to see her excited to do work. Only 2 1/2 years old, but already has a pretty good work ethic. Not the pups. We asked them to help, but they just looked as us with this disappointment that we were picking up all the sticks that they had spent all winter pulling out of the woods and into the yard! So they took off into the woods to find some more!
    This was the first Easter that Grace could look forward to the bunny coming. She got into the egg hunt right away and found all of them before the morning was too far along. She also did not waste anytime biting the head off the chocolate bunny.
    So that just about covers it. As mentioned, just about all of the snow is gone. Here is a shot of the Laurium Glacier taken this morning on our way home from church. Looks like another 2 to maybe 3 weeks left- all depending on the weather. Here is a shot of the Allouez Township Glacier (where the snow piles up next to the shop) taken a day ago. I would say it will be gone by Tuesday.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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