December 30-
    Wow, final entry for the month and the year! It's been a whirlwind of activity the past 10 days or so. In the last entry I spoke about being all out of whack in what day it was because of the pre-Christmas hoopla. I am still a bit out of sorts as to what day it is and I suppose that may actually continue for another week, until the holidays and holiday week is over.
    We all actually traveled south for Christmas to spend it with my family at my mom's in southern WI. The last entry was actually written from there and I think that was part of the confusion of what day it was. It was great to see my family and Gracie was very excited and very happy to see her grandma, uncles, nieces and nephew. Nora and I enjoyed having someone else keep an eye on Gracie and even had a little date, going to lunch together on Sunday. With no family in the area up here, our free time from Gracie watching is very limited. So it was nice to have a small army of relatives around to give us a break. Although I did have to chuckle at the fact that she pretty much wore all of them down...one at a time.
    I am still trying to work through the changes involved with my computer upgrade. I sure got into a nice groove with my previous setup and am struggling a bit with some of the upgraded software and the new methods they require me to do things. Even simple things like resizing the photos. I struggled with the new Photoshop program I installed, so went to another program to resize the images and then back to Photoshop to do the small retouching of brightness, contrast and color levels I typically do. I am positive that the version of Photoshop I am running now will resize the images, but after around 10 minutes of trying to get it to work, I gave up. I will just need to play around with the program a bit and get things figured out.
    Anyway, back to the past week. We arrived at my moms on Saturday and stayed through Wednesday morning. Nora really does a great job with finding some neat outfits for Grace and not busing the bank in the process. The latest example was a cute "church coat" and hat that she picked up somewhere on line. The coat and hat was even used to go to church on Sunday and then Christmas Eve service on Monday.
    Gracie is has now reached that age where Christmas is getting really fun. In all honesty, I think she was more excited to go down and see her relatives, but all the goodies that Christmas brought was a close second. She has not reached the age where she is up at 4 am, waking us up to open presents, in fact we had to wake her up, but once up, she was rip-roaring and ready to go. She had a blast opening all of her presents as well as watching others and then it was time to take a closer look at some of the goodies that Santa brought, or spend a quieter moment with one of her uncles, reading the new princess book she got, while decked out in her new fairy wings.
    In the afternoon, we all went down to my aunts to spend the afternoon and evening with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Then a quick sleep, get up early to get my morning work done, then pack the truck (a pretty massive undertaking in itself!) and make the trip home. I must have been really excited to get back home because it seemed to take forever to get here, but we arrived, unpacked the truck, got a little settled in and then had our own family Christmas, opening the presents we all got for each other. It was cute, because we all took turns opening a gift and Grace was just as excited to watch Nora and I open ours as she was to open one of hers. A quick bath, some play time with our new presents and then off to bed to wake up and start the work day on Thursday!
    Then on Friday, after getting my morning work done and going on the morning walk with the pups, I headed off to an undisclosed location to go snowmobiling with friends, but not before stopping for lunch and to get my midday work done. 
    As I was loading up the sled to head off to go chase snow, I almost could not believe that it was December 28th and we still did not have enough snow to really be able to get out and ride in. I mean, if one were really desperate, they could have rode, but things were really thin around here. I sure am getting tired of these wimpy winter we are having. I know things in the weather happens in peaks and valleys, I guess I just thought that after the past 2-3 being on the weak side, we would be treated to a good old fashioned on this season. It sure is starting to look like that will not be the case. Things can and do change in a hurry around here, but things will have to hurry up and change, or this will be another weak season.
    It did feel good to get out and ride and was fun to get some miles on the new sled. It ran great and it was fun to be on a shorter tracked sled. There was a pretty decent amount of snow on the ground where we rode (Marquette County), but not enough that a full-fledged mountain sled was needed. We spent most of the weekend playing in the bush on some logging roads, two tracks and at times in areas where there was no formal path cleared through the woods at all. The snow from last weeks storm was still pretty well stuck to all of the trees, so the woods were very beautiful to be in.
    We hooked up with some locals to ride with as well and it was nice to have them take us to some of the fun off trail places to ride. While I have yet to see every nook and cranny of the Keweenaw, I have seen most of it, so it's always fun to ride a new area and see new sights. The weather was good too. No new fresh snow to speak of, other than a few flurries, while we rode, but temps were in the low to mid 20's which makes for some comfortable conditions while taking the pit stops, such as this one to enjoy some mini-weenies cooked up in a hot-dogger.
    The rides went well, with no casualties, just some sore muscles that have not been used in 9 months. Hopefully the snows will start to get deeper at home. We did pick up around 2" of fluff while I was away and some more looks to fall this week, but still nothing that looks to pile up to really deep levels.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one, other than to say the Ride-In is approaching pretty quick. I just 5 weeks it will be all over with. Many have already registered, but we still have some room, so be sure to head over to the registration page and get signed up if you are planning to attend.
    Have a safe and happy new year celebration everyone and talk to you all next week!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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December 23-
    Better late than never I guess! Boy, I was getting so caught up in the pre-Christmas hoopla, that I completely forgot it was even Sunday! Honest truth too! I did my usual Sunday work this morning and then even forgot to send it out late this afternoon. I did that and then also realized I still needed to write a journal tonight. So here I am! This will likely be a shorter one than is typical as I really am in the midst of some family, Christmas hoopla, but I also consider all of you my "extended" family and just could not leave you out in the cold this eve of Christmas Eve.
    So what has been going on. Well, we were sideswiped by the big storm this week. Not a total miss, but nothing like what happened in areas to both our south and east. The Marquette are seemed to be the winners of the UP and possibly the winner from the Midwest, with a weather reporter just SW of Ishpeming measuring 20" from the storm. We picked up a very wet and sloppy 5.5 inches out of the storm to add to the 1-2 inches we already had. So we now have a pretty solid 6-7" on the ground. A really nice base and if this were November 23rd rather than December 23rd, I would say we are off to a pretty good start. I guess the only bright spot is the fact that temps look to stay cold enough to preserve the snow we have and a bit of LES looks to fall off and on this week. No big dumps and I'd say for the week as a whole, probably not much more than 3-4", but we will take any we can get. There are ideas that as we get to the weekend and beyond the cold air could start to intensify and a few clipper systems could get the lake snow guns going at a stronger clip.
    I do have to say that with the potential for 6 or more inches of snow to fall in areas like eastern OK and much of AR, it is strangely possible that those areas could have more snow on the ground for Christmas than we do in the Keweenaw, but I guess that is how it goes sometimes.
    The week was a pretty busy one, mainly because I played Mr. Mom Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The woman who takes such great care of Grace during the day had a son home with the flu and even though everyone in our household got the flu shot, we decided not to tempt fate, so Gracie stayed home. It seems to have worked as we all stayed healthy this week, but also made most of my days a blur!
    Grace is very well behaved and does very well entertaining herself, but is also very inquisitive and a real chatterbox, so to try and get much done that requires any real long-lived train of thought can be a real challenge, with the "hey Daddy" happening every 3 minutes! Nora was great when she came home from work though, taking over and letting me unwind and get anything I needed to as well. Huck was a big help during the day too. He loves her so much and she loves him too. Millie and Gracie are also good friends, but I think there is a little bit of sibling rivalry going on there, whereas the relationship between Huck and Gracie is all fun and no competition. 
    The other big event (before Grace started spending all day at home) was to get the Ride-in raffle sled moved from M&M Powersports to the Mosquito Bar. Getting the sled in and out of M&M was not much of an issues at all as they have a showroom and thus have the doors at the front setup in a way that you can open them up enough to easily bring a sled in. The Mosquito? well, that was a different story. Measurements were taken and all looked like it would be fine, until we tried to get the sled through the doorways. 
    It turns out the measurements were a bit off. We managed to get the sled about halfway into the foyer, but that was as far as she was going without taking the doors off. So the doors were removed and the sled slipped into the bar and then off to its own private stage
    It will be at the Mosquito through early January, so those coming up to ride or just hang out between the holidays will be able to stop in and check it out. I think I am also going to visit the other two spots it is suppose to be at during January and see how involved it will be getting it into those locales and if it's a big job, them perhaps it will stay at the Mosquito a little longer and perhaps head back to M&M for a while until the ride in. We'll see and I will be sure to keep you all updated as to where it is at. I did get a call from Donna at the Mosquito to tell me that they sold out of the tickets I brought down to them. I know I brought at least 30 and maybe even 40, so that's good news! I think that brings the total number of tickets sold to around 200 so far!
    I brought Huck and Millie with me when I moved the sled on Tuesday and figured I would let them run in the woods for a while down by the Mosquito. Due to the issues with getting the sled into the Mosquito, they ended having to stay in the truck longer than I had planned, so they were very happy to be able to jump out and romp and play in the snow for a while.
    So I guess that about gets you updated, which means my final duty tonight is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I really do consider you all my extended family (although the cabin might be a little too small for you all to be invited over to for Christmas dinner!) and wish you all the best for this Christmas!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
December 16-
    How's that adage go? The Lord will not give me any more than I can handle, but sometimes I wish he did not have so much faith in me? That's been my week this week. It started out with a blown forecast, with the big storm last week passing to the south. I know, I know, I've blow so many of them I should be use to it right?! Well, I tell ya, you never get used to it and it always stings. It is even of little help that I was joined by all the other forecasts out there. It just stinks, especially when so may hopes were riding on it. Mine included. This weekend was suppose to be a weekend filled with riding with buddies I have made from the site, so the storm missing was a double whammy of disappointment for me.
   Then to top it off, I get a couple of e mails of rage sent my way. Now, usually that does not bother me. If I miss a forecast, I am fine with someone being disappointed in it. I know their disappointment, because I have been there. A very small part of the reason why I became a meteorologist was because I just could not understand how they could get it so wrong all the time?! So I joined their club and now I know! What bothered me about the two e mails earlier this week is that they held little to no merit in their complaints. They were either complaining about a week old forecast not coming true (my latest forecast for how the storm would impact them did come true for the area they were talking about), or were complaining about a forecast that still had 6 days left to it! Anyway, I guess those two just came in at a bad time for me to try and deal with it. By the next day I was fine with it all, but still not the weather.
    Storm number 2 showed promise of hitting us pretty good with snow, but as the day of reckoning came, it proved to be short of enough cold air to bring snow. We did have some sleet and then a bit of snow, but then rain and it is even raining as I type.
    Another challenge this week was a major computer upgrade I was doing. I have been using the same computers for all of my work for at least the past 6-7 years. I have picked up some new machines over the past few years as laptops to help me with my work when I am on the road, but the home/office machines were starting to show their wear and tear and when I called some computer guys over to help me try and work out the bugs that were starting to appear, I was told that my CPU or motherboard was just getting old and that it would be best if I just replaced my main working machine. Keep in mind that ALL of my website is contained on my working machine (as well as on the webserver and a back up location), plus all of my regular work and all the programs I use to do all of my work. So this is not simply, get a new computer, turn it on, start browsing and away we go! There are at least a half dozen pretty specialized programs that need to run and the computer also needs to be able to talk to the other computers on my home network and of course all the data that is my website and other work duties needs to be put on the new machine. So I have the computer guys do that as it would just be too much for my "know enough to make me dangerous" computer skills. The transfer of all the data and most of the programs goes well, but some of the older programs will not work on the new windows operating system.
     So the poor computer guy spends a ton of time at our place earlier this week trying to get all the programs I need to run, running. In the mean time, I am on the verge of panic mode, thinking how am I going to get my stuff out in the morning if we don't get things to work? Enough end-arounds were figured out and by the time the computer guys leaves, we have all the processes that I need to run, running. Then comes the next morning. One thing does not work, then another, then the computer crashes and will not recover, then it decides it no longer wants to be on my network, so 3 hours of work is suddenly trapped on a machine that will not make a connection to the internet, nor will it allow any other computer into it! All as I was just getting ready to do my big morning send to all my customers! Yea, I was in a very bad place. 
    I manage to get through things that morning and try again the next morning, but from the onset the problems are even worse. So...new computer... you are out of the game. Go ride the pine baby... I plug in the old box and get through my day. I have since been running off of my old computer the rest of this past week and the computer guys are coming out on Wednesday to try again. So I guess I am not the only one to get paid to be wrong! Oh, did I mention taking my truck in to have a job that I was told would take 45 minutes and cost me (x) dollars end up taking 3 1/2 hours and costing me (x) times 4 more dollars? Heck, some folks not only get paid to be wrong, they get paid MORE!!!
   Ahhh, but alas, I survived the week. The snow is almost all gone and we are nearly back to the starting gate for the 3rd time this season. I was going to go on more of a rant about mother nature, but to be perfectly honest, I have belly ached enough about my week and it's not mother natures (or God's) fault. The weather does what it does. It does not do what it does to make me unhappy. I get unhappy because I make the choice to be unhappy. So this morning I decided I was not going to let it get to me and just be happy for the things I can be happy for and you know what? It worked. Sure it would have been fun to have to ride with a snorkel in my mouth with my buddies this weekend because the snow was so deep, but it didn't happen. Life goes on and there are plenty of things in my life to be happy about.
     Plus, the week was not all filled with challenges and stress. There were moments of joy, like watching Gracie take her first very own snowmobile ride. Yep, after taking that family picture I just shared with you, we asked her if she wanted to ride her new snowmobile and she looked at us like: "do bears.....in the woods?". Well, maybe not quite like that, but there was a very enthusiastic YES! So we got her all suited up and I gave her a rundown of how to steer, where the throttle was, where the brake was and strict instructions of: "when in doubt, throttle out!".
    Actually, I have to say, for as much of a dare devil that she is, I was amazed at how gingerly she gave it throttle. I was really expecting her to just grab a handful and either tumble off the back or have me running at full speed to catch her and hit the kill switch. She even listened to her dear old dad as I gave her some pointers. Of course there were a few moments of me running after her to hit the kill switch, but for it being her first time every controlling a sled and she only being 3 years old, I thought she did awesome. And made sure to tell her so.
     Another bright spot to the week was heading to Calumet for all the Christmas celebrations going on there yesterday. Actually, the do things every Saturday in December, but yesterday they had some sled dog teams from the CopperDog race there and were giving rides in the dog sleds.
    But first was the visit with Santa. Here is a shot of Gracie waiting patiently to see Santa. Notice the blue line behind her? I guess you could call that the line to cross to have Santa see right through you and determine if you were naughty or nice. Many a brave kid has confidently walked up to that line, only to go weak in the knees and faint of heart and decide to just take their chances as to if Santa really knows the truth about that naughty or nice thing. As for Gracie... Well, she walked up to the line, but also drew a little closer to me for security purposes, but did cross the line and cautiously walked up to see Santa. After a brief exchange came to the conclusion that all was well and gave Santa "five". Sitting on the lap? Well, that will have to wait for another year, but she did get close enough...but not too close...for a pose with the jolly one. Is it me getting older, or is Santa getting younger? Never mind.
    After that, it was back out into the cold to wait for the horse drawn wagon ride through downtown Calumet. As we rode through downtown Calumet, I could not help but notice some of the very old, but still magnificent in their architecture, buildings in a state of disrepair. Some have been restored very nicely, but there are still a lot of others that look like they are about to fall down. Very sad and I wish that something could be done to save those grand old buildings. Anyway, after the ride, Grace went around to thank the horses for their tour and we were off to the next adventure- the sled dogs.
    We got there a little early, but that worked in our favor as Gracie was able to visit some of the dogs. They all were very friendly and Grace laughed and played with as many as she could. Then it was time to stand in line to take our turn being pulled around the park by the dogs. No such luck for me this year, but Gracie did get paired up with a sweet girl and they got into the sled and got ready for their ride. The dogs are so neat, the just love to run and pull and the drivers actually have to work hard to keep the whole kit and caboodle from going too fast. Not that there probably is such a thing for Grace, but she had tons of fun either way.
    Speaking of dogs, I guess I would be a little remiss in posting 17 pictures and just able all of them being the Gracie Dee show. So here is one of Huck and Mille showing their affection for each other.
    I guess that about covers it for this one. Sure wish I had pictures of us playing in the powder, but I guess that will have to wait for another entry. Funny how just a few weeks ago, the question was if this was going to be a winter where we challenged the all time record and now the idea of a white Christmas is a little questionable!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
December 9-
    I'm afraid that this entry is not going to be as long as I thought it would. For most of the week, it looked like we would get a decent sized snow event to start up late Saturday night and continue through today, tonight and tomorrow. There is still some snow headed our way, but looks to be a day late and probably more than a dollar short. I am feeling a bit like I had the rug yanked out from underneath me. All week, I did not let the melting of the remaining snow and the absence of any new snow get to me as I just focused on the prize for the weekend. Well, not mother nature has decided to yank the prize right from my hands and has me kind of bummed out.
    I also thought that since there was snow coming for today, that I would not bother trying to get too many shots of bare ground up here during the week, that I would just wait for the snow to paint everything a nice white and then get out and play in it with the girls and the pups and share all of those pictures. Sorry folks. No fun shots of us all playing in the snow. In fact, Nora has been MIA for most of the weekend, going out hunting with her brothers that made the trip north.
    As mentioned, the last of the decent snow cover we had going into last weekend melted. We actually hung onto much of it into Monday morning, but then like happens so often during at thaw, the final 12 hours were the hardest to take. I went from a solid 6" on the ground Monday morning to none over the septic field, which is the background for the AL Cam, to around 1-2" in the woods. Most of the rest of that melted on Wednesday. We did pick up a sloppy inch or so Thursday morning, but then that melted off later Thursday.
    So here we sit with nearly bare ground. Yes it will snow soon (perhaps even in a few hours) and there looks to be some shots of LES this week and perhaps even some meaningful system snow towards the end of the week, but I am sick of seeing bare ground.
    Not to beat a dead horse any more, but the bare ground is also keeping me from taking the new ride for a spin. Yep, Friday, the new sled from Rt12 Arctic Cat arrived. I was very excited to see what it was. I mean, I knew which model it was going to be, but I did not know which edition of that model it was going to be, nor did I know what color it was going to be. So when the trailer pulled into the drive way on Friday, I was as giddy as a school kid on the final day of school for the season. We opened it up and right away I could see that it was the black limited edition of the High Country Crossfire. Being in the trailer I could not get a real good look at it, so I was still very excited to back it off the trailer and get into the garage to check it out. 
    It's funny, I am probably one of the only ones that I know that gets a new sled every year and never even sees more than just a few pictures of it in a brochure before it arrives. I suppose there are those that might order up a first year model, or perhaps some spring check sleds before they are available to be seen in person, but I am always wondering if the sled will look better or worse than it did in the brochure. I know opinions can vary, but I know this years sled that showed up looks WAY better in person that it did in the brochure. So, for the first time in about 10 years, I will have something other than a mountain sled in the stable. This is not a pure trail sled either, it is Arctic Cat's crossover sled, souped up to make it even more able to boondock. It has a 141" track with 2.25" lugs on it. The chassis is the same one as the 153" mountain sled and it has many of the other mountain sled features, like the open running boards, adjustable handlebars. The one thing it does have that is more trail friendly than boondocking friendly is a wider ski stance. That wider ski stance will make it more difficult to toss around, but is already being taken care of as Rt12 has a front end kit for this years mountain sleds ordered up. That kit will narrow up the stance to 38". I think that will make it the nearly perfect UP boondocking sled. It is a very rare occasion when I need all 153" of my track and on those days, then I will take out the 153" sled! :) Man am I ever spoiled!
    Ahhhh, but wait...there's more! The stealth (name i am giving the new sled) was not the only new sled to arrive in the barn. Yesterday, I met up with some visitors to the site that I had hung out with for a while the night before Haydays and they said they had a pink 120 that they might be getting rid of. So I told them to put me on the list of persons interested in the sled and as luck would have it, I was at the top of the list. So yesterday I drove down to Houghton and met up with them and then came up with the sled. 
    The idea was for us to not wait for Christmas to give to Gracie, but rather wait for today and the snow to pile up and then surprise her. Well, she's a pretty sharp and observant 3 year old. I pulled into the driveway and I could see her in the kitchen, on the countertop helping Nora get ready for dinner. She saw me pull in and I figured she probably saw the very top of the sled in the back of the truck. When I went inside, Nora said she thought Grace had not seen the sled, but after greeting me and telling me how much she missed me, she looked out at the truck, then went around and climbed onto the recliner to get a better view and said something about something in the back of my truck. We asked her what she thought she saw and she said: "A snowmobile for me?!" We all laughed very loud about her figuring it out. I suppose I should have been better at trying to hide it, but perhaps deep down I was excited for her see it and did not mind if she spotted it a day early.
    So, there are now three sleds in the shop and Gracie is even more excited for it to snow. This morning we went out to take some pictures of her on her new ride and then came into the house. As I was doing some work upstairs in my "office", she called up to me and asked when did I think the snowstorm would start. My answer was later on...probably after we have lunch. To which she replied: "can we have lunch now?"! I know that there is not a single strand of my DNA in her, but you would never know it when she says things like that!
    Getting back to the lack of snow on the ground. One bonus as been the fact that the pups and I can take our little jaunt into the bush during our morning walks. I really thought that we were done with those for the rest of the snow season with all we had on the ground a week ago, but were able to get back on that stretch on Tuesday. Then on Friday, I snapped what I though might be the last shot of the pups off on the two track that takes us into the bush. I knew that Nora would be hunting yesterday morning and again this morning, so would have to stay home and watch Gracie and not take the walk, and then there would be too much snow by tomorrow to walk in unplowed areas. Well, who knows, maybe we will be able to take that path again tomorrow morning.
    Yesterday, while Nora was out hunting, Grace and I played some games. I feel kind of bad for the fact that she does not have any brothers or sisters to play with and we live in the sticks with no neighborhood kids to play with. Once school starts, I am sure that she will be making friends and will want to have them over, or go to their house, but for now her main source of entertainment is what we can provide for her, so I try and do as much as I can with her in the form of playing. Yesterday morning we broke out the Disney Princess edition of Candy Cane Lane and the Saving Nemo edition of Go Fish. She schooled me pretty good in the first round of Candy Cane Lane, but then I got rid of that slacker playing piece Princess Aurora and went with the hard working and gritty Snow White and ended up taking round two. Then she went to her closer- Cinderella, for the final round and Snow White just could not hang in there and Grace won the rubber match. Go fish ended in a draw as we both got hungry and wanted to have lunch. Tonight, there is talk of a heated contest of Chutes and Ladders, complete with a big old bowl of popcorn!
     So that JUST about covers it for this one. I have one final, and pretty big, announcement. After months (probably more than a year actually) of development, I am pleased and proud to announce to you that the Keweenaw Kamo retail site is finally ready. The apparel arrived early this week and I modeled some of it for Nora and then put the finishing touches on the site. Then had a few buddies beta test it and it looks like all is ready. So you can go to johndee.com/keweenawkamo/ and get the rest of your Christmas shopping done! And please do not let the picture of me modeling the had and hoodie reflect your decision on if you like it or not!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
December 2-
    I suppose you could say we are in "keep the chin up" mode around here. After a week of looking outside- not to see if it was snowing, but rather how hard it was snowing, the snow has stopped and is even melting and settling, with temps above freezing. Not a major meltdown, but a meltdown none the less. I am actually in pretty good spirits about it. First of all, it is only the 2nd of December and thaws at this time of the year are nothing unusual. Secondly, we did get into a nice snowy period for the 5-6 days following Thanksgiving and that gives hopes to more of the same for the winter and the forecast does look pretty good. Perhaps not good enough to quench the thirst of all of the snow-lovers coming to the site, I am not even sure if that is possible, but overall, I am pretty happy with the pattern I am seeing from the models for the first two weeks of December. So for all of you up in arms about the warm weather currently going on in the Midwest...patience, young grasshopper, patience. 
   So back to the near week straight of snow falling in the Keweenaw. As I wrote last Sunday, the snowflakes started flying Thanksgiving night and really did not stop coming down for much longer than an hour or two for nearly 7 days straight. At times it was just barely a flurry falling, but at other times it was really dumping. Tuesday afternoon and evening was one of those "really dumping" periods. I had to take the truck in to get the rear brakes done and was at the shop for around 2 hours. When I left the house, it was coming down pretty good, but by the time I got to Calumet, it was just snowing lightly. It did pick up in Calumet and by the time I left the shop, there was an inch or two of fresh down. When I got home, it was still coming down pretty good and there was a few inches of new snow on the driveway.
    So after dinner, we all bundled up and headed out into the snowstorm to play! I am so glad that I am married to a woman and have a child that both love the snow. Nora does start to grow a little tired of it by March, but that is perfectly understandable in an average winter up here. Grace does not have to shovel it or drive in it, so she does not have much of a reason to grow tired of it yet. The pups, well, that goes without saying. I mean as anyone ever known a Labrador retriever that did not like the snow?!  
    By the time we got out in the snow, it was completely dark out, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm any. Gracie got busy making some snow angels and then headed over to her playground to take a few drops down the slide and swing in the swing. Is that a yooper-kid for you or what? I love to watch her play and have fun in the snow and it is cute to see her cheeks and nose get all rosy from the cold. Grace was not the only one having fun in the snow. The pups were busy chasing each other around like the Dukes of Hazzard and also putting on their own version of professional wrestling.
    Like all good things, the snow play had to come to an end. It was still a weeknight and that meant an early rise. So we went inside and got all ready for bed and went to sleep watching it continue to dump. It must have slowed down some soon after the sugar plumb fairies started dancing in our heads as we did not wake up to a substantial amount of additional snow from when we went to bed, but we did have a good 7-8" of new snow on the ground that needed to be moved Wednesday morning. Here is a shot of Nora's tracks in our driveway after she left for work Wednesday morning.
    It did pick up in intensity a bit for a few hours Wednesday morning and I was able to snap this shot of a snowy Keweenaw County road on my morning walk with the pups. As I walked down that road and admired the flocked trees, it was hard to believe that just 6 days prior to that we were experiencing record highs and bare ground. It never ceases to amaze me how fast things can change around here and that is another reason why I am not too upset about the thaw currently under way. A week from now, it could be very snowy around here all over again.
    On Thursday, Adam, the person that worked so hard to restore the Ski-doo TNT to mint condition, all to be raffled off at this seasons Ride-In, came up to give the sled a final going over before it headed out "on tour". The sled came up to the UP via Haydays, but then had just sat in my garage ever since. I had it all nice and covered up after washing off all the dust from Haydays, but had not tried to start it. I have to admit that I have not had to try and start a vintage sled since the days when they were considered new. I was pretty young and green and my knowledge of how to tune the motors in those types of sleds has not grown any since then. 
    So he and a friend came up and arrived Thursday afternoon and we pulled the cover off the sled, gave it the once-over and then hauled it out into the snow to fire it up. As I was walking back to the cabin to get my picture I heard the sled fire up on the first pull! Here it had sat for about 4 months with no more attention to it than some soap and water and then a 4 month nap under a sled cover and the thing fired right up. It did sputter and stopped about 5 seconds later, but a few more plunges of the primer and it fired right up again and ran. Adam took it for a spin on the driveway and then I loaned him one of my helmets and he took it for a longer ride down the snow covered road we live on. After a few spins down our road, he said I should take it for a spin. So I tossed the helmet on and took it for a spin. It ran great and was fun to ride. It amazes me how far the technology of snowmobiling has come since that sled was considered state-of-the-art, but boy, someone is sure going to get an awesome vintage sled!. Not only does it look better than the day it rolled off the assembly line, but runs as good as it looks.
    For those of you that have not yet gotten your ticket, you can order them up from the website here. Or, if you want to send a check made out to: "SnowFest" to me (PO Box 182, Mohawk, MI 49950) in the amount of $10 for each ticket you want. The sled is now sitting in the showroom of M & M Powersports in Hancock MI and will be there for the next 2 weeks or so. It then will go to the Mosquito Bar in Toivola where it will be on display through New Years, then up to Copper Harbor for a few weeks before heading back down to the Vansville in Phoenix and possibly the Gay Bar in Gay before going to the Ride In banquet. Tickets will be available at all of those locations when the sled is there and probably after the sled visits too.
    Switching gears real quickly. There has been quite a bit of discussion about me getting a smartphone type "app" for the site. I have looked into this and even had a visitor to the site do quite a bit of work to try and get one for the droid platform going, but the more I look into the idea, the less sense it made for my site. There are a number of reasons, but trust me when I say it just would have opened up a can of worms that should remain sealed tight. That does not mean that I do not care about all of you smartphone folks. In fact, since I have picked up my new iPhone a few weeks back, I have started to use a smartphone more. It sure did help to pass the two and a half hours at the auto repair shop the other day! So, I have been working on creating a smartphone friendly version of the site. Keep in mind, this is not a true app, all it really is is a more smartphone friendly version of the home page and cams page. I have it up and running and you can go to it at:  www.johndee.com/mobile. As you can see, I have just created more user friendly links to the most popular pages on the site. With the exception of the cams link, all the links take you to the regular content of the site. On my phone, they all showed up pretty good and I really did not see the need, or even a way, to improve upon them. The NCN did need some changes. On my phone, the map with the snowflakes representing the individual cams did not work. The map appeared, but the links did not work. So I created a list of all the cams and did it in a way that all someone has to do is scroll down to see their favorites. I tested everything on my phone and it did seem to work well and better than the regular home page and NCN. I will add that for both the NCN list and the forecast text, it works better if you hold your phone in landscape mode (so that the screen is longer in the horizontal than in vertical). I hope that this will help all of you that use your smartphone for looking at the site and as always, I am open to suggestions.
    So not much else going on. We got off to a running start in the snow department and have since cooled our jets a bit, but like I say, the forecast looks pretty darn good for early December. Perhaps no huge storms, but enough cold and snow to start building the base back up. I almost took a ride yesterday, but had planned to have someone ride with me. When he could not make it, I started weighing the idea of being on my sled all alone, for the first ride of this season on it, on trails that would probably be completely empty and without a backup sled to tow it in with if I had any problems and decided to just play it safe. I am actually not too big into riding alone and it just seemed to make sense to not tempt all of those potential problems with my first ride of the season. I have a feeling I will be getting in lots of sledding this season!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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