October 28-
    Well, not to start off on a sour note, but what a lousy week of weather! I could very easily describe the weather we had for much of this week with one word, but I try to keep these writings suitable for all ages. I guess another word would be miserable! Rain, rain and more rain, just about all week. We had puddles form where we have never had them form before since moving up here. To accompany the rain, temps were generally in the 40's and we also had some strong winds. Either Tuesday or Wednesday I was pumping gas into the truck and was underneath the awning, so I was dry, temps were around 50 degrees, but it just felt like it was in the 30's with the raw, damp air and the gusty winds. We did get briefly mild on Thursday, with temps topping out around 60 and a dewpoint to match. Then the front came through Thursday night and early Friday and cooled us down and eventually dried us out.
    There were a few bright spots to the wet weather. First, I was thankful that it did not occur for the trail work session last weekend. We did have some wet weather on Friday, but it did not rain all day and Saturday was nice. Secondly, I was thankful that we got all of our yard work done before the wet weather hit. I did get out Monday morning and finished up the rest of the leaf raking and also got a few other things done outside before the rains came. Third, we really needed the moisture. We have had below average rainfall on a monthly basis for about 15 of the past 16 or 17 months. Lake Superior is way low and lots of the river and creek levels were very low and as I pointed out early in the summer, ponds and other wetland areas were drying up. So the rains not just this week, but over the past month or so have helped to improve things in the hydrology department.
    The rains did keep us indoors for most of the week, but not sitting around doing nothing. I have been spending more and more time in the woodshop, getting it ready to produce our kitchen cabinets when we remodel the kitchen during the addition. Still some more work to go and some machinery to get, but it is really starting to look good in there and things are getting more and more organized and I am getting pumped to do the cabinets.
    Open skating started up at the Calumet rink a week or so ago and last year Gracie got some skated from her uncle Joel. Not sure if they were too big or we just got them too late to use last season, but we did not skate last season. However, that all changed this past Wednesday, when Gracie Dee stepped foot on the ice for the first time and began the journey to her professional career.
    As you could see in that picture, the rink has those walker-type devices to help skaters balance themselves and I also was there to help Gracie stay in the up-right position. It did not take too long at all and Gracie was able to get around all by herself. A little while later and she and I were having races up and down the rink! Her afternoon was not without a few dozen spills, but that is to be expected for a 3 year olds first time on skates. Plus, she was never dejected by the falls. Each time, she had a smile on her face and worked herself back onto her feet and continued on. Both Nora and I (as well as some of the other adults watching) were amazed at how well she did for her first time. She is so fearless and such a hard worker that I think a lot of things are going to come naturally to her. I think she is going to be the type of athlete that I was always jealous of, the one that was always better than me and did not appear to have to work very hard at it. My only fear (and excitement) is that at this point does not seem to be interested in figure skating at all, but seems to be excited about hockey! Fear because of all the travel involved with hockey, especially girls hockey, but excitement because in my opinion, it is the best sport out there to play and watch... by far. We'll see I guess, but it sure was fun to be out there with her and watch her skate and it was fun to be on skates again, although lots of rust, lots! Not on the skates, but on me! I think it's been around 11 years since I last laced them up and even then it was just for public skating at Tech's arena. I can't even begin to imagine me trying to play again, even just a pick-up game. We have a local outdoor rink near by and it even has boards, so perhaps when it gets flooded and set up, I will dig out a stick and puck and the whole family can head over there for some fun.
    On Friday, the rains stopped and we even had a few flakes of snow fly. The pups and I were both chomping at the bit to do something outside. So we took to the woods for a romp in the afternoon. They were so full of energy from being cooped up almost all week, I thought their legs were going to become detached from their bodies when they bound from the truck and raced down the trail. They did manage to sit still for long enough that I could snap a quick shot of both of their backsides, then they were off down the trail or into the woods, playing chase with each other, or giving chase to some poor critter that was just trying to stock up for the coming winter.
    Speaking of the coming winter... That last shot showed the woods are now completely bare. This is always a hard time of the year for me with the woods turning bare and the anticipation of the winter to come. To make matters worse, we did get teased with some snow Friday and Saturday. Not much, but enough to make the roads slick for a while yesterday afternoon. Truth be told, I think the falling snow was more of a mood lifter than downer or frustrater. This is the start of the "long-wait" for me though and it only gets worse when deer season kicks in on Nov 15th as then the woods are off limits to the pups and I. Guess I will just have to keep myself busy in the shop!
    Speaking of the shop, Gracie and I were in there yesterday doing some work, when she noticed my sled was not on the lift by the skis were there. It was funny to see notice that and say: "Hey Daddy, your sled is missing, but the skis are waiting for it". The sled is over at EZ Ryde getting the suspension dialed in properly for me. It's shouldn't be too long before this years ride appears up here. I have spilled the beans to some of the folks I spoke with at the shows or work session, but will keep the rest of you in suspense. To tell you the honest truth, I am not even sure of exactly which edition of the model I picked out I am getting to use for the season from Rt 12. So it will be a bit of a surprise to me too!
    I had a little bit of fun in the shop this week. I sold my avalanche backpack this week and will be picking up a different one before I head out west in early March. To remove some of the complications of shipping something that was a potential hazzard, the seller suggested that I just activate the airbag and thus drain the compressed air in the canister and then I could just pack things up and ship it in standard form. So Thursday evening, with Nora holding the camera in video recorder mode, I pulled the "rip chord" for the airbag. It was a little bit scary as I did not know exactly what to expect and as I did so, I thought to myself that I hoped I never had to pull it in a real-life situation. Anyway, here is the movie of the bag inflating (please note: it is a large file over 16 meg, so it may take a while to download).
    Last night as the winds howled and the snowflakes flew, we brought the pumpkins in for the carving party. Grace is so cute how she gets so excited to do anything. Even "chores" are fun for her, so you can only imagine how excited she was to carve pumpkins. She did a great job helping us get all the seeds and goop out of them and then Nora and I did the carving of the faces. This was the end result of all the carving activity last evening.
    This morning was the coldest morning we have had so far this season. It dropped to 24 degrees and was sitting there when we took our morning walk. We were well dressed for the cold, but still, it felt weird and good to have that cold air nipping at our cheeks. We even had some good night ice form on the puddles left over from all the rain this week. Exciting to think that in a month from now, we will be just days from the "opener" and the ground may be white and could stay that way for the remainder of the season! 
    Even with the cold and wet weather we have had this autumn, I still have not had to start burning any wood that was made for the coming season. I doubt that we will make it through the rest of this month without doing so, but it will be close as I only have three more days left this month to have to put wood in the boiler and it looks like we have about 2 days of wood left from the stuff I cut to make room for the addition. Pretty good to not even have to touch the main supply until Halloween day though!
    My final words for this entry is for an early heads up on the schedule for public appearances for the Ride-In raffle sled. It will be at M&M Power Sports in Hancock from around December 1st (maybe a day or two before) through the 15th and will then head down to the Mosquito Bar in Toivola for the rest of the month and the New Years holiday period and will then head north up to Copper Harbor to be at the Mariner North from around January 4th through the 15th or so before heading back south to either southern Keweenaw County or perhaps somewhere in the Houghton/Hancock area. I still need to secure the final spot I have in mind, but will let you know about that when I do. Tickets will be available for sale at these locales and as mentioned I also have a web page setup you can purchase tickets on-line. So far 76 tickets have been sold, which is pretty good, I think. I was really thinking that the main ticket sales would occur when the sled is out in the public in December and January as well as at the Ride-In itself.
-JD-

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October 21-
    I hope that I can muster up the strength to get through this one! It has been a pretty physically active past 3 days, with the Keweenaw trails work session Friday and Saturday and then the Dee autumn yard clean-up today. My arms feel pretty much like Jell-O and my feet are throbbing, but I suppose I can get through this!
    All went very well for the trail clean up. The numbers were down from previous years, but not the enthusiasm of the participants. We had 9 workers on Friday and 10 on Saturday, but still managed to get a ton of work done. All the hard work from previous years has paid off too as those trails did not need to be done this year. 
    The weather up here the past few weeks has been very wet. It seems like we are struggling to put more than a day or two in a row of dry weather together and it was looking like we might really luck out with the weather for both days of the work session. As you can well imagine, the weather can get pretty dicey up this way by the second half of October, yet we have really been fortunate to have some great weather for just about all of the days we have done the work in the past 4-5 years. I know 3 years ago, when I was recovering from my first open heart surgery and not able to partake in the work session, the weather was not so great, but otherwise we have had some fantastic weather.
    Anyway, the forecast was looking pretty promising. We had rain fall much of the week, but then Thursday evening the skies started to clear and we awoke to partly cloudy skies Friday morning. There was a threat seen for some spotty, light showers, but nothing too heavy. Well, we started the work session in dry weather, but it did not take too long for some light raindrops to start falling. It came and went lightly for around an hour and then decided to defy the forecasts and came down at a pretty decent clip for about an hour or two around midday. Then, as the afternoon progressed, the rains ended and all the crews stuck it out through the entire day and were able to get our work done.
    Even with the gray skies and rain showers Friday, it was still nice to be out in the woods. All the rains we have had the past 3-4 weeks have put a lot of puddles on the trails, but still nothing we could not get around- especially since I have learned to hit the "4 wheel drive" button when faced with a challenging mud hole to get through, rather than "4 wheel steer" like I did a year or two ago! Saturday was a beautiful day for working, with blue skies to start the day and then a few clouds by late in the day, but temps in the upper 50's and dry.
    The past 2-3 work sessions, we have really been working hard on cutting back the brush from the sides of the trails and while it is a never ending battle as the brush will always keep growing back, this work session concentrated on a few special areas for two of the crews and for our crew, some trails that needed branches above the trail cut. So we spent a lot of time riding the back of my pickup, with pole saw in hand, lopping off branches that posed a threat to the groomers. I think that and the two 100-200 yard sections that had some serious brush to be cut with the chainsaw is what did in my arms- especially the section we did Friday afternoon!
    As mentioned, we did not have as many workers this year. It was sort of the perfect storm of circumstances that brought about the lower numbers. Several groups and a few individuals that have been regulars in years past were not able to make it and even a few locals that were to show up had some last minute things pop up and could not make it. None the less, we got a lot done and our organization is very grateful to this group of hard workers for all of their help this year. The dinner of smoked brisket and pulled pork was enjoyed by all and we had fun visiting and talking war stories from the snow for most of the rest of the evening (you should have heard the doozies Gracie had to tell!). We were even treated to the maiden voyage for the Argo on the waters of Lac La Belle. However, it was discovered it does not handle very well in the water with the tracks on the tires and an emergency overboard maneuver by one of the riders was needed to keep it from drifting off into the lake for good! 
    So my big thanks to the workers for all of their hard work, to the Pines in Copper Harbor for providing lunches and lodging, the Lac La Belle Lodge for providing lodging, breakfast and the space for dinner and to the Trailside Lodge in Calumet for providing lodging. It's great to see these businesses step up and make the sacrifices they do to allow the event to occur. For those of you that wanted to come, but couldn't I sure hope to see you up here next year!
    No rest for the weary though. The weather was also dry today and with just about every leaf down from the trees in our woods, forecast for rain much of the coming week, it was the perfect opportunity to get out and rake the leaves and give the grass one final cutting. So the whole Dee crew got out there with either rake or leaf blower in hand and got the job done. It is very satisfying to look out and see all the chores that have to get done before the snow starts to pile up done. Well, almost. I still need to get the 27's and snowplow on the ATV and I was given a cab for my snowthrower by the good folks at Ariens last spring and I want to put that on the snowthrower. I can't even begin to count the number of times I have been blasted in the face with snow while clearing the driveway, so it will be nice to stay protected with the cab.
    I think that almost covers it for this one. I say almost, as I have gotten the web pages for this seasons Ride-In updated and folks wanting to sign up can do so. A few have had some problems with the registration process. Not sure why, but it seems like a fix is to right click on the link to the registration page and then from the menu that pops up, choose to open the page in a new window or tab, then all works fine. I will look into why there could be problems and if anyone with more knowledge in these things can see why, feel free to let me know! I have also set up a page where you can purchase tickets on-line for the vintage sled that was restored and will be raffled off at the event. If that were not enough Ride-In related info, I was also notified that we have been matched with a Wish-Child. Get this... he is a Keweenaw Boy- from Mohawk, MI of all places! and pending his Doctors approval, his wish is to get a Polaris Razor side-by-side!!! Is that awesome or what! He is battling cystic fibrosis. Nora knows the boy and his family and hopefully he and his family will be able to attend the event. I would love for him to be the one that pulls the ticket for the winner of the vintage sled.
    My final item on tonight's docket is a note I got from one of the good folks in Copper Harbor that is helping to raise funds for the new playground for the harbor. She wrote me to tell me this: 
"This past January when we started fundraising, Vicki and Ken at the Pines were kind enough to let me solicit funds from our dining patrons. I didn't hit them with a hard sell, just presented them with a playground envelope, told them a little about the project and asked if they could help out with a donation. If they could, great! If they chose not to, we totally understood. The majority of our donors during that time were snowmobilers. Through their generosity, we were able to raise $7000 just from the Pines patrons alone! We were overwhelmed!!!"
Awesome job folks! The playground is going to cost a total of $145,000 (who'd of thunk they were that much, eh !?) and they have been able to raise $100,000 of that so far. If you want to read more about the project, you can visit the website that they have set up for the project and also have a Facebook page.
    So, I think that finally covers it for this one. Just one more entry and we will be into November and one month away from the start of the season!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
October 15-
    Ok, here we go. At first I was worried that I would not have much to write about or pictures to share. Last Monday, I had an eye doctors appointment, Tuesday it rained and then Wednesday we drove down to southern WI for a family visit and to get ready for the Milwaukee Snow Show, so not a lot of time was spent in the good old Keweenaw and even less time in the great outdoors of the good old Keweenaw. I did not even have a single picture to share with you last night and not much to talk about- except for the show goings.     
    Things have changed and I do have some shots to share and even a bit of content. First, I want to say it was great to see everyone at the show. I sure was busy saying hi to everyone both Friday night and all day Saturday. I think I spent just a handful of 1-2 minute spells when I was not getting the pleasure to meet a great visitor to the site. I really does warm my heart immensely to meet all of you that I did and know that what I do is still appreciated so much. I can start to run out of steam at times, but events like that show really help to jump start my batteries to keep plugging away on the sites work. So thanks to everyone for stopping by to say hi, it was a true pleasure to see all of you and have a quick chat. 
    While I was at the show, Nora, Gracie and the pups were busy having fun at grandma's house. Grace got so excited in the days leading up to our visit, it was really neat to see. Then once, there, she went non-stop almost the whole time. Her uncles visited too. Here she is playing at the beach with her uncle Ed. As the weather started to go down hill, the activities had to move indoors, so here she is playing in a fort with uncle Jim. Or was that a picture of uncle Jim taking a nap under the dinning room table? After play, it was time for some work and here she is helping grandma put the finishing touches on a new woodworking apron for me. I just love the look of concentration on her face. She has that look most of the time she is working on something. As the temps turned colder and the rains set in, it was time to build a fire, so here is uncle Jim explaining to here the finer points of how to start a fire. Even showed her how to use the "puffer" to get the fire going better. Here is a shot of the two of them kicking back and enjoying all of their hard work. Then, as the day drew to a close, it was time for a story with grandma before heading off to bed. My thanks to Nora and her I-phone for stepping in and supplying the pictures.
    So that was all the stuff that I missed while away at the show Friday and Saturday, but I am glad that Nora likes to take so many pictures with her phone so that I could catch the action.
    For those of you that stopped by the Togwotee booth to see what my surprise was, I was not empty handed because Togwotee said no to my idea, it was because I forgot to bring the materials associated with the surprise! Actually those of you that stopped by my buddy Matt's booth to see the sled that was refurbished for the ride-in, you got to see what I am talking about when I talk about the surprise and now, after over a year of being in the works, I am finally going to let the cat out of the bag to all visitors of the site.
    It all started around 15 months ago. I had been trying to come up with a unique paint job or wrap for my sled. A couple of ideas were tossed around in my head for a while and then the one that started to stick around more and more was to wait until we got some snow and the woods up here were all flocked in snow, then go and take a bunch of pictures of the Keweenaw woods all flocked in snow, take elements from each photo and create a sort of collage with them. Then use that collage to create a camouflage pattern. 
    As I waited for the snows to start falling, I came up with a name for the camo pattern and called it "Keweenaw Kamo". The idea seemed like a pretty good one, so I ran it by Nora and she has been sort of indifferent or critical of some of my other ideas, but this one she said she thought was a great idea. She also told me to keep the lid on things until I could get the idea rolled out and legally protected. 
    So at the end of November and into early December last year, we got some good, wet and sticky snows to fall and the woods became perfectly flocked. Then the graphical work got started to take elements of each photo and create a collage type pattern. I initially got two graphics companies to work on it and ended up using a local one because trying to explain what I wanted and get things just right through e mails was just not time efficient. I actually went down to Industrial Graphics in Houghton and spent around 4 hours sitting at the workstation with the graphic artist to arrive at the final product. 
    The pattern was done right around the time I came back from riding Togwotee last March and I was hoping to get last years sled wrapped so I could take some shots of it in the snow, but as you all know, mother nature had other plans with the snow in the first half of March last year. So we took our time getting the sled wrapped and by late April it was all done. It looked pretty cool and a few friends were able to get sneak peaks of it and then this past August Chad from M&M in Hancock was kind enough to loan me a black and white seat from one of the 2013 sleds and a new suspension from EZ Ryde was put under it to get rid of the orange stock suspension and to enhance the performance of the sled.
    So the sled was all ready for show at Hayday's and I had hoped to reveal it on the site before heading down, but got too tied up doing the foundation work. I seemed to get myself into situations where I could not get a website made up for Keweenaw Kamo as we worked through September as well. So to make an already very long story short, I still am in the works of developing the website for Keweenaw Kamo, along with some of the products associated with it like hats, shirts, etc... However, I just cannot keep the idea from the masses any longer, so without further adieu... I give you Keweenaw Kamo. I even fretted over the best place to take the shots of it before the snow flies up here. My initial idea was to get it down by the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and take the promo shots with that feature in the background, but then opted for another fixture of the Keweenaw, Lake Superior. Here is a shot of the front of the sled. Here is a close up of one of the side panels. I also designed a logo for Keweenaw Kamo and have taken the proper actions to make the whole idea mine legally. 
    I have no idea where this will all go. I am shooting for DC shoes type popularity :) but all joking aside, figure some wraps, hats, shirts and the like will be picked up by some visitors to the site. I already have some friends asking if they can borrow my sled during December's muzzle loader deer season up here! If you are interested in a wrap for your sled, or even just some accent pieces for your sled, you can contact Industrial Graphics via e mail at sales@industrialgraphics.us. If you are interested in seeing some of their other work, you can check out their Facebook page.
    As mentioned, I am in the process of putting together a website for Keweenaw Kamo. On it you will initially be able to purchase stickers as I already have them made up (they where what I was suppose to bring to Milwaukee with me!) and then in not too long, hats, shirts and sweatshirts/hoodies. I am not quite sure when it will be up and running, as I want to get a web page for the ride-in sled raffle done first and this week is getting filled up with work to do to be ready for the trail work session this Friday and Saturday. So perhaps by the end of this week or more likely next week. I am sure as you come to this site, when the KK site is ready, it will be made note of!
    So that just about covers it for this one. As mentioned, the Keweenaw Trails work session will be taking place this Friday and Saturday. We will be staging out of the Lac La Belle Lodge and will be meeting up around 9:30 both days. Free lodging is available to workers at the Lac La Belle Lodge, the Pines in Copper Harbor and the Trailside Lodge in Calumet. We have plenty of work to do and the way the forecast looks right now, the weather should be pretty good, maybe just a few scattered rain drops or flurries. Hope to see as many as can make it there! Saturday night will feature smoked brisket and pulled pork from yours truly. 
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
October 14-
    Just got back into town from the Milwaukee show and are in the unpacking and getting settled phase, so will write a full entry tomorrow.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
October 7-
    Getting a bit of a later start today than usual. Typically I try and get things all said and done for before dinner, but today I had to wait until my belly was full to sit down and write. One of the big reasons was that I spent a few hours down at the trail cam getting it going. It actually ran flawlessly for nearly 2 years, with not so much as a reboot. This crash of the cam was really not it's fault. The box that held a powerstip and wireless antenna became unattached from the sign it was attached to and the weather got to the AC adapter for the antenna and down she went. So I had to order up a new antenna and in the process made the box much smaller as the antenna is about the same size as the powerstrip and the box was the old box that used to house an entire desktop computer and old tube monitors (remember those old things? :) ). Anyway, when I hooked things back up on Wednesday, I ran into some networking gremlins and I only know enough about computer networking to make me dangerous, so I had to call in my ace in the hole, Josh, who has helped me out so much in the past with the networking of of the trail cam. We worked on things for about 2 hours and got all squared away. Plus took some notes that will help me get through some of the more common networking issues, so I will only have to bother him with the big problems! My huge thanks to Josh for all of his help this time and the other times too. Not sure I could even have a trail cam going there if it were not for his help. Hopefully we can go another 1.7 years or so before the next outage!
    The events since I last wrote have been almost exclusively about the color show going on up here. Mostly the colors the trees have been displaying, but also space. Last Sunday an impressive aurora show went on and a friend of the site and nearly a neighbor, out on 5 Mile Point Road- Mark U, captured the aurora in a couple of photos and sent them to me Monday morning. I don't know about you, but I find the aurora to be one of the coolest things out there and I sure wish that I had the type of hours that would allow me to stay up past dark so I could see them! But I guess until I win the lottery or retire, I will have to take my pleasure from nice folks like Mark that send me images like this and this one. That second one was my favorite, even looked like a freighter was caught out in the big lake. Thanks Mark!
    The other color show has been, as mentioned, in the trees. We pretty much hit peak this week and then big winds, along with some rain and snow, helped to strip some of the leaves from the trees. Not all, but enough to put a dent in the color show that was going on before the winds and precip hit. The weather for most of this week was beautiful for taking those autumn walks in the woods, so the pups and I took to the woods on three separate outings. The first found us on one of the "capital" logging roads. These are the main logging roads up here that are well maintained and passable just about any time of the year when they are not buried in snow. Many of the secondary logging roads branch off of them. Some of the snowmobile trails up here use them in the winter, thanks to the generosity of the land owners. 
    Anyway, early in the week, the color show was still ramping up to it's grand finale and so I found a spot to park the truck in so it would not be in the way and the pups and I got out and took a walk in the woods. After a while of playing it safe and walking the capital road, we branched off on a two track and were treated to an area where the grand finale was underway. It is really something to behold when you happen along the woods of the Keweenaw in full autumn glory. The shots in my journal are not "photo-shopped" to enhance the colors. I do fix the brightness and contrast on some of them as the camera I use tends to produce images that are a little foggier and a bit off in their lighting than what was occurring naturally, but that is it as far as manipulation of the photos go in my journal. So I try my best to give you the same look that I saw in my photos in the journal. What can be really cool to do is look up on a sunny day during the color show and see the contrast of the trees to the blue sky above. The leaves can almost appear as though they are fluorescent. 
    It was not a hot day, but was warm and the pups were running back and forth and seemed to be getting pretty warm, so I decided to take a side trail to a "pond with no name" to let them cool off. Nora commented to me the other day how it seemed like this years colors had more yellow in them and less oranges and reds. It seemed that way to me too, although there were still some oranges and reds to be seen. My favorite ones are the fluorescent orange-red ones.
    Another walk this week had us driving in a bit and parking off to the side of a lesser used logging road. In fact, this one had been left unused long enough that we had to work our way over or around several trees that had been down for a while. Here is a shot looking into the woods right were we stopped to park. The walk through the woods was just as beautiful as the day before and as we walked through the color show, I wondered if the dogs can see the difference in the colors of the trees and if so, if they find as much pleasure in that color change as I do, or if it's just all about being able to run free in the woods. I'm guessing answer "B", which is fine by me. 
    A little while after that picture was taken, we happened upon a little creek running through the woods and then a stand of oak trees. The oaks had shed quite a bit of acorns. I immediately thought what a great spot to put a deer stand, with both the water and food source. About 30 more feet up the two track and I came across these two fairly fresh rubs. I'm not a hunter, but for the right price, I can sell you the directions of how to get there! :)
    Thursday was a bit more limited for time as I thought I had to pick Gracie up from the sitter early (was wrong, it is tomorrow I have to do that!), so the pups and I did not go too far from home for our walk and went on a trail that I knew would be shorter, but would still be lots of fun for all three of us. It's pretty much a two track that heads through the woods for a half mile or so, but then ends at a spot in the woods where a river runs through them. It was unusually warm for about half of the afternoon on Thursday, with temps topping out in the low 70's. So the pups were all too happy to be able to drop down into the river and get a drink.
    The warm temps on Thursday afternoon were partly the result of an approaching cold front. The front meant business, with a sharp drop in temps, strong winds and some rain and snow on it's back side, so I decided to take some last-hour shots of the colors in our woods, even though they still were not at full-peak. Here is a shot of the trees surrounding the wood boiler. Here is a shot of the woods at ground level and here is a shot of the color show on the road we live on
    As I will show in a bit, the winds did not do a whole lot of leaf stripping in our woods, as we are pretty well protected from the winds in our particular location. I know the first winter we lived here, schools were let out early as the "strong winds were creating blizzard conditions", so the reporter on the radio said. I looked out our windows and saw the flakes falling at a pretty good clip, but not being whipped around as is the case in a blizzard. So just for the heck of it, I decided to hop in the truck and drive to the highway and see what things were like there. Well, I got to the spot where our road intersects the highway and the area is much more exposed and it was a total blizzard! I could hardly see a few hundred feet and it was at that point I realized how protected we were in our woods and knew that conditions outside my window would not accurately reflect conditions elsewhere up here.
   The front did deliver the sharp drop in temps. My temp went from 70 degrees to 57 degrees in a matter of 20 minutes. I could not believe how much cooler it had gotten from the time the pups and I returned from our walk to the time we went back outside to go get Gracie. Lake effect rains and sleet developed early Friday morning and Calumet even had a little dusting of snow occur Friday mid-morning. Then overnight Friday night into Saturday morning we had more lake effect snow and rain and awoke to a wet coating of snow on things like the roofs and vehicles. The roads were just wet and even most of the ground did not have much snow on it, although the sawdust from last weeks wood cutting activities were coated in snow. Wet snow fell off and on for most of the day on Saturday up here, so we really lucked out in the weather we had to cut wood last weekend! It would have been pretty miserable to cut the wood yesterday.
    Today on my way down to work on the trail cam, I saw a freighter unloading this seasons supply of rust accelerator to spread on the roads this winter. I sure hate that stuff! I know it does make the traction on the roads way better than the sand did, but I hate the spray that gets on the windshields and it does accelerate the rusting process on the vehicles up here. Thankfully, most of the salting of the roads takes place from Calumet south. So as long as I stay up "Keweenaw-way", I can save on the windshield washing solvent! Once home, I took a shot of the woods outside our cabin to show how the trees were able to hang onto their leaves pretty well. The sun was backlighting them, so they appeared to be glowing as well. Not all of the trees in our woods were able to weather the storm. This dead fir was spilt in two about 10 feet off the ground. I doubt it will be any good for firewood use, but may take the saw to it, just to get it on the ground and speed up the decomposing process to make way for more trees.
    So that just about covers it. For those hoping for their weekly fix of Gracie, I do have two pics to share of her. Friday night we went to Calumet to get a pizza and then picked up one of those inexpensive particle board armoires. I plan to build some better stuff for our house once the addition is done, but we really need to have something immediately, so picked up one of those that only required "some assembly". I would sure like to get a hold of the person that put together the directions for that thing as they were about as useless as can be. More than once I had to back out of the process I was in and grumble. Grace was having a ball help me put it together, but questioned why I was taking it apart when we were suppose to be putting it together! So Nora snapped this shot of me in one of my "happy, de-construction moments". Gracie with her typical big smile. Just before that shot was taken, Gracie said something to the effect of: "Daddy, why are you taking it apart again...Did you get confused by the directions again?  It's OK Daddy, I will help."  Talk about lightening the moment! She's a character! The other Gracie moment is from this morning after breakfast when she joined the puppies in a game of tug-of-war. She usually ends up being tossed across the room, but always comes back for more.
    My final note for tonight are that I will be at the Milwaukee Snowmobile Show this coming Friday night and all day Saturday. I will not be there Sunday as I have to travel back home, but will be at the Togwotee Booth and hope to see lots of you there. It's always much fun to meet the folks that visit the site. I may even have a few surprise goodies for sale. I have not checked with Togwotee to make sure I free load in their spot to peddle my goods, but if they are ok with it, I will have them and hope to be able to explain the full deal of what's up in next weeks edition! So until next week...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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