September 30-
    September 30th, the final day of one of my favorite months. Kind of sad, but the month is sure going out in style! After the previous weeks 6.5 day run of really nasty weather, this week was just about the exact opposite. Monday was a bit breezy and we did have some clouds as well (more on that in just a minute), but most of the week was spent in beautiful autumn weather- with calm, clear and crisp nights and sunny and warm days. The colors are really starting to pop (more on that in a bit too) and we are at one of those times where I am just walking on air because of how special a place I get to call home. I am by no means trying to rub it in. I am truly just so grateful for being able to call the Keweenaw my home. I do remind myself many times each week of how lucky I am to live here, sometimes more than once a day, but there are times when I do not need to remind myself, that feeling of being so lucky magically envelopes me. As the snows start to pile up in another month or so, that feeling will once again take over me all without me even thinking about it.
    As mentioned, the weather this Monday was a little interesting. We had a front approaching us from the west and strong west to west-southwest winds developed out ahead of the front. By mid-afternoon the winds were really howling. I had some business to do at the county courthouse in Eagle River, so after that was done, the pups and I headed down to the beach to take in the sights of the big lake interacting with the strong winds.
    I do not own a hand held anemometer, no real good reason why not, but I wished I had one on Monday as the winds had to have been blowing steadily at 35 mph with gusts to 45. Walking with the wind was a breeze (pardon the pun) and the pups were having fun playing with each other. However, when it came time to turn around and walk into the wind, it was all I could do just to make forward progress. At times, I even had to stop because the wind was so strong I had to brace myself, just to keep from being blown over. Plus, the winds were picking up the sand and whipping it into my face and eyes. It was still cool to be out there and witness the thunder of the waves rolling in from the big lake and dry and walk against mother natures howling winds.
    The rest of the week was nice and tranquil, with calm winds at night and just a gentile breeze during the day. We have had some cool weather prior to this week, but on Thursday, we finally had a hard frost. I took the camera along with me to share with you some sights of my morning walk with the pups on Thursday. Here is a shot of some raspberry leaves coated in a layer of hoar frost. Even with the sun still hiding behind the trees, the autumn colors were glowing in spots along our path. 
    Later that day, the pups and I headed out into the woods for a walk. Between the afternoon walk on the beach Monday and the afternoon walk in the woods on Thursday, I think they were beside themselves and wonder what had gotten into their dear old dad! Regardless of the reason, they were very happy pups to be romping around in the woods. I was just as happy to be out there in the beautiful woods with them. While walking the road through the woods, a logging truck drove by with a buddy of mine at the wheel and I thought to myself how lucky he was to be able to spend his day in the woods. As I thought more, it occurred to me that not all of his days in the woods are spent in sunshine, 60 degree temps and no bugs. Many of them are spent in either bone chilly cold and snow, or heat and humidity and all the nasty bugs that like to hang out and wait for their prey in the deep woods of the Keweenaw. I then realized it was me that was so lucky to be able to pick and choose when I can be out there in the woods and not have to be working to boot!
    Of course, you all know me pretty well by now and know that I cannot allow myself to have a week that is all fun and games. On Tuesday I wend down to see about getting the trail cam going again. It had been almost 2 full years with no problems and I had completely forgotten the exact setup I had down there, so was a little afraid of what I might find and if I would even remember hot to return it to working order. I was able to determine the problem, it was a hardware issue and the new part came in on Friday. So I plan to head down sometime this week to try and see about getting things going again. I know there are some issues with the networking software that need to be configured and hopefully I can make sense of my notes and get it going again without too many problems. I'm going to say it right now though...I hate networking issues with computers!!!
    The other chore this week was to slap together a retaining wall between the driveway and spot where the addition will be. Just kidding. I did not just "slap together" all that work this week. I had a contractor come in and do the work. Had I had the equipment they had to make the job much easier than moving all the earth around by hand, I might have considered doing it myself, but they came with a crew of around 4-5 guys and were able to get it done in about a little over a days time. They did a great job and all I had to do was write a check. Money well spent in my opinion.
    The reality is that my work for the week was to cut, move and stack some firewood. I knew that 4 local boys were coming on Saturday to help me with making my firewood, so I knew that I did not have to cut it all up and get it stowed away this week, but I did want to take a noticeable bite out of the work to be done so that we did not have to try and get it all done yesterday. By Thursday evening, I had accomplished that task of taking a noticeable bite out of the 13 cord of wood that was unloaded a few weeks ago. While I do not know the exact amount of wood I cut, hauled and stacked by myself, I would estimate it to be at around 4 1/2 cord.
    The boys showed up on Saturday, as did Steve and Mark, friends of the site that started coming up 2 years ago to help me with my firewood cutting and we all got to work. I had rolled out about a dozen logs onto the logs put down as rails to keep the piles off the ground. That makes for quick cutting and Steve ripped into that line of lumber, while the others loaded up the wheelbarrows and then helped me stack the wood in the shed. At one time, a wheelbarrow was coming in every 30 seconds or so and in the first 15 minutes of cutting, we probably cut as much wood as I was able to cut by myself all week! The pace did slow (thankfully!), many due to saws running out of gas and bar-lube and/or needing the blade sharpened, but in less than 4 hours- including some breaks in the Yooper Lounge Chairs, the ground where the two big piles of logs sat was bare, except for the chips created by the cutting and the woodshed was just about completely filled up. It just amazes me how much wood can be cut, hauled and stacked in such a short amount of time. Granted I had cut some before the crew showed up yesterday, but we essentially made all the wood we will need to heat all season in less than 4 hours yesterday. At one time I did some cutting and we had dual saws going with Steven and I both on the Stills. Mark took some pics and perhaps he will post them on the discussion board. As has become a tradition, here is a shot of the crew in front of all of their hard work yesterday. My huge thanks goes out to Mark and Steve for making the drive all the way from NW WI for the third year in a row to help me out, as well as to the boys from the Traprock for all of their help. I always say that wood in the woodshed is like money in the bank and right now my account is very flush and it feels great!
    So, Nora has been gone on her annual girls ATV trip this weekend and that has left daddy, Gracie and the pups to man the fort. After making the firewood yesterday and then Gracie's nap, she and I headed up to Lac La Belle for a nice daddy-daughter dinner. Then this morning, after a filling breakfast, we all piled into the truck to take in the colors.
    We did not even have to leave our own driveway to see the first of the color show. Here is a shot of a maple growing next to the shop. So after putting some gas in the truck, we headed up the spine of the Keweenaw and made Cliff Drive our first destination. Some nice colors can be seen along Hwy 41, but Cliff Drive is less busy and also allows some nice views of the Cliff Range. The west branch of the Eagle River also allows for some nice viewing (FSV).
    After Cliff Drive, we got back on Hwy 41 through Phoenix and then took 26 down to Eagle River and then back into the backroads for some more leaf peeping. This time along the Garden City Cutoff Rd. The colors there were a little less along as much of that road is close enough to the big lake to be under the influence of it. Thus trees are a little slower to change there than in the highlands. Still a very pretty and relaxing drive and nice to be able to travel at 10-15 mph and take it all in without causing a major traffic jam.
    The Garden City Cutoff takes you to the Eagle River Cutoff, which we took down to the Delaware Cutoff Rd. The Eagle Harbor end of the Delaware Cutoff is also at a lower elevation and fairly close to the lake, so the colors were again, more muted. However as we moved inland and up higher in elevation, the colors started to pop more and more and were at peak in a few spots. As you near Delaware, the terrain has some nice changes to it and if you drive slow enough and look for them, some nice vistas pop up, such as this one looking out towards Gratiot Mountain to the south and this one towards the hills in front of Mt Bohemia. Speaking of Mt Bohemia, their autumn chair lift rides have been cancelled for this year. I have heard rumors of why, but cannot confirm them so will just say that you cannot ride the chair lifts at Bohemia this autumn. We even came to a little overlook where the view was quite panoramic, so I decided to take some pictures and use some software that came with a camera I bought that stitches and blends the images together to make a panoramic pic. This is the first time I have used this software and I was pretty impressed with it's simplicity and ability. Take a look for yourself.
    So we are nearing peak colors. Some areas are at or very near peak with the majority of the Keweenaw still probably 4-6 days away. That troubles me a bit as we look to have an autumnal storm late in the week and early next weekend that could bring some cold and wet (and perhaps a bit of white) weather that will likely strip a considerable amount of leaves from the trees. So this weekend may have been the best weekend to see the show, with the middle to end of this week being the prime time before the potential autumnal storm. I am sure I will be heading out a lot this week to take in the show. It only comes once a year and this year looks to be one of the better shows in many years. So stay tuned to next week for more pics of the beauty of the Keweenaw in Autumn!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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September 23-
    Wow, what a week of weather we are finishing up! I have been on this planet a bit over 46 years and never in my life have I experienced almost 7 days in a row of such miserable weather. Let me first define the weather that I find the most miserable and useless. It is when temps are in the 40's and there is a steady rain. That would define the weather that we had start up last Monday and continue through this morning. We did have a few hours here and there when it was not raining and the were even a few minutes (and I stress minutes) where the sun peaked out from behind the clouds, but otherwise it rained and rained and rained and temps were in the 40's most of the time. Just to mix things up a bit, we did have some ice pellets, or sleet or graupel- which ever you want to call it, fall Tuesday and again on Friday.
    The first round of sleet happened on our morning walk Tuesday. The pups and I are pretty consistent in our morning walks and only forgo them when the weather is really bad. Tuesday morning when it was walk time, I looked out the window and it was not raining and there were even a few breaks in the clouds. So I suited up myself, got the dogs hooked up to their leashes and out into the great outdoors we went. About halfway down the driveway, a few drops of rain hit me. Then as we got to the road, there was a steady shower occurring, but the sky to the northwest (the way the weather was coming from) was broken clouds and clear sky, so I figured it was just a light and passing shower, so we ducked under a tree and waited out the shower. After a minute or two, it stopped and so we continued on. Now about 1/3rd of a mile away from our house, another shower developed. This time I decided to keep going as the sky looked a bit more threatening to the NW. The light shower turned into a steady rain that turned into a downpour. At one point, I thought I saw the precip actually bounce off my jacket. I saw it happen again, so I held out my palm to try and catch what was falling and a few ice pellets landed in my hand. 
    It did not totally surprise me that we had some frozen precip falling, but it did amaze me, especially because just less than 48 hours prior to that, we were at the beach and Gracie was swimming in the big lake! Quite the dramatic change in conditions, even for this neck of the woods! The downpours of mixed rain and sleet treated us the rest of the walk and by the time we got back to the house, the pups and I were both soaking wet. After getting us all dried off, I grabbed my phone (both of my cameras are on the fritz) and snapped a shot of the ice pellets sitting on the porch railing. So our first wintry precip came in September this year. Wonder if that is a good sign or not?
    The rest of the week was spent in near constant rain. Most of the time very light, but at times it really came down. We were rained out of two more morning walks and Nora, Gracie, the pups and I were all caught in a downpour Friday evening, while trying to sneak in a walk. I guess it was good in a way as we needed the rain, but by day 3 or 4, I was really sick of being stuck inside and/or dodging the puddles
    I did try and make the most of the brief moments of dry weather we had. I cut and stacked on cord of firewood on Monday and then Wednesday, cut another cord or two and was chased inside by the rains. It then rained steady enough the rest of the week that I have not been able to get out and move and stack that cut wood, so there it sits, all ready for me to put into the woodshed. It has stopped raining today and looks to stay dry for most of this week, so I will move that cut wood either this evening or tomorrow sometime. I then plan to get some more cut this week and then next Saturday I have 4 local boys coming over to help me with the cutting, moving and stacking work. Plus, there are rumors that some of the crew that has come up the past few years may be coming up next weekend to help. Either way, I would rather have 8 or less cord to cut next weekend, so that we can get through it all with the helpers and then be done with it.
    With the weather so crummy this week, I was extremely happy that we were able to get the foundation work done last weekend. It would have been pretty stressful to be sitting all this week, wanting to work and not being able to and there is no way we could have had a successful pour yesterday. The weather did keep us out of the woods this week. It was nice to have the work done and would have been nice to be able to use my new found free time to take some walks in the woods with the pups, but that will have to wait for this week and I am looking very forward to getting out into the woods to take in the growing color show.
    The trees up this way are still more of a light green, but there are more and more patches of yellows, oranges and reds showing up. I still believe that the peak will come in around 2 weeks, even though the colors seem to be a bit behind at this point. The colors further south are further along and by further south, I mean just down in the Houghton area. I had to go down there earlier this week and the whole family accompanied me this afternoon when I stopped in to see about getting the trail cam going again. It's still down, but I plan to go down there again Tuesday afternoon to get it going. It has been almost two years since I set the current equipment up and this is the first time it has had any problems. Quite a change from previous setups!
    After looking at the cam situation and visiting with Lori Sleeman for a bit, we all took a walk on the tracks before doing some shopping in town and then heading home. The pups were very happy to get out into the woods and to be able to run free off leash. Gracie had fun running down the tracks and dodging the puddles that dotted the trail. Although it's hard to tell from this picture, I would judge the trees to be around 25% changed down in the South Range/Atlantic Mine area.
    By now, most of you know that I am not very good at sitting around and watching TV or reading a book or doing nothing. I am happiest when I am doing something and with the weather the way it has been, I have been spending some time in the shop. There are a few things I want to do (and some tools I want to get!) to get things setup in good fashion to build the kitchen cabinetry for the remodel that will take place during the addition work. Some of the time in the shop has been spent during the day when Nora and Gracie are away and some of the time when they are home. Grace loves to come out in the shop with me and has even grown fond of helping me clean up the mess that is made while working wood out there. She is actually quite good at sweeping up the floors. Last night I tried to get her to use the shop vac, but she is still a little intimidated by the noise it makes and the suction it creates. This spring after all the kitchen cabinets are made, we plan to build a bird house together.
    So that about covers it for this one. Kind of a lack luster writing, but I think that pretty much describes the weather and our doings this past week. As mentioned, the weather this week looks to be a whole lot nicer, so I am sure the pups and I will be taking to the woods for some afternoon adventures. 
    Before I sign off for this one, I want to congratulate Tom from the Ash Trail Lodge in the birth of 12 puppies last night. His dog Maia delivered quite the litter and you can check them out in the NCN cam for Ash Trail, MN. It is the snowflake that is the northern most flake in MN. 
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September 16-
    Greetings. What a difference a week makes, or even just 24 hours. I suppose all of you have been on pins and needles, sitting on the edges of your seats to find out how my fix for the pex disaster went. Just kidding, but I figured since that was one of the main themes and certainly the main thing occupying my mind the last time I wrote, I would start with it in this entry. 
    I am happy to report that the fix was accomplished and thrilled and thankful to say that it went about as smoothly and easily as it possibly could. Way easier than I was prepared for. I got out Tuesday morning at around 8:30 am and about 60 minutes later I had the area of pex that I mistakenly drilled into fully exposed and ready for repair. It turned out that by using a concrete cutting blade in my angle grinder to make horizontal slices in the concrete and then breaking away at the material between the slices with a cold chisel was the way to go. I had to make several successive passes with the grinder and chisel operation, but the saw cut through the concrete almost like a saw blade cuts through wood and then the chisel made quick work of the remaining material. I just had to be careful once I got to the depth where the pex was to not do any further damage to it.
    Anyway, I had to stop work on it soon after getting the line exposed, but then finished the repair with a splice in the afternoon and then tested everything for leaks and all was well. So I finished up with the rest of the holes for the pins, only starting the drill bit as low as I could and then angling it down just to be sure. I checked with the building inspector to make sure that I could do that and he said it would be fine. I also got the manifolds all hooked up and the system pressurized to test for leaks and all went well.
    So on Saturday at 8:12 am, the first concrete truck came rolling down the driveway and we were ready for it. Unfortunately the truck could only get to two sides of the building, so we had quite a bit of wheelbarrow work to do for the first part of the pour. I would estimate that we had to wheelbarrow about 1/2 of the first truck which carried 8 cubic yards of material. I did not count the number of wheelbarrow loads we did, but would estimate it at around 35-40, maybe more. On the bright side, all that physical activity sure took the chill out of the 30 degree temps we had to start the pour! 
    Once the concrete could be put in place by the shoot on the truck, the pour went very quickly. Dave was very busy with the vibra-screed and then Matt jumped on the bull float as soon as the third and final truck had finished dumping it's load. It was a very close call on having enough material to complete the job. In my calculations I had rounded up and I was told that the last truck would carry an extra 1/4 yard of material, but I am not too sure that it did. In any case, we were scraping every last nugget of concrete out of the shoot to make sure we had enough to finish the job and we did. But the reality is, had we has about a 5 gallon bucket less material to work with, we would have had to get very creative, or I would have been making a mad dash to the lumber yard to pick up a few bags of mix to blend with some gravel from the driveway and sand from the pad for the foundation! 
    In any case, the job was completed and after 5 weeks of having it occupy every minute of free time in my mind, I am still trying to get used to the idea that there is not work that HAS to be done out there on the foundation! I am sure that in another day or so my mind will finally get out of the worry mode and I can move it onto the next job at hand, which will be cutting up the 13 cord of logs dropped off last week to make firewood for the next 12 months or so. The good news is that there is no immediate rush to get all that wood cut. I am not going to let it sit there and nag at me, but it takes me roughly 1 hour to cut, move and stack one cord and even if it just do that work for an hour a day for the next 2 weeks or so, it will be done and all the essential work to prepare for winter will be over. Plus, there is still talk of a wood cutting party to take place the final weekend of September. 
    The weather this past week has been very nice. We were on the warm side to start the week and even had a bit of humidity in the afternoon and evening on Tuesday, but then a front moved through and cooled things down. Yesterday and today were absolutely beautiful late summer or early autumn (how ever you want to look at it) days, with temps in the 70's, lots of sunshine and very low humidity. We are not long for that weather though as a front will roll through early tomorrow and bring some rains and much cooler temps. Cold enough to get the lake effect going. Now, before anyone starts packing their snowmobile gear and loading their sleds up, it will be lake effect rain and not snow. It's not totally out of the realm of possibilities that some spots in the Northwoods of the Midwest away from the influence of the big lake could see a wet flake of snow fly in the coming week, as a series of fronts look to roll through, but we will be too influenced by the lake for any flakes and even the areas that might see a flake fly will not see any accumulation. A wet coating of snow is possible on the other side of the big lake in areas of Ontario this week.
    I took advantage of my new found free time and the great weather to clean up the two sleds that got a little...nope...a LOT dusty at Haydays last weekend. Both the Make-A-Wish raffle sled and my sled came back coated in dirt from the fields at Haydays. It was an easy clean up with a bit of soapy water and a quick rinse. For those of you that have not seen or perhaps even heard about what is going on with the Ride-In raffle sled, a visitor to the site had a old Ski-Doo T'nT sitting in his back yard that he, along with the help of others, restored to mint condition. When I mean mint condition, I mean mint condition. I am not even sure if this thing looked this good the day it was unpacked from the shipping crate from the factory. I can say for sure that it did not have this special plaque on it commemorating what the sled was for.
    The sled is going to be raffled off with all the proceeds to go to the money raised for the upcoming Make-A-Wish Ride-In charity event. The tickets are $10 a piece and a few dozen tickets were sold at Haydays and I will soon have something set up on the site where folks can use PayPal or their credit card (via PayPal) to purchase tickets. Or if anyone wants to send me a check for a ticket or tickets right now they can. Just be sure to include your full name and address with the payment, so I can register it on the stub and mail the claim check part to you. The drawing for the sled will be at the banquet (hopefully by the Wish Child) and that is Feb 2nd, 2013. I need to put out a heads up that the wrong drawing date was printed on the tickets. That date printed is Jan 2nd and I did not even notice it until a few tickets were already sold, so we will just go with them.
    Gracie said she wanted to help me clean up the sleds, which she did...for a while anyway. And then her "help" turned more into trickery. I was keep a casual eye on her as I was finishing up things and I kept feeling a tug on the hose. Finally after the third or fourth tug, I looked up to see her with one end of a rope tied to the hose and her at the other end pulling. I am sure that there are those out there that think I am making this up, but I assure you, it was all her doing. She even knew (somehow) how to tie the rope to the hose using a knot! Yes, Nora and I do have our hands full, but I would not trade it for anything in the world. A wallflower she is not!
    With the sleds- and one ATV- all cleaned up, we decided to head to the beach for one more play on the sand and surf. The pups even had a fun time frolicking in the sea grass that was growing in the spot between the sand of the beach and the woods. Here is a shot of Huck frolicking for all of his fans. If you are wondering where is Grace in all of these shots, she was busy doing this. Yep, we were about 5 minutes from the beach and she fell asleep. We planned to be there for a few hours, so we thought we would let her sleep for a little bit and she did. Then it was her time to play in the sand and surf with the puppies. The water was pretty chilly and the air temp only around 74, but that did not stop her from taking one last dip in the big lake
    I suspect that the swim today will probably be her last in the outdoors up here for the season. I would not even be surprised that the summer clothes get put away and the cold season garb is brought down from summer storage. The air conditioners came out the windows on Wednesday morning and the past few nights were cold enough that the windows even had to be closed to keep things warm. As beautiful as this summer, and even today, was. I am ready for autumnal weather to set in. Perhaps not so much 40's and rain like we look to have most of this week, but at least cool enough to put away the shorts and t-shirts and start wearing a jacket and perhaps even some gloves and a hat on the morning walks.
    I am amazed at the lack of color in the trees so far this season. Typically by now there is at least 15-20% color in the trees, but I would say that we are probably less than 5% right now. At least up this way. That is probably not good news for folks hoping to come up next weekend or perhaps even the following weekend to catch some autumn color, but it is good news for those of us that get to take in the peak, when ever it is. Because I think that they will all just go at the same time and make for a wonderful color show. I doubt that the full show will be all that much later that it typically is, which for this end of the road is Oct 6-12. At least I do not see any reason why they would be too much later than is typical.
   Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. Have a great week everyone and stay warm and dry!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September 10-
    Here I am, as promised! Although it has been a day to remember...or perhaps forget! I will get into why in a bit, but I guess I really should be given some sort of a medal for fortitude for going on with my entry today.
    First off, it was a really fun weekend at Haydays. I was only there for Saturday, but was able to spend some time going around and looking at a lot of the vendors and then spend the rest of the time at the Togwotee booth meeting lots and lots of good folks who frequent the site. It is always so much fun to meet folks and in some cases put a face to a username from the discussion board. Everyone is always so nice, it makes me very happy and a bit proud to be part of such a great group of people.
    As I wrote last night, the weekend did wear me out a bit though. I did not sleep real good last Wednesday and Thursday night and then on Friday, I got up at the usual "a little after 4 am" and then put in my full day of work. Then drove the 6+ hours to a friends house in MN and then visited with friends until about 11 pm (midnight UP time). Went to bed and then got up at around 5:30 to be able to get to Haydays bright and early. The weather was perfect at Haydays, with very comfortable temps and some mixed clouds and sun. It did get a little windy at the end, but at least was not hot like last year, nor raining. Went back to my friends house after Haydays, stayed up until around 10 pm and then got up at around 3:30 am the next morning to drive home. So 5 nights of back to back 5 hour sleeps, combined with poor sleeps the two nights prior and I was pretty much a zombie yesterday evening. Today has been a little better, but still very tired. I am really hoping for a good nights sleep tonight and to wake up fully refreshed!
    Going back even further into last week. I did more work on the foundation Sunday and by the end of the day was able to have all the insulation down. With all of that done and Monday being a pretty hot one (and having the day off) we decided to head down to the big lake to cool off and also let the dogs get washed down a bit. It was a beautiful evening at the beach, sort of fitting for the "last day of summer" I guess you could say. The pups had their fun, with Huck doing the fetching in the water and Millie running after the ball.
    While at the beach, we spotted a bald eagle flying overhead. It initially flew from over the lake to the marshy area inland. Then a few minutes later, it came back and was hovering over the lake. I figured it was scouting out a fish for dinner or something, so I kept the camera handy for a shot of it flying off with the fish. Just about that moment, a loon popped up from below the surface of the water and the eagle landed on it! It then sat on the loon for quite some time and ended up killing it. I was very surprised by all of this, first that the eagle would pick a loon for it's dinner and that the eagle could actually land on the water and float on it too. Anyway, the winds were blowing off shore and the eagle and it's prey floated to an area of rocks off shore and that was that.
    I must say that while it was an impressive site to see, I did feel a little sad for the loon. I do realize it is just mother nature doing her thing and the eagle needs to eat, but I guess I was just more prepared to see it have a lake trout and not a loon! Grace did not really see any of the action and I think that it is just as well at this stage of her life. She was too busy playing with her pups and looking for rocks to toss into the lake.
   On Tuesday it was back to work time, for both the regular work duties as well as the foundation work. I continued work on Wednesday and by Wednesday evening, the pile of materials for the foundation had disappeared. That also meant that all those materials were all in place and except for a few minor things left to do, the build site was ready for concrete Wednesday evening, with all the rebar, wire mesh and even the pex put into place. All that was left to do was to drill some holes into the existing slab to put some 1/2" rebar pins in to help make the connection between the new slab and the old. The other thing left to do was to put the manifolds onto the ends of the pex and pressure test it. Both of those operations would take about an hour. I was hoping to have all of that done before my trip down to Haydays, so it would not be on my mind and I could enjoy myself more.
    That pretty much takes us up to today... After finishing my morning walk, we skipped the walk and headed to the store to pick up a 1/2" masonry bit to drill the holes. I have a nice hammer drill it would go into and make drilling the holes pretty easy. It was, but that is where the wheels came off and the trouble started. In the process of drilling the first hole into the existing slab, I managed to drill into a pex line sitting in the concrete of the existing slab! When I first saw the little gush of water, it did not really even compute that I had hit one of the pex lines in the existing slab. I had purposely set them back about 12" from the edge of the slab to be sure that I did not hit them in the process of building. 
    It did not take me long though to get that really bad feeling that the pex had been hit and that is where the water had come from. I got out a flashlight and surveyed the hole and sure enough, it was one of the lines. I don't know what it was doing there, but the only thing I can think of is that somehow it slipped over towards the edge as we were pouring the concrete. That stuff exerts a lot of force and is certainly enough to cause the pex line to be pushed over.
    So the next 10-15 minutes were spent in a state of severe disappointment as well as a bit of panic at what had happened. As the morning went on, I started to formulate a plan as to how to fix things. I knew right away that enough concrete needed to be cleared away from where the pex was damaged so that I could put a splice in and then test it. The question was how best to do it. I was able to spend a little more time on the issue today and have discovered that a diamond imbedded blade for my angle grinder cuts into the concrete the best. A cold chisel is the most grueling method, with a smaller diameter drill bit and the hammer drill falling somewhere in between the two. I suspect that an air hammer with the proper bit would probably chip away at the concrete in good fashion, but I don't have one. 
    I still have a lot of work to do to get the pex free enough to make the repair and realize that it will take some cutting, some drilling and probably a lot of chiseling to get the job done. I have to go slowly and carefully as to not do any more damage to the pex. Complicating things further is the fact that I can only do the work from one side. The wall of the house sits above the pex line and the other sides are not accessible. So I can only make the repair from the same side the damage was done. I was hoping to pour the slab this coming Saturday, but it is looking more and more like that might not happen. It will not be a tragedy if I have to wait another week, but the sooner it is done, the sooner all the stress of needing it to be done will be over.
    So that was my fun for the day and will be my fun for the next day (or two). Once done, then things will go pretty quickly. I have already discussed a way to do the rest of the pin work without risking hitting the pex line again and the manifold work will not take too long. To add to my work load, the wood for this seasons burning showed up today. All 13 cords of it! I am not too stressed about it either, as I have plenty of time to cut and stack it, but looking out the front windows of the cabin and seeing it piled out there is a reminder of the fact that it needs to be done before winter arrives! Not sure if an official wood cutting party is going to happen this year as the weekends are starting to fill up- with the Milwaukee snow show the second weekend in Oct and the Keweenaw Trails work session the weekend after that- and I don't want to put it all off too late. I am fully capable of being able to do the cutting and stacking myself, but did enjoy the help and company of the cutting crew that helped the past few years! So we'll see.
    Hopefully this entry was not too much whining by me, but I guess I felt a little good to share my not so fun events of the day today. Tomorrow is another day and who knows, maybe by this time tomorrow, all the problems will be over and I can be over at the wood pile making wood, or the pups and I can be exploring the woods!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.. 
-JD-
September 9-
    It was a fun, but exhausting weekend. So will write tomorrow!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
September 2-
    Happy Labor Day weekend and welcome to Autumn! Sure seems like August flew by and I have a feeling that September and maybe October will to. That would be good in ways, but not good in others. Good in the way that it will be that much closer to the snow season and all the fun it brings, but not good because the Autumn is also very beautiful.
    While our summer was not particularly hot, we have had some pretty warm weather here to close out the season- at least for us. It has been in the 80's for most of the past few days and it takes a rare set of circumstances to have us be warmer than New Orleans at the end of August, but that is exactly what happened on Wednesday with the high at the Houghton County Airport hitting 80 degrees and the high at the New Orleans Airport hitting 79. Of course they were dealing with Hurricane Isaac and had nearly 8" of rain fall Wednesday and also started the day with a low of 77, while our low was 48. None the less, we were warmer than the big easy on Wednesday! 
    It has been a busy previous week and the week ahead looks to be a busy one as well. The crew came back on Monday and finished most of the prep work for the slab and also finished the driveway. I went to town and picked up some more supplies for the slab. 48 sheets of 2" rigid foam that will serve as the insulation for the slab. The truck looks more loaded down than it really was as each sheet weighs just a few pounds. 
    Here is a look at the new driveway configuration. The old path used to go where the stacks of rigid foam are sitting. There is about a 3 foot drop from the driveway to the grade for the foundation, so we will be putting in two runs of drainage pipe and also building a retaining wall there to keep the driveway from eventually sagging into the house as well as to help keep water from traveling over towards the house. The pups liked the new driveway. Although it is funny, when we start out on our morning walk, they still take the old path we did for as long as they have lived with us, even though there is no driveway there any more and it is full of construction stuff! Funnier still is that I follow them, although when we get some rain and that area turns muddy, we will take the new driveway!
    So, with the driveway done, earth moving work done for the foundation and materials in place, it was time to get to work. The first step was to lay out the edges of the foundation, which Nora helped me do. Then came the below grade work for the drain pipes. I then started digging the trenches for the thickened perimeter of the slab. I dug and I dug and I dug. I don't know how many tons of sand I moved by shovel, but my arms right now are telling me many. The only bright spot was that I was in the shade for most of the time and was digging in sand and not dirt and rocks, although I did hit a few of them too. I had to wet down the sand as anyone that has tried to dig a hole in sand knows that digging a hole in dry sand just causes it to slump and refill the hole. In any case, by yesterday midday, I was just about done with the digging of the sand, which I finished up all but one short stretch that I wanted to leave alone as a corridor to get to and from the build area yesterday afternoon. This morning I made one final pass in the main field for the foundation to make sure it was level and then got on to putting the insulation down. That went pretty quickly as I had already put most of the insulation into the trenches as I went. So this where things stand at this moment. The foundation is completely laid out and insulated. Next will come rebar and wire mesh for re-enforcing the concrete this evening and then tomorrow will start the process of laying down the pex tubing for the in-floor heat. Hopefully that process will be able to be completed before I head down to Hayday's by the end of the week. 
    It would really be nice to have all the prep work done before I head down so that it will not be hanging over my head while I am away. If not done, I should be very close to being done and will have most of the week following Hayday's do finish up things as I plan to pour the concrete on the 14th- weather permitting.
    Getting the slab work totally done will be a huge relief and then I can move on to cutting and stacking the firewood for the season and then the real fun will begin with getting the final details to the shop all set up just the way I want so that I can build the kitchen cabinets this winter.
    So I am well on my way to having the slab done. While digging with arms aching and sweat pouring off my head this past week, the words of Judge Schmales from the movie Caddyshack "The world needs ditch digging too!" kept popping into my head. Glad that is over with!
    Needless to say that with just about every spare moment this week spent on the foundation work, there was no playing done. The pups are not being completely neglected as we still take our morning walks every day and they were able to be outside for parts of the time I was working, although both Huck and Millie ventured into the build site and stepped to close to the sides of the trench and caused them to cave-in in that spot. It did not make me a happy camper, so I decided to keep them in the house until they could do no more damage, which is where we are at now.
    Nora, Gracie and I did meet up with friends Keith and his wife Kristen for dinner yesterday. It felt good to get all cleaned up and become human again- if only for a while! The dinner and company were great and then we all took a stroll on the beach while the sun was setting. Watching the sun set into the beautiful waters of the big lake once again reminded me of how lucky I am to live where I do. We were even treated with view of a passing freighter on it's way to the western shoreline somewhere. My thanks to Keith for sharing those last three shots with me. I had forgotten to bring my camera with me.
    So that just about does it for this one. As mentioned, I am planning to be at Hayday's again this year and will again be at the Togwotee tent for much of the day on Saturday. Nora's aunt is battling terminal cancer and is getting close to passing, so if that happens this week, I will not be able to go, but otherwise I will be there for most of the day on Saturday. I do plan to maybe take in a bit of the show during the morning on Saturday, but will be there for most of the afternoon. Be sure to stop in and say hi and also to visit my buddy Matt at location EF7 to see the refurbished sled for the ride-in as well as the little surprise I have done to my sled.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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