May 26-
    Happy Memorial Day everyone! With the cold and snowy spring we had, it sure does not seem like it should be Memorial Day weekend, but it's here all right. The kick off to summer and tourist season and also a time to remember and memorialize those that paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving this country. I know where I grew up, Memorial Day weekend meant a three day weekend near the end of the school year and then when done with school, a three day weekend off from work. Not attention was actually paid to what the day is meant to do. Up here it is a different story. There are Memorial Day services at almost every cemetery up here and even some at just the local parks. Flags are flown in respect and remembrance. At the school Nora works at, they fly a gigantic flag. It must be 20 feet tall, by 30 feet long. It takes about a dozen persons to get it raised and Nora snapped a shot of them putting it up on Friday. The good old stars and stripes. 
    Switching gears...It's been another pretty busy week of building around here, although the weather did present challenges to that earlier in the week. Both Monday and Tuesday were complete and total wash outs. It pretty much rained all day both of those days and Tuesday it really came down at times. We did get the deliveries of the doors and windows on Monday and then on Tuesday the trusses arrived. It was nice to see them show up, but unfortunately the weather while they were getting dropped off was just flat out nasty. Temps in the upper 30's and just pouring rain. I guess the only good thing about the whole operation is that the trusses pretty much self unload. The trailer they are loaded onto has giant rollers in the bed that are locked while being shipped. The trusses are also latched down with straps. So the driver just has to unlatch the straps, get into the cab, hit a leaver to release the rollers and drive away, while the trusses slide off the truck. Unfortunately, both the driver and I got 100% soaked in just the time it took him to undo the straps. I got to go in and get into dry clothes. He had to return to the Iron Mountain area. However, the good news is that they unloaded safe and sound and just a little bit of re-arranging needed to be done to make sure they were all flat. We did that re-arranging later in the day when it had stopped raining.
    Wednesday was a little bit better, but still not a great day. It was cloudy and we had some off and on light rain and drizzle. Even so, the guys came up and did some work, which included cutting into a perfectly good roof to make room for the second floor. They were able to get the second floor all completed as well as the back wall for the second floor by the end of the day on Wednesday. They had to do other things on Thursday, so I took advantage of the perfect building weather (dry and cool) to build the walls for the screened in porch. On Friday the crew returned and they got the outside wall for the second floor done and we also dug the holes for the footings for the front gable roof supports. They needed to go where the old driveway went, so that meant digging through about a foot of compacted mine rock. Not something you want to do by hand, that's for sure, so we broke out the mini and got the holes dug in a matter of minutes, rather than hours. They also got the top plates all marked off for the trusses and then spent some time studying the layout for the trusses. There are 59 individual trusses in the roof package and 19 of them are of a different design, so it is a little like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.
    So by the end of the day on Friday, all the load bearing walls were done and they even set the first truss. So we will be ready to start setting the other 58 trusses waiting for us tomorrow. The woods cam (now the construction cam) should be fun to watch this week as the roof takes form. It has been really neat for me to see the house emerge piece by piece and bit by bit. I sure am glad that I am not doing it all myself. In fact, I have serious doubts that I would have been able to accomplish that. As we have been building the past 2 weeks, I often thought I must have been nuts to think I could handle this one on my own. I have still had my hand in the building process and there are some elements that I have completely done all on my own, but the bottom line is, there is no way I would be at this stage without all the profession help I have had the past two weeks.
    Yesterday afternoon and this afternoon, I worked on the partition walls in the first floor and have most of them done. There is not a lot of them though, just the walls to separate the master bedroom from the two walk-ins and the master bath.
    It will be nice to get the roof on and get things all sealed up so that I will be able to work on the inside, despite the weather. Although I was able to work some more on the kitchen cabinets Monday and Tuesday while it poured rain out.
    Not really a whole lot more to talk about. The last of the snow in our yard finally melted this week. It was gone by late in the day on Thursday. A little further down the peninsula, the Laurium Glacier is still hanging on. From the looks of it, I would say probably another 2 weeks or so. I should be able to keep an eye on it a bit easier this year as it is about a mile away from the lumber yard that I seem to be going to on an almost daily basis during this building process. One final note. I was sent a link to a very cool video of a montage of photos taken in various spots of the UP, several here in the Keweenaw. It is well worth the time to view, simply awesome.
    So I guess that gets you all caught up on things up this way. Talk to you all next week and next month!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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May 19-
    Greetings! In ways, it seems like much longer than a week ago since I last wrote and in some ways much less. I guess that is what an action packed week will do for you. When I last left off, we were on the eve of the kick off to the addition build. The workmen showed up Monday morning and after bring briefed on things, they got onto the task at hand. The first task was to see how well I did on the foundation layout and with the exception of one fairly meaningful error, I did pretty good! The error I made was to be 2" off in the width dimension for the part of the foundation closest to the house. I think what I did was to not include the 2" of rigid insulation on one of the walls. I did include it everywhere else. I can see how I would have made this error in the first place, but am a bit perplexed as to how I did not catch it further on down the road during the layout! At any rate, it was not a fatal error, it just means that the wall on one side of the house will start in on the foundation 2" and then eventually end up being flush with the foundation at the opposite end. It could have been a real problem had the foundation been too small, as the trusses were already ordered and being made and so had we had to fit a wall underneath a truss that was too wide for the foundation beneath it, it would have caused some serious issues.
    Anyway, the got their layout lines all squared up, we finished laying out the sill plates and then got on to laying out some walls. Things went smoothly the first day and Tuesday as well and about midway through the afternoon, the delivery truck showed up with the second floor materials. Even though we were not ready for them, I figured I would rather have them on site and waiting, than for us to be sitting around waiting for them to arrive. The only bump in the road on Tuesday was when the stack of 2x6's decided to pull a magic trick and not slide off the bed of the truck. All in attendance said that they had never seen a stack like that defy the force of gravity like it did. They did come down with a bit of persuasion and none were damaged in their ride to the ground.
    By the end of the day on Tuesday, we had 4 out of the 7 walls on the first floor framed and standing, with 2 more framed and ready to go for the next day. I was really feeling good about all the progress that had been made, especially with the bump in the road at the onset due to my errors. 
    With the sun still shining and temps in the 60's, I felt the urge to do something that most would not- especially given those temps. I have to admit that since I had taken a snowmobile ride a few years back in May, I really did not have much of a sense of urgency to pull off another May ride this year. There certainly was enough snow to ride the first week or so, even on many of the trails. I guess I was just so focused on getting the addition off the ground, the thought of taking one last ride in May was on the back burner. However, as the addition was springing to life and the snow melting away, I began to feel the need to take one last ride. So on Tuesday, Dave and I headed up into the high country of Keweenaw County to take that one last ride for the season. 
    I have to admit that it felt a little strange to be loading the sled into the back of the truck on Tuesday with the temps in the 60's and the sun shining. But starting up the sled and riding it onto a snowbank to load it into the truck got the juices flowing. Then, making the drive up to the drop off point with the sled in the rear view mirror and Dave in my side-view mirror, the juices started to flow even more. After getting off the main highway and heading up into the higher terrain, the snow depth got deeper and deeper and by the time we reached our drop off point was around 8-12" deep. 
    I can't say for sure, but I think that this was even deeper than 4 years ago when we took our May ride on the 1st day of the month. We did not waste too much time getting going and it really was fun to be taking that one last ride. All of that pent up desire to ride that had accumulated in the few days leading up to the ride was released by the sound of the sled revving and the feeling you can only get while riding across the snow on a snowmobile. I'm sure that many of you reading this know that feeling and can fully identify with its uniqueness. We also did not stop too much, as we both wanted to make the most of the evening, before our early morning rises the next day forced us to load up and head home with plenty of sunlight left. I did manage to snap this shot at one of our brief stops. We rode for around 90 minutes and probably put on around 20-25 miles. There were a few times that we had to turn around as the trail we were on traversed an exposed south face and the snow had been melted off. There were also a few spots where the snow was interrupted by some bare ground, but in reality, about 99% of the riding we did on Tuesday was in conditions like the first shot of us on the trails was.
    All in all, I was very happy to sneak in that one final ride of the season and felt fortunate that the snow hung on long enough so that it could fulfill my desires that came on at the 11th hour like they did. Driving home with the sled in the back, the snow melting and dripping off the rear suspension and the sun dipping lower in the western sky, I felt like it was the perfect ending to a season that started off slow, but then made up for lost ground in a hurry and was probably one of the best closings we have ever seen and may ever see. I don't expect to be taking a ride on snow on May 14th too many more times, that's for sure!
    And so ends the riding season of 2012-2013
    Wednesday and Thursday were back to building and with temps creeping into the 70's and the sun shining brightly both days, I figured that had I put off my final ride one more day, it may not have been able to be pulled off, or at least in the conditions we had Tuesday. By the end of the day on Thursday, the addition had really come to life. All the first floor, load bearing, walls were done and we also got the floor joists up for the second floor. With the main dividing wall done on the first floor, Nora and I were also able to get a real sense for the size of the rooms on the first floor. The two guys working with me all week had plans for Thursday night and Friday and with a lot of rain in the forecast for the weekend and the first half of this coming week, we decided to forgo putting any floor sheathing down to keep it out of the elements and will move onto that when the weather permits later this week. Then hopefully we can be blessed with a 4-5 day window of dry weather to get the roofing done, as it entails pulling all the metal roofing off the one side of the addition to be able to join the two roofs together.
    I did get two walls built and one raised for the screened in porch. That is the area of bare slab in the second to last picture posted. The weather is holding right now, so perhaps I can get out to get more work done on them. For those of you wanting to follow the progress of the addition build, I have relocated the "Woods Cam" and it is now pointing at the addition. I plan to leave it up on the addition for the balance of the build. I may even move it indoors once most of the activity on the outside is done. It took some doing to make the initial move from the woods to the build site, but is now moved around pretty easily.
    This week also marked two significant anniversaries for me. First, Tuesday the 14th not only marked the latest I have ever ridden up here, but also was the 14th anniversary of me moving up here. What a joy it has been to live here for those past 14 years. Again, in some ways it seems like just yesterday I made the move and in other ways, it seems like I have lived here my whole life. One thing is for sure, I never let a day go by without feeling gratitude for being able to live in such a wonderful area. The second anniversary marked this week is not quite as warm and fuzzy, but Friday the 17th marked the 2 year anniversary of my second open heart surgery. While I needed it to continue living and I am extremely grateful that the surgery was able to be done and was a complete success, I am also very happy to have that one in my rear view mirror!
    As you probably could tell by my writings, the weather this week has been very spring like and at times almost summer like around here. Today was even our first shot of humidity. The dewpoint was a comfortable 40 degrees this morning, but now sits at 60. THAT is something that can head back south and stay there for a while longer! It was cute to see Gracies hair get all curled up by the humidity today though. 
    I guess that about covers it for this one. Even with the weather being pretty wet early this week, I think it will be another busy one. The doors and windows are getting delivered tomorrow and will be stored in the shop. The trusses get delivered on Tuesday and then we will be back to building either Wednesday or Thursday. So the construction cam might be a bit slow for the next few days, but you can always keep an eye out for me, or perhaps Huck and Millie! My final note is that I do plan to do summer forecasts this season, but I would like to wait until the addition is shelled in. At that point there will be a little less urgency and I will be able to put the time into doing the warm season forecasts for the site. I may be pretty brief in my text, but the graphics will be as they always have been. So with that all said...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 12-
    Happy Mothers Day moms! I'm not exactly sure where this entry will go, or how long it will be. I do have some stories to share and some pics as well, but not a ton of things and upon finishing this, I need to scoot down and make supper and then get out and do some work on the addition.
    First on the list of topics is related to the Ride-In. To refresh everyone's memory, this years Wish Child, Tom, had the wish of getting a Polaris side by side and we received a picture this week of him enjoying it! I don't know about all the rest of you, but a picture like that sure brings a smile to my face. To know that so many affiliated with this site played a role in making that wish come true and seeing him in that side by side and also knowing that he will have many, many years of fun with it is just such a wonderful thing to me. Thanks to all that make this years event such a success and have fun Tom! Keep 'er rubber side down!
    The weather has been a little schizophrenic this past week. We enjoyed some very warm temps earlier in the week and then some colder air and even a bit of snow the past few days. This sure has been the winter that just does not want to fully let go. We did hit 78 degrees on Wednesday, which not only marked the first 70 degree day of the season, but was also the warmest we had been since September 11th, 2012- nearly 8 months time!
    The warm temps did help to accelerate the snow melt. In the last entry I talked about how I had gotten out on the slab for the addition to start clearing it of the snow. I continued that during the day on Monday and was able to get all but the really deep stuff next to the cabin cleared off. So on Monday evening, I got the assistance of two local boys to help me clear off that deeper snow. They attacked it with shovels and tossed it onto the cleared area of the slab and then I ran the snow thrower through it. I really thought it would take both Monday and Tuesday evenings to get all of that snow cleared off as it was still 4-5 feet deep in many spots and was also nearly rock solid. However, I guess I should never underestimate the energy in teenage boys! They tore into the snow so quickly and so aggressively, after 5 minutes, I actually shut off the snow thrower and told them that they did not have to kill themselves and to pace themselves so we could keep going at it. Well, they slowed down a bit, but an hour later, we were totally done! 
    I was in total amazement that all the snow was off the slab, that even after the boys had gotten paid (two days worth of wages) and gone home and I had gone inside, I still had to keep looking at the completely bare slab. For so long, all we had seen when we looked out the windows in that direction was a wall of snow. Now it was the view we were just getting used to when the snow started to fly.
    Tuesday was a nice day for working, but I had to partake in an annual career day event in the morning and then had two meetings to attend in the afternoon/evening, so I did not get much done on Tuesday. 
    We did take advantage of the very warm temps on Wednesday. I pulled the forms and Gracie swept up and by the end of the evening, the slab was clean and dry and ready for a building to go on. It was funny, as I was working on Wednesday, I was really starting to sweat and feel uncomfortably hot. Not knowing how hot it actually was, I was just thinking that I was just being a wimp and was not acclimated to the warmer air. I actually thought temps were only in the upper 60's to around 70. Then when I found out it was actually in the upper 70's and pushing 80, I did not feel so bad about how I felt while working.
    The weather then slowed things up. Thursday morning was only in the 30's and a light rain fell throughout the morning. The rains did end by around midday and the materials for the first floor did arrive Thursday afternoon. I was able to get a bit of work done on the sill plates Thursday evening. I did not put in the anchor bolts when the foundation was poured, opting instead to drill holes and put the bolts in after (don't ask me why, I do have an OK reason for doing it this way). So I got about half the holes drilled, but then the chuck on my hammer drill gave out, so I had to stop. Friday was spent doing some other things and Saturday was a cruddy day and we actually skipped town to Marquette to pick up some things, so I did not do any work yesterday either. Today things were all covered in snow up until about an hour ago, so I refrained from doing any work this morning, but the sun has just come out and is melting off the snow and should dry things up too, so I hope to be able to get out and get some more work done this evening.
    On Monday I had a bit of what I think you could almost say an anxiety attack. I was not freaking out or carrying on or anything dramatic like that, but I was sitting at the dining room table, planning out the framing and ran into some questions. So I stopped for a moment, then started to drift into thoughts of how far behind my schedule I was and how much work lay ahead of me. Also knowing that I do not do my best work when I am being rushed (don't mind pressure too much), I just felt like perhaps I had taken on too much by saying I would frame all the walls and second floor myself and then let a contractor take over for the roofing. So I got on the phone with the contractor that is going to do the roof to see if he wanted to "help me" do the framing work for the walls and 2nd floor. We were able to settle on a price that worked for both of us and I felt all of that pressure lift and now feel confident that we should be able to play some serious catch-up in the next 2 weeks and get me very close to being back on schedule. I put the words help me in quotes earlier, because the reality is, I will be the one helping he and his crew do the framing, not the other way around!
    Anyway, I told him back on Thursday I was going to hope to be done with the sill plates by the time they arrived to start the framing. So even though he said not to worry, that he would just start where ever he needed to, I would like to get as many of the holes drilled as possible, as it is pretty slow and tedious work.
    So I guess the bottom line is that things will likely happen pretty quickly from here on out. The second floor material is slated to arrive on Tuesday, with trusses as as well as windows and doors next week. So perhaps in two weeks or so, I will be sharing pictures of a shelled in, or nearly shelled in home. Hopefully the black flys can hold off until then!
    The warmer temps earlier in the week made for some nice walks in the morning. Temps were still a little crisp and in the 30's, but the sun was shining and I did not have to be quite as bundled up as I have had to be for the past 7 months! Another interesting thing that I wanted to share with you is the power of the sun. In this shot, you can see how the side of the road that sits mainly in the shade still has around 2 feet of snow, while the other side, that catches the sun, is nearly free of snow.
    As mentioned, we skipped out of town yesterday to run to Marquette to pick up a few things. With the weather being so sour this way, there was not much work I could do outside. It was a successful trip, Gracie got some new summer clothes and Nora and I picked out a nice gas fireplace for the addition. Wood burning would be nice, but we opted for the gas to make things safer. It will be nice to be able to enjoy a fire and then just shut it down and up and leave, without worrying if the fire is completely out. As we got back home and were in the final few miles before getting home, we were treated to a full on snowstorm. Most of the snow was melting as fast as it could fall, but by later in the evening, as the suns rays weakened, the snow started to accumulate and we woke up to a fresh inch or two this morning. Perhaps some June flakes are in our future this season!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-
May 5-
    Welcome to May everyone. Seems hard to believe it is actually May, as things till look very much like late March or early April outside and even felt like it for most of this week. We did manage a few more warm days early last week, before a cold front passed through and sent us below average, with highs only in the 30's. We did manage to get a bit of snow Thursday into Thursday night and Friday. Most of the time it was actually mixed with freezing rain and sleet, but did manage to fall as mainly snow Friday morning and we picked up around 2" of fresh snow. Some areas off to out south and west got hammered with snow. Portions of NW WI and the extreme western UP saw a foot to foot and a half of snow come down. 
    I, along with just about every other resident in the area were glad to not have the heavy snow accumulations. It did coat the trees nicely and cover up the dingy snow nicely, but also melted off pretty quickly as we went through the day yesterday with the temps finally reaching above freezing. The week ahead looks to bring even warmer temps and we will take a crack at melting off most of the remaining snow on the ground. I'm not sure if we will manage to get rid of it all, but there will probably not be much left.
    I did not go riding this week. I bagged the noteworthy "May Ride" up here a few years back, so I did not feel much like I had to do it this year. I still might get out for a spin before all the snow melts, but am not going to make super special plans or big sacrifices in other things going on in my life to get out on the sled. We have enough snow on the ground in our woods that I could just open up the garage and ride right from my door. Here is a picture of Huck walking on the driveway that was taken about 15 minutes ago.
    I have not gone out to check the depth in the higher terrain up here, but have talked to several locals who have been up in the higher terrain of Keweenaw County and a few said I may be able to get a June ride in! They said that in spots it was still easily 3-4 feet deep. Unless we have a very cold rest of the month of May, I doubt very much that a June ride would be able to be made, but that IS something I would make large sacrifices to do if the opportunity presented itself. Anyway, you may yet see one last set of riding pictures from me this season and you might not.
    Most of this week has been spent in the woodshop. I have been making good progress on the cabinets. They are not all done, but I did manage to finish a few cases and will probably spend a few more days on them and may jump to planning and even some preliminary building work on the addition. I did take a few shots of one of the runs of cabinets in their completed state. This is actually a run of 4 identical cabinets that are all tied in together. A countertop will sit on top of them and they will actually separate the kitchen from the dining room and the counter top will double as a little breakfast bar. I said they were completed, but actually still need the toe kick pieces put on them, but that will not happen until they are installed. I believe I mentioned that all of the drawers are being done with dovetails. Hand cut (well, I had the router in my hand anyway!) and the drawer sides are made from Aspen that is locally harvested and milled. Because this run of cabinets will also have its back side in view, I had to make that side presentable as well, so I made some panels for it.
    When we first were designing the kitchen remodel, both Nora and I were a little concerned that it may not be big enough or have enough storage, but the longer I work on the cabinets, the more I am becoming convinced that we will have plenty of room. There are 26 cabinets and only 4 of them are the same (they were the ones in the pictures I just posted). All the other cabinets have some unique feature to them and many are set up for custom storage purposes, like pots and pans beneath the cook top, or spice drawers near the cook top or a special cupboard for baking sheets that will sit above the ovens. The kitchen will also have 20 drawers and 19 doors of varying size and also many for custom storage purposes. I say this not to brag, but just to explain why the heck it is taking me so long to build these cabinets! I have a 3D rendering of the kitchen that I have struggled with posting for fear that it would seem like I am bragging. But I assure you, I have only decided to post the 3D rendering to show you how big a project this is and why it is taking me so long. I feel very fortunate to be able to do both the addition and kitchen remodel. Plus I have been very blessed to have friends like Jeff lend their expertise in getting the project off to a great start. He also helped me through a few stumbling blocks this week, with some tips over the phone. I also feel very fortunate to have a wife that lets me go out into the woodshop and play....er, I mean work with the tools to build the cabinets. There have been many corners I could have cut in the past few weeks as I worked on the cabinets, but chose not to. I really want these to be built to the best of my ability and to never have to do anything to them again, once they are all in place.
    With that said, I am at the stage where if no further work was done on them before they were installed, they would provide enough function to allow us to use the kitchen while the rest of the addition was finished and then I could return to finishing the drawers and doors once the addition was done. Which is exactly what my plan of attack is from here on out.
    The snows were melting on the slab earlier in the week and a little pocket of bare slab even appeared, so with today warming into the 40's with sunshine, I decided to get out there with the snow thrower and see if I could help the snow loss process on the slab some. While there was that one 2 foot by 6 foot pocket that did not have any snow on it, the rest of the slab had an average of 14-18 inches of snow on it and then there were the huge piles where it had slid off the cabin roof. I spent a combined hour or so out there and Nora jumped in to help a bit this afternoon and this is were we currently sit. About half the slab is now clear of snow, but we still have a long way to go to get rid of all of the snow, especially where it gets 4-5 feet deep by the cabin walls. It was actually a bit weird to be out there on the slab, as it was not around too long before getting buried. I am going to continue to chip away at the remaining snow and the weather looks to help too, with highs in the 60's and some sun. So, with a little luck perhaps the addition work can get kicked off later this week.
    I guess that just about covers it for this one. My final tidbit is that at this time last year, the Laurium Glacier had already melted for the season. Nora and I went by it yesterday evening and it still has a ways to go. Perhaps some of that snow will still be around in June!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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