November 30-
    Here we go! Snowmobile season opener eve! That sure is a mouthful and probably not the best way to say trails open tomorrow, but it is what it is! I would have to say that in all the years I have lived here, this will probably be one of the best openers we have ever had.
    We did take that hit last weekend, with the thaw, but still kept a nice solid base down and then it started dumping Monday and by the time it was all said and done, another 15 1/2" of snow fell last week. This was the look outside our door on Tuesday morning, shortly after Nora and Gracie had headed off to school. A fresh 7" and just a few inches shy of our depth before the thaw over the weekend. We only picked up around 1/2" on Tuesday itself, but another 6 on Wednesday and another 2 on Thanksgiving. The thaw yesterday was almost a non event. My temp only got to 33 and the snow settled, but really did not melt. Only the 12/12 portion of the roof slid.
    The old snow after last weekends thaw froze up nicely and is an awesome base, the new snow was like frosting on the cake. The groomers have not been out yet, but will be heading out in force tomorrow. Lots of snow on the trails. I would say at least a 12-14" base, if not more. Most of our trails run old railroad grades, which means that they are elevated above most of the natural grade and are not prone to wet spots. There may be a few here and there and the two trails I would be most cautious about would be the Lake Linden to Gay trail and the Gay to Lac La Belle trail. Both of those do not use railroad grades in many areas and can have issues with wet spots early in the season. I am sure I will be hearing about the conditions of all trails and may even get out on them a bit this week, just to scratch the itch.
    Thanksgiving day was just beautiful up here. At times we had a bit of sun shining and at other times it was dumping snow. I took the pups on our morning walk and as we walked through the neighborhood, looking at all the fresh snow, it really looked like it should have been Christmas Day and not Thanksgiving day. We started out in a pretty nice snow squall, but then on the way back, the sun peaked out just in time to bathe the house in some bright light and a "Thanksgiving Day in the Keweenaw" photo-op.
    After the walk, I fired up Big Red and cleared the snow. I still cannot get used to how awesome it is to just hop in that thing, fire it up, turn on the heat, tunes and move snow with the greatest of ease. Man-o-man, I sure wish I had gotten it before last winter set in!!!
    While I moved snow, the girls got gussied up and headed into the Kitchen to get going on the feast. Nora had actually done some of the prep work on Wednesday evening and I was in charge of the turkey, but Nora loves to put out a HUGE spread for holiday meals, so there was still plenty for the girls to do come Thursday morning. Gracie is getting old enough now that she really loves to help and does lighten the load a bit. A close eye still needs to be kept on Gracie to make sure she does things properly, but there certainly is no lack for enthusiasm when it comes to her helping out in the kitchen. There is talk of some Christmas treats being made starting next weekend, I can't wait for that!
    Ever since Gracie watched me build the addition, she is always coming to me with ideas for things she wants me to build her. Some of them are doable, others have to be put on the back burner until more time permits. Friday, she came to me saying that she needed me to build her a ballet bar. I know that we let her watch some TV and some movies and most of them involve a princess, fairy or Barbie, or some combination of those three, so I was interested to see what had gotten her into the ballet. So after dinner, she invited me to watch her do her ballet moves while she watched a ballet instructional video. As much as I love hockey, I am hoping that she sticks with things like ballet than wanting to jump into hockey. Pretty much all traveling for girls hockey up here!
    So with the holiday, not a lot of work got done. I did finish off enclosing the lean-to. They did not come out to finish putting up the garage door this week, but I will give them a call tomorrow and get the ball rolling on that once again. Once the door is in, then the insulation can go in, the walls can be finished out and the heat added and the lean-to will be all done until spring and the outdoor siding work.
    My next building project is a kind of a top-secret one, but I can drop the hint that it is for the ride-in. It will not take me too long to do, probably around 20-25 hours, but I also do not want to put it off until the last minute and have the stress associated with procrastination happen. 
    Speaking of the ride-in. I just received a very special prize from Togwotee Mountain Lodge. It is a 3 night Classic Winter Package for two in a standard cabin. The package includes round-trip transportation to and from the airport (if needed), 3 nights in a cabin, the meal package- which includes dinner, breakfast and happy hour, plus guide service for two days of riding. So all two folks need to do is get themselves out to Togwotee and either bring their sleds, or rent and they are golden! The prize is valued at $1442.00 and will expire on April 13 of 2015, so rather than wait for the ride-in to silent auction it off, I am going to set up an auction for the package on the discussion board tomorrow and will run it through December 31st, with the highest bidder taking the prize and then setting up their trip.
    I am also happy to say that all of you who have purchased raffle tickets on line will be getting their tickets soon! Nora and I sat down last night and spent around an hour or so getting them all into envelopes and recorded into a spread sheet. All I need to do is pick up a bunch of stamps and put them in the mail. All told, we have sold 176 of them! The two main guys responsible for the restoration of the sled are coming up next weekend to get it dialed in perfectly. Kelly said that there was a bit of a bog in the mid-range with the sled, so he and Adam are coming up to get that taken care of, then it will be off to a hosting spot and will be sure to let you all know where those spots will be.
    I guess that about covers it for this one. Hopefully I will get in some riding before the next time I write!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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November 23-
    Its been another busy week, both in the weather department and other departments. In the weather department, we picked up another 18 inches of snow, bringing our seasonal total to 56". The snows stopped Friday morning and we warmed to above freezing both yesterday and today. More on the weather in a bit.
    The main excitement for the week was the arrival of the sled to be raffled off at the Ride-In. I have only seen pictures of it as the restoration has gone on the past 6-8 months and the transformation was phenomenal, so I was very excited for it to arrive in person. The man behind the restoration, Kelly, brought it up all the way from the Minneapolis area yesterday and we unloaded it soon after it arrived. As good as it looked, the other man behind the restoration, Adam, did an equally phenomenal job with the engine rebuild/restoration. Kelly pulled on the starter cord just once and the sled fired right up!
    We got it off the trailer and let it touch the Keweenaw snow for the first time. Kelly wanted to take it for a short spin, so he hopped on it and drove it around the neighborhood a bit and then we pulled it into the shop for safe keeping until it goes off to a local business for display and to help sell raffle tickets. I believe that first stop is going to be the Mosquito Bar in Toivola. I just need to coordinate the delivery with Don and Donna, the owners.
    Before leaving, I nabbed a shot of Kelly on the sled he restored to full grandure. Like the sled he restored 2 years ago, this one is just incredible. Better than the day it rolled off the assembly line. The winner of this sled is going to be one lucky person and I cannot express how thankful I am to both Kelly and Adam for all of their hard work. 
    As for the ticket sales, they are still going great. I have not counted the latest tally, but figure we are at around 200-250 already. Nora and I are going to sit down in the next day or two and get them out to those that have already purchased them. My apologies for not getting them out yet, but it seems like just as it looks like I will be getting some free time to do send them out, something critical pops up and I have to do it. The weather does look to be a little quieter this week, so I should be able to keep my word this time around and get them out.
    Now...about that weather...As mentioned, we got quite a bit of snow this week. It never really stopped until Friday morning. We never had it just dump on us in any one 24 hour period, but other areas up here did. It looked to me that areas around Lake Gogebic and then just east of Munising got hit the hardest this week, with several feet falling. Of course there was the even bigger snows that hit the Buffalo region in the past week or so. The pictures I saw from that area were just amazing. A snow lovers dream come true!
    Even though we did not get the dumping they got or even the amount of snow other areas of the UP got, we still had a lot of snow fall and a lot of snow on the ground. All week it felt and looked like mid January, not mid November. I was very happy to have the blower mounted on Big Red. Throughout the week, I was able to work on my technique as well as establish the best progression of steps to clear the snow on both our driveway and the neighbors that I volunteered to clear. It may sound funny that I was working on a progression of steps for blowing the snow, but because of all the snow we get and time involved to move it, it really does help to dial in a system to become as proficient to cut back on the time as much as possible. By the end of the week, I was able to do both our driveway and parking area as well as the neighbors, plus clear the snow away from the fireplug between the two homes in around 25 minutes. The neighbors home is around 800 feet down the road, so it takes a couple of minutes to get there and back. Those times will not change too much with more snow to move either. Quite the difference from a minimum of 40 minutes to just clear our snow and that was with just a couple of inches. I had times of over 2 hours last year in some of the bigger storms!
    With all the new snow and some winds, the snow drifts were really starting to build on some of the roofs. The shop roof probably had the biggest overhanging drift. Thankfully, those come down with the greatest of ease. All I need to do is grab the roof rake and give them a little tug and they drop right off. As for the roofs, I figured that the warm temps would likely let them self-clear, but the roof on the lean-to is not steep enough that it would naturally slide, so yesterday I climbed up on it to shove it off. I lasted all of 1.3 seconds on it before I found myself on my backside and sliding off of it. I do make it a point to not climb up on a roof to shove it off unless I know that I will not slip off, or if I do, that the drop is not big enough and the snow is deep enough to prevent any real injury from a drop off the roof. The lean to roof is only about a 6 foot drop and there was still around 2 feet of snow on the ground, so the landing was nice and safe. 
    None the less, I did have to abandon the idea of climbing up on it to clear it off and had to resort to the roof rake. I actually had picked up a new one that is made of plastic, with aluminum poles and it is not only very light (around 5 lbs), but also well designed. It digs into the snow as you pull, but floats up and over as you push. So I did my pushing and pulling and Grace got a kick out of watching the snow drop off the eaves and soon the lean-to roof was clear. It was then time to move the snow that had piled up on the ground from all the raking, so Gracie and I fired up Big Red and used the blower to move the snow in quick order.
    Later in the day yesterday and then into the overnight, mother nature and her warm up allowed the shop roofs to clear as well as the side of the cabin and the back of the addition. The front of the addition has not cleared so far and I am having my doubts that it will. There are just too many valleys as well as the dormers to allow them to slide naturally. We'll see, but those may be areas that need to be cleared by hand.
    None the less, I am actually kind of grateful to have had this little thaw and allow the roofs to clear. Such was not the case at all last year and it was a lot of work to keep the snow from getting too deep on them. 
    The shop roof clearing did deposit another load of snow along side the lean-to and with the prospect of more snow to want to go there, it hade to be moved, so Grace and I once again fired up Big Red and moved that out of the way. What a wonderful machine!!! In less than 5 minutes we had moved the tons of wet and heavy snow, all while sitting in a nice comfortable seat inside a heated cab, listening to our favorite tunes. I am SO thankful that I decided to get this machine and that Nora saw the need for it too!
    One of the things I did before winter set in was to change out the old pex tubing that ran from the boiler to the shops and house. Instead of one line feeding the two, I now have one line that feeds the shops only and another that feeds the house only. I also replaced the thermostats inside the shops. They were nice programmable ones, but only allowed the air temp to get down to 48. I really wanted to let them sit more in the low 40's, so I picked up a pair of the "old-school" dial thermostats and have them set to 42. I'm not sure which of those changes made the biggest difference, but I can say that combined, my wood usage has dropped significantly. So much so, that we are using the same amount or even a bit less than we used before we even had the addition! So that takes a big stress off me that we will have plenty of wood to get us through the season and it is nice to go in and see that even though we are almost to December, I have barely put a dent into the wood supply.
    With all the fresh snow so early, Nora and I decided that it would be fun to start cross country skiing again. The only problem was that Gracie did not have a pair of skis yet, so we headed over to Cross Country Sports in Calumet and picked her up a nice used set of skis, boots/bindings and poles. Everything actually looked like brand new and they have an awesome program there for kids. You just go there and exchange your old set of gear for another set of used gear (that fits the growing child) and you just pay $5! That continues until the child has stopped growing. 
    So naturally, Gracie was pretty excited to get out there and give the skis a try. We did have some things to do in the afternoon, but after dinner, we turn on the front lights and bathe the front of the house in light and let her tool around a bit. She really did great for it being her first time. She did take a few spills, but laughed each one off and got right back up and continued on. The snow on the driveway was pretty icy to boot, so I think when we goes in better conditions, she will do just fine.
    So now all we need is some new snow to freshen up the old. It does look like we will get just that. Not a ton, but we also do not look to get a ton of rain. Probably around .25" or less and then it looks to change to snow tomorrow morning, with a few inches of fresh tomorrow, maybe another inch or two tomorrow and then a couple of inches for Thanksgiving and over the weekend. Our trails look to still be in good shape and I am hoping that the snow mat on our driveway can survive the next 12-14 hours before the snow starts to fly again. In any case, it looks like we will be just fine for the opener in a week and a few hours.
    I guess that about covers it, except to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
November 16-
    Not much to talk about, so it will be a short one. Just kidding! The forecast for "whopper" snow panned out and most areas picked up more than what was expected. My official total from when it started Monday afternoon to when it stopped Friday was 33.5". There were places that picked up even more than that. Some spots in the higher terrain just west of Marquette picked up 40+" and as best as I could tell, Gile WI, reported 50" as a storm total. If you are wondering where Gile is, it is sort of a "suburb" of Hurley, sitting about a mile WSW. 
    Needless to say, a storm of this magnitude was quite the event for even the snow hardened folks of the UP. Schools were canceled on Tuesday here and the kids in the Marquette area got both Tuesday and Wednesday off. The road crews were not taken too off guard. They seemed to be on top of the storm, but the earliness of the storm did catch a few of the general population off guard. This week would have been the week when there would be an ATV sitting in the back of most pickup trucks (in advance of the firearm deer season that started yesterday), but I think I saw just as many snowthrowers in the back of trucks as ATV's. Perhaps that was the method that was going to be used to get to camp or a hunting spot!
    I too was not totally ready for it. I did get the "have-to" things done before the storm hit. The load of rock was delivered around midday Monday and I was able to put Big Red to use in spreading it around nicely. About half way through the spreading process it started to snow, but not too heavily and I was able to get the job done before it really started to pile up. However, I did not get the loader swapped out with the blower in time for the storm. So it did take a bit more time to move snow with this system than if I had gotten the blower put on, but I still got to move snow from the heated comforts of the cab and it was still much quicker than if I had to resort to the old ATV/plow and walk behind blower.
    So while I would have probably preferred to have the storm hit this week or even next week than last week, I am not going to complain at all. The woods went from their dull brown and gray to a beautiful flocking of Keweenaw Kamo. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, we went from autumn to mid-winter around here. Here was the look of "downtown" Mohawk Thursday afternoon. Usually the plow banks are not 3 feet high until January.
    Most residents I talked to seemed to feel like after only 24 hours into the storm, we had been in winter for months. In some ways, it seemed like this past summer never happened. I guess when you figure it was only around 6 months since it all melted around here, summer did barely happen!
    The pups did not have to make too many adjustments to the snow. They got right at playing in it and playing in it and playing in it. There are few sights that bring a bigger smile to my face than watching a dog or dogs play in the snow!
    After having the day off Tuesday, Nora and Gracie has a 2 hour delay on Wednesday, so they did not have to get to school as early. Plus, the district has what they call early release days every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month. On those days, the kids get out around 90 minutes early so that the staff can have meetings and such. The early release days are mine to pick up Gracie from school, so I did and then we spotted this snow pile while driving home. It's not too often that a snow pile over 10 feet high appears before the start of deer season!
    Since I was moving snow with the loader, rather than the blower, we had some decent sized piles of snow around here as well. So when we got home, Gracie got all bundled up and had fun playing on some of them.
    I suppose a lot of you are wondering if I got a chance to play in the snow? Well, I probably did have the chance, but did not take advantage of it. I came down with a cold last weekend and it hung around all week. Nothing too nasty, but I do find myself running out of steam and needing a little 20-30 minutes break to re-energize so I can do more work. So I did not want to use up that energy playing when there was still quite a bit of work that really had to get done (namely moving snow and forecasting it!). Plus, since the last time I was on my sled, I broke my back while out west, it still was set up for the higher elevation. So I would have had to change out the clutch weights to ride it here and I really did not have the spare time to do that. Although going past the trail on Wednesday sure made it tempting to abandon all and go for a ride!
    The size and timing of the storm did throw a wrench into the typical deer hunting agendas up here. Just about all areas had too much snow for an ATV and many even had too much snow for a truck. So there have been some hunters using snowmobiles to get to camps or hunting spots. I got a call from Troy/Cathy from the Lac La Belle Lodge to see if they could borrow my sled for hunting and I gladly offered it up. I just cautioned that I needed the clutch weights swapped out, so when their son Zach came to pick it up, he swapped out the weights and then off it went to perform it's duty. As fate would have it, Cathy got this buck opening day!
    I also figure that with the rambunctious start to this snow season, am I wishing I had not made the prediction I did in my seasonal outlook? The truth is, I was never happy to make that forecast in the first place. As far as what has happened last week giving any stronger ideas on what the rest of the snow season will be like, I have done a look back and there really is no strong connection between snowy Novembers and what the rest of the winter will be like. The last November we had that was similar to this was in 1997. The snow season for 1997-98 was not so good as a whole, with only 130" for the season. Then you look at another year like 1978, when big snows fell in November and it ended up being the biggest snow total season this area has ever seen. The rest of the handful of years did not bring any more insight. 
    So I guess the bottom line is, anything is still possible, even a poor season as a whole...or perhaps a record breaker. I can say that I am encouraged by what I see going forward. This week will be quite snowy in the Keweenaw and I am ready for it as we got the blower put on Big Red Friday afternoon. Lake effect snows look to fall almost every day this week and we could be looking at 12"+. There were some ideas of a thaw coming to all of the Midwest (even with the potential for some rain) by early next week, but now no such thaw for the Northwoods is seen and maybe even a bit of snow. Only time will tell what happens going forward through the rest of the season and nothing would make me happier than to have my seasonal outlook be a total bust!
    The final story I have to share is that the Dee's have not waited for Thanksgiving to come and go before putting the house into the Christmas spirit this year. This weekend, we decided to put the tree up. Nora and Grace had mentioned putting it up before Thanksgiving and I love Christmas enough to not fight it. Nora suggested it because the days immediately following Thanksgiving are so busy, it seems like we are in such a rush to shoehorn time in to put the tree up that is it stressful and not fun. Gracie was just plain ready to put the tree up!
    So Friday evening we broke out the tree, got it up and lit and then the girls put the ornaments on yesterday. Gracie was so excited to be decorating the tree that she started out by hanging the first half dozen or so in a very small space. After a little coaching from Nora, she got the hang of it and the tree looked beautiful once all done. It is a new tree to us. We picked it up last winter after Christmas (on sale of course) and it is much larger than our old one. The old one was around 6 feet tall and this one is 9 feet. It fills up the space by the stairs nicely! So please do not give us grief for the early jump on things. We did have lots of fun putting it up and there was even close to 2 feet of snow on the ground while we did it!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
November 9-
    Uh-oh! Ready or not, here it comes! The seasons first whopper snow storm looks to be headed for the northern Plains and northern Midwest. Truth is, it is already starting to impact portions of the Dakotas as I type and the other truth is, I am not as ready for it as I would like to be. I will be able to handle it without too much problem, but if I could have gotten just one more week, I would be fully prepared.
    This week threw some curve balls at my outdoor work schedule. Nora was out of town (not really a curve ball as I knew she would be) and then Gracie got sick. The poor girl, I went to pick her up on Tuesday and I have never seen her so worn out. She was barely making it down the hallway and at first I thought that it was just a reluctance to leave school, but as she got closer, I could see by her face she was not feeling well. She got to me and literally collapsed in my arms. So I carried her the rest of the way out the school and to the truck. Got her buckled into her car seat and she was asleep before we even got out of the parking lot!
    I carried her in to the house from the truck, set her right in bed and made her comfortable. I took her temperature right away and she only had a low fever. She complained of a head and ear ache, so I gave her some medicine and she fell quickly to sleep. Slept for another 3 hours, woke up long enough to grab a bite to eat and then fell back asleep.
    She awoke feeling pretty good and was disappointed when I did not allow her to go to school, but the school likes parents to keep their kids out of school until they have been free of a fever for 24 hours. She went back to school on Thursday, but I did take her in to see the Dr on Thursday afternoon. Things checked out pretty good there, with a mild ear infection.
    So I was not able to do much outside work Tue, Wed or Thur of this week, but did get stuff done Monday, Friday, Saturday and today. So the lean-to for Big Red is all set to it and keep it dry. Warm? Well, not yet. There is a garage door coming, but it will not be here until early next week. I also have some more work to do before I am ready to insulate it, but I was able to finish off the rear portion (unheated part, no cement floor) of the lean-to as well as get the walls up and the Yooper-Siding (housewrap) on it. I did run out of the Yooper-Siding, but will pick up some more tomorrow. So the bottom line is, Big Red is out of the elements...except for the cold and in a little over a week, it's barn will be heated too. Plus, we moved the ATV's into the lean-to and now Nora's car can finally be kept in the front shop and is sitting there now. No more scraping snow/frost/ice off her car and she and Grace will have a clean and somewhat warm vehicle to get into every morning!
    My main concerns for this storm are that I wanted to get some rock delivered and spread out across the driveway and parking area to level things off. I am going to call first thing tomorrow morning to see if they can get it to me before the end of the day. Even though it is snowing right now and may snow lightly trough tonight and tomorrow, the main snows look to hold off until after sunset tomorrow. So perhaps I can get that task done before the big storm hits. If not, I probably will not worry about it until next spring as this storm may bring enough snow (12"+) that it would stick around for the rest of the winter.
    The other thing I would like to have had done before the storm hits would be to have the blower mounted on the front of Big Red. However, I have held off putting it on, as I wanted to keep the bucket/forks on to help me with the construction and rock spreading. Plus the backhoe is still on it and I remember that causing some challenges when we went to put the blower on last spring. It can be done, but with the backhoe still on, it more of a 2 person job, whereas if the backhoe is off, then it becomes a pretty simple 1 man job. If you want to watch a video of just how easy it is, check it out here. The interesting thing is, the easiest thing he does in that demo of the swap from the loader to the blower is probably the hardest to do with the backhoe on and happens at around 6:55, putting the pin in the rear arm.
    Anyway, it will not be too long before I have the blower in place and in the mean time, I will still be able to move any amount of snow from the comforts of my heated cab with the loader. So no worries!
    The sled raffle ticket sales have been going very well. I have taken orders for 70 tickets so far. I have not filled those orders yet! But have patience. Last week was pretty busy for me and I will be sure to get them out this week, as well as to keep up with new orders. The engine was mounted into the chassis, so it is almost ready to go!
    So not much else happened during the work week. Nora got home late on Thursday and it was great to have her back. We all went on a family date night to the bowling alley last night. About 10 years ago (or so) a new bowling alley with a bar and restaurant went up behind the Walmart in Houghton and while I have been in the restaurant to eat several times, I have never bowled there. In fact, I have never bowled at a facility where the modern features of today's bowling world are in place. Automatic scoring was nice as was the fact that they had a ramp that Gracie could use to get her ball rolling down the lane. The lane would also automatically pop the bumpers up when it was Gracies turn to avoid a gutter ball. 
    I don't know where I have been lately, but my sweet little innocent girl has sure become competitive! I got a little ahead of her, so she decided to follow behind me chanting "gutter ball, gutter ball, gutter ball". Then she ditched the ramp in favor of a new style. Which was followed up by lots of body english and a bit of frustration when a strike was not made. Actually, truth be told, she had great sportsmanship. She was not barking "gutter ball" at me but rather was just excited and liked to stand there while it was Nora and my turn. There was also no real disappointment when she did not get a strike, although she did actually get her very own spare and her totals were in the 50's for both games! In my willingness to try and pick up the last pin for a spare, I tried Gracie's style, but ended up missing.
    So I guess that about covers it for now. It looks quite likely that I will have the opportunity to take some nice snow shots this week. Not only does the system snow look to fall, but LES does as well. If we are under the main band of snow for the system and then get several inches of LES to fall after, it is possible we could be flirting with over 2 feet of fresh snow this week. I guess there is only one thing to say...Bring It!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
November 2-
    Well, if the week before was the productive outdoor work week, then this past week was the productive indoor work week. I can say that not a single thing got done on the lean-to, and the only real outdoor work I got done was to cut down the stumps from the trees that were cut near the wood boiler the previous week. They were sticking up and in the way when I moved wood from the shed to the boiler. So even though I bragged about how I was pretty much indemnified from the weather with my remaining work, I did let the nasty weather we had this week keep me indoors and I kept busy on some desk work type of things that needed to get done.
    I do have plans to get back at working on the lean-to and I may or may not finish it this week, but should be able to get it a lot closer to being done.
    So some of the desk work I got done this week was to set up the registration for the ride-in. We usually have a lot of folks register at the last minute. I am hoping that we can get most of you wanting to attend to sign up as soon as possible. This being the final event, I am hoping to make it the biggest and best and have some special things in the works. Because I am hoping for a large turn-out, I have moved the venue back to the Memorial Union Ballroom at MI Tech. I doubt that we will fill it, but it sure would be cool if we could! So if you have never attended and have always wanted to, then this will be your final chance. If you have attended in the past, but were hoping to get to one more, then this will be your final chance too! I sure hope that all the familiar faces will be there as well!
    The other ride-in related desk job work I did was to set up the page to purchase raffle tickets for the vintage sled restoration. If you have not been following, the same two persons that did the majority of the work on the first sled restoration 2 years ago have done it again and restored a 1977 Polaris TX 340 to mint condition. Like I did two years ago, I have set up a webpage where ticket for the sled can be purchased. I also plan to have the sled showcased at a few businesses up here as well as having some businesses selling tickets for the sled raffle. Once I have the tickets at those businesses, then I will let you all know.
    So most of the week had us in the upper 30's and low 40's for highs, with off and on rain. Not really the best weather to be trying to do outdoor work in, even if you are under cover. Then on Thursday night and Friday morning, the rain changed to snow and we picked up our first accumulation of the season. Not a ton, only about a inch and a half at our house, but when it fell, it was very wet and sticky and frosted the woods nicely.
    I am grateful that it was not a big dumping as those that occur at this time of the year just make a big mess when they melt off. However, I can also fully admit that both the pups and I did fully enjoy walking in the snow covered neighborhood on our morning walk Friday. Typically the dogs spend most of the walk with nose to ground and I always wish I could know what they were smelling. On mornings after a fresh show, I can get a good idea of what they are smelling in many cases. This time around, it was some tracks left behind by both a fox and a coyote. There were no human prints in the snow, so I knew they had to be from a wild animal. The smaller tracks were laid out like that of a small dog, but were way too small to be a coyote, so they had to be a fox. The others were also laid out like a dog, but were a bit smaller than Millie's prints (the print on the left in this shot). I have also seen a fox and a coyote roaming around the neighborhood in the past month or two.
    While we picked up around 1.5", more fell not too far away. We are around a mile or so, as the crow flies, away from Mohawk and when I made the afternoon run to the post office, I was a little surprised to see that they had picked up close to 2.5-3" of snow. Certainly enough to take a rip across on a sled if one were desperate enough to do so. The town of Mohawk is not only around a mile or so away, but is also around 100 feet higher in elevation. These early season snows can really differ in their amounts based on elevation. I wished I could have driven up to some of the higher terrain up by me, but did not have time, but I would not have been surprised to see 4-6" in those spots, based on past experiences with similar events. 
    One thing is for sure, that being we sure were blessed with the weather we had for cutting wood last weekend vs. this weekend! The snow had stopped falling by Friday evening, but then the skies cleared and temps dropped into the upper teens by Saturday morning and little of the snow that had fallen Friday had melted by Saturday morning. Combine that with the fact that nearly an inch of rain fell prior to the snowfall and the spot where the logs were piled for cutting was a bit of a mess with half frozen puddles and around an inch and a half of snow.
    The reason why I could not head up into the high country Friday afternoon was that it was Halloween and Gracie's kindergarten class had a party the final 45 minutes of class. Parents were asked to provide something for the party, so I brought some sandwiches for the kids and then hung out and watched all the kids have fun at the party.
    Once school was out, we hooked up with Nora at home, got bundled up to go out into the cold and snow flurries to do some trick or treating. Thankfully Gracie's costume this year was able to accommodate some warm layering underneath it. Although we did have to forgo the ruby red slippers in favor of snow boots! The trick or treating went well and Grace came home with a pretty good stash. She has been chipping away at it, but her sugar tooth is not huge, so it will probably last here a few more weeks.
    Earlier in the week, we managed to carve up the pumpkins we picked out last weekend. Nora handled the three smaller ones by carving BOO on them and Gracie and I used one of those kits to make a design. They all turned out pretty good, although Grace did tell Nora that it did not look like a "B", but rather a "13"!
    Last night when we got home from being out, the sky was clear and the 1/2 moon was shining brightly in the sky. We had given Grace a telescope for her birthday, but not until a few weeks ago was it getting dark enough, early enough, for us to be awake when it got dark! So this was only the second time we have used it, but it was really neat to be able to see the moon so close up. We could actually see all the craters on it and even the terrain of the craters that sat on the edge of the surface. Here is a shot of Gracie doing some moon gazing.
    Today was a pretty nice day, with temps reaching into the mid 40's and some sunshine. So it was decided over lunch that we should hop into the car and take a ride down to Jacobsville and White City Beach. So that is exactly what we did. By the time we got there, some clouds had filled in and there was a pretty good breeze, but we dressed pretty warm and it was nice to be on the beach. It did not take long for the pups to find their way into the water. Gracie contemplated it, but thankfully common sense prevailed!
    A few weeks back, there was a strong storm that caused 15 foot waves to crash onto that shoreline. It also caused a lot of driftwood to pile up and Grace had fun climbing around on the pieces of driftwood. The pups and Gracie also played a game of chase (which they one quite handily) and then the elements started to get the better of us, so we piled into the car and took the long way home. All in all, a very nice time was had at White City Beach this afternoon.
    So that about covers it for this one. I can mention that I will be starting up the snowfall forecasts this week. I plan for Tuesday and if not that day, then Wednesday for sure. Nora is going to be gone much of this week, so that means a bit more work for me in the mornings to get Grace ready for, and driven to, school. But I should have found my groove by Wednesday at the latest. So until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

 

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