September 28-
    Sheesh, it's pretty hard to believe that this is the final entry for September and in just a bit over 2 months from now, snowmobile season will be starting up! One reason is that September has just flown by. I guess being busy will do that. The second, and probably bigger, reason is that it has been more like early August around here, rather than late September. Highs in the 70's, even flirting with 80, and even a bit of humidity. I really do not mind this weather at all. Even with the warm days, nights are comfortably cool. Plus, we still do not have the wood boiler fully hooked up, so it is nice not to need heat.
    The colors are really popping as well. We are not yet at peak up this way, but between the weather and the colors we do have, one would not be disappointed at all to be up here. It is amazing how fast the colors have gone from just a few trees going to almost peak. Here is a shot of a tree that I took early in the week on a morning walk. Here is a shot of the trees in our front yard, taken just a few moments ago. I would put the peak of the colors later this week or weekend around here, but the weather also looks to turn a bit nasty by then, so I plan to get out and take some color pics the first half of this week.
    Not all of the colors are in the trees though. We had quite the aurora Tuesday night as well. Of course I missed it, as I was sound asleep, but the weird thing is the night that they were going strong, I did have a rather vivid dream about them. I have heard that some think the aurora can have mystic powers, so maybe it was more than just a coincidence that my dream happened at the same time they were going on? In any case, here is what I missed in reality. My thanks to Mark U for providing that last picture.
    With the weather so beautiful, we actually hit the beach twice this week. Once was on Friday evening. In all the years together, I am not even sure if Nora and I have ever had a bonfire on the beach and I can say for sure that we have not had a bonfire on the beach since Gracie joined the Dee clan. One of the main issues is that when the weather is typically warm enough to enjoy a bonfire on the beach, the sun is not setting until around 10pm. IN any case, it was much warranted and I am sure it will be repeated a lot more frequently. 
    As we pulled up to the beach, a bald eagle flew off of a limb and was flying around the beach area. Nora grabbed the camera and started firing off shots and here is a good one. It did not linger too long in the area, so we finished up unloading the supplies for the bonfire and got the fire going. There is something so relaxing about hanging out at the beach and watching a fire. Here is a picture of Huck and I doing just that. Or, were we actually checking out the beauties at the beach.
    There was also a bit of pondering of things and just hanging out. If you are wondering where Millie was. She did not seem to like the fire much. I am not sure if it was the fire itself, or perhaps the smoke, but she was content to hang out in the truck. 
    So we watched the sunset and then hung out for a bit longer and headed home. On the way home, we were treated to a pretty sight, with a sliver of moon hanging in the red sky.
    We had so much fun at the beach Friday night, that after Gracie's last soccer game on Saturday, we all piled into the truck and headed back out to it. This time the sun was fully in the skies, temps were warm and it was a good day for a swim. Even Grace joined them, although the water was a bit too chilly for her to go in all the way.
    I chipped away at work still needed to be done. I did not do much for Big Red's shelter, other than to put the rest of the cap on the wall and finish out the excavation work for the slab. That leaves putting down the foam insulation and putting up the forms for the slab and then to pour and finish the concrete. It looks like the weather will give a window for that the middle of this week, so perhaps I can try my hand a concrete finishing this week. I have been part of 4 slabs, so I have a good idea of what it takes, plus this is a pretty small slab and does not need to be perfect by any means. So we'll see.
    The wood boiler is not yet fully hooked up, but we did get it most of the way. I actually bought some of the higher end pex tubing to run between the boiler and the shops/home, plus, I am going to run separate lines to heat the shop(s) and cabin, rather than run just one line for all. So I got the lines run from the boiler to the shop and had help in hooking things up in the shop. Then yesterday I dug the trench for the line that will run from the shop to the house and got the pex into it and back filled. So all we need to do is make the connections at the boiler and the house, fill the boiler and fire it up. There may also be some bleeding of lines that need to be done, but it should not be too hard to get things back up and running. It looks like we will want some heat by the end of this week too!
    So I guess that about covers it for this one, except for this late entry. On Friday night when we were at the beach, Gracie and Nora were taking selfies. They decided to call Huck over to get in on the act. This was the result. We all laughed so hard. You gotta love dogs! The best medicine.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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September 21-
    It's been a busy, but productive week. The week started out with a sick kindergartner, so she stayed home with me on Monday. It was just a cold, but seemed pretty bad when she woke up, so rather than risk getting all of her classmates sick, we kept her home. She actually got feeling much better as the day went on, so we did get out and do some work. The work for me consisted of removing the mine rock I put down with my older brother around 5 years ago to help keep the sand from slumping away from the foundations of the shops. Physical work, but not that mentally difficult. Plus, I made sure to make use of Big Red as much as possible. The more I have this machine, the more happy I am that I got it! It would have been a lot more work this week without it, that's for sure!
    Gracie got a kick out of being able to ride in Big Red when I moved the rocks to their dumping spot. I lost track of how many trips it took, actually I think I just forgot to keep counting beyond the 9th or 10th trip, but it was many, many trips made by Big Red, Gracie and I. By the time we were all done, we had quite the rock pile made out in the woods. I'm not saying Jimmy Hoffa is underneath, I'm just saying....
    The materials for the retaining wall arrived early in the week as well. It included some rock to fill the cores of the block with, as well as the blocks themselves. It also included the rigid foam to put down underneath the slab to help keep the shelter for Big Red insulated.
    The next job was to wet down the sand and then remove some of it to make room for the retaining wall. Autumn is a pretty wet time of the year for us. We typically have a pretty heavy dew every morning that takes until late in the morning to dry up. Even so, after wetting down the sand and removing it, I put in some pieces of OSB to keep any sand that dried from sluffing down into the work area.
    Once that was done, then it was time to create a level base for the wall to go onto and then start laying the block. It was my first time ever doing any kind of block work by myself. I helped others that did work for me and watched some other jobs, but never flew solo until this project. It is pretty easy stuff to work with. They are dry-stack, so there is no mortar involved. The blocks have tabs on the back of the bottom side to keep them from being pushed forward. So the most important thing is to get the first course straight and level.
    While in the process of planning for this wall, I decided I would extend it out a bit from the front edge of the shop and then have it make a 90 degree to the left to create a nice base for the stand-by generator. 
    This work required a bit more thinking, but was still mostly physical. Each block weighed in at 70 lbs. While probably not something I would pick for my profession, I did enjoy the work. The weather was pretty good for it, with temps in the 40's and 50's and no rain. I was able to be out in the beautiful Keweenaw (even if it was just my front yard) and also got to hang out with my two best buddies. Plus, one day when Gracie was looking for something to do, she was kind enough to clean up Big Red.
    By the end of the day on Thursday, I had all the block laid and the wall nearly completed. I say nearly completed, because I still have to do some backfilling and lay the cap on the wall, but the really nasty work is done. All in all, I lifted 103 blocks weighing in at 70 lbs each twice, for a grand total of 14,420 lbs lifted by hand in under 24 hours. Plus, I also filled the cores of the block with 2 tons of rock, one shovel at a time. I did use the bucket on Big Red to move the blocks from their pallets to where they needed to be stacked and also used the bucket to carry the rocks to where they needed to be shoveled into the cores, but it was still a lot of heavy lifting! I was pretty amazed that I was not more sore on Friday. My back did have some tenderness to it, but not much more than it gets on a pretty regular basis since breaking it in March.
    It was a good thing that I was not overly sore on Friday, as we had our annual trail work session that day and then next. All week I had been watching the weather and was disappointed by the fact that the best chances for rains in the entire two week period was going to be centered right on the two days we and the Superior Snowmobile Club just to our south were having our work sessions. As luck would have it, Friday ended up being a beautiful day for working out in the woods. We did some brushing and also some repairs to a few bridges. Some clouds did start to roll in by the late afternoon, but we were able to stay dry through the whole work day and also were able to take in some of the beautiful colors starting to take hold across the region.
    On Saturday, I did wake up with some pretty sore arms and a sore back. I'm not sure if it was just a 2 day delay from all the lifting on Thursday or maybe the combination of all the work on Thursday and Friday. At any rate, the work for Saturday was mostly to repair some bridge decking and railings and also to clean up the sign room for the groomer barn. The weather Saturday morning was pretty glooming. Unusually warm and humid for September 20th, with readings in the upper 60's and dewpoints at a similar level. However, this led to some pretty thick fog and even a few sprinkles. It did not stop us from our work on the bridge. The crew was nearly the same as last year, minus one that has come in the past several years, but also a new worker. All in all, we had just 5 of us out there, but were able to get a lot done none the less and had loads of fun doing it. We have all come to know each other pretty well and so it is fun to be out there, working and joking around at the same time.
    Once the work was all done for the day on Saturday, we all retired to get cleaned up and then Nora and I hosted a dinner for the workers who had come up to volunteer their time and energy, plus Nora's two brothers who came up to do some work on one of their places and then do a bit of bird hunting. We had a nice time visiting in the evening and I sure do appreciate the help from Gary, Eric, Jeremy and Roy. I also am thankful to the Trailside Lodge for their generosity in providing free lodging to the workers.
    Today I stayed home with Gracie and the pups while Nora went bird hunting with her two brothers. I will be completely honest with you all. As much as I love the outdoors and love to eat meat, I just cannot find it in me to do the killing. I am by no means against it at all. I guess it just that I have been through so much battling for my own life, that I just cannot find it in me to take that of another. I am sure that if it came down to it for survival, I would have no problem, but since I have not been faced with that predicament, I prefer to just get my meat pre-packaged. 
    So Nora headed out this morning to hunt. She and her brothers went down to their old stomping grounds in Jacobsville and then arrived back up here to hunt our woods in the afternoon. While out on the morning hunt, Nora sent a "hunting selfie" to Gracie and I just to let us know she had not been shot by her brothers!
    They got skunked in the morning, but then her brother Jeff was able to get one partridge this afternoon. Here is a shot of Nora posing with the bird. When they got back to our house, we all went out to look at the bird and I was amazed at how interested and unfazed by the dead bird Gracie was. Perhaps in a few years it will be her and Nora heading out for the hunt! Plus, I think they will want to take Huck and Millie along with them, as once they saw the bird, they were EXTREMELY interested and the genetics kicked in and were acting very much like hunting dogs (pointing, etc), even though they have never been on a gun hunt in their lives.
    So this weeks work docket looks to include doing a little excavating work for the slab for Big Reds shelter. Then put down the rigid foam and some forms. Then I hope to pour the slab either Friday or Saturday. It will not take all week to get things ready to pour the concrete, so I suspect that I will likely get started on fixing the wood shed. Not sure if I will get that all done this week, but it does not look to be a very big fix. Plus, I think we will be getting the wood boiler hooked back up and running this week, although I will not be doing most of that work. I guess the bottom line is that there is still a fair amount of work to be done to get the shelter for Big Red all done as well as the wood shed fixed, but I am not worried or intimidated by the work that lays ahead either. I am actually looking kind of forward to it!
    My last bit of business for this entry is to share some pics of the Ride-In sled restoration I received today. It is coming along very nicely. I am once again amazed at the quality of the work being done. The hope is to have it all done by around the end of October. I have the raffle tickets all ready to sell and will be setting up an on-line purchase page on the site in the next week or so for that. I sure am excited to see this sled all done. It reminds me very much of one of the sleds I grew up on. At any rate, here is a side shot of the body, here is a front shot and here is an under the hood shot.
    So, I guess that about covers it for this one!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

September 14-
    I guess the main story this week would be the weather. Monday and Tuesday were what I would consider to be as good as it gets for autumn weather. Highs in the upper 60's and low 70's, low humidity and loads of sunshine. You give me 3 months of that and I might have to change my favorite season. Who am I kidding!? Winter will probably always be my favorite season.
    None the less, big changes took place on Wednesday, with temps starting the day in the upper 40's and falling into the low 40's by the afternoon and a steady rain falling all day. We ended up with just over 2" of rain for the day, but other spots saw upwards of 3". I know I often disregard when folks talk about "if that were snow..." with regards to rain in the summer, but it is usually rains that have fallen with thunderstorms and the atmospheric processes going on to produce the thunderstorm rains vs. the processes to produce wintertime snow are quite bit different. However, the storm that brought us our 2"+ of rain on Wednesday was exactly the type of system that would bring us 2 feet+ of snow. Only it was around 2 months too early. Snows did fall with it around 200 miles to the north of us and there were some pretty healthy snows in the front range of the Canadian and northern US Rockies with it. So hopefully that type of system repeats itself several times this winter!
    The rest of the week was quite chilly too. Highs on Friday never got into the 50's either and we had "windshield frost" Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings, including a 31 Friday morning. So I guess it is safe to say that autumn has arrived in earnest across the Keweenaw.
    While it has felt very much like autumn since Wednesday, it still looks more like summer in the woods than autumn, but more and more of the trees are starting to turn a pale shade of green and there are more and more splashes of color showing up too. In about 3 weeks we should be very near peak colors in these parts. I am still holding out hope that it will be a unusually spectacular show this year. It is typically spectacular, but all the ingredients are there for it to be even more dramatic than usual.
    I am happy to report that Gracie survived her first full week of school and even more pleased to report that her teacher did as well! Kindergarten teachers are a special breed, that is for sure! On Wednesday, they had an "early release" day, so I picked her up and we did some shopping. She wore her ladybug raincoat and seemed to be the hit of the show in every store we stopped at.
    So with all of this cold weather, I bet you are wondering if we have turned the heat on yet. The answer to that is, no. Not because I am being tough, or cheap, or because we just did not need it, but because on the Friday I left to go to Haydays, it sprung a leak. I went out to fill it up good so that Nora would not need to bother with it while I was away and there was water dripping out of the door. Not the thing you want to see when you head out to fill it up. So I opened the door and saw a firebox filled with wet ashes and some water dripping from the rear baffle. The first thing I did was to go and fire up the hot water heater we have in the house as a backup. It did work just fine, so I knew the girls would have hot water and would not need heat, so I could leave for the weekend. The second thing I did was to shovel out all the wet ashes. Not a fun job as that stuff is just like concrete when it gets wet. Thankfully I used the bucket on Big Red to haul the ashes off into the woods.
   Once back home, I got all the water out of the firebox and went into see if I could spot where it was leaking from. That turned out to be pretty easy, there were two small pinhole leaks on that rear baffle and the water had actually dissolved the build up of creosote and the metal was like new underneath the creosote. So the leak came from the inside of the water jacket, which is somewhat worrisome, as it means that there could be other areas that are ready to leak... or hopefully not! Anyway, I was able to get someone to come over and weld the holes shut.
    If there was a fortuitous time for this to happen, I guess this was it. First, it was not the dead of winter and thus we were not desperate for heat, or in a huge jam with things freezing up while it was shut down. Secondly, I was going to have move it sometime in the next few weeks because once the lean-to for Big Red is built, the snow could slide off it and hit the boiler, so the plan was to move it around 10 feet further away from the lean-to, which would put it right near the woodshed. To move it, I would have had to drain it. So I guess the draining served two purposes!
    I do have it all cleaned out, drained, unhooked and ready to move. It typically does not look so dirty on the outside, but the leak and cleaning caused a mess that I will clean up once it is moved. I have some crushed mine rock coming tomorrow and will use that to make a base and then have a friend come with a excavator and use it to life the boiler (they are lifted via an eyelet on top of the unit) out of the way while I use Big Red and the forks to move the cement pad it sits on over to the new spot. It does not need to sit on the cement pad, so if for some reason Big Red cannot lift the pad, we can still get it moved. Then all I need to do is hook the pex piping back up to it and run the electrical to it and we will be back in business. I am also going to take the opportunity to upgrade my underground, insulated pex to the good stuff and change how it travels through the shop a bit while we are down. That will help to keep the water better insulated as it travels from the boiler to the shop and house. 
    The forecast looks pretty good to not have to use the heat. We have been using the fireplace to take the morning chill out of the house, otherwise the house is comfortable during the day. Once we do get it hooked back up and running, I got my yearly load of wood for it, so there is lots of it sitting ready to be cut and loaded into it. I ordered a few more extra cords this time around. Last season we ran out, but it was also the coldest winter ever, so it is kind of hard to tell how much more wood we will use on average due to the addition. The bottom line is, I would much rather have left over come spring than have to do what I did this past "spring".
    The other major job this week was to get ready to start re-building the lean-do. That included moving things out of the way that I have been storing in the spot and also putting in the drainage pipe that would run from in front of the house and shop where water would pool up in a heavy rain, as well as a spot between the parking area and the wood boiler that also collected water and then through the spot where the lean-to is going. All told, it was 130 feet of drain tile that went in. The worse of it by far was through the mine-rock driveway we have. Even with the use of the backhoe loaned to me for Big Red, it was pretty slow going. Way back when we had the property cleared and the driveway put in, the contractor put in mine-rock straight from the piles of poor rock up here. Most pieces were baseball to softball sized, but there were some football and even bigger pieces. Not a major problem, unless you want to try and dig into them, then it's a real challenge. In any case, Big Red and the backhoe rose to the occasion and then once I got off the driveway and into the dirt, it was very quick going and I was able to get the drain tile laid and backfilled yesterday and then Gracie and I picked up some of the bigger rocks that were left at the surface after backfilling. We put them into the bucket on Big Red and hauled them off into a spot in the woods.
    I had been digging in the rocky driveway for maybe an hour when Nor and Gracie got home from some shopping. I jokingly told Gracie that since we live in a castle (she likes to pretend we do), that I was digging a moat around the castle. She got all excited and it broke my heart to have to tell her I was just kidding that it was actually for the drain. She took it pretty well and decided to create her own moat.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one, just a final reminder that if you are looking for something to do this Friday and/or Saturday and need an excuse for your wife or husband to come spend some time in the Keweenaw, including free lodging, we are having our trail-work session this Fri-Sat and will be repairing some bridges. It's always loads of fun to get together with the good folks that visit the site, get out and breathe in that fresh Keweenaw air and do a little work for our organization. If you need more information, you can read more here.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
September 7-
    Ahhhh...Back on "The Island". That is the phrase that Gracie, Nora and I always use when we return home from being a way for a while. We do live on a peninsula, but it is also technically an island. Although I was only gone for around 48 hours and was having a great time with friends, the feeling to be back at home and especially back at home with my wife, daughter and dogs is a euphoric as it always has been. I sure am a lucky guy to be living the life I have. This place is just pure magic for me and the pull is as strong as it was the moment I ever stepped foot in it for the first time.
    I was also fortunate to head southwest to MN to take in the Haydays celebration once again. This time around I was lucky enough to be able to walk around the entire time I was there, rather than help man a "booth" at the show. Togwotee switched things up a bit and I was able to take the day off. Before anyone starts to wonder, things have not soured at all between them and myself. They just did things a little differently as far as persons at their spot and I was able to be free all day, which was a first for me in the 4 years I have been attending.
    For those of you who have never been to the show and are into snowmobiling, I can honestly say that it is something you should experience at least once. There is probably no other snowmobile related event in the country, perhaps the world that is as large and all-encompassing at this. It is literally a sea of snowmobiling humanity. Between the swap vendors and the commercial vendors, if need something for your sled or snowmobiling in general and cannot find it there, you are probably not going to find it anywhere. 
    That shot was taken on what is probably the "main isle", so other isles are not nearly as wall to wall with people, but it would be interesting to know how many folks were there on Saturday. The weather was about as perfect as it could be as well. Temps in the low 70's, with a light breeze, low humidity and just a very few clouds. Actually a few clouds might have been nice as being out in the sun for 10-12 hours straight can get to be a bit much.
    It's funny, a big part of the event is also the snowmobile grass drags, but I wonder what the percentage of persons going to the event even see one race. I know I have swung over to see at least a few runs occur ever year I have gone, but have never stayed for much more than around 20 minutes or so. This year we went over to watch and the "big dogs" were running. Those are the outlaw class, where pretty much anything goes as far as modifications go to make your sled as fast as it can possibly be. Most sleds were four strokes, with their horsepower boosted by turbo chargers. The drag race is only 500 feet long, but yet by the time they reach the finish line, they are going over 130 mph! We were actually watching the races from a spot that was pretty far down the line from the finish line, but here is a video of one of the runs between two sleds.
    In addition to going to Haydays, it is also a treat for me to be able to hang out with friends I have made through the site. Dave (a friend from up here) and I have made the trip down together for the past 3 years and we stay at a friends house that is only around 30 minutes from where they hold Haydays. In some cases, some of us staying there for the event have not seen each other since the snow was still on the ground and since the event is sort of the "kick off" to the next snowmobile season, there is an extra bit of giddiness in our nature. So we tend to have a real good time on Friday night. Each year there seems to be some funny thing that happens that gets talked about for years and I think this years memory will be the road hockey that was played in the garage. Complete with a goalie
    So Haydays is officially done and over for this year and I bet there are a lot of folks out there with snowmobiling on the brain right now. Those thoughts may diminish a bit in the coming weeks, but will start to get amplified again with the arrival of the first flakes of snow and the other snowmobile shows that happen later on in autumn.
    Around here this week, the big story early in the week was the taking down of the pool. I wrote in last weeks entry how we took the last swim in the pool, pups and all. Then on Tuesday, while Nora was at work, Gracie and I took the pool down. Even though it is only up for a few months, it always seem so strange to not see it up.
    The bigger story this week came on Thursday when Gracie had her first day of kindergarten, which was also her first-ever day of school. She has been really excited for that day to come for many, many months. Maybe even a year or so. So it was no shock that she did have a bit of a problem getting to sleep Wednesday night, but once down, she was down and chose to sleep in a most interesting manner.
    On Thursday morning, there were the 1000's of pictures taken, although Nora and I both chuckled in disappointment at the fact that there was not a single picture of all three of us taken. Just Gracie and also Gracie and one of us. Oh well, we still got some good ones. Nora picked up a chalkboard and wrote down some info on it for Gracie to hold in front of her and I think the plan is to have her hold that same chalkboard for every first day of school and then make a picture board with all of those shots. In any case, here is the "First Day of Kindergarten" shot. Millie had to come and check out what the chalkboard said as well.
    Nora then had to go to work and I drove Gracie to school a little later, but did snap this shot of her on the front deck, with backpack in hand, all ready to go. Once to school, Gracie and I swung by Nora's office and then the three of us walked over to the elementary school to start the school day. Her teacher had already nicely put all the students names on their lockers, so Gracie found hers and put her backpack into it. The first day was also a short day, so I picked Gracie up from school, we had lunch and then spent the afternoon doing various things to keep us busy until mom got home.
    Other than taking the pool down, I spent another week away from doing much work. I guess it could be considered the calm before the storm, as I do plan to get going on the lean-to this week and will likely keep at that pretty consistently until it is done. Then have the wood shed to fix and then fill it with firewood. 
    The weather looks to change big time this week, with some summer-like weather tomorrow and Thursday and then a big change to mid-autumn like weather by the end of the week. There are some spots in far northern MN that may even see some flakes of snow fall by late in the week. I doubt that there will be any accumulation, but still, to see snowflakes fly before the first half of September has even concluded is quite unusual. Late last week we had a cold front move through and the first autumnal-like winds occurred behind it. This was a tree we came across on a morning walk that fell victim to those winds.
    With the end to the growing season season approaching, the pups have been working hard to make sure all the tomatoes get harvested in time. Here is a shot of Huckie doing just that this afternoon.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. A reminder that on Sept 19-20 we will be having our trail work session up here in the Keweenaw. The work will be done to repair bridges this year. Anyone coming up to help out can get free lodging from the Trailside Lodge. Just call to reserve a room!
Until next week...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
September 1-
    Welcome to September and welcome to autumn! It sure looks and feels like an autumn day. Temps in the low 60's and we have had a steady rain all day. I did a bit of traveling today and saw many, many campers and motor homes heading down the highway away from the region. I guess it's that time of the year when things start to quiet down a bit. The true quietness will not happen until the color show is over, but it should be a little easier for me to pull out onto the highway now!
    So I would like to start off this entry with a reminder and an announcement. The reminder is that on September 19-20 the Keweenaw Trails Services will be having our annual trail work session. This year we look to be repairing some bridges in our system. Re-decking and repairing railings. Free lodging is set up at the Trailside Lodge just north of Calumet like it was last year. I have not set up lodging with anywhere else, as the folks at the Trailside said they have a good amount of room and it would be easier for all if we all staged out of the same spot. I would like to get a bit of a head count for workers, so if you are planning to come, can you please e mail me. Things to bring this time would probably be a good trusty hammer and maybe a cordless tool or two. I plan to toss a portable generator into the back of my truck to provide 120 power for any bigger jobs, but a cordless drill/driver and maybe a saw would be good.
    The announcement is in regards to the Ride-In. The date is set for January 30 and 31, which is Super Bowl Weekend, like it always is. The big news is that this will be the FINAL SnowFest Ride in. It is bittersweet for me to make that announcement, but for the past few years, I have been wondering how much longer it should go. So before last years event even took place, I talked to the others that help me out so much with the event and it was decided that this seasons ride-in would be the final one.
    In a perfect world, it would go on forever, even after I am gone. However, I wanted to make sure that the event went out when we were at the top and not just slowly fade into oblivion. My main reason for making this the final event is that I did not want to wear out my welcome with the businesses that so generously donate to the event. I have never had one complain to me about us hitting them up for prizes, nor have I EVER even gotten that impression from any of them. However, I know that I am not the only fundraiser in our area and I just felt like it would be best to end on a positive note and let other functions have their time.
    This will be the 10th event if you can believe that! I honestly can't. It really does not seem like it has been 10 years. I am going to do everything to try and make us go out with a big bang too. I have decided to go back to the Memorial Union at Michigan Tech. The Brownstone has worked phenomenally for the past 4-5 years, but it does limit us in space. It is my hope that since this is the 10th and final Ride-In, that we will draw a big crowd. Perhaps there are those that have come in the past, but missed a few lately and would like to have one more hurrah. Or, perhaps, there are those that have always wanted to come, but for one reason or another did not make it. This will be your chance.
    I am tickled to say that another vintage sled is being meticulously restored as I type. It is a 1977 Polaris TX 340. I have raffle tickets on the way to me and will have them for sale on the site soon. Once the sled is done, then hopefully we can get it up this way to sit at some businesses and help sell tickets.
    I am also going to be asking all the businesses that advertise on this site to possibly contribute a prize for the event. It is my hope that we can get many prizes from many different areas (not just the Keweenaw) and then compile them into prize packages. I then plan to have an online auction on the discussion board for the bigger prize packages we put together. So if you, or a business you know, has something that you would like to donate to this season ride-in, please let me know. I promise to have lots of goodies at the banquet on the 31st as well!
    So other than the venue change back to the Memorial Union, the online auction and this being the final event, things will run pretty much as usual. I will be setting up the registration for the event in a few weeks and will be sure to let you all know when that is up and running.
    I guess that about covers the announcements, now onto the stories from the Keweenaw...It was a mixed week in weather. We had some not so good days and some good days, but the trend has definitely been towards more autumn like weather. 
   Not a whole lot of excitement happened during the week either. Nora's brother and his wife stayed with us until Wednesday morning. I did a few small projects, but nothing major. One of the smaller projects was to replace the failing weather station that runs on the AL Cam page. I picked up a new, wireless one and you can actually see it on the AL Cam image now. I still have to hook up the anemometer, which I plan to do tomorrow, and then all the usual weather data will be back up and running. I even ordered the rain collector heater, so I will be able to measure the moisture content in the snow that falls.
    We did make it to the beach on Saturday. Bare Butt Beach that is. No bare butts at this beach Saturday. It was a bit too chilly. In fact, I was comfortable wearing a pretty warm jacket, although from the look on my face in that shot, it does not look like I was comfortable! None the less, it was still fun to be at the beach and also beautiful out there. The pups had fun romping in the waves and fetching a stick and Gracie had fun tooling around in her bare feet. The blueberries were plentiful and ripe and we took full advantage of grabbing a nice snack, even the pups!
    Before heading out to the beach, Nora told the story of how it got it's name. Talking about how as a child, her grandma would take her out there and they would have a picnic and then if it was warm enough, so swimming- sans clothing. So as we were getting ready to go, Grace comes up to me and says she has a "secret plan" for the beach. She whispered to me that she wanted to make it the best trip to bare butt beach ever, by having a picnic while we were out there. We had just finished having lunch, so a full blow picnic was not really in the cards, but I did say that we would pick up some snacks when we stopped for gas. 
    So we got to the beach, played around for a bit and then had our picnic. I told Nora the story about it being all Gracie's idea and how she wanted to make it the best time at that beach ever. After telling her the sweet story, I think it rose right up to the top.
    We took the long way home, Nora wanted to show Gracie where she played in the Keweenaw as a kid, spending summers with her Grandparents. We stopped at a spot where the shoreline drops off the side of a cliff literally. The cliffs are made of sandstone, so they are gradually giving into the big lake, so I am not so sure how comfortable I would be having a camp sitting this close to the edge! Who knows, maybe when the camp was built, it was not that close to the edge!
   Saturday morning I took a nice walk in the woods with the pups. It had stopped raining and so we took off for our regular morning walk that turned into a little backwoods adventure. The pups had fun romping through the woods and sniffing all there was to sniff. I had fun too and am looking forward to taking some nice autumn walks in the woods and even hitting the skis once the snow flies.
    Even though the weather was a bit challenging this week, I did see that Sunday it was suppose to be pretty nice, so I did keep the pool up and heated. This is by the far the latest we have ever kept the pool up. Typically it goes down in mid August and I know that there have been some years when it came down even sooner.
    The weather decided to follow the forecast and it was a beautiful sunny day, so we all took to the pool for one last swim. This will be the final year with this pool and it has been a good one for us. It was in its seventh season and was showing the signs of that and will be retired after this season. With that thought in mind, we decided to let the dogs swim in it. We figured since it was the last swim in that pool ever, it would not be a big problem if they tore the liner. So I backed the truck up to the pool with the tailgate down. I had manufactured a little ramp to allow them to walk up from the bed of the truck into the pool, but they did not seem to sure about that. So I dropped the ramp down and just let them be able to walk up to the edge of the pool. I thought for sure they both would just bound into the pool, especially since I was coaxing them with their beach fetch toy, but I guess despite their typical craziness, they do have some manners, or perhaps trepidations. In any case, it took some real coaxing and even a little help from Nora to get Huck into the pool. He seemed to have a bit of fun swimming to get the fetch toy, but also seemed to want to get out quickly, so I helped him out and Millie decided she did not want any of that "fun", so the experiment ended. The pool was not ripped, but once we all got out, the plug was pulled on the season- both figuratively and literally. Hopefully next spring I will be able to make my plans come true with a zero entry pool made from insulated concrete forms. That will allow the pups to swim with us anytime they want and provide us with a nice, in-ground pool for years to come.
   I have two more pictures to share with you before signing off. They were not taken by me, but rather by a seasonal resident of the Keweenaw that blesses me with his handiwork from time to time. The first picture came to me earlier this week after a particularly good showing of the northern lights. He said that the orange glow on the horizon just to the right of the smaller tree is actually the glow from Thunder Bay. Here is a full sized version of that shot. This second shot is from last night, when thunderstorms were rolling across the northern shoreline of Lake Superior. Mark said that it as purely a light show, no thunder. Here is a full sized version of that one.
    So I guess that covers it for this one. Hard to believe that in just 3 months I will be talking about it being the opening day for snowmobiling season!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

 

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