July 26, 2015-
    My summer of bummin' continues. It was another pretty laid back week, with my main responsibility to make sure that one of the rafts does not get blown out of the pool! It remains nicely dialed-in. Running in the upper 80's to around 90 and crystal clear. Nora and Gracie have also been spending a lot of time in the pool, perhaps even more than I have. Gracie's swimming skills have rocketed off the launch pad we started about a week ago. She can now swim across the pool (22 feet) all on her own without the floaties. Still mostly a doggy paddle, but today we did teach her the breast stroke and she picked up on it very quickly and likes to use it when she is swimming mostly with her face in the water. She has also grown very comfortable to be without her floaties, realizing that she will not sink to the bottom, but rather right near the surface. I will admit that it is more stressful for both Nora and I than when Grace was wearing her floaties, but teaching her to swim has a huge priority for all of us and she is having a total blast doing it. I am thinking that by the end of next summer, we will likely need to upgrade the pool to one with a deep end. One final cute story about the pool. Both Nora and I were floating on the rafts and Grace was swimming around with her floaties on, when she grabbed the edge of my raft and pulled me over to to Nora. She then brought the two rafts together and said "kiss!". She is a dandy!
    The weather has also remained nearly perfect. I say nearly because today is up into the "too hot & humid" range. The air temp is 90 and the dewpoint is 70, which gives us a heat index of 96. I realize that I am preaching to the choir about these kind of conditions, but this is the warmest day we have had in probably 3 years, so it does take some getting used to. I do have the A/C running in my office as I type this out and the A/C is also running in the bedroom, so that it will be nice and comfortable when my head hits the pillow.
    I have to say that I believe I can still count on one hand the number of times we have had to fire up the A/C's this summer so far. It does look like we will likely score a hat-trick with this run, as the forecast looks to push us into the upper 80's tomorrow and mid 80's on Tuesday, before cooling it into the 70's by Wednesday. Looks like some nice temps beyond that, with highs in the upper 70's to low 80's and the humidity behaving itself.
    As we continue to plod along through summer, we are also transgressing through the berry season. The strawberry season has reached the finish line, although we did take an order of 9 quarts that were delivered on Tuesday. It just amazes me the difference between fresh picked and the store bought. The only down side is that the fresh picked do not last too long before going punky. We kept 1 quart out for ourselves this week and cleaned and froze the rest in vacuum bags to enjoy until next July. Next up will be blueberry and raspberry. I have not been by our favorite raspberry patches lately, but would suspect that they are close. The berry season finishes out with blackberry at the end of August.
    This Wednesday when I was dropping Gracie off at "day camp" at school, we decided to sneak over to Nora's office and surprise her. Poor Nora, I thought Gracie would go into the doorway and yell "surprise!". Instead, she bound into the office and yelled "ROAR!" at the top of her lungs. I was pretty close behind Grace, so I think that Nora heard Gracie, but saw me and was quite startled! Anyway, Nora was a good sport about it and all was good.
    I did do a tiny bit of work this week. After dropping Gracie off, I came home and painted a small wall in the kitchen with chalkboard paint. On the bottom half, I also used a primer that allows magnets to stick to it. So the whole wall is now a chalkboard and the lower half also will hold magnets. After letting it dry for a few days and seasoning it, Grace got busy drawing her first masterpiece. It should be fun to see what she draws as the years progress.
    Friday was mostly cloudy, but warm, so we took opportunity to head up to Copper Harbor in the afternoon. It had been a while since I was in Copper Harbor in the summer and I was blown away at how busy the town was! It was absolutely packed with visitors. Not to the point where it was a bad thing, I am just used to seeing about 4 others in town when I am there, so to see the volume of persons there last Friday was quite unusual for me. We actually snuck through town and east a bit to find a slightly quieter spot. That was the bridge where highway 41 crosses the Fanny Hoe Creek. I suspect that in the 2000 miles that the highway traverses the nation from just east of Copper Harbor to Miami, that bridge is probably the smallest and quietest.
    Anyway, our main purpose for heading to the harbor was to catch the Civil War re-enactment going on. Every year, the re-enactors for Battery D come to Fort Wilkens state park and spend the weekend putting on demonstrations and living the way they did back in the 1860's. So Nora and I thought it would be a neat thing for Gracie to see how life was back when daddy was growing up!
    The number of re-enactors was down considerably this year, mainly due to a scheduling change, but there were still a dozen or so folks up there at the fort to give a good idea of what a civil war encampment would look, smell and feel like. They even let Gracie fire off a few cannon rounds! Just kidding! They did have some of the games and toys that children played with back in that time. They do actually have some artillery demonstrations during the event and some other demonstrations. We took in one of the medical demonstrations, where a poor soul with his lower leg hit with a minie ball need some work done. It was determined that the projectile had done too much damage and thus the leg needed to be amputated just below the knee. Obviously they were not actually removing the lads leg, but the skit was well done, with the part of his leg below the knee actually going below the stretcher, so that they could cut a fake leg, complete with blood flowing out of an artery and sawed-through tibia/fibula. I am not sure if Gracie thought the procedure was real or not, but I suspect that at her age, I probably would have thought it was real. I was pretty proud of Gracie, not only did she want to watch the whole thing, she wanted to climb up on a porch so that she could get a better view.
    So we got home around dinner time on Friday and with neither Nora or I feeling much like cooking, we decided upon some frozen pizzas. Grace and Nora have much more sophisticated pallets than I do, so we often get one for them and another for me. I loaded their pizza in the oven and then proceeded to juggle mine a few times before it ended up on the floor. I used the 5 second rule and picked it back up, put some more cheese on it and into the oven. 400 degrees would kill any germs, right? The best part about it was that I did not need to clean up the mess, just needed to call "Hoover" and "Dyson" over to do the work for me!
    Yesterday was a beautiful morning, so we all went outside and while waiting for the sunshine to hit the pool, decided to give the commander a bath. This was the first good scrub down that it had got since it was dropped off to us, but it actually was not too dirty. The nice thing about the camo graphics is that it does hide the dirt pretty well. I did not get an after picture, but it is pretty spiffy! All ready to go back out and get dirty once it cools back down.
    So that just about covers it for this one. Hard to believe that this is the last entry for July 2015. Despite the fact that today was both too hot and humid for me, I am still fully enjoying this summer and am not quite ready for it to go. Although I can admit that a Cabella's catalog came this week, and as I was thumbing through it, looking at all the autumn clothing and other gear, it did get my heart beating a bit faster, thinking about the beautiful autumn weather that is just over a month away!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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July 19, 2015-
    Another week in the books and another week closer to snow season. Although at the moment, I am in no hurry for this summer to end. It continues its near perfect-ness. Highs mainly in the 70's, humidity largely under control, some rains, but no all-day rain outs. Yesterday we did get warm and humid, with temps in the upper 80's and a dewpoint making it to 70. It sure felt good to be in the pool though! Toda we are back to temps in the mid 70's, blue skies and a dewpoint in the mid 50's- just where it feels best.
    We have been spending a lot of time in the pool, although on Tuesday it was decided to take the pups to the beach so they could get some swimming in. It was a great day for the beach and the only problem was that we took Nora's vehicle and not mine. Mine has all the beach toys for the pups in it, so we had to do a bit of improvising once we got to the beach the the pups bounded out of the car and onto the beach. It did not take us long to find a suitable stick for them to swim out to and bring in.
    We also forgot Gracie's floaties, so she was not able to go in too far, but still had fun playing with the pups as well as surfing some driftwood. I am amazed, amused and joyful that she does so well with inventing ways to have fun all on her own. I know my younger brother and the friends we hung out with were the same way and it sure made life fun, rather than sitting around complaining that there was nothing to do. Plus, sitting around complaining that there was nothing to do usually led to our mom finding us work to do!
    I must admit that I do feel like kind of a bum this past week or so. There is so much that goes on up here in the summer, every weekend and many weekdays have events going on that one could attend. Just off the top my my head, on Friday they had a food and music fair in Hancock, with the businesses offering free samples of their food and over a half dozen musical spots to stop and enjoy as you made your way through town. Then on Saturday, there was the Canal Run/Walk. They have 5 and 10 mile events for both walking and running as well as a half marathon and I was seriously thinking of doing the 5 mile walk this year, but one thing led to another and I just did not get myself organized enough to do it. I do walk a brisk 2 miles every day, so was not worried about being able to physically doing it, just some other things. Also on Saturday, the local humane society had their annual fund raising bash at their location in Houghton. Last, but not least, was the classic auto show in Copper Harbor. That one used to be near-by us, but moved to the harbor to give them some more room and make a bigger event out of it. I am sure there are other things that took place that we did not attend as well! I can say that the Bootjack Volunteer Fire Department is having their summer BBQ chicken fund raiser today and Nora and Gracie are headed down to get our meals as I type. So I guess we did not sit out every event!
    I guess I really should not feel too guilty about being such a bum this summer, as I kind of promised myself I would do just that after 2 summers before doing the addition/remodel and last year finishing up the kitchen remodel, building the lean-to for big red and a few other projects. Plus, it has been just too darn nice to be running around all over the place or working on too many projects!
    As mentioned, we have been spending a lot of time in the pool. It is dialed in nicely, staying warm enough to swim comfortably as well as well balanced chemically. With the nice days, it has been hard not to just jump in and relax or play with Gracie. We have been working on her being able to swim without wearing her "floaties" and she is getting the hang of it. At times it is close, but most of the time she is getting around just fine. She sure does love the water and is thrilled to be learning to swim. It will also be fun for Nora and I when she can swim as we will be able to play even more games with her.
    So it looks like that will about do it for this one. Looks like another beautiful week ahead, perhaps I/we will get a little more adventurous, perhaps not, we'll see I guess! In either case, I am looking forward to another beautiful week here in the Keweenaw and am enjoying this summer like I have not in many years!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
July 12, 2015-
    Wowzers, seems hard to believe that July is almost half over. I do believe that this summer is going by as fast as any I can remember, including the busy ones building. To accompany the date, the weather has decided to supply us with some July heat and humidity. We hit 89 yesterday and look to be headed there again today. The humidity is up there too. Not super oppressive, but dewpoints are in the upper 60's, which is enough to make it uncomfortable...more on that in a bit.
    Backing up to a week ago, after I finished up last week's entry, Nora, Gracie and I all decided to head into the woods on the Commander. It was a pretty good evening for a ride, nice temps, humidity and clear skies. It sure is loads of fun to cruise around the Keweenaw woods, both in winter and summer. We even ride many of the same trails. This time one of my favorites to the top of the Cliff Range. It's a fun trail, not too far away and provides some really nice views. Those views lead to smiles on all faces. We were not able to stay out too long, but did take the longer way home, passing by some more beautiful Keweenaw scenery. We sure are lucky to live where we do and not long ago, Gracie said, all on her own, "I sure am luck to live in the country with all these fun things to do!". Pretty much melted my heart, as it shows she is as happy living here as Nora and I are and has no longing for the big city. Plus, all that fresh air can make a girl sleep well!
    So, getting back to all of that heat and humidity, this is probably the hottest we have had it in some time. I do not remember getting this warm last year or the year before. Thankfully, as I was pretty busy both of those summers working and certainly would not have enjoyed having to work in this type of warmth.
    This time around, we are able to find sanctuary in the waters of the pool. That last picture was taken just a few moments ago. We have spent much of the afternoon playing and lounging around in it and did the same yesterday. This picture was also taken just a bit ago. Yep, definitely have the heater dialed in well! With the air so hot, that was almost border line too warm, but we did unplug the heater and it really was still refreshing. I have found that 86-90 is pretty much the sweet spot for comfort and refreshment. If we want to get a deep chill, there is always Lake Superior! Besides, does it not look like we are relaxed and refreshed in this picture?
    It was not this hot all week long. In fact, the weather was perfect for doing some touring of the Keweenaw. Which is good, because we had some visitors come and did just that. My mom and brother arrived Tuesday around midday and it did not take long for the fun to start. Grace and my brother Jim got going in a squirt gun fight. It went back and forth, with one of them having the advantage and then the other. Just when it seemed like Gracie's goose might be cooked, she found a way to gain back the upper hand. I tell ya, it was better than watching the Godfather.
    My mom, Jim and Gracie did take a trip to Copper Harbor as well. I had been telling my brother about the bike trails up at the harbor. I really could not do them justice, because I have never been on them. I have only seen pictures of them, although the pictures I have seen are quite impressive. I also know that they are one of the top ranked trail systems in not just the country, but the world. It seems like all of my hype was able to live up to itself, as he returned the next day to take on more of their challenges. Here is a shot he took while riding the second day.
    We all went down to Houghton as well. Nora wanted to check out a store and we all promised Gracie that she could play at "Chutes and Ladders". I'm not sure how many of you have seen the chutes and ladders park on the Houghton waterfront, but it is a dandy as well. There are several tube slides for the kids to shoot down. Some of them quite large! As I sat there watching Gracie make the climb up and then slide down, I could not help but imagine how much bigger the complex must have seemed to her, as things appear to be so much larger when you are younger.
    Grace has a birthday coming up in a few weeks, so Grandma and Uncle Jim took her shopping so she could get the birthday presents from them. She did pretty well in her choices, as she has been enjoying playing with them. One was a bubble-gun. Her uncle showed her how to master the art of blowing really big bubbles with it. So big that you could even seen the reflection of him in the bubble!
    The visit and the week closed out- and was probably highlighted by, a trip north to Lac La Belle to take in their Friday night fish fry. I am not a fish eater, but all the others at our table partook and then raved about how good it was, I did try a small piece and could have made a meal out of it, had it been all there was, but I enjoyed my French Dip more! :)
    After the fish fry, we all headed to Bete Gris beach for a a campfire and some smores for dessert. I probably do not have to tell most of you how beautiful Bete Gris beach is, but for those not in the know, take a gander. Plus, for a Friday evening, there was next to no one there. A few kayakers were returning from their voyage and a family with some young girls that Gracie made friends with were not far away, finishing off their day at the beach with a cookout. Other than that, it was just us, the sand and the waves. Oh, and a meteorite or two! That one got a little over cooked, but the nice thing is you can just pull off the char and still enjoy the warm marshmallow inside. There is just something about hanging out at the beach and watching the bonfire, it sure can be mezmorizing!
    I took some time to just lay back and listen to the waves lap up on the beach. It was about as relaxing as you can get and I almost fell asleep several times. At one point, I opened up my eyes, just in time to catch an aircraft speeding off to somewhere. As I watched the jet move across the sky, all I could think of was that it did not matter how exotic a destination it was headed for...I would have never changed places with anyone inside. I was as content and happy as can be. A beautiful beach on a majestic lake and most, but not all, of my family to share it with.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
July 5, 2015-
    Happy Independence Day (a day late)! I hope everyone's holiday was a good and safe one. Ours was. 
    It was another beautiful week of weather in the Keweenaw... unless you are waiting for a lake to warm up, or trying to get a pool warmed up! Highs have been topping out in the low 70's, with low humidity, lots of sunshine and nice cool nights for sleeping. Today we are warm and also getting humid and is actually the warmest day of the summer so far. That is not too crazy of a statement though, as our warmest day before today was last Saturday when we hit 78. Today is is 81 and still climbing. We also have dewpoints in the mid 60's, so it feels like a true summer day today.
    As mentioned, the only real down side to the lack of heat so far this summer has been waiting for it to warm up enough to put the pool up and also getting the water in the pool warm. Because the pool has about twice as much water in it as the previous one did, I knew that it was going to be harder to warm up than the previous one, so I did double the heating capacity by adding another heat exchanger, so now there are two.
    The upgraded heater is warming the water pretty nicely. Boosting the temp of the water around 12-13 degrees between what is going into it and coming out of it. However, because of the volume of water, it is taking longer for the water to warm up. If you have been following this journal for a while, you know that we like to have our pool quite warm, up in the 86-88 degree range. It is still actually refreshing on a hot day, but is also comfortable enough to be in on a day that is only in the low 70's (as long as there is sun!). Plus, you can stay in the pool as long as you want and do not get cold.
    So we are waiting for that mark to be hit and are at around 80 degrees right now, which is not all that bad. In fact, as I type, the girls are having fun hanging out in the pool and I may go in with Gracie later. I think the two other reasons we are fighting to warm the pool so much as that the solar cover for it has not yet arrived. I ordered it over a week ago and it is backordered. Hopefully it does not arrive in September! Another reason is that I used to wrap the sides of the pool in insulation. Nothing too extreme, just the Mylar bubble-wrap type, but it did seem to help hold the heat in. Too late to put that in now, as it had to go in before the water did.
    So we'll see. It does look like we will cool back down tomorrow through Thursday and then there could be some warmer weather coming up after that.
    Backing up a bit. I used to have the heat exchanger in the wood shop, as that was the only out building we had when we first started putting the pool up. This year I moved the whole setup into the lean-to. It gets any water out of the wood shop and also gets the heat exchanger a bit closer to the pool. As I was working on it earlier this week, I had some friends watching me. That was a pair of little snakes hanging out in the lean-to, all cuddled up in the corner where the pex comes in. I am not a huge fan of snakes, but the smaller and more innocent they are (don't get much more innocent than those), the more I can handle them. So I kept an eye on them and they kept an eye on me and we all got along just fine. The next day they were gone and I have no idea where they went. Hopefully not in Big Red!
    So if you have been following this journal for a while, or perhaps have even found yourself in the area around the Independence Day holiday, you know that it is a pretty big deal. Many folks that grew up here and have left come back to visit family. It is also a pretty big time for tourists, so there are lots of folks around and lots of things to do. There are the fireworks in Lake Linden on the 3rd. This year we were invited to view them at friends place on the Torch Lake. With all the activity in Lake Linden on the 4th, it sounded very inviting to be able to hang out with friends and sit and enjoy the fireworks without too much crazyness. If you noticed a bit of twilight still going on in that picture, you were right. However if we are going to wait for all of the twilight to be gone up this way, it would be just a few minutes before the 5th that they would be starting the show!
    Mohawk has it's own little celebration as well. It gets kicked off by a kids bike parade. This was our 4th parade to attend with Gracie and also the first that we did not have go accompany her on the route. She met up with some friends and they all rode the route together.
    They started from a different spot this year, but still were escorted by the Sheriff and fire departments onto a closed Highway 41. It was fun and nice to be able to just watch Gracie go by all on her own. I guess you could say that this is just another one of those steps she takes going from a little kid to a young adult. Happy and a little sad at the same time.
    While I do not have an official count to back me up, it sure seems like the parade has grown in size since Gracie first started taking part in it. Since it is an all-kids parade, that is great. That shows that the community is growing and families are able to stick around, rather than leave to find better paying jobs. Perhaps some of us are also seeing that there are better things for our children to grow up with than parents that make lots of money. The sense of community that exists in these smaller towns is really neat. It is so nice to go to events like that and know so many folks.
    Not long after the bike parade, we had lunch at the park and got ready for the kids games to begin. They have hotdogs, sloppy joes, chips, drinks and of course ice cream! It's pretty hard to get Gracie to pass on ice cream, so I took one for the team and had a cone with her. :) Mom most likely would have joined us, but was busy taking her shift in the concession stand and had hers when she was done.
    Gracie is now also old enough to partake in all of the games. First on the docket was the water balloon toss. It looks like they might have had to bow out after that picture was taken! The sack race proved to be an exciting one. The call was for kids aged 6-12, but Gracie joined in anyway, as she was only a month shy of her 6th birthday. She did pretty good for being one of the youngest and it probably being her first sack race. With Gracie being able to partake in all the events all on her own, including playing with friends on the playground, it allowed Nora and I to relax a bit more and just enjoy things, rather than follow Grace all around to make sure she did not end up in the Emergency Department!
    So another 4th has come and gone, as is another week of summer. So far it has been a dandy and looks to keep up that trend. This week my brother and mom are coming up to visit for most of the week, so I am sure we will be doing lots of fun things with them to be able to share with you all.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

 

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