July 31, 2016-
    First things first... Mea culpa, mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa! I really am sorry for the absence and also for not keeping you all informed of why I was not writing a journal or doing forecasts. As mentioned in my little note of the 27th, we were all out of town and I had brought my computers to do my commodity work. I had planned to keep up with the website as well, but we just got too busy having fun. So I copped out and did not force the issue. The good news is that I did not have another medical emergency (hopefully done with those for quite some time) and we did have a wonderful trip to Port Huron to see Nora's family and friends. We were also very happy to get back onto the island!
    The trip down south sure showed us all what a fantastic summer we are having in the Keweenaw. Not that it was horrible in P.H>, but highs did get into the low 90's just about every day and the humidity was up there too, with dewpoints in the 70's. We were staying at one of Nora's brothers place and he and his wife are about as fond of the heat and humidity as I am, so their house was wonderfully comfortable and the times we were outside, it was either the early morning or late evening or we were able to tough it out. 
    It was pretty warm and humid up this way while we were away too, but since being home, the weather has been nearly perfect. Today is about as great as it gets, with a high around 80, low humidity and a nice refreshing breeze. I took advantage of the weather by floating off into la-la land on the screened in porch with the pups, while Nora and Gracie swam in the pool. I have a strong feeling that I will be taking to the porch once I finish this and we have supper.
    So, now onto the trip. The weather played a bit of havoc before we could even leave. A line of strong thunderstorms roared through the Keweenaw around 7 am and knocked out power to not just our local, but a huge chunk of the western UP. Nora had planned to fill up her car the night before, but got too busy with packing for the trip. We soon found out that very few gas stations in the Keweenaw have back up power! None that we could find in Calumet or most of Hancock. Just before crossing the bridge, we saw the lights were on at Dave's BP, so we pulled in and joined the large group of other folks filling up! None of the stations we passed in Houghton had power and it was not until Baraga that we encountered power. We might have made it to Baraga, but we were all glad that we did not have to find out! Plus, we did not know how extensive the outage was when we were filling up. Some were saying Ironwood and Watersmeet to Copper Harbor and Marquette. So, we were worried about getting to Baraga and then having to wait until the power went back on. I am not totally sure when most of the Keweenaw got their power back on, but heard it was not until late in the afternoon and some were without power for more than 24-36 hours!
    The rest of the trip down went smoothly and we arrived in the mid-evening. Got settled in and it was up and Adam very early for most. I had to do my work, while Nora and her brother Joel went to do some fishing. This is the brother than owns the bait store in P.H., Andersons Pro Bait. They went out with one of Joel's buddies and caught 24 walleye in just about 2 hours. They all said that they were too busy reeling them in to take pictures, so I guess we will all just have to believe them! I do, Joel knows his way around a fishing rod!
    The rest of the day was spent with Nora visiting some of her family, I went with Joel to his shop and got a sweet set of sunglasses. The afternoon was pool, some more family, dinner and to bed. Saturday we went to the farmers market right on the water and then an open house (graduation party for those of you not from MI) and Nora got to see a bunch of her friends. 
    Sunday morning it was up and Adam bright and early again. This time for us all to head out into Lake Huron to do some fishing. The sun was still hiding below the horizon as we headed up the St Clair River towards the Blue Water Bridge and the open waters of Lake Huron. To the right of the bridge is Canada and the city of Sarnia, to the left is the US and Port Huron. As we got on the other side of the bridge and at the point where the lake turns into the river, there were a bunch of fisherman in smaller boats, going for the relatives of the walleye that Nora, Joel and his buddy caught Friday morning. Our destination was the site of the wreck of the Charles S. Price. She went down with 11 other vessels on the Great Lakes during the great storm of 1913. Also known as the "Big Blow, "Freshwater Fury" and my favorite name the "White Hurricane". 8 of the 12 ships that sank in that storm were on Lake Huron and waves at the south end were reported to be 35 feet! The weather was the complete opposite Sunday morning as we headed out to the Price and enjoyed the sunrise.
    As we neared the site, Joel handed the helm over to me and he got busy putting out lines. A couple of surface lines and a couple of deeper lines on the downriggers. It was not long and we had our first fish on. I don't know if it was from one of the surface lines, or downriggers, but Nora went into action to land it
    While the weather was pretty nice on Lake Huron, northern Lake Michigan was having a different affair. Some very strong thunderstorms were rolling across the lake and as I would later learn, giving many of the racers in the Chicago-Mackinaw a bunch of trouble. At least one of the sailboats in the race sank in the foul weather. We could see the storms on our radar and as they held together and headed SE towards our location we decided to get back to port, while the getting was good. So it was a short, but sweet fishing trip and Nora did land the fish, a nice steelhead that Joel filleted up and they had for supper Sunday night.
    I had a blast. I am one of those folks that goes fishing to be on a boat, most folks go on a boat to go fishing. This was not Gracie's first trip onto Lake Huron, but the first that she will be able to remember. She had an awesome time, even had fun sitting in the front cabin and getting tossed around a bit as we headed back to port and into some 1-3 foot chop.
    Sunday evening was spend chillaxing and then after I finished my morning work on Monday, we headed back north to the Straits of Mackinaw and our destination for the night. We had a nice dinner and stroll down the main drag in St Ignace and then headed back to the hotel room. I woke up early Tue to get my work done and while I was a little jealous of the two sleeping beauties still in their beds, I was able to witness a magnificent and peaceful sunrise.
    After I finished my work and we had breakfast, we got into the car and headed west towards home. I had a Dr's appointment in Marquette at 4 pm, so we had some time to kill on our way back. The first stop was at the Garlyn Zoo near Naubinway. I have to admit, being that the zoo was not too close to any major population center (sorry Naubinway!) and just sort of sitting out there in the middle of nowhere, I was not expecting too much. They should probably rename the zoo the Serendipity Zoo, as it sure went beyond all of our expectations. It is not a huge zoo, but has quite an extensive amount of animals in pretty nice enclosures. 
    As you exit the zoo office/gift shop, the first thing you can do is feed some goats and alpaca. Obviously that was something that Grace was not going to pass up! I did not take pictures of all of the animals and exhibits they had, but tried to remember to capture some of the more unique. Black Bears in the UP is not really a big deal, but the two they had also had a chocolate lab as a companion. They three of them got along like siblings and I forget the story of how that situation came to be, but it did and they sure to get along great!
    They also had a pair of mountain lions. One quite large and the other smaller. These creatures are being spotted in many areas of the UP and I sure would not want to happen along one without the proper fencing between the two of us!!! Another unique exhibit was of an animal that is not native to the UP and must have alternative accommodations once it gets cold out. It was an alligator, and a pretty good sized one too! 
    The zoo also had a pretty decent herd of reindeer or Caribou. They are not native to the UP, but their habitat does extend down to the north shore of Lake Superior, so I guess they could be considered neighbors and not really out of Towner's. :) There was also a Buffalo in the zoo that was paired up with a donkey. Not sure if that was a Shrek kind of thing going on, but they did seem to enjoy each others company.
    The final exhibit was that of a big old whitetail buck and his friendly keeper. Not to be left out, here is one of Nora and Grace! The rest of the day on Tuesday was spent having lunch lakeside in Curtis MI, then my Dr's appointment and then home, sweet home.
    No dogs on this trip. My brother Jim was gracious enough to house and dog sit for us. He did an awesome job, as the pups were happy to see us, but not as happy as I might have thought they would be! A big thanks goes out to him, as our travels were much freer without having to accommodate the dogs. Although after seeing the pics from the trip, both Huck and Millie are wondering when we are going to get some bears for THEM!
    Wednesday was spent getting settled in and taking care of business. Thursday was a beautiful day, so we hopped in the SxS and headed out to do some berry picking. The raspberries are in full picking form and we headed out to a spot we knew about. We were about an hour or two too late, as they had just been picked and we actually happened along the fellow pickers as we made our way to the next patch. No worries and I was able to capture a picture of a butterfly getting some nectar from a thistle flower. How about that for an un-zoomed, iPhone shot?
    Jim has some raspberries in his back yard and invited us all over Thursday evening to pick some. We were able to pick enough in about 40 minutes that Nora was able to make a pie for all of us yesterday! We will also be planting raspberries in the raised bed gardens in our yard. I may even see if I can just plant them from some berries that I pick this season.
    Speaking of the garden, it is going like gang busters. Nora has been giving it lots of TLC every day and the plants are responding. We actually have some strawberries still going and I am starting to think that those plants might be ever-bearing, as they are still flowering too. Nora and Gracie have picked a zucchini, some tomatoes, radishes and soon we will be able to pick some cucumbers and beans. 
    Yesterday was a wonderful day to be outside and we finished it off by heading to the beach for a picnic dinner and then a swim. Well, the pups and Gracie went for a swim, although had it been the middle of a hot day, I might have taken the plunge myself.
    So here we sit, just a few days away from the first day of August. I suspect that in a few weeks, the thoughts of many of the visitors to this site will be to the upcoming autumn and then winter. I know that after my trip south into the heat and humidity, I was ready for summer to come to an end, but after the last few days in the beautiful weather we have had up here, I guess I could rough it out for a few more weeks! It does actually look to turn hotter and more humid the early to middle of this week, but then cool back down to comfortable levels by the end of the week. None the less, my thoughts are starting to turn more and more towards the cool, crisp autumn weather and then the snows to follow!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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July 27, 2016-
   Sorry for the absence this weekend, but we were out of town and I had planned to write, but was too busy having fun, so did not write. I will hold off until next Sunday (the 31st) to write.
JD-
July 17, 2016-
    This entry is coming to you thanks to pure dedication. About 90 minutes ago we were eating a delicious meal of Bookjack Fire and Rescue chicken BBQ and then topped it off with some of Nora's Jacobsville cupcakes. After that it was a nice relaxing sit in the screened in porch as showers and a bit of thunder came and went. Needless to say I was about as relaxed as I could be (with Huck laying with/on me too). However, I knew duty called and got up from my relaxing position on the couch in the porch and rambled into the office. Truth be told, it was not that excruciating to have to get up and come into the office to write the journal, but I know I could have hung out with Huck for most of the rest of the evening and he sure seemed pretty content to be where he was!
    I guess my first order of business is to say that the ATV we were selling in last weeks entry has been sold. The good news is that if you still want to purchase it, you most likely can. We sold it to the good folks at Pat's Yamaha in Greenland. I just got lazy and did not want to deal with all that is involved in selling the unit, so I called around and Kip gave me the best deal on it, so we took him up on it. So thanks Kip and if you want a good deal on a good, used ATV, look them up!
    In my last entry, I had forgotten to share with you the "Star Wars Marathon" day that Gracie had with her uncle Jim. She went over there in the morning last Friday and spent the whole day and night there. They did not make it through all 7 episodes, but were able to make it through 5 1/2. They had on their Star Wars t-shirts, Gracie brought over her Star Wars sheets to sleep in, her light sabers to get some exercise in between episodes with and Jim made storm trooper pizza for the two of them. I'm thinking if he could secure the licensing rights he could turn that into a money maker! It was a little strange for Nora and I to be all alone for so long, but we did enjoy a nice dinner out and then some relaxing the rest of the evening.
    So it was a pretty uneventful week, but for some reason, it also seemed to drag on for me. By Wednesday it seemed like it should have been Friday, so by Friday evening, I was more than ready for a day off! I did a lot of futzing around, but nothing too earth shattering. Jim, Gracie and I spend quite a bit of time in the shop making frames for some paintings that Jim has been commissioned to do. Gracie loves to help out in the shop and one of the things she does right away is to grab the hand broom and dustpan and clean up. I figured she was experienced enough to graduate to the shop vac and she took to it like a pro! Some of her other duties include spreading the glue during glue-ups and also fitting the dominos into the slots during dry-fitting.
    Nora and Gracie also visited a friends place where they raise some livestock, so she got to feed some chickens and also some goats. I get a kick out of when she does things like that, as when she gets back, she has to tell me all the good reasons why we should have some chickens and goats!
   The weather up here has been beautiful. We have had some very comfortable temps and humidity levels and are getting enough rain that things are staying nice and green and keeping the fire danger down- at least in our neck of the woods. It does look like we will be joining the rest of the central US in the heat wave this week. We will not be as hot to the south of us, but it looks like we will be having our hottest temps of the summer so far, right along with many areas between the Rockies and Appalachians. I am still loving the summer weather, but have had some thoughts of autumn and even winter drift in from time to time. I think I could officially get excited about the coming autumn and winter, but know we are still about a month and a half away from that at least and do not want to get antsy. 
    I can say that the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will be resuming our trail work sessions this autumn. We have a bridge that needs extensive repairs, or possibly replacement and we also have a re-route in my neck of the woods that will bring the need for some pretty serious clearing and widening of an existing path just outside of Mohawk. The only other detail that I have is that it will happen the weekend after the Milwaukee snowmobile show. So mark your calendars for October 21 and 22 to head up and join us in some fun! As soon as I have the scoop on lodging details, I will be sure to share them with you, although I can say that with the nice smoker Nora got me for my 50th, I think it might be time to bring back the brisket and pulled pork for the Saturday dinner!
    I can also say that I am planning to be at the Milwaukee Snowmobile show the weekend before. I will be at the booth for the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club. So be sure to stop by and say hi. I plan to have some ThinkSnow Stickers and maybe some other items for sale as well. I may even try to swing the Novi show this year. My plan is to do some remodeling to the website and put more effort into it starting this autumn. Things got pretty crazy there for a bit, with lots on my plate, but things seem to be calming down a bit now and hopefully will stay that way. So I really want to re-energize the site and also meet as many of the visitors as I can.
    So, I guess that about covers it for this one. Enjoy the upcoming heat and humidity!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
July 10, 2016-
    Whew, it is 6:30 in the evening (closing in on the witching hour for me!) and I still have some things to do other than writing a journal, but I really wanted to get this out on the right day, so here I am. The reading might be a bit brief, but I do have 11 pictures to share.
    When I last left off, it was Independence Day eve and we were getting ready to head down to see the fireworks show in Lake Linden. This was the second year in a row when we did not have to brave the crowds of people at the village park and were able to watch in the tranquil confines of one of Nora's friends that has a place on the lake close enough to Lake Linden that we can catch the show from there. It's a nice gathering of around 8-10 folks and really makes watching the show that much better. 
    The only down side were the mosquitoes when we moved from their deck down to the lakeshore to watch the show. We all did put bug dope on and the evening was cool enough that we all had long pants and sweatshirts on, but they still were trying their best. The bug dope worked great at keeping them from landing on you and biting, but they still would swarm to within a inch or two of your exposed skin, which happened to be the face for most of us. I actually closed my eyes at one point, just to shut them out of my mind and it worked. That made it easier to have my eyes open and just trust the bug dope.
    On the 4th itself, we got up early enough to get things all prepared for the festivities at the park in Mohawk. The events start out with a kids bike parade. Gracie did most of the decorating of her bike this year and it turned out great! That handsome young man with his eyes on Grace is the son of John and Donna Stachler. He is the person responsible for getting the SnowFest going in the first place around 12 years ago. They bought a place up here to stay when they visited and then about a month ago, made the move from the Chicago area to the Keweenaw. 
    Last year they took a different route from previous years, staying off the highway, but this year it was back to closing down highway 41 for a few minutes while all the kids followed the fire trucks down the highway on their bikes. After the bike parade, they have games and food in the park. One of the games was a pie eating contest and another was a water balloon toss. I was under strict doctors orders to not participate in either... just kidding. I was actually gone somewhere else when they were setting both up for the adults, so I missed out. Perhaps next year.
    On Tuesday, we joined Uncle Jim on a roadside trash pick up. He has found a nice country road to ride his bike on, but there has been some garbage on the sides that he wanted to pick up. So Gracie and I took the side by side, while he rode his bike. There was not a ton of garbage that had to be picked up, but I can say that all three of us were kept pretty busy picking up things and we ended up with around 5-6 plastic grocery bags filled with things, plus some things that were too big for the smaller grocery bags, so they went into the back of the SxS on their own.
    We reached the end of the line and then put Jim's bike in the back of the SxS and all headed back. It was not an all work and no play excursion though, as we stopped off at a nice section of the Gratiot River for some exploring. Gracie ventured out onto a rock for a pose, while I stayed land side and took pictures of some falls nearby as well as a panoramic view of the river in that spot. The river actually does not make a turn as it looks in the pic, that is the effect of the panorama. 
    Amazingly, there was no problems with the bugs when we were there. Actually, the black flies are just about done and we have not picked up a ton of rain, so other than the 3rd of July swarming we endured, the mosquitoes have not been too bad. It may be a bit early for the deer flies and horse flies, but they have not been too bad either. So the bug thing has improved a bunch from early June!
    It does look like some hot and humid weather is coming to the Midwest, including the Keweenaw. We look to be in the 80's Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and might even flirt with 90 on those days. Dewpoints look to be in the upper 60's to low 70's, which is the yucky zone for me. It's not that I am looking forward to those kinds of temps and humidity, but I am not totally dreading them either. I have the AC's all set to go and the pool is all ready to help out as well. We might even hit the beach and cool off by putting our toes (nothing else!) in the big lake, while Gracie and the pups go all the way in. So I guess we will see how my attitude about the heat and humidity sits in next weeks entry! I can say I have seen some scenes on the tele that were either of autumn or winter/snow and it did kind of get me excited for the cool season!
    About the only other thing I have to mention is that we are selling our ATV. It is a 2003 Yamaha Grizzly 660. It is carbureted and runs very good. It has 3481 miles on it, as well as a Warn RT30 winch that is just about brand new. It also comes with two sets of tires, a windshield and a rear seat/cargo holder. Each set of tires are mounted on their own rims. One set of the tires are the stock ones that came with it and do not have a lot of wear. The other set are some really good "mudders". They are 27" mud lights with a very aggressive tread. Those also are in very good shape and the rims are nice billet aluminum ones. I will be putting up a page with lots of pictures of it, but for now here is a shot of the bike with all of it's extras. We are asking $3250 for the hole kit and caboodle. We may also have a 2006 Yamaha Grizzly 700 EFIi for sale, but I need to see if my brother wants to sell it down by him in Milwaukee or us up here. Any questions or if you want to make an offer, e mail me! Guess that is about it!
Good night from the Keweenaw!!
JD-
July 3, 2016-
    Happy Independence Day Eve! Things are hopping in the Keweenaw! They always do! This is the traditional "Homecoming" weekend for folks with ties to the Keweenaw. Plus, it is a huge time for visitors. You probably can't find a place to stay in places like Copper Harbor. All day Friday and yesterday highway 41 was about as busy as I have ever seen it. The perfect weather probably has something to do with it as well. We were beautiful Friday, yesterday, today and will be tomorrow as well. 
    The week actually started on the cool side. The cool temps early in the week were actually a blessing, as there was a work session at the local ice rink. I guess I need to explain why there would be a work session at an ice rink in June! Well, we were fortunate enough to be able to get the cast-offs from one of the local indoor rinks that was upgrading their facilities. We were able to get the skins for the boards, including the main part, the toe kicks and even the tops of the boards. If that were not enough, we even got some glass for the end boards
    So stages one and two had already taken place before the work session and that was to bring the donated material over to the rink. Stage two was to bring some building materials needed over to the rink and store them inside the warming hut.
    Monday's work consisted of moving the entrance from the end boards to the side so that the glass will be able to wrap around the end boards. We also ripped out any of the rotted boards and replaced it with new material. There is still a bit of replacement to be done and then the plan is to skin all of the boards with 1/2" marine grade plywood and then skin that with the white polymer board material, the yellow toe kicks and red tops. Then install the glass and get busy selling tickets to the sky boxes! 
    Seriously though. It is so cool to see some new life being breathed into the rink and even more excited to be part of it along with a group of locals volunteering their time. I am going to be a little nervous about doing damage while cleaning the rink with Big Red this coming winter!
    Tuesday was a beautiful day, so my brother Jim and I went for a ride in the commander in the afternoon. It ended up being quiet the ride. All good, just longer than I had initially thought it would be. Our first stop was at "secret spot" to check out the little falls there. There was actually a fair amount of water flowing over them for late June. I have seen it where there is hardly any water flowing in the summer months. 
    The second stop was a bit higher in elevation and a completely different view as we drove up to one of the overlooks on the Cliff Range. It was a perfect day to be up there taking in the view. Here is a panoramic view of what we saw while standing on the conglomerate rocks of the Cliff Range. The third stop was still in the highlands of the Cliff Range, but instead of facing SW, we were facing NW and overlooking the big lake. The fourth and final stop was to take in the water flowing over the Eagle River Falls. Again, a pretty good amount of water flowing over the falls for this time of the year. Nothing like during the spring meltdown, but I have seen those falls also nearly dry in the summer sometimes.
    We made it home safe and sound and in time for dinner! It just so amazing to be able to spend a couple of hours tooling around on the SxS and see such magnificent things. All of these were probably no more than 5 miles from our house too boot! We are truly blessed to live were we do!!!
    Yesterday there was a music fair a the Lions Club Park at Calumet Lake. It was the first year for this event and was actually put into motion just a few months ago, so I was really not knowing what to expect. I do love live music and Gracie heard that there was face painting, so the two of us headed over yesterday afternoon to check things out while Nora made sure the BBQ did not burn down the house while the pork butt was smoking. 
    For it being the first year of the event and only having a few months to be put together, I was very impressed with things. There were two stages and about a dozen or so vendors selling things. No food or drink, but they did make that clear in their promotions on air and on paper, so we were prepared with full bellies and some Gatorade to drink. One of the stages was more intimate and snuggled into the edge of the woods, while the other was more out in the open and had Calumet Lake as its backdrop. That picture was taken while they were still setting up for the band, but the band started playing shortly after and we stayed to watch and listen for around a hour before having to get home and tend to the pork butt smoking on the smoker that Nora got me.
    Gracie opted for a tattoo rather than getting her face painted. The pork turned out perfect. I forgot to mention that the brisket I smoked a few weeks ago was a miss. Not the fault of the smoker or the meat, but the cook. It was a new smoker and even though I did research how best to use it, I messed up a bit in the initial setup. I got things going at around 4 am and it seemed to be taking a long time for it to get up to temp (at least at 4 am!), so I opened the vents wider than they should have been and went back to bed. When I woke up a few hours later, the temp of the smoker was 350 and it really should be around 230. So the poor brisket got cooked to much and was pretty dried out. I did try a little salvage work by making an au jus. That did help a lot, but it was not the same as having a nice moist smoked brisket.
    So I learned that all you need to do is get the charcoal going a bit and then get things setup as you want them and walk away and don't fuss. That is exactly what I did with the pork. Got it going and set the venting as I wanted to keep the temp at 230. It stayed there the entire cooking time and the only fuss I had to give it was to mop it every hour or so and take its temperature around 5 hours into cooking. It took a total of around 8 hours to cook, but I probably did less work cooking it than I would a steak. Awesome smoker, just awesome! 
    Today was spent hanging out in the pool and then decorating Gracie's bike for the big parade in Mohawk tomorrow. Its neat that she is getting old enough to be able to do much of the decorating herself, but is young enough to still be fully excited about doing it!
    Tonight is the fireworks in Lake Linden and we will be going to Nora's friends place on the lake like we did last year. Then the parade at 10 am, with the kids games and picnic in the park following and then to some friends house for a BBQ and then probably come home and take a nap! I'm grateful and excited to be socializing so much and am equally glad that I do not have a major project to be stressing over while this is going on as well!
    Nora's garden is cranking along. She will have tomatoes in a week or so, the beans look to be a few weeks out yet, as do other things like the cukes and squash. The strawberries have produced a few berries, but it will be another year before they are mature enough to really be making a bunch of fruit. So we had to resort to getting a few quarts from one of Nora's friend. Berry time in the Keweenaw! Natures candy. Yum!
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Have a Happy Independence Day!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

JD-

 

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