Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
December 31, 2000-
    I figured I just had to get one last journal entry in for the year 2000.  I do have stuff to talk about as well.  I guess first I can talk about my down hill ski adventure.  Not much of an adventure at all.  I had boot problems which got me off the hill after only 3 runs down.  The boot problems actually can be traced back to when I bought them.  I did not know what I was doing and trusted the advice of a sales person who did not know what he was doing either.  As a result, my boots were too small.  He said they would break in and give me more room, but they only seemed to get worse over time.  Yesterday was the worst they have ever been!  They were too tight just when I put my feet in them, let alone buckle them up.  Talk about pain, my feet actually were squished to the point that the sole was not laying flat anymore because the sides of my feet were pushed in and caused my foot to cup.  So I tried to ski, but was just about crying by the time I got to the bottom the third time and gave up.
    I did get over to check out some new boots and was able to get some good advice this time.  One store sent me home with a pair to wear around the house for a while to see how they felt after being on for a few hours and they felt fine, so I am planning on keeping them.  Now I just have to remember to go back and pay for them!
    The hounds and I took a walk after my ski experience yesterday.  We headed to the north shore to walk along a road that is plowed, but basically no one uses.  We will walk along it for an hour and not see one car.  There were even some deer in the area.  I did not get close enough to take a picture of them, but Burt did go off into the woods to follow their tracks when we got to where they were.  Here is a shot of him coming back from his little jaunt into the woods.  Baileys was wise enough not to try and brave the deep snow.
    Today held a first for me.  It was the first time since moving up here that I rode my sled to Copper Harbor.  I know that may sound rather unbelievable, but I am not really one for the DNR trails.  There is nothing wrong with them, it is just me.  I really have always liked to go out and explore and that carries over to when I am snowmobiling.  The DNR trails just bore me.  Mostly because I have been on the so much.  I had been coming up here for 9 years to ride before I moved up here so I knew them pretty well.  About my 3rd or 4th year up here I began to wish for more to see and do, plus a little something more challenging.  Never really got to do much until I moved up here and then hooked up with my friends from Lake Linden and then almost never rode the groomed trails.  Last year I put about 1200 miles on my sled and I would have to say that 20% or less of those were on the DNR trails.  1200 miles in a season may not seem like a lot, but 1 mile in the bush can be the same as 10 on the groomed trail.  I know I have ridden with friends for 8 hours in the bush and not put on more than 35 miles.  I am exhausted and have had a total blast, but just did not pack on the miles!
    So for some reason I just had the bug to ride the DNR trails the past few days.  I suppose it might just have to do with the fact that I have not been on them much for 3 years.  So Chris, our friend Matt, and I took to the trails.  They were in surprisingly good shape.  I say surprisingly, because this is one of the busiest times of the year and I was prepared for the worse.  I can honestly say that the worst they were was tolerable and at best, perfect.  By tolerable I mean that you are doing a little bumping around, but still glad to be there.  I have been on more than my fair share of trails where I actually wished I was not there.  Usually it was about 7 in the evening, I was still about 50 miles from where we were staying for the night and my back and kidneys were already beat to a pulp.  Today, there was never a time where I wished I was not on that trail.  Some times I wished that there was not the bumps that were there, but they were tolerable, even with my old suspension.  Even saw groomers on 3 separate occasions, so they were out there.  The trails were not even as busy as I had expected them to be.  Lots of sleds were in the lots at the hotels and motels in the area, but the trails were just not too bad.  Maybe we just were on the trails they were not.
    Just to prove my existence in the Harbor today, I took a shot of one of the main stay's, The Mariner North.  Had an excellent meal (sure they are a sponsor, but it really was excellent!), and then headed south to Eagle Harbor via Brockway Mountain Drive.  So what would a trip up Brockway be without the obligatory pic or two.
    Most of my pictures are taken from an area that is fairly remote, or at least not easily assessable by car.  But that does not mean that if you want to venture up here and do not like to back country cross country ski, or snow mobile you will be left out of the loop as far as beautiful sights are concerned, even in the winter. Case in point, if you were to head up here in your car and make the drive to Copper Harbor, this would have been your sight today.  This is highway 41 between Delaware and Copper Harbor.  Just up the road about 3 miles from where that shot was taken is the ghost town of Mandan, site of the "ghost".  I joked to Chris and Matt that a short trip up the road and we could go and check it out.  Thankfully they were not too interested.
    I also forgot to mention that my trip today took me to Lac La Belle.  I met the new owners of the resort up there.  They were very nice and have done a lot of work to things up there.  It is open for food, gas and the nick nacks that were in the store.  A word of caution.  The restaurant is run a little differently.  There are hours when food are served and not, even though the place is open.  We were there and unfortunately were between the breakfast and lunch hours so were not able to eat.  I would imagine that there might be a time in the afternoon that the kitchen is closed too.  So just a word of warning that you cannot just show up and expect to find the kitchen open.  The gas pump is always on during the regular hours and they have sodas and snacks too.  Plus I heard that once they have the bar all up and running, there might be a bar menu.
    Mount Bohemia looked totally awesome!  The skiers at the top looked like ants!  It is almost as if the hill is bigger now than before.  I know that is not true, but I can not wait to try my luck going down it.  Actually, that is not totally true, I can wait and am going to until I get my abilities a little better in line with my ego.  A few private lessons at Mt. Ripley from my private instructor "JW" and I will be good to go.  I'll keep you all posted on that endeavor as it progresses, but the views of Bohemia will be breathtaking I promise you that.
    It looks like I have some to the end of my writing for this year.  I hope that everyone has had as wonderful year as I have, if not I hope that 2001 is.  Mine looks to be filled with nothing but bliss.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
This Businesses helps to  make my Journal Possible 
December 29, 2000-
    22 hours later and I am still in the same boat.  Not a lot to say, waiting for some more snow and wanting to get a journal out.  The only difference is that I am also pressed for time.  I have lots of fun stuff to do tonight.
    I guess I can start out with a cute story about the hounds this morning.  I was working, it was about 6 in the morning, and for some reason I decided to go and get some loving' from them and when I turned on the light, I was treated to the sight of them cuddling on the couch together.  It made it all the more enjoyable to go over and give them a hug and kiss before getting back to work.  The perks of being able to work at home, I love it!
    As I said, I am also still waiting for more snow.  We did have some light snow this morning, some areas it even mixed in with freezing drizzle.  We got enough to be officially called a trace so we scabbed by in keeping our trace or more of measurable snow a day going, but I am not proud of the way we did it today.  There is still time left to get some real snow accumulation before the day is over, but the skies just do not look like snow to me.  I took a look at the atmospheric conditions and we are in sort of a no mans land as far as any kind of mechanisms for snow are concerned.  That may continue into tomorrow, so tomorrow looks to be a close call for measurable snow as well.
    The folks up here are not wasting this lull in the snowfall one bit.  Snow is being moved off roofs, the roads are being widened again and driveways are being cleared a bit more to make room for the next round of heavier snow.  There really is no relaxing up here once winter starts.  Even when there is a lull in the snowfall, there is work to be done.  I even took care of some things, like fixing the bush protector that broke when I was clearing my roof.  I had thought that one of the stretchers I made just pulled out of it's connection, but it turns out the 2 x 4 actually snapped in half from the weight of the snow falling on it.  I will be more careful next time I clear my roof and next year will make the whole system stronger.
    I did get to go out and take in a ski.  It was a really nice day for it, with temps in the mid 20's.  That is as warm as it has been in a long time.  Well, actually two weeks ago we rose into the upper 20's during a big storm, but then the temps dropped right behind it and have been in the single digits and teens since.  I did not ski alone either, of course the hounds were with me, but JW came along and took a shot of the dogs and I.  I tried my best to coax her into having her picture taken, but there was just no way.  Baileys was the typical model she always is and I snapped this shot of her, but Burt decided to play coy like JW and I did not get a shot of him.
    Well, I am on snow watch.  It feels weird not to see it snowing and not to have to clean my drive way.  It has only been two days, but I do not like it.  I am not worried, it looks like we will get at least a few inches by Monday, then a break Tuesday with a return to the snowy setup by Wednesday.  Well, I have to go and get presentable (at least as much as possible), so will sign off for now.  I am still planning on down hill skiing tomorrow and them maybe a big snowmobile trip Sunday, so hopefully I will have more to talk about and show you.  Till, then...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 28, 2000-
    Nights like tonight are hard for me.  I do not really have a lot of new things to say, but I have not done a lot of journals lately and I know that there are a lot of folks checking in, so I do feel guilty when I skip one.  I guess the biggest news is a few sleds that went through the ice on the canal.  Two went through yesterday evening and two broke through today.  Only one went all the way through, the others just nosed in and were able to be retrieved.  I am actually surprised that the ice is still not safe there.  It has been frozen for about 3 weeks, but I guess all the snow we have picked up has really insulated it from getting thick enough.  So it you are coming up, I guess the word is stay off the ice!
    We had our first KSE tour today.  All went well, the riders were exhausted, but all had big smiles.  Another tour tomorrow and then a break for a few days.  I was not able to be along for the whole ride, but was able to get caught up on the events I missed this morning.  I also learned some new places to go today, now if I can just remember them I will be all set!
    We had about a half inch of snow today, so our streak is still going.  25 straight.  It looks like we will be safe to add another 4, probably 5, but then next Wednesday might just be the end of the streak.  Some snows are possible for late in the day, but it will be a close one.  Today was the first day in a long time that I did not have to move snow.  It felt kind of weird to not have to shovel and snow blow.  I did not like it!  I am ready for more!  We do have some impressive totals though, with Keweenaw County up near 150" so far and Houghton County at about 110 so far.  I have heard that some areas in Keweenaw County like Lac La Belle are really buried.  A friend said that he saw some guys shoveling off a roof at Lac La Belle that had 4-5 feet on it.  Ouch, my back hurts just thinking about it!  I need to get up there to check out the deeper snow.
    No new pictures to share with you tonight.  I forgot to take the camera along on the ride.  I will not be riding tomorrow and may not get out until maybe Sunday or Monday even.  I might even go down hill skiing Saturday, maybe I will take some pictures of that event.  I'm a little scared to go.  All the locals up here are such good skiers and I am a bit of a southern Midwest hack.  I can make it down just about anything (even the steeps and bumps of Alta in Utah), but my form leaves a lot to be desired.  I kind of look like that ski jumper, Eddie the Eagle.  Good think my website can only handle still shots, that way I can pose and look cool and not reveal the true look as I head down the slopes.  I did get a seasons pass to Mt. Bohemia, but will get my ski legs at Mt Ripley first and then try the hill up north.  This first year there is pretty much only expert terrain, with beginner and intermediate coming next year.  I will for sure get up there, if nothing else but to take some shots and show everyone how awesome that hill is.  I bet if they do it right, it will become the premier ski hill in the Midwest.  The have all the natural ingredients, most snow, great terrain, plus the snow sticks around a lot longer up there.  In a year like this one, they could be skiing into April, when others have been shut down for weeks.
    I am looking forward to another long weekend.  I can really use the days off.  This is the first holiday season when things have been so busy in a long time and I hope next years is a little less busy.  It has all been the good kind of busy, but still busy, and I am use to lots of free time and taking it easy.
    Well, I am officially out of things to say so I may as well sign off for tonight.  I plan a ski tomorrow and will bring the camera along.  Hopefully there will be some fresh snow to show off.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 27, 2000-
    I hope everyone's holidays went well.  Still one more to go I guess, but the biggies are over.  Mine was good.  Another adventurous drive down.  I don't believe I have ever seen so many cars in the ditch in one stretch of roadway that I saw from about Stevens Point to Janesville WI.  There had to have been an average of 1 car per every half mile.  Some really good ones too, plus some bad ones, which I hope everyone was all right.  It is a little unnerving to see a car upside down in the ditch.  All that with just about 3" of new snow to boot.  At least this year I did not almost plow head onto a person backing up in the interstate like I did last year!
    Well enough of that.  I need to back track a bit in this entry, as I did take some shots of the events before I left, it just got a little crazy up here last week and I did not have time to get to the journal.  I did manage to finish shoveling off my roof.  There was more snow on it this time around than when I did it last year at the end of January.  I also managed to take a before pic of what my driveway looked like, a during shot with all the snow from the roof on it and an after shot to try and illustrate what you all missed out on, since no one took me up on my offer to clear it for me.  Next time.  Here is s shot of the front of the house with the roof clear.  Needless to say it is not clean anymore.  Actually it was not clean for more than about a few hours and there is already a foot of new snow on it.  I even had a little scare while doing the roof.  I had cleaned off the roof, but had 3-5 foot piles on my driveway and walkway.  I fired up the snow thrower and made one pass through the pile on the driveway.  As soon as it got through, it died on me and would not start.  Not a good feeling to look at all that snow that needed to be moved and suddenly be faced with the reality of having to move it by hand.  Many have sent me notes saying that I need a yooper scooper or snow scoop.  I have one, but trust me, it is still a ton of work to move snow with one of those, just not as much work as it is with a regular shovel.  I placed a call to my friendly neighborhood mechanic and he talked me through figuring out what was wrong with the machine.  Turns out it was a frozen carb and I got it running again and was able to get my car out of the garage!
   I said that there is already a foot of snow up on my roof since I cleared it off about a week ago.  We have actually picked up more than a foot, it has just compacted.  Keweenaw County has been the kings of the hill so far this year.  They have been getting crushed.  Just a few miles up the road, their snow is 43" deep compared to my 28.  They picked up 16" last Friday when all I got was about 5 here at my house.  So far this year, they have picked up 141" (not including what fell today).  That is just 20" shy of last seasons TOTAL!  It is funny, when I got together this fall with the guys who are doing the guide service with me, we were worried about accepting reservations for the week between Christmas and New Years, thinking that there might not be enough snow.  We decided to do it anyway and just return any deposits if the conditions did not permit.  Well, we are actually faced with an opposite problem.  One of the areas where we were to take people has too much snow.  One of the guides went for a ride with two of his friends today to break trail in this area for a tour tomorrow.  The guide was on the "least equipped" sled, a Powder Special 500.  The other riders were riding a Highmark 700 and a Mountain Cat 800.  For those of you who are a bit lost, these are sleds which are made to handle the deep powder found out west and also built to hill climb.  Anyway, I got a call from him this evening saying that they had to turn around before making it all the way through the trail.  They all got stuck several times and the lead rider could not stop, or was instantly stuck.  I also need to point out that they are all excellent riders.
    The main reason for the bottomless powder is just simply the 100" in about 3-4 weeks.  Another part is that the temps have been so cold that we have not had much settling so there is no "bottom" to the snow.  By a bottom, I mean a layer of compacted snow that is able to support a human or sled.  An the last reason is the fact that we have not had much wind up here, so the snow has just piled up.  I was out in a big field today and we were busting about 2 feet of fresh powder.  Normally that field is either blown to the hard pack or just has a few inches of powder on it.  I was out riding with Jim, the person who helped me redesign the site, and his Dad.  Here is a shot of Jim "laying 'er down in the pow pow".  I had a few of those too and we both had a few where the sled ended up sitting on it's side, with us laying on our back next to it.  There is still a ton of untracked snow out there so I may just have to get out there tomorrow for some more.  I still need to perfect my powder 8 technique, but they are getting there.  Put about 3 perfect "8's" together and then lost it.  It's a lot of work, but I guess someone has to do it!
    Jim, his dad and I also hit the trail today.  We did a little riding on the DNR trail and then some off trail.  But here is proof that you can find a perfectly groomed trail in the Keweenaw in the week between Christmas and New Years!  Quite honestly, they said that a lot of the trails they rode on (they drove from Ontonagon to Lake Linden today) were in really good shape.  They also spoke very highly of the new trail that runs down between Twin Lakes and Ontonagon.  I'll have to go and give that one a try some day.
    I did manage to get in a ski.  Not much to say about that, but I did happen across a stand of red pine that had a very symmetrical look to them with the snow collecting on the bark and branches, so I thought I would share it with you all.
    I also need to wish Burt and Baileys a Happy Birthday and thank those who did the same by e mail.  I thought that was really special that persons remembered it and recognized it.  They did get their traditional spaghetti dinner.  Burt inhaled it and was done with the whole plate in about 15 seconds.  Baileys was real lady and took her time and politely slurped it down in about a minute.  They are now sound asleep, getting ready for a new day in the Keweenaw.  Sounds like a good idea to me.  I think I will go join them.
Good night from the Keweenaw, it is great to be back!
- JD -
December 22, 2000-
Happy Holidays Everyone!
    I have much to be grateful for this holiday season.  Much, much, more than a lot of snow.  Although that is one thing on the list for sure!  My first year up here was so much fun, my fear was that it would be impossible to beat.  Well, I guess the magic of the Keweenaw took care of my worries and then some!  This past year has been one great turn after another.  It keeps getting better and better and the outlook holds nothing but more of the same.
    I am glad for the opportunity to be able to share my experiences and thoughts about things up here with you all and really look forward to doing lots more of the same.
    It is my Christmas wish that everyone has a safe, happy and peaceful holiday.  I am heading south in about an hour to be with my family for Christmas.  I will return Tuesday night and crank johndee.com back in gear.
-Peace- from the Keweenaw-
- JD - Baileys and Burt.

December 19, 2000-
    This may not be a short one, but it might jump around a lot.  I have about 30 minutes to get it out, as I have a party to go to.  So I apologize for any grammar errors and well as the lack of flowing from one idea to another that occurs.
    The first thing I want to say is LET IT SNOW, BRING IT ON, I AM READY!  I got my snow thrower back and she cranks!  Throws the snow 30 feet once again and plows right through snow that is up over the 24" high intake.  Yeah Baby!  The snow gods must have been reading my mind this morning because we got dumped on!  That was a shot of what happened for about 2 hours this morning.  Actually it even came down harder at times.  We ended up with about 6" in those 2 hours, one inch of it came down in 10 minutes.  I know that because I went to take a shower and took a peak at the snow station and it read about 3.5" on top.  When I came out of the shower 10 minutes later, it read 4.5"!  I can't believe it missed it!  Oh well, I did get to see some pretty heavy snow the rest of the time.  6" in 2 hours is not too shabby.  The strange thing is this snow band did not impact the whole Keweenaw.  The whole time we had 1/8 mile vis. and heavy snow, the airport was reporting 1-2 mile vis. with light snow.  I also checked out the bridge cam and they did not have the heavy snow there either.
    The heavy snow tapered off about 11:30 and we have been in and out of snow showers the rest of the day.  It still is a little unnerving for a meteorologist who is doing a forecast for this area to be in the situation we had this afternoon, because I was calling for 1-3" of additional accumulation, but when one of those squalls comes through, it starts to look like we will get another 6" in 2 hours, then it slows way down and the sun even tries to peak it's head out.  Here is a shot take on the afternoon walk showing my area in a break in the snow, but a new squall moving in from the north.
    I decided to take a walk to check out the local snowmobile trail.  I will likely be a little busier this year as it connects with the trail that goes to Gay, which is open this year.  Yes, the Lake Linden to Gay trail is open.  Anyway, it was flat as a pancake.  I did hear from some riders in the Loading Zone that trail 3 was a little bumped up, but I know it was in decent shape today, as I ran into some riders today on the local trail looking for the Lindell in Lake Linden and I redirected them back to trail 3 and they were happy to get back on it, saying it was awesome.
    I feared that the trail might be too busy for us to walk on, so I took us off trail and we had to make our own.  Here is Baileys breaking trail.  As we were getting back to the neighborhood, that approaching squall that I talked about in an earlier pic hit and here is a shot taken from roughly the same spot.  On days like today, it is fun to watch things unfold in the sky.  It is a virtual lesson in Lake Effect Snow formation, as you can see the clouds billowing off in the distance and see how they form, dump their snow and die off.
    So I am a happy camper, 7" fresh today, with lots more to some this week.  It is really deep out there.  I got about 1/3rd of the front of my roof done.  The rest will happen tomorrow and Thursday.  I am not fretting that anymore, as the snow thrower is working great and will clear my walk and driveway of the snow from the roof just fine.  Although there is more snow on my roof now, than when I cleared it at the end of January last year!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 18, 2000-
    You know, this journal has been taking you into the woods, across the beaches and through the scenic towns of the Keweenaw, and I hope that you all can get the feeling of what it is like to live up here.  However, you really haven't lived until you have shoveled 3 feet of snow off a roof up here.  And as luck would have it, there is still half a roof over my head that needs to be done.  So, do to my overwhelming generosity, I will allow the first 1-3 people who respond to me to be able to get up there and live the true yooper life, by doing the other half of the roof.  And to make this offer even more enticing, I will let you do it free of charge!  But you must hurry, this opportunity will not last long!  So don't delay, this is a limited time offer, makes a great stocking stuffer for that person who has everything!
    On the more serious side, I did get up there and took care of the back side of the house and will do the front side the rest of this week.  It took me about an hour to do, much better than the 4-5 hours it took to do the front half last year, with the wrong tools.  I have some pics, and will get to them in a bit.
    The hounds and I were city slickers today, as we did not go off into the bush, but rather walked around the village so that I could take some pics and show you all what we see on our morning walks.  Yesterday I talked about how the neighborhood really gets transformed by all the snow.  Things close to the ground are buried by the snow and objects that are over 4-5 feet tall just become one big white lump.   Here is a shot of an old pickup and small camper.  The thing I liked about that one was the back of the pickup.  It was empty just a month or so ago, but now the snow is bubbling over it like some kind of science experiment gone wrong.  This next shot illustrates one way that bushes are prepared to withstand the heavy snow load.  They remind me of some prehistoric snow soldiers or something.
    No matter when we go for a walk or drive through the neighborhood, someone is out moving snow.  I am not kidding.  You can tell by either the low growl of a snow thrower or by the white arch of snow it is throwing.  The real interesting thing is to see how different people go about taking care of the snow.  Some folks will push it way to the back of their lot in hopes of leaving enough room for future piles.  Some folks just push it across the street into an empty lot and others are like me and just throw it into their yard.  Here is a shot of the best kept driveway in the village.  Although, if you look, about 1/3rd of the way up, on the right hand side, it looks as though his cut with the blower got a little sloppy, there appears to be an area of snow projecting out into the drive way about 2-3".  If it is still there tomorrow, I will be sure to point it out to him.  The really weird thing about it is that there is not even a tire track on the driveway, which makes me wonder if he even uses the driveway for his car!
    About a week ago I took a picture of a mini van that has been collecting the snows of the season.  It is still there and it is still collecting the snows of the season.  This could prove to be an interesting thing to follow, as it looks like it might be there to stay for a while.
    Some of the banks on the side of the road are getting pretty big.  Driving in my low riding Honda is actually very hard because I cannot see anything but the banks.  I have been turing to my truck more and more to get around, even just to shoot over to the store or something like that.  Behind my house and across the street is the "bone yard", a baseball field and small play ground.  I just learned the name of it a few months ago, but now when ever anyone asks me where I live, I say up by the bone yard in Lake Linden and everyone seems to know just where I am talking about.  Doesn't look like those swings will be getting used anytime soon.
    Arriving back home, I can show you how my bush protection system is performing.  So far so good.  I doubt that there will be any problems with it.  The snow from the roof gets pushed past them, so that will not be a proble, but I may need to slice some snow off them in the near future so I will be able to look out my front windows.  See that snow up on the roof?  Holy wa!
    Moving into the back yard, here is a shot of my webber grill wearing a bonnet of white.  I am always amazed at how the snow just collects on everything with a horizontal surface.  I have driven past stop signs with 4-5 inches of snow piled on top!  Speaking of snow piling on top of things, the good old snow station sure has been getting a work out this winter.  It has measured fresh snowfall every day for 14 days straight.  Today will be number 15 and we may just get to 20 or more.  Not unusual for this place, but still really cool just the same.  Not moving an inch from where the last shot was taken, but looking up and to your right, you get a glimpse of my afternoon work, the roof.  Now, staying in the same spot, but time warping ahead about 60 minutes you can see where all the snow from my roof goes.  Remember, there are still openings available for the front!
    I hope you all enjoyed my little tour.  If the pattern keeps up, I will do this again in a few weeks to keep you updated on things.  But for now, I must go and rest my bones for tomorrow's adventures in the snow.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 17, 2000-
    Holy wa, it's getting deep around here and mean with a four letter word starting with "s" and ending with "w".  I spent 1 1/2 hours cleaning the driveway, front walk and clearing a path for the hounds in the back.  It would not have taken me half the time if my snow thrower was working properly.  I really need to get it in and get it fixed once and for all.  Some things were fixed, but others are still not working.  I may just break down and get a new one, but the $1200-1500 price tag is making me a little squeamish.  Of course, buying a good one at that price will last me 10-15 years, so I can look at it that way.  Anyway, the snow has passed the just for fun point and is now becoming work as well.  Don't get me wrong, I still am as addicted to it as ever.  When the LES started to ease up a bit this morning, I was disappointed, even though there was 15" new sitting on the top of my snow station!  But the fact remains that I could not just let things slide by and push the snow to the side of the driveway anymore.  A thorough cleaning was in order and I even went so far as to cut into the banks so that the they would not continue to close in on my driveway.  Since this was such an exhausting chore, I decided it would be a good idea to take a before and after picture of the fruits of my labor.  Seeing the truck all cleaned off reminds me that it actually does get cleaned off every day, so when you take a look at the front of house shot taken in the morning, and there is snow on the truck, you can deduce that new snow has fallen since the previous afternoon.
    The next big chore slated for sometime this week is to clean off the roof.  There is about 2-3 feet up there now and with more on the way and me being out of town from Friday through Monday for Christmas, I need to get up there so that I do not end up having to clear 4 feet off.  I am prepared this time around and it should not take me too long, but still, this is the ONLY thing that I do not like about all the snow we get up here.  I could just pay someone to do it, but as long as I have the ability to do it, I may as well.  I'll keep all of you posted, as I'm sure you are just on the edges of your seat over this!
    No riding today.  I was really tempted to just hit a few fields close by and play in the powder, but after my snow removal experience this morning, I was a bit tired.  Plus, it seems like I have been away from the dogs a lot and I decided that today I would spend all day with them, playing around and laying around.  Sort of pretending I was a dog.
    We did go off into the woods for a ski.  It was one of those trips that I never saw the tips of my skis.  The snow was so deep that my skis were fully underneath the snow the whole time.  The amazing thing is that I had been through this trail on my sled last week and the dogs and I came down on a ski just a few days ago.  The foggy quality of the picture is due to the falling snow.  It was really coming down at the time the shot was taken.  I need to tally up the snow totals for this year so far, I think we are closing in on 100".
    The deep snow did not slow down the hounds.  They ran off in front to explore and sniff out all who had come before us.  Although the snow was up past their bellies on the trail and way over their head when they went off trail.  It is really funny to watch them jump off the trail and disappear in the snow.  Burt has learned that the snow will be over his head so he just leaps off all four and poofs down on all four.  I would really love to get a pic as he was landing, but I never have the camera ready, but take it from me, it is really a funny sight.  While out on the trail, I though that it has been a while since the fans of the hounds got some close ups so here is one of Burt and here is one of Baileys.  Don't they just look cute enough for a hug?  Trust me, they get plenty!
    So the main story has been the snow.  Lots of it.  The banks on the side of the road are now about 5 feet high and growing.  Here is a shot looking down my street, you can't really make out how high the banks are, but maybe tomorrow I will take some shots of how the neighborhood is dealing with the snow as well as being transformed.  It is really pretty neat to see things being swallowed up by the increasing snow cover.  You can almost make a game out of trying to figure out what is underneath it all.  This is what I have been waiting for since moving up here in May of last year!  Keep it coming!
- JD -
December 16, 2000-
    I had a good streak going, but I guess like all good things, it had to end.  No riding last night, but I did have a Christmas party to go to.  I am in a bit of a rush tonight as well.  Have to take care of things and then go to dinner, so this may be a little brief.  But I had to talk about and show you the new snow we got.  The count right now is at about 10" and it is still snowing.  Although is has just begun to taper off so it looks like maybe another inch or two will be all that we see.  I suppose that some lake effect might actually throw in another inch or two later tonight and into tomorrow, so It looks like this storm will have brought a foot of new snow.
    It is getting deep out there.  Today I hooked up with some new friends from the Chicago area.  Our plan was to do as much bush riding as possible and we were fairly successful at that.  I am really glad that I put the new track on, what a difference!  The places I went today would have been next to impossible to do with the .85" track I had last year.  Today's riding was basically "pushing-snow-with-the bumper" all day, and the sled performed like a dream.  All I needed to do was give it a little more throttle and the sled would jump right out of the snow.  With the old track, I would have just spun the track and gotten stuck.  Of course today's had it's fair share of digouts.  You can't really ride in places like we were without getting stuck.  The worst of all the places was on the road to the top of the Cliff Range.  We managed to get all 5 sleds stuck.  First it was me, I was in the lead.  Then I thought we might be able to get up the incline by leap frogging the sleds, each one breaking a little further up the trail.  That worked for a bit, but the distance gained on the leap frogs got smaller and smaller and the incline got steeper and steeper and since we were breaking trail in about 2 1/2 - 3 feet of snow it soon became apparent that the mountain was going to win.  The incline in that picture does not do it justice.  It was pretty steep, especially with the deep snow.  Just another reason to save my pennies and get me a long track for next year.  However, I am very happy with the results of my modifications to the sled for this year and will be able to "get by" the way it is.
    We turned around and rode back down and just decided to run some bush trails that did not have any serious inclines.  Even on those roads, it was impossible not to get stuck from time to time.  Just stopping meant that you might spin the track when you try to get going again.  But it is tons of fun to float through the woods in unbroken powder.
    You also get pretty worn out digging out and riding in the deeper snow.  We were only out there for about 3 hours, but I am pretty well worn out.  Something to think about if you are planning on hooking up with a KSE tour.  Not that you would run out of steam on the full day ride, because you can always follow in someone else's track and not worry about getting stuck, but if I were you, I would not ride too hard the day before, to make sure you are as fresh for the tour as possible.
    Today was also the warmest day that we have had in about 3 weeks.  We rose to about 30 degrees, which made the snow fairly dense as well.  That will be good, as it will get packed down by the groomers and then set up well when it gets cold again.  Speaking of groomers, I had been saying how great the trails were heading into the weekend.  Last night I passed a few sleds while driving in my car and the head lights were not bouncing around at all.  However, with the warmer temps and morning traffic, the moguls returned by midday.  Not the groomers fault, just the way things get when you have traffic and warm temps.  Plus the new snow actually just made it possible to build up the moguls more, rather than filling them in, which is usually the case.  Anyway, on the way home, I rode the trails and they had been groomed and were in pretty decent shape.  I don't know how long they will stay that way, it is still warm and there is still traffic out there, but it was very good to see the groomers out, I saw two on my trip home.
    So this was the third powder ride in a row, a good streak and I have a feeling that looks to become quite a habit this year.  To help put things in perspective...For those of you who can remember the heavy snow year in Chicago in 78-79, we have already come close to exceeding the amount of snow that region got that entire season.  I know we are in the mid 80's for total snowfall, maybe even upper 80's.  I think that O'hare's total was 89" that year.  Looks like I may just have to shovel my roof before I head south next week for Christmas.  That is the only thing that I do not like about all the snow we get, but I can live with it.  I am prepared to shovel it off 5 more times if I have to!
Good night from the Keweenaw.- JD -December 14, 2000-
    I really don't have a bunch of words of wisdom today, but I thought that since I have a good streak going I may as well try and keep it going.  I guess the biggest news is it started snowing again.  About noon the flakes started to fly and by about 2 pm it was really coming down.  A little meso low developed over the lake.  A meso low is a small (generally under 50 miles across) area of low pressure that is formed by the local environment.  In this case the fairly large expanse of mild lake water and the even larger are of arctic air over it.  Winds were fairly light, which allowed the rising air over the lake to actually form it's own little area of low pressure.  The satellite imagery picked up on this meso low very well, as a swirl of clouds off the coast of Grand Marias MN.  Even though the winds were fairly light, the prevailing flow caused the low to drift to the east, southeast and right for the Keweenaw.  The air around the low was being lifted fairly aggressively and that led to our little burst of snow that gave us about 2" in 2 hours this afternoon.
    Things are beginning to whine down now, the horizon to the south looks clear.  It was a perfect setting for a ski, but the best part about the ski was the fact that I had a companion with me.  We skied the trail that the groomer uses to get from his house to the DNR trail.  For regular readers you know just what I am talking about, as I have mentioned this several times in the past.  For those of you who are new to the journal, it really makes for a perfect ski trail, as the groomer is pulling the drag when he goes through, so you end up with a 10 foot wide, packed down, flat trail to ski on.  Plus it is relatively free from any major hills and totally protected, so it makes for a very comfortable ski.
    Since I was not alone, it was possible to actually get a shot of me.  Hope that did not ruin your appetite!  She was fairly certain that she did not want a shot of her to be taken.  She is familiar with the site and journal and I guess the thought of having thousands of people see her picture added to the reluctance that most people have about having their picture taken.  Don't worry "JW", you won't be able to hide forever!  Anyway, thanks for the ski, hope you had fun and I am looking forward to the next time.
    Oh by the way, I learned that the ski racks for my car work much better when you snap the top piece back down after you put the skis on them.  We were driving down the road after skiing, and I thought I heard a bump, like something had come off the roof and landed on the trunk.  I looked back, but did not see anything.  We got back to my home to find that I had not snapped carrier down onto the skis and one was missing!  We back tracked, but did not find it right away.  Then on the way home I saw where someone had stuck it in the snow bank on the side of the road.  I missed it the first time because at a casual glance, it looked like one of the sticks the county sticks in the ground on the side of the road to show things the plow needs to watch out for.  No damage done to the ski and now we have something to laugh about.  Live and learn!
    Like I said when I started, not a whole lot to talk about.  A little fresh snow today, about 2".  It is neat to see places to our south, way to our south, having as much snow on the ground as we have.  I can be so diplomatic, as what we have right now is good for this time of the year and only looks to be added to in the next week to ten days, maybe even doubled!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.- JD -December 13, 2000-
    Well, I guess I jinxed things!  It stopped snowing this morning.  After 9 days, it stopped.  The sun even came out, which was a welcome bonus.  As long as it is not going to snow and be in the teens, it may as well be sunny.  It's weird, I got so used to it snowing that when it stopped, it seemed very weird not to see flakes flying.  In fact I took the morning walk and it had only been not snowing for about 2 hours, but seemed a lot longer than that.  It looks like it will start back up this evening and may not stop for longer than a few hours for many days once again.  The snow is settling and we loose about 1-2" of depth a day due to settling.  That is no problem with me, it builds a nice solid base that will withstand the warmer temps this spring and given a "normal" melt (not 50-60 degree temps for 5 days in a row at the end of Feb.) that packed snow will last for weeks and make for good riding and skiing in the bush.
    I just got back from Christmas shopping, almost all done!  This may be a short one as I have to go to our snowmobile club Christmas Party/December Meeting this evening.  Last year I remember going to it in cold temps, but very little snow.  It is at a place that is hard to ride to, so I will be going by car.  Last year it was at a perfect place to ride to, figures.
    The trails remain in mint condition.  The local groomer has been out and I took my afternoon walk on them with the hounds.  There is just about no one up here right now riding, so I knew we would be safe and not cause any hassles for any riders that were out.  There is about a 6" base of hard pack snow.  By hard pack I mean perfect pack for a sled.  About as firm as artificial turf in the top 1 inch and then almost as hard as pavement underneath.  The combination of cold temps, grooming and lack of traffic have all combined to make the trails in as good of shape as they possibly can be.  Here is another shot of the trail as it runs by the Traprock River.  I am surprised the river is froze, it rarely froze over solid all last year.  A drive to Houghton today gave me a look at the Torch Lake and Portage Canal.  The canal is frozen, but looked to be unsafe still.  No tracks, but some gray areas out there which indicates soft spots where the snow melts.  The Torch Lake is beginning to freeze.  It is all frozen around Mason and the northern end of Point Mills, but then is still wide open up by Lake Linden.  After boating and fishing on the lake this summer, it makes perfect sense, as the areas that are frozen are all under about 20 feet deep, but the open areas are over 40 and up to 60 feet deep.
    Back to the walk.  I have one more shot to share with you.  It is where the trail crosses a field just before crossing the Hammell Creek, the sight of the excellent bridge repairs.  For those of you who are not familiar with my writing of conditions up here, I can say that I am not afraid to call it as it is.  I have been saying a lot of nice things about conditions up here because that is the truth.  I have not been around to see all the trails, but I can say that the trails from Mohawk to Hancock are in great condition.  The pictures you saw today were of a little used, local trail, but the main trail from Lake Linden to Hancock was in about the same shape, just more evidence of sleds going across it, but still as flat.  All I can say is that the first ones up this weekend will be treated to some of the best conditions this area has seen in a long time, at any time of the season.  Not just the middle of December.  I may actually take a quick spin on them tomorrow afternoon.  I have a ski planned as well, but a quick turn around the hood may just be needed as well.  Especially if we get the few inches that is forecasted by tomorrow afternoon.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 12, 2000-
    Day 8, more snow.
    It reads kind of like a poor snowbound sole huh?  Well, I am no poor snowbound sole.  I have been getting out and playing in it every day, having a blast!  I don't know how I would deal with being truly snowbound in the woods, but something tells me as long as I had my two buddies with me we would do just fine.
    Today we headed north into the land of even deeper snow, Keweenaw County.  Westerly winds have been bringing them heavier snow than the the rest of the area as well as the UP.  There is about 2 feet on the ground there, nearly 6" more than in my neck of the woods.  One reason was to play in the woods (ski) and another was to shoot my pictures for my Christmas card.  Both were a success and we were treated to some beautiful sights.  I took the Christmas pictures with a 35 mm camera and need to get the prints developed.  Once that is done, I will be sure to post it here and formally wish everyone a joyous holiday season
    The trail we went down was actually one of the bush trails Chris, Marlo and I took on our ride Saturday, so there was a packed base underneath the foot of fresh powder.  Perfect for a ski and perfect for the hounds to run on.  The snow off the trail was about 2-3 feet deep, as I sunk up past my knees when I walked off of it without my skis on.
    If the pictures look peaceful, trust me, it was very peaceful.  There is nothing as quiet as the northwoods flocked in 2-3 feet of snow.  Any sounds that do try and get across are absorbed by the snow and my ears were ringing just to try and hear anything, anything at all.  We even were treated to some fairly decent snow squalls.
    The trail breaks out into a clearing and there is a small lake there.  The trail also ends at that point so it was time to turn around.  The previous pic was taken during a lull in the snow, it was still snowing, but only lightly, with the visibility at about a mile or so.  I decided to wait until a squall came by to show you the difference.  There was a squall on the horizon and it was headed towards us so I decided to wait, and the hounds waited, and we waited and waited and got tired of waiting in the cold (the wind was coming off the lake and it went right through my jacket), so we turned around and headed back.  As luck would have it, the squall kicked in when we were about 3/4's of the way back to the car, but I was able to shoot a pic when we got back to the car, just to show you what "heavy" snow looks like.  This was actually beyond heavy snow, it could be called "choking snow", as in: if you breathe in too hard, you will choke on the flakes.  There is actually truth to that statement.  In snow that heavy, you can actually choke on the the flakes.  In about 10 minutes we picked about an inch.  That is 6 inch/hour snow.  It does not come down much harder than that.  I have only seen it snow harder than that twice.  Both last year and both up here.  One was about a year ago when our first "big" storm hit and a squall came and it snowed so hard you could barely see my house 50 feet away.  In that squall, it was coming down at the rate of an inch every 5-6 minutes.  It only snowed that hard for about 5-6 minutes, but it was almost frightening!  The other time was at night, when it snowed so hard it set off my motion detector on the back yard lights.  The light came on and you could see nothing but white, and I mean that.  A white moving mass, but nothing else!  Trust me when I say this place is unique.
    My drive by about 3 different trail crossings indicated things to be in "mint" condition.  Not a bump on them and plenty of snow.  I got my sled back today.  It was not the throttle cable, but actually a frozen carb.  I need to be not in such a hurry when I fill it up and take the time to add some isopropyl alcohol.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of ...       So maybe I will take a spin on the DNR trails.  After all, they are a lot of fun themselves.  I just have been riding them for the past 11 years and like to see new things is all.  If you feel the same way, be sure to check out Keweenaw Snow Expeditions.  Sorry for the shameless plug!
    Well, I hope all in IA, northern IL, southern WI and areas of IN and MI that got hammered yesterday are having fun in the snow.  I am happy for you and with all the snow up here am not even one bit jealous.  We are almost in mid winter form, some roofs have even begun to get cleared off up here.  That did not happen until mid January last year.  Mine can wait until we get about another 30-40", then will need clearing.  Question is, will that happen before Christmas?  I hope so!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 11, 2000-
    It is amazing how relative things can be.  Today I turned on the WGN noon news to see their coverage of the snow storm and it was nothing short of a media circus!  Team coverage, with reporters at the airport, city hall, the loop, the city neighborhoods, you name it, they had someone there.  Across the bottom of the picture, they had a custom banner that blurted out "BLIZZARD WARNING".  It as if the world was coming to an end and they were there to cover it!  I say it is amazing how all things are relative, as they have received about 9 inches thus far and look to get about 12-15.  We awoke to 8" yesterday morning, and it was like a dusting had fallen.  People just went about their business clearing their driveways and walks, just like they do everyday.  No one even mentioned the snow in the stores or anything.  Just another day in snow paradise.  Of course if we had some things happen up here that are more common in the big cities like murders or other big city ills, then our media would make a circus out of it, to be sure.  So I do not mean to poke fun at the good folks in Chicago, and I am sure Milwaukee and Detroit and Grand Rapids and Lansing and so on and so on.  It really is a big deal, and deserves the attention it is getting.  You all are not a bunch of wimps or anything, it is just amazing to see how different things are up here, that is all.
    It has been snowing up here for over 7 days straight now.  Well, we have had a few 2-4 hour periods when it was not snowing, but I do believe that it has not gone more than 4 hours without snow falling since December 3rd.  I wonder if this place might just be the snowiest place in the lower 48 when you measure by hours with snow reported to be falling, not total seasonal snowfall.  It is really not that uncommon for this area to go for a week at a time with snow falling, it may not be falling too hard, but still flakes are falling.  One thing is for sure, the snow sure stays fresh looking!
    Now onto the events of the day.  No riding, I have some throttle cable problems which need attending to and besides, I have gone enough in the past two days anyway.  Took the hounds for a ski.  One of the reasons why I rode where I did yesterday was that I wanted to pack down one of my local ski trails.  It worked perfectly, the trail was nice and firm and worked out really well for skiing.  Of course, the hounds still jumped off trail and into the deep snow.  Here is a shot of Burt trying to pull himself back up onto the trail.  I wonder how much longer they will keep doing that.  The snow is starting to go over their backs when they jump off the trail.
    The ski trail took us to the field that we played in on the sleds yesterday.  I took some pictures, not knowing if the tracks made yesterday would show up.  They did sort of, plus the 3" new overnight has already begun to fill them up.  Another 4-6" and a little bit of wind will fill them all right back up and I'll have to get back out there!  Here is a shot of the hounds following one of the tracks.  To get an idea of how big the field was, I took this shot standing at one end and looking towards the other end.
    The day was just about perfect for a ski also.  It was about 10 degrees, which makes for a chilly start, well, maybe downright cold start, but by the time I was about 10 minutes into it, the blood was pumping and I was nice and toast. Having it that cold keeps me from breaking into a total sweat.  Usually when I am done, if the temps are 20 or above, I am soaking wet and need to change out of my cloths and take a shower.  Not today.
    The ski back to the truck was very beautiful, following my tracks back through the frosted pines.  I hope you were able to feel the chill and briefly be transported up to this special place.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 10, 2000-
    Today was suppose to be a stay at home and get caught up day.  Had a good ride yesterday, so I figured I would not have a huge burning desire to ride today, plus it was suppose to get really cold (at least for our standards, about 0-10 above) and I am not one who has to ride in the bitter cold.  However, I awoke at about 4 am and looked outside and it was a whiteout.  Of course I could not get back to sleep.  Each time I almost got back to sleep, I would turn my head to look outside and it was still coming down.  I believe I have explained this before, but when it is dark out, I can still tell if it is snowing at a decent clip, by whether I can see the trees beyond my neighbors house.  Well the trees were not visible, nor was much of anything, so I knew it was really coming down.  I kept almost falling back to sleep, but then looking out and getting the adrenaline rush.  Soon it was about 6:30 so I decided to just get up and get going on the work planned for the day.  By the time the sunrise came, it was still coming down big time and we had picked up 7-8" new.  The thoughts of busting some fresh powder soon became overwhelming and the next thing I knew all the things that I wanted to get done were put on the back burner and I was suiting up.
    I was joined by Chris (White House Motel Fame) and some riders from New Progue Minnesota that he had met up with.  They wanted me to be sure that I put their names in the journal, so to Craig Sindelar, Dale (the fish) Busch and the honorable Tom Skaja, thanks for coming along, I had a great time and was entertained as well!
    My plan, as always was to avoid the DNR trails like the plague.  Not that they are too bad right now, grooming is going on and from what I have seen and heard, the trails are not too bad where they have been groomed.  I avoid them because it is more fun to make your own trail, especially when 14-15" of new snow has come down in the past 28 hours.  Before I met up with the guys, I passed a little example of what happens when you leave your car outside up here and don't clean it off for a few days.  Actually, that may have not been cleaned off since last Monday.  38" of snow ago.
    We hit the trail at about 11:30 and I was able to find a field that was untracked and we spent about 20 minutes making sure there was not a square inch it that was left untracked.  I am a little disappointed, as I took some neat shots while we were out there, but for some reason they did not register with the camera.  Anyway, just imagine a field about 20 acres in area, filled with a few patches of pines and a few gullies, but then covered in about 20" of fresh, untracked powder.  It was tons of fun to say the least.  I only got stuck once.  Well, not really stuck, I was practicing my powder-8's and got a little carried away on one of the turns and ended up with the sled on it's side.  The nice thing about getting "stuck" like that is that you just tip the sled back over and away you go.  I am looking forward to perfecting my style, it is a weird thing to do on a sled and does take some practice.  It is also a lot of work, I was a bit exhausted after about 15 minutes of playing in the field.  Guess I need to get in shape for the real powder riding coming this winter.
    After the field, we headed off into the woods for a little bush whacking.  That also was a lot of fun, as we were basically breaking trail through frosted trees.  After about 30 minutes of that, we took a pit stop and I snapped a shot of the group on the trail.  It was not as deep here, most of the journey today was led by me and I was pushing snow with the bumper and having it fly over the windshield most of the trip.  After our little rest, we headed through the woods a bit more and then hooked up with a road that would take us to the Big Lake.  For those of you who want to see the lake effect being formed, here you go.
    I was really hoping that there would be enough snow on the shoreline to ride, otherwise we would have had to backtrack.  As luck would have it, the snow was about 14-16" deep and we had a great time floating down the shoreline looking out onto the placid lake giving off all the steam.  For one in the group, the tranquility of the lake was an overpowering draw and he decided to do a little water skipping.  I was riding along the shore and all of the sudden out of my right eye I saw a sled flying along the top of the lake.  One of the riders from MN (you can probably guess which one by the nickname I gave him) had made his way onto the lake and was skimming right along.  He was doing really good too.  He was actually gaining on me and I was doing about 50-60.  I guess I should have said he WAS doing really good, right up until he found out that Cat's do not like water!  Luckily he was only about 15 feet from shore when he went down.  The rear end of the sled was in about 3 feet of water, but the front end was in about 2, so his carbs remained dry and after blowing any water out of the cylinders, the sled started right up and ran fine, after we got it to shore.
    One final bit of play out on the Gay sands and then inside for a nice warm meal and for some of us, drying out.  The good old yooper hospitality was given to us at the Gay Bar, as the bartender offered to put the water skippers equipment, wet pants and wet socks in the drier.  Plus the locals were having a little potluck party for the Packers-Lions game and we were treated to some fresh, (still warm) homemade brownies.  I am sure that in other places in the upper Midwest, the people are very friendly and honest in their intentions as to why they are friendly, but for those of you who have never been here, you must really come and meet some of the most honest, down to earth and genuinely friendly people on the face of the earth.  It is one of the things that makes my life up here that much more enjoyable.
    From the Gay bar, I broke from the pack and headed home to do a little bit of the work I needed to get done.  At least the stuff I had to get done.  I feel great tonight, a fun ride, with good company, in lots of snow.  What a difference a year makes.  I have about 240 miles on the sled, not a lot I guess, but it is the quality, not the quantity I always say!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD -
December 9, 2000-
    Greetings from the snowy Keweenaw.  Actually, the past 8 hours have been about the least snowy in the past 6 days.  We actually did not even have accumulation.  What the heck is going on here!  Ha, just kidding, but it is weird to not have it snow at a rate to cause accumulation when it has been for 5-6 days straight.  It has just started to snow at a good enough clip to start accumulating so here we go again.  It looks like we could pick up about 3-8" new by this time tomorrow, with maybe a bit more tomorrow night and into Monday.  But it looks like the big storm will miss us.  I suppose that is just as well, as I am still without my snow thrower.  Well, that is not completely true.  I do have it, but it is not working right yet.  The carburetor problems are fixed, but the new belt did not fix the auger problem so it will go back to the shop on Monday and hopefully I will have is soon, as the piles of snow are starting to get fairly big on either side of the driveway and if we do get some serious snow I may be in trouble.  But to tell you the honest truth, I would not mind dealing with that sort of trouble.
    What a difference from last year though.  This winter so far has really been what my memories of the Keweenaw are all about.  Never ending snow.  It is getting deep too.  I got stuck today on the sled.  We were running a road and I was going off into the ditches to play in the deeper snow and I got sucked into a hole.  When I got off my sled, I sunk up to my waist.  It was a ditch, so the snow had filled in the low spot, but still the snow on the level up here is anywhere from about 14-22" deep.  The deepest is in Keweenaw County and my particular location seems to be one of the lowest.
    They are grooming up here.  Not all trails have been groomed yet, but I am fairly confident that they will be in the next day or two.  I went riding with Chris and Marlo from the White House Motel, and that place was a hub of activity.  I pulled into their driveway and the whole place was filled with trucks, trailers and sleds.  It is good to see the season starting so early, now if we can just ride into the end of April, it will make up for last year.  A good source of trail conditions for this area will be their site at www.whitehousemotel.com
    I am kind of reaching for things to say tonight.  I do not have any pictures.  I wanted to take some, but it just slipped my mind.  I should have taken one of my little mishap in the ditch today, the sled was in there pretty good.  I did just remember something I wanted to say, I was talking with a friend about things and we were talking about deer and what they do in the winter.  I have never seen one on the trails up here in the winter.  I just figured they left the area or something.  It turns out that they have "yards" where they all go and spend the winter.  These are areas where the food is more easily found.  When the snow really starts to pile up, they all migrate to these yards.  About a week ago I was talking about the Deer Super Highways we say in the woods.  It turns out what we were looking at were the migration paths that the deer use to get from their summer living areas to the winter areas.  So I learned something and wanted to pass it along to you.  By the way, I am not seeing any "deer sign" or signs of deer in the woods anymore, so they must all be in their winter yards.
    Well, I guess I may as well sign off for tonight.  I will make sure to have some pictures and interesting stuff to say tomorrow.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 8, 2000-
    Well, if you all were thinking that the reason why there was not journal yesterday was that I was out riding you were wrong.  Although the reason why I was unable to get one out was because I was talking about riding.  I guess I may as well let the cat out of the bag and verify what some, or many, of you already suspected.  KSE or Keweenaw Snow Expeditions is myself and my friends from the Lake Linden area.  I did not want to put my name all over it because I did not want to make it seem like I was trying to use what ever popularity I have to try and push the guide service, but then most people I talked to about said that they did not think it was wrong.  Plus I figured that sooner or later it will become fairly common knowledge so I spilled the beans.
    Yesterday evening we had a meeting at my house to discuss things and start to route out some trips.  I think that I will be going out early next week with some of the riders to route the trips for real and I am psyched.  I promise to take the camera along and give you all a first hand look at what you can get yourself into.  But to further describe things a little more, the riding is not that extreme, in fact we can make it what ever you want.  Sure it can be extreme, but like I say, we pretty much will be asking what people want and then giving it to them.  So you do not have to be a highly experienced rider, just be ready to have fun and do a little digging out every once and a while.
    Yesterday I took the hounds for the afternoon walk out on the snowmobile trail.  They were not grooming and I had me a little upset.  So I figured that I would take you out there as well to show you the conditions and let you all judge for yourself if there was enough snow.  So here is a shot of the trail.  A few sleds had been down, the trails were not in bad shape, but I just thought that NOW would be the time to get out there and get things packed down.  Nights have been in the single digits and with almost no one on them at night, they would set up well.  Then we would have a great base to work with from here on out.  My biggest fear was that they would not go out all weekend, and the riders this weekend (they are here, 10 sleds at the Loading Zone when I drove by this afternoon) would beat things up and then they WOULD have to wait for more snow to have enough to groom and then we would be chasing our tails all winter again.  As I walked along this trail I got more and more angry at the situation.  Here we finally have what we need.  Before all the snow came this week, we had a hard pack base down, about 2-4" of snoment.  All the wet spots had frozen solid and then we get about 14-20" new.  Can't ask for better!  And where were the groomers?  Well, the one out of the Valley was not out, that is for sure.  I even dug down on the trail with my boot to see things and there was about 5-8" of packed snow, then the 2-4" of snoment.  The snoment was really hard.  I even quit before reaching ground as I was afraid I was going to ruin my boot.  I even took a picture of the dogs climbing up through the snow to show that it is past their bellies.
    Well to make my long story short, the groomer out of the valley went out today.  So it does not look like things will be wasted after all.  Maybe it was a good thing I did not write last night, I may have made some enemies for life at the tourism council and groomer community.  I am not afraid to speak my mind and also am a firm believer of the truth, and that is what would have been said last night, but I am afraid that in my state of mind, I may have been fairly mean.
    Some things just never change, the dogs are still checking the culverts, even with all the snow down.  Here is a shot of them down checking one out.  Notice the snow on Bailey's nose?
    Another thing I wanted to point out on today's journal was that the snow by the snowstation does not show how much snow we have down.  For one, the platform catches the snow, so there is not as much directly underneath it, right where my ruler is.  And we had a big wind on Tuesday, which blew some away from the back yard.  I take my official measurements across the street in a sheltered lot.  To prove that we have the 13".  Here is a pic of today's measurement.  Now to prove that I did not stick it in a drift, here is a shot of the yardstick from a few feet back.
    Today I was pressed for time, so took the hounds for a ski on the Lake Linden Meadows (sands).  We came across some flocked pine trees.  I just love when the snow coats everything!  That one could almost be a Christmas card, EH?  I will be changing out the pictures that get rotated on the front page, that one and some of the ones with the frost will have to be added.
    The one thing that has be a bit surprised is the fact that the Torch Lake is still not frozen.  We have been cold for the past week to ten days, with highs in the teens and lows around zero.  Only last Sunday made it into the 30's.  I bet it is close, the canal has frozen over.  Still not safe by any means, but it froze two days ago.  Another neat thing about that picture was the snow squall.  It was the dark part of the pic on the right and was moving from right to left.  It has been snowing here since Sunday night, with only a few hours of flurries or no snow.  Now this is the Keweenaw that I wanted to move too!!!!!
    Well, I am pressed for time, have a dinner guest showing up in 5 minutes, so I will have to end it for now.  I do plan on a ride tomorrow, so will be sure to bring you all along.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 6, 2000-
    Snow, Snow, Snow.  Everywhere Snow.  It sure is looking more and more like winter up here.  It has not stopped snowing since Sunday night and it may very well continue for another week.  Our biggest risk for no snow to fall is by around Saturday.  Anyway, the reason for no journal last night was that I went for a night ride.  I suppose that if there is no journal, the most likely reason will be that I went for a night ride.
    Yesterday I got word that the groomers were to be running, but I believe it was false alarm.  I believe that they just were bringing the one that stays in the Lake Linden area down from the summer storage are in Phoenix.  Anyway, here is a shot of the trail yesterday after the grommer went through.
    Like I said, it has been snowing for over three days straight.  It is amazing how folks just roll with it.  Just about any place else and this would be major news, schools would be closed, businesses too.  But here, it is just another day.  Sure some talk of the snow is being made in the checkout line at the store and stuff like that, but for the most part it is just not a big deal.  Of course it does have an impact on peoples routine.  On the morning walk yesterday, the neighborhood was a buzz with snow removal equipment.  People all have their methods and techniques and places they put it.  Almost everyone has a snow thrower, if not they hire out someone to plow.  It is just too much to shovel.  I suppose a few persons with very small driveways get by with a snow scoop, but even my driveway would be hard to do with a scoop.  I still have not gotten my snow thrower back, but hopefully tomorrow or Friday it will be back and I will welcome it.
    I must say that I am glad to have my 4 wheel drive truck.  I did not have to even worry a bit about driving yesterday or today.  I knew that the dogs and I could go anywhere we wanted to and not worry about getting stuck.  Plus I am up so much higher that my vision is better, I can see over the snow banks.  Here is a shot out my front window as we drove to our afternoon's walk destination yesterday.  Our destination yesterday took us out to the north shore to view the angry lake.  The waves were not quite as big as I thought they might be, but it was still an experience to be out on the the beach.  The roar of the waves and wind, the snow flying horizontally, temperatures near 10 degrees and 30 MPH winds.  With conditions like that, we did not stay on the beach long, but I did take a shot of some hoar frost that was building on the trees along the shore.  The steam from the lake was being blown into them and then froze.  Not quite to the extent that we had in the valley last Saturday, but still not bad.
    Just off the shoreline is a road that follows the lake and we walked down that.  It was amazing how calm the wind was there.  Just about 100 feet to my right, the winds were blowing at 20-30 with gusts to 35, but along the road things were very quiet.  Another thing that was neat about walking down the road was experiencing the snow squalls.  When the last pic was taken, a squall was in the process of arriving.  About 10 minutes later, the sun was almost out.  It does not stop snowing even when the sun is trying to come out, but when the heart of the squall is overhead, it is dark like a thunderstorm.  It also would snow very hard.  I could hold out my hand and actually watch it accumulate.
    The ride last night was fun.  We tried to get to Gay via the old Lake Linden to Gay trail, but came upon a gate that was not passable.  We also encountered some logging areas.  There was quite a bit of snow, and any wet spots were completely froze up.  We even rode across some frozen puddles that I suspect were pretty deep.  I can't imagine things being much better this year for the start.  Last year the snow came so late and even then, things were not totally froze up.  All is frozen now and the snow is getting deep.  About a foot to 13" at my house and up to about 16-18" in other areas.  I am surprised they are not grooming.  We had less last year and they went out.  Maybe tomorrow.
    The highlight of the ride last night was busting some 2-4 foot drifts along a fence line.  I can tell already that the new track is going to make a huge difference.  I hit one drift that sent me almost straight up and all I had to do was give it a little more throttle and I made it through just fine.  I might have gotten stuck with the old track.  My only wish after going through was that it was light out, as it would have been fun to play in them for a while.
    Today was more snow.  Lots in some areas.  A report of 11" new in Keweenaw county somewhere.  I know that 8" new came down in Mohawk by this morning and it snowed there all day.  I shoveled about 6" new at midday and picked up about 1-2" since.  Today was a good day for a ski, so the hounds and I headed off into the woods for a ski.  I had to use a unique technique as I left my gloves at the bank and had to ski with my hands in my pockets to keep them warm.  I did all right, but was afraid of a face plant.  The woods were very pretty, very winter like.  A winter wonderland you could say.  The ski also took us to the sight of the drifts we hit last night.  They were along this fence line.  Most of the bigger drifts were further down, and the ones closer in had been flattened out.
    So things are really beginning to look like winter up here.  I don't know how much snow we have for the season, but it may be safe to day as much as we had by Christmas or even the first of the year last year and there is more to come soon, maybe a lot more.  I am going to sign off for tonight, getting a little sleepy.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 4, 2000-
    The snow has arrived, actually I awoke to a nice little 1/2" dusting and then it has snowed lightly all day.  The arctic front came through about 2 PM and that touched off some heavier snow we picked up another 1/2 inch in about an hour and then it tapered off to flurries.  About 6 PM the lake effect arrived and we have picked up about an inch in the past hour with that.  It looks like a 3-6" fall tonight, with another 1-3 tomorrow.  A bit more on Wednesday and then another 3-8" Thursday night/Friday.  All that could be the warm up for the big one early next week.  It is beginning to look more and more like this will be a real Keweenaw winter.  I am not too sure if it will totally stop snowing for the next 8 days.
    The trails are set up very well.  They had a nice solid base and all the wet areas were able to freeze up solid.  Now with the fresh powder we look to get this week, things should be in pretty decent shape this weekend.  Took the hounds for one more walk on the trails today.  I figured this might be the last day on the trails, as there are already some sledders up here and more will likely come with the conditions improving and there are plenty of places for us to walk in the woods without being on the snowmobile trails.  The real reason was for me to take a shot of them.  Here is what things looked like this afternoon.  Not too bad EH?  If you look closely, you can see some tracks made by a sled that went by shortly before I took the shot.  I think it was a local.  I did not recognize him, but he did not look like someone who had traveled to get here to ride.
    The hounds had a great time out there.  Lots of interesting things for them to smell.  One of their favorite things to do is to check the culverts.  They actually climb into the thing completely and most of them are only about 18" in diameter.  I am always afraid they will get stuck or encounter something like a porcupine or skunk, but so far so good and they have done it a ton of times.  Of course there were some Deer Super Highways to go down.  Did you happen to check the smiles on the dogs faces?  This was really "their" walk.  Usually we compromise, spending time to let them sniff and explore things and then also moving along at a good clip so dad can get some exercise and not get cold.  Today was mostly sniffing and exploring.  We were out in the woods for over an hour, but only put in a mile or less total distance.  At least I did, they put on more with their exploring and back and forth and are showing it with snoring coming from the bedroom right now.
    I really did not mind not putting on much mileage today.  It was so nice just to be out in the woods, with the light snow falling and fresh snow on the ground.  Nothing but the sound of the winds whipping through the trees.  Beat the heck out of sitting in the office somewhere.  Plus the excitement of some decent snow coming in the next week or so and the decent start to winter we are having so far.  I would have to rate it about a 9 out of ten.
    My next few evenings are filling up, so I wonder if I will be riding this week.  I suppose I might go Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, especially if we get some deeper snow, but I am also itching to get out on the cross country skis, so maybe that will take precedence.  Stay tuned.
    On a downer note, the UP had it's first fatal accident involving a snowmobile.  A man went through the ice on a lake in Marquette county and did not survive.  That brings up a point I wanted to make.  I have received some questions on "Ask John" about ice being safe.  Now, I am the type of person who believes there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers, so I did not have a problem answering them.  However, I guess my standard answer to any questions involving ice would be: "There is no such thing as safe ice.  Some ice may be less risky than others, but the bottom line is there is water under most ice surfaces and as long as that situation exists, then it cannot be said to be safe."  I am not a wimp and I ride ice all the time.  I make it a point to not be the first one out and try and eliminate as much risk as possible, but there is always some risk.  So for that reason I will never say to anyone that the ice will be safe.  I cannot even estimate when some areas are less risky, especially if I have no knowledge of the body of water.  So to sort of save anyone else the trouble asking me a question I can say that I will just never tell anyone that the ice is safe.  Just sort of covering my rear end here.
    Back to the snow, the only down side to it the fact that my snow thrower is in the shop.  It did not work too well two weeks ago so I decided to get it running right.  I need to get a carb kit and new belts for it.  Hopefully soon because moving the snow by hand may get to be a bit of a chore in the not too distant future.  Actually I will need it most when the piles on the side of the driveway get too big to throw it.  That will not likely come for a while.  Just the same, I am looking forward to having that thing back.
    Well, I think I am going to go and sit by the window and watch it snow for a while.  So I will sign off for tonight.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 3, 2000-
    Another weekend come and gone, but I don't care because we are less than 24 hours away from the start of a good period of snow.  Thus it feels more like a Friday!  I'm so glad that all of you reading this are pretty much snow lovers yourselves, otherwise most of you would think I need to be committed!  The forecast look incredibly good, almost too good to believe.  I have been following the weather as close as anyone can for the past 11 years, as that is as long as I have been in business. Before that I watched it pretty closely for about 4 years during my schooling and I have never, never, seen a pattern which looked more impressive for snow and cold wholesale across the Midwest as the next 10 days do at this moment.  Experience has taught me that things can, and usually do, change with a forecast for the next 10 days, but it is hard not to imagine how much snow might fall here and in other areas of the Midwest by about Wednesday of next week.  For the short term, it looks very good for enough snow to allow for grooming to occur by the weekend, maybe even by about Thursday or Friday, but certainly by the weekend.
    Speaking of the trails and grooming, the dogs and I went on the trail that runs by my house and was I ever impressed!  At first I was a little angry, we got to the trail and it had been torn up.  From a distance I thought that ATV's or even a truck had just been doing doughnuts out there, but as I got closer, I could see that it had been done by a bulldozer and the culprit dozer was still there, off to the side of the trail.  I was wondering why someone would choose to scrape the snow off the trail in that one spot.  It is not like there was a ton of snow to scrape off, but every little bit helps at this point.  I noticed that the dozers tracks went in the direction down the trail that I had planned to walk so I prepared myself for more questionable acts.  We walked and walked and no other places had been scraped, I wondered what the dozer did when it had gotten to the bridge, as it was in need of repair ( I had told the proper people that it needed fixing) and I was not sure if the bridge could even support that heavy a piece of machinery.  I got my answer and a pleasant surprise.  The bridge had been repaired and the dozer had crossed it.  I would like to take this time to compliment the repair person or crew for a job very well done!  Not only did they repair the few boards that needed it, but they went the extra mile to repair other that were in the process of going and it was a very well done job.  That coming from a woodworker.  I doubt that the person(s) responsible for the repairs will ever read this, but they deserve a compliment.  The other surprise was that the dozer had flattened out a low spot on the other side of the bridge which was always filled with water.  It was never a problem in the dead of winter, as snow would fill it and it would actually be flat, but when the snow was not there, it was a mud hole that was not a lot of fun to get around (unless you were a labrador retriever with a certain fondness for mud!).  So a double whammy of serendipity.  Then when I got home it hit me that the first scraping of the trail was a spot where ATV's had caused a banking of dirt to build up in a turn so that is what the dozer had flattened out.  I am going to try and find out who did the repairs and thank them personally.  I know it will not mean squat to them, but it is always nice when someone appreciates your work.
    Today was suppose to be the main thaw day, and it did not turn out to be much a problem at all.  I think that we hit 33-34 degrees, but the sun angle is so low this time of the year, the snow did not melt at all.  In fact, it was still powdery all day long.  I had left the snow from last Thursday on the platform to see how much melting would occur and none did.  The snow settled since Thursday, but that was it.
    The mild temps and clear blue skied made for a perfect walking day, so the hounds and I took full advantage of it and headed off into the woods.  We took one of my favorite trails, one that becomes one of my favorite ski trails in the winter.  It is the one that the groomer uses to get from his house to the trail.  I like it because it goes through some very beautiful woods.  If I had to give an example of the Keweenaw's woods to someone who had never been here before and could only use one example, this would be it.  There areas of mixed pines and hardwoods, all hardwoods and all pines, plus there are a few meadows within sight and just this past fall, I discovered a hidden lake.  Here is what my view looked like as I walked the woods with the hounds.
    The neat thing about walking in the woods after some relatively new snow is that you get to see the history of activity that has occurred there before you.  All the tracks left by the creatures as they made their way through.  I have come to recognize deer, coyote, bobcat, rabbit and squirrel.  Yesterday I saw white mink cross the trail as I was riding my sled, but did not stop to try and see what it's tracks looked like, but I have seen tracks out in the woods that I cannot identify yet.  I have also been able to tell which way they came from and can even estimate how long it has been since they were through by the change the tracks have gone through since they were laid down.  Slowly, I am learning the ways of the woods and it is really fun.  I did see something interesting.  There was set of deer tracks and in the same spot, heading in the same direction some very big dog tracks.  Most likely a wolf, but I have never seen wolf tracks and cannot rule out a big dog, but these tracks were huge.  Almost twice the size of a coyote and my dogs and about half the size of my hand.  I would just love to see a wolf in the woods.  Maybe someday I will.
    The deer do not spend a lot of time on the trail we walk on.  They will either cross it on a 90 degree angle of enter into the trail and then get off it in 50 or so feet.  There are even what I call the "deer super highways".  These are paths made by deer.  It is either about 10 deer going through once, one deer going through ten times or maybe something like 5 deer going through twice.  I decided to follow one of these DSH's to see if it would take us to anything interesting.  That was fun as we were no longer on any man made trail and off into the woods with no other way to find our way out except to follow the trail back.  We walked for about a half mile on this, but did not come across any main bedding or feeding area so I decided to turn around.  Here is a shot of Bailey's walking down the DSH.
    It was so nice out there, that I did not want to leave, but I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather to finally get my Christmas lights up outside and needed to do some of my Sunday work for the commodities.  I was able to get the lights up, but already a section has gone dark so I will try and replace it tomorrow before things gnarly out there.  We look to go into a pretty cold and snowy period for the next 10 days at least, beginning tomorrow afternoon.
    Well, I think that gets you caught up with my day's adventure.  I am looking forward to the snow and cold and it does not look like it will be just the Keweenaw.  Almost all of the upper Midwest looks to see some decent snow through the next week to ten days.  This may very well shape up to be the coldest and snowiest winters the Midwest has seen since the late 70's.  Talk about going out on a high note!
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
December 2, 2000-
    They say that a picture speaks a thousand words, so this entry will be a bit over 9,000 words long.  I am pressed for time, it is 4:30 and I have an engagement to go to and have to be ready by 6:45.  I still need to make myself presentable, so I guess what I am trying to say is that the text part of this entry will be very short, but it will by no means lack content.
    We had a clear, calm night last night.  That led to very cold temps this morning in the valley.  My thermometer read 2 degrees at 8 am.  The Torch Lake is still free of ice and must have been steaming up a bunch, because not only did we have very cool temps in the valley, but the little bit of southerly wind brought the steam off of the lake up into the valley and we were locked into pea soup fog.  Because it was so cold, that fog produced a thick coating of ice crystals on everything.  It was truly a winter wonderland in the valley this morning.  Here is a close up of some weeds and grass to show how thick the ice crystals (frost) was.  Here is an almost ghostly image of mixed hard and softwoods.  The frost did not discriminate, coating all trees equally, actually all surfaces!  Notice how thick the fog was?  Here is a shot of Baileys on the local access trail which was transformed into a tunnel of frosted limbs.  Here is my favorite one, the frosting that a pine tree took.  The coating was about an inch to inch and a half on every exposed surface of that grove of trees.  It was really a magical moment.  I have always thought that this place was really special and it is moments like I had this morning that help to prove my point.  Not too many places in the world where this sort of an event occurs.  Here is one last shot of some maple saplings.
    The other fun for today took place on my snowmobile.  Yes, I went for a ride.  I was talking to my friend Chris (the owner of the White House Motel in Mohawk) yesterday and he happened to mention that he might be up for a ride today if there seemed to be enough snow out there.  That was one of the goals of yesterday's tour in Keweenaw County with the hounds, to see if there was enough snow to support a ride.  It was decided that there was so we planned to meet at his motel at about 9 AM.  My little walk through the frost land this morning delayed me about 25 minutes, but I got there at about 9:25 and we were ready to roll.  Chris and his wife Marlo have some family visiting and we were joined by their guests on the ride.
    The trails were not too bad.  In fact as I was heading to Mohawk, the trails were flat and totally snow packed and I thought to myself: "these trails do not get any better than this in the middle of the winter!".  I was beginning to feel a little guilty about telling people to stay away until we get more snow.  Closer to Mohawk, the conditions got worse.  There were a few patches of frozen mud and puddles as well as quite a few bumps.  I lost that feeling of guilt fairly quickly.  It was not that you could not ride, but I think that only the most desperate of riders would have wanted to drive all the way up here to ride on what we have right not.
    It was not my intention to spend too much time on the trails.  They were fairly heavily used by hunters in trucks and ATV's and that is why they were in such poor shape.  I had a few seasonal roads in mind that I knew of north of Mohawk that would not be too used by hunters.  It is pretty hard to find one that has been untouched, but the less traffic the better shape we were in.  As luck would have it we did pretty good.  Here we are taking a break on one of the seasonal roads.  Here is a shot of one of the seasonal roads.  These roads will be a lot of fun in another week or so if the current forecast for up to 15-24" of new snow by next Saturday holds.  The snow down now is like cement and will make an excellent base.  All the wet spots are frozen so with some new snow, things should be in excellent shape.  Almost perfect.
    Hunger struck and we decided to head to the Loading Zone II in Lake Linden for some food.  On the way down I stopped to show Chris some property that is for sale and we both were drooling over the possibility of having a log cabin sitting on it.  Who knows?  Maybe some day.  Walking back to the sleds, I snapped this shot of the trio of Polaris awaiting our next commands.
    So far this year I have logged 150 miles.  I am not a big one for bragging about my seasonal mileage.  More to the fact that most of my riding is off trail and you don't put too many miles on that way, but you do earn every inch of them!  At any rate, that 150 miles is more than I put on before January 1st last season.  That is how much better things are this year from last.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
This Businesses helps to  make my Journal Possible 
December 1, 2000-
    Bon Hivar (Good Winter)!  Well, it may not be astronomical winter, that starts December 21, but it is meteorological winter.  Meteorologist like to use the 3 month period of December, January and February to describe the winter months.  I think that is more accurate, but will also not get into a big argument about it.  Astronomers can get kind upset when you start messing with "their" seasons.  Up here winter starts about mid November and runs through March.  Technically, winter to me is when the majority of the precip fall as some form of wintery precip, be it snow, sleet or freezing rain.  Of course, some years our winter starts around Halloween and some years they extend into May.  Fairly decent riding occurred into May back in 1996.
    Today was the first day of riding, but the trails were not crammed with sleds.  A good thing I think.  Anyone driving more than 2 hours to ride in our snow right now would not be too happy.  Especially since they would have started with not much less snow, as most areas within a 2 hour drive have about as much as us.  This year is much better than last.  We are very close to having fairly decent conditions.  About another 4-6" and that would set things up pretty well.  December first is generally the day that there is a net gain in snowcover.  Meaning that little melting occurs and any that does occur is usually offset by new snow very quickly.  Such looks to be the case this year, as we may loose a bit this weekend, but then look to get some new snow by early next week.
    The one thing that has happened to me since moving up here is that in the wintertime, my days to look forward to are not Saturday or Sunday, but are the ones that a decent snow event is arriving.  So instead of saying: "only three more days until the weekend", I am sitting here in the weekend and saying: "only three more days until some new snow!".  I guess all things are relative huh?
    December first also means back in the woods day for the hounds and I.  I was feeling much better today so we went into the woods for a walk.  I still was sure to put an orange blaze on them and I wore my yellow jacket, as it is muzzle loading and archery season.  No need to become the 7th person killed in MI due to hunting season.  They never say how many domestic animals are killed.  I wonder if there are even statistics for that.  One guy that was shot was actually shot because he was out skiing with his dog and the hunter mistook his dog for a deer and shot at it.  The hunter missed the dog and hit the skier.  Kind of scary, but if the man and his dog were out in the woods without any blaze orange (or neon yellow) on then that was really not too wise.  I am just glad that all turned out ok in that one.  I also do not mean to come down hard on hunters.  Most of my friends hunt up here and all the hunters I know are very responsible and are as astounded by these stories as I am.  So it is the old case that the good and safe hunters don't get the press, only the bad or unsafe ones.  Enough of that side track.
    Back to this afternoons walk.  One of the reasons for the walk was to check out how much snow was down in different areas, so we headed up to Keweenaw county to see how things were up there.  On the walk there were signs of deer and signs of hunters.  The most unique sign of hunters was this blind made of snow.  Now that is what I call cost effective.  I don't know if it worked, but it did not cost anything and the hunter sure did blend in with the natural surroundings!  A little later on we came to a seasonal road that will be calling my name to come and ride once we get a little more snow.  It had actually been plowed some, probably to access the hunting spots.  The hounds seemed to be very happy to be able to get back into the woods and I also thoroughly enjoyed things too.  It is amazing how quiet things get out there.  All I heard the whole time we were walking was the snow crunching under foot and paw as well as the jingle of the dogs collars.  When we stopped for a while, my ears were ringing.  Not because they had been exposed to a loud noise, but because they were straining to try and pick up any sound.  That is one of the things that is so cool about this place, to be able to head off into the woods and find a place where there is no man made disturbances what so ever.  If any of you have never experienced this sort of solitude, then you must try it.  I suppose it may be a little unnerving at first, but then I believe a peace will come over you.  A peace you have never experienced before.  Peace to all tonight.
    Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
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