John Dee' s Keweenaw Journal
October's Journal
January's Journal
Sandy's Mendota Musings
JD's Net Friends
November's Journal
February's Journal
George's Eagle Harbor Web
 Dan's Wilderness Journal
December's Journal
March's Journal
April's Journal
May 31-
    Once again, I feel like I have been away far too long.  Sorry.  I did go away for the holiday weekend.  Not far, just into northern WI north of Eagle River, but south of Land O Lakes.  I have a friend who owns the bar "Club 45" just to the north of Conover.  Nice place, right on a lake.  He has two lab pups who ran Burt and Bailey's ragged.  We managed to whoop it up pretty good Saturday night and I found myself going to bed at the time I usually am waking up during the work week.  If that was not enough I ended up going out with friends Sunday night back up here and then was busy doing things Monday, including some fishing.  I caught my first pike Sunday, a 22"er.  Not much to brag about, but still my first one and it was fun.  Yesterday I spend the better part of the day trying to get my new digital camera to be recognized by my computer.  Yes, thanks to some recent donations, I was able to get a new camera for the site.  It takes great pictures and I even shot some over the weekend, including the fish I caught.  However, the camera's software and connection method to the computer needs quite a bit of improvement.  I even called in the big guns, a computer specialist and he was not able to get it to talk to my machines.  A few hours on the phone with the manufactures support people and we arrived at the conclusion that I need more RAM in my one machine and the other machine has a digitizing tablet that I use that is causing a conflict.  I am trying to decide whether to get the RAM and hope that solves the problem or just return the camera and get one which uses a USB port to connect to the camera.  I would like to keep this camera, as I have grown comfortable with it and have some pictures I would like to download from it.  We'll see.  I can't do anything at the moment, as my car is in for repairs.  It should be done tomorrow, so I might go and get the RAM and give it a try.  Stay tuned... new pictures will be arriving soon, very soon.  Even if I have to return this camera and get a new one.
    We entered into a new season up here, Gardening Season.  Lots of folks up here have backyard gardens and it seems like Memorial Day weekend is the traditional starting date for most of them.  They seem to be successful at growing just about anything up here, even temperature dependent crops like sweet corn.  I would really like to get some berry bushes myself.  I really love black raspberries.  They are quite common in the woods of northern IL and some of my most fond memories were going to Grandmas house in the woods to pick berries.  We always had to put on a coat of armor to protect us from the misquitos and then some of them still figured a way to get through the netting or found a spot where we missed putting on repellent.  At the time I was getting bit I would have never thought that those would turn out to be fond memories.  Strange how the mind works.
    It won't be too long and the berry farms up here (most of them in the Chasell/Klingville area) will be open for business.  I hope to load up this summer and enjoy them on pancakes and such into the winter.
    The weather has really been quite good up here.  We keep getting missed by most of the rain.  Yesterday we had overcast skies and even some light rain off and on for most of the day, but today was clear blue skies and temps in the upper 60's with low humidity.  Another "10" on the John Dee Summer Weather Scale.  Looking at the weather maps today I saw places like Des Moines with a dewpoint of 70, just about made my skin crawl.  Last year we had already had two 90 degree+ days up here.  None so far this year.  Actually, we have had only a handful of days above the low 70's.  Just the way I like it.  Maybe that will be a sign of things for next winter?  Sorry, I really can't give it up, no matter what time of year it is.  I am ready for winter already, although a summer full of days like today is just fine as well.
    Thanks to those of you who have sent in notes.  Many of you wanted to know how the blackflies have been and I can say that they are out.  I have personally not had too many problems with them, but I am playing it fairly safe and staying out of the deep woods if it is warm and low wind.  A friend and avid golfer told me that the memorial day tournament at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge was pretty brutal as far as the flies went, so I will take his word for it and try and stay out of the woods on the prime fly days.  Only about another month and they will be on the outs in most spots, so that is something to look forward to.
    Well, I have to feed the hounds, eat dinner and then go catch the lawnmower races this evening so I will close for now.  I promise to write much sooner and hopefully add some new pictures.  Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
May 25-
    Been away too long again.  I really need to either write down things I want to talk about as they come to mind or even just sit down and type them out and update the journal a piece at a time.
    Anyway, I have been thinking that since my 1 year anniversary of moving up here has come and passed, things feel a little different.  I kind of know what to expect as far as things go up here are concerned.  I by no means consider myself a yooper yet.  That will take several years as far as I see it.  But as memorial day weekend approaches, I can remember what I did last year (not much !) and can feel kind of like a veteran.  Events like Bridgefest, Pine Mountain Music Fest and even the 4th of July are not too far away and I now know what will be going on with them and what to expect.  I don't know if all of you can follow what I am trying to say, but I guess the point I am trying to get across is that I do not feel quite as much as a newbie and a little more like a local.  Kinda nice, but also not as exciting.
    Two days ago I went fishing with some friends.  That was quite fun.  As I have mentioned, I love boats and boating.  I could really be happy working at a marina or even owning one.  Anyway the highlight of that event was not me catching a bullhead, but another in our party catching a 24" pike.  The main highlight for me was not watching him reel it in, as it did fight, but not a bunch.  Rather it was the non chalet attitude the other two guys had for that fish.  I spent a lot of time on a lake in southern WI.  There are some decent sized fish in it, but for the most part, all anything I ever saw get caught would have been some pan fish like a perch or rock bass.  This fish would have been a monster for that lake and for that area.  Well, these guys just treated it like it was just another fish, released it and went on with things.  I asked what sized pike they would have considered a keeper and they responded that 24" is the limit, but they would be a little embarrassed to bring home anything under 30-34"!  I think that I just might have to do a little more fishing up here.  Especially when they say that it is not uncommon for them to catch fish of "keeper" size every time they go out!  It is really cool to be living in a spot where that is possible!  I'll be sure to keep you posted on any fishing adventures I partake in.  I am planning on updating the whole site all year round beginning this fall, so maybe next summer I can attract some of the fishing crowd if I become successful.
    We continue our string of pretty decent weather.  We have had a little bit of clouds and some light rain, but not enough to wash out a day or even more than about an hour.  The biggest bonus has been the temps.  Seasonal in the mid to upper 60's.  Today the sun came out by about 1 pm and we had crystal clear blue skies.  I took the hounds for a walk on the "tracks", the old train tracks which are now the snowmobile trail.  As you can see, the trees have basically filled out completely and are casting shadows and the saplings are making vision into the woods hard and any excursions even harder.
    We took a side trail that ended up going to a road I found last fall that had some homes with awesome views.  One of them had a sign up that cracked me up and I would love to get one for my place.  It sure is fitting, Burt and Baileys do like to chase the rabbits around here!
    I also had another bout of jealousy as I came across this sign.  I don't know how much they want for it, but the house has 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a finished walkout basement, about 20-40 acres including a stocked trout pond.  The best thing about the house as far as I am concerned is it's view.  The camera again does not do the view justice, but I doubt that any camera could really take in the panorama and all it has to offer.  It sits at the north end of the Traprock Valley on the bluffs on the west side and you can see the whole valley to the south.  The Cliff Range to the north as well as mountains like Mt. Horace Greeley, Mt. Bohemia and Mt. Houghton to the northeast.  Oh, you can also see the big lake and on a crystal clear day like today you can even see the Huron Mountains 30 miles away.  I would venture to guess that the home and land is for sale for 200K or less.  Any takers?  I just hope that I might be able to afford the land in a few years and then build my home on it later.  I had better hurry, land is really going up around here.  Even the stuff off the lake.
    Well, guess that will do it for another day.  The site is now on it's new server.  The transition went pretty well, only a few naming errors on my part on the new server, but I believe I have worked them all out and everything is ok.  Thanks for those of you who have sent in donations and also those of you who have sent me e-mails.  Feel free to shoot me a line and say hi.  I will try and respond to all of them.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
May 21-
    Back again.  'Tis Sunday afternoon and the hounds and I just got back from a little exploration of the Keweenaw.  I was hoping to find some neat hidden trails to hike in, but the ones we headed down all ended up as dead ends fairly rapidly.  To make matters worse, many of them still had pockets of mud and water on them.  So not only did the hounds get all muddy and wet, but so did my feet, all for a hike of about 1/4 mile.  I don't mind getting all wet and muddy and the hounds sure don't, but I sure like to make it worth my while!
    One place I was hoping to find was a good overlook of Eagle Harbor.  I know that George Hite has hiked to a place called Mt. Baldy or Baldy Mountain and I have seen some pics he took while at the top.  I thought I had it figured out where that trail was located, but was wrong.  Looks like I will have to give him a call and see if he can point me in the right direction.
    We did manage to take a road I have never been on to get to Eagle Harbor, we took the Copper Falls Road.  It is a seasonal road and actually runs from the town of Central to the Eagle Harbor shortcut.  It was in decent shape, it looked like it had been recently graded and there were no wet spots.  It is really fun to find these roads and just head off down them.  My only wish is that I had a vehicle more designed for this type of driving.  My Honda Accord is great for highway driving, but not the best off road.  Actually, with the front wheel drive, it gets through most anything, but has very low clearance.  I actually have to be very careful of rocks larger than 4-6" in diameter or any sticks of that diameter as well.
    Like I said, we failed in our attempt to find the trail I was looking for so I headed to the lake to allow the dogs to get cleaned up a little.  I figured that since the day was a little overcast we would likely have the Great Sand Bay to ourselves.  Wrong.  It was not packed, but a lot of traffic on the road and at least 3-5 cars parked in the little turn off's that sit between the road and beach in spots.  I know that for most of you, 3-5 cars is next to nothing, but I am really use to stopping the car and being the only ones there.  Spoiled I guess, but none the less, that's the way I like it and it is what I have been able to grow accustomed to.
    I knew that moving up here required some sacrifices and one of those was giving up a lot of my potential to make lots of money.  It is not impossible, but is a lot harder, given the regions population and economic status.  That goal has never been very high, at least in the past 5-6 years.  When I first started out in business, I wanted to make lots, but it seemed like the more money I made, the bigger by financial problems got, so I sort of changed my objectives.  However, there are still some brief moments when I wish I had some decent money.  As we headed down the bluff at the beach and looked to our left I saw this view.  Sitting on that spit of land are two homes.  Not extravagant, but nice, new and secluded.  The jealousy bug hit and for a moment I wished that one of them was mine.  However, these moments of want usually pass as I remember how good I have it and that even if I had the thing that I was currently craving, it would only lead to more want and more want and I would soon be too busy wanting that I would no longer be appreciating.  So I went back to appreciating.  For those of you who don't mind wanting, here is the view that they had.  It is a composite image of three shots taken from the beach right in front of the one home.  Not bad.
    The hounds wasted no time running into the water and soon they were wet, but also clean as a whistle.  We took a hike down the beach until we got close to some other people with their dogs.  I did not have their leashes, so we turned around and headed back.  All in all, it was a pretty decent afternoon.  I would really have liked to been able to find the trail to Baldy like I wanted, but that trip will just have to wait for another day.
    The woods were not too bad as far as bugs are concerned.  We have been pretty dry and I think that is helping to keep them down some.  Although, I did register my first black fly bite of the season Friday.  It actually occurred in my backyard and on the back of my calf, both a strange place on my body to get bit (they usually get your neck) and a somewhat strange place geographically to get bit (usually my yard is safe ground).
    Well, I guess that will do it for another day in the life of a Yooper in training, but before I go, I want to thank all those who have made a donation to the site.  I have plans to get a camera late next month or sometime in early July, barring any surprise financial expenses.  Once I get it, I plan to really take more pics of the things I see up here which are unique.  I am even making a list so that I will not forget.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
May 18-
    Yes, you can believe you eyes, I am updating the journal just 2 days after I last did it!  Sorry to sound sarcastic, but I was feeling pretty bad about not updating things sooner the last time.  Nothing earth shattering to talk about, I guess that can be perceived as good.  Dryness has again begun to sneak into the region.  The airport has only received 0.89" of rain compared to the 1.36" we should have received for the month so far and that is only 65% of average, not exactly a drought, but still dry.  The dry weather has kept the woods dry enough to walk around in and things are greening up so the fire danger is dropping.  Today was cool, temps held in the 40's, but lots of sun.  I risked life and limb to the blackflys when I took the hounds on their afternoon walk in the woods, but all was safe, did not even see a one.  Must have been the cool temps.
    Walking through the woods with the sun out but the temps so cool, I could have sworn that it was September not May.  The May weather I am use to does not include many cool, clear days.  Usually any clear days down south would have temps at least in the 60's.  Plus so far this season we have avoided the dreaded humidity.  We flirted with dew points in the mid 50's at one point, but it did not last long.  I am not a big fan of hot weather, but it is the humidity which gets to me the most.  They say that a dew point above 65 makes things uncomfortable, I say it is 55.  Last year we did have some days when the dew point shot up into the upper 60's and low 70's.  Almost unheard of around here.  The only good thing about when that happens up here is that it means cooler air is on the way.  You see, to get those levels of humidity up here, you need pretty strong southerly flow.  Southerly flow that strong up here usually occurs ahead of a cold front.  If I can remember, most of the humid periods up here (dew point above 65) lasted for 24 hours or less.
    I learned a good temperature management technique for my home, as I do not have central air.  I have all windows open overnight and then shut them all at about 9 AM.  I pull all the shades and keep them down with windows closed until about 8 PM.  The house stayed in the mid to upper 70's even when outside temps rose into the mid to upper 90's.  I do have a window air conditioner for the bedroom, I hate sticking to the sheets the most!
    Well, I guess one downside to updating the journal more often is the lack of material and the fact that I have to put you all through my little idio's of how I hate heat and humidity.  Well, the weekend is almost upon us and could present me with some decent material, so stay tuned.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
May 16-
    I must apologize for my extended absence from this journal.  I actually have been planning on writing something each day since Friday, but when I finally had some free time, it just kept eluding my mind.  I guess that I can talk a little about the weather, since we have had some interesting stuff go on.  Friday, a cold front pushed through late in the day and Saturday was a great day to stay in and build a fire, grab a good book and just relax.  Lots of low, gray clouds.  Wind out of the northwest and periods of rain, even some flakes mixed in across the higher terrain.  Of course, that is exactly what I did NOT do.  Number one, my fireplace is all nice and clean, and although one fire would not have created all that much work to clean up again, it was enough for me to keep me from starting one.  Secondly, the hounds did not think that staying in and laying around all day sounded like all that much fun, so I donned the foul weather gear and headed north to do some exploring.
    I decided to take one last trip up Mt. Bohemia.  I say one last trip because it looks likely that it will be developed into a ski hill.  The opposition still has at least one card left to play in an effort to stop it, but they are really in the 11th hour now.  I have kept my nose clear on this issue.  Many people have asked my opinion seeing as though I am a scientist and might have a different perspective.  My answer has always been the same and that is I see good and bad in both directions.  On the good side, if it is not developed, it will likely remain that way for some time to come.  I do enjoy pure wilderness anywhere it can be.  Also the hill would likely remain open to hill climbing.  Also on the good, if it is developed, it will bring in new dollars to the region.  Supply some new jobs, maybe not high paying, technology based, but for some, a job is a job, all while not having dramatic negative impacts on the environment.  Ski hills are about as green an industry as there is, even more so than golf courses or parks.  For the bad, the development would of course mean development and the wilderness would not be wilderness anymore.  Also there is the slight risk that the hill could not succeed financially and then it would take years for the areas to fill back in and then what to do with the elements constructed on the hill.  I don't think that there is much risk of it failing.  As a skier, I can say that it would be one awesome hill to ski down.  Both the terrain and snow conditions would be the best in the whole Midwest.  It is hard to not make something work if you are the best there is.  Another bad point is just how much development would occur.  The developer is not a ski hill developer per say.  To make matters a little worse in this issue, the county voted to grant resort zoning and not planned development, so they will not have as much say in what can and can't occur on the hill.  If the hill is developed, hopefully the developers will be able to see that there will be more money made in the long run by keeping the hill as pristine as possible and not go gangbusters with condos and the like.  On the bad side if the ski hill fails is that the county would not gain that much needed revenue.  As I understand, the county is in the red currently.  Obviously it cannot continue like that for long and worst case scenario is that it once again is annexed by Houghton County (Keweenaw and Baraga counties were all once part of Houghton county long ago).  I say worst case scenario more for the folks who live there than for the county itself.  Life in Keweenaw county is much different from Houghton county.  Most of the folks who live there do so not just because it so beautiful, but because it still has a frontier attitude to it.  Along with that frontier attitude, they like to keep things the way they are and like to keep a strong sense of independence.  Being part of Houghton county would change all that.  Houghton has given up the frontier attitude.  They are not afraid of development, actually are quite fond of it.  With a population many, many times that of Keweenaw county, the votes coming in from the old Keweenaw county would not stand a chance and things would change there with the persons living in the old Keweenaw county having to live with it.  Now I doubt that this will happen and even if it did, I doubt the stretch of road from the Lac La Belle turn off to Copper Harbor would ever look like things do around 26 and Sharon Ave. (Walmart, Shop Co, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Strip Malls).  But I do think that it is one thing the residents of Keweenaw County fighting the ski hill development have not considered to be a threat at all.  You know the old saying:  "Be careful of what you wish for...".  Anyway, I have kept quiet about this issue and this will be all that I say about it, except to possibly talk about anything that does happen.  Like I said, I can see the issues and points on both sides.  Both paths have their +'s and -'s as far as I am concerned.  We'll see what happens.
    Back to the trip.  Being the snow freak I am, I was also hoping to see some flakes on our hike.  As luck would have it, the skies actually became partly sunny on the way up.  I did not mind that too much.  Once at the top I was actually able to sit on a rock and soak in the sun for a few minutes before heading back down.  Of course if it does become a ski hill, I will be one who is seen sliding down it (hopefully in a standing position), so that trip to the top was not my last, but maybe my last on foot.
    After the hike, I took the long way home via the harbor (Copper Harbor).  There was a Splake tournament going on and a friend was fishing in it.  For those of you a little lost, a Splake is a cross between a speckled trout and a lake trout.  My buddies took second with one of the two splakes caught that day.  Conditions were just a bit on the challenging side so I was told.  I did not see my friends, so the hounds and I headed south via the north shore and swung through the communities of Eagle Harbor, Eagle River and then up to the spine to pick up 41 at Phoenix.
    Sunday was a more agreeable day, with some sun and warmer temps.  Did not do anything too exciting (I did call Mom).  However, Sunday also marked a monument to my relocation up here.  It was my one year anniversary of moving up here.  Not much fan fair, no parades or keys to the city, but maybe next year.
    Monday, the trend for better weather continued, with warmer temps and lots of sun.  I took the hounds for a local walk along the Torch Lake.  Here is a shot looking back at the Village park with the village in the background.  Here is a shot of my trusty companions checking things out along the shoreline.  Last year, what they are walking on was all underwater.  Today I read where the amount of water that is not in the Great Lakes now that was there three years ago would be enough to cover the lower 48 states in 1 1/4" of water.  That sure seems like a lot of water to me.  Hopefully we will reverse the trend beginning next winter and bring lots of snow to melt and bring those water levels up!  Always thinking snow.  Only 4 1/2 short months and we should be seeing out first flakes of the season.
    Today was the climax of the run of good weather, with highs in the 60's, tons of sun and not a lot of wind.  Guess what we did?  Yep, you guessed it, took a walk.  The one good thing about taking all those walks (2-3 a day at 3-5 miles total) is that I can basically eat anything I want and not put on weight.  I really crack up at all the gimmicks out there to help people loose weight.  I sympathize with people who want to loose weight, but save your money folks.  After eating, lace up a pair of shoes and go for a walk for 30-45 minutes.  You don't have to race around, just a nice steady, comfortable pace, I swear you will be surprised at the results over time and it won't cost you a cent.  Of course maybe that is why our society does not preach the benefits of taking a walk, there's no money in it!  (Are you listening Nike?)
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
May 11-
    Not a whole lot to talk about today, but I figured I may as well say what I have to say.  Two things I keep forgetting to write about revolve around the trees.  First, they are exploding their foliage.  One day it seemed like the leaves opened a noticeable amount from the time the hounds and I made the round trip on a walk.  The other feature about the trees are their smell, especially the pines and fir trees.  No matter how hard humans try and emulate the smell of pine, there is just no way to replicate the smell you get while walking in the woods up here.  That is one of my most vivid memories of my first morning up here.  I went to let the hounds out so they could do their number, it was early morning and the air was still, with just a hint of dew.  I opened the door and the smell just swept me away.  I thought: "What a perfect start to my first full day up here".  That is another reason why I love to be able to sleep with the windows open, the smell of the pines right outside my window as well as the chirping of the night creatures.
    In my expose' for the Black Fly the other day, I forgot to mention, that the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge hosts the Black Fly Open, a golf tournament during the height of black fly season, right in the middle of Black Fly Central.  I can't imagine trying to hit a golf ball with those things buzzing and zipping into my ears and eyes.
    Yesterday the hounds and I went up to take in one of the new local happenings.  Lawn mower races.  Last summer the local news did a story on this and I promised that the next time I heard that they were racing I would check it out.  As luck would have it some of my riding buddies are involved in the racing so I was able to get first had info on when the next race would be.  Here is another shot of the track and racers.  The machines are a little souped up, so they run faster than your average riding mower.  This next shot is proof of that, as the mower in the lead is a little blurred.
    It was pretty fun to watch.  Even the hounds got a kick out of watching them speed around the track.  The only bad part to the whole event was the black flies, both for the hounds and I.  We left after the second race to get away from the flying critters.
    Not much else to say for this one.  There is still a patch of snow on the way to Calumet, I will try and get a picture of it before it is all gone.  We could actually see some flakes fly Saturday, especially in the higher elevations.  But don't get those sleds out of moth balls just yet.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
May 9-
    This entry is dedicated to the cute little pain in the neck, the northwoods black fly.  Seeing as though we have officially entered into the season, I thought that I may as well explain all that I know about these nasty little things.  Of course, it is part of nature and plays a role in the whole scope of things, but about all we humans can do is play blood bank to it and I don't really like playing that role.  I have yet to give any blood yet, but it has not been by lack of effort on their part.
    I guess I first need to give a little physical explanation of the black fly.  It is about the size of a mayfly.  If you have not ever seen a mayfly, then picture a cross between a housefly and a misquito.  It can fly faster than a misquito, but slower than a housefly.  If you are quick, you can swat it and kill it, but you must be quick.  It has a really nasty habit of wanting to attack your head or neck.  It's two favorite places to go are either in your ears or your neck.  The ear thing is really no fun, because once it is in, you basically have no choice but to kill it and then get it out.  Your neck is not much fun either, as it is hard to tell that they are there until they bite.  One last favorite place is your eye.  I have actually had to clean more than one out of that orifice and that also is really not too enjoyable.
    They arrive at about the same time the trees gain their foliage and by about the 4th of July are not much of a problem anymore.  They are definitely a problem all day, unlike misquitos which are worst at daybreak and sunset.  I am actually not too sure if they are a big problem at night or not, as I usually do not venture into the woods at night (boogie man thing).  Although that also brings up another important fact and that is they are not only in the woods and can actually be as bad in the city or along the beach or even on top of places like Brockway Mt. as they are in the woods.  So there is basically no hiding from them.
    They do seem to not be as able to hunt you down if you are moving than if you are standing still.  I tend to walk quite fast through the woods, beach and neighborhood during the season.  So far it has worked, no bites.  With all that said, don't let it keep you from visiting here during the season.  It is not like there are swarms of them and for the most part you will not even know that they are here unless you stand still in the woods for a few minutes.  Insect repellent does work, but they still will fly around you, just do not bite you.
    Moving on...The hounds and I took our usual walks the past couple of days.  I have been trying to sneak in as much woods walking right now, as I want to save the beach for when it is really hot and the dogs need to cool off as we walk.  Today we headed off to the road to Thayers Lake.  It is a nice walk out to the lake and back.  Things were dry, even with the rains we had yesterday.  That's another thing I like about up here, the soils are quite sandy and dry out a lot faster than the clay loam of IL and southern WI.
    They are doing some logging out there, and we came across this piece of machinery.  It is called a Feller Buncher.  Baileys was trying to figure out how to fire it up and do some logging.  Here is a close up of the working end of the machine.  At the bottom of it, inside the housing, is a blade.  I have never seen one in action, but it is not too hard to figure out how it works, with the arms at the top and the blade at the bottom.  A friend who use to log told me that there are different versions of this which can also cut the logs to length after cutting them down.  All I know is that it is not something I would want to argue with.
    This last shot is of some tulips along the side of my house.  I know that they are not really that special to the UP, but what the heck, the colors were just to neat to pass up.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
May 6-
    I must admit, as beautiful and diverse as this area is, I still find myself in the embarrassing situation of taking it for granted from time to time.  I suppose it is just human nature.  Maybe that is why vacations hold so much mystique.  It is not that the place we travel to is so dramatically beautiful, but rather a fresh environment.  Thankfully, I am usually given some individual or set of circumstances that help me remember just how wonderful this area is.  The past 24 hours have provided several of those moments to jolt me back into seeing and appreciating the beauty right around me.
    It started yesterday afternoon by heading down to my friends shop to see what was up for the weekend, if anything.  He was finishing up some work on a trolling motor for his boat.  A fishing tournament is taking place at the harbor (Copper Harbor) next weekend and he was just trying to make some preparations for that.  He said he wanted to test out the trolling motor as well as the main power plant and it was agreed that grabbing some refreshments and heading out on the Torch Lake for an evening cruise was in order.  It was a perfect night for a boat ride; clear, no wind and temps in the low 70's.  Once out on the lake, the therapy session began.  I have been out on the lake before, but it was this past winter when it was frozen and I was screaming along on my snow mobile.  Being out on the lake at this time of the year was a totally new experience.  I was fortunate enough to grow up around boats and have a love for them.  There is really nothing that can compare with skimming along the surface of a lake which is like glass, looking at the shore line which is mostly wilderness, with only an occasional camp or year round dwelling.  That was the first of my attitude adjustment.  It really is easy to take Torch Lake for granted.  I see it everyday, but just grow to take it right along with the post office or supermarket, what a crime.  Thankfully, yesterday evening out on the lake, allowed me to see how lucky I am to have it in my own backyard.
    We actually did not get too far before running into some of his friends out trying their boat and motor for the first time this season.  Both parties shut off the motors and we just drifted out in the lake and shot the bull.  I had never met the two guys in the other boat, but soon we were conversing just like we had been life long friends.  Stage two of my lesson of appreciation.  As I'm sure visitors to this area can relate to, the people who live in this area are some of the best in the world.  Genuinely friendly and extremely slow to judge, two of the most important characteristics I desire in someone (guess that's why I get so much satisfaction from my dogs too!).
    It began to get dark so we decided we had better do some honest testing of the motors so we fired up the outboard and headed across the lake.  His boat has a nice fish finder and I was amazed at the depth of the lake.  It averaged between 60-80 feet with some locations going as deep as 125.  He even said that he found a spot which shot down to over 300 feet deep and he thought it was some sort of fault line or something.  We spent some time searching for it but came up empty handed.  We headed down to "the cuts",  the area which connects Torch Lake with Portage Lake and is THE place to stay off when riding a snowmobile up here in the winter (summer too I guess!).  Again, it was very unique to see how the area differed in the summer from the winter.  I was surprised to see that the solid surface that you ride on to avoid riding through the cuts is actually swamp land and lots of water.  It just freezes solid in the winter and has enough snow fill in the low spots to make it seem like you are riding across a field.
    After some analysis it was decided that the main motor still needed some tweaking.  It was getting late and we headed for shore.  After loading the boat back on the trailer we headed to a nearby watering hole to take in some live music from one of the local artists.  Once there, we again ran into folks he knew and I knew most of them as well.  It is really nice to walk into a place and see lots of friends (how's that theme song from "Cheers" go?).  Anyway, I ran out of steam at about 1 am so I headed home and did not have any problem getting to sleep.
    Today was another absolutely beautiful day.  Actually a little warm for my tastes.  Now before you think that I am some kind of freak who does not like "mild summer temps" I must tell you that we hit 86 degrees.  Just a bit of a difference from the snowflakes that we had less than 8 days ago.  Up here, when things get that warm, there is really one place to go and that is to mother natures air conditioned paradise, the lake shore.  I chose a beach at White City.  Actually the city is long gone, a distant memory of the mining boom times.  However, it is probably my most favorite beach up here (sorry Bete Gris and Great Sand Bay fans).  The only drawback is that it takes about 20-25 minutes to get to from my home, as opposed to the 10 minutes the others like Calumet Waterworks and Big Traverse take.
    Usually we have this place to ourselves as it's remote location discourages most from going.  However, today being the perfect beach day, we found several cars parked there when we arrived.  I did not fret, as the beach is large enough (about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile long) to accompany quite a few people without having things get too "crowded".
    We found a spot on the beach and I took this shot just to show you how rough it was there today.  The lighthouse in the background is the south entry light to the portage canal.  You are basically looking south into Keweenaw Bay and towards Baraga and L'Anse.  What you can't see in the picture, but can if you are there is the Huron Mountains.  A very pretty backdrop to a very pretty foreground.
    The hounds were able to convince me that we all were not quite ready to just sit on the beach and enjoy the day so we went for a walk.  Of course the explorer side took over again and a little stroll down the beach ended up being an expedition into unknown lands.  Actually I was hoping to get to the Jacobsville Light and snap a shot of that.  We made it to the light, but were never given a good vantage point from which to take a shot.  On the way back from our adventure, I took this shot to show you all just how low the lake is compared to last fall.  The rocks in the shot were all underwater just last fall when the hounds and I took a walk out there.
    Things have been so dry, today was a perfect forest fire day.  Hot, low humidity, sunshine and lots of wind.  I have not heard if any managed to fire up. I hope not.  Rain is coming soon.  Maybe some good soaking rains.  That would be nice actually.
    Once back from the expedition I did manage to convince the hounds that just sitting on the beach and watching the waves roll in was a good idea.  The three of us sat there for about an hour an a half and it was like being in paradise.  No, it was paradise.  The temperature was perfect, about 75 near the lake.  Lots of sun and a fresh breeze to make for total comfort.  That was the final testament that helped me realize just how special this place is.  There is so much to do up here if you like the outdoors.  In the summer, you can hike, camp, fish, mountain bike, kayak, sail, scream around on a personal water craft, or just sit on a beautiful beach like we did today, just to name a few.  Most of it can all be done in complete privacy and there is no problem mixing or doing more than one of those in a day, as they all can be done within miles of each other.  I don't need to mention the winter season activities so I won't.  I don't mean to sound like the tourism council, because if it were up to my selfish side, I would close the road at about Mass City and Baraga and not allow anybody who didn't live here any further north.  Of course I am able to overcome that selfish side and actually want people to be able to enjoy all that I do here.  The summer tourist season is much bigger than fall or winter so many already know of this area's magic in the summer.  However, I figured many of MY readers have only been here in the winter and still need to experience the wonders of the Keweenaw in the summer.  So if you are looking for somewhere to get away to for a long or even regular weekend.  Keep this place in mind.  It is absolutely gorgeous and it is also neat to see without 4-6 feet of snow coating everything.
    I really have found paradise.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -
May 2-
    Happy May everyone.  Mother Nature sure has been kind to us recently.  Tons of sun and above average temps.  Tomorrow looks to be the warmest day of the year so far, with highs in the low to mid 70's!  That would be about 20 degrees above average.  I cut the grass for the first time today.  I am going to try and keep a list of firsts and lasts such as first flakes, last flakes, first grass cutting.  Silly stuff like that.  That way when I am old and gray I will have a nice set of data to sit and ponder over.  If you are reading this, then all is still good with the server situation.  I am getting close to making the switch, but I think that it might even take a few weeks for the DNS number to be transferred.  Anyway, I still am hoping that there will be no down time.  If there ever is, don't worry, I'll be back soon.
    I did manage to get a new battery for the camera and even managed to go out to the spot that I wanted to share with you the other day.  It was just as beautiful today as it was the other day, so you are in luck.  As I happened along it the other day, it reminded me of a picture perfect northwoods setting.  Somewhere that would be really neat to have a dwelling, or I guess better yet, left alone to be whatever mother nature wants it to be.  I think that the creatures in the area also like this spot as every time we have been out there, we have happened along a group of deer and I have seen signs of coyote and I believe I even saw some bear droppings out there today.
    Of course what would a wetland be without the hounds taking a dip.  It really cracks me up how they just HAVE to go in any body of water they see.  Of course they are pretty smart, as they do get a nice cooling off.  The only water that they don't seem to enjoy too much is the stuff that comes out of the garden hose when we get home.  I am careful not to have it come out in a strong stream, but even still, it is like I am spraying them with acid or something!
    As I mentioned the other day, this special spot I had been to in the winter on a cross country ski adventure.  I was able to find the shot I took back then so here is the winter version and here is the summer version.  Which one do you like better?  I suppose I don't even have to say which one I like better, although it sure is pretty out there right now.
    From there we had to wade through some swampland.  At first glance it looked like I would be able to make it across without getting my feet wet, but the areas that appeared to be dry were actually just places where the tall grass was matted down over the flooded bottom land.  My feet pushed down the grass and in no time my feet were wet.  One of my pet peeves is to have water sloshing around in my shoes when I am walking.  I don't know why, but I really hate to have wet socks and shoes, even if the weather is warm.  I also consider myself to be a true explorer when things like that happen though.  So in true explorer form, we plodded through the swamp.  Just two and a half months ago there was 3-4 feet of snow covering it.
    Even with the wet feet I did not feel like returning home.  It would have meant either cut the grass or make some cold calls to try and get some new business.  Neither of which seemed to be the thing to do on such a nice day so we took the long way home and hiked up to old trusty trail number three by my house.  The hounds enjoyed that decision, as it meant that they got to explore the culverts that they have already gone into about a million times.  I don't know what it is about those things.  They are too wet for anything to really go through or live in so there can't really be any scents that they are picking up on, but they sure do love to go through those things.
    We arrived home in time to cut the grass but too late to make any sales calls.  Man do I hate that.  I can just not bring myself to feel good about it.  Even though I do have a sellable product and I am targeting businesses which can benefit from it.  Someone once said that they felt selling is basically begging or lying and I really feel that to be true and neither of which I enjoy to do.  Don't get me wrong, I have so much respect for anyone doing sales.  I just which that I could enjoy it more!  I will just have to suck it up and grind through another 20-30 leads tomorrow morning so that I can head to the beach and enjoy the 70's predicted for tomorrow.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD  -