Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
August 31-
    I have this thing about writing a journal on the last day of the month.  Not sure why, but I do.  So here I am, Friday evening, on a 3 day weekend, sitting at home writing a journal.  Ha, I'm not complaining.  This is right where I want to be.  I turned down golf (played 18 yesterday) and decided to just stay in this evening.  I have the fireplace all ready to go.  I'm going to build a fire and see if taking the rain cap off solves the problem of the smoke not going up the chimney as well as it should.  If not, then plan two will go into effect this weekend.  That is to bring fresh air into the firebox via an intake tube already in the firebox.  I'll be sure to keep you all posted, as I am sure you all are just riveted with excitement over the issue!
    Gonna get chilly tonight.  Tomorrow AM could find the first frost in the valley.  It was 35 degrees in northern MN and those conditions are expected away from the lake tonight.  Today we never left the 50's.  It was mostly sunny, so it did not feel that cool.  However, the afternoon walk had me wearing a coat for the first time this season.  It actually felt pretty good to be wearing the wind breaker.
    Yesterday the hounds and I took a walk up on the ridges overlooking the Traprock Valley.  There is a place that I would love to purchase property on, but I doubt that it will be for sale anytime soon.  It is owned by Champion International and from what I understand, they are not as willing to part with their land as Lake Superior Land Company is.  The number one reason why I would like this property is that it has a great view of the valley.  It would be nice to be on the lake, but I have pretty much given up on spending the money needed to have lakefront property.  When I first started coming up here, all the land was really cheap.  I can remember seeing lakefront property for just a few thousand dollars.  It is about 10 times that now.  Still a bargain compared to stuff further south, but too much for me.  I am now looking for stuff with a view and if that goes before I can buy, then I'll just settle for some beautiful land in the woods.  Anyway we walked around this property and came across a unique object.  I am not sure what is was.  It almost looked like the remnants of an old street car or something.  I suppose it is possible, there were street cars running from Lake Linden to Hubbell at one time.  Strange the things that you can encounter when walking in the woods and fields up here.
    The rest of our walk yesterday took us into the woods where it was delightful.  This is really one of the best times of the year to be up here.  The time from the 4th of July till the 3rd week of August is the busiest up here, but really, now is the time to come.  It is still warm, or at least not cold, and best of all, there are no bugs!  We just go anywhere and not worry about flies or other insects.  I suppose that it is a different story if you are out there in the evening, as Chris and I found out last week picking berries, but during the day, the conditions for walking in the woods could not be better.  We came across a sign of the pending season change.  Yep, there starting to change.  At least a few of them.  Soon, I will be pointing the AL Cam off towards the maples in my back yard so that you can monitor their change.
    Just about this time last year, the hounds and I took a walk on a trail out by my house and the ferns were turning colors.  That is where we headed off to today for our afternoon walk.  They are not as far along this year.  Hope that is not a sign that the winter will be mild!  Just kidding.  I don't really believe in the idea that creatures in nature know if the winter will be a bad one or not.  Plenty of animals die every winter up here and if they knew it was going to be unusually difficult for them to get by, I am fairly certain that they would do things to help them through it.  Just a theory, but no one has been able to show that animals are predictors of how severe a winter will be.
    I'm not taking any changes and fired up the sled this evening.  Actually, I had not done it in over a month and wanted to keep the carbs from getting too dry and gummed up as well as lubricate the moving parts by having the 2-stroke exhaust do it's magic.  All my neighbors know that I am a meteorologist and I think I gave some of them a scare with starting up the sled when the coolest night of the season is pending!  She started up pretty easily.  About 10 pulls and it was humming.  I let it warm up just a bit and then gave it some revs, just to help work things a bit.  Good throttle response, so the plugs are not fouled.  I start it in about another month and then have Al give it the once over in the middle of November so that it will be all ready for that pre-thanksgiving ride (I hope!).
    Yesterday, Baileys was relaxing on the couch and looked so cute, I just had to snap a shot of her.  I'll end with that.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
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August 29-
    Whew, busy times.  Fun, but busy.  It was great to have my parents visit and thankfully the weather was just about perfect.  We did not do a ton of stuff, but kept ourselves fairly busy.  They arrived Friday evening and all we did was have dinner and then visit some before going to bed.  Saturday we too the scenic route to Copper Harbor, taking in the Cliff Drive, Eagle River, Eagle Harbor and Brockway Mountain.  Once at the Harbor, we made like tourists and visited the gift shops and then grabbed a snack.  On the way back down I asked if they were feeling brave enough to take on a ghost hunt and they said they were so we stopped in at Mandan.  I was not too afraid going in.  For one, I had my parents as well as Burt and Baileys for protection and also because it was a pretty nice day.  At least not as gloomy as the November day last year when the image appeared in the window.  I took several shots, but as you can see from this one, there were no ghosts in view that day.  You can also see that the house lost it's little gable over the front door.  Must have been the 300+" of snow last year.  I also did enough examining of my own to see that there was nothing directly behind the window on the top left.  So last years image was either a reflection or a honest to goodness ghost.  I am putting my money on the reflection.  There are some storm windows on the house and they look to be made out old leaded glass, so they are not smooth and are very prone to reflections.  Anyway, it was a ghost free event and I can say that I was not exactly disappointed.
    The weather has been just about perfect.  Days have been spent in mostly sunny skies and temps in the 70's.  Nights have been dropping off into the low 50's and even some upper 40's.  Yesterday morning we dropped down to 46 degrees.  This weekend will be even cooler.  I would not be surprised at all to see temps into the mid to upper 30's and maybe even the valley's first light frost.  Saturday morning is the best chance.  That is not highly unusual.  The average first frost date for the valley is about the first week of September and a hard freeze can be expected about 2-3 weeks later.  Those dates are about 1-2 weeks earlier than the higher elevations around here.
    The trees seem to be noting the change of season taking place.  Many have lost that deep green color and some even have hints of some yellow and orange showing up.  In about a month we will be at peak color.  Seems really strange, with all the mild temps we have been having lately.  What seems even stranger is that in a month, we will have either seen our first flakes or I should be eyeing the system that will bring them.  Maybe this weekends chill will help me to feel more like fall has arrived in the northwoods.  One thing that will be good about the cooler temps is that I will be able to test out my fireplace.  I have had problems with the smoke going up the chimney and I think that it is because there is no fresh air allowing the fireplace to draft.  However, my friend Chris from the White House Motel thinks that it might be the cap on the chimney.  I decided to try his advice first because if he is right, his fix is a lot easier than trying to bring fresh air into the firebox.  Actually doing that will not be too hard.  There is an opening in the firebox that you can run a gas line to.  It is sheltered and I would not have to worry about using it to draw in cold air.  The hard part would be putting a drier like vent in the exterior wall to draw in the cold air.  As soon as the fix is in, I can start with my next project for the house and that is to build some custom cabinetry on either side of the fireplace as well as build a mantle.
    The passing time has also meant that both Baileys and I are healing further.  I have been going up to workout and do the exercises that I was doing with my physical therapy.  I am adding weight to the routine, so things are getting better.  I could easily ride, even off trail, but I want to be 100% so that nothing holds me back this winter.  I may not be jumping as much and as high, but I don't think that my riding style will change all that much.
    Baileys is also making advancements in her healing process.  She can now get about 45 minutes of walking in and we are taking full advantage of that.  Actually I think that we go a little over, because we take our 10-15 minute mid morning walk and then take the 45 minute afternoon walk.  Today we headed off to walk the snowmobile trail that runs along the Traprock River.  The hounds took a nice little swim and then we continued on.  It is hard to believe that in just 3 months and with a little luck, this will be all covered in panked down snow and be ready to ride.  Man that seems odd.  3 months ago I was getting ready to take Baileys down for surgery.
    As many of you have read, this will be the last week for the summer forecasts in text.  I will keep doing the maps, as they say a lot about the weather in the next 4 days and are not too hard to do.  I will be taking some time off before the winter forecasts kick in November 1st, so the last few weeks of October will be my time of rest and recharging.  I think that I may even take a few days off from my commodity work.  I don't know what I will do, I live where I would vacation, so maybe I'll just take the hounds on some camping trips or something.  One thing is for sure, I need a few days off.  I have not had a real vacation in over 4 years and have only gotten a few days off at a time when the holidays come.  I guess I had a week off when I broke my leg, but that is not the same.  Heck, I am really looking forward to having a three day weekend!  Well, enough of my belly aching.  I love my job and my life and like I say, I live where I would take my vacation!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
August 23-
    I just did not have the heart to leave you all out there until Monday.  My parents arrive tomorrow and if I did not update the journal today, then it would have had to wait until after they depart Monday.  I know that they would not mind me updating it while they were here, but I think that I should not, especially since they will not be here too long.
    Went berry picking with Chris and Marlo of the White House Motel in Mohawk.  We have not seen much of each other this summer so it is nice o hook up again.  I took them to the secret spot and swore them to secrecy.  They promised.  The berries are coming along.  It seemed like about 1/4 were ready, 1/2 were turning and will be ready in about a week and the final 1/4 are still either white or green and need about 2 more weeks.  It's weird how some are ready and some are still weeks away,  I guess that is mother natures way of providing a meal to the animals in the woods for a prolonged period of time.  I can say that most of the berries on an individual bush were in the same relative degree of ripeness.  It was great to happen along a bush like this.  You just put the pail underneath the berries and start picking.  I learned to put the pail underneath by loosing a lot of the ripest ones.  They are so ripe, all you have to do is touch them and they fall.  If you are not there to catch them, their on the ground, usually in a place to hard to get to.  The ripest are the best tasting ones too!
    The bugs were not too bad when we first started, at least not for Chris and I, but poor Marlo must have been wearing something on her skin that they liked or must have tasted better than Chris and I (not surprising!), because she did not last long at all and was chased back into the truck to be safe from the misquitos.  However, as the sun set, the flying mini-vampires came out in full force.  At one time I looked over to see 7 on Chris's back, all with their needles sucking blood.  Plus it was too warm to wear long pants or a long sleeved shirt, so we were not only eaten alive, but also scratched up pretty good.  I am sporting some pretty good scars from the thorns on the bushes.  One actually stuck in my thumb when I tried to pull away and I had to get it out with my teeth.  All of the pain was worth it, I think.  I ended up with about 3-4 quarts of berries and Chris had about the same.  All told we were picking for about 45 minutes.
    Chris and I have also taken on the task of resigning the trails for this season.  One of the things that we felt this area needed to improve the trail system (other than more grooming) was better signage.  So we volunteered to do it and the Tourism Council took us up on our offer.  What I would like to do is use a stencil kit and spray paint to put very legible lettering on the signs and put enough signs up so that riders are not confused.  We also hope to put some laminated sections of trail maps up in places to display the "you are here" to folks.  Those are the things I like when I am in unfamiliar lands and I think that I will help folks a lot and make riding more enjoyable up here.  Plus, I know of a few hazards that were never marked that need to be.  So hopefully things will be safer too.  We plan to do some preliminary work in the next few weeks, then the new signs are suppose to come in by the end of September or beginning of October, so we can get out there and get going on things.  It will be fun to be out there, doing the work in the great outdoors.  I suppose it will be an ongoing process, we will likely find places to put new signs once we start riding and find some spots that need them.  Plus, you all can write in to me and complain or suggest were signs are needed and we will get to it.  Should be fun.
    It was cool enough to take the hounds for a walk in the woods today.  We followed the sign in the last shot and took trail #3 north towards Copper Harbor.  Needless to say we did not get even a fraction of the way, but it was great to be out there.  Kind of hard to have too many concerns when this is your view.  Could you smell the pine an fir trees? hear the birds chirping? feel the cooling breeze rustle the maple, aspen, birch and hickory leaves in that shot?  It was paradise, this is God's country, that is for sure.
    No porcupines, or bear or even deer.  Some deer and bear sign, but none of the real thing.  That is fine with me.  I was not up for an exciting walk, just a little stroll through the northwoods is fine.  I have not seen a bear yet this season, but I may stake out a spot where I am almost guaranteed to see some in my truck and see if I can get a shot of them before it gets dark.  Oh man, I can't imagine what I would do if the truck did not start!  Holy Wa!
    Well, I am exhausted tonight, after my adventures in berry picking evening last night, so I think I will hit the hay.  I'd hate to be sound asleep when my parents show.  Even worse, be tired and cranky.  That's my biggest pitfall.  I am a royal pain when I get too tired.  With that said.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
August 21-
    Before I say anything, I want to say that a visitor to the site went and retouched the panorama I took at the Redridge Dam about a week ago and it looks great.  When I took the individual shots, the camera made it's own adjusted to each view and all the images did not turn out with the same exposure.  This person went in and fixed the shot so that it all has the same exposure and it looks great.  I meant to say that in the past journal entry, but forgot, so I needed say it right of the bat.  Check in out.
    Wow, what great weather we have been having, perfect!  The days have been warm, but not hot, with temps in the 70's.  The low humidity allows for good cooling at night, so good sleeping weather is being had as well.  The house stays comfortable almost through the whole day without the aid of air conditioning.  Yesterday it warmed up to about 77 degrees inside, but as soon as the sun set, I opened up the shades on the back of the house and put a fan in the sliding glass door opening and in 20 minutes had my bedroom down into the 60's and the living room was at about 70 degrees.  The lower sun angle is also causing the shadows to get longer.  Keeping me in the shade longer in the morning and earlier in the evening.  I don't really like it when it gets dark up here at 4:30 pm and stays dark until 8:30 am, but if it means snow, I can live with it.
    I was watching a program the other day and they were talking about summer seasonal affective disorder or summer SAD.  Usually SAD is associated with winter and the lack of sunlight, but they said some folks are actually affected by the sunlight and also the heat of the summer.  I think I am one.  I actually get really crabby when it is hot and humid out and my spirits are much better when we get rid of that stuff.  It is not that I am unbearable to be around, but my spirits are much better when it is cooler and humidity levels are lower.  I'm glad that I saw this program, now I know that I am not alone in my feelings.  I never feel the winter version of SAD.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  I am psyched, very happy!  I don't mind the dark and cold nights of winter.  I guess because there is so much snow up here, it helps to brighten things.
    It's funny, I do get more and more excited around this time of the year.  The summer is almost over, soon the leaves will be changing, the shorts will be put away, the jackets will be coming out and in just two months I will be on the watch for the first flakes (if they have not already come!).  I think that the excitement is heightened by living up here because instead of wondering if I will see winter, I am just wondering if we'll see 150 inches of snow or 350.  Since moving up here, I keep wondering if that will ever change, and I think that I am adjusting to things a little.  The other day I went back and read last years journal from this time of the year into September and October and the change of seasons and impending winter was all I was talking about.  This year I am excited, but know that it is coming and will be here in time.  I am enjoying these last few days of real summer weather, for soon they will be gone until next June.  I do not think that I will ever take the winters up here for granted, but I think that I will get better and better at having patience for it to arrive.  But I must admit, I am excited by watching the rain/snow line start to appear more frequently across northern Canada.  One model actually has it as far south as 300 miles to the north of Lake Superior by next Monday.  That model may be a bit overdone, but still, it is neat to see it drop further and further to the south.
    We are in a bit of a drought lately.  For the past 4 weeks, we have picked up about an inch and a half of rain.  I have been watering my front lawn for the past 2 weeks.  It never did green up with the rains we had in the middle of July, while all my neighbors did.  I think I gave it too much weed killer.  I cut it Sunday, that was the first time since the beginning of June! and it barely needed it.  It is about 50 percent green right now and I gain a few percentage points a day.  I gave it fertilizer about 10 days ago and will wait another week or so and will give it another shot.  I think I almost killed it.  Next year I will stick to one round of weed killer and not use different chemicals to do it either.  I think using the weed and feed and then a few weeks later using weed-b-gone was not so good.  Anyway, I don't have too many weeds this year!
    With the warmer temps, the hounds and I have been heading off to the beach.  Yesterday we went to the northshore.  It was a perfect day, with cloudless skies, temps in the 70's and low humidity.  We walked pretty far.  Probably the furthest we have gone since Baileys had her operation.  She did fine and was raring to go today.  It is so great to be able to go there and be the only ones.  It is not that I do not like people, but I guess being in a special place like that is extra special because of the fact that we are alone.  I cannot wait until Baileys is healed up so that we can take some of our 2-3 hour walks.  I think I could have walked for about 3 hours yesterday.  It was that nice.  One of the treats to that place is actually walking through the woods to get to the beach.  The smells are unreal, things are nice and cool in the shade and by the lake, plus all is quiet except for the call of a bird, the wind through the trees and the lapping of the waves on the shoreline.  If you can't feel good walking through there, you will never be able to feel good.  If I could box it and sell it, I'd be a billionaire.  Then again, it would seem wrong to exploit it like that.
    Today we stayed closer to home and took a walk on the Hubbell Sands.  Like the Lake Linden Sands, there is not any sand left anymore.  Last year they went in and put topsoil over it and then planted vegetation.  I guess the sands are still there, they are just buried underneath the soil and plants.  In any case, it sure does look way better.  I do think that some of the mining relics are neat and should be preserved up here.  They are part of the history and heritage of the area and I think that it is important to pay respects to the persons who risked their lives and some who even gave their lives to make a living for their families.  However, I also think that some of the relics of the mining are a blight to the area.  Things like the stamp sand areas and some of the newer, but still run down, buildings are just an eyesore.  To me they are just old run down factories.  Thankfully, in just a few years, the majority of the stamp sand fields will be refurbished and left to mother nature to nurture.  Before they repair these areas, they are basically sterile areas, with just a few patches of weeds, old mining timbers and a few clumps of trees. This is the result of last year's work near Hubbell.  They even built a nice stream bed, with a set of retaining ponds and little waterfalls.  The falls are dry right now, but in the spring, they were cranking.  I even saw a Blue Heron striding through the shallows of one of the ponds and came across a few of the frogs that it was likely hunting.  This year it is the Mason Sands.  A fence is going up so I looks like access to the dredge will be cut off.  You can still see it, but will not be able to walk right up to it.  A fence is up around most of the repaired areas.  I think it is to keep guys like me out.  No, just kidding.  I think it is to keep vehicles out.  I got into the Hubbell Sands area by going through an opening made for pedestrians to get through, but no vehicles.  The vehicle gate is locked unless an official is out there.
    This past Sunday, it was cool enough to remain in the woods and that is where the hounds and went.  We came across a porcupine while out there.  Thankfully, the hounds did not see it or smell it and I was able to keep them moving past where it was. Otherwise they may have found out the hard way that those things are not something to get too close to.  I have heard a few horror stories of dogs and porcupines and I was glad that we did not become one of them.  On the way back down the path, the goofy thing was in the same spot, only it did move and climb into a tree.  I wished that I had my camera along.  It would have made for a neat picture.  Best that we kept moving I guess.
    Well, I made a list of things to write about and I have now crossed off everything, so I guess it is time to call it an evening.  My parents are coming to visit Friday, so I will try and get a journal off before then.  Otherwise it will have to wait until Monday after they have left.  Till next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
August 17-
    Another week under the belt.  I'm still in the season when weekends are most important.  In about 3 months, weekends will be secondary to big storm days.  Mmmmm, getting the bug.  We sure have been having some changeable weather up here.  Tuesday was clear blue skies and just beautiful.  I took the hounds to Grand Traverse to play on the beach.  'Twas a great day to be at the beach.  No bugs, plenty of sun, sand and crystal clear water.  The kind of day that you don't want to leave.  I am just so lucky to be able to head off to places like that once I am done with work for the day.  I can't imagine trading any kind of other life for mine.  I pray that I never have to.  I suppose having the life of my dogs would not be too bad, but I like the idea of being able to eat whenever I want and do whatever I want and not have to depend on someone else to get it.
    Getting back on track, Tuesday was beautiful, but then Wednesday and Thursday were less than beautiful, with clouds, some light rains and temps in the low 60's.  Wednesday afternoon was good enough to head out to a place that I was told had just tons of Blackberries.  I cannot reveal my source for this info, nor can I reveal where it is.  It is along a pole line, I can say that much.  I can also say that the promise of being loaded with berries was true too.  Usually the berry patches I come across will be 5-10 feet in diameter and there may be 2-3 of them in the same general area.  This spot had patches that were about 50 feet deep and basically lined almost the whole pole line for a quarter mile.  At first, it appeared that the bushes did not have any berries on them, but lifting up the top branches revealed a mother load of berries.
    As you can see from the last picture, most of them are not yet ready for picking.  We look to still be a week away or so from the peak of the blackberry season.  None the less, there were a few that were ready and JW and I were able to pick about 2 quarts of them in less than a half an hour.  I do plan to head back up next week to pick a bunch more.  I plan to freeze them and enjoy them all winter long in smoothies, muffins and even on top of ice creme.  I feel sort of bad not saying where the location is, but for one thing it is a little hard to describe exactly where it is and also, even though there is an abundance of berries, if word got out that such a place existed, the bushes would be picked bare fairly quickly.  Plus, I kind of promised the person that told me about it not to tell everyone where it was.  This journal does have a bigger circulation that the local newspaper!  One last hint.  If you know where this old house is located, you can find the berry patch!
    Then Wednesday night was a bit of a first for me this season.  I did something outside and needed to wear jeans and a jacket.  Well, "needed" may be too strong of a word, but I was comfortable in that garb.  I am not one to wear that type of stuff if I don't need to.  I have worn shorts and a t shirt with temps in the 50's as long as there is sun.  With the clouds, winds and temps in the low 60's, it was a bit raw.  Kind of nice in a way, but then that type of weather all day Thursday was not so great.  Not that it kept us inside or anything, but still, it was not the nicest of days up here.  Very autumn like indeed.
    Wednesday evenings activity was actually to go watch the lawn mower races.  For those of you somewhat new to this journal, a group of guys from the area get together and race old lawn mowers.  They all have been supped up and none of them can cut lawns anymore, but it is fun to watch.  They really move, with tops speeds of about 30.  There are a few spills and thankfully no injuries.  The worst one I saw was when a guy lost one of his front tires and went into the woods.  He came out ok, but the mower was not so lucky.  I think that they are even faster this year than they were last year.  A tribute to tinkering.
    As a reward to the foul weather Wednesday and Thursday, we were blessed with perfect weather today.  Clear blue skies and temps in the low 70's, plus a gentle breeze to keep things fresh.  A ten on the "Dee Scale" of summer weather.  The kind of weather that I hope we have when my parents come to visit in a week.
    The weather and what it does to the big lake were not too friendly to a man trying to swim from Grand Portage in the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead to The Keweenaw.  He was in the water for about 36 hours, but was still too far off and decided to give it up.  I guess there were 4-6 foot waves out there.  I just can't imagine trying to swim across this lake.  He was doing it to help a charity so all was not lost.  I hope he has better luck if he tries again.  He really ran into a string of bad weather.  Usually the lake is pretty calm in the summer, but we have had more autumn like weather for the past week or so.
    So I guess that gets you all caught up on my doings up here for the past several days.  I need to get on the rest of the trim work for my bathroom so that it can be done by the time my parents arrive.  I am actually hoping for a damp day tomorrow, so I can find the inspiration to stay in and work on it.  If the weather is good I am afraid that I will not waste it by working inside.
    Ah, but before I go, I need to make an announcement.  My old fax finally gave up the ghost, so I went and got one of the multi tasking machines.  As a result, I now have a scanner.  I realize that the reason why some of you might not have sent me images for the guest shots was that you were unable to supply a digital image.  Well, now you can just send me the prints if you want.  I will scan them and put them in the guest shots section.  One thing though.  If you want the prints back, please include a postage paid, self addressed envelope for the to return them in.  I don't mean to be a cheapo, but I could start to add up if I have to provide the postage and envelops to send them all back.  At least I hope I get that many new shots!  You can send them to me at: PO Box 46, Lake Linden, MI  49945.  That's all for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
August 13-
    Well, I have yet to meet up with someone that says they miss the extreme heat and humidity.  Julie says it is a bit too cool, but is not complaining.  The weekend was just perfect as far as I am concerned.  We went to the mouth of the Misery River Saturday and hung out there for much of the afternoon.  What a perfect day for that.  It must have been the best beach day we have had so far.  Temps in the mid 70's, not a cloud in the sky and a fresh breeze.  The water was even tolerable.  I did not go swimming, but did wade into my knees and did not mind having the hounds shake by me.  We kept putting off when we would leave and finally hit the trail back at about 4.
    Yesterday started out cool and cloudy, almost cool enough to wear a light jacket.  So I decided it would be a good day to do some exploring in the truck.  I bought the thing to head off into the bush and have only done that about 3 or 4 times so far since I bought it almost a year ago.  Now is the time I had most in mind to go anyway, with the cooler temps heading in and still plenty of daylight.  So anyway, we too a trip down south.  On the way down, I took Julie up to the top of Whealkate Bluff.  She has lived here for almost her whole life and had never been there.  Such a sheltered life!  Anyway, it is a good place to get some exercise.  No need to join a health club up here.  This is MY stair climber.  You follow that trail up about 1/3rd of a mile and gain about 500 feet of elevation.  The heart is pumping pretty good at the top.  I would have taken a shot from on top, but I have done so in the past and they never turn out too good.  You just can not get a feel for the perspective.  After Whealkate, we continued south, back towards Misery Bay, but hopped off the main road and took the Freda Cross Cut north up to Beacon Hill and Freda.  I was not sure of the condition of this road, as I have never been down it, but it was in great shape and I could have easily made it with the Honda.  Still, it's fun to be in the truck and know that if we come across a mud hole or a ditch or anything else that the Honda could not get past, the truck will.
    Once we were at Freda, we went to the Redridge Reservoir.  It is actually a very pretty spot.  It also seems to be popular with the type of person who is careless with their trash.  Plenty of signs of bonfires out there with all the trash.  Actually, it is not that bad by most standards.  I guess I am just so used to seeing no trash in the woods that when I come along any, it just seems like a lot.  When I got down to lake level, the panorama was so beautiful, that I decided to snap a few shots and make my own Panorama.  Even on a gray, overcast day, the sights up here are beautiful.
    The Redridge dam is very old.  Dating back to the mining era.  It looks like they just built the thing and let it flood the valley that the Salmon Trout River cut through the hills.  Along the banks of the reservoir are old tree trunks.  The growth rings on some of them seem to indicate that they were old growth in nature.  I'm not an expert on the subject, but it looks like it anyway.  Some are so old that they are now a planter for newer growth.
    There was one last place to show Julie before we left that area and that was the mouth of the Salmon Trout at the big lake.  Of course what would a visit to the big lake be without a swim...for Burt that is.  Looking south from where we were, the lake meets land and there are some 50-100 foot cliffs right at the waters edge.  I snapped a shot, but the sun angle did not allow the cliffs to show up.  I'll have to remember to try and plan a trip when the sun angle is better, closer to sunset.  The cliffs are red and with the setting sun, I bet they would glow.  Anyway, here is a shot of the cliffs.
    Today was a good day for the woods, so the 4 of us headed off to do some blackberry picking.  On our way to the first patch we came across a sign of the pending color season.  The first sign I have seen this year.  We also came across a sign of the wind storm we had last week.  Pretty big tree, it ripped up the ground like it was a banana peel.
    I thought that the berries would be ready to be picked, but we were a bit early for most.  It looks like most of the bushes we hit today need at least another week.  Some of them need even more time than that.  That's ok, I'll wait.  However, the hounds decided they did not want to wait and helped themselves.  Here is Baileys picking some berries and here is Burt.  What is really funny is that they watched Julie and I picking them and eating them and came over and started doing the same.  Baileys just goes at it and eats all of them, ripe or not.  Burt only eats the ripe ones.  Last year Burt did the same thing, came over and started eating them after watching me.  This year is Baileys first year that she wanted to pick them.  I ran into a friend in the grocery store today and he told me of two places where there are more.  One is close by that we can walk to and find with no problem.  The other one we have to drive to and may be a little harder to find, but I heard that it is the mother load.  A patch that is at least 1/4 mile long along a pole line.  He said to just watch out for the bears.  We'll do that.
    So the summer is on it's final stretch up here.  Daylight is growing shorter.  It is almost dark when I go to bed and the shadows are getting longer and longer.  Soon it will be dark when my head hits the pillow.  That will help with the sleeping process a little.  Sort of hard to go to sleep when it is totally light out.  In two weeks, school will be in session, that means Julie's vacation is over.  Boo hoo.  The back to school season used to be my least favorite, now it is one of my favorite.  It means the days are growing cooler and soon the flakes will start to fly.  But just as important is the fact that I do not have to go back to school.  Can you tell that I did not like school much?  Not exactly the place for free spirit and dreamers, at least the classrooms I was in.  But I'm done, I'm free and living out my dream.  Life is very good.
Good night from the Keweenaw
- JD-
August 10-
    I think I speak for just about every human (and probably the animals too!) living in the Midwest when I say AAHHHHHH.  Man-O-Man is this nice!  I could take a whole summer of it.  Actually, living up here, this is what our whole summer is suppose to be like.  Well, almost.  Our average high is suppose to top out at 76 and right now it should be 75.  Today I think we topped out at about 70, but the lower humidity is what seems to be the key more than anything.  The air cools off so nicely and quickly in the evening, I just got back from taking the hounds for a walk around the hood and it was just delightful.  The sun is low in the sky, but it is still warm enough to walk with shorts and a golf shirt on.  Just perfect.  I think I might even start up the sled.  No, No.  Not because I am itching to ride.  I've had that itch since Feb. 5, the day after I broke my leg.  No, I need to start it because I do not do any winterizing.  I think I mentioned this before, maybe more than once, but my friend who's a mechanic (AL for those who rode with him on a KSE tour), told me to do nothing, just start it up a few times during the summer and it will be fine.  I did that last summer and it was fine.  Ran just great when I needed it to in November.  Anyway, I'll wait for it to cool off a bit more and then head out before it get too late.  Blue smoke, mmmmmm.
    The cool air was up here yesterday.  I got to take the hounds into the woods for the afternoon exercise.  I swear, I think that even the woods were happy with the cooler and less humid air.  They had this bright crispness to them and the wind blowing through them seemed to make the branches dance with joy.  I can only imagine what the creatures in the woods must have been feeling.  Imagine being a bear, coyote of wolf and have to wear a fur coat.  I realize that they do not sweat through their skin like us, but it still has to be warmer with that coat on than off!
    The great weather has also motivated me to get onto my list of chores.  I did not want to run the drier, so today I finally did laundry.  4 loads of it.  That may not sound like a lot, but it was all mine!  I was just about out of underwear.  Ok, maybe a bit too much info, sorry.  Anyway, life just seems to be so much better with this weather.  I was even watching the WGN noon news today and they were doing stories on it.  Having reporters out in the field and the reporters were all giddy.
    I am so glad that we will hang onto the great temps for another week, maybe more.  That will put us at the 3rd week of August and that means that for us folks in the Keweenaw, we only have about 2 1/2 weeks of heat threats left in the season.  I suppose that a day of heat is possible as we get past the first few days of Sept, but it really gets hard to have a prolonged period of heat to lock in once September arrives.
    On the morning walk, I smelled some burning wood.  I did not think it was cold enough this morning to use the heat, but maybe some did.  Tonight may be a different story.  We could dip into the 30's here in the valley.  It looks like most other areas will drop to about 45-50 degrees, but we usually drop about 6-10 degrees cooler here on those clear, calm nights.
    What was unique about this front was that it came with little fan fair up here.  We had some big storms way out ahead of the front, as an upper disturbance rolled through.  Thunderstorms to 61,000 feet.  Man did it get dark.  65 MPH winds too.  I even saw a wall cloud with rotation in it.  For those of you not in the know, a wall cloud is a cloud appendage which sits underneath the base of a thunderstorm and a tornado can many times drop out of it.  It was rotating, so all the ingredients were there to have tornado formation.  I had a perfect view of it, as it was off to the east, with the morning sun illuminating the sky beneath the cloud.  I scrambled to get the camera, but then all h-e-double toothpicks broke loose.  The batteries in the camera were dead, so I scrambled to load new ones.  Got them loaded and took a shot, but the flash reflected in the window and all I got was a bright white image of the flash in the window.  So then I ran to the front door to take a shot and the house across the street was blocking the view, so I went to go run to the garage to open the garage door and take a shot from there, but before I could even get to the garage door, a torrential downpour came and I could no longer see the wall cloud.  But what a storm.  We have not had one like that down here since I have lived here and I have only been in about 4-5 of those my whole life.  Last time I saw a rotating wall cloud, it did produce a tornado.  The tornado actually touched down to the west of my location by about 7 miles, then lifted back up, passed over me and then dropped back down about 8-10 miles to my east.
    So I tried to provide a really awesome picture of our storm, but failed.  Better luck next time.  I just hope the next time is not too soon.  Escaping damage free from a storm like that is a bit hard to do.  We did not even loose our power and neither did a lot of the region.  That was really amazing to me.  The winds were blowing so hard, the water on the street was actually being picked back up.
    I see the "Ask the Audience" is a bit of a hit.  I am glad.  However, I have to admit that I cannot take credit for the idea.  A visitor to the site gave me the idea and I ran with it.  I have 3 more questions on paper right now and will keep thinking of more.  One of the ones I have right now is a real doosy, so I will wait for a while to post it.  I think that most folks will be stumped with it, but will also learn a lot from it.  I am having fun reading the answers.  Some really excellent answers and some really funny ones too!  I'm chuckling about right now as it think about them.
    I don't know what I plan to do this weekend, but I think that I want to do something that I have not done before, or have not done in a long time, so I will be sure to bring the camera, new batteries an all, along to let you share in the adventures.  Till next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
August 6-
    I'M MELTING!!!!!  Up until now, I felt a little guilty talking about the heat.  We never really got all that hot, with temps in the mid to upper 80's and dew points in the low 70's.  Well, yesterday we were in the upper 90's with dewpoints in the upper 70's.  At 5 am this morning, our temp was a blustery 82 degrees!  Today we only managed to rise to about 90, but the dewpoint was in the upper 70's.  We were hotter and more humid yesterday than most areas of the Midwest and more humid than most of the region again today, so I think I can officially complain about the heat.  I hate it!  There, I feel better now.
    I would now like to take this minute to thank the person(s) responsible for air conditioning.  Without it, I think I would have lost my sanity.  I must admit, that my two window units are really struggling to keep up with things.  I think the fact that our temps only dropped into the 80's last night is what really caused the stress on the.  I turn the one in the living room off most nights and on nights when I know it will be warm, just turn it to a lower setting.  So this morning, it was not as cool in the house because of the fact that the living room one was running at a lower setting.  Tonight, should be cooler.  Our dewpoint is now dropping and we should drop into the mid to upper 60's.  It does not matter, I am going to keep the air on full blast all night.  I am just very thankful to have air conditioning in my house and car.  I cannot imagine life without it.  Lots of folks up here do not have it.  The temps we are having right now only happen every 20-30 years or so.  I would have to say that about 80% of the houses up here do not have air conditioning, when compared to the near 80% in places like Chicago and Detroit that do.  Everyone is ready for cool air up here.  I feel sorry for the people who came up here to escape the heat and do some camping.  Ugh!
    With the heat and humidity on the highest setting, the hounds, Julie and I have been taking to the lakes and even the streams to keep cool and have our fun.  Yesterday we went to Bekkala's.  That is actually a swimming hole on the Traprock River.  That was Burt heading out into the hole.  I think that the white object is one of the boy's that were out there as well.  It is a great place to cool off.  The river gets about 10 feet deep there and is perfect for swimming.  Here is a shot of me trying to act cool and be cool.  I think I was pretty unsuccessful in both accounts!
    As I said, there were some boy's, and one girl, out there as well.  They have set up a ramp that they use to jump their bikes off of.  They were pretty good at it, even performing 360's.  Here's one that I think it was wise to not hang onto the bike too long.  Here is another 360 jump from a different angle.  I had some thoughts of going off the jump myself.  I figured that since the road was right there, they would not have to carry me far to get to the ambulance.  Instead, I decided to just be a spectator.  Maybe I'll head down there this winter and jump the creek on my sled!  Not.
    Burt and Baileys had a fun time swimming and even I got the nerve to go all the way in.  I know it may not seem like a big deal, but the water temp was probably in the upper 60's to near 70 degrees.  It was refreshing once you were in, but quite a shock when going from the air in the upper 90's and high humidity.  Even Julie got all the way in.  Here is a shot of Burt and his daddy at the swimming hole, here is the Beez.
    Today, we went to a beach just north of the Sand Hills Light and 5 Mile Point.  The winds were out of the southwest so I knew that any warm water out on the Big Lake would be pushed up against the shore and that there may even be a little wave action.  No waves, but the water sure was beautiful!  Man, it had to have been in the mid 70's, maybe even warmer.  I was perfectly refreshing without being too cool.  Plus it is crystal clear.  I always talk up the beaches up here, but I swear that I would not have wanted to be any place else today, with the bright sunshine, crystal clear, beautiful water and even a few small waves for Baileys to surf.  Burt and I did some surfing, but no pics.  But here is another of Baileys sitting a few out, watching her dad and brother bodysurf.  As beautiful as it was today, we may just have to head out there tomorrow.  I was out there two years ago about this time and the water was even warmer.  Almost like bath water or like it was when I was in the Keys in October.  A few day's later it was back to ice water.
    So I think that gets you caught up in our adventures the past few days.  My cold is beginning to leave me so my energy is getting back up there.  Cool air will be here in about another 48 hours and the blackberries will be ready in a few days.  A great time to be in the Keweenaw!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
August 3-
    You would think that since it has been 5 days since my last journal I would have lots to talk about, but just the opposite is true.  I caught a summer cold early this past week and have been battling it.  The worst part of it has been how it has been zapping my energy.  I have tried to lead as normal a life as possible.  I have been doing all my work, updating the web site, cooking, cleaning and taking the hounds for their swims and walks, but in between, I have been doing a lot of couch cruising.  I really hate being sick, because it zaps my energy.  I like to be doing something most of the time.  Even if it is just taking it easy on the beach or something, but having no energy can really get to me.  So the net result of this is that I do not have much to talk about.  I have not been doing anything unusual with the hounds or with Julie or even by myself, so I do not have any interesting or unusual pictures to share with you.  Plus, it has been quite hot up here so most of our trips have just been to the lake to let the dogs swim.
    I have finished the bathroom enough so that I feel comfortable enough to show the world.  It still needs a few things done to it to finish it completely, but I think that you all will be able to get the feel for it.  So at the risk of embarrassing myself, here is a look at what my circa 1973 main bathroom looked like from the the hallway.  It is not a large room, but I was able to climb into the tub/shower and snap a shot from the inside.  Nice huh?  I suppose I could have salvaged the materials and sold it to someone looking for the retro look.  The faux, yellow marble (yellow marble? does that even exist naturally in nature???) vanity basin is still in my garage, so if anyone wants it, I'd be happy to give it away.
    The good thing about having a bathroom and being a male, is I got lots of time to sit in it and figure out what I wanted to do with it.  Julie just can't figure out how men can spend so much time in bathroom, and I really do not have the answer.  It is not like I am really enjoying myself, but business is business.  Anyway, I digress.
    When I bought this home, much of it was decorated in the same style the bathroom was.  It must have really been the cat's meow back in the early 70's, but like any period decor, it was really obnoxious now.  I knew that by spending some money and a lot of time, I would be able to transform it into a modern, traditional looking house and increase it's value quite a bit.  The important part was that I would be able to do all the work myself.  When I first moved here I was very busy painting the outside, painting the inside, putting new flooring in all the main rooms and even redoing the kitchen.  I think I burned myself out, because I just could not find the energy and desire to finish the remaining projects like the bathrooms and even the fireplace area.  It took about 2 years to get the bug back in me and I am glad it is here, I am proud of my new bathroom and am looking forward to finishing out the fireplace with some custom cabinetry and mantle work.  Plus, I have figured out how to ventilate my fireplace so that I can use it without having to open up a window to allow it to draft.  When I am done, there should be a lot of fires burning in that fireplace.
    So, like I said, I had a good amount of energy and desire when I started into the bathroom remodel.  Julie left for her friends in North Carolina on a Friday so Friday evening, I tore into it.  This is a shot taken Friday evening after about 2 hours of demolition.  I hit a snag as the pluming was built into the vanity and I had to take apart the vanity to get it out.  I decided to call it quits for the night and tackle the rest the next morning.  The rest of the demolition the next day went pretty well and then I got busy with the remodeling phase.  By Sunday, I had painted the ceiling and patched and taped the drywall.  The wallpaper previously there was actually attached to 1/4th inch paneling and underneath, was just the rough drywall.  So not only did I have to patch the holes from the wallpaper paneling, but I had to tape all the joints, nail holes and screw holes used to hand the drywall.  I've decided that drywall is not one of my favorite things to do.  I suppose that if you did it every day, then you would get really good at it.  As it stands with me, I need to work on my technique a bit more.  I think I am too stingy in using the mud.
    One the patching and taping was done, I painted the walls and then moved onto the floor.  I wanted to use slate, I don't know why, but I just thought I would like the look and I was right.  Somewhere along the lines of putting in the slate, I began to burn out.  I was racing, worrying a lot on it every day in hopes of having it done by the time Julie got back in town.  I did not tell her I was working on it and was hoping to surprise her.  She does not live here obviously, but she does use it, so I was hoping to have her go in there and be surprised.  But it became apparent to me that I would not be able to finish in time, so I slowed down my pace and just had fun with it.  Here is a shot taken by about Thursday, after the slate tile was done and the walls were painted.
    You are probably wondering why I said the painting was done, but only the top half was painted.  Well, here is a shot taken today that will show you the nearly finished look.  I still have some patching and final touch up painting to do on the crown molding and I am going to build a hanging corner cabinet for the corner in view in the last picture.  Plus I need Julie's help in adding the finer touches to the decor.  She got me a perfect shower curtain, that just pulls all the colors of the room together.  I can't believe she was able to find one so perfect.  Here is a look of the new vanity area.  Here is a before and after, and another.  I am very happy with how it is turning out.  I still have plenty of energy and desire to get on with the fireplace area.  I have a few mechanical things to address, need to find some cherry wood and then will be off to the races.  I need to finish that project in the next 4-5 weeks, as I need to be able to put the finish on it while it is still warm enough to have the windows open while the fumes vent from the finish.
    Sounds weird saying  I need it to be warm enough, as it it about 300 degrees out there today with a dewpoint of about 275, but in just a few weeks, frost could be starting to show up.  Speaking of which, for all of you out there wondering when the heat may be broken across the Midwest, looks like at the end of next week, things are going to get nice a cool in the Midwest.  Not cold, but many areas could be 30-35 degrees cooler by next Saturday than they will be this Wednesday.  We may even have some frost in the valley here by next Sunday morning if things play as currently indicated.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
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