Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
March 29, 2001-
    Ugh, sorry I have been away so long, but things have really gotten busy for me.  The commodity folks are starting to awaken from their winter slumber and requesting some special stuff, plus I have been busy trying to get things ready for the summer with that end of my work.  Add to that physical therapy 3 times a week and a doctors appointment and suddenly I have skipped 4 days on the journal!  It is not that I have too much to say.  We are in a pseudo season, not quite winter and not quite spring.  Sort of in limbo.  The trails are hanging onto their snow and riding can still be had.  I cannot comment on the trails, as I have not been out and have not heard much either.  It is the third to last day of the season though so I guess we have to take what we can get.  There is still a lot of snow down up here.  Things are thinning in my yard, and for some reason it is going faster than other areas.  My snow stick may be too close to the house and the snow is melting faster there.  Anyway, still lots of snow and if you know where to go, I bet you will be able to ride for another 2-3 weeks up here.
    More signs of spring are starting to appear though.  Not only will the snowmobile trails be closing this weekend, but so will Mt. Ripley.  There is still plenty of snow up there, but the season was so good that most locals are skied out!  I drive past the hill and only a few soles are gliding down the hill.  Thanks to the snow guns, there is still a fairly deep base.  Without the guns, the hill would have been mud in a lot of places last week with the thaw.  I had my reservations as to how much good the snow guns would do on a hill that averages 225" of snow a year, but faces the south and is exposed to the sun.  My doubts have been erased by the results this season.  Now if we can just get another chair lift and maybe a bigger base lodge!  In the plans I hear.
    Another sign of spring is the tapping of the maple trees to collect the syrup.  A man in my neighborhood taps a lot of the trees in the area and then boils the sap down the block from me.  If the wind is blowing just right, I can smell the sap boiling away.  I takes between 30 and 45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  Last year I bought a few quarts and this year I plan to do the same.  It is surprising that the sap is running already.  It seems like it has been too cold.
    I don't have any pictures to show.  However, if you want to see some shots, I did update the guest shots with about 4 new series so there are plenty of pics to look at there.  I still have at least one, maybe 2 more to do and I apologize to the folks who sent me the shots a few weeks ago and I just now got to it.  Plus, if you have sent me an e mail recently and did not hear back from me, please forgive me.  I did not intend to be rude, but many of them did not ask a question of me, but it would have been polite of me to say thanks or give some kind of response, but I have just been swamped.  So to all of you who have send me nice e mails recently, thanks!  I do read everyone and try to respond when I have time, but sometimes I am just too swamped.
    The leg is coming along nicely.  I am putting almost full pressure on it, which is nice for my hands and arm pits as they do not have to support as much on the crutches.  The physical therapy is actually great.  I get to spend most of the time in a pool about 4 feet deep, 8 feet wide and about 20 feet long.  The water temp is 95 degrees.  The only downside to my leg healing will be that soon I will not be using the tub!  Maybe I can still sneak in for a dip.  I would love to have one of those at home.  I hear that it only cost 17,000 dollars!
    Well, even with 4 days to accumulate material, it looks like I am out of things to say.  I am anxious to break free from the confines of my crutches and be able to get out like the good old days.  I think the hounds are too.  When that happens we all will benefit; me from the medicine that my sprit needs to forget the troubles of everyday life and you to be able to experience (to a certain extent) my adventures.  I mentioned that the forecasts will be ending tomorrow for a few weeks while I recharge my batteries and make some changes to the site for the summer.  The journal will be updated on it's normal schedule and I will still update the guest shots and answer any questions on ask John.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
March 25, 2001-
    Looks like I have settled into a one day on, two day off routine with this journal.  I guess that is not too bad considering my continued lack of material.  The weather is the main story up here.  Old mother nature is being as fickle as can be, changing her mind at the drop of a hat.  Two weeks ago, we were still in the depths of winter, with the snow continuing to pile higher and higher, setting new seasonal depth records with each new fall.  It looked like that trend would continue, when she changed her mind and thrust us into spring, with temps in the 30's and 40's and tons of sun every day.  We lost nearly 20" in 10 days and it looked like the regular season was drawing to a close.  Then last Friday, the skies clouded over and the cold winds began to blow once again and it has been snowing non stop up here since about 2 pm Friday.  At times quite lightly and at others so hard, that seeing more than 100 feet is a challenge.  All told, we have picked up about 6-8" since Friday PM and it looks like a couple more inches are a good bet by tomorrow.
    All is white and wintry again up here, with only the main highways still showing any asphalt.  The snow was a godsend for the riders who came up this weekend for one last ride of the season.  On our way to Marquette yesterday, we passed a ton of cars and trucks with sleds being towed behind them.  I was feeling really happy for them, as they would be greeted by the fresh stuff to play in.  It may not have been enough to make conditions be perfect, but for the last week in March, I would say that they were pretty darn good.  I was even tempted to take a spin around the neighborhood, as all the roads were snow packed, but let that thought pass quickly, remembering the doctors words.
    I did get a bit of bad news yesterday.  Bailey's had begun to limp a little in January and I was going to take her to the vet to see what was up, but then busted my leg.  Well, I finally was able to get her in to see the vet yesterday and we found out that she has a bad case of hip dysplasia.  I am going to let a specialist look at the x-rays and see what he thinks, but it looks as though she is going to need at least one, if not two, new hips.  The silver lining in all of this is that from what I have been told, the recovery from this operation is fairly quick and then the dog is as good as new.  The worst part is having to put her through the pain of the surgery and also the fact that these things are not cheap.  Her two surgeries my just cost me my new sled for next season.  However, it is a price I am not even batting an eye to pay.  Burt has already been through a bunch of surgeries and he is now as good as new (I pray his hips hold up!), so I want the same for her.  To see them play and run and have a good time is priceless as far as I am concerned.  I just wish that all it took was for me to fork out the money and not for her to endure the pain.  I will sure be able to sympathize with her!
    Changing subjects completely... KSE had our last tour Thursday (we think our last anyway!), and Brian stopped by to grab the camera so that he could take some shots of the action.  Before I get into that, Brian, Al and I want to say hi to all the riders who put their lives in our hands and went for a ride in the bush.  It was a fantastic first year, better than we had imagined and we look forward to next year, which will be even better.  Brian even asked that if the Scott O. who rose with him back in the middle of January still has that hood for the Arctic Cat for sale to let me know by e mail and I will then hook the two of you up.  But enough of the special interest stuff, lets go riding shall we?
    The group was a rather large one, nine riders in all, so both Al and Brian went along to make sure we had enough man power if it was needed.  Brian said that he and Al felt a little outnumbered being the only non-Polaris sleds in the whole bunch.  Anyway, the trick to that ride was to avoid as much road running as possible, as they were all bare at the time.  Still plenty of snow in the woods as is evident in this shot of the pole line.  As well as this shot.  The bump of snow that the sled on the right is on top of is most likely a buried stump or log.  At the beginning of the season, these objects are still sticking up out of the 2-3 foot base of snow down.  There is still even plenty of snow to get stuck in up here.  And there is also some good jumping to still be had.  Here's Al, letting his Snow Pro catch some air.  Here is someone from the group flying their SKS.  This one looks like another getting stuck shot.  It also looks like Al is trying to use his mental telepathy to get the sled unstuck, but to no avail.
    Looks like they went to the other pole line as well, the one that I have not been to yet, as it was just found while I was recovering from my jumping mishap.  Then it was on to the bluff climb.  Been there, done that.  Although I have to admit that without a studded track, it has always taken me more than 1 try to make it up.  Sometimes it takes some help too.
    And what would a mostly sunny day in the Keweenaw be without some scenic vistas.  This shot is overlooking Bete Gris as well as Lac La Belle.  Turning to the left about 120 degrees you look up towards the tip of the peninsula and places like Keystone Bay.  Not far from those previous two shots is a fun place to do some hill climbing through the trees.  The trick is to keep the trees from getting between your skis.  Which is not always as easy as it sounds.  Especially when having to climb hills with an incline like this.  Throw in a little glare from the sun, just to make things real interesting and you are really having fun!
    I can't think of a better way to end this journal entry than to show someone from what looks to be the last KSE tour of the season, riding off into the sunset.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
March 22, 2001-
    None of you can tell, but this journal is actually being done from Snow Central's branch office,
Julie's home.  I went down there for dinner (I actually made it), and then we decided it would be neat
to write it from here.  That way she can write a few words as well.  Actually, I am hoping that she
writes the majority of the journal tonight.  I was reading George Hites writings and he mentioned
how being cooped up causes a lack of material to write about.  I can sure sympathize with him on
that point.
    I guess I can say a bit about the trails.  Not much good it will do most of you, as I am sure
those of you who are planning on coming up have already left and the rest of you reading this have
no intention on coming up.  However, I did want to vent a little steam on the whole trail grooming
issue, so if you bear with me for a minute, I really need to just get this off my chest.  The trails up
here went from excellent shape last weekend to generally poor right now.  It has been warm, so the
weather has not exactly cooperated.  However, the groomers have also not been out all week.  Why?
Well, when this question was posed to the people in charge, the answer was "It has been too warm
to groom".  I will admit, it has been too warm during the day, but at night, the temps have been
dropping below freezing, some nights well below freezing.  So thus my sore point.  This whole idea
of grooming be only a daytime operation really gets to me.  There are times of the season when this
mentality works just fine, but at other times, it is just stupidity.  No, I should say STUPIDITY!!!!!  The
conditions we have had this past week would have made for perfect night time grooming.  They
could head out right after sunset, pack down and smooth the trails and in the morning they would
not only be flat, they would be flat and solid and would hold up very well.  Obviously, the folks in
charge of how things get done up here are either lacking in knowledge in how things could be done
to make conditions better, or they have other things that are more important to them than the status
of the trails.  I will not try to speculate on which is true, maybe it is a combination of the two.  So
now we wait for the weather to cooperate and will play catch-up this weekend.  It may be the last
weekend for groomed trails, I don't know, but I do know that people are planning on coming up
because they have contacted me.  Thanks to the way things are being done, they will not encounter
trails that are as good as they could be.  That is a shame.
    I need to point out that there are certain individuals involved in the grooming who do put forth a
more conscience effort than others.  The Lake Linden groomer has been out at night and from what
I have heard, he is planning on going out tomorrow night.  So my frustration is not directed at
everyone, just a select few.  Unfortunately, those few are also very much in control of how things get
    Hopefully, we can get several inches of snow later tomorrow and early Saturday and that will help
to improve things for those coming up for one last romp in the Keweenaw.  I really love this place
and want everyone to have as great a time as possible when they are up here.  I get no monetary
gain from that, I just want everyone to have a blast when they are up here.  That is why I was so
insistent on people coming up here a few weeks ago, when conditions were perfect.  Well, I am just
raging here and could go on all night, but this is probably the last thing you all want to happen and
would much rather read the words of Julie, so I am going to sign off for now and let her make this
entry worth reading!

    Well, I've wiped the foam away from his mouth and opened up the window to vent the steam -
geez, o'pete eh.  And he told me he was tired tonight.  We did just get back from Dairy Queen so I
guess he got a bit of a sugar boost there.  Yup, DQ - anything above freezing and us Yoopers go
get ice cream.  He is really tired though cuz they put him through the ringer at physical therapy
today and then he slaved over a hot stove to make a wonderful lasagna dinner.  I can't tell you what
a treat it is to come home from school and have dinner made!  I hate making dinner - just a soon
grab a hand full of crackers or a bag of microwave popcorn.  My table is actually being sat at and
dishes are being used.  The dishwasher is being run more than once every 15 days.  I'm lovin it!
John is a picky eater (trust me - there was nothing green in tonight's dinner - or in any night's
dinner for that matter) but he's a great cook - much, much better than I am.
     Things are really getting brown around here and you can even see my bottom front step for all
the melting we've been having.  Temps have just been in the 40's but it sure seems to be going
fast.  Now John says that there's to be some more snow this weekend.  Some guy on the radio
mentioned gettin over to John's to break his other leg.  I'm getting worried about people wanting to
mame the messenger if he keeps talking about more snow.  Everyone's been pretty happy these past
couple days - especially since the sun's been out.
     The other day John told you about the Doc puttin the kibosh on anymore snowmobiling this
season and I can say that I was mighty happy.  He's starting to put weight on his leg now and to me
that's just another step closer to his full recovery.  Even though he can get out in his car, he still
can't get out an exercise like he's so used to and so wants to.  It still gets to him sometimes, but I
think this PT stuff 3 times a week is going to wear him out.  Hopefully by the time he can get rid of
those crutches he'll have a couple of weeks of training under his belt.  I look so forward to when he
can come on the walks with Burt and Baileys.  I know he'll love that too.
     Just 2 more weeks till I get a week off and I can't wait.  I hope the weather is great and we can
get out and enjoy some signs of spring.  Tried to get a flight to Florida to see my folks a couple
weeks ago, but no luck.  Might have to buy my tan at the local fake and bake.  Would have loved to
have felt that FL sun on my back though!!!  Shoulda made those reservations earlier - especially
when only a handful of folks can fly out on our little planes at once.
      I should close now - John's got to get going home to get some sleep for another wake up in
what I call the middle of the night (5 am).  I should get some papers graded and hit the hay early
too.  SOOOOOOO glad it's Friday tomorrow.  How bout you guys.  Good night from the Twin Cities -
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
March 19, 2001-
    This will be a short one, as I plan to head down to Julie's in about an hour, but I knew that the Journal had not been updated since Friday, so I wanted to say a few words.  Signs of spring are starting to pop up around here.  The roads are beginning to become clear and wider and the county has even posted the country roads.  This is the 5th day in a row of melting.  Even my road ic basically clear.  There are a few patches of ice and snow in a few areas, but for the most part, it is clear.  I even have some patches of asphalt showing up on my driveway, but have a long way to go until the whole thing is clear.  There is still about 3" of ice and snow at the bottom.  The roof has been busy melting, but it will take at least another week until it is clear, given we have no more snow.  But you know what, even with all these signs of spring, there is still great riding.  We have lost about 10" since hitting the highmark of 45 last Tuesday.  About half of that has been to settling and another 5" due to melting, so our actual snow loss has not been too bad.  I will try and get out to take a shot of the trails to show you how they are doing.  Still tons of snow down up here so the season will likely go all the way to the 31st, that is only 12 days away, and I can't see us loosing enough snow by then so that they stop grooming.  The nights have been dipping into the teens and 20's and that is helping to keep the melting from getting out of hand.  Last year when we were having our February meltdown, even the nights were staying above freezing and that just killed us.
    I, on the other hand, do not have any need for the snow anymore.  I just got back from the Doc's and got good news and not so good news.  The good news is really good and I am healing fine, the break in the bone is starting to fuse and all looks good.  The bad news is really not that bad and I kind of figured I might get it and that is I am done riding for the season.  As the Doc and I were discussing what lies ahead for me in my recuperation, I happened to ask if I might be able to take a spin on the sled and he chuckled and said no.  He used to ride so he does know what is involved so I totally trust his judgment.  I am not all that upset.  It is not like I was going to be able to do any serious riding anyway.  Who knows, maybe a ski might be able to get done, nah.
    The other good news is that I can start to put weight on the leg.  50-75 lbs this week, then 120-130 next week and then full weight in two weeks.  Full weight means no more crutches!  Well, at least if I don't need them.  I am able to bend the leg to about 120 degrees and will be going to physical therapy in the coming weeks to start to get everything in full working order, so soon I will be walking around like a regular human being.  That will be huge.  I cannot wait to be able to take the hounds for their walks again.  I really miss that.  It was such an fixture in my daily life and also in my daily mental detox, it will be really nice to have that back.  The hounds will probably wonder why I am doing it and want Julie back, as she has been so good and probably less strict.  I'm sure that we all will be going on lots of walks together.  Boy, it is really exciting to think that in just about two weeks, that ritual might begin to start!
    Not a whole lot else to talk about.  Like I say, we have not seen snowflakes fly since last Tuesday, 6 days ago.  Seems more like 6 weeks and it is the longest stint since November 5th-10th.  The thaw is the talk of the town and everyone is hoping we can avoid that last big one that always seems to hit.  I do not see any signs of it right now, but then again, a week ago, it looked like we would not be seeing any thaws up here either!  So much for my forecast at the beginning of last week.  Gonna run and take some shots of the trail near by and then go down to Julie's.  Have a great night everyone, talk to you soon.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
March 16, 2001-
    I'm starting this one a little later than usual and am a bit tired.  I hate when I do that because I always feel like the quality (what little there is) of the writing suffers.  However, I promised in the Al Cam page that I would share pictures of the trails with you and I always keep my promise, at least as far as I can remember.
    How did I get those shots of the trail?  Well, I hopped on my sled and headed off of course!  Just kidding, Brian wanted to borrow my sled, so I went out to the garage with him and started it up.  I decided to jump on it and took it for about a 3 foot ride down the driveway.  Brian caught me in the act in that shot.  Felt good to be on it, real good.  Last time I was sitting on on it, I was about to break my leg.  Kind of weird when you think about it.
    So this will be another journal filled with Brian's shots.  Sorry, but that is my best avenue for being able to show you the Keweenaw right now.  At least the off the beaten path sections of the Keweenaw that have become the main feature of this journal.  This first shot was taken while on top of the Traprock Valley, looking across to the other side.  Here is a shot taken in Brian's back yard, literally.  Some day I'd like to have a backyard like that.  Here is another shot taken looking up and across the Traprock Valley.  The white hump in the middle of the shot on the horizon is Mt. Bohemia.  Now before anyone gets the idea that the hill has been cleared of all it's trees like a lot of ski hills in the Midwest are, that is not true.  The runs are all gladed and there are still a ton of trees up there.  In that shot, the white areas just stood out more than the dark areas.
    This particular KSE tour had a celebrity on it.  His name is Forrest Gregg.  He is of Green Bay Packer Fame.  In this shot, he is the one on the far left, followed to the right by his wife, then one of Brian's friends and then Julie, the owner of the Laurium Manor Inn, a B and B in Laurium and also host to some of the customers of KSE.  Now I promised some shots of the DNR trails up here, I have been proclaiming how great they are right now due to our snow depth, the grooming and lack of traffic, so here is the proof.  This is a shot of the trail up by the Cliffs near Phoenix.  Here is another shot down the trail a bit.  Even Brian went on and on what great shape they all were in, even the ones that are notorious for being bumped up.  This next shot was taken at one of those spots, where the trail crosses HWY. 41 just to the north of Calumet neat the Northgate Hotel.  Here is another shot taken in that same general area.  Makes you want to just hop on the sled and ride huh?  So there you go, proof that the trails are in excellent shape up here.  With them being so quiet, I might even be tempted to ride them a lot if I were able to ride.
    Brian then must have dropped off the tour and headed out for some fun, because I doubt that Forrest and his wife would have been comfortable cruising through here on the two up!  That looks more like my style.  Looks like someone did not make it up that hill on the first try, based on that track on the left.  Yep, this is riding in the back country of the Keweenaw, one of my loves.
    Here's Kenny, doing another one of my loves, jumping a sled.  I may just ease off that love a bit.  I've learned my lesson.  Based on this pic, it looks like Kenny has either not learned his lesson, or has chosen not to pay attention to it.  At any rate, his landing on that one took him into a grove of small pine trees.  His landing is marked by the middle trail in this pic.  Those were the trees.  He was OK, no damage done to sled or rider, but when I look back on it, I had some close calls too and guess I must have run out of luck.  I am not going to cut back all my aggressive riding when I get back on, but I will be a bit more smarter about things.  No big jumps and I will be careful to know just what the landing area is like in any jumps I do take.  For now I guess I will just have to stick to my driveway.
    Our snow is holding up very well, with the mild temps and sunshine.  Actually, the sunshine has been more of a factor the past two days.  We have not been that warm, with temps in the low 30's.  Tomorrow and Sunday look different, with highs in the upper 30's Saturday and low 40's Sunday.  We still have a ton of snow and riding will remain good.  Plus some new snow next week should help keep the prospect of riding in April alive.  If not, there is always next year, actually only about 7 months from now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
March 15, 2001-
    I think I might begin to consult the dogs on the weather some.  About a week ago, Baileys began to shed.  I was wondering why because we were still in the firm grip of winter and it looked like it would continue for at least another week, maybe more.  As more fur continued to come out and we got another foot of snow Monday and Tuesday, I still wondered if she was going to be sorry she was getting ready for spring.  Given the weather yesterday, today and possibly into the weekend, she may be onto something.  We hit 37 yesterday and are above freezing again today.  It is not a huge thaw, more of a gradual settling of the snow and a little thaw, but still it is beginning to feel like winter may be easing it's grip on us.  I doubt that we are completely out of the woods as far as snow is concerned.  I would not be surprised to see another 20-30" of snow fall before all is said and done, but it looks like Baileys might not have been premature in her shedding.  I just hope I have enough vacuum bags!
    I apologize for not writing yesterday.  I had plans on it, Brian took the camera on a snowmobile ride and I was waiting for him to return it so that I could include the pictures from his rides, but I did not get the camera back until I was getting ready for bed, so that was that.  I did get the camera back and have downloaded the shots.  Brian went back out today and took the camera with him, so tomorrow I will hope to put some new shots up.
    Before I get into the shots from Brian's ride yesterday, a visitor to the site sent me an e mail saying that he works for a company that builds the huge snow throwers that I saw working at the airport.  So to help you all get a better understanding of what I was looking at, here is a shot of one of them.  From the shot you cannot tell it is shooting the snow 200+ feet, but he did confirm that the machine is designed to throw the snow that far so that it will not blow back onto the runway as easily.  He also said that it is capable of sucking up manhole covers.
    No onto Brian and the gangs ride.  I must admit that looking at the shots from yesterday, I started to get a little jealous.  My leg is really doing well, I have almost no pain at all, no matter how I twist it or turn it.  I can bend it at the knee past 90 degrees and it feels like it is ready to take some weight.  Of course I will be waiting for the doctors OK before I put any weight on it, but I have an appointment next Monday and I am hoping to get the OK then to start putting weight on it.  I know that I will still need aid in walking, but it will be nice to finally have the ability to make the final run towards being fully healed.  The main reason why I was so jealous was that it was a beautiful day for a ride, and they went to some places that I have yet to go to.  Plus it looked like they had lots of fun!  This first shot is of Ron.  It is his first time on the internet, so give him a warm welcome, will you please?  Behind him was Steve, he is getting to be a regular.  Here is Joe catching a little air.  Joe has been in the journal before, but is has been a while.  Here is Ron at the same jumping spot, looks like the shot was taken before he was able to become airborne.
    This next shot was where the jealousy really started to kick in.  It's Ron out in a huge field of powder, with some nice fun drifts to play in as well.  Actually, it looked to be about a 6 foot drift, all the better!  Here is Joe's attempt at surfing the same drift.  Looks like he might have gotten a little too deep.  Yep, the digout begins.  Looking at this shot, I could imagine myself out there for hours, cutting up the powder, hitting the drifts and even climbing that hill in the background.  Next year.
    After that field, they found some more places to play, and get stuck.  Looks like more than just one of them got stuck there.  I would give just about anything to be healthy enough to be able to even help dig out those sleds!
    That last hill was just the primer for the big one of the day.  I have never been to that mine rock pile, but I do know where it is.  I am going to keep it a secret, but KSE can take you there!  Here is one that actually shows the size of the hill, all the way from top to bottom.  Here is one taken from the bottom and here is one that shows the slope of the hill.  A pretty good place to practice side hilling I would say.  Next year, next year.
    Of course, a ride with Brian would not be a ride with Brian without a picture of him getting a sled stuck.  He is the master and I mean that as a compliment.  He said that he wished he had not brushed off some snow before he thought to take a shot.  I'm cracking up right now.  Of course, maybe I should not be laughing.  He is on my sled right now.
    I wonder if it is a coincidence that these next two shots came right after the one of Brian's sled buried in the snow, I doubt it.  After a digout like that, the gang needed a rest.  Here is how to achieve that perfect Keweenaw tan.  Note the coyote tracks going up the left side of them?
    Back to riding, they took it easy on the way home, cruising through down some logging roads.  One last time for some play (I really was hoping to do that this year, but broke my leg before the snow got deep enough), then back to a leisurely ride through the woods.
    So we have begun to see the end of winter, I think.  I am not having any problems with it.  I am looking forward to jumping in the truck and doing some exploring with Julie and the hounds.  First waterfall season and then berry and beach season and then before you know it, the colors will be back in the trees and the snow will begin to fly.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
March 12, 2001-
    I have seen spring, it is only about 700 miles to my south.  I was in St. Louis over the weekend and it was 60 degrees on Saturday with sunshine and not even a trace of snow on the ground.  It was actually weird not to see the ground covered in snow, almost surreal.  The trip was successful, the speech went ok, not my best, but not a train wreck either.  The really neat thing was the flight down.  Actually, the interesting sights started before I even boarded the plane.  They were doing some snow removal at the airport up here and using a huge snow thrower.  I looked out onto the tarmac and off in the distance, by the runway was this arc of snow shooting about 150-200 feet.  It was being created by the snow thrower they have at the airport, I was just amazed at how far it could throw it.  There were even a few missiles of ice or hard packed snow that were flying about 300 feet from the machine.  Quite impressive and I am sorry I did not have my camera to get a shot of it.
    Then once in the plane, it was really neat to be able to look down on the Keweenaw.  This was my first time flying out so it was also my first time with a birds eye view.  I have always loved to fly low and be able to see things from the air, but this was a special treat, as much of the Keweenaw is fairly inaccessible and I was able to see things that I would never be able to see otherwise.  I think that it would be great to rent a helicopter and map out tons of new routes to take through the bush.  From the air you can easily see what logging roads end and which one go through.  Plus I saw a pole line that did not have a single track on it for it's whole length.  I could also see all the tracks left by the sleds through the fields and even some through the woods.  As we headed to the southwest, I was able to tell exactly where we were until we got past Lake Gogebic, then I was unfamiliar with the objects below.  However, even traveling through northwest WI and into MN, I could see snowmobile trails cutting through fields and across lakes.  Looked like there was still lots of snow on those trails, at least from 16,000 feet.
    A bonus to the trip was being upgraded from coach to first class because of my leg.  It did not happen on the way back, but on the way down to St. Louis from Minneapolis, I got to fly up front.  Actually in the very first seat in the plane.  Thanks Northwest!
    Well, in a previous journal, I talked about how the dogs like to climb and play on the snow piles in the back yard.  I was able to get a shot of them in action on top of the piles, well at least Burt was in action...sort of.  Here they are at rest, or are they just on the watch for invaders?  The back of the house is not the only place where the snow is piled high.  In fact, the front has some even bigger piles.  Proof of that can be seen in this shot.  That was taken as I sat on the couch in my living room, looking out my front picture window.  The thing to point out is that the bottom of that window actually sits at about my chin, it is about 5 1/2 feet off the ground, so the top of the window is about 9-10 feet off the ground.  That's a big pile of snow.  I told a guy sitting next to me on the plane about our snow and he must have thought I was lying out of my you-know-what.  I should have given him my web site address to prove the point.  Maybe that is why I get a little sick of being in the house so much.  I can't even look out my windows!
    Brian came by this morning to see if he could borrow the camera.  He was going out on a ride and thought it would be a good idea to give a perspective of things off the beaten path and I agreed.  Here is a shot of his riding partner, Steve, taking a little jump.  It is still plenty deep out there and even some soft spots left, as can be seen in this shot of Brian stuck up to his waist in snow.  Here is another shot of Steve catching a bit of air.  Did not look like he was out to break his leg on any of those jumps!  Smart guy.
    Brian's sled has finally given up the ghost.  Well, at least for the rest of the season.  It is not like he did not put the miles on it.  Probably about 3000-5000 this season alone.  And those were not easy, down the trail miles, they were mostly, deep snow or hill climbing miles.  Those of you that have partaken on a KSE tour will know what kind of miles I am talking about, but for those of you not in the know.  A KSE mile is equal to about 5-10 on the trail, both for the rider and the sled.  Lots of work, but lots of fun too.  So Brian had to borrow a sled.  I am too close to possibly being able to take a little spin on my sled.  I will wait for the doctors OK of course, but I think that may not be too far down the road.  I am too smart to let Brian borrow my sled this close.  I would be a little disappointed if I could ride, there was snow, but my sled was waiting for parts or in the shop.  Here is one reason why I did not offer up my sled for him to ride.  I did not think a 10 year old 440 fan could do anything like that!  I know he would pay for any damage, it was just the fear of not having the sled if I could use it.  Also it is not that he is a poor rider.  Just the opposite, he id very good, but also is known to bring them back broke.
    Here is another shot of how deep the snow is out there.  I don't know what the two objects buried in snow on the left were, but the open door on the truck on the right helps to lend some perspective to things in that shot.  81 inches have fallen since I broke my leg 5 weeks and 1 day ago.  Bittersweet.  So what happens when you don't shovel all that snow off the roof of a mobile home?  A wall is likely to blow out and send the roof crashing down.  I am not sure if that was a seasonal camp or just abandoned, but it is not much good anymore, unless you are a furry critter looking for shelter. This is what happens when you do shovel off the roof of a camp.  You end up with a pile of snow about 8-10 feet high along side the building.  Thanks to the swing set off to the right of the snow pile to lend some perspective.
    Back to the ride, here is Steve coming at you, here is Brian pushing some powder.  Here is a shot of Steve contemplating whether to go down the hill with all the trees at the bottom.  That hill looks a lot like one of the ones we climbed at the end of January before my accident.  This last shot is one Brian took while driving in his truck back to my house.  I has been snowing pretty hard since about 10:30 and it looks like about 5-6" new.  Most of the snow has tapered off now and we look to be done, maybe an inch or so tonight and another tomorrow.  More looks to be on the way later in the week, maybe even next week.  So for those of you wondering if we still have enough snow to ride in, I think that the pictures in today's entry speak for themselves.  A lot of you must either be sick of riding, or out of vacation time, because it is dead up here.  A riders dream come true.  The snow is excellent, the trails are being groomed and no one is here.  I do not want to sound like a salesman, but I would just like to see people have a great time and I can say that now is as good as it gets, period.  I have even gotten e mails from people who have come up and said I was right.  They have never encountered as good of conditions as we have right now up here.
    I must admit.  I am not sick of the snow, and it was neat to see it come down today.  However, if it were to stop and begin to go away, I would not be too upset either.  My taste of spring in St. Louis was nice and it did feel good to be outside in the warmth.  Of course, if it were to keep snowing into the middle of April, then turn to 60 degrees and melt in 2 weeks, I would be a happy camper too.  Who knows, the way this winter is going, it may just do that.
Good night from the Keweenaw
- JD-
March 7, 2001-
    Getting a head start on things today.  Julie is out taking the hounds for a walk and then she is going to cook us dinner on the grill.  Am I a lucky guy or what.  Actually no need to answer that, I know how lucky I am.  Sorry for not getting a journal out until today, but I have been a busy guy.  I have to travel to St. Louis Friday to speak at a conference Saturday and will then return Sunday.  I have been busy preparing the materials for that over the past few days.  Actually for longer than that, but the past few days has been crunch time and I need it to be done by tomorrow or I am in big trouble.  It would have been all done today, but one of the files I brought to the printer would not open properly.  So I e mailed them the file and hopefully it will be ready for pickup tomorrow.  So not only has this conference keep me from updating the journal in the past few days (as well as the snow cover maps today), it will also make this the last one until next Monday the 12th.  Tomorrow I will be at Julie's in the evening having a send off dinner and then I fly out on Friday and I do not have a laptop yet.
    So I guess you will just have to get your fix of this thing with this entry.  Of course you can go back and look at the past journals.  I find it interesting to look back at a year ago at this time and read what was going on.  I also keep a weather journal for myself and looking back at things a year ago, we were in the middle of a three day 60 degree warm spell.  Actually on this day and tomorrow, we hit 61.  That killed the remaining snow.  We did get a storm at the end of March that allowed me to ride one last time, but things are way different this year!  We should have snow to ride in through all of March and barring any big thaws, maybe into the middle of April.
    One of the main reasons why we have so much snow up here is because of day's like this.  That was actually taken this past Monday morning.  It really came down for about 4-5 hours and we picked up about 8-10" in that time.  What an awesome thing to wake up to!  Can you believe it, I am still not sick of snow!  Bring it on!
    That snow event also gave me my deepest depth for the season so far at 45".  That depth was finally enough to bury the fence in the back yard.  I know that Julie just can't understand the big deal about doing that and maybe many of you are of the same opinion, but to me it was a milestone I really wanted to get to once we got into the big snows this past December.  I can tell you this, I have not met too many locals that are sick of the snow.  Really sick of it.  They all ask me when we will start to get ride of it and all I can say it that it looks like we will only add to it in the next week to ten days and I have been saying that for a few weeks!  It really has been a dream winter.  If only I could have made use of the snow since February 4 at 11:30 am!
    I must say that if we were to get one more big storm, and by big I mean 1.5-2 feet, I do not know what most people would do with the snow.  Even my banks are so high that when my neighbor is doing the edge of the drive way it cannot throw it up and over the top of the pile, he has to aim the chute so that it throws it straight ahead.  The piles from the roof are also very tall.  I can only see out of the top 2/3rds of my picture window and the piles in the back are even taller, almost ten feet in spots.
    The dogs have a blast climbing on top of the piles in the back yard. They have actually worn a path across the top and I'll just let them play for a while on them and then they just lay down on top and keep an eye on the backyard.  I'll have to get a shot of them on top to share with you all.
    The forecast calls for some snow in the next 18 hours or so.  At one point the NWS was all fired up about the potential for 10-12" of snow, but have since backed off to 4-9".  My forecast is for about 2-6".  The reason is that it looks like temps will get only marginally cold enough for LES to form.  Plus, there is ice out in the western lake and that will lower the lakes ability to produce snow.  The lake is not covered with ice, but there are pockets or flows out there that are reducing the open water surface available, so it will be interesting to see what happens.  If there was not that ice on the lake and temps were about 3-4 degrees colder at that 850 mb level or 3000-3500 foot level, then we would get hammered.  Probably get that 1/5-2 feet.  Actually, that is what Marquette got Sunday and Monday.  They now have had their second snowiest season ever and are only 20" short of the all time record set just 4 years ago in 96-97.  That amount was 272.2".  Just for a point of information, Keweenaw County's measurement in Delaware is standing at 273.7" for the year.
    So I am a happy camper with this winter.  It is a good old fashion Keweenaw winter and we are kings of the Midwest once again.  I really do not want to come across as the Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Council, not that they are really bad people to be.  I have found them to be pretty good and fair in their reporting of things up here.  Sometimes they can be a little off in their trail condition reports, but that is usually due more to the fact that by the time the info gets to them and then they report them, the conditions have changed.  Anyway, the point I am trying to get across is that the trail conditions are in excellent shape.  I have taken some jaunts in my car to trail crossings and all of them indicated totally flat trails.  They will groom up here through the end of this month if the conditions allow it.  Our grooming is funded by the DNR and those funds do not run out like might happen in areas that rely upon clubs or local chambers of commerce.  I would say that given the forecast, now might provide some of the best riding all year.  Even safer, with the lower traffic.  My point in telling you all this is so that you can get in some good snow play.  What I have said as far as weather and snow conditions stands for all the areas in the LES belts of the UP.  I cannot speak of the grooming, as I do not know how they are funded.  So come on up.  It's still winter up here!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
March 4, 2001-
    It looks as though mother nature wants to follow astronomical winter rather than meteorological.  It started snowing yesterday morning at about 9:30 and has not really stopped since.  Today we have even had some periods of heavy snow, with the visibility dropping to less than 1/8th of a mile.  All told we have picked up about 6-7" since yesterday am and there is more on the way in the next 24 hours.  A nice surprise since the forecast earlier looked like we would have a thaw this weekend.  The forecast for the next 10-15 days looks to support little in the way of any thaws up here and does support some chances for snow, so the way things look right now, winter may just hang on up here until through much of March.
    For those of you sitting down south watching the grass turn green and the buds getting ready to burst, we still have tons of snow up here and riding conditions are as good or better than they have been all season.  I don't mean to sound like a salesman, my only goal is to let you all know that a great time can still be had.  I just hate to see all this excellent snow go to waste.  A good friend of mine always said that March is the best month to ride up here and before I moved up here he was always trying to get me to come up.  I see why now.  Temps are not bitterly cold, but still cold enough to keep things from getting messy.  There is still tons of snow and the best part, the trails are quite empty.  So for those of you wondering how things are up here, I can say that they are still very wintery and look to stay that way for time to come.  Enough of the sales pitch.
    I regained some of my freedom on Friday when I got the go ahead to be able to drive.  That was actually a rather huge development for me.  I can now get out to anywhere I need to and do not need to depend on others (mostly Julie) to shuttle me around or even just go and get me stuff.  Thankfully it was my left leg, which is pretty much along for the ride anyway.  I do not have a manual transmission and my emergency brake is a hand break, so I do not need to use my left leg to drive.
    I have taken advantage of my new ability, heading off to the store and even taking in a snowmobile race at Mount Ripley yesterday.  It was an interesting race.  Most races are just about speed.  The fastest sled wins.  It is not really up to the driver.  The race yesterday was mostly about skill.  A 440 could have won the 800 class with the right driver.  The beginning of the course started out like most others, but then the riders were required to drive around gates setup on the face of one of the ski runs.  The majority of the riders did not make it to the top of the hill and finish the course.  Out of the 15 or so sleds I saw attempt to make it to the top, only 2 did.  There were some roll overs and just a bunch of tip overs, but it was a challenging course.  I would say that it was about 20 percent the equipment and about 80 percent the driver.  Another highlight to the race was be getting to ride on a snowmobile.  We did not get any pictures of me on the sled, but I did get to ride up to the race on the back of a sled.  Felt pretty good.  Julie did manage to get a shot of me hanging out watching the race.
    Ever since being able to get my leg wet, I have dreamed about soaking it in a tub.  Today my dream came true thanks to Linda at the Eagle River Inn in Eagle River.  She has a hot tub down there and was happy to let me soak my bones in it.  It felt so good to have the leg surrounded in warmth, plus it did not have any pressure on it, being able to float around.  An added bonus was to sit in the warmth of the hot tub while watching the snow storm rolling off the big lake.  She must have the hot tub with the best view in the Keweenaw there.  The tub is there for her guests.
    On the way back we drove through Calumet and Laurium to view the sights.  I had not been through that neck of the woods in over a month so it was fun to see how the snow banks had grown.  I must say that they did not seem to be too much bigger than we have here in Lake Linden, but they are bigger.  Here is a shot of a home in Laurium.  All the new snow makes it hard to pick out the details, but it does not take much to see that it is deep.
    So now that I can get out of the house and actually go somewhere, this journal thing might get a little more interesting than just the shots of my front yard and street.  We're getting there, in just a few weeks, things should be getting closer to normal in all aspects.  Maybe no shots of me skiing down the hill or going over jumps on the sled, but still something interesting.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
March 2, 2001-
    Starting a new month is always a scary experience for me with the journal.  So far I have lost 2 months worth of writings due to screw ups when I transfer the old month into the past journals section and start a new one for the current month.  I am now very careful when I do the process and have not had any problems since June of last year, but still, it is something that causes a few anxious moments.
    I am getting an early start today (1 pm local time) since I do not even know if I will be around this evening, plus I can feel that a nap would be a good thing for this afternoon.  Today is day 2 without snow and also day two of temps at least flirting with the freezing mark.  The airport officially hit 32 yesterday, but my thermometer came close to 40 here in Lake Linden.  It was in the sun though, so I think that it was off by at least a few degrees.  Today we are at 30 at the moment and it looks like another day of about 32 is in order.  A "backdoor" cold front will push through this evening and that will keep us in the 20's for tomorrow and Sunday and thanks to a big storm developing in the east coast possibly into Monday and Tuesday as well.  If we can stay in the 20's through Tuesday, then another front looks to arrive Wednesday and cool things back down and that would mean that we would have escaped the thaw rather untouched.  Good news for someone who is hoping to be able to take a ride before the season is over.  I doubt that I will be able to do such a thing until at least the end of March, so I just have to hope for no big thaws, as we still have plenty of snow.
    Anyway, I have more to share with you than just my hopes for the weather in the next few weeks.  I loaned out the camera to Brain yesterday.  He had a KSE tour and took some pics.  For those of you who are faithful readers, you know that when Brian has the camera, he is not too shy about taking pictures.  Yesterday was no different and I have quite a few to share with you.  It is neat when he does that, because I get to see pictures that I did not take and go to places I did not go, giving me the feeling that I am like a visitor to my site rather than the author of it.
    Yesterday was a great day for a ride.  Maybe a little warm, but not so warm as to make the snow wet.  He said that everyone had a great time.  I have to apologize, I have forgotten the names of the people in the tour, but I believe it was the Cooper group.  If I have screwed that up, I am so sorry!  This first shot is of the fishing fleet at Big Traverse.  It appears as though they are iced in for the time being.  Usually the harbor is open enough for them to go out and if the weather permits it, they will go out all year long.
    This next shot was taken on a logging road near Gay.  There was something wrong with the camera, as the shot was blurred a bit, but I felt it contained enough info to include it.  Here is another shot taken in the same general area.  This one was not blurred and shows that there is still some fresh powder to be had if you know where to look.
    I keep saying that there is a lot of snow up here and many locals are also saying the same thing.  These next two shots will help to demonstrate just how much snow is down in spots up here.  Here is an object buried in the snow, any guesses as to what it is?  To help add a little more perspective to that last shot, we can ad a human.  Looks to be about 5-6 feet on top of that object.  Still confused as to what it is.  I guess I can spill the beans.  It was a bull dozer.  Lots of snow, EH?
    The tour brought the group up to Gratiot Lake, here is a shot of a ice fishing shanty on the lake, with Mt Bohemia off in the distance to the right of the shanty.  There is a bluff near the lake which is a really tough climb.  I have made it up several times, but have yet to make it on the first try.  My biggest problems have been that I needed studs, as my track would end up spinning on the hard pack snow that was on the hill.  My next years sled will make it first try, I promise!  There is also an easier way up the bluff, for those who do not like a 300-400 foot, 50 degree incline.
    As mentioned earlier, there is still plenty of untracked snow up here for those who know where to look.  This is a perfect example of that, a pole line with plenty of virgin powder.  Ok, I was doing pretty good with my inability to be able to ride up until that last shot.  Now I am really hurting to get to get out there.  Man, that would have been a blast to tear up.  Here is another shot of the pole line with the Big Lake off in the distance.
    A little closer to home, the group also visited the dredge down by Mason.  In the entry that I ended up breaking my leg on, we went inside the dredge and I took some pictures, but I did not take one of the outside.  Brian did that for me with the group posing in front of it.  Sticking close to home base, here is a shot taken at Little Traverse Bay, with Traverse Island off in the background.
    I hope everyone had a fun time on the KSE tour.  I did, next best thing to floating across the powder yourself.  Tomorrow they are having a hill climb race up the ski hill Mount Ripley.  Al will be racing and I am sure some others that I know.  I plan to get over there for a while, I will bring the cam so that you all can share the experience too.  I also hope to get up towards Calumet to take some shots of the big snow banks up here.  I hear that they are rather mind blowing.  I can only imagine, as they are huge down here in Lake Linden.  Talk to you all soon.
Good afternoon from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
John Dee would like to thank Jim Formanek of Formanek Designs for his expert assistance in the creation and technical support of this site.  For anyone wishing to have a site of their own developed, I strongly recommend that you contact him.
Design and layout by:   Formanek Designs 2000
Formanek Designs
Email: formanek@wcta.net
Website link: go to Formanek Designs