Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
November 29-
    Boy, it is great to be in winter.  After 86 hours of non stop snow, the flakes finally stopped flying at about 10 am this morning.  All told, it looks like I got about 12.5".  Many areas in the western UP saw closer to 20" and Marquette was the winner for the UP with over 30".  So winter is here.  That is such a nice feeling.  It has really put a spring in my spirit and am just so grateful to be living up here.  I am not worried about this season and how much snow we get.  I know that whatever it is will be great.  Now don't get me wrong, I would love to break the season record of 390", but am not worried about the potential that we may get only 140", because 140" is still a ton of snow.  We'll see if that attitude lasts all winter!
    I awoke to two fresh inches of snow and a very beautiful snow falling.  There was no wind, so the flakes were falling straight down.  The temps had warmed some, so the snow was sticking to everything, giving the neighborhood a Courier and Ivies look.  Taking the morning walk was a real delight.  Things are so much more beautiful all coated in white.  Another neat thing about snow is how it deadens the sound.  Not that I live in this noisy, big city in the first place, but there is a certain quiet that only a snow cover can bring.
    I did not take any more rides on the sled since Tuesday night.  I plan to bring it down to my friends shop to have it gone over next week.  So if there is enough snow on the roads, I will ride it down.  I will also go out before then if we get more snow, but right now things are a little thin.  Tomorrow is the last day of main fire arm deer season, so Saturday I can ride during the day if I choose.  Also, the hounds and I can return to the woods.  I am looking very forward to that.  I have missed the woods and I think the hounds have too.
    Staying out of the woods has not caused a big crimp in our style.  We have been going for walks everyday.  Yesterday we trounced through the snow out on the old Lake Linden sands.  I forgot to bring the camera, but wished I had, because as we walked through the pine trees behind the campground, it was a beautiful site, with all the trees flocked in snow.  I just love that, when the trees are totally covered in snow, just like someone had gone overboard with the frosting!  Today the hounds and I headed off to the north shore.  I decided to not walk the beach.  It seems like the hounds would rather walk the road parallel to it than walk the beach.  I think that more critters have been through by the road than on the beach and for the hounds, a walk really means they get to sniff lots of new things.  I was rewarded with my choice of where to go today.  Because it had been so warm and wet leading up to the snows, all the creeks are still running up here and I was able to snap a shot of one, meandering out of the woods, on it's way to the big lake.
    The three of us really had a great walk today on the north shore.  I feel like I am more in tune with the dogs than I have ever been in our 5 and a half years together.  I did not think that it was possible, but I really seem to be able to notice things about them and know what they are thinking and I sense that they feel the same thing about me.  Lately, I have only had to ask them to do things once.  That is the way I was trained to do things.  In dog class we were told "Ask once...then show".  That way the dog learns that when you ask them to do something, they will have to do it, or you will show them they have to do it.  Well, that ask once...then show thing did not last too long after class ended.  It just became too easy to ask, then ask, then ask, and eventually they would do it.  Probably just to shut me up!  At any rate, the hounds and I are bonding better than we ever have, and have been having the best time of our lives.
    Today, when we got home from our walk, the snows were beginning to melt a little, as temps rose to about the freezing mark or even a touch above.  It is also an interesting thing to watch the different way the snows melt and settle.  A lot of people have put metal roofs on their houses up here.  That way they do not have to worry as much about shoveling them off.  When the temps warm a little, the roofs warm up a little, the snow cannot stick to the warmer metal and just slides right off.  It is neat to see this process occur.  However, the last place you want to be standing is where the snow lands after it slides off the roof.  I have seen chunks of snow 3 feet deep and 10 feet square come down off a roof all at once.  That could be enough to cause some serious damage, maybe even death.  Today my truck was putting on a little demonstration of the snow slide.  I was really lucky to get that shot, about 60 seconds later, the snow all crashed to the driveway.
    Well, I'm gonna be a social butterfly the next two nights, so I can say that there will be no journals.  I have a birthday party to go to tomorrow and a Christmas party to go to Saturday.  Looking forward to both of them, they should be fun.  Hopefully I will have some nice shots to show in the next journal though.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
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November 27-
    Well, the storm hit.  Not with it's full fury, at least not here.  So far we have picked up about 8", but that is at the low end of the guess.... er, I mean, forecasts.  Plus, it is only about 1 1/2 inches more than we had when I woke up!  I must admit, since this was the first storm, I was a little worried about it.  Don't know why, maybe first storm jitters, or just worried I need to scrape the rust off of my snow forecasting tools, but I was worried.  When I awoke and saw about 6 and a half inches down (the forecast was for 4-8 overnight) I was thrilled.  Then, the snows lightened up and we only got about an inch and a half all day.  Marquette, or I should say Negaunee, seems to be the winner so far for the UP.  They have about 20-22" down.  I watched the news out of Marquette tonight and saw some great snow shots.  Funny thing is, the actual town of Marquette, down on the lake had nothing!
    So at least the forecast verified, the call was for 8-14" and we have 8 so far.  It is actually snowing fairly decently right now so we might pick up a few more inches.  It sure is great to see everything all white.  Looks like we should remain that way until spring.  I hope, I hope.
    Man, parts of Minnesota sure had been crushed by this storm.  A town named Willmar, which is about 75-80 miles to the west of Minneapolis, as picked up 30 inches of snow so far!!!  The NWS actually wrote a whole paragraph explaining why they are accepting this total.  I bought it!  30 inches, holy WA!  Would that be awesome!  Another interesting thing happened in Duluth.  The strong low pressure system over the region produced winds gusting to 52 MPH at the lift bridge around 9 AM. The waves created by these winds washed out a portion of the lakewalk near the veterans memorial.  Waves through the channel were estimated at 10 feet in height.
    The hounds were excited to see the snow.  They seemed extra excited to go on the walk today.  We did venture out of the village a little bit, at least into some open land owned by the village.  It is a little like going out into the bush, but since we are still in the village property, I do not have to worry about being shot at.  It is illegal to discharge a firearm within the village limits.  So we had a good time walking through the bush.  The hounds got to sniff all kind of things and I got to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city!  Here is a shot of the mighty Traprock River in a developing winter environment..
    With the big storm, updating the site sure was an undertaking today!  Not complaining, it was a labor of love, but today was the first day that I updated everything.  It was sort of a baptism by fire, adding all the snow depths to the snow cover maps for MN, WI and the UP.  The poor lower, no snow yet.  I really sympathize with you all down there.  Have faith, it will come.  Heck, last year, most people in the Midwest will will remember the beginning of the season as being great, when it really did not kick into high gear until the 7th of December.  So hang in there.  The pattern has changed.  It may not seem like it to you, but it has changed, and things do not have to change much further for you to reap the benefits of the change.  Unfortunately I do not have much good news for you on the immediate horizon, but keep the faith.
    After dinner, I thought I may as well get out, fire up the toro and clean off the driveway.  Then I got to thinking;  "If I ran the sled up and down the driveway a few times, that would pank it down and I would not need to use the snowthower.  So I suited up and headed out for a quick ride.  I did not go too far.  It was the first ride of the season, I was going alone and did now want to be stranded out by myself in the middle of the woods.  I did end up riding about 10 miles, it was great.  It is amazing how addictive this sport it for me.  Before actually going out, I was wondering if I would be a little scared, being as though the last time I was on my sled, I broke my leg.  However, once out there, it was old times.  Hit the throttle and feel it jump.  I doubt that I will be getting too carried away with the jumping anytime soon, but other than that, I can't see my riding being too impacted by past events.  That is a good feeling to have gotten back on the horse and not been impacted at all.
    It was a nice night for a ride, fresh snow and flakes still flying.  There were some puddles to avoid and I did fail at missing them all, but at least my new bibs were up to the task.  I really like Gortex!  There were also some other tracks out there in spots.  Not from snowmobiles, but from trucks.  Soon the main deer season will be over and the woods will be safe again!  Ha, ha, just kidding, they're safe now.  Just not legal to ride in during the daylight hours.  I also got in a little field riding.  A few 2-3 foot drifts were out there and I made sure to bust them.  When I got home I took a shot of the sled all coated in snow from the drift busting.  The shot did not turn out, so I went back out and took another.  A lot of the snow had already melted off the sled, but you can get the idea from this one.
    So I got in my first ride.  I am ready for the season to start.  Even more than I was the past two years.  Not sure why, but I am really ready to ride.  I can't wait to get out on a KSE ride and bust some powder!  Maybe the blue smoke has an intoxicating effect.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 25-
    I feel just like a kid on Christmas Eve!  It looks like a good old fashion snowstorm is headed into the upper Midwest tomorrow and Thursday.  The snow will probably just be starting around here tomorrow at this time (early evening), but by this time tomorrow, areas just to the northwest of Minneapolis could have picked up over a foot of snow.  I was contemplating not writing a journal tonight 'cause I knew that all I would be writing about would be the pending snow and did not want to jinx it.  But I really don't believe in a jinx.  Things happen because they happen.  Mother nature is not reading my journal and saying; "Hey, that John Dee guy is talking up the storm big time, let's mess with his head!".  Nope if the storm does not pan out, then I just missed something, plain and simple.
    Speaking of missing something, I was a little confused in the forecast developments for the eastern Dakotas and western MN over the past few days.  At one time (early Friday morning), it looked like these areas would get pretty hard with snow, but then the late morning runs on Friday indicated it would be mostly rain.  Future model runs also indicated mostly rain, but Saturday morning, the NWS still had winter storm warnings up.  They did eventually pull them down, but I sure do wonder why it took them so long.  Now it looks like they might be erring on the other side.  I have read the forecasts for central MN and they all seem to call for about 6-10" of snow.  That seemed too low for me, so I went in and read their forecast discussion (a forecast discussion is where the meteorologist making the forecast for that time period speaks about why he/she made the forecast they did) and none of them spoke about the fact that the different computer guidance is in fairly good agreement with each other in indicating over 1" of moisture.  That would translate to over a foot of snow for those areas.  I don't mean to be critical of the NWS folks, but I just wonder sometimes what they are looking at.
    I was so excited looking at the forecast models this morning, that I almost updated the forecast text and graphics.  However, laziness got the better of me and I just surfed the web for all the computer guidance info I could get.  It is at times like this that models cannot be updated enough!  I remember when a big storm was bearing down on the Chicago area back in early January of 1999, I also was just dying for the models to be updated sooner, so I could get the latest info.  Back in that storm, the models indicated about 1.8" of moisture for Chicago and yet the NWS and all the TV folks were saying that accumulations would be in the 10-14" range.  Again, I was scratching my head as to why.
    Not much else has been going on up here.  Yesterday was rainy all day, with temps in the 40's.  I was able to sneak in a morning walk around the neighborhood with the hounds, then got a bunch of my Christmas shopping done.  I should be able to get the rest done in less than an hours effort.  Boy does that feel good!  Today we had drizzle most of the day.  However, the hounds and I got our morning and afternoon walk in.  It is still hunting season up here and even though I doubt that there were too many hunters out in this weather, we played it safe and stuck to the Lake Linden sands.  The hounds seem to have a good time out there.  Lots of scents for them to smell and I enjoy the walks out there, so we have been going out there lots.  It was cool and damp though.  Temps had dropped into the upper 30's and there was a stiff wind out of the northwest with drizzle occurring.  Perfect Labrador Retriever weather, but I could have done without the winds and drizzle.
    Since I started typing this journal entry, the drizzle has changed to light snow.  This is not due to the low forecasted for later tomorrow.  It is due to the low that came through yesterday and earlier today.  Just a little bit of wrap around moisture being converted to snow as the colder air moves in.  But it is a good omen.  Another good omen is that if this big storm does play out, the weather does like to repeat itself and more could be on the way.  Hmmm, I don't believe in jinxes, but I do believe in omens.  Interesting.
    I guess that does it for this time.  I hope I can get to sleep tonight.  I doubt I will have any problems getting up in the morning!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 23-
    Well, I guess the first announcement is that I never made it home for Thanksgiving.  About 1/4 of the way down, the oil light came on (had just done the oil two weeks ago), so I added some and then went to close the hood and the main latch did not catch.  The safety one did (the one that you have to unlatch with the lever under the hood after "popping" the hood with the lever inside the car), but the main one did not.  I stopped at a friends place just north of Eagle River WI and we tried to get the latch to catch and it just did not want to go.  So instead of driving the rest of the 300 miles to southern WI with the potential for the hood to fly up, I took a slow ride back home and stayed up here for the holiday.  It was my first (sniff, sniff) thanksgiving away from home if you can believe that!  I actually had a very relaxing day.  On the way back into town Wednesday, I stopped at the store and got the stuff to make a mini Thanksgiving dinner and the hounds now have a favorite meal.  They tore right into the turkey I gave them and before I could snap a shot of them eating it, they were done!  It's going to be a tough call as to if they get spaghetti or Turkey for their birthday, maybe both!
    As I said, it was a very relaxing day.  Since I had not even planned on being here and did not have to work, I had nothing planned for the entire day.  The biggest decisions were where to go for our walks and how much turkey to eat.  I think that is all that should be required of anyone on Thanksgiving!
    It was decided that the afternoon walk would be done at the beach at Big Traverse.  The winds were fairly strong out of the east, so I knew that there would be some nice wave action rolling in.  No deer hunting takes place on the beach either, so I knew we would be safe.  Upon arrival at the beach, I could see that my ideas about some nice wave action were verified.  They were breaking at about 5-7 feet.  Although I was bummed about not being able to go home and see my family for Thanksgiving, the peace and beauty of the beach did help to brighten my spirits.  It was just so nice to take a slow, leisurely walk down the beach with my two best friends.  They were excited to be at the beach too.  For the first 5 minutes all they did was chase each other up and down the beach, occasionally tackling each other and rolling in the sand.  It sure is great to see them getting around so good.  Burt even went for a Thanksgiving Day swim/surf.  Baileys is not so fond of the waves, so she decided to do a little basking on the beach and watch her brother fetch the stick and surf the waves.
    After the beach, we got home, built a nice fire, had some snacks and watched the second half of the Packers/Lions game.  What a great ending.  No matter who you were rooting for, you had to think that the ending was exciting!  A short nap after the game and then the turkey was done so we chowed down again and then relaxed by the fire and watched some TV until it was time to head to bed.  It was really nice to have nothing to do all day.  I really needed a day like that!  And guess what?  I have another one tomorrow!  I actually think I might go and get some Christmas shopping done.  It would be nice to have that out of the way!
    Another thing I did yesterday evening was to read last years journals for the end of November and beginning of December.  Since the snows have not yet come, I thought I would go back to last year when they had already arrived.  I must be getting old, because things were a little different than I had remembered.  I did remember the snow prior to Thanksgiving correctly.  I also remembered that much of that melted in the days after Thanksgiving.  However, what I did not remember correctly was that the forecast did not look so great at the end of November and around the first of December.  The way I remember it was that things looked good after Thanksgiving and I was confident that I would be riding on the first of December.  However, my journal revealed a different scenario.  In my readings I found out that I was a little depressed because the forecast did not look so great.  I was also sick and am notorious for being a crab when I am not feeling well, but I am sure that the forecast also did not help things.  The forecast did change and then we got into some decent snow during the first week of December.  So what is my point about saying all this?  My point is that it seems like every year I am not happy when we do not have 2 feet of snow on the ground (or forecasted) by the first of December, when in reality, having conditions like that is a rarity.  Looking back over the years, it is more common to have about 4-8" on the ground at the first of December, and then have it pile up from there.
    So I will take today's 50's as a gift.  It was beautiful out.  The forecast does look pretty good.  Not as good as it gets, but still snow and then cold and the cold may touch off some LES.  I may just be able to take a ride somewhere near the 1st.  One week and one day and it will be riding season!  YESSS!!!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 20-
    First off, before I forget, this will be the last journal until at least Sunday.  Tomorrow I am heading south to visit my family in southern WI.  I will be heading back Saturday night, but will be too tired to put out a journal then, so I will shoot for Sunday.
    For those of you checking in on the Al Cam yesterday for the snows, sorry.  Lake Linden was by passed over by most of the snow.  We did have flurries most of the day, and then at about 4:30 we had a squall come through and produce about 1/4 inch in about 10 minutes, then it tapered off to flurries again.  Some areas in the Keweenaw did pick up about an inch.  Phoenix reported about an inch as did South Range.  Areas further to the south and still in the snow belt reported anywhere from about 1-3".  So other than LL, and the other areas that did not get an inch, the forecast went fairly well.  Things still look encouraging.  Not awesome, or the best, but still not too bad at all.  The main event to watch is indicated for early next week.  That one could really be a good storm for some areas.  The rain/snow line is getting moved around with each new run of the computer models, but at least they have been consistent in their representation of the storm being there.  So we'll see.  Keep those fingers crossed.
    I am ready for the snow.  All of my winter preparations have been completed.  My Christmas lights were finished in the balmy weather of last week.  I have my car winterized, both the engine end and the trunk end.  The engine has had the antifreeze checked and the oil changed.  In the trunk, I have my shovel for digging out and the winter survival kit just in case the shovel cannot get me out of any jam I get myself into.  The grill has been moved from the back yard into the garage.  All the warm season coats were put in the closet and the winter coats are on the rack, ready for business and soon the boots will be brought out.  The lawnmower had the gas run out of it and it is stored away and the snow thrower was fired up and tested and is ready to go.  So I'm ready.  It feels good to have all the chores out of the way.  Getting ready for winter is really a big deal up here.  Winter is a big part of life here.  Actually it becomes part of life, part of the daily routine.
    I just remembered that a year ago today I took my first ride on the sled.  I had to wait until sunset, but there was plenty of snow.  I did not go too far, just up to Phoenix and then out into the bush a little bit.  Turning around I got stuck and got off my sled and sunk up to my knees in snow.  Sheesh, wish that were the case today!  You should have seen how surprised the folks at the Vansville were when we pulled up to get gas.  They could not believe anyone would be snowmobiling so early.  Got to be the first to sign the guest book up there for last year.
    Not much else to share with you.  Took the hounds for our afternoon walk up at the north shore today.  Sort of a bite in the air, with temps in the low 30's and a west wind at about 10 mph, but still a great day for a walk down the beach.  This time of the year, we are pretty much guaranteed to have it to ourselves.  It's neat to look down and see a few prints left in the sand by wildlife that has come before us.  Saw some deer and coyote tracks today.  Looking back behind us, I was able to catch the early stages of this evenings sunset.  Getting dark early up here now!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 18-
    I'm trying to be calm and reserved, but it is not working so good.  It's about t minus 8 hours and it will be snowing here.  We do look pick up a little bit of accumulation.  Looks like a cat 2, 2-4" system to me.  A few areas could pick up a little more than that, but it will not be a major storm that is for sure.  What is also encouraging is that it looks to snow Thanksgiving and the day after.  Again, not a major storm, but a couple of inches.  The snow that falls tomorrow may not even leave and may just be added to, with temps hovering in the low to mid 30's for highs this week.  Another system is indicated for early next week too.  That one may bring some rains first, then snow, but it is too far out to be too confident in the rain/snow line right now and it is just great to be sitting at the old forecasting hot seat and talking about snow.  Things look pretty good into the first week of December as well.  No major storms, but seasonal to below average temps and some opportunities for snow.  I'm happy.
    We had more record temps the past few days.  Actually, I do not know officially if they were records, but I can't imagine a 68 on November 17th not being a record.  Today we looked to rise to about 62, so that may be a new record too.  I must say that with the warm temps, taking walks with the hounds has been nice.  Friday I took the dogs to the Mason Sands.  It was cleaned up this autumn, just like the Lake Linden Sands were two years ago and the Hubbell Sands were last year.  The Mason Sands are the home to the dredge.  Things sure are different in that area.  The dredge is almost in a park-like setting.  Here is a shot from another angle.
    It is really neat that they cleaned up those areas.  They were not ugly, but were just a mix of stamp sands, some old mining ruins and a few weeds.  Now they are like nothing ever happened there, sort of.  There are some gravel access roads, which is actually nice, because it provides an area to walk.  The areas are fenced off to keep out vehicles, but there are openings in the fences that allow access to pedestrians.  That's kind of nice too, because it keeps down on people going into them.  This place is no different from any other in that not a whole lot of people walk anywhere.  Most folks drive their car to go anywhere, even just down the block.  I'm really no better, I take my care just about everywhere too, but I do like walking and make time for at least 2-3 a day.
    Anyway, we were walking along the gravel path and got to the other side of the sands and came across an old fishing boat that has been beached for quite some time now.  Almost seemed like it was put there so someone could paint a picture of the setting or something.  I swear I did not put it there to take the shot!  There was even a trail that led from the sands to Point Mills, so we took that for a while, then it got really muddy so we turned around.  But before we did, we came across a victim of the high winds we had a few weeks ago.  Amazing how the whole root system is just peeled back like an orange.
    Today the hounds and headed down to hike up Mt. Ripley, the ski hill in Hancock.  I figured that this would be the last day to be able to do that.  With snow and then cold coming, the hill will become too slick to hike up, and hopefully it will not be too long before we will be able to ski down it.  Julie (we are still friends and do stuff) was at a ski swap at the hill a few weeks back and called me to tell me she found a brand new pair of skis and they were about half price.  So I ended up getting them.  Last week I had the bindings transferred from my old skis to the new ones, so I am all ready to go.
    The hike up the hill was great exercise.  I wish that I had thought of doing that more often.  Really good therapy for my leg and also for my waistline!  I was even surprised at how easily I made it to the top.  I only stopped once and really did not have to do that, but wanted to in order to take a shot from the halfway point.  The three of us did manage to make it to the top, after a little huffing and puffing.  Here is a shot looking towards tech from the top of the hill.  The view in the other direction is also pretty neat, so I snapped a shot showing the Lift Bridge from a perspective not often seen.
    There is something very satisfying after hiking up a hill.  The view just really seems better after hiking up than after driving up.  Another thing about hiking up a hill, is that once you are on top, you don't want to turn around and head back down right away.  So the hounds and I did a little bit of exploring while we were at the top.  At the other end of the hill, I saw a bald eagle soaring on the updrafts caused by the hill.  I tried to get close enough to it to get a good shot, but as you can tell from this shot, I was unsuccessful!  Kind of cool to see an eagle flying there though.
    So after sitting on top of the hill for a while (even the hounds sat and took in the view), we headed back down.  Walking down a ski hill is easier than walking up, but I would much rather be skiing down!  With the cold temps coming, I can almost guarantee that the snow guns, already in place and ready to go, will be fired up and will be coating the hill for an anticipated opening day of December 1st.  Based on the forecast, they might just make that opening day.  At least a limited opening.
    The only other bit of info I have regards the whole issue with the grooming and signing.  Chris and I did find out a little more info on things and it remains an issue I am going to address.  However, as I learn more about things, I realize that I need to do some more research in order to find out who is really in charge of things.  The person I thought might be is really not.  I do think the best way to handle this will be for you all to write an e mail and send it to me and then I will print them out and hand deliver them to the proper person.  That way I will know how many they get and also be assured that they do get them.  I really hope that there is a good response to this.  I don't think that 4 letters will make that much of a difference, but 400 sure would!  I am going to be mentioning this in the forecast as well, to assure that as many people know about it as possible.  I will also say that for those of you wanting to write, but do not want your e mail to be shared, I will cross it out so that the person reading them will not be able to see it.  For now you can just hang on and wait until I get more info.  I will be sure to make an announcement in many places on this site when I am ready for the notes.  Sure would be nice to be able to make things better.
    I guess that does it for this one.  The change is underway.  The temps have dropped close to 20 degrees since I started typing this journal.  I'm ready.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 15-
    Boy, I suppose that I am just screwing up everyone by doing a back to back!  Been keeping a fairly regular, every 3-4 day update and now a back to back entry.  Oh well, I guess it shows that even on day's that I do not do a journal, I am thinking about it!  There are many times when I wished that I could get one out, but just did not have the hour or two in takes to get one out.  I realize that those of you reading this wonder: "why in the heck does it take him an hour or two just to write a few sentences?".  Well, the answer to that is that I usually have at least a few pictures to download from the camera.  They usually need a little touching up (brightening, contrast, resizing, stuff like that), then I save them locally and start in on the typing of the journal.  I don't know how many of you have tried to keep a regular journal, but most of the time I start in on one, the ideas do not just explode out.  I can sit staring at the screen for minutes on end, trying to come up with something to say or the right way to say it.  I'm not complaining.  No one is putting a gun to my head to do this.  It is a labor of love.  I know that there are thousands of folks out there who check in regularly and find great enjoyment in reading about my adventures up here and knowing that keeps me going.
    So today was the first day of firearm deer season.  I don't know if they sell camouflaged bermuda shorts, but hunters could have used them today.  It was already 58 degrees at sunrise today, that's 21 degrees above the average high for the day!  My thermometer topped out at 63, the airport made it to 58.  I took our morning walk with shorts on and was not cold at all.  Lots of records being set with this warmth.  Maximum hi's, maximum lows, average temps, you name it.  I do have to admit, it was a beautiful day!
    With it being deer season, being so nice and having the afternoon free from any other duties, I decided to take the hounds to a special beach.  We went to Misery Bay to do our afternoon walking.  That is one of my favorite beaches up here, but also takes about 40 minutes to get to.  It is not even in Houghton County and is closer to Ontonagon than Lake Linden and may even be closer to Ontonagon than Houghton.  At least as the crow flies.  However, with the exception of our first time at Misery Bay, it is well worth the trip every time we go.  The first time we happened along at the same time of a biting fly hatch.  We got on the beach and were swarmed.  Mostly the dogs, but I was bit a few times too.
    One of the things I like so much about that beach is that we are usually the only ones there.  Some others are: It is a great expanse of soft sand and there are even some neat woods to walk through to get to the beach.  Even the hounds get really excited as they hop out of the car to hit the beach.  It was just a perfect day to be at the beach, at least a perfect day for the middle of November.  Seems impossible to think that it could just as easily been snowing and 20 degrees.  But is wasn't.  It was near 60 degrees, with plenty of sunshine and a fresh breeze out of the west.  A great day to be at the beach.  It was one of those moments that just goes right through me and makes me so incredibly happy that I am able to live in this place.  There are just so many special places up here.  Places that have exactly what I am looking for.  Peace and quiet, natural beauty and natural diversity.  No matter how many times I come across one, I just cannot get used to the natural beauty of a stream meandering out of the woods and out to the big lake.  There are tons of them up here, but each one just strikes me with a special feeling.  Down south, there would usually be a bridge, or dam or other sort of a man made feature where the stream meets the lake.  But not here.
    The hounds had a great time today too.  They seemed to be feeling the exact way that I was this afternoon.  Of course what would a trip to the beach be without a swim?  Just amazing how they can head out into that water and not even be phased by it's coldness.  They also seem to be feeling really good.  After their swim they "rough housed", which is when they chase each other around at full speed and then stop to wrestle some and then chase each other around.  They haven't done that for probably more than two years.  It shows that their ailments are doing well.  I just love to watch them rough house.  They even know what the term means.  All I have to do is ask them to rough house and they'll go at it.
    There are a few camps on the shore there at Misery Bay.  Today we came across a rather rustic one.  Even with it's rather rustic nature, it was attractive.  Sitting up on the bluff, surrounded by pines.  It would have been fun to call that "camp" and retire there to relax by the fire, have a relaxing meal, after a nice long walk on the beach with the hounds.
    On the way back, we were walking down the the same path we came and it was kind of neat to see our footprints in the sand.  Two human and 8 dog.  Best buddies for life.
    Driving home from the beach we came across a very pretty sight.  One that I wanted to share with you, so I parked the car and the hounds and I hopped out to take a shot of Lake Weber.  Some land for sale on that lake, maybe I'll give a call and find out how much they want.  I gave up buying a new sled for this season in hopes of saving enough to buy some land in the next year or so.  Don't know if it will happen, but I'm gonna give it a try.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 14-
    Well, I can officially say that this years winter is not off to as good a start as last winters was.  A year ago today I awoke to this.  We picked up about 6" of snow, enough to take the first ski of the season with the hounds.  Today the Houghton County Airport rose to 58 and Copper Harbor rose to 65.  Took a last walk in the woods before firearm deer season with the hounds today.  Broke out in a sweat!  I felt a little sorry for them too.  They were huffing and puffing, trying to keep cool.  Tomorrow I will take them to the beach, so they can jump in the lake to cool of and I will wear my shorts, as we look rise into the upper 50's or low 60's once again.  This is all record territory we are in.  Houghton broke its old record today, as did Marquette.  Our lows are actually about 10 degrees warmer than the average high for the day, which is about 37.
    Now with all this warm weather at this time of the year and memories of skiing on the same day last year still fresh in my memory, you would think that I would be all depressed.  Nope, not too worried.  As I have been saying in the forecast for the past week or so, the pattern does look to change and old man winter will pay a visit, possibly for good.  At this point, it does not look like a massive dump of cold air will move in, nor is there any huge snow storms indicated to develop.  However, things can certainly change, as we are still about 4-5 days away from when the cold will arrive and over a week from when a storm could develop.  The end of November is traditionally the time of the year that can support the seasons first cat 2-3 snowstorm, so in my opinion, the verdict is out as to how much snow will fall in places like MN, WI, the UP, northern IA, northern IL and the northern 1/2 of lower MI.  The bottom line is that seasonal to below average temps are headed in and the above average temps look to be gone for at least a few weeks, and at least a little bit of snow (possibly more) will fall.  So patience is needed, but the reward is in site.
    Other than that, not a whole lot is going on up here.  Deer camp is on, I am probably one of the only males still in town.  That's ok, better odds now!  I'm trying to think of other things to say, but am drawing a blank.  I got involved in a darts league and tonight is the night for that.  Since I got into it late, I am just a backup, but I think I will be needed tonight, with the big exodus into the bush going on tonight.  I have heard lots of guns going off.  Hunters sighting in their rifles.  Did not see any deer on our walk today, I think they are already onto what is about to unfold at sunrise tomorrow.
    I guess the last bit of info to talk about is that I will soon be giving out the name of the person to send notes or calls to to give your opinion on the grooming up here.  For those of you wondering what this is all about, you can go to the Ask John and look up the discussion labeled "Grooming Efforts in the Keweenaw ".  Basically what I would like for those of you who feel so motivated is to send a respectful, yet truthful letter to the Keweenaw Tourism Council.  The nature of the letter will be to describe your experience up here compared to other places and how you think grooming might be done better.  Keep in mind that the groomers cannot run 24/7.  They do need to be worked on and every once in a while one breaks and that really screws up the trails.  The main point we seem to be pushing for is the majority of the grooming to be done at night.  That is the safest for both riders and groomers, as well as the best time to allow the trails to set up before seeing traffic.  So stay tuned, I am just taking care of a few things at my end and then will give the contact info.  If you would like to see the grooming efforts changed to a way that would be more effective, then I think writing a short note would be the way to go.  I am fairly convinced that if a bunch of letters were received by this individual, then things would change up here.  Actually the way I am thinking of doing it is for folks to e mail me, then I will print out the letters and hand deliver them to him.  That way I know how many he gets and that he does get them.  So if you want, you can e mail me and I will start collecting them to deliver to him.  So now you all have your assignments and I can sign off and go throw darts.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 11-
    I'm here, don't fret, don't call the search and rescue, I've just been busy I guess.  Especially at night.  I knew it had been a while since I last wrote, I just did not realize it had been SO long.  Thursday I just plum fell asleep, went out Friday and also Saturday nights, so here I am.  Actually, Thursday I got to test out the fireplace screen.  I built a nice big fire, and about 20 minutes later was dozing off.  I have found that if I fall sound asleep on the couch, when I wake up and try to fall asleep after going to bed, I toss and turn and have a hard time sleeping, so now when I start to doze on the couch, I just go right to bed.  So with the fire going, I closed the glass doors, turned off the vent fan and did not have to worry about the house filling up with smoke.  I plan on having lots of fires now, in fact there is one going right now as I type.  The only thing that I could add to this picture to make things perfect would be a nice cat 5 snowstorm going on outside.  Patience, right?  All good things come to those who wait.
    Speaking of snow, we have had a few little periods of flakes fly.  One happened on our afternoon walk Thursday.  Nothing heavy at all, in fact, if you were not paying close attention, you might have missed it all together.  It was still great to have the the flakes flying.  It was like mother nature was telling me to hang in there, reminding me that this is the land of deep snow and it will come.  We also had some flakes fly yesterday.  More noticeable, no accumulation, but still something that you could not miss.
    Thursday's walk took the hounds and I back to the school forest.  I now know the trails very well out there and am confident that once the snow flies and piles up, changing the landscape, I will still be able to get around and not have any problems knowing where I am out there.  We did explore some new trails, saw some very pretty sights and had a great time.  Just 3 more days of walking in the woods, then we'll have to hit the beaches or stay in town.  I suppose we can go out on the village sands, that is in village limits and no hunting can take place there.  You cannot even discharge a gun.  Last year the hounds and I were able to ski on the sands during deer season.  Does not look like that will be happening this year.  At least for the start of the season.  Hopefully before it is over we will be playing in the snow.  Patience, I know!
    I am all set for the snow though.  Got the Christmas lights up, well...almost all of them anyway.  I want to frame out the windows, so I got the lights today and plan to have them up this week.  The snow station is up and I even fired up the snow thrower.  It started on the second pull, all the functions worked fine so I am good to go.  I had thought about getting a new snow thrower, but after pricing them, decided that since my was working, I would forgo the 1300 dollar price tag for a new one.  There are cheaper ones out there, but since they get an almost daily usage and are sometimes called upon to move tremendous amounts of snow (especially after clearing the roof), it is smart to get a good one and not pay 500 dollars only to have to replace it in a few years.  Mine is about 20 years old and still does the job.
    I also got my replacement bibs for riding.  Thanks again to all of you who donated money to help replace the ones that they had to cut off when I broke my leg.  The new ones will be great.  They are gortex lined, with no insulation.  I know that may sound sort of nuts, but I have learned the importance of layering since moving up here.  Last year I got a gortex parka with no lining and wear several layers underneath and have never been more comfortable.  So I decided to apply the same method for my lower body and am looking forward to that as well.  Gortex is the way to go.  I have never had a problem with it loosing it's waterproofing and it is the only material that I trust to be truly waterproof.  Stay dry, you'll stay warm.
    Took a walk in the woods today, doing a little scouting for KSE.  Came across a good jumping spot.  Just kidding!  That is actually a wash out where the old railroad grade was taken out in a spring thaw a few years ago.  I wanted to scout it out to see if there was an alternate way around the wash out and was successful.  Actually, I did not even have to look for the alternate, there was already one created.  So now I can tell the guides about they way around that washout and we can use that trail a little more.  Speaking of KSE, we are getting reservations, so if you know that you want to ride with us and know when, you might want to make a reservation.  There are still plenty of openings, but some of the days between Christmas and New Years are filling up and one day is actually fully booked.  I will also say to not worry too much.  I realize that most of you do not know exactly when you will be coming up.  I remember when I was living down south, I usually did not know the exact time I was coming up until about a month before.
    I'm always amazed by the things I come across when walking in the woods.  However, I can also say that as amazed as I am at some of my finds, I would never have thought I would come across an object like this!  For those of you wondering what that was, it is an old railroad hopper car.  Most likely used for hauling copper ore or maybe coal back when the mining was still going on up here.  I have know idea how it got there or why it is there, but it is.  I guess whoever put it there did not want to pay any attention to this sign located right above it!
    After the walk and before going home we took a side track to check out some property for sale.  Went down a road I had been down before, but saw a sight I had never seen before.  We were driving up the road when we crossed the Traprock River.  I looked off to the one side and saw a little dam.  On the way back down the road, we stopped at the bridge and hopped out for a look around.  I had a bit of a hard time trying to find a good vantage point to take the shot, but after climbing down to the bank, stepping out onto a rolling log and holding out the camera as far as I could reach I got lucky and took a keeper.  The dam created a little pond and there were two camps on either side of the pond.  Really a neat surprise to come along something like that.  Just when I thought I new the valley well!
    So we're 4 days from deer camp and 20 away from the open of riding season.  The near term forecast looks snowless, but the forecast starting by about next week looks more promising.  I doubt that I will be getting in a ride before I head south for Thanksgiving, but I will not worry too much about it.  I would really like to be able to hit the trails opening day though, but will also not be too upset if that does not come true.  On average we are able to ride up here on the first of December about 50 percent of the time.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 7-
    The natives are getting restless!  I have been asked "Hey John, when we gonna get some snow?" more than anything else lately.  Unfortunately I cannot give a specific date at this point.  I am not as worried about things as I was in the previous journal.  There are signs of a fairly dramatic pattern change in the November 18-20 period that would allow the floodgates of the arctic to open up and send down some chilly air.  Cold enough for the rain/snow line to drop to the OH River.  No major storms are indicated while the cold air is in place, but the cold could touch off some LES up here as well as some light snow in the rest of the Midwest.  Not sure if I will be able to get a pre-Thanksgiving ride in this year like I did last year, but I am still holding out hope.
    The other day I looked back at last years journal for November and I was surprised to read where we got snow to start flying by about the 9th of November and then we had snow on the ground from the 14th on.  I do remember taking my first ride on the 20th, but I did not remember that the ground was covered from the 14th on.  The one thing I keep reminding myself when I feel a little down about the lack of snow on the immediate horizon is that it will come and it will get deep.  Even in a disastrous year there will be enough snow to get plenty of play time in.  Heck, my first year living up here (2 years ago) was the shortest on record and I still had some great riding.  The main trick will be to stay healthy!  Last year was just as short for me, although others were able to ride for almost 2 more months after I had my little leg break thing.
    I guess the one bright spot to the lack of any real snow in the near term is that my forecasts are easy to do!  That is a pretty neat trade off, I think.  A lot of work means a lot of snow.  Not a lot of snow means an easy job!  Now if I could just figure out a way to make a living out of doing only the snowfall forecasts I'd be set!  I guess I can't complain too much.  I do love what I do and where I do it.  Can't ask for more than that.
    Been taking our daily walks.  One of our walks took us out to the Lake Linden sands.  I like to go out there, number one because it is close, number two because we have the whole place to ourselves and lastly because the hounds can go for a swim if they get a little warm.  Of course, they will go for a swim even if it is not warm, but that is beside the point.  Looking out across the wide open field out there, I keep thinking of a fun afternoon I had out there last December, playing in the snow, making powder-8's.  Man o man, I need to stop this thinking, I am really getting to pumped up!
    Anyway, it is a peaceful setting out there on the sands.  Lots of wind, but also just very tranquil.  On the backside is where the Traprock River wanders through on it's way to the Torch Lake.  There are still signs of the industry that helped support the village in the old mining days.  Some old pier pilings have survived the years and show where docks were once located long ago.
    The hounds and I have also been taking to the woods to walk the tracks.  They're clear and ready for the snow.  There were some blowdowns with the storm a few weeks back, but they have all been pushed aside by vehicles driving down them in search of partridge or deer sign.  It's also very peaceful out in the woods.  Sort of the calm before the storm.  We have not come across many deer on our walks.  We have seen some deer sign, but I think that this year may be a little tougher than previous ones were.  Based on my casual observations I think that the population is down a bit.  Now that won't stop the pilgrimage into the woods for deer camp in a week.  It is more of a ritual of getting away than hunting for many.  Most of my friends do hunt, but I know of a bunch of folks who head out just to go to deer camp and get away from it all.  I have often thought of making a list entitled "You know you're a Yooper when...", one of the items on the list would be "You turn down an free, all expenses paid trip to the Bahamas so that you will not miss deer camp.".  Another might be "You have more recipes for venison than beef".  Now don't get me wrong here.  I in no way mean to be condescending.  I think the deer season and all of it's traditions are great, just one of the many things that I love so much about living up here.  It is just such a different thing than I am used to.  I truly believe that it is something fairly unique to this region.  I know hunting goes on all over the Midwest, but I think that some of the traditions up here are unique.
    I have also been busy preparing for the snow.  The bush protection system is up.  I should say the improved bush protection system is up.  This is the third year trying to make the perfect system and I hope that the third time is the charm.  I was close last year, but it did break in one spot when I shoveled the roof and the snow fell down onto it.  I do believe it should hold up this year.  Only time will tell.
    So now all I have to do is get the Christmas lights up.  I think that will be this weekends chore.  The weather looks good to get it done and it should not take too long.  THEN it can snow!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 4-
    Not sure how long this one will be.  Things have been slow, I am beat, and tonight seem like a good night for a fire.  One reason why it seems like a good night for a fire is that I got my fireplace screen assembly in.  That was part two to the fix I was doing to make the fireplace more functional.  Now I can build a fire, let crank, use the air intake and fan to keep the house from filling with smoke, then close the glass doors and go to bed without having to worry about smoke or sparks.  If I were smart, I would have started a fire and done this journal with my laptop while sitting by it.  Oh well, next time.
    Like I say, not much has been going on up here.  The weather has been really quiet.  Temps in the 40's for highs and no precip.  Things look to remain pretty quiet for the next week to ten days.  I am starting to feel the first pangs of worry enter my system.  Things can change in a big hurry up here, but for now, the pattern does not look too good.  I just pray that we do not see a season like my first one up here.  Sheesh!  My biggest concerns come from all the seasonal forecasts out there calling for a really cold winter in the Midwest and east coast.  I have found that the overall majority of seasonal forecasts are pretty wrong and since they all got on the cold bandwagon for this one, I feel like we may be jinxed.  Hope I have not scared you all, but I just hate what I am seeing for the next week to ten days.  That's all.
    The hounds and I took a trip to Marquette yesterday.  Burt has been limping and I made an appointment for him to see the vet, plus I needed to pick up the fireplace screen and door assembly at the Menards there.  Turns out Burt has arthritis that has developed where he had a joint problem when he was younger.  Sort of a good news/bad news deal.  Good news that he did not need surgery, but bad news that we cannot make the problem go completely away.  I have doubled is dosage of joint medication (Bailey's too) and will keep an eye on him.  He is not sore after exercise, just has a limp on his right front leg when we walk, especially in the mornings.  The problem does not really even slow him down on the walks though.  He still runs and plays and does not slow down because of it, so that is good.
    On the way to Marquette I actually saw some snow still on the ground from last weeks storm.  It was near Alberta and was on the south side of the road in a shaded area.  Makes me wonder how much was there before it started to melt in the first place!  I had plans on bringing the camera with me to Marquette to show you the sights seen along the way.  I have mentioned in the past that the scenery changes a lot as you drive to Marquette and there is always something new to see along the way.  However, I forgot the camera, so you all will just have to wait until my next trip to see the sights between Lake Linden and Marquette.
    Went to the Michigan Tech hockey game last night.  They initially came out flat, but then turned things around quickly and were up 4-0 by about halfway into the first period and then 5-1 by the end of the 1st period.  They could not hang on to the lead though and ended up giving up the tying goal with about a minute left in regulation.  Things ended up in a 5-5 tie.  Not bad considering they were playing the number 1 ranked team in the nation, the Minnesota Golphers.  Still, giving up a 4 goal lead is never a good thing.
    Well, sorry this journal was not too exciting, but I am dosing off while typing it and can't seem to find anything too exciting to talk about, so I guess I will just sign off for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
November 2-
    Had a few computer problems since yesterday evening.  The Network Interface Card (NIC) that connected my computer to my cable modem crapped out.  I did write a journal (posted below) yesterday evening, but because of problems with my internet provider, I was not able to upload it to the site.  Then today, my internet provider was back on line, but I was busy trying to get my NIC fixed and ended up replacing it and did not get to updating things until just now.  All is up and running now.  Sorry for the no forecasts today, but they'll be updated regularly beginning next Monday.
November 1-
    2 weeks till deer camp!  Oops, sorry, I forgot that the majority of the readers of this journal are not yoopers.  Anyway, a new month and also the inaugural day for starting the snow forecasts.  Did not have much at all to talk about in the snow forecast department and it looks like that will be the case for a while longer.  The really extended forecast (11-16 days) shows some promise, so we'll see.
    Anyway, today felt more like September 1st rather than November 1st.  Temps broke into the 60's!  Yes, 60's.  I am glad that I did not put away the shorts yet.  Actually at least one pair will remain out cause I like to wear shorts when I go and work out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  With weather like this, the hounds and I just had to go to the beach.  Normally at this time of the year we are religiously going to the woods because our days are numbered to be out there.  We avoid the woods during firearm deer season for safety's sake.  Then it is the beaches turn during deer season.  However, we just had to go there today.  Actually it was also for the comfort of the hounds.  They are building up their winter coats and walking in the woods, they would likely have been a little overheated.
    So we went to the north shore to walk along the Big Lake.  One thing that really struck me was how low the sun was.  It was the middle of the afternoon, but the sun was about as high as it is at 7 to 8 pm in the middle of summer.  That is one reason for the sun streak on that last shot.  Another reason is that we were facing the southwest, right in the direction of the sun.  Here is a shot looking northeast, away from the sun.
    The other thing that struck me as I was walking down the beach was how different the beach was.  This is a beach that I know very well.  We go there so often that I can actually recognize new pieces of driftwood (if they are large enough) or any other feature that was not there the last time we went down it.  Well, walking down it this afternoon seemed like we were not even on the same beach!  The storm last week had really done a number on things.  Huge pieces of driftwood that were there previously were gone, while others were new.  Also, quite a bit of the sand had been washed away with the wave action.  I was able to see that the wave action had actually made it all the way up to the base of the bluffs that line that section of shoreline.  Another dramatic example of how the shoreline had changed was this little cove that was cut into it.  Prior to last week's storm, the shoreline actually did not have that little indentation in it.  I really should have gone out there to check out the wave action.  Now I feel like I really missed it.  Oh well, another one will come along.
    Even though it was more like summer than winter, Baileys had snow on her mind when she was practicing her snow angles in the sand.  Actually, she just likes to roll in the sand.  Maybe she likes sand angles.  At any rate, she is currently sleeping on my bed, so looks like I will have to sleep in some sand tonight.
    The lake had some wave action going on it.  These were not left over from last week's storm, at least I can't imagine they are.  We had some pretty good winds blowing today, so I would guess that they were the result of those winds.  I bet one of the neat things about being a dog is that you don't have to think too much about what caused the waves to form, you just want to go play in them.  Just like Burt did today.  Baileys is not too fond of the waves, so she avoided going in too far today.
    The walk was very peaceful and extremely relaxing, not to mention fun.  Looks like we may be able to repeat it early next week.  Some 60's may just be sneaking back in on Monday and Tuesday.  Boy I must really be turning into a Yooper.  The fact of having 60's in November is actually a pleasant thought.  I am not anxious about warmth and not snow at all.  Now, don't get me wrong, I have not lost any of my love for the stuff.  I guess I just know that it is coming for sure and that any snow this time of the year will just melt anyway.  In a few weeks, my attitude will be much different.  We will be at that time of the year when it comes and starts to stay.  I may even be chomping at the bit to take a ride.  But for now, I'll just take enjoyment in this mild stuff.  Besides, I still have to get my bushes protected and my Christmas lights up!
Good night from the Keweenaw
- JD-
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