Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
October 29-
    My apologies for being away so long, but it seems like my days have been busy enough so that by the evenings, I am just too out of energy to sit down and spend the time to get one out.  I made sure today that I would be finished with my work in time to get out a journal.
    All the excitement of the big storm is over.  It did have a lower central pressure than the Fitz storm, but I don't think the winds were as bad here as they were in that historical storm.  The main reason is that winds are generated not by the degree of low pressure, but by pressure change itself.  Something we call pressure gradient.  Because the low was very near the Keweenaw for much of it's life when it was so deep in low pressure, there was not much of a change of pressure taking place.  The pressures were very low, but the gradient of change was not as great.  At any rate, things have quieted down.  There was about 4-5" of snow accumulation in places like South Range and Painesdale, with 2-4" in places like Calumet.  Here in the banana belt of Lake Linden, we barely managed a half inch.  That's ok, I know it is coming and any snow this time of the year is just stuff that has to melt anyway.
    It looks like a pretty quiet period shaping up for the Midwest for the next week to ten days.  That's good, because I still need to get a few outdoor chores done.  On Sunday I did get all the leaves raked and the grass cut.  I figure only one more cutting and then I will be done.  I could probably get away with not cutting it at all, but last fall I did that and the snow mold in the spring was much worse than the year before when I cut the grass very short before the snow fell.  I want to limit the snow mold in the spring because I think that the hounds are allergic to it.  They both had an allergic reaction to something last spring and the only new element to their environment when they were suffering that I could pick up was the snow mold.  As soon as the grass dried and I raked it, the snow mold dissipated and so did the hounds problems.
    Besides having decent enough weather to leisurely get the rest of my outdoor work (protect the bushes and get the Christmas lights up) done, I am also glad because the weather will also not be putting such a crimp in the hounds and mine lifestyles.  Last week we were rained out of more walks than any other week period since we move up.  Thankfully the woods have dried up.  We only have a little more than 2 weeks left until we will have to stay out of them for main deer season and then hopefully snowmobile season after that.
    On Saturday the hounds and I took to a new place to walk.  It was the Lake Linden-Hubbell School Forest.  I was out with friends Friday night and they mentioned that that place would be a good place to take them exploring.  They were dead on with their idea.  The area has about 300-400 acres of land with lots of hiking trails going through it.  Right now all the access from the roads is gated off, so we can walk in and not have to worry about any vehicles.  I think that it may end up being a neat place to ski as well.  Especially before the snow gets deep.  After that maybe I can get permission to go in there and pack down the trails with my sled so that the hounds and I can still get through.  I have found that with my own trail that I make up the Traprock Valley, if I do not go across the trail every few days, the snow gets too deep for the hounds to easily get through.  Tough problem to have eh?
    Anyway, we had a good time walking through the woods.  It sure is different going at this time of the year.  When there is little to no wind, it is so quiet.  No leaves on the trees to rustle.  Of course there are the tons of leaves on the ground to crunch through.  The trails through the school forest wind their way through many different types of stands of trees.  The previous was a hardwood stand and here is a shot of the trail going through a softwood (pine) stand.  Because the woods are used for educational purposes, they even have some markers located on the trails to point out what kind of trees are growing there.  The complex even has a two year old log structure that can act as a classroom.  I know that a lot of donations in workmanship and materials helped to make that building possible.  Kind of neat the way the community comes together to make things like that happen.  Just another special part about this corner of the country.  In the last shot I bet most of you saw the snow still on the roof.  Well, it was melting and the neat thing about a metal roof when the snow is melting, is that the snow slides off and can form some neat formations.  There was even a small pond out there.  Did you all see that it had a layer of ice on it?
    We had such a fun time out there Saturday that we went back out with some friends Sunday.  One of the friends was riding a horse.  The dogs have seen horses before but only from the car when we were driving by them.  Yesterday was a whole new experience for them, as they got to get up close and personal with them.  Initially, I kept them on leashes so that things would not get out of hand.  They were really funny to watch.  They were definitely interested in the horse, but were also a little bit skittish to get too close.  After a few minutes they were comfortable with the horse, so I let them off the leash.  By the end of the walk, it was like they had been around horses their whole life.  They crack me up.
    Today we took our afternoon walk on the old railroad tracks up the hill from the village.  A few limbs were down up there, but no trees.  It is so different to walk the woods now that the leaves are all down.  You can really see into the woods a lot further.  Did not see any critters out there, but the deer have been moving.  Have seen quite a few of them on other walks and even when I have been driving through the valley.  This is the time of the year to see them, that is for sure.
    With the time change, we are now taking our evening walks in the dark.  I don't mind too much, the village seems even more peaceful once the sun has set.  Fires are burning in lost of the fireplaces and the smell of the firewood burning along with the evening chill really is relaxing.  The time change sure does throw the hounds for a loop.  I have read where dogs really like consistency in their lives and so I make sure to feed them their meals at the same time everyday.  Well, the time change sure does screw that process up.  I try and ease them into the new time, but it still seems like they are hungry at the old times.  In a few days things should be back to normal.
    Well, it looks like I am out of material for this one.  Plus, I think I am not fully adjusted to the time change myself.  About a week ago, I opened with a shot of Burt snoozing with his belly in the air.  Tonight I will close with a shot of Baileys napping on the couch.  Rough life!
Good night from the Keweenaw
- JD-
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October 25-
    Well, the much anticipated storm has hit.  So far it has been a bit of a bust in the snow department.  At least in the snow accumulation department.  It did snow most of the day, with rain mixing at times as well.  Air temps have been in the mid to upper 30's and with the ground temps still in the 40's, the snow has been melting about on contact.  We did have a burst of heavier snow this morning that dusted the region, but that has been about it so far.  As the sun sets, the air will cool some and that may lead to some accumulation, but I doubt that this will be a major snow event for most of the UP.
    I did hop in the car and the hounds and I went on a little snow chase.  We headed south in search of areas that were not seeing as much rain.  Sounds strange to have to travel south to see more snow, but this early season stuff is strange indeed.  As we climbed the hill out of Houghton, the flakes started to show up more and more and by the time we were passing the mall, it was mostly snow, a good sign.  The sight of a car headed towards me, coated in about 2 inches of snow really got my blood pumping.  I was hoping to not have to travel too far to the south to get into some deeper snow to walk in.  As we got to South Range, there was about a dusting of snow on the ground and then we headed up the hill to Trimountain and Painesdale where we found about 2 inches on the ground and about an inch of slush on the road.  Things were looking very good.  Traveling further south, the snow on the ground actually became a little lighter and almost disappeared completely.  I decided to continue to push south and see what things were like around Twin Lakes.  Still only about an inch there, so we kept heading south.
    Got to the intersection of M 26 and M 38 and still only a dusting to an inch.  By the time we got to Hwy. 45 and nothing had changed, I lost hope of ever finding too much more snow than an inch or two, so I turned the car around and started to look for a place to park and take the hounds for a walk.  We got rained out of our morning "shorty" (we take a 15-20 minute walk around the neighborhood instead of a morning coffee break), so they were a little anxious to do some walking.  I was able to spot a two track heading off into the woods, so I parked the car and we jumped out into the falling snow and onto the slush on the ground.  Thankfully the two track did not end in 100 yards like so many of them do.  We were in uncharted waters down there.  The only time I have ever been through that neck of the woods was while either racing through in my car on M 26 or on my sled heading up the Bill Nichols trail, so I was glad that we lucked out on my guess to walk that trail.
    The winds were beginning to pick up by the time we started out walk and I was also glad that the trail we were on ran between two ridge lines.  The winds were not too bad there.  About a half mile into the walk, there was a sudden roar, almost like a jet engine, and I looked up to the top of the ridge line to my right to see three large branches breaking off and one whole tree fall to the ground up at the top about 100 yards away.  It was enough of an event to show the dogs and I that maybe we should turn around.  I could just imagine getting conked on the head by a falling limb or something.  Where we were, the gust did not even hit, so we were safe, but still, I did not feel like taking any chances.  I was getting a weak signal on my cell phone, but the thought of having to wait in the cold and damp weather for help, or freaking out if something happened to the hounds, convinced me to head back to the car.  We made it back fine and headed back north to our home.
    The winds are really blowing pretty good now.  Sustained at 40-45 mph, with gusts into the 50's.  I was going to head to the lake to snap some shots, but by the time we got home, fed ourselves and were ready to head back out, it was already getting dark, so we just stayed in.  I'm sorry I did not get any shots of the angry lake, but the winds were just not blowing that hard when we started our afternoon adventure and by the time they had been blowing hard enough and long enough to kick up some waves, it was too dark.  I am kind of glad that we did not have to go back out there.  Not the best of weather to be trouncing around in and I can bet that it is not snow falling along the lake, but a cold rain driven by 40-50 mph winds.  If the winds are still blowing hard tomorrow, I will head out there to get some pics of the lake.
    We could still pick up a few inches of snow tonight and a few more tomorrow, but this looks to be a classic early season storm that is either boom or bust, with little middle ground.  It just happens that this one was more of a bust.  I'm not disappointed at all.  It is going to melt anyway, so I'd just assume wait for another few weeks until it will be here to stay.  That time will likely come in about three weeks.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 23-
    No your eyes do not deceive you.  I did do a back to backer!  The main purpose is that there is a huge storm to talk about and since I have not started my forecasts yet, I figured I would use this forum to tell you all about it.  Now before everyone gets all excited, it is not going to be a huge snow storm.  Most of the precip will fall as rain, although snows will wrap in on the back side and there could be some considerable lake effect in a few locations of the LES belts of the Great Lakes.  The main story with this system will be the winds generated.  The central pressure of the low is indicated to drop to 964, which is comparable to a category 2 hurricane!  Now, keep in mind that this is a forecast and the central pressure may not drop that low, but for comparison, the storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgearld had a central pressure of 978.  This storm is also indicated to follow an almost exact track, moving from IA into central WI, then almost directly across Marquette and then into Ontario just to the northeast of Lake Superior.  I think that we can almost bet on winds of 50 mph, but gusts to 65 or even 75 mph may not be out of the question either.
    This thing really has my blood pumping.  It is a storm that only comes along every 10 years or so.  The last one to have as deep a central pressure was in 1988 and that one actually passed to the west of the big lake and winds were not as bad.  If this storm were to be coming a month later, we could be talking about snow accumulations in the feet range and not inches.  There could be some fairly heft LES accumulations in areas a bit away from the lake.  Places like Twin Lakes to the south of Houghton or even Negaunee and Ishpeming could see as much as 6-12" fall.  I fear that the marine layer will keep our accumulations to a few inches.
    Thursday will be a great day to head to the north shore and check out the waves.  I already have plans to head to the Calumet Waterworks and maybe even the north entry.  I wish that I knew a place where there was no off shore shoal so that the full force of the waves could roll in.  The closest to that that I know of would be the north entry.  I be sure to bring the camera.
    Not much else to talk about.  I took the hounds to the north shore today.  We went to the beach at 5 mile point.  I figured that since we would be going to the Calumet waterworks beach on Thursday, that we would go to a different place today.  I sure do love that beach.  Can't put my finger on it exactly, but it is just so relaxing and tranquil to be on.  Really puts me in a great mood.  When we started out the walk, the skies were totally cloudy, but by the end of the walk, they were sunny.
    The hounds really had a great time, as did I, but they were acting a little weird.  Usually when we walk, they run around, keeping up with me, but also doing their own thing.  Today they started out that way, but were soon right by my side and would not leave.  Burt even kept looking up at me, like he was checking to make sure I was ok.  They were kind of freaking me out a little.  I saw a story where this guy was going to go for a walk with his dogs, but they started acting really weird so he stayed home to figure out what was wrong.  He ended up having a massive heart attack and was barely able to dial 911 to save his life.  If he had been on his walk in the woods he says he would have died.  Needless to say I did not have a grabber or any other ailment, but I did drive extra careful on the way home and have not exerted myself to hard since the walk!
    So I guess that gets you all caught up and filled in on things.  Talk to you soon and tell you all about the storm.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 22-
    Sometimes it is so hard to find the right way to start this journal.  The way I was always tought is that the first sentance should be the attention grabber and somewhere in the first paragraph should be stated the purpose or thesis of the writing.  Well, I'm out of school and this is MY journal, so I'll just do things the way I want to.  So maybe there will be a purpose or thesis stated, maybe not.  But one thing is for sure, I can start a sentence with a conjunction; use improper puncuation and even miss spell things!  Like that is anything new!!!
    Anyway, I have been busy running around doing things, seeing people and taking care of chores.  Friday evening, Chris, Marlo (White House Motel fame) and I went out to dinner at Lac La Belle.  Good food, good company and a beautiful panorama of the lake made for a very nice time.  The new owners have really done a lot of work up there and everything was great.
    Saturday was spent dodging a few drops of rain, but for the most part, the weather that day was ok.  Good walking weather, with temps in the low 50's.  I really love this weather for walking in the woods.  A light jacket is all that is needed and I am warm.  Plus, the hounds to not overheat with all their running around.  It is so good to see Baileys back to normal.  She runs up and down the hills and basically keeps right up with Burt.  She evens seems to be so much happier now that she can get around.  I'm going to keep an eye on her hips though.  The x-rays were not so good, but all the vets who specialize in bones have told me that a dog does not walk on it's x rays and the real sign is how they get around.  So far so good.  The other day Burt was sound asleep on the dogs couch and I could not resist taking a shot of him belly up.
    I do have some interesting pictures to share with you.  Not a lot, but I do make up for it with the quality.  Yesterday Al and I took the truck to do some exploring to see if we could find some new trails for KSE.  We did find a few, now the only problem will be to try and find them in the winter.  It is just amazing how much the terrain changes when the snow piles up!  One thing is for sure, we were really deep in the woods.  At one point we saw a large hill and neither of us could name it.  It ended up being Gratiot Mountain, but we were seeing it from a totally new angle.
    Our travels also took us to the back side of the cliff range.  I have been this way a few times, both on sled and by truck.  There is a spot that overlooks the lake, so we stopped and I took a panorama of the view.  Did you all see the lakes freighter in the shot?  It is on the right hand side of the shot, nestled between the two clumps of trees.  In real life, the freighter appeared so much closer, I need to get a camera with zoom.
    From the back side of the cliffs, we made our way to Eagle River and then played around in the bush from Eagle River to Eagle Harbor.  On the way to Eagle Harbor we went down to an area known as "The Marshes".  I have only seen this area on maps, so I was glad to see it in person.  That was just one of the many marshes down in that area.  Now, for those of you wanting to know how to get there, sorry.  I know, but it would be impossible to explain in this journal.  In the winter, you can get to part of the marshes via the Eagle Harbor cross country ski trail.  On skis of course.  No snowmobiles allowed in there.  There is another way into the marshes and I know that we can get in there by sled, as that way in goes across the property of a relative of one of the KSE guides.  Al showed me the way and that may be one of our play spots this winter.
    From the marshes we took the bush to Copper Falls Road and stopped at Copper Falls Pond.  Another spot that I had never been to.  I have seen it on the map, but that was the first time in person, so I bet it was all of yours too.  I am proud to admit that I actually showed the Copper Falls Road and Copper Falls Pond to Al.  He had never been there before either and did not even know they were there.  I consider it a rather large feat to show Al something new.  He grew up here and has spent a ton of time in the bush, so there are not too many places he has not been.
    From the Copper Falls Road, we dropped down into Central and then took the snowmobile trail north a little and jumped onto a logging road.  We followed that logging road deep into the woods.  Al said he had ridden back there before and wanted to find a way to hook up with some of the other trails that KSE uses in that neck of the woods.  We were successful in find our way through, but not after a ton of driving around and some rather tricky driving.  At one point we had to build a little makeshift bridge for the truck to get across.  Of course Al said he would direct me across it, leaving me to drive the truck across and test our little bridge.  The Army Corps of Engineers have nothing on us, the bridge worked fine and we got across that blow out in the trail. I should have taken a picture of our handy work, but I plum forgot.  I guess I was too caught up in the work at hand to remember to take a picture.
    Like I said, we went deep into the woods there and eventually came out where we wanted to and then from there hopped on the lower trail to Lac La Belle and took that to the Lac La Belle Road and then back to Lake Linden.  All told, we were out driving, exploring and building bridges for 6 1/2 hours.  If I wanted to drive home, it would have taken me the same amount of time!  I had wanted to get out a journal last night, but after all that activity, I still needed to get my Sunday night weather commentary out for my commodity brokers and after that collapsed after having dinner.
    Last night I let the hounds out to do their business and there was a pack of coyotes howling and yipping and just generally making a racket.  I don't know what is up when they do that, if they have just killed something and are celebrating it, or they have all come together and are all excited or what, but that is not the first time I have heard that and I never get fully used to it.  They are pretty close when they do it.  Less than a 1/4 mile away for sure and maybe only a few hundred yards.  What is equally interesting to me is that the hounds to not howl right along with them.  They will howl at sirens, music that has horns in it and even sometimes at howling sounds on the TV.  Here, the real thing is going on and they don't seem to make much of a big deal about it.  They do listen at first, then just seem to tune it out.  I pay attention though.  They are not far off and I do not want them venturing into the yard to mess with my pups.  Not sure what they would do when they saw this nut case come flying out of the house, in his underwear, holding a 9-iron, but for their own good they had best leave.
    So we are under a snow watch for the end of this week.  It looks pretty good that we will pick up at least a few inches from late Wednesday night through Friday.  Some areas a little further inland could pick up more than a few inches.  If this storm were coming about a month later, we would be talking about accumulations in feet, not inches, that is for sure.  Some other areas that might get some decent accumulation include the lake snow belts of all the Great Lakes and even the arrowhead of MN.  Flakes could be seen in places like Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit.  It's coming folks.
    In closing, I will leave you with a little yooper joke floating around the Keweenaw.  It goes like this:  It has been reported that the FBI is doing wire taps up here in connection with the Sept. 11 events.  So far they have discovered that Eno has been loggin' between Painsdale and Toivola.  I know, I know, stick to the weather, but I did not write the joke, only passed it along.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 18-
    I'm getting an early start on this one (as if that makes a difference to you the reader!) because it is raining out right now and the wet weather also rained us out of our afternoon walk.  I am hoping the rains end so that we can get in a walk this evening, so that is the main reason why I am doing this now.  The rain out this afternoon was good as it allowed me to get lots of work done.  I have been working on a huge project for the past month and it is now done.  Now I need to get on with a few other projects, but they are smaller and a change of venue will be nice too.
    We are still in a bit of a no man's land as far as new and exciting things to write about.  The leaves are really falling.  At times, when the wind is blowing hard, it is more like a snow storm, but only with leaves.  If you have been following things on the Al Cam, you know what I am talking about.  Just a few days ago, the tree on the right still had most of it's leaves and now it is bare.  I am waiting for the tree on the left to go bare so that I can rake the leaves and cut the grass for what I hope will be either the last time or the second to last time.
    Another thing that has been happening up here is that for about the past week or so we have been having a hard frost.  It's really interesting to make note of these subtle weather changes.  By the end of August, most evenings are cold enough to need a light coat.  By mid September, some nights are cold enough to produce a scattered frost and others are still only in the 50's.  Then by the first week on October, we are consistently in the 40's, with about 40% of the nights dropping below freezing.  It has now become a trick to keep the temps from dropping to below freezing.  We have had our first snow, but most of the weather systems are still bringing rain.  Soon (I hope!), more and more of the systems will be bringing snow and in about a month and a week, it will be hard for the systems to bring anything but snow.  Last year at this time, I was just a month and 2 days away from my first ride.  And a ride it was.  I can still remember busting through drifts that were 2-3 feet high and even almost getting stuck a few times.  Sure would be nice to be able to get in a ride before the season "officially" starts.
    Another thing that has been very noticeable about the change of season to me is the earlier sunset and later sunrise.  I now need to be done with the evening walk by about 7:30 if I want to be home before dark.  Of course by the time December rolls around, it is getting dark at about 4:30, so we do walk in the dark, but we stay in the village then.  Now, we will still head off into the woods on an evening walk and I really do not want to be out in the woods alone past dark.
    Two days ago, the hounds and I took one of our walks in the woods and all of the sudden this little bird landed right on my shoulder!  Kind of startled me and my reaction caused it to fly off, but it then went and landed again!  Don't know what the heck it was thinking, but maybe it thought I was a tree or something!  Never had that happen to me before.  I'm just glad it wasn't a crow or something big like that!
    Yesterday, the hounds and I took a walk on the Tamarack Sands.  It's sands were covered with dirt and seeded last year and it is actually a pretty neat place to go.  Here is a shot looking south with the stack on the Mason Sands in the background.  The Mason Sands are in the process of being fixed up right now and it looks like it will be a neat place to walk around next year.  Another thing on the Mason Sands is the old dredge.  The way they are setting things up, you will still be able to get a close up look of the dredge.  There is a fence surrounding the sands as well as the dredge, but there is also an opening in the fence that allows persons to walk through.  Similar fences are up at the Lake Linden Sands and the Tamarack Sands.  Glad foot traffic is still allowed.  Anyway, my second and last picture for this journal is looking north from the same spot the other picture was taken.  Sure was a pretty day yesterday.  A little cool, but crystal clear air and lots of blue sky.
    Sorry for only having two pictures.  It was not the result from lack of effort.  I have been bringing the camera along with me on all of our excursions, but there have just not been the sights that we usually see.  Today I had hopes of hiking up Mt Ripley, but the rains changed that idea.  I still would like to get to the mouth of the Montreal before the snows arrive, but not sure if that is going to happen.  So much to do, so little time!  But that is a good time, that means the snow is just around the corner.  I'm ready!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 15-
    Hi all,  this will probably be a short one, as I do not have a ton to talk about and only one pic.  However, I did want to get a journal out and keep you all up to date on the goings on up here.  I guess the main reason why there is not a whole lot to talk about is because we are sort of in one of those no mans land times of the year.  The colors are past peak and the deep snows will hold off for at least another month.  It is great hiking weather and the hounds and I have been taking lots of them.  It is a very pleasant time to be in the woods.  The temps are brisk, but not cold.  There is quite a change going on in the woods, with the colorful leaves falling to the ground.  Places that were painted in yellows, oranges and reds just 24 hours ago are now almost bare of the colors, except on the ground, where all the leaves have ended up.  There are lots of deer tracks to follow and every once in a while we come across some coyote prints in the dirt as well.  It's also the time of year where folks up here start to get serious about preparing for winter.  Some bush protection systems are already in place and by months end, most will be in place.  Soon, Christmas decorations will be going up.  I plan to get mine up sometime in the next 2-3 weeks.  No need to be up on the roof when there is snow on it.  Firewood has all been chopped and stacked and boats have been pulled out of the water.  In about a month, plows will be seen on many of the trucks in the region.  That reminds me, I need to get my snow thrower started soon.
    Speaking of snow, we could pick up our second batch of flakes for the season.  I doubt that there will be much accumulation, if any at all, but still neat to think that the flakes could be flying later tonight and early tomorrow.  So far I am happy with the pattern shaping up across North America.  A trough has been pretty persistent across the heart of the region, with blocking features on each coast.  If this setup continues into the winter months, there should not be too many complaints about lack of snow in the central US.  Keep those fingers crossed!
    For those of you who might not be happy enough with the amount of snow you get, I have the solution.  I can honestly say that if I were still living down south, I would likely have purchased one of these.  Imagine a white Christmas every year!  Only thing is, I would have likely put it on the roof and just kept if going all winter long!  Then my neighbors would have found out how nuts I really am about snow!  As it is now, I have good old Lake Superior and the cold air from the north to pretty much guarantee me a white Christmas and a fresh coating of snow almost everyday from December through March.
    Yesterday I did a little web cam browsing.  I ended up looking at a lot of cams in Alaska and a few in the Rockies.  All of them had snow, the ones in Alaska looked downright frigid!  Sure looked like the middle of winter there.  It actually got the blood pumping inside me.  I could almost feel the bite of the air on my nose and ears, hear the crunch of snow underfoot and see my breath float away as I exhaled.  Soon.
    About the only other thing I have is a little update on the trail signing saga, and a saga it is becoming.  We are still awaiting the signs and I am becoming more and more afraid that we will not get them in time to have the work done by the time the trails open.  For the time being, I am going to give the Keweenaw Tourism Council the benefit of doubt, but if it turns out that there was some sort of conscience decision, or just plain old laziness, that causes our attempts to improve the trail system up here (all for free mind you) to derail, then I will not hesitate to make that fact known and will give out the name and number of the person responsible for the failure so all of you can voice your opinion on the matter.  But for now, I will hold my tongue and hope that things work out.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 11-
    It's been a busy week, but it is almost over and I am looking forward to the weekend.  We've warmed back to almost summer levels the past few days, with highs in the 60's.  The shorts are back on and I even slept with the window open in my bedroom the other night.  However, I think that today will be the last day for the shorts.  I actually could have worn long pants and been comfortable, but I really do like wearing shorts.  But enough of that exciting talk.  I have been taking pictures the past several days. We have reached peak color and even passed it in a lot of areas.  There are areas where the trees are already about 70% bare.  A lot of that may be due to our winds last night.  We had sustained winds to 35 mph and some gusts to 50.  At one point I was even woken up by the wind.  That is a hard thing to do, I am not easily woken up in the middle of the night.
    On Tuesday, I was searching the list of locations stored in my noggin to take the hounds walking.  Tuesday's and Thursday's are day's when I do not go to work out, so we have more time to explore.  I could not really come up with anything too new, so we headed back up to the cliffs.  I figured that the colors would be pretty neat and they were.  We took a slightly different route at the onset.  There was a little footpath that followed the base of the cliff range and the hounds wanted to follow it for a while, so I just followed them.  The path ended up taking us to the Cliff Cemetery.  Walking into it, you would almost never know that there is a cemetery out there.  It is totally grown in, in fact, I think that the trees are even bigger there than in the surrounding areas, as they have not been logged like the surrounding area have.  It was very dark and even a little bit spooky to be there.  Even more spooky was coming across some very old headstones.  One was actually wooden, so I could not read any markings.  The other had the date of death in the 1800's.  If that was not spooky enough, a partridge exploding out the bush was enough to test the health of my heart.  I decided there was really no reason to stay there for too long, so the hounds and I headed out and up the trail to take us to the top of the cliffs.  That overlook is not as hazardous, so I was able to sit and take in the view for a while the dogs did some exploring.  They just don't seem to like to just sit around and take in the view too often.  Not when there is so much ground that needs sniffing!  We made it down safely and I snapped a shot a few more shots of the colors.  Here is one with some water in it, the water really seems to add to the color show.
    Yesterday was rainy and I wanted to get in a workout, so we did not venture too far.  However, we also did not have to venture too far to take in some great colors, even in the rain.  Our trip took us up to the quarry where the hounds promptly took a swim.  One of the reasons for taking that trip was that it provided some awesome color shots last year and I was hoping it would do the same again this year.  It looked like I was just a day or two late to catch the peak in this spot, but it still was a good show.
    Today I took the hounds to a place that I saw from the airplane last March when I had to fly out to speak at a conference.  It is a power line that cuts through the woods.  I did not even know it was there before taking the flight.  I have definite plans to take a ride down it this winter.  There were also a bunch of logging roads going off of it, so it looks like it could be a fun spot.  Walking along that pole line, thinking about how much fun it would be to ride it in the winter got me really excited for winter.  So far this season, I have been keeping my cool.  Even with the snow last weekend, I was able to control myself pretty well.  Snow is indicated for this Sunday night and into Monday and Tuesday, so we'll see how I handle that.  It is really hard to believe that in just two months I should be riding all over the place.  After all, this shot was taken last December 10th.  I can even remember the ride we took that day.  MMMMM, maybe I'll go start the sled.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 7-
    It took a while, but we got our first snow.  Not just our first flakes, or first trace of snow, but out first 1" or more.  It tried to snow around here Friday night and early Saturday, but being this close to the lake, we saw mostly rain.  There was some rain and snow that fell, but no accumulation occurred until about Saturday afternoon, then the real snowfall for the Keweenaw came Saturday night.  Thankfully it occurred on a weekend night, or I would have slept right through it!  I was actually just heading off to bed at about 11 pm and looked out to see big white fluffy flakes falling.  The kind that pile up rather quickly.  So I grabbed my cam and snapped a few shots of the hounds as they "got busy" before bed.  Beezy was the first one out the door, so here is a shot of her.  Burt did eventually go out as well.  I think that he was a little reluctant to head out in the cold and snow since just moments before he was all nice and warm and asleep on their couch.  He had only been out about 30 seconds when that shot was taken, so you can tell how hard it was snowing by how much snow was on his back.
    With the hounds safe and sound back in the house, the three of us sat in front of the sliding glass door and watched the flakes come down.  It reminded me of when I used to look out the windows of our kitchen and watch the flakes fall to earth when I was a kid.  Anybody else remember looking up into the lights and seeing something like this?  That shot was actually not taken looking up, but just out, but it was coming down!  It is always nice how peaceful the snowfall make things.  I could not hear a thing (not that there was much to be heard in LL at 11 pm!), just the swishing sound of the flakes hitting the trees.  It was also nice to be fading off to sleep, looking out the sliding glass door in my bedroom and watching the flakes fall.  I sure slept soundly!
    So with the first snowfall of the season, I made sure to get a new "front of house" shot done early this morning, before any melting started to take place.  The snow actually hung out longer than I thought it would this morning.  I took a shower, made breakfast and even took the hounds for a drive and walk this morning and when we got back at about noon, there was still patches of snow on the ground.  There was even enough snow for one of my neighbors to build a snowman.  So we now have our first snow of the season out of the way.  Some areas actually picked up substantially more than we did.  I read reports of 5-7" falling in southern Houghton County as well as in areas of Marquette County.
    I guess before I get too ahead of myself, I did take the hounds for a walk in the woods yesterday afternoon and snapped a shot of the other story, the colors, as we were headed up Nordman Rd, just north of my house.  Just about at peak there.  The same goes for most areas up here.  Looks like the peak will be coming next week, which will be just a few days late, but way sooner than it looked about 10 days ago. It did snow a little while we were on that walk, but the flakes were so small that they did not show up in the shots I took and there was not anything else interesting in those shots, so I won't show them.
    As I said earlier, I took the hounds for an early morning drive and walk this morning.  We were on the road by 10 am, not the crack of dawn, but still earlier than we usually are doing things of that nature.  Usually the drives and walks take place in the afternoon.  Anyway, we headed south towards Jacobsville and White City.  We had not been down there in a while and it just seemed like a good idea.  White City is really just a name now.  At one time it was a resort area, with lots of facilities to entertain folks back then.  There were a few steam ships which would travel down the Portage Lake and Portage Canal and deliver people to docks set up in what was called White City.  Now all that is left are some pilings.
    Another thing that is out there is an old Coast Guard Station (no picture, sorry!).  It was for sale, but looks like someone bought it because all the for sale signs that were there are down now.  The location of White City is right at the south entry to the Portage Canal.  There is a sea wall jutting out into the lake and at the end of the wall is the south entry light (again, no pic!).  We walked from the coast guard station, down the sea wall, to the beach and then to the far end of the beach before returning.  We were the only ones out there, having a beautiful beach all to ourselves.  There was a chill in the air, but every once in a while the sun would peak out and help take some of the bite out of the chill.  When we got back to the truck and took in the sights that were in front of me, I thought that I was a good place to take a panorama.  It was another one of those moments when I was left without a care in the world.  Now I sit in front of my computer, typing out the events of my past few days activities, the tv is on and there are the reports from halfway around the world of our action there.  I wonder how differently the brave men and women of our armed services must have felt this morning, as they prepared for their day's activities.  God bless all of them, for it is because of them that I was able to take my carefree walk down the beach with my two best friends this morning.
    I did not let the events that started this morning on the other side of the world keep me from taking an afternoon drive and walk with the hounds.  I was drawn back to the Freda loop for this afternoons exploration.  Every time the hounds and I go out there, we always start out in the same spot and usually travel out on the trail to the same spot.  So I decided to take the Snow Central Bush Truck and drive down the trail a bit and then start our walk a little further down the trail towards Freda.  Not long after walking down the trail we came to the relatively new trestle that was put up across the Salmon Trout River to allow passage of the snowmobiles across it.  The hounds picked up the scent of something and took me into the bush, following the banks of the river, where I was rewarded with a shot of the Salmon Trout wandering through the woods.
    I did not want to wander too far off the beaten path.  My cell phone had lost the signal and it is hunting season, so I figured it would be safe to not get too carried away with our exploration at that location.  We got back to the truck and with all of our foot travels for the day, were content on doing the rest of our exploring from the inside of the truck.  That did not mean that we were not able to see new sights.  It is fun to be in the truck, back in the woods.  When we come across an old logging road, or other two track, we are able to head down it with little worry.  This afternoon we went down a few of them to see what there was to see.  Some of them just ended and others took us to some signs that we were not the first to be back there.  I can't believe we came across that old house where we did.  Talk about out in the boonies, holy wa!
    We did manage to see some wildlife on our adventures today.  We flushed a partridge when we were by the Salmon Trout, spotted a few deer while driving in the truck and even had our first bear sighting of the season.  Yep, a bear.  It was riding in the back of a pickup truck with some other fellas.  One that did not get away.
    So the first snow is under the belt, the colors are just about at peak and soon autumn will be passing the baton to winter.  My only concern is that I'll have enough firewood!  My fireplace fix was a total success and I have been using more firewood in the past two weeks that I used in the past 2 years!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 4-
    Before you read further, may I suggest that you open your windows, to let the autumn chill in?  Maybe grab a couple of handfuls of pine needles and spread them around the computer screen for aromatherapy? And maybe even put on some hiking boots and a lined parka?  You see, I think that doing all of these would help to give you the full effect of this journal entry.  What's that you say?  No thanks?  Ok, it was a try anyway.
    When I last spoke to you, I described how the leaf change had moved into high gear and it remains in high gear.  This weekend will most likely be the peak.  Some areas are already at, or very near, peak.  Others may peak sometime early next week.  I also said that I had a job to do, and that job was to capture the color change as best as possible.  For the past 2 days the hounds and I have been busy trying to fulfill that task.  Yesterday I had to work out, so we kept our walk close to home.  However, that did not mean having to sacrifice the beauty of the region.  That is one of the things that I love the most about living here is that I do not need to travel far at all to be in the wilderness.  Heck, all I need to do is go about a few hundred yards to the north and I am in the wilderness.  A far cry from the 2 hour or more drive I had to make just to get to where the wilderness started when I was living in Chicago.  Some day I hope to be living smack dab in the wilderness.
    So traveling a few hundred yards north of my house, the hounds and I took a seasonal road that leads out to the Traprock River.  Not far down the road I cam across an autumn sight that is one of my favorites.  I just love the mixture of colors that you get when you combine the yellows, greens, whites and browns of the different foliage up here.  As predicted by the weather guy up here (what's his name anyway?) the skies were heavily overcast yesterday, so the colors were not as vibrant, but even so, this maple seemed to be glowing.
    We made it to the Traprock.  I really like this place along the river.  We are about 20 feet above the river itself, the river makes a big horseshoe bend and there is a host of different vegetation to mix up the view.  It also seems to be a favorite spot for different animals up here.  Almost every time we go out there we come across a herd of deer.  No such luck yesterday, but there was a lot of deer sign to be seen.  We also came across some coyote sign, but nothing moving out there.  It is neat to see the hounds pick up the scent of the other animals that have been out there.  They get into a zone, noses to the ground, tails wagging, letting their sniffers lead them through.  I get a little concerned during hunting season when they take off on a sniff exploration.  I am worried that their noses may take them to a bait pile and something might be there that does not want them showing up, or worse yet an over excited hunter.  Although I must say that during bow season, I am really not too worried at all about an over excited hunter.  It is only during the regular firearm deer season that I stay out of the woods and even my hunter friends say that is probably a good idea.
    So anyway, the hounds went off into the bush, following the river.  I kept up with them pretty good and soon found myself on the banks of the Traprock.  In all the times we have been out there, we have never been to that exact spot, but I was grateful to the hounds for taking me there.  After exploring around there for a while, we climbed back up the banks and the hounds took me to a more familiar spot. This is where my private little cross country ski trail goes in the winter.
    After exploring some in that area, I took over the lead to get us back towards the trail we came in on.  The hounds were doing a little panting, so I decided to take them over to the river for one more drink/swim.  Here I was rewarded with one last autumn view on along the Traprock.
    Today my duties included finally getting a cellular phone, among other things, so I decided that while we were down in the twin cities (Houghton/Hancock), the hounds and I would take our walk in that general vicinity.  I say general vicinity because I do not really know of too many places to explore with the hounds directly in the cities, so we went out to the snowmobile trail that heads to Freda.  We have walked that trail several times, even skied it two years ago after the first real snow and I knew that it would be a good, safe place to go.  Of course, I did have my phone with me, so we were not in any real danger if we ran into trouble.  It will be nice to have that thing on our real explorations.
    We did get to see a bit of wildlife today.  We were treated to a deer foraging in the forest.  It moved off too quickly for me to get a photo of, but it was nice to know that we were not alone while out there.  While walking, I realized that there have not been too many shots of just the hounds.  Sometimes I forget to take a shot of them because I get to see them 24-7.  So for all of you in need of a shot of the hounds.  Here they are.
    As we were walking back along the trail today, we came along a spot where the sun was scattering it's way through the forest.  There was already a lot of leaves that had fallen to the ground, but enough were still on the trees to paint the light in gold.  I don't know why, but I was really struck by the beauty of that spot.  The forest seemed so peaceful, so pure, in pure harmony with all around it.  For a moment I felt as though I was part of that peace, purity and harmony.  One of those special moments that are blessed upon me up here.  There is magic up here.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 2-
    The two main stories of interest up here are: 1) The potential for some snow Friday and this weekend and 2) The color change.  With regard to the second news item, mother nature seems to really be playing catch up for time lost.  In the past journals I mentioned how far behind schedule the trees were in their changing, but it now seem like they are changing by the hour.  If you did not notice yet, I changed the angle of the AL Cam and it is pointing towards my changing maple trees.  There is not a tree in the neighborhood that has not begun to change now and some areas are near peak.  Today I drove down to Houghton/Hancock to run some errands and it seemed like on the way back the trees had changed color even more!  I still think that the majority of the area will see the peak in about 4-5 days, but that is sooner than I thought just two days ago, that is for sure.
    It is really a neat time of the year.  Even the smells are better.  I know that what I am really smelling is the decomposition of the fallen leaves, but it has such a sweet smell to it.  The smell of autumn.
    Up until about 3 hours ago, our weather had been anything but autumn like for the Keweenaw.  Lots of sun and temps in the mid to upper 60's.  Felt more like late spring or early summer, not autumn.  Don't get me wrong, I was loving it.  I love the snow, but I also know that once we get to October, I can probably count the number of days on one hand that I can wear shorts and a T-shirt only.  So I was very happy to be able to wear that garb for the past 3-4 days.  However, clouds have rolled in and the temps have been dropping.  I needed a jacket on my evening walk with the hounds and by tomorrow, I doubt I will want to have any skin showing on my legs when I go outside.  Autumn weather has arrived in the Keweenaw too.
    And what would autumn in the Keweenaw be without some SNOW?!  Yep, snow's a comin'.  Don't know how much just yet and may not know for sure until it is all said and done with.  Sound like a cop out?  Have I lost my confidence?  Nope.  This is just one of those typical early season snows that will prove to be very finicky.  With the lake temps still in the upper 40's and low 50's, the marine layer will likely cause some of the snow to change over to rain before it hits.  This will be the type of storm where a few hundred feet in elevation and a few miles in distance from the lake will make the difference between an inch or so of slushy accumulation to as much as 6-10".
    Last year, to the day (Oct 6th), we got our first snow of the season.  Here in Lake Linden we saw a lot of wet flakes and rain.  We did manage to pick up an inch of slush before it melted off.  In Mohawk, the picked up about 3-4 inches before it melted and in areas around Negaunee they picked up close to a foot of snow.  So that is why I am being so wishy washy, cause it is a wishy washy situation.  There is the potential that the marine layer will not have as much of an impact, in which case maybe I'll be playing in the snow, or there is the possibility that we will not even see accumulation.  The one thing that looks to be certain is that the first flakes of the season will fly.
    We will not be alone in our first flakes.  It is possible that places like Minneapolis, MIlwaukee, maybe, maybe, even Chicago and Detroit.  The problem with places like the northern 1/2 of MN, WI and northern MI will be a lack of moisture to form the precip.  The atmosphere will be plenty cold enough.  Places like Chicago and Detroit will encounter problems with lack of moisture and temps being a bit too warm, but it is not out the question for them to see a few flakes too.  This is a good sign.  Not a guarantee that it will be a great winter, but great winters to not occur with very late arrivals of cold and snow.
    I do have a few pictures to share with you.  Unfortunately most of them are from when the trees were not so colorful.  I wish that I had my camera with me on my trip this afternoon, with the sun out, the trees were just beautiful.  Anyway, the hounds and I took a walk up to the old quarry, up the hill from Lake Linden to take in the sights.  By the way, that is an old rock quarry.  It is not the reservoir above Hubbell.  There were a few that wrote in to correct me last year, but I am familiar with the reservoir, that is also where the Hungarian Falls are.  No falls at the quarry, not even a river.  Here is what the quarry looked like last year at about this time.
    The woods sure have been quiet.  We have not flushed a partridge for over a month and have not seen any deer, let alone much deer sign.  Not even any coyote poop to dodge.  Where did everyone go?!  The only wildlife that we came across was this little guy (or girl, I did not bother to check).  It was weird, the dogs did not even see it, or at least recognize it.  It just froze and Baileys missed stepping on it's head by about 2 inches.  I think that I can even see her paw print just to the upper left of the snakes head.  So that was our little encounter with wildlife for the trip.  I think that Burt is starting wonder where all the deer have gone.
    Now, our walk was not totally void of color in the trees.  A few were changing, but the majority were still a shade of green.  That was the same spot that was all lit up in this shot from last year.  I did manage to take the camera along on our evening walk through the hood.  There was a fairly heavy overcast, so the trees were not as vibrant, but still, you can get the idea of how things are changing in town.
    So I am going to have my work cut out for me, trying to capture the magic of the color change up here.  The weather does not look to cooperate too much, lots of clouds and some precip from time to time, but I'll try my best.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
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