Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
April 28-
    I did not realize it had been so long since doing my last journal.  Here I thought I would not have much to say, but actually might have a bit to talk about and I do have some pictures to share.  I guess I can start out by saying that the site will go back into full update mode tomorrow.  I spent the better part of today making sure that the summer setup was ready to go.  I have made all the changes and will upload the summer look tomorrow morning, as well as fire up the forecasts.  Seems to be strange talking about summer forecasts while l look out as snow still on the ground.  That's right, we got about 2.5" of snow last night and it hung around pretty well all day, with temps only in the 30's.  We could actually get a little more in the next few days.  Guess mother nature is just making up for our December and January around here.  While we got 2-3", areas to our south got even more.  Rhinelander picked up 10" and a location about 20 miles to the southeast of Rhinelander reported 20"!  I can honestly say that I have mixed feelings about not getting 20".  It would have been neat to be able to ride today and tomorrow and likely the next day or two, but then we would have had to deal with the mess of the melting snow all over again.  Some areas are finally recovering from flooding and I would not want to wish any more problems on those poor folks.
    So it feels more like winter around here than spring or summer.  Actually I took the hounds for a walk in the woods on Thursday and with the little bit of snow still in the woods that afternoon and a cold wind blowing some flurries around, it really felt more like the beginning of November than the end of April.  In fact, if I did not know better and would have been forced to guess, I would have said it was the beginning of November or very close to hunting season.  The weather just felt that way.
    I also took a trip into the woods with the hounds on Friday.  Actually, we took a trek up the Hammell Creek.  That is the creek that forms the Douglass Houghton Falls.  We did not hike up to the falls, still a little tricky footing in spots along that route I would imagine.  Actually we picked up the creek where it crosses the Cemetery Road heading out of Lake Linden and took it to the first tracks.  That is where the snowmobile trail crosses the creek.  Most snowmobiliers would not even know they are crossing the creek, as the trail crosses the creek about 75 feet above it.  Anyway, Friday was a little warmer and also sunny, so it was a better day for a walk in the woods, and even a good day for the hounds to do some exploring in the creek.  They were really having a good time, exploring a place we had never been to before.  What is most amazing about the fact that we had never been there before is that we were only about a block away from my house.  I did manage to get the dogs stop running around for long enough to get a shot of them posing.
    There was even a patch of snow left out there.  Quite a big one too.  No too deep though, so it will not be around as long as the Laurium Glacier, but still amazing to come across patches of snow in the woods as we get ready to head into May.  I was having a good time too.  Exploring a new area and seeing new sights.  I guess you can say that I had shaken my case of the "ordinaries".  The creek even provided a small waterfall to stop and enjoy.  To get down to the waterfall, I had to go down a pretty steep embankment.  I had no problems, but was amazed that the hounds did not beat be down there, or even make it down.  They kept running along the top of the embankment, looking for the best place to get down.  They never did make it down, although all in all, it was a very enjoyable little excursion for all three of us and now we have a place to go again.
    Not much else exciting to tell you about.  You would never know unless I told you, but this journal is being composed on a much faster computer.  On Friday, I had a new motherboard, processor and more RAM put into my main machine.  The old setup was a 300 MHz pentium with 128 meg or RAM.  Sounds slow now, but three years ago when I got it, it was state of the art.  I now have a processor that is 1.8 giga hertz and have 256 meg or ram.  The new motherboard is great too, with a built in sound card and 6 USB ports.  I went with the upgrade because everything else with the machine was great.  A high speed CD Rom and also a CD burner.  My hard drive is 30 gig and most importantly, all my software was already installed and the machine was all set up to do all that I wanted it to do.  It would have taken me over a day to load all the software that I use and reconfigure it to do what I want it to.  Many programs I use have been custom written for me and need tweaking every time I reinstall them.  So it was nice to drop off my computer at the tech's Friday afternoon and get it back Friday evening running many, many times faster and with all the programs still working.
    I am amazed at how fast things change in the computer industry.  As I said, when I bought my computer, a 300 MHz machine with 64 meg of ram and a 4 gig hard drive was state of the art.  It did not take long for the low end machines to pass my machine in performance.  That does not really bother me, but the software developed usually is setup not for the older machines, but the new ones.  The software that was running my AL Cam was such a processor hog that I had to shut it down when I used other programs that needed lots of computing power.  I do not use that program anymore, but still, I will not have to worry about computer crashes or running out of RAM anytime too soon.  I suppose I will have to bit the bullet in a year or two and get a new machine, but for now I am set.  Now if I could just get a machine that allowed me to type faster, I could sleep in a little later!  Actually I am thinking about checking out the voice recognition software to see how that works.  I can type pretty fast, but not as fast as speak.  Anybody have any experience with that stuff?
    The other thing I have been doing this weekend is updating my operating software.  I have been tuning into the computer channel and saw where you can avoid many of the virus problems by keeping your operating system (OS) software updated every week or even every day if you want.  For Windows 98 or newer you just go to the start menu and click on the "windows update" choice.  It steps you through and updates your OS for you.  All viruses are written to take advantage of weaknesses in the OS.  The problem with anti virus software is that it can only protect you from a virus that is already out.  Updating your OS can protect you from viruses that have yet to be created.  Maybe not all of them, but many of them.  Since it's free, there is no reason not to.  I guess I have gone off on a tangent here, but thought that what I found out was pretty useful stuff so I would share it with you.  Hope it helps.  Guess that will do it for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
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April 24-
    For as long as I can remember, I have always tried to lead a life where "ordinary" would not be used to describe the daily events that make up my life.  Not that I have to have life threatening things occur, or lead some wild and crazy life.  Heck, I go to sleep by about 9 pm most work days.  But to say my days are uneventful would not be a fair assessment.  Moving up here was a huge help in keeping ordinary out of my way of life alive.  All the interesting things to do, places to see and spots to explore.  Of course, the hounds also help to add excitement to things, just watching them play or explore eliminates the opportunity of ordinary to occur.  However, I have to admit that the past few days have been rather ordinary.  Not that that is bad, I guess every once in a while a little bit of ordinary is ok, but I will have to make sure that is does not continue for too long.  Part of the problem today was the weather.  We had thunderstorms roll through in the morning and it has been raining lightly almost all day and now the wind is blowing at about 35 mph, with gusts to 45 and the rain is changing to snow.  I suppose a trip to the north shore would be neat to see the waves building, but with temps in the 30's, winds in the 30's, rain and snow, I think that the hounds and I will sit this one out.  Thus, the day will end without one single walk for the hounds and I.  We are now up to three a day with the snow gone.
    So the downside of my ordinary days of late to all of you is that I do not have a lot to share.  The hounds and I did take a walk in the woods the other day and around the Lake Linden sands yesterday, but other than seeing a few geese on the sands, and a few seagulls squawking at us from above, not a whole lot of wildlife was seen.  I did not take any pictures because the scenery was not any different from what I posted in the previous journals, so I am really hurting for material.  I have tried to take some video with the new camera and load it onto my computer, but something is not working.  The camera seems to be recording and I do download something, but when I go to play it, all that is seen is a black screen.  There is no lens cap to worry about so that is not it!  I plan to play with it a little more then call the tech line for the camera.  I did get the video to record and play back while the cam was directly connected to the computer, but ended up with a file that was about 10 seconds in length and about 60 meg in size!  I doubt that people on a dial up connection would want to spend 5-10 hours downloading a 30 second video of anything!  The video was very clear, almost as clear as a regular camera shot, so it must have been in some kind of a different mode.  I think the computer was just capturing the live feed from the camera and not the camera actually in video mode.  So I do not have any video to share with you all yet.
    I do have have a shot of the Laurium Glacier.  It was taken yesterday, in our clear blue skies and temps in the low 50's.  As you can see is it still hanging on pretty good.  I would think that persons with dates from May 10th to the 20th would be most likely to win, but you never know.  We could see a string of 70 degree days and it could melt off faster, or we could see temps like today occur and it could stick around till the end of May, you just never know.  I would have to say that it is still about 5-7 feet deep.  The amazing thing to me is that is sits in the sun all day, so it is really it's size at the end of winter that makes it hang around so long.  There were a few piles of snow in the woods, down in the deep ravines cut by the small creeks.  There the sun almost never shines directly, so the snow would be expected to last longer.  When I go into some of those ravines in the summer, the temps are even cooler.  Unless we get accumulating snow overnight, my front yard will be bare in the morning.  The very last scraps of snow are melting.
    I did get my sled all cleaned up and greased up.  I cleans up well.  Amazing what I will put it through all winter and it still looks so good at the end of the season.  I plan to do a little bit of tune up work to it next fall to try and get it to run just a bit better.  I think one problem is that it is running very rich, but I do not want to lean it out too much.  Better to have it run rich than lean at 10,500 miles.  1850 miles for the season.  Probably all but about 300 were in the bush.  I good season I'd say.
    So I guess that does it for this time.  One last thing.  If anyone is having problems with the pictures taken with the new camera let me know.  The one of the Laurium Glacier in today's journal was with the old camera, but all the shots in the last entry were with the new cam.  The reason I ask is that the images will not load on one of my old programs that I used to use to resize images, but do show up in all my other programs, including my browsers, but just wanted to make sure that everything was ok.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
April 20-
    I really do not have a whole lot to say, but I do have a spare moment and a few pictures I took, so I figured I may as well get out a journal.  I continue to play with the camera and it's software.  I am really amazed by the ability of this camera for it's price.  The Al Cam images are really clear and the still shots I take when I use it as a hand held are even better.  There are a few down sides.  The only way to erase the images from the camera are to hook it up to the computer and use the computer software that came with it to erase the images.  I don't think that it would take that much doing to make it so that the images could be deleted just using the camera itself, so if anyone reading this works for Creative Technologies, that would be a good feature to add to the next generation of this cam.  The other downside to the cam really does not have to do with the cam itself, but is the fact that almost no documentation came with the cam.  A little one page handout was included and tells you how to operate the camera and how to load the software.  From there you are on you own for now only how to use the software, but also what some of it is even for!  About 5 programs came with the cam and I am still learning what each one can do.  The other night I was playing with one of them and figured out that it can assist in the compiling of images to make a panorama.  So I went back to an old panorama I took this past January and used the software to create a new one.  Compare this new panorama with the old one.  The software is really neat, I will automatically match the photos up, then blend them.  You can also manually adjust things if the computer has problems.  Pretty neat I think.  I guess you all can expect some panoramas in the future.  I still have not tried to shoot a video.  Actually, the shooting part is easy, it will be the downloading part and manipulation part that will likely be the hard things to do, as there is no documentation.  There are help files though.
    I guess the only other down side will be the fact that when I am using the cam as a hand held, it will not be running as the Al Cam.  Maybe I'll have to get two of them, they are pretty inexpensive.  Actually, I think I will just get a better hand held by next winter.  I did take the cam with me when the hounds and I went for a walk yesterday.  We were able to return to the bush and walk the snowmobile trail.  I was really amazed an how dry things were up there.  That was Friday when we went up there and we did have about a third of an inch of rain on Wednesday and the snow also just melted on about Monday.  There were a few wet spots, but those are there almost every time it rains.  It was nice to return to that trail.  It is just so peaceful and beautiful, I think that the hounds even got a special thrill at being back up there.  They seemed to have an extra bounce in their step when we got to the trail.  I once read something where this guy believed that dogs do not really care where they walk, as long as they get to go for a walk, but I believe that Burt and Baileys do enjoy getting out into the woods or going to the beach more than just walking my neighborhood.  I know I do!
    Believe it or not, there were still a few patches of snow up there.  Obviously not enough to ride but still a little amazing considering the weather we had earlier this week.  My backyard is now officially clear of all snow and raked as well.  There is even areas where it is fully green and growing too.  It probably will need the first cut by about the first of May.  My front yard still has a patch of snow on it, but hopefully that will be gone in a few days so that I can rake that and get ready to start cutting it.  It is also a common practice for people to run their snowthower into the piles of snow and spray it on the roads or bare spots of their lawn in an attempt to get rid of it faster.  It does work, the snow melts fast when it hits the road or bare ground on a sunny day.  Although I bet this is one of the only places in the country where people first move the snow from the roads and driveways into their yards, only to move it back from the yard to the roads and driveways!
    Today was a bit on the chilly side, with highs only in the upper 30's to low 40's, but the sun was out for most of the day and that helped to take some chill out of the air.  I had plans on taking down the Christmas lights and bush protectors, but we ended up golfing instead.  The L'Anse golf course opened this past Thursday.  Being in the Banana Belt, L'Anse does not get as much snow, so they loose it sooner than most of the Keweenaw.  The courses up here hope to open in the next week or two.  Another neat thing about the new camera is that it has a timer, so I was able to use the timer to take a shot of our foursome today.  It was me, Ron, Al and Jeff.  Pretty neat to be riding sleds on Tuesday and golfing on Saturday.  Actually, we could have ridden sleds on Tuesday and golfed on Thursday.  I will say that I am looking forward to golfing in shorts and a short sleeved golf shirt!  It was actually not that bad out there today, but warmer temps would have made it perfect.
    So I guess that gets you caught up on things up here.  Sort of a slow time of the year, but with the snow gone, things will start to pick up.  I will get up to take a shot of the Laurium Glacier this next week.  It is still pretty deep and with fairly cold temps indicated through all of next week, it might just hang around longer than it did last year.  I will be resuming the forecasts on Monday the 29th.  I was thinking about resuming them this coming Monday, but am really enjoying the break and feel my batteries recharging.  Pretty interesting forecast for MN and WI tomorrow and Monday, with accumulating snows to fall.  Maybe some of you will be able to get in your last ride later than me.  Of course maybe we have some more snow to fall too!?
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
April 17-
    I'd have to say that if I could order up the perfect spring weather scenario, this would be it.  We went from winter to summer in about a week.  Now I realize that we will go back to spring here in a little bit, but we lost almost all of our snow in a week to ten days.  My yard is now bare, well, at least my backyard.  The front still has a patch that is left over from clearing the driveway and walkway.  That patch is about 10 feet by 20 feet and is about 6-12" deep.  It should be gone in a few more days.
    As I have said frequently, the worst time of the year up here for me is the meltdown.  Things get all messy, you can't really play in the woods and it is just depressing.  Well, that depressing time lasted about a week to ten days.  Even if it does get cooler again (and it will) and rains (and it will), since most of the snow is gone, we will be able to head back into the woods in a day or two following the rains.  We may even get more snow, but it will not last more than a day or so.  I even got most of my yard work done.  I scooped the dogs poop that had been deposited all winter and also got the yard raked.  All I need to do is take down the bush protectors that are still standing and take down the christmas lights and all my spring yard work will be done.  If it does stay fairly warm, I might even be cutting the grass in 2 weeks.  It is greening up in spots already.
    All the warm weather has not been good for the creek and river levels.  Not many problems around here, but down towards Chassell a few roads are closed and there are more serious problems in Wakefield and also in areas around Marquette.  My basement has had a little seepage, but nothing that I cannot handle by going down and using the shop vac to suck it up.  It has actually almost stopped seeping now and did not really start until last Thursday when we had all that rain and snow melt.
    For those of you not in the know, we hit 85 degrees yesterday.  That is 39 degrees warmer than the average for this time of the year.  Needless to say it was a new record.  Heck, an 85 could be a record for a day in June, July or August around here, let alone April.  Of course, this is the Keweenaw and there is a chance for some snowflakes to fall tomorrow night.  we may even get accumulating snow by the middle of next week!
    With temps in the mid 80's, it seemed like a good day for a ride.  No, I have not lost my mind.  There was enough snow in spots of Keweenaw County to ride in and I thought it would be neat to ride in shorts and a T-shirt, so I gave Brian a call and he agreed.  We were joined by Matt, who lives in the area we were going to ride in.  I must admit, it felt really weird to be loading the sled with temps climbing through the 70's and me wearing shorts and a T-shirt.  We stopped to put some gas in the sleds and people thought we were nuts, but we had fun.  Here's a shot of a section of trail we were riding.  We were not on any DNR trails, they are bare.  We were riding all logging roads deep in the bush and in some of the highest terrain of the Keweenaw.  Here's another shot.  Not bad EH?  Heck, the DNR trails were worse in many areas for much of the season.  Of course the snow was very soft, but still snow and the sleds did just great.  It felt equally weird to be riding through the woods with only shorts, a T-shirt and boots on.  Oh, and we did wear our helmets.  Both Brian and I thought the ride on Saturday without them was not too smart.  We did not go fast on that ride, but still, I was not comfortable and will never do it again, even if I am the only one wearing one.
    We also stopped a little more frequently to keep the sleds from overheating, but with snow hitting the heat exchangers, I don't think it was a problem at all.  Here's a shot of Brian and I showing off our legs.  Here is Brian and Matt heading down the trail.  Here we are taking another break.  Even though there was about 8-10 inches of snow to ride on, the melt was in full force, so there were some wet spots to slosh through.  That was Brian, here is Matt and here I am.  That was a rather tame wet spot.  There was actually a section of trail that was about 100 yards long that was nothing but a river about 1-2 feet deep.  After riding up it once, we all had so much fun, we turned around and went back down so we could come back up.  It had some turns on it too, which really made it a challenge.  After Saturday's water skipping, I felt much more confident going through the water yesterday and after fixing a loose spark plug wire, the Pol Cat handled the water just fine.  No sinking, well at least to the bottom.  However, Brian said I should be called Moses because when I ride through the water I do more parting than skipping.  Here I come back up from the other direction in the same skipping spot, and here I am demonstrating my parting technique.
    The other byproduct of the melt was that the creeks were running at full force.  Creeks that might only be a few inches deep or even dried up in the summer were 2-3 feet deep and some were even 4-5 feet deep.  Most were about 10 feet wide and to throw in a challenge, some of them had banks of snow 1-2 feet high on either side.  I can honestly say that the first few my heart was in my throat, but by the end of the day, my confidence was way up and it was actually a blast to ease up to them, hammer the throttle, pull the skis up off the ground and skip across the creek to the other side.  Here is Brian illustrating how it is done.
    At the end of the ride, we were loading our sleds on the trailer to go home.  Matt lives on a lake up here and as Brian was getting ready to pull his onto the trailer, we heard Matt head out onto the lake.  The ice had melted along the shore, but there was still at least 6-8" of ice on the lake itself.  Brian was out fishing on it a little over a week ago and the ice then was about a foot and a half thick.  Anyway, with the sound of Matt riding out on the lake and even doing some skipping of the water along the shore, Brian's eyes lit up and he turned away from the trailer and headed out to the lake.  They started taking turns skipping the shoreline, here is Brian.  They were having so much fun, I figured that the only way this episode of riding would end would be for one of them to sink their sled.  I was right, here's Matt pulling his sled to shore.  Here is a shot taken a little closer in, after he pulled it to shore.  Brian ended up pulling in front of him and pulled him back to Matt's house.  We pulled took the plugs out, pulled a few times, put the plugs back in and after some more pulling it started up.  Ran a little rough until all the water was out of the pipes, but then ran just fine.  Even so, I think I will avoid large bodies of water for my skipping, or parting, which ever may be the case.
    So yesterday will be a ride to remember for quite some time.  The only downside is that the back of my calves got sunburned and the whips were a little hard on the legs, hands and arms, with no clothing to protect them.  I have a few scratches to show for the ride, battle scars I guess.  I bet we were one of the last guys to ride up here and maybe some of the last to ride east of the Rockies.  Riding Tuesday, golf Saturday...I love this place!
    The other exciting news is that I got a new camera.  Actually, I got it to upgrade the AL Cam, but it can also be taken off the stand and used as a regular digital camera.  It has better resolution than both my old AL Cam and my old digital cam and can also take a 35 second video.  I sure wish we had the cam for yesterday's ride, but it did not arrive until today.  I did take with me on our afternoon walk today to try it out and the first shot with the new cam was obviously granted to my two buddies.  Aren't they cure?  I'll have to take some video of them too.  Here is another shot I took of the village of Lake Linden with the melting Torch Lake in the foreground.  I just got it working as the AL Cam and the new image will be up tomorrow morning.  For those of you wanting to know what make and model, it is from a company called Creative and is the Procam 600.  It was about $150 dollars and came with software that will run the cam.  However, it did not come with software to upload to the web, so I am using Kabcam software from www.kabsoftware.com.  They have an evaluation software that is free and after playing around with it, it did everything I wanted it to do and was only $20, so I bought a registered copy.  I still may get a new digital cam, one with zoom and other fancy features, someday, but with this new one I will probably wait a while.  The bottom line is the Al Cam image will be very nice now and the still images will be pretty neat too.
    I guess that gets you all caught up in the goings on here.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
April 13-
    Spring has most definitely sprung!  The snow's a going fast, the birds are out and we had our warmest day since November 18th today, with a high of 57 at the airport, but likely in the 60's in a few other places.  I am actually sporting a little bit of color on my face from all the sun it got.  Not a burn, but some color, that is for sure.  It was fairly plain to see that today was going to be a great day.  The sun was shining brightly as soon as it came over the eastern horizon and the temps were in the 50's by noon.  Today seemed like the perfect day to head to the beach for a walk.  The hounds are still sporting their winter coats, so I knew that a walk today would heat them up and I figured that a walk along the lake would allow them to take a dip anytime they wanted to cool off.  It was a perfect day for a walk on the beach, bight sunshine, temps in the upper 50's and very little wind.  We ended up walking pretty far and the hounds did take several dips in the big lake to cool themselves off.  I did not need to resort to such drastic measures.  I usually wait until August to do that, although I might wade in the water in June and July.  Burt and Baileys did more than wade today, Burt even fetched a few sticks, his favorite beach time activity.
    It was such a nice day that we even were able to ride with the windows down and we took the long way home from Big Traverse.  When we got home, I saw a message on my answering machine and it was Brian telling me that a few of the guys were getting ready to go for a ride.  So I grabbed my stuff and headed out to Brian's with my sled.  With it being so warm, all I was wearing was a pair of nylon jogging pants and a long sleeved T-shirt.  Felt kind of weird to be on the sled without the bibs and jacket on, but it also felt good.  The ride was really more of a water skipping excursion than a traditional snowmobile ride.  It was actually planned that way, I was a little leery, as my only water skipping experience was unexpected and happened when we were crossing a pond back in December.  The pond had snow on it, but I was about number 8 in a group and by the time it was my turn to cross, there was no snow and just about all water.  I made it, but it was pretty close!  So needless to say I was a bit nervous to do the water skipping today, but I also knew that the water we were going over would never be much past my waist and never over my head, so the worst that would happen is that I would get wet and cold.
    With all the melting and rain in the past few days, it is not too hard to find water to skip over and we only had to ride about a quarter of a mile from Brian's house to find the first swollen creek.  Here's a shot of Al crossing on his 900 Mountain Cat.  Here's Kenny heading up stream on his mustard bucket, and here I am on the Pol-Cat.  Of course, with these guys, it is not enough just to water skip, we had to ride up stream like Kenny demonstrated and some of the guys even had to throw in jumping, like Todd illustrates here.  I did not partake in the jumping.  I figured that since this was my first time water skipping (on purpose), that I would not get too carried away, but I did travel upstream about 200 yards and you had to follow the twists and turns of the creek too.  After about an hour of that, we headed back to Brian's house to see if anyone else had shown up and Brian's son Cole decided he wanted to be part of the gang and took his Kitty Cat through a mud puddle in their yard, a little water skipping of his own.  Apple does not fall too far from the tree in that family!
    When nobody else showed up, we headed back out in search of the BIG water holes.  We did manage to find some bigger ones and I just about did not make it across one.  In fact, the back of the track did sink down far enough to make contact with the ground and that is the only reason I made it across.  It is not a real good feeling to be headed across open water and feel your momentum drop faster than will be enough to carry you to the other shoreline.  Thankfully when my track hit bottom, it was enough to shoot me the rest of the 20 feet or so to the other bank and I was back on high ground.  Sinking your sled is not the only hazard when water skipping.  When you are riding with a bunch of long tracks with 2" paddles, you make sure you are far enough back from them when they take off, or you will end up looking like Brian's sled did here, when was too close to Al when Al took off.  Brian was lucky enough to duck out of the way and was not splattered in mud.
    Not all of the day's riding was across water.  We did find a more conventional surface to ride across from time to time.  If you ask me, I prefer the snow better.  Although it was a rush to scoot across the water, especially since it was about 33 degrees!  On the way back we came to the jumping spot again, so I moved into position and snapped some shots of the guys water jumping.  Here's Brian and here's AL.  Those long tracks sure do scoot across the water with ease.  Especially Al's 151" track with the 900 cc spinning it.  It was more like a jet boat than a snowmobile.  He could actually slow down and let the sled start to sink, then just hammer on it and the front skis would lift about 3 feet off the water and the sled would be flying through the water again.
    Al felt really bad about getting Brian's sled all muddy, so he decided to clean it off for him.  We all just about fell to our knees on that one.  When Brian got to shore, he stopped and spit out a mouthful of water!
    So now I can add water skipping to my resume of snowmobile adventures.  I was fun, but I do like the snow better.  Give me about 15" of fresh powder and I am a happy camper.  I think that might have been the last ride of the season.  The snow is really going fast now.  My back yard is almost half bare now and I would imagine will be all bare, except for the piles made by shoveling the roof, in a few days.  I am ready for bare ground.  Al and I went and played golf on a simulator last night.  It is very realistic.  You shoot your ball into a screen and sensors pick up on the trajectory and speed and a computer then projects your shot on the screen.  We played the front nine at St. Andrews and I shot a 9 over.  Not too bad considering that was the first time I swung the club all year.  Some of the courses are hoping to open in about 2 weeks.  If we have more day's like today, that should not be a problem.  Snowmobiling one weekend and golfing two weeks later.  This sure is a special place.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
April 10-
    Yuck, what a nasty day.  Off and on rain showers with temps in the 30's and now it is even snowing.  Not accumulating, more like slush falling.  It is suppose to rain all night tonight, all day tomorrow and into tomorrow evening and we could pick up over an inch an a half of rain by the time it is all said and done.  Too bad it is not snow!  Actually, I am getting pretty excited for the summer weather to get here.  It is not that I am sick of snow, but after days like today, it may as well be in the 70's and rain, rather than in the 30's.  The snow is still hanging on, although the trails that I have seen from the road are cooked.  I would imagine the trails in the woods by my house and also from about Mohawk north would be snow covered, but the trail going from Hancock north to Dollar Bay was just about all mud and the few peaks I saw of the trail near Copper City had some water and mud on it.  I am not sure if I will be riding this Saturday or not.  Just about everyone in our group is chomping at the bit to do one last ride.  The type of ride where we can say; "We took our last ride on April 20th last year" or something like that.  The rains will melt some of the snow and temps will also be warm enough to melt some, but I would imagine the places we have been riding the past two weekends will still be able to be ridden the weekend of the 20th-21st, maybe even the 27th-28th if we are not too picky about what we are riding on.  The main problem will be the creeks that are starting to run.  Up until now we have been able to either jump them or ride right over them as they have been buried under snow.  With the spring melt, some of them can get pretty deep, so we'll see how things go, but I can almost guarantee that we will be riding at least once more, maybe twice.
    Yesterday afternoon the sun peaked it's head out for a little bit.  From about October through April, sunshine is not a very common thing, but then almost every day from May through September is sunny, so it does even out a little I guess.  Anyway, the sun felt good and I decided to take the hounds to the north shore for a walk.  This is the season where it can be a little hard for me to come up with subject matter to talk about in the journal and share with pictures, but I took the camera along anyway, just in case.  I was glad I did because there was some pretty scenery and some interesting things to see that I can share.  As mentioned, the snow is melting and the creeks are opening up.  Here is one that was meandering it's way to the big lake.
    The hounds are liking the thaw a bit, they get their favorite things to play in back, the lakes and culverts.  Here's a shot of the hounds checking out a culvert.  As for the big lake, they will have to wait a little longer for that one to become completely accessible.  Still a lot of ice castles out there.  Even some ice volcanos.  Here is a shot of the hounds posing in front of one of the ice volcanos.
    Where a creek empties out into the lake, is has melted the ice pack along the shore and there is a bit of the big lake showing.  That was enough for the hounds to take their first swim of the season.  It is just amazing to how they can tolerate that water.  It has to be just a few degrees above freezing and they wade around in it like it is Miami Beach or something.  They did get a little cleaner by going for their swim and their fur is even softer now too.
    Not much else is going on up here.  I was asked to be the speaker at a gathering tomorrow, so I figured I had better get out a journal tonight because I will not be able to get one out tomorrow and will probably not feel much like it on Friday.  I suppose I will have to start trekking to the waterfalls in the region to get shots of them.  It is getting to be that season, then smelt season, then golf, berry and beach season!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
April 7-
    It felt a more like spring today.  Still looks a lot like winter, but we did manage to break into the 40's.  Looks like a lot of 40's in the coming days and maybe even some 50's by next weekend.  Still lots of snow down up here though.  With the exception of today, we really have not melted much at all in the past week or so.  There is still at least 3 feet in the woods up north, with at least 2 feet around my house.  My yard is melting, but that is because it is in the full sun and the snow stick is close enough that even the heat that reflects off the house melts the snow faster.  That is why it is down to about 12" near the stick, but still at about 18" in the yard and over 2 feet in the woods.
    I've been taking full advantage of the snow by playing in it.  I took the hounds for a ski through the fields and woods by my house.  We even crossed the Hammell Creek.  A great day for a ski as we had picked up about 2 1/2" of new snow earlier.  Friday morning it started to snow at about 5 am.  Between 5 am and 9 am we picked up about a half inch, then it really started to come down and from 9 to 9:30 we picked up 2", then it tapered off again.  For a while there I was actually hoping that it would keep coming down.  Visions of busting some fresh powder started to enter into my mind, but it wasn't to be.  That's ok though, still got in a great ride on Saturday.  Probably one of the best rides of the season actually.  No fresh powder to bust, but lots of fun places to ride and a snow surface that would let us go just about anywhere.
    We had quite the crew out riding yesterday.  11 in all.  I guess word gets out how much fun we have and people want to join in.  Amazingly, we only lost one for the whole day and that was about 5 minutes into the trip.  Some mechanical problems with his sled and he dropped out.  The rest of the crew did not have any mechanical problems, nor did we have any crashes that would damage a sled or body.  By late in the afternoon, the ranks had been thinned down to 7, but that was due to 3 riders having to quit early to go somewhere and one rider just to tired to go on.  Here's a shot of the 7 remaining, 6 actually, I was behind the camera.  That shot was taken towards the end of the day and nobody had much energy left.
    As I said, the ride was great.  A total blast.  It was a mix of logging roads and skidder trails and at one point we even just cut our way through the woods to get from a logging road to some hills we saw.  If it were not for the swamps or creeks, we could probably ride anywhere we wanted to, just cutting our way through the bush, making our own trail.  The snow is so dense and so deep that it hides any objects like stumps and fallen trees that might cause problems and also supports the sled so well that you can just stop and take a look around and then start going again.  Even on a steep slope.  I only got stuck once and that was because I tried to turn around at the wrong spot and spun the track.  But even getting out was not a problem.  No major dig out, just lift the track into some fresh snow and head out.  I guess that is one reason we were able to put in 5-6 hours of hard riding.  Without the digouts, we were able to use our energy for riding only.
    Just about all of the ride was spent in places I had never been and I am fairly certain that when we decided to ride about 2 miles through the woods, on no trails what so ever, that we were the first sleds to do so.  A really neat thing to experience.  I felt like a true explorer.  I guess the only down side to the whole event was that I was so busy having fun that I was not able to stop and take many pictures.  I have only one more to share with you and that is of our tracks on a hillside we played on.
    So I would imagine that we have at least one more ride left.  The places we were riding yesterday will still have snow for several more weeks.  The hill climbing might be ending soon as the snow pack thins and stumps and logs start to show up, but the logging roads will still support riding for another wee to ten days at least.  I doubt we will be riding in May, but we would be during the middle of April at least.  Strange to think in a month I should be getting ready to cut the grass and play some golf.  Looking forward to that too, at least the latter of those two!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
April 4-
    Well, I did have plans to update this sooner.  Not Monday, that was only 24 hours since the previous update and I did not have any material.  By Tuesday I had a few things to share, but got caught up taking care of some other things and then got home late from a ride yesterday, so here I am today.  I do have some interesting shots to share and a few stories to tell, so your patience will be rewarded.
    Were still hanging on to winter up here.  The past 3 nights we have picked up at least a dusting of snow.  Actually had more than that in a few spots early yesterday morning, about 2-3" just to the south of me and up to 4-5" in a few other spots in the western UP.  This time of the year, if we are not going to get a foot, then I'd just as soon not get any at all.  The sun is so strong it melts off very quickly and just makes a mess of things.  A foot would be fine because it would be enough to play in and would also last for a few days before becoming part of the "ice pack".  The snow on the ground is so dense that it is more like ice than snow.  I was asked in the "Ask John" what the liquid equivalent content of the snow on the ground right now was and guessed it to be about 5 or 6 to 1, meaning 5 or 6" of snow would melt down to 1" of water.  Well, I was way off.  The liquid equivalent was 2:1.  I was so surprised by the first result that I picked a different spot and came up with almost the exact result.  10" of snow melted down to just a little less than 5" of water.  That means that there is still 1-2 feet of water out in the woods.  I guess that is why some of the creeks and rivers will run up here all year round.  All that snow melts, some of it directly runs off in the creeks and rivers and some of it fills up swamps and lakes and then those swamps and lakes feed some of the creeks and rivers.  Also shows how well this area can handle an influx of moisture.  Most of the snow will be melting in the next 2-3 weeks and we will likely be getting some rain too.  That means that the area will have to deal with the equivalent of over 1-2 feet of rain falling in the next few weeks.  Most areas would see flooding, we just have good waterfall viewing!  Last year we had some flooding, but that was because we melted off about 2-3 feet of snow and got 5-8" of rain in 3 weeks and even then the flooding was not severe.
    So with the snow still hanging around, the hounds and I have been taking to the woods for skis and I went for a ride yesterday and will be going on one Saturday.  I took my first wipeout of the season on skis the other day.  Not a bad one, but still a good one.  A full face plant.  We were at the school forest and going down about the only hill out there.  Not a big one, only about a 10 foot drop and about 50 feet long.  However, there is a turn at the beginning of the hill and a small fallen tree that I have to duck under about halfway down the hill.  I managed to make the turn and duck the fallen tree, but did not see a stick on the ground.  The melted snow had revealed a stick on the ground.  That stick managed hook my ski and down I went.  I did not go down without a fight though.  I managed to get a few more feet down the hill with one ski on the ground and the other up in the air behind me and then the sight of another tree in my path caused me to give it up.  I did manage to take a shot of the accident scene for insurance purposes.  Actually, the worst part of the deal was trying to get back up.  I had forgotten how had it is to get back up after falling with cross country skis on.  Nothing hurt but my pride though.
    Had a great ride with Brian and Kenny yesterday.  Temps were cold and lots of clouds so the snow stayed very firm and it did not get too hot.  We spent about 95% of the ride in the bush, going from Brian's house in the bush to Gay.  However, we did ride about a mile of the Gay-Mohawk trail and found it to be in good shape.  I wish that I could give a report on the whole trail system, but I have not been on much of it for over 2 weeks, but I would imagine that the majority of the trail system was like I encountered.  A few spots may be bare or icy, but the majority of the trails should be snowpacked and flat.
    The rest of the ride was all in the bush, mostly on logging roads, but a few of them through the woods and up the hills.  We even had to cross a make shift bridge.  Here is Kenny crossing.  The bridge was not really wide enough for the skis to cross and earlier in the season, the snow was draped over it and it was wider.  To cross now you had to put one ski on the snow and lean enough to keep the other ski from dropping off the edge.
    There were no other tracks on a lot of the trails we were on, including the one with the little bridge, so it looked like we were making the first tracks of the season, but Brian said that he had been back there earlier this season, even with a few KSE tours.  So maybe some of you reading this will recognize the bridge.  Still, it was neat to be riding through the woods, on logging roads without a single track on them.  I am really very lucky to be able to do that kind of riding on a spur of the moment thing.  Brian called me up in the early afternoon and we headed out with Kenny.  Speaking of Brian and Kenny, here they are riding off into the sunset.  Here's another shot of some of our riding spots yesterday.  Here's a shot of Brian and Kenny coming at you.
    We then came across a pond that had a pocket of open water on it.  We did not have to cross the open water to get through, but Brian decided to anyway.  Then Kenny decided to give it a try and aaaalmost didn't make it.  It was then my turn, but I decided to pass.  With my luck, just as I hit the throttle, the engine with over 10,000 miles on it would decide to give up the ghost.  So Brian took my turn.  Call me a wimp, but I am a dry wimp.  Actually I have crossed more water than that, I just did not have a good feeling about that hole.  Maybe it was Kenny almost going for a swim, or the fact that I almost went for a swim on my last crossing, but it just did not feel good to cross this one.  So we all made it home safe and sound.
    I have made some more modifications to the Pol-Cat.  I added full sized running board grips.  I had edge grips, but wanted the grips on the flats of the running boards too.  I also wanted to add a mountain bar for those times when I need a little help in throwing the sled around, so I put on new handlebars, one with a mountain bar.  Now all I have to do is put on the handlebar hooks and she'll be all set to go.  One, probably two more rides, then golf.
    I have one last shot to share with you, it is of the Laurium Glacier.  Someone asked to see it and I thought that I would be a good idea to take a shot and show how it is progressing.  Looks like a lot of snow, probably about 20 feet deep.  Should last at least another month.  We'll see!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-