I hope everyone
had a great Thanksgiving! I did, it was very relaxing. Got
to sleep in a little, took the hounds for a nice relaxing morning stroll
and then went over to the Lake Linden Sands for an afternoon ski.
Got the turkey in after that, watched a little football, did a little work
and then fed our faces. The hounds sure do love turkey! I do
believe that may be their favorite "people food". I can tell because
they do not even sniff it before eating it. Most other foods they
at least take a quick sniff to see what it smells like before chowing down
and with turkey it is just gimme, gimme, gimme! I must say that it
was nice to have such a relaxing day. It was still winter out, so
the ski was a lot of fun, we had the whole
sands to ourselves. There was about 6" of snow down so it was
perfect for a ski. It also sure did not seem like Thanksgiving!
Even for up here. It really felt more like the middle of December.
It snowed all morning and tapered to flurries by the afternoon. After
the ski, I built a nice big fire and just hung out on the couch, except
for the time I had to put in at the office doing a report. The turkey
took a little longer to cook than I had anticipated, but we still ate only
about 45 minutes later than I had planned. Now we have lots of leftovers,
so it will be turkey omelets for breakfast, turkey sandwiches for lunch
and maybe turkey lasagna for dinner! Actually it was only a 7lb breast
so I bet it will be gone by later tomorrow, then I can make some soup.
Today winter decided
to go away. Actually, the disappearance started last night.
Temps went from about 26 degrees at 6 pm to 28 by 8 and 9 pm and by 1 am
the temp was 37 and stayed there all night and even warmed to 39 for a
few hours today. It took a toll on the snow. It was pretty
light and fluffy snow to begin with and had actually compressed from 10"
on Wednesday morning to 6" Thursday morning and with above freezing temps
for almost 24 hours now, I am down to just a few patches of snow.
But the front came through about 45 minutes ago, marked by a few sprinkles
and then a burst of heavy snow and now a few flurries are falling.
Looks like a long stint of lake effect snows will start in a few hours
and continue through Wednesday, so I am not concerned at all about the
loss of the snow today. I was just looking at some of the atmospheric
parameters by Sunday and some of the numbers are off the charts.
There is a measurement called Convective Available Potential Energy, basically
a measurement of how much energy will be available due to the difference
in the lake temp and the colder air aloft. Some of the numbers being
spit out by the computers are at levels I have never seen before, ever.
Not in 12 years of forecasting the weather. So even though we are
under a winter storm warning for later tonight through tomorrow, I think
the real action around the Keweenaw will be Sunday. I guess all told,
between now and Wednesday, I would not be surprised to hear that most areas
in the UP snow belts will have picked up 14-24" of snow. That sounds
like a lot, but keep in mind that is a 5 day period.
So now the question
is will I be able to take a ride Sunday. I suppose the answer to
that is: Yes, if I am desperate enough! I am fairly positive that
there will be a good coating of at least a few inches down on the trail.
The trail cam was actually showing a few inches down in most spots as of
4:30 pm today. Plus some trucks! I know one of them was the
truck belonging to the person who owns the land the cam is on. He
was out putting up the candy cane tree. When you are going by the
cam, you can stop, and grab a candy cane, sign his guest book and even
make a small donation to him for the cane if you want. The tree will
be lit and we are hoping that it will put out enough light to to allow
the cam to update into the evening hours. We will have to test that
out. Speaking of lights, my Christmas lights just clicked on.
I have them on a photo cell timer. So when it gets dark enough they
come on and then will stay on as long as I tell the timer to keep them
on. Currently are set to go off about 6 hours after they go on.
Now back to my potential ride Sunday. The sled is in Al's shop.
He has not gotten started on it, he said he is waiting for parts, but if
you ask me, I think that his Thanksgiving vacation started a day or two
early! No problem. I'm sure that I can get over there on Sunday
and grab it and take it for a spin if the conditions are good, but they
will have to be pretty good. I am not going to go out there and beat
on it just to ride it. If the forecast holds, we could have mid season
conditions up here by the 10 of December or so. It looks like clipper
system after clipper system will drop out of Canada and bring some light
system snows, followed by heavier lake effect snows. So I will just
play it cool, for now anyway!
Today was too sloppy
for a ski and there might not have even been enough snow, so I took the
hounds to the north shore for a look at the waves and a nice afternoon
walk. Today was the first "day after Thanksgiving" that I have worked
in a long time, maybe ever! Since I did not travel south, I figured
I may as well work it. It was a pretty easy day, so I am not complaining.
Anyway, back to the big lake and the big waves today. The winds were
out of the west at about 25 to 30, with some gusts to 45. So I figured
that the waves would be pretty big. They were up there, but not as
big as I had thought. I tried several times to catch the waves hitting
what remains of the old pier at the Calumet Waterworks and my timing was
a bit off each time. I need to get used to the slight delay from
when I push the button to when the camera takes the picture. I think
the cam has a rapid-fire setting where it will take a burst of 5 shots
in a second or so, maybe I should have tried to find how to get that going.
At any rate, here is about the best
shot, a brief moment after the wave hit. The top of the pier
is about 8 feet above the surface of the lake and some of the waves were
going over the top, so the waves were pretty big. The buoys out in
the middle of the lake have been taken out for the winter. Too bad,
it would have been neat to see what they were registering. I saw
where the winds at Passage Island Light, located at the eastern tip of
Isle Royal were recording 51 mph winds. That is likely kicking up
some big waves out on the big lake. Wonder if any lakers are out
there right now. So I did not get any stills of the waves crashing
into the old pier, but I decided to shoot a video of it and was able to
catch a wave hitting it and shooting about 20 feet into the air.
Keep in mind the video
is about 4 meg, so it will take a while to download if you are on a dial
Well, I guess that
sort of gets you caught up on things going on up here. Hopefully
the next entry will have some nice snow shots in it. If not from
riding then maybe from skiing in the school forest Sunday. Yep, the
woods are ours again Sunday. The hounds do not realize it, but I
am sure they will get very excited as we drive up the road to it!
Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
helps sponsor pasty.net
which helps to make johndee.com
At this eve
of Thanksgiving, I do believe I have never had more to be thankful for.
My health, the health of the hounds, my family and friends, my ability
to live and work up here, my friends up here and a blossoming relationship
with someone I am coming to realize is the most incredible person I have
ever known in my life. I really do not mean to tease you all, I am
sure that you are wondering who the heck I am talking about and in time
I am positive you will come to know all about her, but I am just going
to keep this personal aspect of my life personal right now. I did
not even intend to mention it here in the first place, but I am just overflowing
with happiness and could not restrain myself. So be patient, in do
time I am sure that I will reveal more. She has left it totally up
to me as to what I can share and I just want to do everything right, so
I will take it slow.
Anyway, my turkey is
thawing in the fridge and I am looking forward to sleeping in and having
a relaxing day with the hounds. I actually have to do some work in
the afternoon, but it will not be that bad. As most of you have noticed,
we have begun to build our snow base for the season. For a while,
I was not sure if the Keweenaw was going to join the party for deep snows
going on in other parts of the UP. Tales of 12"+ snows to our south,
west and east had me a little green with envy. We did get about 4"
on Monday so we were not totally skunked, but it was one of those deals
where the reports from other areas were a lot more impressive that what
we were reporting. Then yesterday, overnight and today we picked
up about 8" and I now feel like we are running with the big snow dogs on
this event. On my morning walk Monday, I was treated to the view
of an approaching
snow squall from the north. I really got some interesting looks
at the clouds with this event and I have more to share, but usually the
lake snows we get occur with total overcast, so I never get to see the
cloud development. This event was pretty unique. It seemed
like the bands of snow were pretty intense, but in between was almost nothing
and in some cases clear skies.
We did get enough to
play in, or at least ski in. I suppose I could have taken the sled
for a ride, but it is illegal to ride it during the day right now with
hunting season going on and actually it is down at Al's shop getting all
prepared to play in the snow this year. I did get to ride it down
to his shop on Monday and I have to say, it really got the blood pumping!
I am now officially chomping at the bit to do some real riding. But
for now the snow play has been cross country skiing. Monday we headed
out to the Hubbell Sands for our afternoon walk. The fresh fallen
snow sure did add a special
element to some of the otherwise ordinary elements of geography up
here. I am not sure exactly what happens to my body physiologically
to adapt to the cold. I know my blood does not really thicken, but
I can say that while temps in the 20's and winds creating wind chills of
near zero would have froze me to the bone just a few weeks ago, it now
just feels "crisp" out. My body has done it's adaptation to the cold
thing and I am ready for the long winter up here. And with sights
like this before Thanksgiving, it looks like it could very well be
a long winter. If those last two shots did not put a little chill
in your spine, perhaps this
one will. Of course I am not the only one up here that has been
getting ready for the cold and snows. Burt and Baileys have been
thickening up their coats and they seemed to be just as happy to see the
snow as I was. They sure do get a kick out of frolicking
in the snow. I could not leave out Burt!
Getting back to the
interesting snow cloud formations. Yesterday provided the best show
and also the most interesting lake effect snow setup that I have seen since
moving up here. The day dawned with my house under blue skies, but
also being basically surrounded by clouds. In every direction, 360
degrees, there were towering lake effect clouds. And towering
I mean. That one was off to my southeast about an hour after
sunrise and looked more like a thunderstorm than a lake effect cloud. I
could only imagine what it must have been like to be underneath it.
Later on in the morning, I snapped this shot of the lake
effect clouds directly off to my east, some pretty serious updrafts
going on there, with those pretty hard and well defined edges to the clouds.
At the same time, it looked like areas to my north were also getting hit
pretty hard. The clouds there did not have as hard of edges, but
were climbing thousands
of feet into the air and were likely dumping some serious snow.
As it turns out, Lac La Belle picked up about 15" of snow yesterday morning
and early afternoon.
So all around me were
some serious lake effect snow clouds, either dumping on areas not too far
from me or out over the lake. I seemed to be in the eye of the hurricane.
Now I will explain that it was not a situation like a hurricane.
The skies were clear over me simply because there was just a pocket of
cloudless skies that happened to be occurring in that spot. Nothing
more technical than that. So again, I was a little green with envy,
but I guess good things come to those who wait because soon enough, the
clouds started to close in on me and by the early afternoon, I found myself
in a healthy lake
effect snow downpour. That shot was taken on the road from Lake
Linden to Calumet at about 2:30 yesterday. I was on my way up to
do a little cross country skiing in the bush at a friend of the sites and
a new friend of mine. He is someone that, like me, moved up here
from the big cities down south- drawn to the area by all it had to offer
climatologically and environmentally. He lives on 40 acres and has
some trails out in the bush that we took Burt, Baileys and his three dogs
for a ski/snow shoe on. It was really great to get out into the
bush again, and to add to the pleasure, the snow on the ground at his
place was at 12" for our afternoon in the woods. With the overnight
snows, his total was at 15 this morning. After winding our way through
the woods for a bit, we ended up on the old access
road to the airport. That is the airport off in the distance,
at the end of the road. So we wound out way back through the woods
to his house and then the hounds and I said goodbye for the day and headed
back home for some dinner.
It sure is great to
have winter here. More looks to be on the way this weekend and into
next week as well. And come Sunday we can venture back into the woods
for good. I doubt that we will be hitting the trails used by snowmobilers
as there will likely be some folks up using them, but we have plenty of
places to go and I think I can see the school forest getting the first
call. Heck, we need to break trail! Can't let it get too deep out
there without clearing a path. I'm sure that I will be writing before
then, or at least I think I will! Before I go I need to make one
announcement. Many of you have contacted me about the White House
Motel and were wondering if they were going to be open this winter and
I can now say YES. Chris and Marlo will not be there, but they have
a very nice couple running it for them so those of you who were hoping
to stay there can. Plus we will have the web cam back up in a few
weeks. And now I have reached the end of my rope for this entry and
this sleepy head needs to settle down for a long winters nap.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
I am a bit perplexed
right now, wondering where all of our snow is. Things looked really
good for us to pick up snowfall totals in the double digits and so far
we have not even been able to manage an inch! It has been snowing
all day, but just flurries. I can actually see what is not happening
to make heavier snows. The clouds are not growing to a great enough
height to bring heavier snowfall rates, but I really do not know why they
are not growing to very tall heights. All the conditions I look to
for decent lake effect snow to occur are occurring. The cold air
is in place, although it could be a little cooler I suppose. The
winds are out of a favorable direction. There is no inversion to
cap the air from rising and the air near the surface is fairly moist, so
the lake does not have to try and moisten up a very dry airmass to make
the snow. The only thing I can figure is that there is an area of
rising air just to our south that is bringing some light snow to northern
IL and southern WI and another area of lift just to our north bringing
some light snow to southern Ontario and Manitoba. Those two areas
of rising air might be causing some sinking air in our area and that is
not allowing the clouds to grow high enough to bring any heavier snows.
We have been under a lake effect snow warning since yesterday, so I am
not the only one thinking the snows should be heavier than they are.
Always nice to have company when my forecast does not pan out, but I think
we are all sort of scratching our heads on this one. Lake effect
sure is a fickle thing!
I guess I can look
on the bright side, these cold temps we have had without deep snow will
help to freeze things up that much further. Many times we never get
the chance to really freeze things up before the snow comes and gets deep.
Usually the cold and snow arrive at the same time. So that is the
silver lining in all of this, but to tell you the honest truth I am not
really considering it much of a silver lining. I do think that we
will be under the gun for lake effect snow until Tuesday morning, so I
would imagine that we will pick up at least a few inches between now and
then. Then a little light snow on Wednesday and more towards the
weekend, so it is not totally impossible that we could be riding opening
day, but it has been a frustrating 12 hours and what looked like a sure
thing for opening day just 12 hours ago is more uncertain right now.
I guess the other good news is that the cold temps are indicated to continue
fairly steady into the first week of December, so any snow we do get will
not likely melt. Plus, it is a general rule of thumb that by the
time we get to the first of December, our snow cover up here usually is
only added to. So I am trying to be positive and find the positive
in the disappointing snow results so far.
I really cannot believe
that in just a week it will be the first of December. The opening
day for snowmobiling season and also the first day that the hounds and
I can get back into the woods. Took a chilly walk out on the Lake
Linden Sands today. We were fully exposed to the winds and with temps
in the mid 20's, it sure felt like winter, even though it did not really
look all that much like it. The few flakes that were falling were
mode like snow pellets and they stung a little bit when they hit my face.
None the less, it was great to be in the great outdoors and I could have
done much worse!
I really do not have
much else to share with you all. I have been continuing to tweak
the camera a bit, working out some of the bugs in the software. I
am thinking about getting a separate phone line for the cam. Right
now it is sharing the same line as the house it is near and today we discovered
that when it is trying to dial in, it cannot be disturbed or it will fail
in the dial up process and then the program locks up. So a dedicated
line would be the best way to go and a dedicated line would also allow
me to have the camera update more frequently. I might even be able
to get it to update every few minutes. Although that will really
depend on what kind of calling package I am able to get. So I guess
that about covers it for this one. I was hoping to have some nice
snow shots, but looks like I will have to wait for another day or so for
that. Hopefully soon I will have some riding and skiing shots.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
So the much
anticipated surprise is out, finally! I have to say that while I
bet a lot of you were anxious to see what it was, no one was as anxious
to get it done than me. It has really consumed a ton of my free time
in the past two weeks and I think I probably earned a degree in computer
and electrical engineering getting it going. I suppose most of this
journal will be dedicated to the ins and outs of getting that feature going.
I am actually getting an early start on the journal because it is Friday,
I am rather burned out and can see myself crashing on the couch in front
of a nice fire relaxing this evening. I have some pictures of the
trail cam setup to share with you, even some action shots that were taken
during the final stages of setup yesterday afternoon.
I guess the idea to
have a cam right on the trail was born about a year ago. I am always
trying to think of ways to improve the site and with all the grooming problems
up here I thought it would be neat to be able to keep a constant eye on
the trails. So after a round of golf this summer, I was talking with
one of my golfing partners about the idea and since I knew he lived just
off the trail, I thought I would approach him about the idea of setting
up a trail cam at his location. He actually sets up a candy cane
tree up by the trail every year with a little guest book that people can
sign as well. The tree is a real Christmas tree that he lights up
and decorates with candy canes for persons to enjoy. Every day he
restocks the tree. So I figured that this might be a great place
to try and put a live trail cam. Since it is close enough to a residence
to have an eye kept on it and also in case we need to get out there and
manually reboot it or something. So after a few brandy and waters,
he thought it sounded like a good idea so I then moved from the "idea"
stage to the design stage.
I have to admit that
I did not get as early a start on this project as I should have and the
complications that it presented to me more numerous than I had anticipated.
It was amazing how I would get past one hurdle, only to face another one,
then another, then another. While in the design stage, I had to decide
what type of camera to use. I had the old AL Cam sitting in a drawer
and that was one option. The drawbacks to that option was that it
is not the best camera and does not provide the best image. Another
option was to use the same cam I am now using for the AL Cam. The
downside to that is that it would mean a financial outlay of about $150.
The third option was a camera that I have seen in some pop up ads on the
net called the "x-10". It is basically a surveillance camera that
transmits the signal by 900 Mhz radio frequency. It is setup to work
with your tv, but there are hardware and software options I could get to
have it update to the web too. The nice thing about this option was
that would be the only thing that would have to be out at the trail.
It would then just send the picture using the transmitter and all the other
equipment could be safe inside the house. The downside was that I
had never used or known anyone that used this system, so I did not know
the quality and reliability of it and it would have added about $160 to
the cost of the setup. The fourth option that I researched is a higher
end, stand alone cam. It takes very good quality images and also
transmits the images so there is no need to have any more equipment out
at the trail side. The downside is that it costs about $700 for the
So each option had
it's own set of pluses and minuses. I really did not want to have
to put all the equipment out at the trail side, but the other options were
either too expensive of had too many unknowns, so my option was to go with
a setup where the computer and cam were setup trail side and I decided
to just use the camera I already had on hand. So with that decision
made, the next decision was how to transmit the info from the computer
to the net. At first I was thinking about using a wireless network
and transmit the data from the trailside computer to a computer inside
the house. Initially it looked like the wireless network equipment
would be donated to the cause, but when that fell through and the price
tag for the wireless network equipment and setup came to $400, I decided
to look at other options. Another option was to run a regular ethernet
(wired) network between the two machines, but that seemed silly to do when
all I had to do was run some phone wire between the computer at the trail
and a phone jack inside the house. So I decided upon the phone wire
As far as the computer
to run the cam and update to the web. I had an old pc laying around
that I did not use. Problem is it was an old 486 and not powerful
enough to run the cam. However, I did also have an old motherboard
and processor laying around from a previous upgrade. It was a 300
Mhz Pentium and did run the cam last year, so I knew it would work fine.
So I went about swapping out the bad or outdated components with the new
ones, but since I am not a computer builder, I soon decided that this was
a job for the professionals. So I turned to my friends at Next Century
Hardware and Software. They set me up well and even donated a case
and the labor and in a week or so I had the computer that would be used.
I am going to make a plug for them. Not just because they made donations
to the trail cam setup but because I have had some terrible experiences
with other computer places up here and the guys at Next Century have ALWAYS
treated me great and done great work. So for those of you living
in the Keweenaw and needing any kind of computer work. Contact them,
you will be taken care of professionally.
With the equipment
to be used pretty well figured out, the next hurdle to get over was how
to secure the equipment from the elements and any vandals. I have
to admit that the main reason why I did opt for the more expensive options
was the worry of the equipment being damaged or stolen. The Keweenaw
is not void of stupid persons or possibly some visitors that do not have
much common courtesy, so I decided to limit my financial exposure this
first year. If all goes well this year, you can bet that a better
setup will occur for next year, providing a better image. The devices
and techniques used to secure the camera actually turned out to be pretty
easy. While at the hardware store, I came across some non-metallic
electrical piping and junction boxes. One of the junction boxes would
house the camera perfectly and even had a
perfect window for the camera to shoot out of. I then could use
some of the non metallic tubing to
raise the camera off the ground high enough to make it very difficult
for the stupid ones to mess with and also protect the cable for the camera
(I think Quincy's might have to fork up some money for sponsorship, or
the sign might have to come down!). It was decided that we would
just build a wooden box to house the computer. There would be a front
panel that would drop down to allow access to the computer and of course
the panel would be locked.
So all of those decisions
were arrived at by the middle of October, but then the guy who's house
it is near was going to Germany for a fe weeks, so I had to wait for him
to return to get going on it. Then there is the problem that I have
to work until about 2:30 and it gets dark up her about 2 1/2 hours after
that, so the amount of time we could work out there was pretty limited.
Then there were the usual, but many, little things that go wrong or last
minute changes in design to make things work just right. But yesterday
afternoon, we finally got all put together and here
I am trying to get the camera to talk to the computer and the computer
to talk to the internet. Here's a closer shot of the inside
of the box and the system inside. Here is a shot of me from
up on the deck where the Christmas tree will be and here is a shot
taken from the trail
looking at the cam and its setup. I still need to head out today
and tweak the image to get it to look better. Right now the image
is being shot at 320x240 and then is being displayed at 640x480 so it looks
a little grainy. Plus the text needs to be made a little more presentable.
I hope to have the temperature displayed on the image too. The owner
of the Camp Newton cam has that going on his cam and is building me the
temperature sensor and I have the software loaded that will show the temp
at the trail cam. Plus we got a hold of a counting device that as
been used in the past to count the number of sled going by on the trail
and hope to have them set up and display that data on the trail cam page.
The sled counter might take a little more time, as I think some software
will need to be written to take the data and post it to the web page.
But we will keep working on it.
As far as stopping
at the cam, that will be fine. Just make sure that you pull off to
the side and are careful when other sleds are passing through. This
is a spot were people traditionally have stopped to grab a candy cane,
so it is a pretty safe area to be stopping. At least as safe as can
be while still on the trail. If you did not notice, there is a map
below the image that shows where the cam is located.
So other than the trail
cam pictures, I personally do not have any pictures to share with you,
but I did receive some shots from a friend who move from the Keweenaw back
down to northern WI. Here are some shots of the local lakes freezing
up around there. This is Bridge
Lake and here is one shot of Lake
Nokomis and another shot of Lake
Nokomis. He said that this is the first year the lakes have frozen
over this early in a long time, so that is a good thing. I suppose
they are probably not thick enough just yet, but with the cold air coming
in later this weekend and next week, they will certainly put on more ice.
Looks like we could get some decent snow this weekend too!
Well, I just got back
from trying to "tweak" the camera to get a better image and I am afraid
that we are sort of stuck with this for the moment. I had forgotten
how poor that camera is! Maybe I can figure out a way to make it
interactive so that people can push a button and have their picture taken
and then printed out and charge a few bucks. That would pay for a
new camera pretty quickly I would imagine. Actually, the more I think
about it, the more that almost makes some sense! Of course it has
been a long week and my brain is a little fried right now. At any
rate, in addition to trying to tweak the camera, I also took the hounds
for a quick stroll down the trail. I figured no hunters would be
hunting right on the snowmobile trail and the dogs are really good about
hanging close to me, so we took off to the south to check out an area that
often floods and was pretty bad at the beginning of last year. They
have taken care of some of the problems. I saw one new culvert in
underneath the trail, so that should help. It was still pretty wet,
but not so wet we could not walk through, so it should not cause major
problems for the season. The cam is located about 1/4 mile to the
north of this feature
on the trail. I'm sure that most of you that have been down it
recognize or at least remember that spot. It is the foundation for
an old railroad trestle that went to the stamp mill down by the lake near
It was really great
to be in the woods, it is amazing how much I miss them. I guess the
fact that I really cannot go into them really makes them that much more
appealing. At other times of the year I will go a few weeks without
going into them and not even think of it. So it guess it is just
one of those things that we always want what we can't have. At any
rate, we did not push our luck and did not go too far down the trail.
However, we came across a waterfall all dusted with snow and I could not
help but climb down into the ravine and snap a
shot of it. With that I will close for now. Time to make
that fire and become a vegetable.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
fell off the wagon. Yep, up until today, I have been able to keep
my excitement for the upcoming winter fairly restrained. I made it
through the unusual 2 week bout of early season snows in October and have
managed the few inches we have picked up in November so far with all the
professionalism of a true yooper. "Da sno is commin', don't wurry
'bout it", I kept telling myself. No need to get anxious.
It comes every year and gets deep too. My little psych job actually
worked, right up until today and then I snapped. Like flipping the
switch for a light bulb, my brain has suddenly been uncontrollably lit
up with the thoughts of snows coming and piling up. Kind of a weird
day weather wise for that to happen. The snows we picked up last
Wednesday and into Thursday and Friday have melted quite a bit, exposing
patches of grass, and my roof has been going it's drip, drip, drip thing
all day. So what has been the triggering mechanism? The forecast.
One of the hazards of being a snow loving meteorologists I guess.
I get to look out into the future and see the bitter arctic air pouring
over the North Pole, across the snow covered Canadian Prairies and then
over the "warm" waters of Lake Superior. That air picks up heat and
moisture from the lake, rising into puffy, white clouds that grow and coalesce
into tall, gray masses of ice crystals that cannot suspend those masses
of ice crystals any longer and dump them on the leeward shore. Right
on top of me!
The same atmospheric
block that caused the last two weeks of this past October to be so chilly
and laden with early season snow looks to be setting up by the end of this
week and also looks to continue into next week and the week beyond.
There are even some indications that by the end of next week or the following
weekend, things may become down right arctic up here. Sub zero morning
lows and highs in the teens. Not unheard of, but unusual for the
end of November and beginning of December- even way up here. Now
that forecast is a long way off, and things can certainly change, but the
more reliable, short term forecast also looks to deliver the white stuff.
It looks very likely that I may get to fire up the new snowthrower by the
end of the week and into the weekend. Some of the latest guidance
even indicates that the weekend event could provide more than enough to
take a spin through the woods on the sled. After sunset of course.
And so it goes, that anticipatory excitement that envelopes a child on
the night before Christmas has swept me up and overwhelmed me. The
computer models cannot update fast enough to quench my need for reassurance
and the cold and snows cannot arrive fast enough.
Am I getting you excited
too? I hope so, there is real reason to be excited. For the
first time in many years, the lakes are freezing up and the ground is ready
for the snow. If we can get some good early snow, it could be one
of the best Decembers for playing in the snow in a while. As mentioned
in the previous entry, I am not ready to call the anticipated mild El Nino
winter a no show, but I can say that if we get to the middle of December
with no signs of the mild Pacific flow to occur, I think that this seasons
winter forecast by all the "experts" will bust as miserably as last winters
cold forecast did. But for now, I'll just keep those fingers crossed
and enjoy what we have and are going to get in the short term.
So other than falling
off the wagon, I have been busy running around trying to get everything
set to unveil the surprise for the site. I am now dangerously close
to "rolling it out". With a little luck, either tomorrow afternoon
or Thursday afternoon it will be available for all of you to enjoy.
I like the guesses on the Ask John, some good ones! I'm not sure
who will be happiest, you all to finally see what it is, or me to finally
have it done! Yesterday took us down Houghton-way and I stopped off
to take a picture of the snows
piling up on Mt. Ripley. The boys over there have been busy running
their snow guns when it is cold enough. Late last week and over the
weekend, that meant almost 24 hours a day. The temps really have
to be in the mid 20's to get good snow to form. I suppose they could
do it with temps of 28-30, but I think they like to wait until the temps
drop below 26. Some of the piles at the bottom of the hill are 10
feet deep! They hope to open the day after Thanksgiving and I would
say that they will most likely be able to accomplish that goal. With
the cold temps and natural snow on the way, it would be pretty hard not
to have an 18-24" base down. Too bad we can't do that on the trails!
Be neat to flick a switch and throw some snow on some of the spots with
old or low snow. Of course for most of the year, it is not needed.
Mother nature provides plenty of snow.
On the way back from
our trip to Houghton, we stopped off at the Tamarack Sands. They
were cleaned up just like the Lake Linden sands, only a year later and
have been done for 2 years now. We have not been out there in about
a year and the hounds seemed to enjoy going to an unfamiliar place.
We even saw a fox. Well, I saw it and the hounds picked up on it's
scent. It is neat to watch them approach where it was bedded down,
tails go up, heads pop up and their big old snouts point right into the
wind, sniffing out where the critter ran off to. I have to admit
that as nice as the Lake Linden Sands are now, the Tamarack Sands have
them beat for beauty. A creek runs down through one end and empties
into the Torch Lake, and on the other end, there are little inlets
for the Torch Lake to mingle with the land and even a
little island. Looks like a perfect place for a picnic in the
summer. Then there is just the regular old shoreline looking
over towards the Bootjack Road and the "Green Spot". On all of
the sands that have been cleaned up there are little gravel roads circling
them. Probably there for maintenance, but they do make it nice to
walk. Actually, the gravel path on the Lake Linden sands has been
turned into a permanent walking path. They are planting some trees
out there and it sounds like they want to keep the area as a park.
It is already pretty nice, but will be even nicer in 5-10 years when some
of the trees start to mature.
Today the hounds and
I went to the north shore to walk. I chose that spot because the
winds were blowing at 25-30 out of the west, so I figured there would be
some pretty decent waves and the Big
Lake did not disappoint. However, it was just a bit too brisk
out on the beach to spend the afternoon, so we ended up walking the road
that runs parallel to the beach. It is sheltered from the winds of
the lake by about 200 feet of trees and the wind was hardly blowing on
the road. So we had a nice walk. I got to stroll through the
woods and watch the clouds scream by overhead. I also got to watch
the hounds run from the road into the woods, back to the road and then
back to the woods, over and over. They are now sound asleep, so it
looks like it was a success.
The final tidbit I
have to share with you is a picture of my sled with the latest customization.
As mentioned, I had to get the seat recovered and rather than going with
all black, I decided to "kick
it up a notch" as Emeril would say. I guess I just have to be
different! Sounds like she will be going into Al's shop at the end
of this week or early next week so that he can do it magic. He really
knows his stuff when it comes to getting the most out of a sled.
His 440 Snowpro kicked the butts of all the other 440's and 500's at Marquette
Mountain a few years back and as I understand it cam pretty close to kicking
most of the 600's rear ends too. Let's see what he can to to an old
580 with blowing it up!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
I'm sure that
by now all of you have noticed the new look to the site. The designer
that has helped me with the graphics and layout of the site for the past
2 years wanted to make some updates, so I gave him the go ahead.
I did not want to change the generally theme or layout of the site though.
I like the structure to the site and I think that most of you are pretty
used to way it has been for the past 2 years, so we decided to just freshen
up the graphics and also change the mechanics of the site just a bit to
make it easier to make future changes. I hope you all like it!
I must point out that while it was a pleasant surprise for me to have it
done and all of you were also surprised, it is not "The Surprise" I have
been teasing you with for the past few weeks. That is still in the
final stages of development. I am very close to having it done, but
have encountered a little obstacle that needs to be hurdled and then it
will be available for you all to enjoy. The unfortunate thing is
that I am waiting for a piece of equipment in order for it to be finished
and so the speed at which it will be done is sort of out of my hands.
It will be done though!
It's been feeling a
lot like late autumn or early winter up here. Snow fell last Wednesday
to cover the ground and that snow has been around even since. We
even picked up some fresh snow on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Not a lot, but enough to keep the snow cover in the 2-4" range across the
region. Our morning temps have also been rather chilly. Yesterday
morning the thermometer in my back yard read about 15 degrees and this
morning it was in the single digits for the first time all year, with a
reading of 8. I have finally broken out the winter coats and boots.
Until now, I have been able to get by with just my autumn wear, but temps
in the single digits and teens require the warmer stuff, so the changing
of the guard, or shall I say the changing of the coats, has taken place.
Saturday morning I was browsing through the cams in the NCN and came across
a pretty image from Sharon Smith's cam. The sun had just risen and
there was a fresh
blanket of white down, with some lake effect clouds off in the distance.
Makes you want to build a fire, huddle up next to it and read the morning
paper, doesn't it.
The weather the past
few days has been ideal for the start of rifle season for deer. The
cold temps and snow help to get the deer moving to their winter herding
grounds and the snow also helps the hunters to see the deer as well as
track them. So no excuses this year hunters! Driving around
Friday, this was a
pretty common sign hanging in the businesses of the Keweenaw and probably
the UP for that matter. Opening day is sort of an unofficial holiday,
so an opening day on a Friday is perfect reason for a three day weekend.
I had to work, but did manage to make it to deer camp Friday night.
Actually ran into a pretty decent snowfall on the way down to the camp
and encountered some ice at a corner and went off the road. Thankfully
no damage was done to the Blazer, but it was a close call. Another
10 feet and it would have been into the trees for me and the Blazer also
almost flipped onto it's side before coming to a rest half in the ditch.
It was too deep in the ditch to get out myself, so I waited for a vehicle
to come along and asked for a ride to the camp about 2 1/2 miles down the
road. I figured the camp would be full of guys that could get me
out and I was right. There were about 8 guys that were glad to help
me out. After making me the but of some jokes for about 30 minutes.
I guess I deserved it, I was just very thankful no damage was done.
I actually went into the ditch at that corner going out to camp 2 years
ago. I must be a slow learner!
So with rifle season
going on, the hounds and I are now keeping out of the woods. Of course
that does not really mean that we suffer. There are plenty of places
to go and on Friday, the Lake Linden sands got the call. It was very
nice out there, with a few inches of snow on the ground, the water starting
to make ice and even a
few geese to entertain us. I'm not totally sure what that was,
but it almost looked like an albino Canadian Goose. There were some
others in the area, but it was the only one that did not have the traditional
markings. As said, the lakes are starting to make ice now.
At least the smaller lakes. This is what I call the Little
Torch Lake and it has had ice on it for almost a week now. I
went by Rice Lake yesterday and it had ice cover and all the ponds are
freezing up as well. The Torch Lake and Portage Lake are all wide
open still and will be for a few more weeks at least.
The weather provided
a little bit of everything for our walk Friday afternoon. At times
it would snow at a pretty good clip and then a few minutes later, the
sun would be peaking out and would help take the chill off for a few
minutes before the next wave of snow showers would roll through.
Pretty typical lake effect snow showers and that last pic showed everything,
with the sun shining over me, but off in the distance the next snow shower
getting ready to move in. I must say that at this point in time,
I am not that concerned about this winter being a problem for us.
I am not convinced that places further south, places like southern MN,
WI and MI as well as northern IL will see a good winter, but the pattern
has been pretty good up here and in the next two weeks only looks to get
better. No major storms are seen, but it looks to be pretty cold
for the next two weeks and there are several chances for some light snow.
Actually, with opening day for snowmobile season just two weeks away, if
what is indicated to occur by the forecast models plays out, we could be
very close to having enough snow to play in on opening day. Now,
keep in mind that we generally need about 12-18" down before they decide
to start grooming. We don't need that much to ride and if the cold
temps continue, then they might start grooming with only about a foot down,
as everything will have been frozen up well. It is still way to early
to know for sure, but if in about 4 weeks the pattern has not changed to
the mild "El Nino" one expected by many and there is no sign of it to occur
in the two week forecast, I might just be able to declare the expected
mild El Nino winter a no show. That would be a nice thing to be able
to do, keep those fingers crossed! Getting back to my walk on the
sands, we turned the corner, putting the sun to our backs and the friendly
of Lake Linden in view and made for the home stretch back to the truck.
On Saturday, the hounds
and I took to the beach for our walk. Another demonstration that
having to stay out of the woods is not
necessarily a sacrifice of scenery. I suppose most of you were
able to recognize that as the beach at Big Traverse, one of our summer
play places, but also a nice place to play at in the winter. I almost
could have used the cross country skis out there. Only about 2 more
inches and there would have been enough snow to keep the skis from reaching
the sand. We actually did not go right to the sand, the hounds were
picking up the scents of some critters that had been in the beach
grass and wild blueberry patches prior to our arrival. The afternoon
walks are as much for them as they are for me, so many times I let them
dictate where we go, as long as it is a place we will be able to get out
of! So we hung out above the beach for a while and they sniffed just
about every square inch of ground before we finally made it to the beach
itself. I am just amazed that we can go out to a place as beautiful
as we were at, and not only be able to be the only ones out there, but
also not see any sign of anyone being there previously. Not
a track in the sand. Needless to say, we had a great time at
the beach yesterday afternoon and came back with big smiles on all of our
faces. Lucky, lucky, lucky me.
Today I need to take
care of the chores I did not get to yesterday. I put the Christmas
lights up about a week ago, but there were the usual few strands that would
not light, so I had to get replacements and put them up. That is
what I did today as well as put the seat back on snowmobile and start it
up. The seat got ripped in a few spots last year, so I had it recovered.
The gas tank is part of the seat, so I had to drain that. I want
Al to do a little carb and clutch work to my sled this season, so I needed
to get the seat back before he could work on it. I did manage to
get the seat on and get it started up. Now all we need is about two
more inches of snow and I can ride it down to his shop! Actually,
I will just throw it on a trailer and get it down to him. He will
be working through the rest of deer season, so hopefully he will be able
to get to it before the start of the season in two weeks. Seems very
hard to believe that opening day is just two weeks away. Seems like
I always have some kind of countdown going on in my life. Patience,
patience, Huh N?
Good night from the Keweenaw.
'Twas the night
before Deer Camp and....Not sure if that classic Christmas poem has been
modified for the big event up here on the 15th, but I would not doubt that
Da Yoopers have done something with it. Yep. Pretty hard to
find a pickup without an ATV or stack of supplies for the camp in the back
bed right now. In just a few hours the cities, towns and villages
up here will be pretty void of male inhabitants and some female too.
Most of the females will not be at camp, but down south hunting for things
in the malls of Green Bay and Appleton. So that leaves me!
What's a non hunter and not a big shopper to do? Well, I'm sure the
hounds and will find something to keep us entertained. Actually,
I am going to go to deer camp either tomorrow night or Saturday night.
Not for the whole night, just long enough to loose some money in a few
games of cards or get in some good laughs with the boys. The male
bonding thing. I am really surprised that some high brow in some
university has not yet done a thesis on the social importance of deer camp.
Someone mentioned in the Ask John about the motion picture "Escanaba in
Da Moonlight". It was shot in the UP, mostly the Escanaba region
2 years ago and is about hunting camp. I have yet to see it, but
maybe that is one thing I can do during camp. Actually, most guys
still need to work, so it is not like the place becomes a ghost town.
I know many who are just taking tomorrow off and then also taking the Friday
after Thanksgiving off.
So today was it.
The last day in the woods for the hounds and I for 15 days. We did
make pretty good use of the woods the past few days. Not really going
to anywhere exotic, but still making sure to be in places we really should
not go to for the next 2 weeks and one day. The weather has been
quite agreeable for walking in the woods. A far cry from last year
when I was in shorts and a T-shirt. Now I know a bunch of you must
be thinking:"What the heck is he saying? Warm weather would be great
for walking in the woods". Well, actually for me it was pretty nice
last year to be walking around in shorts and a t at the middle of November,
but it was hard on the hounds. They start to put on their winter
coats by about the middle of October and they can overheat pretty quickly
when it is warm. So last year we actually went to the beach a lot,
so they could cool off if they wanted. This year I have been all
bundled up and even dodging some snowflakes.
On Tuesday the hounds
and I went out to the school forest for our afternoon walk. Some
flakes were falling and it was just a very relaxing afternoon to be out
there. It is just amazing how quiet it can get in
the woods up here. That afternoon, as we were walking, the hounds
stopped to smell something, so I stopped with them and it was so quiet,
I could actually hear the snowflakes hit the ground. Now THAT is
quiet! It is moments like that when I wonder what the rest of the
world is doing. What do they hear, car horns, emergency sirens, trains
rumbling down the track, the low rumble of an expressway or perhaps the
distant roar of a jet airplane. Not much noise pollution up here,
at least not in the woods. As we finished up our walk on Tuesday,
we passed a little pond near the cabin at the school forest. It has
been cold enough up here to keep the night
ice around all day.
Yesterday we went up
on the tracks by my house. Nothing too exciting up there, except
someone was sighting in a BIG gun not too far from us and I was almost
a little worried about catching a stray bullet. Thankfully when they
are sighting in a rifle, there are a few minutes between each shot and
we were able to get away from the sound with only 2 or 3 shots fired.
Today I decided to go somewhere special, or at least not right in my neighborhood.
It was the last day we could be in the woods for a while and there was
a few inches of fresh snow on the ground. So after seeing that the
coop observer up in Keweenaw County had more snow than anywhere in the
UP (5"), I decided that would be our destination. And since the school
forest is drying out and freezing up, I thought I would take the same route
the dogs and I took about a month ago when we had snow, but was so wet.
I figured it might not be totally dry, but would not be as wet as it was
before. On the way up, we drove past the Cliff Range and it looked
very majestic in it's coating
We got to the trail
and things were drier and in some spots, the bigger
puddles were frozen. So we were able to trounce along without
many problems. I even was beginning to wonder if I might have wanted
to have my cross country skis. I was even imagining myself cruising
down the trail
on my sled! There was even enough down to do that if I wanted.
Heck, that was more snow down than I rode on in WI back in 1998 when I
took a trip from Hurley to Bayfield. We had to go southwest to go
around the Native American land to the west of Hurley and by the time we
were down to Mellen, things were pretty bare. I think the day we
came back was the last day for riding those trails until more snow fell.
Of course, while the 5-6 inches I was walking through today was enough
to cover the ground, fallen leaves and a few sticks, it was not enough
to cover everything and my trip on the sled or skis would have ended pretty
quickly once I came to the
still running creek. Baileys was checking out some deer tracks
in the snow there. We actually saw lots of critter tracks in the
snow on our walk today. Deer, rabbit, field mouse and even some coyote.
Burt was especially interested in the coyote, or at least that's what I
think it was. A pretty big coyote, but I doubt it was a wolf.
Whatever it was, they were fresh. There was a falling snow, but the
tracks did not have much fresh snow on them. I took a few looks back
to see if we were being stalked or perhaps it might pass across the trail
again. No luck.
I did not bring the
GPS this time. I figured I would be able to remember the way up and
the way back would be no problem, we could just follow the two human and
eight dog prints in the snow. We did manage to make it to the top
of 1555 ft Praiseville Hill. Pretty windy up there today. All
the trees were bare and the hill was pretty exposed. Not enough to
see everything with good clarity, but I was able to see the lake on both
sides of the peninsula and things like the Cliff Range off on the horizon.
I did not take any pictures because they would not have been able to show
what I was seeing too well. Just a few too many trees to see clearly.
So after catching our breath on top of the hill, we headed back down.
That is one of the nice features to this particular hike. The way
out is all uphill and the way back is all downhill and not so steep that
it is hard on my legs. Bohemia is all uphill on the first leg and
downhill on the second, but the downhill can be harder on my legs than
the up hill. I don't huff and puff, but the burn is worse.
Most of this trip is just a gentile slope down through
We reached the point
in the walk where the dogs and I had noticed a bunch of deer tracks in
the snow. A lot more than in any other place. The dogs suddenly
became very alert and Burt took off down the trail. They do this
when they pick up the scent of a deer or bunch of deer. So hoping
I could get a shot of the deer in the snow and in the woods, I got my camera
out, readied it for action and took off through the woods in follow of
Burt. He stopped and looked up at some trees about 50 yards away
and I thought that was a strange place for a deer to be, up in the trees.
All of the sudden, one of the larger fir trees started to shake.
At first like a stiff breeze had hit it, but then it took on a more vigorous
shake. A shake that could only be caused by something in it.
My mind raced through the list of possibilities to see if I should stand
and take a picture of it, or get the heck out of there to save mine and
the hounds hides. The quick list of animals causing the tree to shake
included: black bear, bobcat, raccoon and porcupine. All animals
that would be very hesitant to take on 2 large dogs and a human at the
same time, so I decided to stand my ground and try and get a shot of what
was causing all the commotion. The shaking kept up at a good enough
clip to knock all the snow off the fir trees branches and the shaking was
also making a steady climb towards the top. As the snow fell off
the second from the top branches, I put the camera to my eye, zoomed in
tight on the top of the tree, heart pounding in anticipation of getting
a great wildlife photo and up popped a bow hunter! He had a stand
set up out there and was climbing up through the tree to get to the stand,
shaking the snow off the branches on the way up so that it would not hit
him as he made his way up. So no unique photo and I think he was
as surprised to see me standing there as I was to see him! I gave
a wave and the hounds and I left his kill zone and headed back to the truck.
I felt a little bad
about going out to his kill zone with the dogs and leaving out scent out
there. This afternoon was the last time for early bow season, so
it was sort of a now or never thing for him. There is a second bow
season and of course the rifle season that starts tomorrow and a black
powder season in December, but I could not help but feel a little bad for
possibly screwing him out of something in the few hours of daylight that
remained. My feelings of guilt quickly faded when we got to the section
of trail that he had taken his truck through and made quite a mess.
My pristine, snow covered trail was now covered
in mud. The ice was thick enough to support the hounds and I,
but not a big old bush truck. I think we were even.
We got back to the
truck. I had parked it at the end of where the county plows and on
roads such as that, the county will post a sign saying that the road from
here on is not maintained in the winter. Just in case some unsuspecting
traveler ventures down it thinking that they will be able to get out with
the pending snow storm. This particular sign is a little unique though.
The wording is the same, but because this area gets so much snow, it is
on an extra long pole. Make sure you scroll all the way down in this
shot of the pole to see just how tall it is! Yep, I figured the
top of that pole to be about 12-15 feet off the ground. I'll have
to remember to head out there in March to see how close to being buried
On the way back my
eye caught a nice photo op of the east branch of the Eagle River flowing
behind the Church of the Assumption in Phoenix. So I stopped, turned
around and walked out to the banks of it to capture an early
winters snowscape. Yes, it is winter up here. Early winter,
which means our snow might now last or at least might melt some before
it stays for good, but there is no mistaking it, winter is here.
Oh, and for those of you wanting to use that as a screen saver, here is
the full sized version.
On my way back to the truck, I snapped a shot of the church
as well. Beautiful in any season, but winter is my favorite.
So that is it, the
hounds and I will be sticking to the beaches or roads for the next 2 weeks
+ 1 day. Not a problem. Still plenty of places to go and then
if all works out well, at the end of those 2 weeks and one day we will
be skiing and snowmobiling in the woods. I almost cannot believe
we are that close to the season. It has really snuck on on me this
year. My sled will be ready. I have the seat that I got recovered
back and will hook things back up and secure it down. Then a little
carb and clutch work and she will be all set.
Before I sign off,
I would just like to thank all of you for not only coming to this site
and supporting it with your visits, but I have picked up some new advertisers
this year and they told me that they were told by their customers to take
a look at my site and see about placing an ad on it. The latest was
someone that was down at the snowmobile show in Minneapolis and was told
by more than one person to look into my site. He now has a banner
ad and directory ad on the site and everybody wins. You all get more
options to choose from when looking for places to stay at, eat at and possibly
rent a sled or get some repairs done. Those businesses get some great
exposure and I make a little money to help support the site. A perfect
relationship if you ask me. So again, thank you to everyone who is
reading this and especially to those of you spreading the word about the
site. It keeps getting more and more popular and I have more ideas
for it. Speaking of which, I have not forgotten the surprise addition
to it, I have just hit a temporary snag and it looks like it could be up
this weekend or next week. But it is coming.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
I was hoping
that my last journal was Friday, but seeing that it was Thursday, I am
feeling even worse for not getting one out last night. However, I
was out late Saturday night, actually until Sunday morning. I did
not party it up too much, my stomach was not feeling too well earlier in
the day, but I did stay out until 2:30 and my old body is just not used
to staying up that late. Normally I am waking up about two hours
after that. So yesterday I had a bad case of the "slows". I
did manage to get in most of the things I would normally do like the two
walks with the hounds and my work that needs to be done on Sunday's, but
it took a little more effort to get them done. I can also be a little
crabby when I am tired, so that is why I decided to forgo the journal last
night. No need for all of you to put up with me when I am crabby!
Plus, things remain
fairly quiet. Both activity and weather wise. Had a dusting
of snow last night, but that has been about it. Nothing like what
happened 27 years ago yesterday. That was the anniversary of the
sinking of the Fitz. I did not even make my annual pilgrimage to
the big lake to pay respects to the 29 lives lost that night, so I must
have been tired to miss that. We have actually yet to have a big
windstorm up here yet. We have had some 20 and 30 MPH winds from
time to time, but not the big blows, the house rockers, the Gales of November.
At this point, I do not see any such storm on the horizon. I'm sure
we will get one, but it is strange to not have had one yet. We are
also in a little snow drought in the past two weeks. A few dustings
have occurred, but nothing else. It looks like we might be breaking
that drought this week. No major dumps, but enough to coat the ground
in time for the big hunt to begin Friday. Only 3 more walking in
the woods days left! I am actually amazed at my patience for the
snow to arrive. I am not worried in the least at our little absence
in the past 2 weeks. That is actually not that unusual, but in previous
years I would have been a little anxious. Now, I am not making any
promises if we are still in a snow drought a month from now. I really
hope to be riding by then, but plenty of time to get some snow. Speaking
of snow, the local ski hill, Mt Ripley, is making snow at night.
They hope to be open by Thanksgiving weekend. Maybe that is what
I can do over that weekend, if I can't go sledding, I'll go downhill skiing.
While the weather has
been quiet and I have not been having much in the way of activities, the
woods are not that quiet. Lots of bangs going off this weekend.
Not from hunting, but from hunters sighting in their rifles. Things
were fairly quiet today, but all weekend long the sounds of shots were
ringing out. My first year up here it was a little unnerving to be
in the woods and hearing all those shots ring out. But over the course
of my tenure up here, I have grown accustomed to it and it does not even
faze me in the least. I am not yet ready to join the league of hunters
testing their skill on Friday, but I suppose I will be out "at camp" this
weekend and at a Deer Hunters Ball the following weekend. So I am
getting closer to being a true Yooper. Maybe in a few more years.
The hounds and I did
take to the woods today and I plan to take them out there the next three
days. Today we walked the tracks. A week ago I mentioned how
there had been some activity on the trails and it looked like they might
be trying to make some improvements to the trails and signs out there.
Today my suspicions were confirmed at the sight of some new signs.
The folks doing the signs are really doing a good job. Posting directions,
hazards and even food
and gas. There has even been some fixing of the areas that the
trail uses. In one spot where the trail is on a hill, the dirt had
washed out and there were some fairly large ruts in the trail. Well,
they came in with a bunch of mine rock and filled in the ruts and flattened
out the trail. That will make that section a bunch easier to
groom in the early season. And there are three
new signs on that hill too. They are even putting little signs
at the road crossings. I am not sure if any of the snowmobile
maps actually have Gas Plant Road marked on them and I surely do not think
that any non locals will get any help from knowing that they are crossing
Gas Plant Road, but it was a nice touch. Actually, when I think about
it, if there is an accident at that crossing or near it, knowing that the
crossing is at Gas Plant Road would be very helpful in getting the emergency
personnel there, so there is a good reason to have the road marked.
I was sure that the
new signs had gone in within the past 24 hours because the hounds and I
went on that same trail yesterday and they were not there. I was
a little disappointed that I was not able to meet the workmen to thank
them, but actually on my way back to the truck, I did come across the workmen
and workwoman. I made a point to tell them that they were doing great
work. We got into a conversation and they told me all about the changes
going on for this year. I can say that if what they say does in fact
play out, then you all will notice a major difference in the conditions
of the trails up here. However, I may have only been up here for
three years, but I have learned in that time to believe changes in the
trail maintenance system up here will occur after seeing them with my own
eyes. Now some changes have already taken place, but they took place
because the people that I was talking to this afternoon were able to make
them happen themselves. The other changes have to come about at the
effort of others. Others that have yet to show any desire to make
the changes. I was told that those issues had been dealt with this
year, so we will see. One thing I can say, it will be very interesting
to see what plays out.
Well, that is about
all I have for this journal. Just about all. Saturday I took
a friend up to see my new property and they thought that you all would
like to see a picture of me and the hounds. So here
we are, in our woods.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
Well, even here
in the laid back upper peninsula, things can get hectic. At least
for me! I had plans to take a trip into the bush, to a place I had
never been before, but one business task led to another and another and
before I knew it, I was running out of time to try and get out there.
I suppose that I could have really rushed things and probably had enough
time to head out, but it would have been sort of like trying to fit a square
block into a round hole, all with a time limit. Frantically trying
to make sure I had the GPS, laptop, cables, extra batteries, cell phone
and anything I needed to drop off at the post office and bank as well.
So I just decided to postpone the trip to where I planned to go and spend
a relaxing afternoon with the hounds out at the school forest. Where
I was planning on going would have taken over an hour to get to, so that
extra time gave us lots of time to explore the school forest. Things
are drying out a little more out there. Still some puddles, but not
the swamp setting it was for most of October. We did not see or hear
any wildlife out there. Usually we will come across some deer or
maybe a coyote, but today not a thing. Maybe the deer are getting
ready for the deer season that starts in just over a week. Seeking
out their hiding spots!
We had quite a chilly
night last night. The coldest night of the season so far. By
10 pm temps were already about 15 degrees. That was actually the
low for the night, as a southerly wind kicked in shortly after that and
the temps warmed to about 19-20 degrees and stayed there for the rest of
the night. It did warm up nicely today, with temps actually reaching
the low 50's. Even with temps that warm and some sunshine, the night
ice did not leave the little torch lake today. A sign that winter
is trying to get a firm grip on the region, even though it looses it's
fight with it's warm season cousin for a day or two like it did today.
On my trip up to Calumet today, there was still some snow left on the side
of the road from where it piled up by the plow trucks.
For the first time
since I have moved up here, this fall feels just like what I imagined a
fall would be like up here. The past several autumns have been above
average, with last years autumn breaking all sorts of records for warmth.
It was almost like I had moved 400 miles north and the autumn weather I
thought I left behind followed me north. Now, the winter that I had
left behind did stay behind, with the good old keweenaw snows showing up
for at least periods of the past 3 winters. My first winter it was
late to arrive and very early to leave, the second winter it arrived in
good time and left about on average and last years delayed arrival was
offset with a late departure as well. Not sure what this winter season
will bring, but so far it sure seems like it might be what is considered
"normal", with November to provide some snow, nothing too big, but a few
inches from time to time. Some warm periods as well, but overall,
a general down turn in temperatures. Then by about the last week
of November, the snow starts to stick around and by December 1st, the depth
just keeps on growing and reaches a few feet by the 2nd or 3rd week of
December. Like I say, we'll see, but so far I am not seeing any strong
signs that the current El Nino will provide the warm anomaly to the north
central Plains and Canadian Prairies like it was expected to. Some
of the other weather anomalies associated with El Nino are going on.
Wet weather in the southern US, California is just getting it's first strong
winter storm. The first of what might be many in the next week to
two weeks. Areas of northeast Argentina and southern Brazil are wet
and dryness has been occurring in spots of Indonesia. I must caution
you that I am not yet convinced that the warm anomaly will not materialize,
but I can say with confidence that the deeper and deeper we go into December
without it developing, the more and more I will be convinced that it will
not pan out. I know that is not really sticking my neck out too far,
but as I say in my seasonal forecast, there is really not much trusted
science involved yet and I really do like to have proven scientific reasons
behind any forecast I give out. Contrary to the joke I have heard
about a million times about how nice it must be to have job that I get
paid to be wrong, I actually get paid to be right. If I am wrong
too many times, or am not any more correct than free weather sources like
the weather channel or NWS, then I am out of a job. Thankfully the
weather channel does not provide too much competition. I really do
not understand who is in charge of their programming and content over there,
but I seriously doubt that they are a meteorologist. They continue
to provide graphics on the Northeast US "drought". A drought that
ended well over a month ago. Boston has a 4" precip deficit since
Jan 1 of this year, but that is only 9% down for the year. Not exactly
a drought. New York City is 94% of average precip. Meanwhile,
Chicago is 3.14" down since September 1, which is only 54% of average.
Not extreme, but a heck of a lot closer to a drought that is occurring
in the NE US. Anyway, I scratch my head at some of the stuff they
do on that channel.
About the only other
news I have up here, other than ranting about the weather channel, is that
on our walk yesterday, I noticed some pre-season trail work has been going
on in my neck of the woods. Yep, some wash outs were filled in with
mine rock (the crushed rock left over from the copper mining), one of the
areas actually was quite large. There also appears to have been some
brushing done and there are even some little wooden stakes with yellow
surveyors tape on them that have placed to mark where signs will be going.
I do not know if this is going on across all of the system, but I can say
that it is going on right by my house. So I guess that is a positive
thing. Better than last year when I was walking around on the same
exact trail in December and clearing trees myself. There is hope!
Well, I guess that
will do it for now. Sorry no pics this time around, I was hoping
to have a load for you from my adventures today, but when they were put
on hold, so were the shots. Hang in there, more will be on the way.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
I can say with
confidence that this entry will be a little larger than the last one.
I did take one of my intended adventures today and have about 10 shots
to share, plus some stories and stuff. It's funny, yesterday I went
back and read some of the past journals and when I got to the beginning
of November for last year, the entry for November 4th was also very short!
I guess it is just the time of the year that brings about a lull in things
to talk about. Last year I was hiking in shorts. Temps were
in the 60's and we were even going to the beaches a lot, so the hounds
could stay cool, but swimming. Quite a difference this year.
Had some more snow today. Not enough to accumulate and it did end as a
little bit of rain, but still, no 60's and weather much more like November.
I can say that I am
extremely happy that the election has now arrived. The commercials
really get to me. They run over and over and over again. I
am not sure if the persons running them realize that there is quite a negative
effect they have to see them over and over and over. At times, I
almost feel like voting for the other person, just because they have not
bothered me as much. I don't, but am tempted. To make matters
worse we have to watch commercials for candidates that are not even in
our area. Thanks to cable, we get commercials for Green Bay, Marquette,
Traverse City and even Detroit some times. Well, it's all over now
and I took advantage of my right as an American and cast my votes.
Funny thing though. Being from Chicago, I am used to going in and
voting several times. I tried that here and they do not allow it.
What's up with that!
As mentioned the hounds
and I did go on an adventure today. It was not the best day for it,
with rain and snow, but any day in the Keweenaw bush is a good day.
Our destination was Mt. Houghton. The way that I usually go there
is to go down to Lac La Belle and then shoot into the woods and over to
the hill. Today I decided to make use of the GPS and take some back
roads from Mandan. There are tons of roads out that way and I was
able to map out a trail that would get us there. I was not sure what
shape the roads would be in, as I have never traveled them, but there was
only one spot that went through a swampy area, so I figured that we should
be ok. As it turned out, the same path that I had mapped out was
being used by loggers. That ws sort of a good news/bad news situation.
The good news is that there would be no blow downs blocking the path and
any creek crossings would be passable. The bad news is that I might
get way into the trip and reach a spot where the were working and would
not be able to get through. Or I might reach a spot where the trucks
made the mud too deep to get through. I decided to press on until
we could no longer and as luck would have it we did not encounter any impassable
sections and we got to where I wanted to.
I did not want to drive
all the way up to the hill. It is actually not possible to take the
truck all the way to the top. The trail gets too narrow and it is
also posted, asking that only hunters and fishermen go in. We were
not hunting or fishing, but I figured hiking is just as low impact.
Plus, I wanted to do some hiking to give the hounds and I our exercise,
so I found a spot about a half mile away from the top and parked
there. I actually took that picture to show how muddy the Blazer
got on the drive in, but the shot actually did not show the mud that well.
I was very happy with the way the truck handled the elements. The
mud never got too deep. I think about 6-8 inches was about it and
there was one time that the axle started to push the mud. That is
always the warning sign for me. Start pushing mud or snow with the
axle and you are not going to go much further. Thankfully, a little
more throttle and we made it through.
So after parking the
Blazer, we all piled out of it and readied ourselves for the hike.
I took my GPS because I wanted to do some exploring around the top of the
hill and thought that we might even find a new way down and wanted to be
able to get back to the Blazer without too much wandering around, wondering
where it was! At the start of our hike there was not much snow on
the ground and there was a bit of a rain/snow mix falling. Mt. Houghton
is one of the highest peaks in the Keweenaw and the higher we went, the
deeper the snow got. As we neared
the top, there was about 2-3" down and the precip that was falling
was all snow. I was glad that it changed to all snow because I had
forgot to bring a hat. I did have a head band and that kept my ears
and forehead warm, but the top of my head could still get wet if it was
We did make it to the
top and first when to the familiar spot for me, the south overlook.
This is a great place to go when the visibility is good. To the east
you can see the bear bluffs, the tip of the Keweenaw and even Manitou Island.
Today, with the snow falling, the view did not go much beyond the
Bear Bluffs. To the west, the view includes Bete Gris bay and
beach, the Lac La Belle Shipping Canal and Sloughs, as well as Point Isabelle
and even down the coast to Gay and Traverse Island or as the locals call
it, Rabbit Island. Today, Bete Gris beach and the "irons" guarding
the entrance to the Lac La Belle Shipping Canal were about the only things
able through the snow. The wind was out of the south and up that
high was blowing at about 25-30 mph, so we did not stay too long on the
south face. Today, it was the north face that was the easier slope.
The view from the north slope usually affords a view of Lakes Addie and
Breakfast, as well as the high spots of Brockway Mountain, Rocky Ridge
and the East Bluff. Today, all that you could see was Lake
We did walk around
a little more at the top, but it is not a very big mountain on top.
Probably 10 acres or less. There are some pretty steep cliffs in
spots, so they were out of the question as far as getting down or up.
But there are also a few spots where things are not as steep, one of them
being the way we came up and another on the opposite side of the hill and
that was the way we went down. There is no trail that other way,
but having the GPS in hand and a strong signal, I was not too concerned
to be bush whacking. Plus we could always follow our tracks in the
snow back if we needed to, but with each step down, I was really hoping
that we would not need to backtrack! We got to a familiar logging
road and took it back to the truck. On the way down that logging
road, the GPS made a little beep and I looked at the screen that was now
blank. It is pretty hard to hit the on/off button by accident, so
my fear was that the batteries went dead and my fear was realized.
Dead, done, finished! Not to worry, I do carry spares, but I wanted
to see if my backwoods tracking ability was good enough to get us back
to the blazer. Sure enough, I took all the right turns and we got
back to the truck.
On the way back out,
I was tempted to take the long way home and circle all the way around the
tip and then into Copper Harbor and then home, but the dogs and I were
wet and muddy from our adventure and it was getting somewhat late and I
did not feel like having to deal with a mechanical problem deep in the
Keweenaw bush as it was getting dark with a cold rain and snow falling,
so we just headed back. One of the things I was afraid of encountering
on the way in we actually encountered on the way out. A
logging truck blocking the route. As you probably noticed, there
was a person working the boom and clam shell, so I figured we would just
wait until he was finished with his work in that spot and then continue
on. He spotted us and did a little more work and then moved the truck
for us. I am not sure if he was done, or was just being polite and
letting us through, but I was thankful that he moved for us and gave a
wave as we passed by. There were some more loggers that we passed
on the way out and I could not help but think about how hard their work
is. Here it is, raining and snowing, ankle to knee deep mud everywhere
and they are out in all of that, working all day, with huge and deadly
equipment. Reminded me of some other laborers up here that toiled
in another dangerous occupation years ago, the miners. The major
difference there is that the miners worked all day in a dark, cold and
dusty dungeon all day and at least the loggers get to be in the great outdoors
and see things like
this. I suppose I could actually handle logging for a while.
It would just be days like this that would make it a little tough to get
up for. That and the days in the summer that the insects are eating
you alive or the heat and humidity make you melt.... I think I'll
stick to my day job and explore the wilderness on my own terms. By
the way, here is a full
sized version of that last shot.
So we did end up making
it out of the bush, but I decided to take a slightly different way out
and come out close to Mt. Bohemia. There are so many roads out there
to go down. I am sure that some of them just end up stopping after
a while, but it would be neat to follow some of them to see where they
lead. We got to Mt. Bohemia and I decided to take the road around
Lac La Belle, down to Gay and then shoot over to Calumet to get the truck
washed. All the wet weather still has the creeks flowing, so I made
it a point to pull off and take a shot of Haven
Falls for you all to enjoy. More like spring levels than fall,
except for all the leaves on the ground. In all the times I have
been down that road, I have never been to Deer Lake, so I thought that
I could kill too birds with one stone, visit Deer Lake and let the dogs
go for a swim to get cleaned up. They actually did not want to go
all the way in, but did wade
through the shore ice far enough to get the mud off their legs and
bellies. There was a little bit of light rain falling while we were
at the lake, so we did not stay too long. I was actually surprised
when the hounds wanted to get in the truck after their wade. Usually
I have to do a little coaxing to get them back into the truck so we can
go. So we took one
last look at the lake and headed on the road back down south towards
The trip from Lac La
Belle to Gay is always a treat. Just about every time I travel it,
the weather has some kind of a different effect on the lake and the lake
is thus in some kind of a different mood. Today I would have to describe
the lake as being in an upset mood. Not angry, it was not causing
any destruction, but upset. You would not want to be out on it and
if you were you would want to be on your best behavior. One slip
up and you might make it go from upset to angry and that would be it for
you. I was glad to be traveling safe and sound on dry land, looking
out on the lake and admiring it's state of agitation. We made it
to the sleepy hamlet of Gay and then on to Calumet via Mohawk, but then
the plans changed a bit.
Mother nature is not
yet done with her color show. Sure all the hardwoods are done with
their colors and those trees are actually bare of any vegetation now, but
Tamaracks are putting on their color show. Yep, one last treat
of color before all is gray and then all is white. Did you know that
those trees actually shed their needles? Yep, just like a hardwood,
they drop their needles and start over with a new set for the new growing
season. I had no idea that there was a softwood that was not "evergreen".
Anyway, on my way back to the truck, I noticed that most of the mud had
come off of it with the rain and puddles we went through, so I nixed the
trip to the car wash and took the Copper City cut off to the Valley Road
and then home. I do plan to head back out into the bush Thursday,
so I figure it will get pretty muddy then and will clean it after that
So we are all safe
and sound. The hounds got to see the view from on top of Mt. Houghton,
I was able to take full advantage of the GPS to take me to places I have
yet to be and all is well. I am looking forward to the next trip
and will make sure to bring you all along. Till, then...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
an early start today. I did a lot of work outside and still have
some energy, but I have a feeling that soon after dinner, I will not feel
like doing much more than holding down the couch and absorbing some radiation
from the TV. Today was a very successful day for me. I got
my leaves raked, the grass cut and the snow station built and setup.
Oh, I also got the the trash out to the curb. Tomorrow is the fall
cleanup day. We have to put all of our garbage in special bags that
we buy from the village. The price of the bag helps to pay for the
trash service. Well, one in the spring and once in the fall, you
can put just about anything out and they will pick it up. It is amazing
to see what gets put out by some. They will take just about anything.
Couches, stoves, you name it. Most times I don't have too much, although
this time I do have quite a load for the poor garbage men. Mostly
boxes that I have been collecting for the past 2 years, but there is also
an old computer printer and odds and ends. With the completion of
the yard work and the snow station, all I have left to do is put up the
Christmas lights and I will be done with ALL my fall chores. Looks
like the weather will provide plenty of opportunities to get the lights
up in the next week or so, so I will not worry too much about getting them
Yep, it looks like
the pattern is going to change a bit and allow some mild air to build into
most of the Midwest. Maybe not warm, but at least out of the 30's.
Today was actually a pretty nice day. We warmed into the low 40's
and had some sunshine and clouds mixed. I can say that as much as
I want winter to come, day's like today are very nice. A perfect
day to get outside work done and also to walk in the woods. Only
12 more days left for us to go into the woods. I am also glad that
we did not get that much snow last Friday. It would just all be melting
right now and making everything all wet. Can you believe I am saying
such things!? Don't worry, I am not getting sick of snow and am actually
getting more and more anxious for the real snow season to come. I
guess that since we had such a snowy October and I was hoping for things
to dry out, I am happy by the turn of events. I don't know how many
of you heard the news, but Keweenaw County did break the all time record
for snowfall for the month of October. The brave souls of the road
commission measured 19.5" of snow for the month, passing the old record
of 12.8", by a comfortable margin. Not much snow seen for the next
few days. There could be a dusting to an inch by later Wednesday
and into Thursday with a brief shot of arctic air, but that looks to be
it for the next week or so. Figures, I will be starting my snowfall
forecasts this week and I will not have much to talk about. Oh well,
I guess I cannot expect too much this time of the year.
I am afraid that I
am actually out of things to say. This is really a quiet time of
the year for me. I am not a hunter, so I am not busy getting the
camp and weapons ready. The color show is over and the real snows
have yet to start. It does look like the woods are dry enough to
allow me to do some exploring and I plan to take advantage of that this
week and next. I do have some places picked out, so hopefully I will
have more material in future journals. So, it seem strange to be
ending this on the third paragraph, but I am really at a loss for anything
else to say, except...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
12. That is the
number of trick or treaters I had yesterday evening. That is less
than I had last year and about what I had the first year. I understood
the low turnout the first year. I was new in town and did not make
my presence too well known, so I suppose some people might have even thought
the home was still vacant. Last year the numbers climbed to fairly
respectable numbers, or at least for a village of about 800 people.
I think I had about 25-30. I was prepared for similar numbers and
even more yesterday, but the weather turned rather nasty and I think it
kept most of the kids away. It started to snow pretty good at about
5, just as the trick or treat hours started and we had almost an inch of
snow by about 7, so it did come down pretty good. Plus, the wind
was really blowing and it was in the 20's, so I'm not sure how long I would
have lasted, unless I was going as an arctic explorer or something.
So I have the traditional 4-5 bags of candy left over and have already
started in on taking care of them. It's a tough job, but someone
has to do it. I would rather have lots left over, than run out midway
through the period. Plus, as mentioned, I do get all stuff I like.
The snow were not enough
to break out the new Ariens. It sat in the garage, it's front intake
looking like a mouth and the front auger looking like smiling teeth.
I was a little disappointed, but did not let it get me down too much.
We will get to team up to move some snow soon enough and with great regularity,
that is for sure. So am I optimistic that we are going to have a
good winter? Well, I am always optimistic that it will be a good
winter, but even if it is a poor winter, that means about 150" of snow.
A record year for most other areas in the Midwest, outside the lake snow
belts. So that is why I am confident that we will get plenty of chances
to move snow.
Some other places up
here did better than us. Areas around Bruce Crossing reported about
4-5" of snow as did some places to the east of Marquette. It was
just one of those systems that did not get us as well as it could have.
That too is ok, because it is likely that it will melt anyway. Too
early to have snow stick around for good. That becomes a better possibility
in about 2-3 weeks. I would just as soon have things dry out some
more. They already have, especially when compared to about a week
ago. There are still some puddles and many of the small creeks that
are usually dry this time of the year are running, but a lot of the puddles
have dried up and some have even frozen. Yep frozen. It has
been cold enough to get some of the puddles and even some of the ponds
to freeze up. They too may not stay frozen, but will also not warm
much and would freeze pretty quickly with the colder temps by the end of
November or beginning of December.
I got the other half
of my bush protectors finished yesterday and am now officially ready for
winter. I suppose I could do with some mild temps to get the Christmas
lights up, but too tell you the honest truth, I would not be heart broken
if the weather would not allow me to get to them. I will do them
if I get the chance, but they are not as crucial as getting the bush protectors
up and the snow thrower. Every year I think that this will be the
final setup for my bush protectors, that I have finally arrived at a setup
that will be able to withstand the piles of snow that will collect on them
and so far I have been wrong! Of course I do just let the snow pile
up and do not do much to relieve the weight as the season goes on.
I think this year I will remove some of the snow. At least not let the
snow get 3 feet deep on them.
The hounds and I have
been taking to the woods in the afternoon for our walks. We still
have not ventured too far from home. I have had to stay close to
home to conserve time so that I can get all my chores done, but with most
of them done and the woods starting to dry out a little, we may be able
to get in some exploring before the woods are given to the hunters on the
15th. Yesterday we just went up to the first tracks and made the
traditional loop up and around and back home. It is a nice walk through
the woods and takes about an hour. What is nice is that we are able
to walk right from the house and finish at the house. No need to
pile into the Blazer. It is really great to be right on the edge
of the wilderness. I even have deer come into my front yard.
There was a set of tracks in the snow this morning.
Today the hounds and
I walked the trails that head up the hill from the village on their way
to Calumet and Laurium. There is also a loop there that we can take,
so we do not have to see the same scenery twice. Such a rough life
huh? Anyway, the scene on this walk was quite a bit different about
2 1/2 weeks ago than it
was today. The dogs did not seem to mind and with some flakes
falling, neither did I. It is really starting to look and feel like
autumn up here. In a month it should actually look and feel like
winter. Actually, it was cold enough today that it almost felt like
winter today. The trip we took today also brings us by the quarry
and I was a little surprised to see some ice
forming it it. That water was a little deeper than the puddles,
so I thought I might not be ready to freeze just yet. I guessed wrong.
Well, I guess that
will cover it for tonight. I have had a pretty busy day and my eyelids
are getting heavier and heavier and the mistakes in typing are getting
more and more, so I may as well call it a day. Talk to you all soon.
Good Night from the Keweenaw.