Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
Dan's Wilderness 
October 30-
    Figured I had better get this done tonight because tomorrow I will be handing out the candy.  Actually, I do not get that many trick or treaters at my end of the block.  I suppose most of the kids think it is not worth it to walk the 200 feet just for one house.  Every year I buy plenty of candy and have plenty left over.  Our hours run from 5 pm to 8 pm and by about 7:30 I start giving out 2 and 3 pieces to every kid, just so that I do not end up in a sugar coma at about 8:45.  I do make sure to get only candy that I enjoy, no need to waste any!  So I guess you can consider this the last day of the month entry.  I was going to write one yesterday, but I opted to go to the Little Gem Theater here in Lake Linden and hear and watch a presentation from Charlie Hopper the Administrator for Still Waters and creator of pasty.com and pasty.net.  It is pasty.net that hosts my site.  Between the two of our sites, we get over 7 million hits a month.  They have some pretty busy servers over there.  It was a neat presentation, he had taken every picture ever displayed on pasty.com (over 6000) and made a video presentation of them, each one displayed for a few seconds and then moved on to another shot.  I hope that he makes this video available for sale, it was neat just to sit and watch the photos roll through.  You can really get a great feel for what the UP is all about by watching all the pictures roll by.  Put a good sound track to it and he might even win some kind of award for video production.  One thing is for sure, if he does not put that video into production, I am going to have to strong arm him for a bootleg!  It was also interesting to hear about the processes that transpired to bring about pasty.com and pasty.net.
    Not much else going on, I continue to be busy preparing for the pending snow season.  Today I made the repairs to the other half of my bush protectors and will have them in place by tomorrow.  I took delivery of my new snow thrower today.  I think I got a little caught up in the moment when I was down looking at them and ended up with a 10 hp, 24" Ariens with hand warmers!  It will throw snow up to 45 feet!  It actually looks like I might get to use it on Friday.  Looks like we could get about 3-5" of snow from Thursday night through Friday.  There is the potential that we could see even more, but I do not want to get too excited about things.  The best snow making conditions actually look to hit the eastern great lakes later Friday and into Saturday.  Places just to the south of Buffalo might get a foot or more of snow and areas around the Tug Hill Plateau off the east end of Lake Ontario might get 1-2 feet of snow.  I still need to make the repairs to the snow station.  It took it on the chin last fall during a wind storm.  I managed to get it to stand for the season, but the spring takedown process was too much and it needs some fixing up.  I will either get it done tomorrow or over the weekend and it will be up and all ready to collect the snow by the launch of SNOW CENTRAL next Monday.  My surprise for the site this season will not be ready for the Nov 4th startup of winter mode, but I should be by the 15th, if not sooner.
    Of course the hounds and I have been taking our walks.  The weather has actually been cooperating the past few days.  Monday was sunny all day.  First entirely sunny day we have had in over two weeks.  It was not that warm, with a high of about 40, but still the sunshine was a welcome gift.  Yesterday we had peaks of sun and that was nice too.  Today was back in the clouds and cold.  I don't think we ever got out of the low 30's and some very, very small flakes of snow were falling.  So small you really had to be looking for them.  Who better to look for them than me, Eh?
    On Monday, I had some business in Calumet so the hounds and I ended up going to the north shore for our afternoon walk.  We actually did not walk the beach, but walked the road that runs parallel to it.  I did not feel like having the dogs get all wet and there was no way we could go to the beach and keep them out of the water, so we walked the road.  It is a nice and quiet road so they can be off leash.  With the climate being a little less severe down by the lake there were still some colors to be seen.  That is about the only place where colors are still to be seen.  Most other areas are pretty bare, as can be seen in this shot taken at the School Forest yesterday.  The two mostly sunny days have helped to dry things up a little.  It is amazing how fast the puddles go a way in a lot of the areas around here.  The soils are much different from where I grew up in northern IL.  Much more sandy up here.  Even so there are still some puddles to get around.  But they are getting smaller and easier to get around.  That is good, because we only have 2 more weeks left in the woods and then they belong to the hunters.  I really can't believe that it will be main firearm season in two weeks.  That to me is the traditional countdown to winter.  That season ends and riding season can begin, weather permitting.  I also can't believe I am still so calm, with winter being so close.  I guess I am just becoming a seasoned Yooper.
    Well, I guess I have come to the end of my journey for tonight. I should have some snow shots to share with you in the next entry.  Until then...
Good Night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
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October 27-
    Well, I did not keep up my every two day streak.  For a couple of reasons I guess.  First, updating this journal takes a minimum of 2 hours to do and I guess I just felt like taking a break and secondly, I did not have a whole lot to share.  I have actually been pretty busy the past few days taking care of things here at the ranch.  I was able to get up half of my bush protectors.  The other half needed some repairs, so I got the lumber to do that, but it was outside in the lumber yard and with all the rain we have picked up lately, the boards were just soaked right through.  I need to do some cutting and forming of the boards, so I need them to be dry, so they are in the basement, with a dehumidifier and fan trying to dry them out.  Hopefully they will get dry enough so that I can do my work on them in the next few days.  Snows may arrive at the end of this week and it looks like some areas might just get a lot of snow.  It is way too early to pinpoint which areas will get hit, but we might be one of them, so I would like to be prepared.  If we do get hit, I wonder if the snow will ever leave.  Things have been so cold, that if we keep up this current trend, the snow might just not leave.  It also looks like I need to get a new snow blower.  Last week I scared the heck out of the neighborhood when I was seen taking my snow blower into the shop to get fixed.  Word spread pretty quickly that the weather guy was taking his snow thrower in to get fixed and I was questioned by many if I thought a big storm was coming.  I said no, I was just getting ready for winter.  It turns out my old snow blower has finally reached the end of the road.  It runs great and can throw snow still pretty well, but the drive train is pretty well shot and the little fix that I though might take care of it did not, so it looks like I have to bite the bullet and get a new one.  The downside is the price, but the upsides are it will be great to have a machine that works perfect and it will also last about 15-20 years.  So I think the upsides outweigh the downside.
    Even with all of my homework that I have been doing, the hounds and I have been getting out.  The woods just seem to be getting wetter and wetter.  The cold weather is keeping any real evaporation from occurring and it seems like we get a steady influx of new precip just about every day.  Most of it has fallen as snow, but some rain has also mixed in from time to time.  I thought that our streak of snow days would end yesterday when we did not get any flakes to fly.  At about 8 pm it started to rain and by 9 it changed to snow and we did get enough to dust the ground before midnight, so our streak was kept alive.  The snows also fell this morning, so today was day 14 out of the past 15 with at least a trace or more of snow to fly and the 13th day in a row of the same.  It sure looks like we could go through the upcoming week with the streak alive.  The only day that is questionable is tomorrow.  We'll see.
    On Friday, the hounds and I went over to the village park and walked around the sands.  No matter how wet things get, it seems like the path out there is dry.  Probably because underneath it is about 5-10 feet of stamp sand, which is actually very fine gravel or very coarse sand, depending how you want to look at it.  Anyway, we had a good time out there.  The sights are pretty, including a look at my hometown - Lake Linden by the Sea.  The beach was pretty quiet, as was the rest of the park and the sands.  A few canadian geese for the dogs to chase, but even those transients have come and gone for the most part.  When we got around to the back side of the sands, near what I call Little Torch Lake, I noticed something strange about the lake, it had ice on it!  That body of water is pretty shallow, certainly not as deep as Torch Lake, which drops to 80 feet in some spots.  So it is one of the first bodies of water to freeze around here.  Even so, I don't think that it had any ice on it until December last year.  Quite a difference.
    Today the hounds and I braved the woods and brave is a pretty good word I think.  I have never seen it as wet as it is right now.  Even in the spring melt.  There are puddles where I have never seen puddles and every creek is running.  One thing is for sure, we will either need a good cold snap to hit or a long period of warm and dry weather to dry things up in time for the trails to open.  Otherwise we are in for another mud bowl!  For now it is muddy and the trucks and ATV's are mushing through, leaving the hounds and I to find creative ways to get through.  I have been reluctant to clean the inside of my house because the dogs come back so messy after our walks.  However, I finally got sick of the mess, and I cleaned the house this morning.  It is still pretty clean, but I don't think that will last too long.  1 man and 2 big dogs, I feel sorry for my vacuum cleaner!  My Blazer could probably use a good cleaning out as well.  Maybe I will open up the doors and shake it out next time we are in the woods.  Return the dirt to where it came.
    It is neat to be walking out in the woods, quite far from any road or utility and come across the remnants of some old home.  The valley is actually full of old homesteads that have been left to the elements.  Some of them are in better shape than others.  One we walked by yesterday looked like it could even be restored to something that would be livable.  The one we walked by today was far beyond that.  In fact, Baileys climbed up the front steps of the home and turned around as if to ask: "Where did the house go?".  The house has actually been gone long enough that a tree is growing directly in front of the front steps.  There was also an old stone foundation out there, marking the spot where someone called home a long time ago.  I am amazed that folks would live that far out of town way back then.  How did they manage to get to and from their house with all that snow?  I have read some books by a local historian and he talks about a teacher that taught at the Sevi School in the Valley and would cross country ski to and from school to his house in Calumet every day!  That is about a 5 mile trip each way and also a pretty serious hill (600 feet) in between as well.  And some of you think you commute to work is hard!
    Well, I guess that will do it for another journal.  Hopefully things will dry enough so that I can get to some of the places I have wanted to.  Unfortunately they are pretty deep into the bush and I do not want to go there alone for fear of getting good and stuck.  Who knows maybe I will have some deep snow shots to share with you by the end of the week.  Stay tuned...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 24-
    I have a feeling this will be a short one.  I only have one picture to share with you and do not have too much in the way of exciting tales to tell.  Yesterday I had some appointments in Houghton and Hancock, so the hounds and I did not go anywhere too exciting on our afternoon walk, I just stopped off at the Mason Sands on the way home and we walked around there.  I did not even bring my camera, which guess I should have, but just forgot.  We were joined by a new friend, a female husky that lives near by saw us and came over.  I am always a little leery when a dog that I do not know comes to investigate.  Especially when Burt and Baileys are off leash because they see the dog and take off running to say hi.  So far that has not proven to be a problem.  The dogs that are not too friendly, just up and run away when they see Burt and Baileys running towards them and the ones that are friendly, stand there and wait for the arrival of the hounds, probably hoping they are friendly.  My only bad experience with an unfriendly dog happened down in Chicago.  When we lived there, a group of regulars would all show up at the 14th street beach on Saturday mornings to take the dogs for a swim.  A new person showed up, but went way down to the other end of the beach.  None of us made much of a deal about it, but Baileys saw them and just had to say hi.  Well, there was a reason why that guy and his dog were so far away from us and that is because his dog was not too sociable with other dogs and proceeded to attack Baileys.  Burt and I were already jogging down to retrieve Baileys and when we saw the attack commence, we both went into a full sprint.  That was before I broke my leg and I could run pretty fast, but was left in Burt's dust.  As I was sprinting towards the maylay, I noticed the guy was not doing anything and was a little upset, I also wondered what Burt would do when he got there.  It did not take me log to get my answer, he ran full speed, straight into the other dog, hitting the dog broadside with his chest.  The other dog flew through the air about 10-15 feet and landed on his side and was shaken up for a few moments.  By that time, I had arrived on the scene and tended to Baileys to make sure she was OK.  She had bite on her ear and that was it.  Barely even drew blood.  The other dog stood up and saw Burt standing guard between it and us and decided to stay put.  The owner of that dog apologized and said that his dog was not too friendly with other dogs and was why they went to the other end of the beach.  I said it was ok and not his fault, that Baileys should have listened to me.  I kind of felt sorry for his dog, seeing how Baileys caused the incident, but was also very impressed with Burt.  When we got back, all my friends were in awe as well.  Burt is about the most laid back dog in the world and they all commented on how they would make sure to never make him angry!  Baileys, being a stubborn female (did I say that!?) did not learn much from that lesson and will still run towards an unknown dog, only now I am usually hot on her trail, with Burt well ahead of me.
    So where was I... Oh ya, this Husky and Burt and Baileys made quick friends by sniffing each others rear ends and was soon tagging along with us.  After a while, she sensed that we were not just going for a short stroll around her neighborhood and decided it was time to bolt for home, so Burt, Baileys and I continued on without her.  I chose the sands because we had not been out there in a while, the winds were not too bad (that can be a very windy place when there is a breeze) and the woods are just so wet.  Things were not wet out there and it did provide for a nice afternoon walk.  There had been enough deer traffic out there to keep Burt fully interested and Baileys is so happy go lucky that she is just glad to be out walking with her two men.
    It did snow yesterday and again today.  Yesterday we probably picked up about a half inch with a heavier squall in the morning.  I decided to record it as just a trace.  I'm sure it will not cause major problems in the whole scope of the snowfall totals this season.  It was a typical lake effect snow day, with a few peaks of sun at times and near whiteout conditions at others.  Today's snow was very, very light.  The kind you really have to look for, or will not even realize it is snowing.  The Inuit have over a hundred different names to describe the different types of snow.  I suppose I could come up with at least about 20 rather quickly.  Or at least identify 20 different types of snow.  It might take me quite a long time to actually come up with the names for all of them.  It did stop snowing today and we even saw this strange bright orb in the sky, reported to be the sun.  The last time the sun peaked out behind the clouds was 9 days ago on the 14th.  Since the 13, it has snowed on 10 out of those 11 days and also snowed 9 days in a row.  Sounds more like December, January or February statistics, not October.  For those of you wondering, that is really unusual for us.  It is not unusual to get snow at this time of the year.  In some years we have picked up as much as 10" in one day at this time of the year, but to have it snow day after day after day, that is unusual.  I really do not know what this means for us, some like to use the "Analog Years" method to try and determine what the next few months will provide for us.  For example; one would look back and see what other years October was cold and snowy from the second week on and then look to see what the rest of the season was like and use that year to try and describe what this season will provide.  For the most part that method fails miserably.  The reason is that there are a number of different reasons why the last 3 weeks of October might be unusually cold and snowy and the reasons this year might not parallel the analog year.  So as far as what this season will bring, I say: "Your guess is as good as mine".  Probably the most honest answer you will get from a meteorologist when you ask the same question.  I will be going into this a little deeper in a "Seasonal Outlook" provided with the start of the snowfall forecasts Nov. 4th, but I did just give the main thesis of the discussion here.
    Today I had the usual errands to run, bank, post office... but found myself with not enough time to go anywhere too exotic, so we just went to the school forrest.  Just!  It is as beautiful as ever, starting to get pretty bare in the tree canopy, but not as bare as I would expect.  I still have lots of leaves on my trees and the same can be said for many of the trees up here.  The past few years, the trees were completely bare within a week of hitting the peak and this year it looks like we will still have leaves on the trees two weeks past peak.  I can't believe I am saying this, but I really need the snow to melt!  I need to get my yard work done, then it can snow and snow and snow.  IN some places of the UP where the snow is still 8-10 inches deep, I wonder if it will melt before winter arrives for good.  I even heard a rumor that Ski Brule opened up today.  I cannot confirm that, but if so I think it was because they wanted to set a new record for earliest opening.  The got about 10" of snow Monday and it has been cold there at night, so they have also likely been making snow.  The big lake has keep us rather mild at night so far.  Our low this morning was about 28 or 29 and that is about as cold as it has been getting.  Some areas away from the lake last week got into the single digits.  I love the snow, but do not like the bitter cold and that is another reason why I think this winter climate in the Keweenaw is so perfect.  No a whole lot of bitter cold, just regular winter cold, with highs in the teens and 20's and lows in the single digits.
    I can say that I am doing great with my patience this year for winter to start.  That statement might have given some of you a chuckle, seeing as though it has been snowing for 9 days straight, but it is not true winter.  I cannot play in the snow and it is melting and will likely be gone tomorrow.  No, I mean real winter, with snows up to my belly button and flakes flying just about every day.  It seems every year, I get a little better at waiting for it to arrive.  I almost cannot believe that in just over a month, deer season will be ending and riding season will be commencing.  I must admit that reading the latest Snow Goer magazine that arrived today did get my blood pumping a little there was an ad for some place in Canada that had a picture of some sleds on a road or trail with snow banks about 6 feet high on either side.  For a moment, I almost lost control of myself and got anxious, but I was able to control my emotions and am fine now.  Oh and by the way, anyone taking the readers poll in the latest Snow Goer, I would really appreciate you saying KSE is the best tour operator out there!  Look out Deckers!
    So, I'm actually hoping that we can at least get some dry weather around here so that I can get back into the woods without getting mired in mud.  Unfortunately, that does not look to be the case.  At this point it does not look like any big storms will hit us, but more cold and wet weather looks to occur through most of next week as well.  Maybe I will have to buy a hovercraft.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 22-
    I suppose for those of you in the northern 1/2 of MN and WI, this journal and its wintry theme may be preaching to the choir, but for those of you south of a line from about Minneapolis to Green Bay, I think you will get an extra kick out of reading about and looking at our snow.  The snow started yesterday morning and stopped just this evening.  About 36 hours of non stop flakes.  For a while today, it really did seem like winter was here, as the flakes just kept coming and coming.  Other than a period yesterday morning, it did not snow particularly hard here in my next of the woods.  We got about 2" in 2 hours and then it just snowed hard enough to keep up with any melting.  The snow was enough to cover the roads and we had the first visit of the plow on my street yesterday morning.  The plows have gone down some of the highways before yesterday, but yesterday was the first visit to our house.  We even had some rain mix in yesterday evening for about an hour.  It was an "elevation" snow, meaning that areas higher in elevation and also away from the lake by at least a few miles picked up the heaviest totals.  Areas to the west of Marquette like Ishpeming and Negaunee picked up about 8-9" and I believe just west of there was the winner, with a foot.  I believe Iron Mountain also picked up a foot.  There was some decent snow in the higher elevations of Ontonagon and Gogebic county.  Most of their snow actually fell earlier today, with totals of 4-7" reported.  Closer to home, I picked up about 2.5-3", hard to tell exactly, with the melting that went on at the same time it was falling.  Calumet picked up about 4-5" and the higher elevations of Keweenaw County picked up 6-8".  My yard has been white for over 36 hours now and with temps currently at freezing and expected to drop into the mid 20's tonight, it will last into tomorrow morning as well.  Ironically, what would be best right now would be a 2-3 week warm and dry spell to dry things out, then bring in the cold, freeze things up and by the middle of November it can start snowing and not stop until April as far as I am concerned.  The woods are wet and getting even wetter.  When this wet and heavy snow melt, things will only get worse before getting better.
    All the wetness in the woods has not stopped the hounds and I from getting out into the woods.  Yesterday I decided to stick close to home for our walk so that I could also go and get a work out in before dinner.  Now, sticking close to home does not really sacrifice the quality of what we see.  Last weeks moment of bliss occurred on the trail just blocks from my house, it is just nice to also get out and see new areas like we did today.  At any rate, I was hoping to get some shots of the snowmobile trail with snow on it, just to get the blood pumping.  I figured the trail all covered in snow would be fairly pristine and would make for a neat shot.  Unfortunately someone beat us to the trail, there were a few ATV tracks in the snow.  I could tell that they had not been there much before us because their tracks were not covered at all by any new snow.  The snow was actually melting from the trees and it was almost like it was raining so I was a little surprised that someone would be out on an ATV when it was so wet.  I was doubly surprised when I saw that the person decided to not go through a set of puddles.  The puddles are large but not that deep, so I suppose that whoever was on the ATV had never been down the trail before, otherwise they would have known that they could make it through with no problem.  On the plus side we got to walk on the pristine snow and I got to take my picture of the snowmobile trail covered in snow for you.  I also got to snap a shot of some left over autumn color mixing with the color of winter.  As we crossed the ravine created by the Hammell Creek, I could look off to the east and see the fields of the Traprock Valley, painted in winters white.  Almost enough to ride in, almost.
    My thoughts for today were to head up north to the higher terrain of Keweenaw County.  Actually, to the highest point in Keweenaw County.  With reports of 6-8" down up there, I figured it would make for a fun adventure.  I even packed the skis, thinking that conditions might be such that I could get in the first ski of the season.  There was probably enough snow to ski in, but I was worried about coming across some puddles or something else the skis were not designed to go through, so I opted for my boots.  There was more snow up there.  Here is a shot of the snowmobile trail near Phoenix.  Probably even enough to take a ride if one wanted, but there was also some puddles and as was demonstrated last year just after Christmas, snowmobiles and puddles do not get along very well.
    So the hounds and I followed our progress on the map on the laptop.  The Phoenix Farm Road would take us most of the way and a logging road was to take us to within about a quarter mile of Praiseville Hill.  That is the name I was told the locals call it.  As we got to the logging road I could see that it was being used by logging trucks and feared the worse.  It did not take long to realize that I should not take the truck any further, the logging trucks had done a number on the road.  So I backed up and parked the truck off the trail and the hounds and I hoofed in on foot.  I was fairly determined to get to the top of this hill.  This was the second attempt to do so and I was not going to be turned away, even if it meant having to work around some monster puddles.  Thankfully, after about a half mile of the sloppy logging road, we were able to take a smaller trail that had not been used by the trucks and enjoy a snow laden path through the woods.
    This was one of the easier places to find.  All I had to do was keep walking up hill!  For the most part, there was some kind of a path to take, but at other times we had to forge our way through some pretty frosted trees.  The snow did seem to get deeper and I could tell that the temp was below freezing as well.  The snow was powdery and came crashing down on us when we went through the trees.  I must have given the hounds about 20 avalanches.  Soon they got the idea that it might be better if they led and then the chunks of snow were pelting me.  We did make it to the top and the altimeter read 1555 feet.  That is about 955 feet above the lake level.  Before heading out today, I made sure to calibrate the altimeter, so I know that reading was very accurate.  It also matched up pretty well with the topographic maps I have, as they have a 1540 contour drawn, but no 1560.
    There are two other points in that area that also are above 1540, but below 1560 - the Buffalo Hills to the northeast and Mt. Horace Greely even further to the northeast.  In comparison, Brockway Mountain is 1328 and Mt. Bohemia is 1465.  Getting up to the Buffalo Hills will be in the cards before the snow does not get too deep.  I think I can forge my way up there.  Mt. Horace Greely will be another story.  It is home of the Keweenaw Academy, a juvenile rehabilitation institute.  So getting up there will take a phone call and some luck.  I'm sure that they will let me go.  I know that they even have open houses from time to time.  I would actually like to get them to start taking snowfall measurements.  I am fairly confident that if they took 2 or maybe even 4 measurements a day as is allowed, that with their proximity to the snow belts in the Keweenaw and their height their annual average snowfall could be very close to, or maybe even over 300".  I know when I snowmobile out there, the snow is way deeper than most other areas I ride.  The view from the top of Praiseville Hill was not all that dramatic.  The hill is filled with trees and the surrounding area is also heavily wooded, so you have to look really hard and use a little imagination to take it all in.  In that shot, the darker blue color is Lake Superior.  Here's a shot of the hounds at 1555 feet.
    On the way back, we were driving down Phoenix Farm Road and the snow had stopped.  We came to a point where I could look out over the lake and I saw Isle Royal.  The clarity of the air and our elevation really made it look close.  Using the camera at full zoom made it look even closer.  I wonder if there was anyone over there looking back at me?  Probably, not, I think the island is closed.  There was one more stop I wanted to make before home.  The Cliff Range looked very pretty with the snow draped on them, so I went to one of my favorite photo op places and snapped a shot for you all.  I guess that one deserves a full sized version.
    So it looks like I have said all I can say for now.  A good thing as my eyelids have grown heavier and heavier in the past 30 minutes.  The hounds are already snoring away and I think I need to join in the chorus.  I was actually hoping that the clouds might break enough to give a glimpse of the Hunters Moon.  Actually it was yesterday, but I knew last night was cloudy.  No luck, so no one last shot.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 20-
    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Actually, this past week, it sure has felt like the end of November, not the middle of October.  We has snow every day last week, Sunday-Saturday.  The snow accumulated twice.  It snowed again today, making that 8 days in a row.  It looks like it will snow a bit Monday and possibly Tuesday and maybe even Wednesday.  10 days in a row?  Sounds more like winter than autumn.  Our average high is still actually 51 degrees, but we have not been out of the 30's since Tuesday.  I'm not complaining, but it would be nice to have a little dry weather.  Things sure are wet and that played a role in our adventures over the past several days.  Friday was dry until about noon, so the hounds and I were able to get in our morning short walk around the neighborhood.  I sneak in a 15 minute walk about mid morning and call it my coffee break.  I do not drink coffee, but do enjoy the little break and am back in the saddle in 15 minutes, so it does not cause any problems with by service to my business.  I can even take my cell phone if I am worried about missing an important call.  At any rate, the rain started at about noon and kept up solidly until about 10 pm.  Some areas got snow.  Looking at the web cam for Eagle River WI, it looked like they got about 2.5-3" of snow and Marquette picked up a few inches.  It did snow in the higher elevations around here as well.  I went to work out in Calumet and it was snowing.  Not accumulating, but big flakes.  It did change to snow here in Lake Linden briefly late in the evening, but then went back to rain before ending.  So even though I was able to go and work out, the hounds were stuck inside most of the day on Friday.
    Friday night was a perfect night to stay in, build a fire and just relax.  That is exactly what I did.  I am not one that likes to have a tiny fire in the fireplace.  I like one of those roaring infernos that you can hear and feel from across the room.  The only problem is, the room the fireplace is in is not really big enough to support such a fire.  It is the biggest room in my house, but I do not have very large house.  So after about an hour, I found myself sweating and Baileys started panting.  We both had to go into the other room, me to change into shorts and Baileys just to get away from the heat.  Upon returning to the living room, I checked the thermostat and it read 78 degrees.  The rest of the house was dropping through the 60's as the thermostat in the living room controls the heat in all of the house.  I don't mind, I like to sleep in a cold room, but man was that living room hot!  I am writing this journal early today.  My plans are to finish this, build a fire and have a relaxing dinner while watching the Packers game.  Right now the Bears/Lions game is just ending.  I'm sort of a fan of both the Packers and Bears and usually just root for whomever is the underdog at the time.  I just cannot become a Detroit fan, whether that is for football, baseball, basketball and even hockey.  I did root for the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup, but am a Blackhawk Fan at heart and probably always will be.
    Yesterday we had some flakes of snow.  Nothing much, but enough to make it feel like I am living in one of the northern most parts of the US.  I decided to to some exploring of my property.  The leaves are starting to come off the trees, so I can see further into the woods than I could before.  The land was marked and I walked the boundaries early last summer while the trees were not very full.  But when I tried to find the markers (little strips of plastic tape on the trees) I could only go so far before loosing sight of the next marker.  So I took my GPS and some marking tape and decided to do a little marking of my own.  I only used the electronic compass on the GPS, not the actual GPS features.  I know what the heading is for the boundaries and was able to find the original markings and added a few of my own.  I did not bring the camera, which was ok, there was not much to see.  I also bought a used chain saw last week.  I intend to do a little "cleaning up" of some of the fallen trees out in the area I want to build on.  I am not yet sure exactly where I want to put the home and pole barn, so I will not be cutting any trees that are still alive, not yet anyway.
    Today I woke up to a fresh coating of snow in my neighborhood.  The NWS actually had us under an winter storm watch for part of the day yesterday with the potential of 12 inches of snow.  After reading that, I just about flew to my computers to see what was up.  I had a hard time finding where they thought we would see that much snow.  It is a rare event when they have more snow in the forecast that me, but for the life of me, I could just not see a foot of snow in the forecast for us.  By later in the day, they did downgrade things to a snow advisory with the potential for 7 inches of snow, especially in the higher terrain.  I still thought that was a little much, with a few inches most likely, especially in the higher terrain.  So last night I did sleep rather lightly, looking out the window every time I awoke.  At times it was snowing and at other times not, so it seemed like the bigger snow forecast was not going to pan out.  After having breakfast and a shower, the hounds and I headed out to take our morning walk.  We usually stick to the roads on our morning walk, but since it was Sunday and we were not on a strict time schedule, I decided to head out into the bush a bit.  We do not have to go far to get into the bush.  100 feet to the north of my house is basically the wilderness of the Traprock Valley, but there is no trail out that way, so we have to walk a few blocks to the east to get to a trail that will take us into the bush.  We made it out to the Traprock River and walked along it for a while.  Every once in a while, a snow squall would roll through and freshen up the snowcover.  In that last shot, you could see a squall off in the distance to the left.
    I decided that our afternoon adventure today would be up north somewhere and came up with a spot we had never been to.  I have wanted to get there and saw how to do so on my mapping software.  Plus, a visitor to the side sent me some directions via e mail to the spot, so I loaded the laptop and GPS into the Blazer and the hounds and I headed up north.  It became apparent that the higher elevations around here had picked up more snow than Lake Linden did.  When we left my house, most of the snow had melted, but in Calumet, there was about an inch down and by the time we got further north, there was even more down.  Enough to call out the plows and make the seasons first plow banks.  That was the road to Lac La Belle, probably about 3 inches on the ground there, so I would imagine they picked up about 4 inches overnight.  The sticky snow and bare deciduous trees sure made it look like winter.  And the trees were bare.  There are still some leaves on the trees down here, but up on the road to Lac La Belle, not a leaf was to be seen on the trees.  Some Michigan Travel service was saying last weekend that we were 40-70% changed and the peak would come in a week and a half.  Don't know where they got that info from, but I hope nobody was using it!  In a few day all the trees will be bare.
    Even as we got into the deeper snowfall areas, the roads were great.  The road commission's up here are really on the ball.  Someone said that I should talk to them about providing my services, but the way that they handle keeping the roads clear, maybe I should contact them!  They really seem to know when the snow is coming and it is a very rare occurrence when they are caught off guard.  I can only remember once last winter.  It was in March and we got so much snow so fast (about 15 inches in 6 hours) that some of the plow operators could not get out of their driveways to get to work.  Other than that, it takes one heck of a storm to cause problems with the roads up here.  Of course once you get off the roads that the counties maintain, it is a whole different story.  There are signs at the entrance to many of these roads that warn you that the road is not maintained by the county road commission and those signs start to take on importance this time of the year.  In the winter, it is obvious that the country does not maintain it, as there is 4 feet of snow on it, and in the summer, you don't have to worry about it, but this time of the year, a storm can blow in and make the road impassible.  I have been recording the weather records for the area posted in the local paper and since about the beginning of October, there has been some measurable snow that has occurred, with most totals in the 2-4" range.  But Friday's record snow was 9" and those types of numbers will become more and more common as we get closer to winter.  The "seasonal" roads as they are called, were still passable today, but not without 4 wheel drive.
    So I guess I have come to the part of the journal where I need to reveal where we were headed this afternoon and that is the Bare Bluffs.  There is a path that will take you to the top of them where you can get a great view of the Smith Fisheries and also back towards Bete Gris.  As we motored through the snow and mud, I was keeping an eye on my location on the laptop and the turn off point matched up perfect.  So far so good, but things started to not look as good, as the path we were to take was being logged.  If it were a weekday, I would not have even gone down the road, as I do not want to get in the way of the logging going on.  But it being a Sunday, I figured we would be safe, but would the road be passable?  The logging trucks and equipment can really tear up a road and it has been so wet up here since the beginning of September, a person could get into some real trouble quickly where logging is going on.  So we traveled on down the road, but I was very careful to pay attention to what was up ahead.  After about a half mile, things started to get a little deep and there were some log pieces to maneuver around, so I decided to turn around and head back the way we came in.  Since I had never been there, I thought that it was possible we were going down the wrong path.  There was a path off to the left that we could have taken about 1/4 mile in on the logging road.  It looked like there had been no logging on it, so I parked at the beginning of it and decided to hike up it with the dogs.
    My fear with this road was that it was just a dead end road, like so many logging roads in the bush are.  The road started out nice and wide and looked like it could be a road that would go on long enough to get us to the top of the bluff, but after about a quarter mile of up hill hiking, we came to the end of that road and what looked like the end of the adventure on it.  Then I noticed what looked like a little path going off into the woods behind a pile of earth.  Many times the loggers will pile a bunch of rock and dirt in front of a path to keep any vehicles from going down it.  The loggers usually do not own the land, but many times the owners request that the loggers put up some sort of obstacle that will keep a vehicle from going down it.  A person can climb over the berms and hike the roads and not be in violation of the law, but the land owners do the the right to keep vehicles off the land.  At any rate, we climbed up and over the berm and there was a path that went off into the woods some more, so there was a moment of optimism.  However, after only a few hundred feet, we ran out of path and both the dogs and I knew we had reached the end of that path and turned around.
    That is one of the problems in making new explorations into the bush up here.  Even if you have very good information and some knowledge of the local terrain, things like logging can change everything.  That is one reason why I do not recommend you go off into the bush on your own on a snowmobile up here.  The path you went down last time or think you can go down may not actually be that same path.  New logging roads are being made every year up here and even the locals can get turned around for a while because roads exist where they did not the last time we were down that path.  We have even had a KSE tour or two have to backtrack because of a wrong turn down a new trail.  Having to turn around it not a problem, but there could be a creek or other hazard down that new path that you do not know about.  That's why on the KSE tours, the guide is always in front.  If he disappears into a hidden creek bed or other obstacle the rest of the tour group is safe and can just ride out the way they came in!  The person that had sent me the e mail also told me about a path that was close to where I was located that would take me down to the lake.  I saw that path on the way in and decided to finish up our exploration for the afternoon on it.  It was gated, but was not posted no trespassing, so I parked the Blazer and the hounds and I took off down the path.  I could see that we were already close to the lake, probably about a few hundred yards, but when we got about 75 yards from the lake, the path turned to the left and parelled the lake, so we kept on it to see where it would lead.  I also saw some other foot prints in the snow, which I thought was strange as there was no other tire tracks near the gate.  Then a building came into view.  It was a house, but I could not see it very clearly.  Thinking that the foot prints I had seen were made by the owners who probably just decided to take a little walk up to the gate and back, we turned around before getting to the house.  I do want to check out the house though.  It must be totally independent of commercial utilities, as there is no power that I know of out there and certainly no gas, water or anything else.  Maybe we can head out there in a few weeks to see if we can see the house, it looked like it could be a very neat one, not just a rustic camp.
    We backtracked again and found a path that led to the lake.  That part of the Keweenaw shoreline is one of my favorites.  One of the most rustic, unspoiled and also full of some neat views with the steep terrain dropping into the lake.  That was the view looking northeast towards the site of the old Smith Fisheries and here is the view to the southwest, with the beach of Bete Gris off in the distance.  Of course the hounds had to go for a swim in the big lake and I sat for a few minutes taking in the view, so even though we did not reach our intended destination I would have to rate our afternoon adventure a success.  I got to see some places that I had never been, got to get the Blazer coated in mud from head to toe (we stopped off at the car wash on the way home and she is squeaky clean again) and even got some exercise in.  It looks like we will not be heading off to try and get to the top of the bear bluffs until next spring and late spring at that.  That place needs to be pretty dry before I am going back in there!
    On the way home the snow was still pretty deep in the higher elevations and as we crossed over the Montreal River, I stopped to take a shot.  If you had to guess when this shot was take, would you ever think October 20th?  Not me.  I think that one deserved a full sized view.  After the view at the Montreal River, we continued through the winter wonderland and I could just not bring myself to go home just yet, so we took a little bit of a detour and headed off to Copper Falls Lake to see what kind of scenery it could provide and it did not disappoint.  That one also deserved a full size shot.  That looked to be an old white pine stump.  Probably an old growth tree.  As pretty as some of the shots in this journal and past journals have been lately, I think I was able to capture the top of the pile, king of the hill, best of the best and have saved it for last.  This might just be one that I actually get developed and hang in my house somewhere.  I'll call it "Early Snow in the Keweenaw".  That one definitely deserved a full size version.
    So another day is over and as my head hits the pillow, I can drift off to sleep while thinking of the days trials and triumphs.  I did take a quick peak at some of the forecast models and it looks like some more snow is on tap for us tomorrow.  Looks like a few inches will likely fall, but even more will fall to the south of us.  Places like Hayward, Phillips and Rhinelander WI could see 3-8" of snow fly tomorrow.  Sure seems like an old fashioned winter is shaping up for the northern Midwest.  I caution that is not a forecast, things can change very quickly, but it has been a long time since it has been this cold and snowy in this neck of the woods this early.  In two weeks I will be starting up my snowfall forecasts and I will be putting some thoughts to words as to what I feel is in store for this winter.  I will caution, there will not be any firm decisions made, but it will help to explain what is possible and why.  If the current pattern keeps up, maybe I should start the forecasts early!
    Well, the I took a break and had dinner, not only is the Bears game over, but the Packers game just ended and the dogs are asking where their fire is.  Ok not really, but I know they will appreciate one once I get it going!
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 17-
    Figured I would try and keep up the every other day streak I have going.  I do not have a whole lot to say, but do have some neat pictures to share.  I saw some pretty cool sights on the walk this afternoon and took some shots, hoping to capture the beauty I was seeing and as luck would have it, the shots turned out pretty good.  First off I can say that we got our second and third measurable snowfall of the season today.  This morning, before daybreak the flakes started flying and really came down for a while and we ended up picking up about a half inch in 20 minutes and then this afternoon we picked up about another 1/4 inch.  Quite the pattern we are in, it was the 5th day in a row with flakes to fall.  Too bad this was not 2 months later, we would be getting hammered.  Who knows maybe this is just the sign of things to come.  Every morning the bucket of water in my back yard is frozen.  That too is a good sign.  It has not been getting all that cold at night, down into the mid to upper 20's here in the valley and in the upper 20's to low 30's up on the hill.  Nothing compared to the teens they are having over in northern MN just about every morning.  Heck, they keep having temps like that and the lakes will begin to freeze over there.  It sure would be nice if we could get things to freeze up around here before the snow gets deep.  Aaahhh, the long term weather forecast.  Always the mystery.  I plan to sit down and put my thoughts to words about what I see for the upcoming winter.  I can give a little hint, there will be no major revelations.  I see reasons why it could be milder and also why it could be more harsh than average and only time will tell.  For the near term I see more cold and even some more snow for our neck of the woods.  I do not see much snow for other areas of the Midwest, but some of you saw your first flakes in the past 24 hours.
    The snowfall we got this morning was a fluffy one, but all the surfaces were wet, so the snow ended up sticking to everything.  I really like a snow that sticks to everything.  Powder is more fun to play in, but the sticky snow is much better to look at.  So, as I ate breakfast, watching the last few flakes fall from the sky, I decided I would go out and update the front of house shot and while out there, I took a shot of the sticky snow.  Of course the only thing better than a light dusting of sticky snow is about 15 inches of sticky snow, but that will come in it's own time and I hope that it does not come too soon, as I still have to get ready for it.  The snow thrower needs to be fixed, the bush protectors need to go up as do the Christmas lights.  Plus I need to do some reconstruction on the snow station.  So believe it or not, I would just as soon keep the real snow away until about the middle of November, then bring it on!
    I had to take care of some business in Houghton today, so I decided to take the dogs along and we would just walk down there.  I was about to say why I was down in Houghton, it is related to the site, but I think I will keep is a secret.  I think all of you will like my surprise.  It should be revealed in about a month, so hang in there.  Anyway, when I am down Houghton way and want to take the dogs for a walk in the woods, I usually end up heading out the Freeda Loop.  It is a nice flat trail and there is plenty for the hounds to sniff and explore.  Just before we got there, the second snowfall of the day had rolled through and there was a fresh dusting on everything.  I like the look of snow on autumn leaves.  There is just something about the mix of reds and oranges coated in white.  For some reason the white did not show up as well as I had hoped in that shot, but did not have any problems showing up on the evergreens.  That one deserved a full sized version, don't you think?  Another place that I will sometimes go to with the dogs when down by Houghton is Whealkate Bluff.  That is a hill over by South Range.  It is the highest point around that area and from the top you get a good view of the Houghton/Hancock area.  I did not go up there today, as it was coated in snow and is very steep and would have been a pretty harrowing climb and I was not in the mood for harrowing this afternoon.  I did get a picture of it for you all.  That was the second neat shot of the day and deserves a full size version.  When I first saw the picture, it almost looked like a painting to me, the way the trees were all dusted with snow.  The clearing going up the side of the hill is where they used to have a snowmobile hill climb.  It is private property, so I do not advise heading over there in the winter to try and climb it yourself.  Besides, it is notorious for totaling sleds.  It is really steep.  In the summer and fall when I climb up it, I end up having to climb on my hands and feet to get up.  Most sleds will make it up the slope - if it has snow.  The problem is that if the snow is thin, you are not going to make it.  Probably not even with a studded track.  I personally know of two sleds that were totaled on the same day when they did not make it.  The riders were ok, they were smart enough to jump off the sled as the track started to spin, but I think the sleds were traveling faster on the way down than they were on the way up.  So that is my warning to stay off of Whealkate.
    Just as we were about to turn around and head back to the Blazer, it started to snow again.  So I walked over to the edge of a field and snapped a shot of a farm off in the distance and you can see some of the flakes coming down.  It was not snowing too hard where we were at, but off towards Houghton and Hancock a pretty good little squall was getting ready to hit.  That is sort of how things have been up here, sort of squally.  Still, it is great to see the flakes flying and it really makes it seem like the northwoods, which of course it is.
    So I guess that does it for another couple of days.  I am not sure if I will get to one tomorrow or Saturday, but I will try, especially if I have some material.  If everything plays out just right, we could get a few inches of snow up here.  It looks like we will see some rain mix in as well, and that could hold down the accumulation or maybe even keep us from getting any accumulation.  This is a real tricky time of the year to be trying to snowfall forecast in the Keweenaw.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 15-
    Before moving up here, I used to pretend that I lived in the northwoods.  In the fall, I would head out of the big city and into a nature preserve or other unspoiled area, with the trees still hanging onto a few leaves, a chill in the air, maybe even a few flakes gently falling and just do a bit of pretending that the hounds and I were off on some exploration in the northwoods of the Midwest.  On my walk today, while walking through the woods, with the trees still hanging onto some of their leaves, a chill in the air and even a few flakes falling, I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy.  I no longer had to pretend.  I was living my life's dream.  For a moment, in a way, it almost seemed surreal.  Like it was too good to be true.  My body was walking, I could hear my feet hitting the ground, but it was like I was floating.  I guess that is what they mean when they say "buoyed by emotions".  At that moment, I was as one with myself and my surroundings as anyone could possibly be.  I know this may seem corny, and some of you may think that I have flipped my lid, but I really felt as if I was part of the forest, not just an observer, making his way through, but actually part of it.  Really an incredible feeling.  Something that I get from time to time while wandering this beautiful land and a feeling that I rarely get from anything else.  And I guess I need to thank all of you for helping to put me there.  See, gathering information and pictures for this journal is almost a full time job.  It is not a burden, but I do make an effort to try and keep track of my thoughts and feelings as well as being ever on the lookout for a photo op to share with you.  With the color show upon us, I have made quite an effort to get out to the differing area up here to show you the different sights to be seen.  Again, not a burden, but it did take some effort.  Many of you have written in to me thanking me for the shots and that makes me feel good that my efforts had a positive effect.  But all the exploration we have done lately has also had a very positive effect on me.  I have been forcing myself to look for all the beauty up here (not that that's all that hard!) and have been rewarded by what I have found.  I suppose I was a bit guilty of taking my surroundings for granted.  We all do, I guess it is human nature.  But for me living up here, I guess I felt that taking my surroundings for granted was a larger crime.  I suppose that in time I will once again slip into a frame of mind when I take my surroundings for granted, but I also know that something will cause me to take notice of what is around me and I will once again take it all in.
    So without further adieu, let's see what the hounds and I have been up to since Sunday, shall we?  Yesterday was a beautiful day up here.  Not that Sunday's snow was bad, but it is also a gift to have sunshine and temps in the low 50's.  I wanted to get out and take some more shots of the color show and chose the Cliff Range (full size) as our destination.  The colors are really something to behold up here, but I find that adding something else like water or even a big rock outcropping adds to the show.  For those of you who have not been up here, or maybe have been, but did not see the Cliff Range, it is to the northeast of Mohawk.  They rise about 300-400 feet above the surrounding terrain and on their southern side, they are very steep.  So steep that most of the elevation gain is via a cliff.  Once on top, the elevation change is not very dramatic.  There is a road that parallels the range called the Cliff Drive.  Look for it just southwest of Phoenix or to the northeast of Ahmeek.  There are a few ways to get up to the top of the cliff range and there are a myriad of trails one you are up there.  Usually I go in up by the cliff cemetery, but yesterday I decided to take another route.  It actually takes me to the highest point of the cliff range at 1450 feet.
    The hike up this way is a bit longer to the top and you have to know which way to turn at the different intersections, but it is also more scenic.  The other way used to be very pretty, but since the logging they did up there in the summer of 2001, it is not as nice.  So the hounds and I took route number two.  Even though we were hiking up there in the afternoon and it was in the low 50's, there was still some snow left over from the day before.  We got about an inch an a half in Lake Linden and the higher terrain picked up about 2".  It is amazing how fast the leaves come down once they change.  More and more sky is starting to appear overhead.  I suppose wind, rain and snow does not help them to say on the branches either.  In areas that are not as exposed to the elements, there are still quite a bit of leaves on the trees.  So we wound our way to the top, dogging puddles and sloshing through some left over snow and made it to the top.  That was the view to the east, overlooking the hamlet of Phoenix, with the ever popular Cliff View the first building in view, with the Vansville behind it and the Church of the Assumption off in the distance.  Here's the view to the west, with the cliff drive in view.
    The only problem with this part of the range is that the trail takes us to a part where the cliff is fully exposed.  One of those "the next step is a doosy" spots.  I can tell you that the hounds are not afraid of heights and certainly do not get vertigo.  I don't have much of a problem with heights, but do not like to get right up to the edge.  So usually when we go up to that location, I spend most of my time calling the dogs back from the edge of the cliff.  For some reason yesterday they behaved themselves very nicely.  They took a few peaks, but never got right up to the edge.  They even posed for me.  Now if you are wondering why I make such a big deal about them going up to the edge of the cliff to look over, I edged myself up to the overlook and snapped a shot of what one step to far might get you.  That is about 350 feet straight down.  Sometimes when I head up the cliff drive I will see folks climbing up the cliffs.  Not something I'll be doing anytime soon.  Even with all the cold and snow we have had, I managed to come across some wildflowers still hanging on.  Temps dropped into the low 20's that morning, sort of amazing how they could survive that.
    The walk down was nice.  Perfect temps, lots of sunshine and a nice gradual down hill slope.  We got back in the car and headed back to home base.  On the way through the valley we came across an interesting site.  Driving around here this time of year, especially in the valley, you really have to keep an eye out for a deer that is getting ready to cross the road.  I came close to hitting one yesterday evening.  But yesterday afternoon on our way back, it was another animal, or shall I say group of animals that were crossing the road.  A couple of escapees I guess.  Two boys came roaring down the side road on an ATV and one of them herded them back home.  Now who ever said we did not have excitement up here?!
    Today I had some things I needed to do so we did not stray far.  However, that did not mean that we could not have fun.  We headed up to the old railroad tracks that double as the snowmobile trail.  We haven't been up there in quite a while, so it was refreshing.  That is where I had my moment of bliss this afternoon.  Of course I bet a lot of you might have had the same experience had you been walking through this.  Even Normand Road was in it's full glory.
    In just about a week the trees will be bare and then the wait for snow begins.  This year that wait will be made easier with my GPS.  With the leaves off the trees and the ground drying up (hopefully) I will be able to take it in the Blazer and do some exploring.  It does not work as well when there are leaves on the trees, the signal gets blocked out.  There are tons of places I want to explore and I find a few new ones on the map every week.  Sounds like I have enough to keep myself busy until deer season, then no vehicles are allowed in the woods.  So from a beautiful and magical land...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 14-
    Just forgot to supply the link to the video of the snow in the school forest yesterday, so here it is.
October 13-
    First things first, WE GOT OUR FIRST SNOW!!!  That was the scene out my office window as it just started to come down pretty good.  About 30 minutes later we had about an inch and a half down.  I looked to be coming down hard enough to qualify as heavy snow and the airport backed me up with an observation of heavy snow.  Even as I type we have snow showers rolling through, although the main accumulation for the day seems to be over.  I was pretty glad we got it, not just because I like snow, but because I had forecasted the likelihood of a few inches today.  When I awoke this morning, it was actually sunny out and I thought to myself "crap, where is the snow?"  I went to my office and looked at the situation via satellite and radar and could see that we were to get hit later in the morning, so I relaxed a bit and was happy that the forecast would actually verify.  There will be a few more pictures of the snow and even a video, although I have to admit, I was really looking forward to providing a video of the first snow and I was so excited when it was really coming down that I forgot to take a video of it!  I did snap a few still shots so all is not lost, and you can see some flakes flying in the video, but I wish I had remembered to take the video when it was really coming down.  Oh well, there will be plenty of other times to show that!
    The other news is we hit our peak in colors this weekend.  The shots in this journal entry are all basically worthy of full sized versions, so I am making all the shots available in the original size, although to save space and time, I am not going to provide links.  You can get the images by removing the "s" in the file name of the image you are looking at.  For example, in that last shot, you were looking at "oct13-3s.jpg", to view the full size, you just move your mouse cursor to the address location at the top of your browser and backspace over the "s" and hit enter and you will get the full sized image.  That last shot was taken in the woods back behind the village, same spot I was wowed with the colors two years ago.  Now, I have to admit that I do not make many changes to the images after I download them from the cam, like adding color or anything.  Sometime I will tweak the brightness or contrast a bit to get the image be better represent what I was looking at when I took it, but the camera does a really good job of catching the color density and hues.  So what you see is what I saw, nothing more, nothing less.
    I also have to admit that I was wrong with my forecast for the timing of the colors, but was correct in my forecast for their intensity.  I had a feeling that they would be great this year and they sure came through!  It is really amazing the colors up here, almost hard to believe what you are seeing.  The depth and brightness of the trees is just incredible.  It took a while, but was worth the wait.  A little further up the trail, Burt posed for me in a sea of yellow.  The other thing to keep in mind when viewing these shots is that it was a dull, gray overcast day, so there was not bright sunlight to illuminate the trees.  It sure would have been nice to have some sun yesterday, but I am not complaining.  Most of the shots I have been showing so far have been of the trees in the distance a bit and the colors look pretty uniform.  If you get up close to them, the intricate details of the colors are revealed.  The path that we were walking on is part of a loop that I can take.  We take the old Lake Linden to Calumet railroad grade up about half way to Laurium and then take an old logging road back to the southwest that ends up taking us to the old quarry.  There is just something special about the reflection of colors in the surface of a body of water.  Of course the hounds were glad to see the quarry for another reason, it meant that they could go for a swim.
    So after waking up to no snow this morning, but seeing it snowing on radar off to our south, the hounds and I piled into the Blazer and headed south to do a little snow chasing.  I did not have plans to go too far.  I had a strong feeling that an upper air disturbance dropping in out of Manitoba would kick up the snow across my neck of the woods around midday, but also figured that I could make it to about Toivola and be in some pretty decent snow.  Well, we drove to Toivola and did not encounter much snow.  The heaviest snow was actually falling around Painesdale and that was not much more than flurries, so we turned around and headed back.  However, we did make a quick stop at Perrault Lake to check the sights out there.  We did not even have to get to the lake to have something neat to look at, that was the road leading to the lake.  Looking at that shot, can you feel the autumn chill in the air and smell the fallen leaves?  Down at the lake, the winds were kicking up some small waves, nothing serious, but enough to keep any reflection from providing a special view.  I did take a shot, but the camera seemed to have a hard time picking up the colors with the brighter sky above and behind.  One of the neat things to see at the lake was not really even at the lake at all, but was off in the distance behind it.  It was a side view of a lake effect squall moving through.
    So upon returning home, I did a little more straightening out of my office.  I ended up finishing my bookcases and that allowed me to fill them with all the stuff I had crammed into a closet since moving up here.  It is really great to have that stuff out and organized and it also allowed me to throw a bunch of stuff out that I had been keeping for what reason I do not know!  It is amazing the stuff I keep sometimes - boxes that software came in, the 2 foot length of phone cable that comes when you buy a modem or new phone, fax or answering machine.  I must have had about 8 of those things.  I wish that there was some place that I could donate stuff like that too, I do feel a little wasteful throwing it out, but also am glad to be rid of it.  Anyway, as I was cleaning out the closet, I noticed the sunlight coming in from the window to be dimming a bit and soon it looked downright dark out, almost like a thunderstorm was coming.  A quick check of the radar and satellite revealed the leading edge of the upper air energy was triggering a band of fairly heavy snow.  About 10 minutes later it started to snow and about 10 minutes after that it really started to come down.  That kept up for about 30-45 minutes and we in that time, everything was coated in white.  It was really good to see the flakes flying.  The first snow is always something special, almost like I have never seen snow before, then by the end of the day, after it has been snowing for hours, it seems like we never had summer at all.  Too bad it did not keep coming down that hard for a few hours, it would have been fun to take the sled for a spin!  That's OK, only a month and a half until the season starts, I can wait that long.
    With snows still falling and the roads a bit slick, I decided to not venture too far.  The locals are all good drivers in the snow, you have to be to survive up here, but sometimes it takes the first few snowfalls to get everyone back into the winter driving mode, so I just decided to play it safe and head to the School Forest for the afternoon walk.  No that going out there was some kind of a sacrifice or anything.  As far as places to walk in the woods, it does not get much better than that and this is the first color season that I have actually been out there.  I just found it last fall after the leaves had already fallen.  Colors out there were also something to behold.  Add a little freshly fallen snow and you have heaven on earth.
    There's been a lot of talk of mountain lions up here.  Sightings are getting more and more common, many of them in the Lake Linden vicinity.  I don't know if the actual sightings are getting more and more numerous of it just that more and more people that saw one are no longer afraid to say they saw one.  Stories in the news papers state that DNA testing has confirmed scat found was indeed from a mountain lion and there was even a skull found somewhere else in the UP.  Two of the most recent sightings have come from a member of the sheriffs department and also from the county prosecutor.  I have not seen one myself and I have not seen any sign of them.  Quite frankly I am not sure what their scat looks like, but I bet that if I saw their paw print in the snow I might recognize them.  So on our walk, I made sure to keep a lookout for any tracks in the snow, but it was pretty quiet out there.  We did not even see any deer tracks.  I thought it was kind of strange to not see any deer tracks out there.  Maybe the mountain lion scared them off!  But seriously, I do believe that there could be mountain lions up here.  The DNR refuses to say that there are, but reading the article in the paper it seems like they refuse to admit they are in MI because they do not have the funds to handle a program if they did exist.  Wonder what they will do when there is concrete proof.
    So anyway, we had a great walk in the woods, with periods of snow falling and still some snow on the ground.  It was very wet out there, but my new boots kept my feet dry.  The hounds had a great time in the woods as well, sniffing all there was to sniff.  They also seemed to enjoy the snow.  The other thing I was looking for was a shot that would have as many colors in it as possible, including white.  I was pretty surprised to not find that in the school forest.  There were some close calls, but not the shot I was looking for.  Then, on the way home, I spotted my shot.  Across the field - reds, oranges, yellows and the deep green of some fir trees, all splashed with a little bit of white.  The autumn shot of the day.
    Needless to say it has been an eventful and exciting day.  The first snows are under our belt and it does not look like we are done with them just yet.  A couple more chances are seen this week.  Nothing too big, but still more snow.  This sure is one heck of a pattern we are in.  If it were to hang on this winter, it would be one heck of a winter.  Unfortunately I cannot tell if it will hang on or not.  One can hope though.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 11-
    Getting a late start tonight and I actually hope that I can finish this.  The warm weather has made me a very busy person the past two days.  I had all these things I wanted to get done, taking advantage of the warmer weather.  For starters, I wanted to stain and top coat the book cases I was making for my office.  Problem was they were not done yet, so I spent time in the basement earlier in the week getting them constructed so that I would be able to put the finish on them in the garage while it was warm.  I never made a finishing room in my workshop and I do not want the fumes stinking up the house and leading to a potential explosion, so I have to do all my finishing in the garage.  That is if I use a solvent based finish, which is what I use most of the time.  Well, the stain went on yesterday and the top coats today and they will be ready to hold books by tomorrow.  The other main warm weather project was to detail the Blazer.  For those of you who do not know what I am talking about that means washing the car and then using a three step waxing process.  I wash it just about every week and did detail it when I first got it, but wanted to give it a good coat of wax before winter set in so that it would be fully protected.  It has been pretty muddy the past few days, with all the exploration we have been doing in it, so even the washing process was quite a job.  Well, it is about 9:30 pm and I just finished detailing it.  It looks great, but that was not the main reason for detailing it.  Tomorrow's rain and Sunday's snow will muck it back up, but it will have a fresh coat of wax to protect it and that coat should last until spring when I will be able to detail it again.
    In addition to the work, I have been having some fun too.  Yesterday I headed north to check out the colors.  I figured that places up by Lac La Belle and the "tunnel" would have pretty good color.  We are very close to peak here in the valley, maybe a day away, so I figured that they could not be too far behind.  I drove up through the tunnel first.  For those of you not in the know, the tunnel is the stretch of HWY 41 from the road to Lac La Belle up to about Lake Medora.  It is a narrow and winding stretch of 41 that has trees arching over it for most of the way and no matter what time of year it is, it is like you are driving through a tunnel.  Autumn is the prettiest, but winter and even summer are not far behind.  I made it to Lake Medora, my turn around point, but took some shots before turning around.  I think that Lake Medora is one of the most underrated lakes, as far as beauty is concerned, up here.  I'm not sure why, but you never hear too many people talking about it.  Lots of people go on and on about Lac La Belle and for good reason, it is beautiful, but I cannot even remember anyone said anything about Medora.  It is like it is toxic or something, but that is not the case.  It is good old northwoods water and these two seemed to be enjoying it quite a bit.
    I think one reason why I like the lake so much is because it is not as developed as some of the other lake up here.  Parts of Portage and Torch Lakes have houses bumper to bumper, Lac La Belle is also well populated, but even though most of Lake Medora is accessable via road and lots are currently for sale on it, it remains pretty unspoiled.  Another thing I love about the lake are the rock islands in it.  From Hwy 41 I saw three of them and there may be more.  If or when I get get a boat, that will be one of the first inland lakes I go to explore.  But for now I will just have to admire from the shore.  Here is the full size.
    So after the lake, I headed back south and through the tunnel.  Since there is really nowhere to pull off and the road has lots of turns on it, I had to be careful where I slowed down to take the shot.  I did not dare stop and snap a shot, but did find a safe place to slow down enough to take a picture for you all.  Such dedication huh?  After Lake Medore and the tunnel, Mt. Bohemia got the call.  They are actually running the chair lifts this weekend for folks that want to ride to the top and see the colors, but the dogs are not allowed on the chair lifts and the weather does not look to good this weekend either, so we took a pass on the weekend offerings and headed up the hill on our own.  It's too bad that the weather does not look to cooperate with persons wanting to ride to the top, the colors were pretty neat up there and that was over 24 hours ago.  They will be even better tomorrow and Sunday.  That last shot was taken while we were about half way up, here is one taken from the top, with Gratiot Lake in the background.
    It was a beautiful day up there, so the hounds and I took some time to meander around.  Going around to the other side of the hill I could see the other big hill in the neighborhood, Mt. Houghton.  That is actually a view that I have never seen before and one that I bet was new to most of you.  Most of the shots of Mt. Houghton are either taken from the top of it, or taken from Bete Gris Beach.  I could have gotten an even better shot of the hill by climbing up on one of the towers for the chairlift, but did not want to tresspass.  Anyone know which is taller Mt. Houghton of Mt. Bohemia?  Houghton, by one foot.  Also from that area, I could see the eastern end of Lac La Belle and Point Isabelle.  You can thank the camera's zoom for those last two shots.  One thing that I like so much about the Lac La Belle/Mt. Bohemia area is the terrain just to the south.  The big hill to the south is Gratiot Mountain, but there are also many smaller hills, actually a very mountainous terrain.  Well, mountainous for the Midwest anyway.  Here is a full sized version of that shot.  We made it back down the hill without incident.  I say that because it is a steep hill and is actually easier to get up than down.  At least yesterday's trip down was made with dry conditions, but I still had a few times when I was skiing down the hill and not walking!  I could not visit that area without taking a look at Lac La Belle, but it was getting late and I wanted to get back, so you all will have to make due with a shot from the boat launch.  The trip home was pretty uneventful, but the Traprock Valley is really filled with color and here is a shot of the deer tower to illustrate that.  Looks like the valley will peak this weekend, as will many other areas.
    Today we headed back north.  I just did not feel like crossing the bridge and have always wanted to be up on top of Baldy during the color show, so that is where we headed today.  I did try and take the scenic route there and here is a shot of the Copper Falls road and it's color show.  You know how sometimes you look very forward to a movie you have heard lots of good things about and the movie does not end up being as entertaining as you were expecting?  Well, that was sort of my experience going up Baldy today.  As we approached the top, the first view of the colors was not as good as I was hoping for.  Once on top, there were areas that did have more color to them.  Here is a look to the east towards the Silver River Valley.  Of course it is hard to get too disappointed being on top of Mt. Baldy.  The 360 degree panorama is not produced anywhere else in the Keweenaw.  There are some that rival, but none that surpass the view from being on top of that point.  South winds were blowing at about 35 MPH up there and that also made it a unique place to be today.
    Again it was starting to get late, not late in the day, but with all I had to do, we headed back down.  There were really great color shows seen on the way down and here is one of them, here is the full size.  However, in keeping with today's theme of taken the road less traveled, I jumped off on the Garden City Road rather than taking the Eagle Harbor Cross Cut and was rewared with some of the best colors of the day (full sized).  It is really neat to take a side road like that and happen along such incredible sights.  Really is rewarding and brings a lot of joy.  I also decided to take a run by my property on the way home.  It was basically on the way, so we did not have to go out of our way.  A big smile hot my face when I got to my property and imagined my log home in this setting.  That was actually a shot of the woods as taken from the road.  I should have stopped and gotten out to walk around the property a bit, but all I had to do was on my mind so we headed back.
    We made it back safe and sound.  I have all the warm weather work I wanted to get done, done.  There is still quite a bit of work that needs to get done before winter arrives.  As mentioned we could get some snow this weekend.  Actually, it is not really a case of if we will, but how much.  All the parameters for snow will be met, so flakes will fly, but it remains to be seen if we will see just some flakes, or enough to paint things white.  I know I will be waking up pretty early Sunday to see if a snow chase is called for.  Who know's the next images you see posted in the journal could have some snow in them.
    So after all my travels today and yesterday, I find it rather humorous that the most colorful trees are right in my own neighborhood.  I suppose I could have just stayed home today and taken shots of some of the trees in my neighborhood, but then how much fun would that have been?  Glad I did what I did.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 9-
    I seem to be on an every other day routine lately.  It seems like it is about that often that I have enough material to put one out.  Sometimes through the course of the year it seems like I could go a week or more before having enough to write about.  I guess I really do not have as much to say as I do to show tonight, the color show just keeps on getting better and better.  Still not at peak in most areas, but there are pockets of trees that are at peak.  This really is a beautiful time of the year.  The colors just seem to make everything and anything beautiful.  Everywhere I look is just filed with color.  In addition to the color shows, our last two hikes in the woods have been the source of some pleasant surprises.  Yesterday the hounds and I took to the woods up behind the village.  It is a place where I traditionally go this time of the year.  A few years ago I viewed one of the most spectacular color shows I have ever seen.  Things are not that far along just yet.  They are changing, but still at a fairly slow pace.  It now looks like this weekend will be the peak, rather than the end of this week.  It seems like every time I write a journal, I push back the date for peak colors another few days.  So I guess that is good news for the folks planning to come up this weekend to see the colors, you will most likely see the peak.  You may see some snow too!  Looks like a brief, but fairly strong shot of cold air will move through over the weekend and that will touch off a little light snow later Saturday into early Sunday.  Not sure if we will see any accumulation, but I would not doubt that some lake effect areas might see some accumulation.  Anyway, something to look forward to - possibly.
    So our hike yesterday did not provide much in the way of stunning color shots, but like I say we did come across a little surprise.  That is an unnamed waterfall on an unnamed river.  It was actually a fairly good sized one, dropping about 20 feet.  I tried to get down to the creeks level, but it was surrounded by pretty steep cliffs, so we got as close as we could and then I took the shot.  On the way back home, we did pass some trees very near peak, so I snapped a shot.  Pretty huh?  Remember how I said the colors can make any view beautiful?  Here is proof.  That is the old powerhouse in Lake Linden.  Sort of an eyesore in my opinion.  I know that a lot of people get into the old mining relics and I to have an appreciation for the mining era and do find the grand old mining buildings created with stone to be very neat, but that building is just a big old hunk of iron wrapped in pressed steel, taking up a very nice piece of lakefront - Just my 2 cents.
    Since the colors are not quite a peak close to me, I decided today that we would travel to where they were likely at peak, a little further to the south.  On our travels Saturday, the colors just to the south of Twin Lakes seemed to be a few days away from peak, so that is where we headed.  It is really strange how the colors are at different stages.  As we went through South Range, the colors were basically at peak, while in Painesdale (just a few miles down the road) they were not any further along than they are in Lake Linden.  As we got close to the Twin Lakes area the colors did start to become uniform and vibrant.  Here is the full size of that shot.  I actually was not sure where we would stop and get out of the car to hike and then I remembered the spot that we walked in last year when we were chasing snow.  It is a place about 10 miles south of Twin Lakes, just north of the Firesteel Rivers.  For those of you that have snowmobiled north from Mass City to Houghton, the three bridges you go over right in a row are the Firesteel Trestles, and they cross the Firesteel Rivers.  Anyway, last year I found this little road off the highway and took it and ended up parking just off the highway and then following a little path into the woods.  We did not go too far last year because it was snowing a very wet snow, almost like rain, and the wind was blowing so hard I was a little afraid that a tree might fall on one of us and then we would be in trouble.  Today the weather was better for hiking.  Still cloudy, but dry and cool, so we headed up the trail to see where it would lead.  On the way up, we I heard the rush of a waterfall and followed the sound to another little surprise.  That one was a lot smaller, with the drop only about 8 feet, but I bet that I was one of only a handful of people who have ever seen it.  To me that makes it extra special.  I do like the "tourist" waterfalls like Jacobs Creek, Haven and Hungarian falls, but to come across a fall like we did yesterday and today, is really neat for me.
    We followed the trail up and up and I was happy it was going up.  For one, that meant the way back would be downhill and also that we might be given a view from some overlook at the top.  I do remember picking out this spot last year because it looked to be a high spot in the area and I thought that as we got higher and higher, the snow might get deeper and deeper.  Well, the snow did not get any deeper last year, at least as far as we went, but we did follow the path up (full size) to a point where there ended up being a pretty nice overlook.  That was the view towards the south.  The view northeast from the same spot had a lot more color in it.  Here is a map of where we were, with a red asterisk marking the spot.  Here is a zoomed out map showing the general area a little better.  We made it back down from the overlook and piled back in the Blazer.  The hike was not that long, so I decided to find another place to hike before going home.  I decided to head back north so that we would at least be heading back in the right direction while looking for our next hiking spot.  Even with a cold gray sky, it was a beautiful drive, as M 26 was lined with orange.
    I decided to check out Clear Lake.  We have only been there in the summer and I figured that it would be in an area likely to have lots of color and to add water to the color show would be even better.  So we hopped off on Pike Lake Road and headed out to Clear Lake.  The ride down Pike Lake Road is always enjoyable.  That is a road I will have to make a trip down in the middle of winter, with snow piled up on either side.  Today it was bathed in yellow.  Upon arrival at Clear Lake we were not disappointed.  The hounds were happy to see the lake and be able to take a dip and I was treated to a classic Keweenaw color show.  That one deserves a full sized version.  Here is another view of the lake and colors, and the full size.  I found a section of trees where just about every shade of fall color was represented.  Of course here is the full size.
    After walking around a little to take the shots I went to get back in the Blazer and the hounds looked at me with a look like they wanted to keep walking, so we drove to a better place to park and on that drive I was given my second surprise of the day.  This one not really wanted.  The road we were driving on was quite narrow, just wide enough for the Blazer to make it through and we went through a few small puddles and then came across a large one.  It took up the entire width of the trail and was about 20-25 feet in length.  For some reason I decided to put it in 4 wheel drive before entering that one and I was very glad I did.  For as we hit the puddle, the front end kept going down and water actually came up over the hood!  A deep one all right.  I gave it some gas and the truck managed to make it through, but it was enough to get the old heart beating - having water suddenly coming up over the hood!  Now, the puddle was not deep enough to submerge the truck over the hood, it was actually about as deep as the top of the tires, but the water did surge over the hood.  We drove to a parking spot and walked a bit more, hoping to find another way out, but the other path was blocked with a blow down, so we braved the deep puddle again and again made it through.  If we were in the Honda, it would have sank to the bottom!  For sure we would have been stuck.  Glad to have the Blazer!  What would have been cool is to have a picture of the Blazer going through the puddle, but the dogs are not very good at taking pictures or driving, so we were out of luck.
    So ends another adventure for a few days.  I have plans to hit the woods in the next several days.  Tomorrow and Friday will be a bit of Indian Summer up here, at least Friday, with temps in the 60's.  Then the rain and snows look to hit Saturday.  I hope to find some more neat shots in the coming days, so stay tuned.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 7-
    I am having problems getting started tonight.  Usually I can just sit right down and start typing, but for some reason I have been having problems thinking of an opening statement, so I guess I may as well just get right into it.  We got another inch of rain yesterday.  No snow, the storm actually turned out to be a bit of a wimp, at least compared to what was indicated to occur.  Winds were suppose to crank up to 45 mph sustained, with gusts to 65 and the first flakes of the season were also likely.  Instead all we got was another all day rain, almost, and a little bit of rain.  I say almost because it did stop raining for about 2 hours right around noon.  That was long enough to sneak in a walk at the School Forest.  We could not take our morning walk and it looked like the rain would come back pretty quickly, so I picked a place that was close, but also fun for the dogs and I and the School Forest fit that bill.  Things were pretty wet out there, with 2 inches of rain on Friday and then over an inch on Sunday, on top of the 6" we got in September, that's a lot of rain.  Needless to say that there were lots of puddles out there, but I did not mind with my waterproof hiking boots and the hounds could care less about puddles, they just splash right through them.  Anyway, with it being so wet, I also figured there was little chance that we would see anyone else out there.  Not that we usually seen any one else most other times.  Sometimes when we ski out there on the weekends we will encounter someone, or at least see another vehicle out there, but I have not seen anyone else out there since last winter.  We did not see any wildlife either, although we did see a few deer on the way up to the School Forest.
    The colors are really coming along in spots out there.  In other spots they are not as far along, but I think the peak will be later this week in all area up here.  If you want a full sized version od that last image, click here. They really seemed to stall out from about last Thursday until today.  All the rain sure does seem to stall things.  I was sure that the colors would be further along this weekend than they were.  Hope that anyone that came up based on my recommendations was able to take in what we had and got to see the better show going on to the south of us.
    Today was a beautiful day.  Lots of blue sky and temps in the 40's.  The dewpoints were the lowest they have been since May, with 20's occurring.  So with perfect hiking conditions, the hounds and I took to the woods.  I decided to try out my GPS with the laptop in the Blazer (my custom navigation system).  It worked great, the only problem is that it is so much fun to watch the marker on the screen move that I should really be having someone else driving.  Anyway, it actually came in handy.  I tested the setup on the way to our hiking destination today, the Gratiot River, and then decided to check out the Hungarian Falls.  With all the rain lately, the creeks and streams are really running pretty high.  Anyway, I took a different way there and ended up getting off the beaten path.  At the point I was not sure where I was at, I powered up the navigation system and found right were I was at.  On a road that goes to the back side of the airport!  I ended up turning around, and got out just fine, but it was really cool to be able find out right where I was at.
    Now I could not go to the Gratiot River and not take any shots.  It was running pretty good, much more water flowing through it than when we were there earlier this year.  We did not follow the river all the way to the lake like we did the last time we were out there.  First, it was quite a hike and second, I figured that there might be places that we could not get through.  The last time it was a lot drier and there were still places that were pretty wet.  I figured that today those places would be underwater.  My boots are waterproof, but are not hip waders.  So we had fun just exploring some of the spots along the river.  One that I spied, I figured had a great view of the river, but it was also a bit of a challenge to get to.  Tricky footing on a steep hill and wet ground.  Burt and I went first and here is a shot of Baileys making her way down.  I was right, it did afford a neat view up stream at the falls.  The view down stream was just as dramatic.  Here is the full size version.
    There were some colors to be seen out there.  If that shot looked a little funky, it is because it was out of focus and I tried to sharpen it digitally.  I actually had to hold the camera above my head to get that shot.  I guess I got too close, even for the marco setting on the cam.  Oh well, you get the idea of the contrast I was going for.  As we were walking along the two track back to the Blazer, I thought that it was a neat shot to capture as well, so asked the hounds to pose for me and they obliged.  One last shot to give you a feel of the Northwoods of the Keweenaw today.  Here's the full size shot.
    Well, more rain is on tap for us tomorrow.  Maybe we will luck out and be able to get in an afternoon exploration.  It sure is a good thing that the temps have already been below freezing up here, otherwise we might be swarmed with misquitos.  Of course, it sure would be great if we had this same storm track this winter.  Talk about snow!  Some thing to hope for.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 5-
    Well, I did it again, I have completely worn out the hounds.  As I type, they are sound asleep in the bedroom.  I know of nothing that sleeps more soundly than a worn out dog.  I love to go up to them and pet them and talk to them when they are like this, they just lay there and do nothing but open their eyes.  Sometimes Baileys will give her tail a few thumps on the ground, but no lifting of heads or bodies, just laying there.  They are all worn out because we went to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and hiked around a bit.  All told we put on about 6 miles.  Does not sound like much, but we did put on some pretty serious elevation changes.  The hounds started out the walk with tons of energy as we were all home bound yesterday with an all day rain.  On Thursday I put out a forecast calling for an "all day soaking rain".  I actually got quite a few comments on the fact that I was so descriptive instead of saying something like "rain likely" or "a good chance of rain", but I really wanted people to know that it would rain all day at a pretty good clip and that is what it did.  I measured 1.78" of rain in my gauge and I would not doubt that some areas may have seen even more.  I cannot believe how much rain we have had in the past 5 weeks!  I think we are up to about 8" and it looks like another 1"+ tomorrow and tomorrow night.  My basement has started to seep a little, something that usually only happens in the spring, but it is not too bad.  Just enough to cause me to go down about every 12 hours and use the shop vac to suck up the water that has made it through the foundation and is spreading onto the basement floor.
    It does seem like when it is not raining, we have very nice weather, with mostly sunny skies and comfortable temps.  On Thursday the hounds and I headed up north to see if we could get to what I think is the highest point in the Keweenaw and got turned around by 2 feet of mud created by some logging going on out there.  The blazer made it through about a foot of mud, but when the trenches that the logging equipment made got to be about 2 feet deep, I decided it was time to stop and turn around.  I guess we will have to wait for things to dry out a little before we go back out there.  I hope that they are done with the logging by the time the snow flies, it is one of my favorite places to ride.  I think they will be, usually the places they log in the winter are places that they cannot log in the summer because it is to swampy or some other reason that they cannot get in there in the summer.  So the logging places in the summer get done and then they move on to other areas in the winter.
    So anyway, with our planned destination out of commission, I had to do some quick thinking, the dogs were a little itchy to get out and walk and I was also wanting to not have to drive too far before getting out for our walk.  I decided to take them up the Gratiot Bluff and then along a pole line that heads to Lac La Belle.  We would not go all the way to Lac La Belle, that is about a 4-5 mile walk one way, but we would go until it seemed like it was time to head back.  Kind of neat to have that level of freedom in my life.  Just walk until we do not feel like walking any more.  That simple.  I also thought the colors might be further along up there, as the elevations in that area are some of the highest in the Keweenaw, but was surprised to see quite a bit of green.  We made it to the top of the bluff, turned the corner and picked up the pole line, following it to a point where we were given a great view of Lac La Belle, the Mendota Ship Canal and Lake Superior off in the distance.  Gratiot Mountain and Mt. Bohemia are off to the left, out of sight.  A little bit of color in that shot, but still not even close to peak.  The trees really went to town early last week and then just seemed to stop at the end of the week.  I would say that the peak up here will be sometime at the end of next week.  There are areas not too far from here that were close to peak, maybe a day or two away, they are off to the south of us, just to the north of Mass City and south of Twin Lakes.
    I have been playing with the GPS just about every day, learning more and more.  The thing can do so much that it really has taken me some time to learn all that it can do and I still am not there yet.  I did take it on our hike up the bluff Thursday.  That was the first time that we were really in the woods and on our own.  I would not need the GPS to get us back to the blazer, but it was really cool  to walk along and watch the GPS plot our route.  It will also plot the elevation change and since we put on about 600 feet in a half mile, it was neat to watch that get plotted out.  I can zoom in so that the display will be about 500 feet from one side to the other.  About every 3rd or 4th step, the GPS would update the route.  I was going to take a shot of the display when it was fully zoomed in, but that would not have been too interesting, so I kept zooming out until I got to an image that you all could recognize.  That's where we were and that is the direction I was facing when I took the shot.  On the trip back, I took a shot of Gratiot Lake, from up on top of the bluff.  Once in the blazer (i have not figured out whether to call it the car or truck, so I call it the blazer), I decided to keep the GPS going and let it track our trip home.  I works well inside the blazer, which is good, as I want to hook it up to my laptop and have it plot exactly where we are on the computer.  I am glad that I do not have to get the external antenna for it to work inside the vehicle.  I took the scenic way back via Cliff Drive, but the color show there was nothing too great yet.  I can say that if the colors that I drove past in southern Houghton County are any indication of what we will see up here...we are in for one heck of a show. Once in the valley, the colors were a little further along, but still only about 45-50% changed.  Here is a shot of the same deer tower that I took back about a week ago.
    So that takes us to today's adventure in the Porkies.  After checking in at the visitors center we headed out the south boundary road to get to Summit Peak.  It is the highest point in the park and also the third highest point in the state at 1958 feet above mean sea level or about 1350 feet above Lake Superior.  It would be neat to see how much snow falls there in a season.  The gain of 1356 feet in about 4 miles must add significantly to the totals due to orographic lift.  Back in May of 1997, the Mothers Day storm dumped 36 inches of snow on unsuspecting travelers in that area of the park.  Less than a foot fell in most other areas.  Anyway, as you can imagine, the views from the peak are quite stunning.  That was the view of the little Carp River Valley.  Almost near peak.  Looks like peak will hit that area early next week.  It was a perfect day for a hike, with temps in the 40's and also lots of sunshine.  This really a perfect time of the year to hike.  With the mostly clear skies and clean, crisp air, Copper Peak, 20 miles away looked like it was just next door, of course it helps to have the 6x zoom on the camera to make it looks closer.  Imagine the view from on top of that jump!  I wonder if that is the highest point in MI that a person can go to?  The base of the jump tower is sitting on top of a mountain that is 1558 feet above mean sea level, so that is about 1000 feet above downtown Detroit, so I would imagine it is.  No 1200-1300 foot skyscrapers in Detroit.
    We then hiked on from Summit Peak to Mirror Lake.  With all the rain we have had in the past 24 hours and also in the past 5 weeks, the trails were very, very wet.  In some spots the trails were literally doubling as a creek bed.  That did not bother the hounds, as they could just walk the trail and get a drink at the same time.  It did not bother me either, as yesterday evening I went and bought a new pair of hiking boots.  If you can believe it, with all the hiking I do, I did not own a good pair.  I did have a pair of low top walking shoes, but I would not really call them hiking boots.  Plus, the were definitely not water proof.  The ones I bought last night were, or at least claimed to be.  I really only trust Gortex to be truly waterproof, but these claimed to be waterproof and the store said that if I have any problems, to bring them back.  The Gortex ones were 100 dollars more!  Well, so far so good.  I really put them to the test today.  I did not avoid any puddles, mud holes or creeks and my feet stayed totally dry.  It was pretty neat to walk through all that wetness and not get my feet wet at all, technology!
    We did make it to Mirror Lake and walked as far as the 8 bunk cabin and then turned around.  I only shrunk that image to 800x600 so that you might get more detail.  What I might do in the future is provide some shots in the original size (1280x960) for those of you with a high speed connection that want to view them in that size.  I will also provide them in the 640x480 for those of you on dial up so that you do not have to wait 20 minutes for the images to load.  The colors at the lake were not quite at peak.  About 7 years ago the hounds and I were at that same spot when they were and it was magnificent.  Sections of the park, including much of the land around mirror lake, are old growth forests, having never been logged and the trees in there are just amazing.  Maples with 3 foot diameter trunks, 200 foot white pines.  Sure wish that I could be around in another 200-300 years to see areas being protected from logging and what they would look like.  Don't get me wrong, I am not against logging, I use lumber and paper, but it would have been neat if loggers in the past would have left more areas untouched.  They basically clear cut almost every acre in the UP, WI and MN.
    On the drive home, I took a shot as we were approaching the area in peak colors.  I wanted to take a shot of some of the peak areas, but could not find a real good place to stop.  I do not really like stopping along the highway as it just seem too dangerous, too many people driving around and doing all sorts of stuff other than paying attention to the road.  Anyway, I did stop in a spot for a moment and took this shot out the front windshield of my blazer.
    Like I say, if the colors that I saw to our south today is what we will get in the future, then we are in for one heck of a show and my camera will be very busy in the coming week.  I hope we can get enough of a break from the rain tomorrow to get out and snap some shots.  You can bet I will be braving the rain and snow (SNOW!?) on Monday to get some shots and the second half of the week looks pretty good.  I just hope the 60 MPH winds forecasted for tomorrow night do not strip too many of the leafs.
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-
October 2-
     I think I should be given some kind of extra credit for putting out a journal tonight.  At about 1 pm today, the UPS delivered my GPS and I am HAPPY!  I was expecting it either today or tomorrow.  Usually I get my UPS deliveries by about noon, almost to the minute.  I always thought that was kind of unique that every delivery would come at noon.  No matter how many deliveries the driver might have before or after mine, the big brown truck would arrive at noon.  I did not get a tracking number with this order, so I could not track it on the internet ( a really cool feature with UPS).  So when it did not come by about 12:30 I figured it was coming tomorrow.  Then at about 1:45 the dogs started parking and I heard the low rumple of the UPS truck and my heart started to beat a little harder and faster.  As the driver went into the back of the truck to get my package, I felt like a little kid, all giddy for my "present" to arrive.  I had to run errands this afternoon and did not get back until dinner time, so I did not get a chance to play with it at all yet, so I think I should get extra credit for putting out a journal instead of playing with my GPS.  I am doing one because I do have a bunch of pictures and I did want to get out the message that if you want to come up and see the colors and can only come on a weekend, then this is the weekend.  It will not be peak, but by the weekend of the 12th/13th, they will be past peak and many trees will likely be bare.  I put the peak at about the 8th through the 10th.
    We have had some wild temperature swings lately.  Monday we tied a record high with a 77.  Yesterday was 66 but still warm enough to get by with shorts and a short sleeved shirt. It did rain some too, but we had a dry afternoon so the hounds and I took to the woods.  I brought the cam along to capture the color show just starting to get cranked up.  Of course at this stage of the game, there are still some areas with not much color at all, but then just down the trail a bit, we came across a little more yellows and oranges.  Those shots were all taken within a quarter mile of each other, all on the same trail just to the north of Lake Linden.
    Today, my afternoon travels took me to the Twin Cities (Houghton/Hancock) and I had planned on walking the trail that heads from South Range to Freeda, but then got the idea to hike up Mt. Ripley.  I figured that I might be able to get some neat shots from on top and the hike up would be a good workout for the hounds and I.  There was even some color on the hill, with the ferns and weeds presenting their own color show.  Should not be too long before the hill is all white.  With their snowmaking equipment and seasonal temps, maybe in just over a month.
    Once on top of the hill, I started looking for interesting shots and with the city of Houghton in front of me I was given some subject matter.  I realize that most of my shots in the journal do not include many humans (except for the snowmobiling shots in the winter), nor do they contain too many man made objects.  I guess I am just not as impressed by man made objects as I am by natural objects.  I have not seen things like Hoover Dam, but did live in Washington DC for about a year and I can say that as majestic as all the monuments and government buildings are out there, I am just impressed by seeing a 200+ year old tree as I was by seeing the Capital Building.  So I guess the point I am trying to make here is that it is a rare occurrence when shots of buildings get into my journal, but here is the Houghton County Courthouse with some trees in the background and here is one of the many Churches in Houghton.  There are some very beautiful buildings in this area, especially the ones from the turn of the century, when this area was swimming in the wealth of the copper boom.  Of course the most famous man made landmark in the Keweenaw is the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and I was able to catch her in motion, letting the Keweenaw Star go by.
    Ok enough of the man made stuff for a while.  Here is a shot of the colors starting to break out on the hills up above Ripley.  I can say that they are starting to change by the day now.  Like I said at the beginning of this entry, I think the peak will be next week sometime, but it is fun to watch the change unfold.  Plus it looks like the show will be a good one this year.  I almost can't wait for the peak to arrive, lots of pictures!    Zooming out a little from that last shot you get a view of the Portage Lake looking towards the south, with the buildings of Tech on the right and the neighborhood of Pilgrim Point just beyond on the lakes edge.  Back in close, real close, the maples, birch and ash trees back behind the Old Ripley School House were starting to do their thing.  Back on top of the hill we did some exploring of places just to the west of the ski area and found some birch trees at peak.  Sort of a sneak peak of things to come if you pardon the pun.  On the way down from the top of the hill, I was given one last neat look at the lift bridge and even a good look at the buildings of Michigan Technological University.
    So that was my day today and yesterday.  I have been playing around with the mapping software some more and have been having lots of fun "flying" around the Keweenaw and even some other areas of the UP.  That 3D feature is really cool.  I have gotten pretty good at creating some life like views of the region.  Here is the view that you might get while flying into the Houghton County Airport.  Sweeping in for approach at about 3000 feet over Point Mills, looking north over the Torch Lake up towards Lake Linden and the Traprock Valley.  I added some notes to the image to point out some features, like the villages in view and even the canyons where the falls in the area are located.  I suppose that if I was more proficient with with Photoshop then I could "paint" the landscape and make it look even more realistic, but I think I'll just stick to generating the 3D maps.  In my "flights" around the Keweenaw, I did find some neat features that I want to check out.  One land feature that I have nicknamed "God's Two Track".  It is a valley with two smaller valleys on either side and in the software really made it look like a a two track road.  I believe I have snowmobiled back there and hope to take the Blazer back there this fall.  The other feature I want to go to is the highest point in the Keweenaw.  It is actually not named, but is about 1540 feet high, higher than Mt. Houghton and Mt. Bohemia, two of the more famous peaks in the Keweenaw.  Maybe I can hike to the top, get the exact height from my GPS and name it myself.  I'll get busy thinking of names.
    Other than that, not much going on. We might have the first flakes up here this Sunday, but actually, it looks more like areas away from the lake will see them, with us in the marine layer and in rain.  Sounds like a good excuse for a road trip!  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw.
- JD-