Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam
August 30-
    My promises to write one last journal before the month ended almost were broken as I had planned to write one on Sunday thinking that Monday and Tuesday would be golf days and I would not be able to write.  Well, I was very busy over the weekend, trying to get the bookcase done so that I can put the finish on it before the weather turns too cold.  Sort of the same thing I had to deal with when I was doing the fireplace remodel.  The temps should not be too warm or too cold.  I spent about 4 hours on it Saturday and probably close to 8 hours on it Sunday and all I have left to do are the doors and shelves and then the finish coats.  It is all mortise and tennon jointery as well as other challenging jointery so it has been very time consuming, but will be awesome when it is finished.  I have been taking my time as well as am very happy with the way it is turning out.  The doors should not be too long to do, nor should the shelves.  Probably another 4-6 hours and I'll be done with the construction.  At any rate, all that work in the shop left me one tired guy yesterday and I had just enough energy to eat supper and then crash before going to bed.  I talked to Al this morning and he had other things he wanted to do so we chose not to play golf this evening.  League is over, so we do not have to practice for any big match tomorrow.  We may still go up and play tomorrow, but do not have to.  As a result of us not golfing tonight I have the time to share with you all that has happened since I last wrote.
    The weather is probably the number one item.  This weekend was more of the same for the year without a summer.  Temps were in the 50's both Saturday and Sunday, with a low overcast and even some light rain on Sunday.  With the trees changing color some and the weather we had, it sure felt like the end of September around here.  This morning I almost broke down and turned the heat on.  The temp in the house was 62 degrees and with temps outside in the upper 40's, a heavy overcast and light rain falling, it did not look like it was going to warm up on it's own anytime quickly.  I ended up taking an extra hot shower and wearing some warmer cloths and was able to forgo the heat for another day.  Actually, the sun came out around 4 pm and the temp is at it's warmest of the day at 69 degrees.  This morning one of the forecast models actually indicated some snow for northern MN, the UP and possibly even far northern WI by the middle of next week.  I did not believe it was correct in that thinking and it changed it's mind on the next run, but it is exciting to see that type of thing start to show up in the models.  There is a shot indicated for around the 15th or 16th and I don't see any reason to argue with it right now, but it is also a looooooong way out to have much faith in.  I guess I am just thinking that as cool as this summer has been, it would not surprise me at all to see it snow in the Northwoods in mid September.  The earilest I could find it ever snowing at the Houghton Co airport was Sept 7th in 1956.  Exciting to think that in a month I will either have seen the first flakes or should be forecasting their arrival.
    We did have a bit of summer late last week.  Temps on Thursday hit 79 degrees and the dewpoint was in the upper 60's and low 70's.  That is beach weather for sure and the hounds and I took to Big Traverse as the winds were out of the northeast and would be on shore there.  The lake did provide for some cooling, with my truck thermometer saying it was about 70 at the beach.  When we arrived, it was nice and quiet, we had the whole place to ourselves.  That is actually a great beach for walking as well.  It extends about a mile or two south.  In the winter we will also cross country ski on it.  No skiing on it Thursday, but there were a few blueberries that could be picked and Baileys did just that.  It still cracks me up how I will pick a few and the dogs come running over to get a treat, then go over and start picking their own.  Burt, well I am sure you all know what he did (other than eat a few blueberries).
    The cooler and less humid air actually built in during the day on Friday, so we took to the woods.  I decided to walk the tracks because I did not feel like driving too far.  When we got up there, I discovered that they have been busy doing some work on the old rail road grade that the snowmobile trail uses.  Down by where the trail crosses HWY 26 at what we call the Calumet Hill, they are putting in or replacing a culvert, so they have the railroad grade dug up about 20 feet down and about 50 feet across.  It would make for a serious jump if it had a bunch of snow on it, but right now it just makes for an impassible obsticle.  I sure hope that they plan to put all the grade back in that they took out or that will be a pretty dangerous spot on trail.  I did not bring the camera with me so I do not have any pictures.  You can actually see it from the road, so maybe I can drive up there and get a shot.  The other thing that they were doing up there was running the bulldozer down the trail, trying to widen it a bit as well as flatten out any sippy holes that were there.  It should be interesting to see how it is when they are all done.
    On Sunday Nora, the hounds and I took to the School Forest to do some exploring.  I was hoping and praying that the deerflies would not be too bad and we were not bothered by a single one.  However, there were still some mosquitos to be deal with.  It was cold enough that I was wearing long pants and a jacket, so all that was exposed was my neck and head, but that did not stop them from getting me.  I think I got about 4-6 bites on the walk.  We did not even get two steps into the woods before coming across some blackberries all ready for picking.  I suppose Nora and I will need to get up to our secret spot and pick enough for some more jam.
    Despite the mosquitos, it was a great day to be in the woods and there are no better woods to be in than the school forest.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we have not been deep into the woods out there for a long time or maybe it's just the fact that those woods really are beautiful- in any case, it was so peaceful and relaxing if it were not for the mosquitos, I could have spent all afternoon out there rather than the 45 minutes we did.  There have been some changes out there.  They clear cut a stand of red pine, but it had already been thinned and could not be thinned any more without leaving the rest of the trees to the mercy of the wind and blowdown.  Not sure if they are going to plant anything in there or just let mother nature take over.  It sure does look different though, sorry no picture.  Nora grabbed the camera and snapped a shot of the hounds and I enjoying ourselves in the woods.
    With all the cool weather we have had this summer and now the wet weather of late, the mushrooms have taken over the forest floor.  There were shrooms of all different shapes, sizes AND colors.  Nora was particularly interested in knowing what this specimen was.  I told her that even though I am such a fun guy, I really don't know much about them.  Sorry I just could not resist that one!  But seriously, if anyone knows what kind that was, I'm sure Nora would love to know.
    It looks like we are going to warm up a bit for the end of this week, maybe even get into the 80's, so the AC's and summer clothes will be staying put for now, but I do believe I can now see the day or at least time frame of days when the AC's can come out and I can at least get ready to put the summer clothes away.  I need to start thinking about making those repairs to the sled too.  Two trailing arms and a steering post.  I want to get that done before it gets too cold as well.  I'd rather do those repairs in shorts and a t-shirt than in a winter coat!
    I guess that about covers it for this time around.  Nora is in the other room reading up on her new toy.  I got her a digital camera for one of her wedding presents and gave it to her early so that she could become familiar with it before the wedding.  I spent a few hours on the internet doing some research and found a model that had pretty much the items that she wanted the most: Small size, a decent zoom, decent mega pixel resolution and some nice manual settings as well.  There are so many camera choices out there now that you really can find one that fits your needs pretty well.  The cam that seemed to stand out the most for what I was looking for her was the Sony Cybershot DSC-V1.  It has a 4X optical zoom, 5 mega pixel resolution, lots of manual and auto settings, movie mode and is small enough to fit in a pocket.  The Pentax Optio 555 and Canon Powershot S60 came in close seconds.  Hopefully she will let me use the camera from time to time or at least take some shots for the journal and you will be able to see what the new camera can do.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
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August 25-
    I have a bit of free time this evening, so I figured that I would get out a quick journal.  I don't have too much to talk about, but Nora is busy being a judge at the Houghton County Fair 4H competition.  The judging starts at 7 pm and so she will not be home until almost my bed time.  I had thought about going into the shop to get some work done on my latest project, but just did not feel like it and I have found that forcing myself into the shop is not always the best idea.  I really have to be focused, or mistakes are made pretty easily.
    So here I am.  I guess the first thing I can talk about is the weather.  It was just a week ago that we were in the midst of a big blow, with temps dropping.  No big winds today and it's pretty steamy out.  It did not get that hot out, with the high for the day being 82, but the dewpoint did rise to 70 degrees and that is about 20 degrees higher than I like it to be!  On a day like today, there is only one place to go and that is the beach.  Winds were light, but were out of the west-northwest, so that meant the northshore.  The lake is actually warm enough that it is not providing as much of a relief from the heat and humidity as it does earlier in the summer.  It did feel a bit cooler, but not much.  One of the big reasons we go to the beach is to that the hounds can swim.  Nora wants to use some small rocks as part of her decorations for the wedding reception, so I also picked some rocks for that while tossing the stick in for the hounds.  As usual, Burt kept going and going like the energizer bunny while Baileys had enough after about a half hour and decided to take a break.  I looked up to see her just laying on the beach watching her brother and I.  She looked so cute, that I could not resist taking a snap shot of her.
    Things are really quieting down up here as far as tourists go.  I hate to say it, but I am actually happy for that.  It's not like I dislike tourists and I do recognize the importance of the tourist to the areas economy.  I also feel like this area is so beautiful that everyone should be able to see it and it's special spots should not be just a "local" treat.  However, it is nice to pull up to one of my spots that I take the hounds to and see no other cars parked.  I know that we will have the place to ourselves and they will be able to explore without me keeping an eye on them every second.  I guess I should also mention that it is not just tourists that are at the spots we go to, many times it is locals.  In any case, it is nice to have things to ourselves once again.  It makes it that much more relaxing.
    As mentioned in the last journal, the trees are starting to change.  It is not the main color change that is going on, just what I call the "early turners".  These are trees that change about 3-4 weeks before the rest of them.  I suspect they are either weakened by age or disease or both and just give up the growing season early.  I must say that this year they are changing earlier than last year and it also seems like there are more early turners this year that in the previous few.  I will add that I do not believe it has any reflection on what kind of a winter we will have up here.  The more years I put behind me, the more convinced I become that "tell tail" signs that people like to believe are given off by nature are really no more accurate than a pure guess.  Woolly worms, the height of bee's nests, squirrels gathering nuts early... you name it, it does not work.  Of course when I have somebody tell me that they think the winter is going to be a harsh or mild one based on one of these things, I just nod my head politely up and down and then make a mental note of it to see if the prediction comes true.  I have not had one come true, but am always on the lookout.  I may be pessimistic on the whole thing, but will always keep my eye open for the one item that might actually work!
    Well, it looks like my promises of a quick journal are being kept.  I have been sitting here for a few minutes trying to think of something to say and am drawing a blank.  I am fairly confident that I will write at least one more journal before the close of the month.  It is suppose to cool off and dry out by later Friday and into the weekend, so maybe Nora, the hounds and I can do some exploring.  There are actually a few spots I want to check out before the snow starts to fly and I will be sure to bring the camera along.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
August 22-
    Well, in my last journal I talked about how the hounds and I stayed out of the woods last Wednesday for fear of having a tree fall on us in the high winds.  On Thursday the winds were more calm and so we went up into the woods to take our walk.  It did not take long for us to come across a downed tree.  That one was certainly big enough that it would have caused some damage if it had fallen on us!  A little further up the trail we encountered more, some that had even fallen across the trail we would have been walking on.  That one also would have likely left a mark had it fallen on us!  The worst of it seemed to be in one spot where several trees had been knocked down and many of them had fallen on the trail.  Some folks on ATV's or perhaps a truck must have come through and needed to clear a path because by the time we got there, a path was cleared through the limbs and trunks.  I was actually not all that surprised that there were so many trees knocked down.  As I mentioned in the previous journal we have not had too many strong winds up here this summer, but last Wednesday we had sustained winds of 35-40 mph with some gusts as high as 55.  We usually get winds like that one or twice in the autumn, but by then the leaves are off the trees and there is not as much force put on them by the wind with them being bare.  A few still might come down, but there is usually not widespread damage.  The exception was a few years ago when we has sustained winds of 55 mph and gusts to 90 mph.  Now that was a blow!  I can remember sitting in the house and listening to it moan and groan, hoping the roof was going to stay on and the windows would hold out.  A lot of trees came down in that one and there was also some structural damage.  Those winds were also the result of a strong low pressure and not a thunderstorm- a good old November Gale.
    So after seeing all the trees down across the very path we would have been walking, I am very glad that we chose to walk the Lake Linden Sands.  Thursday and Friday were both very good days for walking in the woods.  Cool enough that I actually had to wear a jacket, even though the sun was shining brightly both days.  Our highs were only in the upper 50's to low 60's and there was still a pretty stiff breeze, just not howling winds.  The air was also very dry, with dewpoints in the 30's, even in the afternoon.  With temps so cool and humidity so low, it sure felt like autumn.
    It's funny, the other night I decided to read the journal from last August, just to see what we were doing and what I was writing about.  I actually started at the beginning of the month and read through to the end and even into the first few posts of September.  Anyway, what is funny is that at the beginning of August of last year I was already counting down the days for the end of summer.  I was saying things like "only a few more weeks of possible heat left".  It turns out I had to wait a little longer than that as we had some warm temps into September.  This summer has been so cool that I actually have not found myself thinking about the coolness of autumn that much.  I have thought about it a bit, but it has not occupied my thoughts as much as it might normally when we get to August.  Well, at least up until today.  Today I looked at the calendar and saw that in just a tiny bit over a week, September will be here.  Once that happens then we have about 10 days of any real potential for heat before summer is basically gone for good.  September is the month when things change up here the most.  The beginning of the month almost always produces some mid to upper 80's, maybe even a 90 or two.  However, by the end of the month we are either seeing our first snows or are looking down the barrel of the first snow system.  It all really seems to change around the 14th to the 20th too.  The rest of the changing of the seasons is more gradual, with the cold rains and occasional wet snows of October gradually becoming more snow and less rain as we go through November and by the first of December we are usually done with most of the liquid precip until April.  Usually!
    The other thing that helped to get me really thinking about autumns arrival is that some of the trees have begun to change color.  That was one we came across on our walk Thursday, but today we went for a walk down near the north shore and lots of the trees there are either a very pale green or are actually in the process of changing to yellows and oranges.  We usually have a few early turners this time of the year, but it seemed like there was a bit more than usual in my travels around the Keweenaw the past few days.  I have not idea what that means, if it means anything.  I have found some weather folklore to have some legitimacy to it and others to be nothing more than creative writing.  I would suspect that some of the trees in northern MN are more than just a little changed.  Their peak will be coming in about 3 weeks, but they have already had 3 mornings when the temp bottomed out in the mid 20's!  Now that's chilly for august!
    Speaking of chilly, the jet stream is going to make a major flip for this week and the western US which has been so warm this summer is going to see some chilly temps build in.  I would not be surprised if some of the ski resorts sitting in the highest ground in the Rockies report their first snows of the season.  Places like Alta in Utah, Loveland in CO and Grand Targhee in WY.  Believe it or not, I am not quite ready for snow.  It's not like I would be upset if we got some, but to tell you the honest truth, I like the progression of seasons we have.  Especially the progression from summer to autumn to winter.  I could skip spring for the most part, but autumn is nice.
    I tell you what I am looking forward to.  I am looking forward to taking the morning walk with the hounds and smelling the scent of burning wood in the wood furnaces in the neighborhood.  On some of the cooler mornings this summer a few have been fired up, but by the time we are walking, the temps are usually at least in the 50's and so it does not seem as crisp out and the furnaces are left to go out on their own.  I'm also looking forward to heading out into the woods and having the leaves crunch underfoot and smelling the fallen leaves- especially on a sunny but crisp autumn day.  Oh well, it won't be too long now.
    On Friday, the hounds and I had some errands to run down in Houghton and Hancock and I decided we would take our afternoon walk down there.  I have never been to the Michigan Tech Trails to ski or hike, so that is where I decided we would go.  They have trails that are designated as being ok for dogs.  I'm not sure if the other trails are restricted in the winter only or all year, so we stuck to the dog friendly trails.  It was neat going to a place we had never been before.  I have driven by them many a time, but never actually ventured in.  I was surprised at how wide some of the trails were, wider than snowmobile trails.  They also did quite a bit of twisting and turning, although we did come across a fairly long straight away.  In the summer the trails get a lot of use from mountain bikers.  In fact we saw no other hikers out there, but did see about a half dozen mountain bikers.  They even have some trails and bridges specially designed for mountain bikers.  I'm not so sure that I would want to go across some of the bridges and platforms they had, but some of the more narrow paths through the woods would be fun.  They were also fun for the hounds and I to walk on.  It was a great day for a walk in the woods- temps in the upper 50's and lots of sun.  I was also a nice change from where we usually hike, although I don't think it will not become a regular spot for us.  Being that it is just on the southern outskirts of the "big city" of Houghton, we could hear cars and trucks drive by as well as come construction equipment hum the whole time we were walking out there.  Hearing those noises does take away from a nice walk in the woods.  I can put up with an ATV or two while I am walking because they come and go in the matter of less than a minute, but to hear the noise of traffic and construction equipment the whole time took away from the experience a bit.  I sure have gotten spoiled living up here, but then again the peacefulness of the back country is one of the big reasons we go out there on a regular basis.
    So Saturday we headed back to the peace and quiet of "our woods".  No, we don't own that land, but we can walk to it from the house and probably spend more time up there than anyone else.  In a week or two, I think I will even venture into the School Forest.  We have not encountered a deer fly in the past 3-4 days and if that trend keeps up for the next week or so, then I think we are safe.  It will really be nice to head out there to walk, especially now that the hounds can walk further than they could last year.
    The hounds and I have been baching it again.  Last Thursday Nora headed back down to Port Huron for a bridal shower.  She returns tomorrow and we will all be happy to see her.  Me mostly because I am out of clean cloths and clean dishes.  Just kidding, I actually cleaned the whole house today as well as did all the laundry.  I think she will be happy to return to a clean house and no laundry, plus three smiling faces and wagging tails!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
August 19-
    I would like to start this journal out with a quick mention at the loss of a friend or mine.  I did not know him super well, only having met him once in person, but we did trade e mails from time to time and we also spoke on the phone several times.  One of the times I spoke to him on the phone he guided me to a near overlook on the Norwitch Bluff.  His name was Dan Urbanski and he was a professional photographer that lived at the foot of the Porcupine Mountains in Silver City.  I discovered his site before moving up here and his photos were part of the collection of things that helped me have a little slice of the UP while I was living back south.  I'm not sure how many of you have seen his work, but he really had a talent for taking great shots.  His website is still going and I urge you to go and check it out, there are lots of great photos on it.
    On a happier note, Nora, the hounds and I are all doing very good.  The weather has been pretty nice of late and we have been making the most of it.  On Sunday it was warm enough to go to the beach so we all piled into the truck and headed to one of our favorites.  It is a secret and will remain that way as one of the best parts about it is that it almost never has anyone there.  In any case, we parked the truck and walked out onto the beach and not knowing any better one could have guessed that they were in the Caribbean, tropical Pacific or maybe Florida or the southeast coast of the US.  The sun was shining brightly and reflecting off the waves that were rolling onto the shore and the soft sugar like sand was nice and warm from the heat of the sun.  It was not too hot, nor too cold and there was enough of a breeze to keep us refreshed.  To top it all off, there was not a flying insect to be found.  Maybe the wind had something to do with that or maybe we are finally running out of bug season up here, I don't know but it was delightful.  I think we ended up staying there for about 2 hours which is a pretty long time for our crew.  Burt has a hard time just relaxing when he goes to the beach.  He somehow feels like he always needs to be doing something.  Most of the time that means fetching sticks that either Nora or I have tossed out into the lake for him.  If we stop, then he just starts exploring and sometimes that exploring can take him too close to the road, so we always have to be on our toes when we are out there and take shifts tending to him while the other relaxes.  Baileys will take a swim as well, but she usually grows tire of that pretty quickly so she will give herself a good shake and then head for a shady spot to take a nap.
    Well, this time around Nora and I did not want to leave, but were both pretty tired of tending to Burt, so we convinced him to just relax for a while and enjoy the scenery.  He actually seemed to understand.  He laid down in the sand and relaxed for a while.  So Nora and I were able to both enjoy relaxing at the beach for a while.  I am fairly certain that I could have stayed out there for the rest of the afternoon, but after a while Burt grew tired of just laying there so I got up and tossed the stick a few more times and then we headed home.  I am excited for Autumn to come, but I sure could go for a few more days like that at the beach too!
    It has been a struggle lately for me to come up with a lot to say and even harder for me to come up with interesting pictures.  However, it came to me that you all might not be looking for an award winning photo every time or even a photo of something incredibly interesting.  A shot of just about anything up here might help you in your Keweenaw fix.  So Monday the hounds and I took a walk in the woods and I snapped a shot of the trail we were walking on.  I chose that one specifically because of the shade it provided.  It was not a hot day on Monday, but warm enough that being in the shade made for a more comfortable walk.  As you can see the woods are still plenty green, with no trees showing any sign of changing.  It is still a bit too early for that.  Usually the wildflowers and ferns change first and maybe an occasional tree will start to change as we head into the second week of September.  There are still a few mosquitos, black flies and deer flies to contend with in the woods but they are not as bad as they were a few weeks ago.  I am still not brave enough to try out the School Forest, I think I will wait until we take a walk on the tracks and do not experience one deer fly.  Then it should be safe enough to head out there.
    Today the winds were picking up, we are actually under a wind advisory with gusts to 50 mph possible, so I decided to stay out of the woods.  We have not had any strong winds for a couple of months- even the thunderstorms have not produced any strong winds, so I was a little worried that there might be a few limbs or even a tree or two that might come down with the stronger winds we have today.  One of the only treeless spots I could come up with (other than some of the beaches) was the Lake Linden Sands.  So the hounds and I headed out there for our afternoon walk.  The winds were just getting going, but were strong enough to kick up some whitecaps on the Torch Lake.  It will be interesting to see of any trees come down up at the property.  The area that we cleared was pretty thick with trees and now that there is that opening in them it will expose some of them to the wind even more.  I kind of hope that no trees come down.  Nora and I still have about two hours of work left to do and I would like to keep it to that number for now!
    Well, I guess that gets you caught up on things for now.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
August 14-
    Watching the pictures of the devastation down in Florida on the TV, I am very thankful that I live in an area where the biggest concern we have from a natural disaster is not firing up the sauna stove in time to take one before going to bed.  On a serious side, it really saddens me to hear about fatalities down there with the storm.  Obviously it is nearly impossible to make all persons safe from a storm of that ferocity, but it is a real shame that folks choose to stay in their homes when all but forced at gunpoint to evacuate.  I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like to sit that one out.  I have experienced steady winds of 45 mph with gusts to 60 mph in some November gales up here.  At times the house would moan and groan a bit and it was quite unnerving.  There really is nothing you can do, you feel quite helpless and totally powerless.  The strength that the wind has increases almost exponentially as the wind increases, so to sit in a house while the winds are blowing steadily at 120 mph and gusting to 180 mph is just beyond my comprehension.
    My duties as a forecaster almost never involve trying to save persons lives from dangerous weather.  I may provide a forecast which a person might make travel plans on, but it is not a matter of life and death.  I'm not sure if I would want to make that type of a forecast or not.  Not because of the pressures- At times I have an incredible amount of pressure on me for my opinion on the future weather.  Some of my clients have more money riding on what I say that I will make in the next 10 years.  No, I actually enjoy the times when the pressure on my forecasts is big.  The reason why I would not want to provide a life or death forecast is because I would take it personally when persons did not heed to warnings or take the threat of the weather forecast seriously.  I just can't fathom why someone would want to stay and put their life on the line.  There is nothing they could do if their home were starting to break up, so I just don't understand the reasoning behind a person staying there rather than evacuating.
    The other issue that sort of gets me going is the media's coverage of things and the way that they portray this as a completely blown forecast.  They keep going on and on about how Tampa was the "sure bet" point of landfall and a landfall near Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda was not even in the realm of possibilities.  Watching what the National Hurricane Center was putting out and the way that the media was handling things, I felt it was the media that had Tampa as the sure bet.  I will admit that the NHC did have Tampa as the favored point of impact, but areas from Naples to the mouth of the Suwannee River were all categorized as areas with a high chance of landfall.  Perhaps the media just feel embarrassed that they went on and on about Tampa and then it missed that area.  Plus I keep hearing certain persons in the media talking about how the last big hurricane to hit that area was Donna as a cat 5 storm.  Donna did hit that area 44 years ago, but as a cat 3, not a cat 5.  Donna was a cat 5 storm while out in the Atlantic to the northeast of the northern windward islands.  Maybe I am just hypersensitive when the media criticize my colleagues.  One thing is for sure, that was one heck of a storm and thanks to the efforts of the NHC, state and local governments a lot of lives were saved.
    The weather up here was pretty interesting this week.  After going 5 weeks with almost no rain, it started to rain on Monday and except for a short period Monday evening, did not stop raining until late Wednesday evening.  I measured 2.78" of rain in my bucket in that time frame.  Temps Tue and Wed during the rain were only in the upper 40's and low 50's for highs.  Some sub freezing temps were recorded across northeast MN Friday morning, cold enough to end their growing season in some cases.  My temp this morning was a chilly 38 and looking at the forecast for the end of this coming week I wonder if our growing season might be at risk.  I will say this, as long as it is not raining up here, the weather is just about perfect for me.  Comfortable temps and lots of sun.
    We are reaching the final stretch of summer up here.  We are losing about 4 minutes of available daylight a day now and the sun is almost setting at a reasonable hour now.  It's won't be too long and I will be removing the air conditioners from the windows.  Soon after that the flannel sheets will be going on the bed and not long after that the summer clothes will be put away and the cold season garments will be sitting in the closet.  I am not ready for winter just yet, but I am ready for autumn.  We had a taste of it this past week and it was actually kind of nice to HAVE to wear a coat on our afternoon walk.  My head is so full of great memories walking with the hounds in the autumn and now memories of Nora, the hounds and I are being added.  It is really a great time of the year up here.  Nora and I are also excited to have a fire in the fireplace.  We have not had one since I did the remodel job.
    The other great thing about autumn is the hiking weather.  The hounds are doing so well that we should be able to take some nice long walks in the woods this autumn.  Today we took about a 4 mile walk. That is longer than we have walked in quite a while.  The hounds are sound asleep but were not too sore.  It sure would be great to able to take some nice long walks like that this autumn.  When we first moved up here it seemed like we took those types of walks all the time, or at least when the temps were cool enough for it.  We need to take Nora to the top of Mt. Baldy and show her some of the sights of the Porkies.
    It looks like I have come to the end of another writing.  I am sorry for the lack of photos lately, but it seems like I have just not come across much that is exciting to take a picture of.  I am not going to worry about it too much, I know that situation will be changing with the changing of the season.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
August 9-
    I'm getting this done in the afternoon in the event that the rains clear out in time for our 6:08 tee time.  At this point it does not look good for golf, which would be fine with me.  The league is just about done, Al and I have managed to go from first to almost worst in just a few weeks and I am just about ready to stick a fork in this season.  I am still having fun, the proverbial "The worst day on the golf course beats the best day in the office" almost holds true for me- although I must say that I really do enjoy my occupation very much and work is not a drag for me.  It is just that we are reaching the end of the season and I almost always lose a little of my enthusiasm for the game this time of the year.  My thoughts start to turn to hikes in the woods with a light jacket on, smelling the forest as it loses it's summer green and starts dropping leaves.  That is still over a month away, but seems as though when the "back to school" fliers start to fill the newspapers and the sun is actually setting before 10:30 in the evening my thoughts wander ahead to the wonders of autumn and the excitement of the season to follow.
    Speaking of autumn, the weather is about to make a big change up here, with late September temps to invade for much of the rest of the week after today.  Were it about 2 months from now I would actually be forecasting a bit of snow possible.  That's how cold it will be about 5000 feet above the ground, cold enough for snow.  The temps at the surface will be too warm and the temps above 5000 feet will probably not be cold enough to actually form ice crystals.  Temps actually need to be very cold in order for water vapor to form into ice crystals, not just freezing.  So no snow, but high temps tomorrow and Wednesday may only top out in the upper 50's.  Add winds out of the north at 15-25 mph, clouds and some light rain and tomorrow looks to be a very interesting day for golf up on the hill!  I have a feeling that I may be the only one up here that will not really mind high temps in the 50's tomorrow and Wednesday.  60's are actually more suitable for me this time of the year, but I can deal with 50's much easier than 80's.
    Things have been busy, but not with tons of exciting things.  We have been taking to the woods or the beach every day and making the most of this beautiful place we live in.  It is the height of berry season.  Raspberries, blueberries and thimbleberries are all at their peak.  The crop of raspberries in our back yard is nothing like it was last year. I think I did way too much trimming, or trimmed the wrong canes.  In any case we had about 4-5 bushes that produced berries this year compared to the over 20 that did last year.  I have asked others up here what they do about trimming and the answers were all in the "no trimming at all" to "very little trimming" range.  So that is what I will do this time around, very little to no trimming.  Nora and I did go to a friends to pick raspberries on Saturday and ended up with about a gallon and a half of berries.  This became jam about an hour later, all 6 quarts of them.  Nora has really perfected the jam making process and with me helping we were able to make however many pints of jam 6 quarts of berries will make in about 90 minutes.  We both agree that the hardest part of making jam is picking the berries.
    On Sunday, we went to the beach and ended up picking some blueberries while we were there.  At first the picking was just for a snack, but soon turned into a mission to pick enough for jam.  About 90 minutes later we had picked about 6 cups of wild blueberries and headed home to make homemade wild blueberry jam.  Wild blueberries are different from the commercial or cultivated blueberries in two main ways:  One they are much smaller, some barely the size of a BB, while most others are about the size of a pea.  That means that you have to pick about 3-4 times as many wild berries to make a cup as you would the larger cultivated berries.  The other way that wild blueberries are different is their taste.  They taste much better.  They seem to have more juice and are also sweeter, I guess that's mother natures reward to us for making the berries so small.  The blueberry jam making session went very smoothly and we now have about 6-8 pints of blueberry jam to get us through the winter.  I do believe that the blueberry is my favorite.  I had some on a toasted bagel this morning and look forward to more tomorrow morning.  I'm thinking heating some up and putting it over vanilla ice creme might be the ticket too.
    The blackberries will be ripe in another two weeks or so.  I am sure that Nora and I will head up to my secret patch and pick enough to make some jam from them.  We still have some left over from last season, but this season I want to run them through the foley mill to try and extract as many of the seeds as I can.  That's my main problem with blackberry jam is the seeds are much larger and harder than the raspberry.
    The wedding invites went out, so there is no turning back now!  Nora and I actually both joked about that as we were mailing them, but we are both getting excited.  Hard to believe in less than 9 weeks we will be husband and wife!  Most of the other wedding issues are either done or covered.  I'm not going to say something stupid like it should be smooth sailing from here on out, but I think that we are both prepared for the surprise hurdle or two that awaits us.  What I am wondering is what will Nora do with all of her free time once this is all done?  The way I see it, she will either drive us both nuts with nothing to do or will enjoy her free time by relaxing and getting back to a more normal life.  In any case, she has really been working hard on things and I am excited to see all of her work come together.  It's not like I have been sitting around doing nothing, but things that will probably be most noticed are the things that she has really handled by herself.  Hmmm, I wonder if that is by design?!  I'm marrying a very smart woman.
    Nora and I did get up to the property and put in another 60-90 minutes of work.  We are getting dangerously close to being done with all the clean up.  I'd say that if we take it easy we have about 4-5 more hours left and if we work at the same relative pace we have been going then we could have things done in about 2-3 hours.  This is all that remains of the clean up, about a 100 foot stretch of a tangle of tree trunks and tips and roots.  Now all I am hoping for is a couple of light snows on the weekends this autumn so we can burn all that we have cut and cleared.  I suppose we could probably do some burning before the snow, but you don't need a permit once snow is on the ground and despite the fact that we have picked up 1.75" of rain so far today, the past 5 weeks have been very dry up here.  So I plan to wait until we get the first snowcover and then start burning things.  Hopefully since the trees are all balsam fir and are full of sap they will burn quickly.
    I did manage to start my next woodworking project yesterday.  I actually got more done than I expected to, despite the fact that one of my tools broke.  I guess they don't make cast iron like they used to!  I am not in a big rush to get it done.  This will certainly be a piece that will be used for the rest of my life and probably future generations as well, so I plan to work on it when my mood is suitable for working on it and will also work at a pace that insures only the best output with no sacrifices to quality.  I must say that it was a unique and fun experience to pick through the 150 or so cherry boards I have to find the right ones to use for the project.  Up until now it was always pick through them at the lumber yard and hope that when I get them back to the shop they work out as I had planned.  Not always the case when you are dealing with wood and it's grain patterns.
    I have been in contact with Rick Dobson the videographer that came up this past February and shot the footage of us playing in the snow on our snowmobiles.  He has been busy with other work this summer, but had done some work a few months ago and is now able to get onto the DVD that will contain the footage he shot while up here.  One of his projects for this summer was to use some of the footage of us in a promotional video for Castle Racing.  There was also footage from some WSA snowcross races as well as the Jackson Hole hill climb.  It is pretty weird watching a DVD and seeing the guys and myself on the TV!  It is a short DVD, only about 11 minutes in length and we share that time with the WSA and Jackson Hole footage, so there is just a few minutes of our riding to see on it, but still enough to get me psyched for the full length DVD and my head plant did make the cut for the Castle DVD, so at least I can play that over and over until the full length DVD arrives!  For those of you wondering when it will be ready you can be sure that I will let you all know.  Rick sounded like he was going to get going on it soon and it might be done by the end of the month and ready for purchase sometime in Sept.  Plus he is excited to want to come up and do it all again this winter and I don't think I'll have any problems getting the crew to OK another shoot.
    Well, I guess that gets you caught up on things up here.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
August 4-
    Well, the hounds and I are on our own again.  Nora is down in Green Bay with co-workers shopping....er at a conference.  They left this morning and will be back tomorrow night.  In a way I am jealous as that is the closest town that has a real woodworking store.  There is a Menards in Marquette and a Home Depot in Rhinelander and both have a selection of tools, but most of them are for carpenters and not woodworkers.  I think that if I could figure out a way to start it up and then have someone run it for me in the winter, I would not mind owning a contractors/woodworkers supply store.  I actually think one would do pretty good up here.  There really is not a store locally that you can go to and get just about any tool you need.  Some of the hardware stores have a pretty good selection of tools as do some of the lumber yards, but not like a Berlands House of Tools does in the Chicago area.  I used to go to that store just to browse and dream!  So if there is anyone out there that dreams of living up here and wants to start up a tool shop like that up here, let me know- I'd be happy to work with you.  I can't provide much in the way of capital, but would be pretty knowledgeable in the tools!
    I got my lumber storage rack built for the cherry I purchased last Saturday and loaded it up.  There is actually a lot more space left on it that I thought there would be, so I plan to get another 150-200 board feet of it soon.  I surfaced up a few boards and it is really good stuff.  I am looking forward to getting going on the next project.  I actually have built one of these before for a friend when I was living in the Chicago area, here is a shot of it.  I hope to actually start it next week.
    Unfortunately we have not been doing much in the way of exciting exploration.  The temps the past few days were too warm and I also played golf on Monday and Tuesday.  Today I had to run some errands down in Houghton and Hancock so we were pressed for time.  I don't know what we will do tomorrow for fun.  The temps are suppose to be in the 60's, with low humidity, so maybe I can think of some place fun for the hounds and I to go and I can bring the camera along.  I do think that we must have scared a bear into the woods on our quick little walk in the woods yesterday.  We got to a point on the trail and the hounds were very interested in something they were smelling.  It was close enough by that they could just stick their noses in the air and catch a good whiff.  I also noticed that the bushes were all trampled down in the location where they were sniffing and also noticed that some of the berries in that area had been nibbled on by something.
    Speaking of the berries, we are just about at the peak for the blueberries, raspberries and thimbleberries.  Nora and I plan to do our picking for jam when she gets back.  Our bushes will not provide enough to make much jam this year, but we have a friend we are going to go to and pick enough to make a big batch.
    I think that the Keweenaw is the only spot in the Midwest that it did not rain this week!  Watching the radar over the past couple of days, I could not believe all the rain that fell to the south of us.  Actually, I can believe it, because I forecasted it, but was jealous of it.  We did get that 1" of rain last Friday night, but it was soaked up so fast that the soils were rock hard or dusty just about 24 hours later.  I am seriously contemplating watering the front yard as it is trying to hang on, but looks to be losing the battle.  Plus we are not to get any rain until next Sunday night or Monday and that's 4 days of lots of sun to dry things out even more.  The woods are still nice and green, so we do not have a problem with a fire danger.  Not yet anyway.  If this were about a month and a half from now and we were doing this, then it would be a different story.  The foliage would be dying due to the end of the season and that combined with the dryness would be creating a dry forest floor.  I plan to try and combat the risk of losing the structures on the property with some under ground sprinklers and a belt of green grass between the structures and the forest.  Any fires we have up here are usually more brush fires than true forest fires where the fires burn in the crowns of the trees.  So with an area of green grass, any brush fire would hopefully stop when it hits that.  Plus the roofs will all be metal and I can always have the sprinklers going if the fire is bearing down on the buildings out there.
    Well, I have been sitting here for about 15 minutes trying to come up with something to say and am drawing a blank.  Plus I am hitting the wall.  It is only about 6 pm, but I did not sleep well last night, so I guess that is another good excuse to just call it a day.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -