Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam

Oct 28-
    I don't know about you, but I can't believe that October is almost over and in just over a month, snowmobile season will be here!  On our walk today it seemed more like late April than late October.  The temp is pushing 60 degrees the dewpoint is up near 55 degrees, the trees are bare in most places and the creeks are running high from all the wet weather we have had-  it just seemed like a spring day.  It also seems hard to believe that Nora and I have been married almost 3 weeks.  In good ways it seems longer than that!  I think because so much has happened in those three weeks, seems more like 3 months.  But don't get me wrong, we are still happy honeymooners!  In fact, I am writing this early so that I can have it done by the time she gets home from work and we can spend a nice Friday evening at home together.
    Things are pretty slow up here.  The color season is over and there really is not much reason for a tourist to be up here.  Many of the seasonal motels have closed down and their owners have most likely taken off for warmer climates.  The locals are gearing up for hunting season and those of us who do not hunt are getting our sleds ready.  As mentioned I am having my shock rebuilt. It should be ready and I will swing by early next week to pick it up on my trip to get the trail cam going for the season.  Yep, it looks like we should have all the connections going by Sunday.  I plan to head over there Monday if the weather is agreeable and get 'er going.  It's been an interesting experience getting the phone going.  I went there on Monday and did not spend as much time as I should have trying to figure things out.  Then on Wednesday I went over there, but forgot to bring some of the equipment I needed, so yesterday I finally remembered all the equipment and was able to get phone service down to the cam.  Power is there, but a few more connections need to be taken care of on that circuit and then we'll be all set.  It will be interesting to see how it looks.  The cam is physically a little higher off the ground than it was last year and a bit further off the trail (the last 2 years it could not have been any closer or I probably would have been in trouble with the DNR!).  Plus the section of trail it views is more open than the previous spot.  I am sure that it will still give a great view of the trail and it will also be a busier section, so lots more action will be seen.
    The weather has been a little strange for the past week or so.  Lots of clouds which is not that strange, but temps not really cold, but not really warm.  The clouds have been keeping it from getting too cold at night.  A clear night this time of the year can easily make low 20's, but we have been only dropping into the low 40's many nights.  Yet in the day, the temps only hit the upper 40's to low 50's most of the time.  Today is an exception with the upper 50's like I mentioned above.  We even have the chance for some severe thunderstorms this evening and tonight.  A very rare event at this time of the year.  Next week it looks like we could be seeing more typical weather for this neck of the woods at this time of the year.  Maybe even some snows.  Not a lot the way things look right now.  At one point this week it looked like we might have ended up with a 1-2 punch and maybe see some double digit accumulations next week, but things changed and now it looks like just maybe some flakes from time to time.  I'm still not ready for winter to come and stay.  A few more chores need to be done, but hopefully if Sunday is as nice as it is suppose to be, those chores will be taken care of.
    The weather has also presented some challenges to outdoor activities this week.  We have had threatening skies almost all week and at times Mother Nature has made good on those threats with some showers falling.  Nothing very heavy since Monday, but enough to have to keep us indoors when we could have been exploring.  We did get out to the School Forest this week and fully enjoyed that experience as usual.  It's interesting, down near the ground there was still a fair amount of leaves left on the trees.  Yet up at the top of the forest canopy the stronger winds have stripped the trees bare.  Those shots were taken this past Tuesday and by now most of the trees are bare.
    It has been so damp up here recently that I wish we actually had a bit of dry weather, then got an inch or two of snow so that we could go and take care of the brush piles at the property.  Things are so wet right now, I am not even sure I could get any of the piles started without resorting to some kind of help.  I suppose we could always leave them until spring and then burn them once the snow is off of them but still remains on the ground, but I would rather take care of it now.
    So, we are at that quiet time of the year and it looks like I am out of things to say.  It seems like I should have more and it seems like as I went through this week I had things to say, but they always find a way to escape me when I sit down to write.  Maybe I should keep a little notepad in my pocket so I can write down these ideas and then put them in here.  Who knows maybe I will!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

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Oct 25-
    Mmmmmm...We are at the time of the year when I am glad to have a very sensitive sniffer.  Not nearly as sensitive as the hounds have, but I do smell things better than the average person.  I have always been that way and for the most part I have considered it a blessing.  Of course there have been the times when driving to Purdue that I would pass through Calumet City and Gary and wished I did not have this ability and once in the country, passing by a few hog farms in the summer would also cause me some discomfort, but then there is the up side.  Walking in the woods this time of the year the smell of the fallen leaves is just great.  Add to that the smell of some wood burning and I'm in heaven!  Well, heaven on earth.
    This really is my favorite time of the year to walk in the woods.  The temps are perfect, all I have to do is bundle up a bit.  The forest is in a state of change.  We can walk the same spot day after day and each day it will look a little different.  Less leaves on the trees and more on the ground.  With less leaves on the trees we can see into the woods further, so items that were hidden in all the vegetation during the summer suddenly become visible.  The leaves that are still left on the trees add some color to the woods and those that are in the process of falling gave me a tease of the snow to fly soon.  It will be really neat when we live up at the property.  We will be able to experience all of that on a constant basis.
    I have been a busy guy, but also very productive.  On Friday I went to set up the trail cam.  For those of you checking in on the cam, you already know that I must have run into some problems.  I had thought that if all went well that it would be running by late in the day Friday.  Well, I was able to get out there and get all of the equipment set up.  However, the power still needed some finishing touches and the phone needed to be hooked up.  I had called the phone company and they said it would be set up on Friday and said that a technician would be out there between 1 and 5 pm, so the hounds and I got there a bit after 1 and got to work on it.  I was done with my setting up at about 3:30 pm and then took the hounds for a short walk down the snowmobile trail.  Lori from the Wildlife Refuge Cabins told me that they recently graded the trail, so that is good news for both the snowmobilers and ATVers that use that trail.  Especially the ATVers.  We usually get plenty of snow to fill in any irregularities that would exist on the trail, but the flatter surface will help with the early season grooming to be sure.
    After our walk we stopped in and I talked with Lori for a while waiting for the phone person to come.  It got to be a little after 5 pm and I figured that the phone person was not coming and somehow the signals got crossed.  Today I called the phone company and they said that the line had been activated and that many times they do not need to send someone out and this was one of those cases.  So it turns out the phone line was live on Friday and I never even bothered to check.  So today the hounds and I went back out to try and get things hooked up and it turns out I do need the phone person to go out and do some hooking up.  There are several lines already going out there and I am not sure how to hook up the new one without disrupting the current ones, so will leave it up to the pros.  I was able to get the power connection set up, so hopefully very soon the trail cam will be live and well!  Some additional news is that Dave and Lori agreed to let the cam stay up all year long, so we all will be able to watch snowmobilers in the winter and then ATV's in the summer.  If you were wondering about the proximity of the trail cam to the trail and cabins, I took this shot while standing on the trail and looking up towards the cabins.  Talk about trailside lodging!  Plus you might think that the noise from the trail would be bad being that close, but because the cabins are behind the hill, the sound really is not an issue.  There were some motor bikes going down the trail and I could not hear them go by until they were well down the trail and out from behind the hill.  One last shot from my trip out there Friday was of some remaining snow from the previous weekend's storm.
    Some of my other accomplishments have been to get the bush protectors up.  Nora helped me out with that job yesterday afternoon.  It is so much easier with her help.  I think that it took us under an hour to get it all set up.  Plus this being the 6th time I have had to do it, I am getting the hang of it.  I have all the parts marked clearly and the design has been tweaked through the years to not only make the protectors more effective, but easier to set up and take down.  Nora and I also did a little bit of yard work.  We emptied two of the compost bins to get ready to fill them with the newly fallen leaves.  Our gardens took some of the composting leaves from the past season and a spare bin took the rest.  On Sunday I did a little work on the sled.  I have already replaced both trailing arms and also the steering post.  I also fixed the bracket for the reverse linkage.
    Sunday I pulled the rear suspension to check the bearings on the bogey wheels.  The suspension also had a little play near the fully rebounded position, so on my way back from the trail cam, I stopped in at Dan's Polaris to have them check the shocks.  The rear shock was a bit low on pressure so they are going to rebuild the shock and recharge it.  I could have just recharged the shock, but I figured as long as I had the suspension out and in their shop it would be smarter to rebuild it now than potentially HAVE to do it when I would rather be riding it this winter.  Once the suspension is back in, then the sled will be all ready to go.  The last (but not least) item that will be done before the season kicks into high gear will be to have a clutch kit put in.  I have been in contact with the folks at Goodwin Performance and they will be taking care of turning the RMK into a little rocket ship.  They actually hope to come up in late November or early December to do some testing and said that they will put my sled on the computer and get it dialed in just right.  That should be very cool as I know what a difference the right clutching can do!  I will be sure to tell you all more about things as they transpire.
    I am starting to get a little more excited for winter to arrive.  I am not at the point where I am chomping at the bit, but I have a feeling that time is not too far off.  In just a week the snowfall forecasts will be starting and I think that will get the blood pumping even more.  If the current forecast holds, I may even have something to talk about in my kick off to the snowfall forecasts.  We'll see!  For those of you looking for a seasonal forecast, it is coming.  I am actually working on my seasonal forecast for the energy traders who are my clients and as soon as that is out and has been digested, then I will put one out on the website.  Hang in there!
    I guess that about covers it for this time around.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Oct 21-
    Boy, it did not take long to jump right back into the swing of things with both feet!  I have been running around like a crazy man lately, trying to get things all set for the winter season.  I know it must seem like there is not that much to address to get the site ready for the winter, but it really is just the opposite.  It has really become a business unto it's own.  I have accounts receivable, accounts payable, labor shortages, you name it!  Ad to that the fact that the hounds want to unionize!  It just never stops.  But seriously, I have been keeping myself rather busy these past few days.  For one, if all goes as planned and the weather cooperates tomorrow afternoon, the trail cam will be up and running by tomorrow late afternoon.  I moved it's location from the Tamarack City area to South Range.  The owners of the Wildlife Refuge Cabins were generous enough to let me put it there.  I knew that their establishment was just off the trail, so I figured it would not be that difficult to get power and phone to the trail side.  Turns out they already had power, but they were also going to be doing some upgrading of their parking lot by putting some hookups for diesel, so they ran me my own power and also ran phone down there, so all I have to do is get my equipment out there and get it hooked up.  I also had to call the phone company to order another phone line for out there and the phone guy will be out there tomorrow afternoon.  So that is why I say if all goes as planned and the weather can keep the rains out until later in the day, the trail cam should be live tomorrow.  It actually would have caught some nice snow last weekend as they had about 4-5" there on Sat and Sat night.
    I also got the AL Cam into winter mode.  Last spring I obtained an instrument shelter box from the NWS and put that into the ground in the same general vicinity of where the snow station sits.  I figured it could just double as the snow station in the winter and I think it will work out well.  However, in the process of getting that setup and the camera re-aligned, the camera stopped functioning.  I did have a spare camera and it was a good one, so I just hooked that one up and got it posting and we are all set for snow as far as that goes.  I still have some personal items to address as far as preparing for winter goes.  The bush protectors need to go up, the gutter guards need to be put in place, the snow thrower needs to be brought to front and center and started up, the leaves need to be raked and the Christmas lights need to be put up.  Thankfully real winter weather does not look to be in the offing for at least a week, probably more, so I do have some time.  Also my buddy Al was able to find me an indoor storage spot for the boat, so I do not have to worry about building some sort of shelter for it.
    Speaking of winter weather, my two favorite web cams out west did pretty well with snow over the past day or two.  Actually, the Alta Utah cam did the best, with over 4 feet accumulating in the past 2 days.  I guess they will get off to a good start.  It looks like at least two other storms will hit as well- lucky dogs!  The other site that has been fun to watch has been the Togwotee Lodge in northwest WY.  They actually have been back and forth between rain and snow, with most of the precip today falling as snow.  Looks like they have picked up about as much as some of the higher terrain around here did over the weekend.
    It's funny I actually can still wait for winter to come (yes I did mean to type can, not can't!).  I have so much to do before it comes that I would actually not consider it a good thing right now.  Thankfully I think I have at least 2-3 weeks before it would come in earnest and probably a little more than that.  Usually it starts to get a lot like winter around here the second week of deer season.  However, I know in a few weeks I will be chomping at the bit for the snow to start piling up and I really do hope to put a ton of miles on my sled this season.  It looks like we will have quite the supply of KSE guides this year with 3 guys available full time and another 3 of us available for the weekends.  That means that I should be able to get one of the other 3 guys to take some afternoon rides with me like Matt and I did towards the end of last season.  That really can be the best riding there is, just two guys off in the woods breaking trail.  No big group to try and keep together or running!  Of course the big groups have their pluses as well.  There are usually some entertaining antics to watch or be part of and the egos usually help to push the entertainment threshold.  So I guess you could say I really don't care if it is just myself and another rider or a whole group, it is just great to get out and enjoy the great outdoors!
    I have been taking my regular afternoon walks with the hounds this week.  We have been alternating between the school forest and the tracks.  I figure we will try and go to places that we will not be able to go once the main firearm deer season kicks in on the 15th of November.  That is when we will go to the beach, the Lake Linden Sands and some of the back country roads.
    Even with all the wind, rain and snow we had last weekend there is still quite a few trees with leaves on them.  In fact some areas have yet to see many leaves fall at all, while in some areas the trees are bare.  In general I'd have to say that about 50% of the leaves have fallen which seems late to me.  We have so many trees up here that even with 50% of the leaves still up in the them, there is a nice yellow, orange and red carpet across the ground.  That was the tracks and in about a month and a half will be the snowmobile trail if the snows come early and deep.  After sharing 38 shots with you in the last entry, that last shot was the only one I have to share with you this time.  I'm sure that I will take some shots of the trail cam setup and should have some other interesting shots to share with you next time.  If not I can always scan in some more wedding shots!
    Well, it looks like I have come to the end of another entry, which is a good thing since my eyelids are starting to drop on me.  It seems strange to think that in just a little over a week I will be doing my snowfall forecasts!  For some reason I am extra excited to get the site into winter mode.  Must be something to do with being a married man or something like that!!!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Oct 17-
    I have a feeling that this is going to be a fairly lengthy journal as I do have lots of things to write about.  For you picture fans, I have 25 of them to share.  A good many of them are not of the Keweenaw, but are well worth viewing none the less.  Nora and I returned from our honeymoon yesterday afternoon and I can finally spill the beans where we went.  We traveled to northern MN to the Voyageurs National Park and stayed at the Ash Trail Lodge.  The owners Steve and Deb Wieber and their son Tom run the facilities and just spoiled Nora, the hounds and I completely!  They are actually between seasons right now, so Nora, the hounds and I had the place to ourselves.  We stayed in one of their 10 log cabins, the Riverside, and even though we were there for about 3 days it felt like it had become our home away from home.
    On the way there, we decided to take the scenic route, traveling up the north shore of MN.  I have heard lots of things mentioned about the trip and figured we could not go all the way to northern MN and not take in the drive along the north shore.  After passing through Duluth, we drove up the lake shore road to Two Harbors.  There is a route a little further inland that is a 2 lane divided highway and I would say anyone traveling north could take that.  The shore road from Duluth to Two Harbors did not have too much to do or look at.  Once past Two Harbors, we came to a little roadside park.  It had been raining since going through about Ashland WI, but was just lightly drizzling so we stopped to let the hounds stretch their legs a bit at the Flood Bay wayside park.  A little further up the road was stop one of the two main things I wanted to see along the north shore drive- Gooseberry Falls.  That was actually the upper falls.  There are middle and lower falls too.  Nora grabbed the camera to take a shot of the hounds and I at the upper falls.  We did hike down to the middle falls as well as it was just a few hundred feet away.  Here is a shot looking up at the middle falls, with the bridge for the north shore road behind.  I actually walked out into the river and stood up on a rock formation to take that shot.  The view downstream was also pretty dramatic.  Looking to shore was also a pretty sight, with Nora and Burt watching me climb around on the rocks.  I think Nora was making sure I did not slip and crack my head open on the rocks and Burt was just jealous of me walking around out there.
    We did not hike down to the lower falls or where the river runs into the lake.  It was in the low 40's and drizzling pretty hard and we did not feel like getting all cold and wet, only to have to travel in the car a few more hours to the Ash Trail Lodge.  So we hopped in the car and drove up the road a bit more to the second thing I wanted to see along the way and that is the Split Rock Lighthouse(fsv).  That and the lighthouse at the Huron Mountains are probably the two most dramatic on Lake Superior.  There was a state park at the lighthouse, but we were not sure if the dogs could go inside and we also knew we still had a bit of traveling to do, so after taking some shots of the lighthouse from that lookout, we piled into the car to head inland and then north.
    The elevation changes almost immediately as you travel inland from the lake.  We took highway 1 that would take us from the lake shore up to Ely in northeast MN.  Hwy 1 is a very pretty route, but be warned... once west of Isabella, it becomes very twisty and turny!  I would suspect that there was not a section of that road that went straight for more than a few hundred feet before taking a sharp turn.  There was also almost no shoulder, so you really had to be on your toes while traversing the turns.  It reminded me a lot of the section of Hwy 41 that runs south out of Copper Harbor, only make the turns a lot sharper (90 degrees + in many cases) and put a lot more of them in there! The trip to Isabella was very neat.  The terrain is very hilly from the shoreline to Isabella and the little hamlet of Finland is one area that I think I could actually live in.  It reminded me of the areas up around Gratiot Lake in the Keweenaw, with the big elevation changes and almost no civilization.  Both Finland and Isabella are stations that report snow depth in the wintertime and it was neat to see them.
    Once we finally reached Ely and our eyeballs stopped rolling around inside our heads, we had a choice:  travel southwest to Hwy 53 and then up to the Ash River or take 116 on a more direct NW route to the little hamlet of Buyck and then over to Orr and then up 53 a short trip to Ash River.  116 would be shorter in distance, but was also marked as a gravel road on the map.  Nora and I were still feeling a little adventuresome and with 4 wheel drive and a brand new set of tires we decided to see the unspoiled reaches of far northeast MN.  At first 116 was paved and after going about 3-4 miles, I thought our luck was going to be good.  However, soon after mentioning to Nora how it would be great if 116 was paved all the way to Buyck, we ran out of pavement and also ran out of much straight road.  So the 60 or so miles from Ely to Buyck turned into a 2 hour long trip through the MN backwoods.  It was very pretty with the road going by lots of lakes and swamps and I will add that the last 15-20 miles of the gravel road was very straight, so we were able to increase our speed quite a bit from the 25-30 mph that we had been traveling.  Another nice thing about 116 was that it was flat, with almost no washboarding.  So it probably took us longer, but we did get to see some areas that I bet a great many Minnesotians have not seen.
    Once in Orr, it was nice to be back in civilization.  We stopped at the local mart to pick up some supplies for our stay at the cabin (it has a full kitchen) as well as some gas and a snack for the last 30 minutes of the trip up to the lodge.  I can say that as pretty as the trip was, Nora, the hounds and I were all very happy to have finally arrived.  It had been about 10 hours since we left Lake Linden and we were ready to be out of the truck!  Deb saw us pull in and met us at the door of the main lodge.  Steven and Tom arrived very shortly and after a bit of chit chatting, we decided to head over to the cabin to get unpacked and cleaned up a little bit, then head back over to the lodge to join them in a light dinner and some conversation.
    The Weibers are really great folks- just the type of person you need to be to run a business like that.  They are actually from my old stomping grounds of the NW suburbs of Chicago and bought the lodge about 4-5 years ago.  Nora and I chatted with them for several hours while Burt and Baileys played with their two labs Tucker and Lilly.  I had been up since 4:30 and actually did not sleep well the night before, so I started to zone out at about 10 or 11 so we headed to the cabin to get some rest.
    The cabin was very cozy and made both Nora and I excited to build our log cabin.  Baileys had to do her usual bathroom break at about 1:30 in the morning, so I went out with her.  The night was clear and calm and the northern lights were dancing in the sky on the northern horizon.  I could have almost stayed out there for a while admiring the show that mother nature was putting on, but it was chilly so I headed back in to get some more sleep next to my bride.  We are all used to getting up early around here (including the hounds) so we were all up before the crack of dawn.  However, being that far north and with the time change it was really about 8:15 by the time the sun rose.  The clear calm night had allowed temps to drop into the low 20's and a heavy frost was covering everything.  After Burt and Baileys had their breakfast I walked around the lodge's grounds a little bit.  We headed out to the namesake of the lodge and caught the steam rising as the sun rose over the Ash River (fsv).  The sun rose a bit more and I figured Nora was probably done getting herself ready so we headed back to our cabin so that Nora and I could have some breakfast.  I'm not exactly sure when this next shot was taken, but this is of the hounds enjoying a rawhide treat in the cabin.
    The main order of business for the day on Thursday was to have Tom take us out on the waters that the lodge is connected to, but it was decided by all of us the night before to wait until about noon when the temps would be a little warmer.  So Nora, the hounds and I piled into the car to do some exploring of the Voyagers National Park.  There are actually several places where you can drive to and explore the park by foot, but much of the park is actually the lakes and islands sitting between MN and Canada.  We lucked out on two fronts as there was one of these automobile accessible areas about 1/4 mile away from the lodge and on our little exploration of that area there were a handful of little hiking trails that we were able to go down and get some exercise and enjoy the great outdoors.  The first trail just took us into the woods and there was not much to see, so we did not go all the way to the end.  The second trail wrapped around a beaver pond and then up to a rock outcropping where you could get a birds eye view of the pond itself (fsv).  The third trail that we happened upon took us to a little overlook of Lake Kabetogama (fsv).  It along with Lake Namakan are the two main bodies of water that you can access via the Ash River, although you can also get up to Rainy Lake and it's waterway system via the Kettle Falls Portage and also down to Crane and Sand Lakes via Namakan.  In the summer this means thousands of places to fish and in the winter it means tons of places to snowmobile.  I was actually surprised to find out from Steve that the snowmobile season is actually their busiest.
    While exploring the overlook near lake Kabetogama, we spotted one deer taking a drink at the waters edge.  There was another one taking a meal on the edge of some woods.  Lots more deer up there than we have up here that's for sure!  Of course those were the smart deer, they know there is no hunting within the park itself.
    It did warm up, but also clouded up so it was still a bit chilly for a boat ride, but Tom was gracious enough to still want to take us out and show us what makes this part of the world so special.  Deb even joined us and brought along a thermos of hot chocolate to help keep us warm.  We all also wore snowmobile pants and winter hats and gloves to help keep us warm for the ride.  I managed to stay very warm, with just my face getting a little chilled.  It was well worth the trip though as the main lakes of Kabetogama and Namakan are within the the Voyagers National Park, so there is no development allowed, which means that you have 1000's of miles of shoreline with no buildings.  Deb told us that we missed the peak colors up there by about 4-5 days, but there were still quite a few splashes of gold in the birch stands that are along the lake.  We made it to Kettle Falls Dam and parked the boat to have a look around.
    Kettle Falls Dam separates lake Namakan from Rainy Lake.  There is a portage service that will haul you and your boat around the dam for a fee, so as long as you are not on a huge houseboat you could head over to Rainy Lake and boat and fish there too.  Rainy actually connects with Lake of the Woods via the Rainy River and eventually with Lake Winnipeg and that connects with Hudson Bay.  So it might be entirely possible to get from the Ash River Lodge to Lake Linden or any other spot on the Great Lakes, major river systems of the world or ocean if you wanted to.  Although it took us about 45 minutes just to see a fraction of the waterway of Namakan.  So one could probably take a week or so to see all there is to see on Namakan and Kabetogama.  We did not opt to do any fishing, but they were still pulling crappie and some walleye out of the lakes up there.  I suspect it will not be too long before they are ice fishing up there.  Before ending our boating excursion Tom took us up river from the lodge to show us the Ash River Falls (fsv).
    That night Nora and I stayed in and she cooked a spaghetti dinner.  All the hours without sleep the night before finally caught up to me and I found myself falling asleep at about 8:15 Keweenaw time or 7:15 local time!  The next day threatened rain or even some snow, so Nora and I planned to go and visit the "Icebox of the Nation"- International Falls.  The folks of Embarrass MN have recently taken on the task of trying to dethrone "The Falls" as International Falls is called by the locals.  I think that Embarrass might be able to do it as I think they are in a basin which allows for temps to hit rock bottom on clear calm nights.  We did pass by the airport at the falls, that is where the temps for International Falls is recorded and it just sits out in the open and maybe even at a higher spot than much of the rest of the city, so it does not "benefit" from the effect of the cold air draining into the low spots on a clear calm night.  In either case, it gets cold up there in the winter.  30-35 below is not a major accomplishment and is hit several times a winter.  The weather was raining pretty hard when we were in the falls, so we did not take any shots.  We did find a little nature trail to take the hounds on while the rains subsided for a bit, then it was back down to the lodge to unwind after our busy day at International Falls.
    Nora and I then headed over to the lodge for dinner where I got one of the best bacon wrapped fillets I have had since moving out of Chicago.  I was told they cut their own fillets from a tenderloin, so they can trim any fat and also cut the portion to size.  The lodge was open for dinner that night and some locals came in to grab a bite to eat or have a few drinks or both.  The lodge sits within a community of other tourism businesses, including a houseboat rental operation, and some private residences and everyone knows each other and are all good friends.  It is neat to see such a community exist.  It reminds me a little of the smaller towns of the Keweenaw like Lake Linden, Mohawk, Lac La Belle, Eagle River, Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor.
    We stayed and visited for a while with Steve, Deb, Tom and some of the locals and then headed it off to bed for our last night in northern MN.  On Baileys light night bathroom trip that night it was snowing and by the time daybreak came there was a dusting down.  That was their official first accumulation for the season and certainly not their last.  Nora and I had a quick breakfast in the cabin and then packed up for the trip back.  No side trips on the way home, it was time to take the shortest and quickest route home.  There were some flurries down to about Virginia, then cloudy skies through Duluth and some more flurries once we got into NW WI.  The lake snow belt became very evident as we neared the Hurley/Ironwood area with flurries transitioning into light snow and then even some bursts of moderate snow.  No real accumulations in the Hurley/Ironwood area though, a dusting in spots.  It was snowing pretty hard as we made our way to the northern end of Lake Gogebic and then on to Bruce Crossing.  I was actually expecting things to be pretty snowy in that area as they can do pretty well with these early season events, so I was thus a little surprised when we had just wet roads and no major accumulations to deal with all the way to Bruce Crossing.
    There was one last stretch of road I was worried about and that was from about Mass City to Toivola or South Range.  That area too can get some decent snows with these early season LES events.  That section actually ended up bringing about what I had anticipated- moderate to occasionally heavy snow, with accumulations on the natural surfaces and even some slick spots on the roads.  The county trucks were out and doing their best to keep the roads clear, but it was actually snowing so hard from just north of Mass City north that after about 10 minutes the roads were snow covered again.  About a mile south of Twin Lakes we came across a mini van that had left the roadway and flipped on it's side while going into the ditch.  There was already another mini van parked at the scene and with no cell service I figured the best thing we could do was to head up to Krupp's mini mart to see if 911 had gotten word of the accident.  I went in to check with 911 and they had received the report and were sending help.  While I did that, Nora snapped a shot of the field between the mini mart and Krupps Resort.  There looked to be about 3-4" down at that point.  After that we got back on 26 and headed north to Houghton and then Lake Linden.  I expected things to maybe become a bit better between Twin Lakes and Toivola and then worsen between Toivola and South Range, but they just kept getting worse.  We ended up behind an elderly couple driving about 25 mph while riding the breaks, so the usual 20 minute trip from Twin Lakes to Houghton took about 35-40, but that's ok, the couple make it to their turn off at South Range fine and I doubt I would have driven much faster as that early season snow is very wet and very slippery.
    We made it home just fine and the roads did improve as we headed down the hill from South Range past Atlantic Mine and into Houghton and Hancock.  It was snowing, but the roads were just wet all the way to Lake Linden.  It snowed and blowed all night and this morning we awoke to about an inch or two in our yard.  I decided to head up the hill to Calumet/Laurium to see what they picked up.  I knew that it had been accumulating up there yesterday, so I figured there would be a good amount down this morning.  Best I could guess they had about 4-5" down in Laurium.  The main road was fairly clear, but the side streets were rather messy.  I did see the village plows out taking care of the side streets though.  It is neat to see some winter time scenes and nice to take some wintertime shots.  Even the Laurium Glacier was getting itself underway!  Back at home, I did manage to take the first "winter" front of house shot.  Not much, but a whole lot more to come in the next few months.
    Nora and I did take the hounds to the School Forest for the afternoon walk.  The colors out there are still pretty in spots (fsv), although I would guess by the end of this week, the trees will be mainly bare.  So we are back home and back to reality.  It was a great honeymoon and nice little getaway.  My thanks to the Weibers for their wonderful hospitality.  Nora and I will be back to celebrate future anniversaries!  In just two weeks I will be bringing the site back to full update status with the winter forecasts starting.  I will be setting up the trail cam this week as the things that needed to be taken care of for that have been done.  I also need to get things like the bush protectors up, the snow station taken care of and some other pre-winter tasks accomplished.  It does seem strange to think that in just over 2 weeks October will be history and in about a month winter will be here!  I am ready!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
    Well, I think this is a first.  After finishing the journal and getting ready to upload it, I was browsing the internet and went to the snowfall reports from the NWS Marquette for the latest storm.  There were a lot of 3's and 4's for the stations and then I saw a 14!  To make things even more exciting it was for the station up at Phoenix Farms.  So being the snow lover I am, I just had to head up there.  Nora was at the store getting a few things for this week and when she got home I told her we just had to go there.  She accepted my offer and so the four of us piled into the truck to head up to where the deep snow was.  I ended up taking a bunch more pictures so the total for this journal is now 38.  I believe that is a record for one journal entry.  It is getting late and I want to get this updated ASAP, so I will not do a big narrative to go along with the shots.  But for you snow lovers just Jonesing for some snow pics, I think I have your medicine.
    Here is a shot taken at the end of the Phoenix Farms Road.  Notice the 2-3 foot plowbanks that were up there?  Here is an old 2 track that goes into the woods (fsv), someone had driven their 4 wheeler down it.  I kicked down through the snow until I hit bare ground and there was about 8-10" still on the ground up there.  A wet and heavy snow means lots of flocked trees.  First snow ghost of the season and it's only October 17th!  Some more flocked trees.  A swamp coated in the heavy snow (fsv).  How about a frosted cat tail?  On the way back down Phoenix Farms Road with Lake Superior and Isle Royal (fsv) in the background.  Back in the lower country, still some snow here is a swamp at the foot of the Cliff Range (fsv).  Looking up the snowy Cliff Drive (fsv). Trees sagging under the weight of the snow along side of Hwy 41.  The Cliff Range coated in snow.  And last but not least, for those of you thinking about coming up to ride, here is the snowmobile trail.  Looks like the trucks and ATV's beat you to the punch.  Only a month and a half to riding season!  Now I'm finished
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Oct 11-
    Well, it's a done deal.  Nora and I are officially husband and wife!  Everything went absolutely perfect.  The weather was beautiful, the church was beautiful, the minister did a great job, as did all of the attendants.  Cathy and crew up at the Seasons Restaurant in Lac La Belle did a fantastic job with our reception.  Things could not have gone any better if we had wanted.  The only down side to the whole event is that all of our family and friends have departed and we miss them!  Nora said when she drove by the motel where just about everyone was staying that she felt sad knowing that it was not full of all the folks we love.  Who knows maybe we can figure out a way to get everyone back up here at the same time again some day.
    As mentioned the weather was just perfect.  It did rain Friday morning and then again during the rehearsal at the church Friday evening.  Even a few flashes of lightning and claps of thunder occurred during the rehearsal.  There were a few innocent jokes about that being an omen, but then on the way from the rehearsal to the rehearsal dinner most of the participants were treated to the most amazing rainbow.  It make an entire arc across the sky and even seemed to have one end sitting right where we had the rehearsal dinner.  I'll take the thunder and lightning as a omen as long as it is followed by such a magnificent rainbow.  I did get a little scare by the weather Friday night, in fact it was the only reason why I did not sleep perfectly all night.  Baileys woke me up at about 12:30 in the morning because she had to go and do her business.  When I let her out it was pouring rain and blowing winds at about 35-40 mph.  I went back to bed, but kept thinking that it was not suppose to be doing that and tossed and turned for a while.  I decided to get up and check out the internet to see what was causing the rains and saw that it was just a little lift by the upper air low moving through.  The skies were already clear across all of MN and the clearing line was working through the Ironwood area, so I was able to climb back into bed and fell fast asleep until morning.
    Saturday morning broke with clear skies and some fairly strong winds.  The winds kept blowing until about 2:30 pm and then died off just in time for the wedding at 3.  After the ceremony we all caravaned up to the property to take some pictures.  That is where the picture posted yesterday was from.  As you can see, the colors were just about at peak.  In fact I think that the peak in most areas will end up being yesterday through tomorrow.  Could not have had it work out any better.  We did stop by the house to pick up the hounds on the way to the property and they joined in on some of the picture taking.  The shots I post here were taken by my nephew Jesse with my digital camera, so in some of them we may not be looking right at the camera because we were looking at the photographer's camera.  Everyone was a real trouper and did not complain at all about trouncing through the woods to take the pictures.  Believe it or not the black flies were actually still pestering us!
    After taking a bunch of photos at the property, we all caravaned up to the beach at Bete Gris to take the second round of photos.  It was getting late in the day, but the conditions were still perfect, with little to no wind, temps in the low 60's, a calm lake and the bear bluffs providing the backdrop for the pictures.  There were a lot more pictures taken by the photographer and perhaps I can scan a few of them in for a future journal entry.  After the photos at Bete Gris it was on to fill our bellies up at the Seasons Restaurant.  As mentioned, Cathy and her crew put on a great spread for us.  The lodge was decorated just the way Nora had asked, the food was outstanding and the service was spectacular.  Tons of people commented on what great food and service we had and I know that Nora and I did not have to worry about a single thing.  We got to sit and relax and enjoy the whole experience.  If there was any issues that came up, the folks at the Lac La Belle Lodge handled it and we never even knew about them.  Actually, I do know of one issue that came up (I found out after the reception was over).  They did not have enough chairs so they took the chairs out of their own house to use at the reception!  That's what I call genuine Yooper Hospitality!!!  So my huge thanks to Troy and Cathy Wescot the owners of the Lac La Belle Lodge, Dave the chef and their bartender and wait staff for a perfect evening!!!  Troy and Cathy were also gracious enough to let us spend our first night together as husband and wife in one of their cabins.
    The hounds also spent the night with us in the cabin and made sure to get us up in time for their breakfast.  We had plans to have breakfast a little later with some of my friends I had not seen in ages, so Nora, the hounds and I did some walking around and were able to catch the sunrise out over Lac La Belle and got to see Mt Bohemia become all lit up in autumn splendor as the suns rays came over the hills to the east.
    After having breakfast at the lodge we took my friends down to show them the property and where we planned to build.  After that we went our separate ways, with Nora, the hounds and I heading home and my friends heading to the Keweenaw Mt. Lodge to play some golf.  It was nice to get home and unwind a bit.  We were able to unpack and open the wedding gifts.  It was another beautiful day so the three of us headed over to the school forest for an afternoon walk.  I forgot to mention that we received our shipment of ThinkSnow merchandise from the JohnDeestore.com website last week.  I know this will sound like a biased plug, but the stuff is really high quality stuff.  I ordered a couple of hats, a fleece vest, a long sleeve and short sleeve t-shirt, a denim shirt and a fleece scarf for myself and a fleece pullover for Nora (she wasn't home at the time I placed the order so I didn't want to chance ordering too much for her in different colors etc).  As it turns out, she was wearing some of her stuff on our walk yesterday and I was wearing some of my stuff so we each did a little modeling.  Here is Nora and the hounds with some ThinkSnow stuff and here are the hounds and I.  Nora also managed to capture some of the colors out there on our walk.
    Today we stuck somewhat close to home because the photographer was going to swing by and drop off the prints this afternoon.  Of course sticking close to home does not automatically mean that there has to be a loss of quality to where we go or what we do.  We headed up to the tracks to take a walk and the colors on Normand Road up by the tracks were pretty much at peak (FSV).  It's so neat to walk in the woods at this time of the year.  The forest canopy is like a stained glass window.  Not sure if the hounds really care all that much, but they did enjoy the walk just the same.  Here is a shot looking the "udder" way as a yooper would say.
    So it's been a busy last couple of days and even a last couple of weeks.  I guess my attention will soon be turning to the snow season that is just around the corner.  Nora and I will be leaving for our honeymoon Wednesday morning and coming back this weekend.  We both will be bringing our cameras, so I am sure we will have some sights to share.  It will be neat because this will be the first time that either of us have been to where we are going.  I do not want to give away the spot as we plan to have a nice and quiet time with just the owners of the resort.  All I can say is that it looks like it might snow there Friday!
    Thanks to all of you that have expressed your well wishes on the discussion boards and to those of you who did so in a more private manner.  Nora and I are on Cloud 9 right now, just as happy as too newlyweds could ever be.  I will leave you with one last photo.  It is of one of the gifts that Nora and I gave to the friends and family that came to the wedding.  It's a jar of homemade raspberry jam, with a note thanking everyone for helping us "preserve the day".  I am glad we have at least one left over.  I do not know how long it can last, but I think it would be neat to open it up 25 years from now to have with the breakfast on our 25th wedding anniversary.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

Oct 8-
    Ok, so I lied.  I was able to find a few spare moments of quiet time to spit out a quick journal.  I will admit that it has been like Grand Central Station around here for the past 2-3 days, but for some reason the hounds and I are the only ones in the house right now.  Nora is off getting her dress and I am not allowed to partake in that event.  My brother and dad as well as Nora's brothers and dad all had breakfast this morning and they have all taken off.  I actually have some shots to share and a few stories so I figured I would clear the slate so that the next entry will be all about the wedding events.
    First off, the colors have been just exploding the past few days.  We went from about 20% changed to about 65-70% changed in the past 2-3 days and it looks like either Sunday or Monday will be the peak.  Not bad since Nora and I were hoping we would be near peak for the wedding.  The hounds and I did go to the school forest yesterday and I forgot the camera.  It was raining earlier today, but later this afternoon it stopped enough to allow us to get out there so my brother and I took the hounds while Nora and her sister inlaw got their nails done.  Here is a shot taken in the same spot this shot was taken last Tuesday.  Here is another shot of how the colors are coming along.  As my brother and I were walking along through the woods, we started reflecting on how my life will change and everything that will be happening once I am married and I soon became overtaken with fear and soon had my answer to avoid the fate that stares me in my face, mans best friend in times of trouble - Hemlock.  Actually, that is just a little of my brother's dry sense of humor.  I am not worried, nervous or concerned at all.  The rehersal is in 2 hours, then the hounds and I will spend a nice quiet evening at home and then the big day.
    I received the new video that Rick Dobson made of us riding in the Keweenaw.  It is the raw footage version of the Born to Ride 3 video and I loved it.  There is no music and no fancy editing, but there is tons of great riding footage and it's cool to hear the engines of the sleds roaring and hear the guys laughing as someone as a mishap.  It is about 45 minutes of us climbing hills, carving up fields with about 18" of powder and some great jumping as well.  I'm really thinking that this could be a new concept to the snowmobiling video industry- raw footage.  I just talked to Rick and he will have the "Raw and Uncut" DVD for sale at the Milwaukee Show this weekend and by next week you will be able to order it on his website dobsonentertainment.com  So if you want to see what my riding with my friends is all about, this is a great way to find out!
    In other news... On Wednesday I did get the boat running and Wednesday evening one of Nora's brothers, his son, Nora's maid or honor's husband, his son and I launched the boat and it passed the first test- it floated!  Not only did it float, it also ran and ran very well.  I was very happy and a little surprised at how well it ran and I look forward to doing tons of exploring with it next summer.  Wednesday's ride in the boat was more of a shakedown, we did not go too far, but did head into "The Cuts" to try a little fishing.  I do not have a license, so I just did some watching.  No fish were caught at the cuts, but I did take my first "from boat" shots.  Here is a shot looking south through the cuts.  Here is a shot looking towards shore.  It was an absolutely perfect evening to be out on the boat.  The temps were in the upper 60's, almost no wind and clear skies.  Not something we expect to have up here in October, but we sure will take it!  The cuts are an area that sits between the Torch Lake and the Portage Lake.  There was a natural water passageway that existed before man arrived and then when they arrived in the area they dredged out a canal to allow ships to pass through and service the mills that were built along the shores of the Torch Lake in places like Lake Linden, Hubbell and Tamarack City.  Another thing about the cuts are that they are a death trap in the winter.  There is a current that flows through and the water is deep and thus ice is almost never thick enough to support anything and many times I have seen open water out there in the middle of winter.  So if you are thinking of going through that section in the wintertime, forget it!
    On the way back to the boat launch we stopped at a little fishing hole that Nora's brother Joel knew about and the second cast resulted in a nice smallmouth bass being brought into the boat.  That was Tyler, Nora's maid of honor's son, posing with the fish.
    One of the activities we have done in the past 2 days has been to go and try on the Tuxes.  Most fit pretty good- needing only minor changes like sleeves taken up.  A few were in need of more dramatic changes.  That was ring bearer Tyler and his shirt that looked more fitting for his own wedding, not ours!  It's a good thing we went as soon as we could to try them all on.  Only one member of the wedding party has yet to be fitted and he will not likely be able to try it on until a few hours before the wedding, so we are all crossing our fingers on that one!
    Yesterday morning I needed to run to the store early in the morning.  Well not early in the morning for me, it was about 7:45 in the morning, but with the hours of daylight getting shorter up here, 7:45 is daybreak.  That was a shot of the sun getting ready to rise on what I call Little Torch Lake.  It is the body of water that sits just north of the Lake Linden Sands and is actually connected to the Torch Lake.  I have not taken too many shots that I felt were worthy of a full sized version (FSV), but I think that one was.  The interesting thing about taking shots at daybreak and sunset is that the sky conditions change by the minute.  If you want to capture a shot like I was able to yesterday, you either need to be really good or really lucky or maybe have a bit of both.  In my case I think it was a lot of luck and a little bit of the other part.  In any case, here is what things looked like about 5 minutes later.
    Taking those shots was really one of those serendipitous events in my life.  I was just headed to the grocery store and saw that the sky was turning shades of red with the rising sun, so I grabbed the camera.  On the way to the store I looked over to where the LL-H Football Field is and saw the beautiful scene developing.  As I took the shots and watched the sky changing colors before my eyes I also thought about all the unexpected pleasures I have had since moving up here and also thought about all that I will be having in the future- especially with my beautiful bride.  I have yet to figure out what it was that I did to be able to deserve all of this and it is possible that I may never know.  But one thing is for sure...I will try my hardest to never, ever take any of them for granted.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Oct 5-
    It's been almost a week, but I do have things to say and some pictures to share.  First off I can speak a little about the JohnDeestore.com site.  The site is alive and kicking and you can now get all the JohnDee.com merchandise your heart desires.  All of my profits from the sale of things from the site is going to the Copper Country Humane Society.  It's the animal shelter for Houghton, Keweenaw and I believe Baraga counties.  They have been having a fund raiser to build a much needed new shelter and are almost there.  The community has really rallied behind this effort.  I really wanted to be a part of the helping hands, but wanted to be able to keep giving, so that is why I decided to donate my profits to them.  I must add that I am not responsible for the upkeep of the store site, nor am I responsible for the production and distribution of the products sold.  I have some partners that handle all of the hard work, so if you have questions it is best that you go to the online store and send an e mail from there.  My partners have really worked hard on this and the store is filled with lots of good stuff.  So hopefully it will take off like the site did and the animals of the Keweenaw area that do not have a place to call home yet will be able to have a good life until someone comes along to adopt them and all of you will get to enjoy some ThinkSnow! - JohnDee.com stuff.
    My second order of business involves the video that was shot up here last February.  It is now available and several visitors have already purchased a copy.  I received mine last week and watched it.  I have to be honest, I was under the impression that it was going to be a video just about the Keweenaw.  Not me, but the Keweenaw.  Don't get me wrong, I do not think it is a bad video, I do think it is a good snowmobiling video.  I just felt that I might have misled all of you into thinking that it was a video exclusively about the Keweenaw.  I talked to Rick Dobson the videos creator about this and he and I both agreed that perhaps another video that contains the raw footage shot on those two days could be a pretty good seller.  So he has plans to produce a new video that will be just the raw footage shot of the KSE crew and I.  He will clean it up a little, but he does not plan to put a soundtrack to it or do much editing to it.  I actually think that it could prove to be very entertaining.  I know when I watch videos like that I always wonder what else happened and this video should show all of that.  Some of the footage may not be the most exciting (especially the shots of me riding!!), but there will be some cool things that were not in the Born to Ride 3 DVD.  All of the guys, myself, Nora and Rick and his film crew watched the raw footage after the last day's shooting, so I know what is there for him to put out.  Rick seemed to think that if all goes well with the current projects he is working on, then it should be just several weeks or maybe a month or so before the raw footage video is available.  I certainly don't mean to shy you away from the Born to Ride 3 video either, I just felt that I needed to let you all know what it's contents were.
    The third order of business is to say that we had our first flakes of the season yesterday!  They were not much up here.  More like snow pellets really.  But it was frozen precip and in the form of snow not sleet, so it did count as the first flakes.  It actually came down hard enough for a few minutes that there was some on the ground.  I technically could have called it the first trace or more of snow, but felt like that might be better saved for something a little more substantial.  That actually might be coming about a week from now.  I did not take any pictures of the snow, sorry!
    Item number 4 (don't ask me why this journal is turning out more like a business meeting, but I fell into the theme and can't seem to get out!) is the trail cam.  For the past 2 years the cam was at a friend of mines house- in his back yard.  I went over last week to see about putting it up and he was out of town.  His mom did ask me if I would mind not putting it there this year.  I certainly did not want to overstay my welcome, so I thanked her for the past 2 years of letting me put it there and started to brainstorm for a new place.  I believe I have found the new site, it is the Wildlife Refuge Cabins in South Range.  They have power right at the trailside for an information board and all I need to do is either figure out how to get a phone line down there or switch to one of those stardot net cams and utilize it's wireless capability.  So there is a bit of work to be done and I will be a little pre-occupied this week and parts of next week, but I really hope to have it up and going by Nov 1.  Sorry I could not have it up in time to catch the color change this year, but some things happen that are out of my control!
    The fifth item of business is the color change itself.  It is moving along and it looks like either late this weekend or more likely sometime next week will be the peak.  There are some spots that have almost no color change yet, while others are probably 65-70% of the way there.  If you are planning on coming this weekend, they should be pretty good.  Plus the weather looks to be very good.  Nora and I look to really luck out with the weather.  Highs Saturday in the upper 50's and mid 60's by Sunday, with tons of sun both days.  This past Saturday Nora, the hounds and I took to the School Forest for a walk.  The colors out there are probably the least along of almost anywhere up here.  I don't know why, but they are.  Of course there are some colors out there, but I'd have to say that the trees out there on Saturday were 10% changed or less.
    The hounds and I went back out there today and the trees looked to be a little further along, but in one spot they had not even begun to change.  Then a little further up the trail there were a few trees that were pretty well along.  This last shot taken out there today probably best represents how things are out there.  Some color, but about 20% or so.  I can say that if past years are any indication of this year, once the trees finally start to go for good, it seems to take about a week until they are at their peak.
    Nora, the hounds and I also traveled north this weekend and traveling through the valley we saw some of the most dramatic colors of the season so far, so today the hounds and I decided to head up the valley and go check out the property.  We came across one of the areas that is close to 70% changed.  There are actually quite a few areas in the Valley that look like that.  Again I am not sure why, usually it seems like the higher elevations up here change first but this year it is the Valley.  The hounds and I stopped off at the property and had a look around.  Since we had already been walking out at the School Forest, we did not do too much at the property, but on the way home, I did stop to take a shot of a section of the property as seen from the road.  The building spot is about 150-200 feet beyond the tree line.
    So that is what has been going on up here.  Yesterday snow and today 65 degrees and sun.  The rest of the week looks pretty good and I was actually out trying to get the boat running.  Seems that the solonoid for the starter decided to quit on me so I had to take that out and a new one will be arriving tomorrow.  It looks like we could get to use it Thur and Fri.  Nora's family will be arriving for the wedding tomorrow and Thursday and mine will be coming Thur and Friday.  I am not sure when the next journal will be, but there is a good chance that I will be a married man when I write it!  So...Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -