Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam

April 27-
    I don't know if it's just me, but it sure seems like summers are getting shorter and shorter around here.  After about 2 weeks of temps in the 50's, 60's and even some 70's, this was the scene outside of the house Friday.  No snow on Sunday or Monday, but yesterday and today we had snow and even awoke to a bit on the ground this morning.  Not much in Lake Linden, but the cams at Twin Lakes and South Range both showed completely white ground.  Temps have been struggling to get out of the 30's for much of the past 4-5 days as well.  It actually seems a lot like late October around here, with the trees bare, the grass a little green, but overcast skies and chilly temps along with some flakes of snow.  To tell you the honest truth, I would rather have to take this weather at this time of the year than when we were in the upper 70's!  It just seems like we need to transition into weather like that rather than go from winter to 70's in a few days. I would not want a whole summer of this, but for now I am content with it.  The walks with the dogs are much more comfortable for all of us.
    All the snow has been gone from our yard for about 10 days, but the snow piles I took pictures of in the neighborhood about a week ago are still there and have shrunk very little.  I have not been by the Laurium Glacier in about a week, but I am confident that it too did not shrink by much.  The temps look to remain cool through the early part of next week at least so it will not be doing a whole lot of melting in that time frame.  I still do not know if it will make it to the end of May like the previous years, but it sure has a better chance than it did about 10 days ago!
    Nora and I went up to Lac La Belle on Sunday and while Nora was at a Longerberger Basket Party, the hounds and I did some exploring of the woods up there.  I was actually expecting to find a few patches of snow still in the woods up there and there were quite a few.  Not enough to ride in, but in the woods just as you turn off of 41 onto the Lac La Belle Road, there was almost enough to support a ride.  It's just amazing how the snow sticks around so much longer up there.  It is because the warm southerly breezes that impact most of the Keweenaw get cooled as they pass over the lake on their way to the tip of the Keweenaw.  I know Brian and some others took their last snowmobile ride on Mothers Day, May 18th (or something like that) 1996.  That sure would make for a short off season riding in mid May!  All the ice was off the lake and there was no snow left on the front side of Bohemia either.
    Speaking of snowmobiles, it looks like this latest breakdown might not have actually been my fault.  It looks like the rings went in the right way and as a matter of fact they were pretty much intact on the cylinder that had problems.  Something did get into the cylinder and did do damage to the piston and cylinder, but the only pieces of ring that were missing were where they had been broken off by what ever go into the chamber.  Right now it is a bit of a mystery what got in there.  I have not examined the carb too closely, it's been too cold to do much work on it, but I will probably take it down to Al anyway, as I am not too familiar with what all should be there in the carb.  The cylinder has been sent off to be welded and recoated and I should have it in about 2 weeks.  I am sure it will be warm enough to tear down the rest of the engine and then put it all back together by then.
    I really do not have too much exciting to talk about.  I have actually been busy with a special project for a customer of mine and that is why it has taken me so long to put out a new journal.  I really do not like to go this long in between entries- even in the slow times, but when duty calls, I must answer!  I did finish the project earlier today and so today was my first free day in a while.  I took a ride up to Eagle River to talk to the folks in the zoning/permits office.  I wanted to make sure that as we start to do some work up at the property we are going by the book and doing things right.  It looks like the chain of events will go something like this:  We can do all the clearing we want and also run the road into the build spot.  Then we need to get a septic approval and then can move on to either building the barn or the guest home.  I am not sure which will come first.  I would like to get the barn in first, but depending on costs of things and other zoning issues, maybe the guest house will come first.  There are still many questions that I need to have answered before I am even going to start clearing, but we are getting close to really doing some work up there.  Not that the work we did last summer-fall was nothing and I guess it really was the first step, but some the end of this autumn, I think we will really start to get a feel for things and depending on how things pan out may even be close to moving up there.  Although I really try not to think about living up there too much.  It is actually part of the way I keep from rushing the whole project.
    Not too much has been going on up here, it is sort of the in between season.  Not long after I started typing this journal, some hearty young souls tried to have a baseball practice, but it looks as though the falling snowflakes, temps in the mid 30's and gusty winds chased them off the practice field.  Baseball is just not a cool weather sport, both for watching and playing.  I think the Portage Lake Golf Course has opened, but I have not heard about Calumet opening yet.  Calumet is usually one of the last to open.  Poor drainage and a deeper snowpack are the culprits.  My golf bug is not as strong this spring as it usually is.  I did not even have the desire to purchase any new equipment and that is really something given all the goofy golf stuff out on the markets.  I get a kick out of some of the stuff being peddled to help improve a swing.  Some folks really look for the shortcuts in things. I wonder how long it will take and how much money will be spent before they realize those golf swing assistants are next to useless and the only way to groove a swing is to take some instruction and practice, practice, practice and then when you are done with that, practice, practice, practice some more.  Not that I am good enough to be telling others how to do it, but I know that is what the good golfers do.  Pretty much goes for everything in life you want to be good at, practice, practice, practice.
    Well, I will step off my soap box and sign off for this one.  Still waiting for that boating weather to arrive.  We had it a few weeks ago, the only problem was that there was still ice on the lakes!  Strange spring we are having this year!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

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April 20-
    If last week was a week of bumming around, I think that this week is turning out to be the exact opposite.  It actually started last Sunday when I got inspired to take down the snow elements of the weather station in the Al Cam view.  It is a lot less work now that the weather station is actually a permanent fixture.  I know Nora wishes it was not a permanent fixture, but she is a great sport about letting me have it there.  Maybe when we get to the property I can put it in a spot that is a little less noticeable.  After taking down the winter elements of the snow station, I moved on to the bush protectors on the front of the house.  Most of the snow was gone from the front yard and I could access them to take them down.  It took me about 4 years, but I finally perfected their construction for both their effectiveness in protecting the bushes and the ease of putting up/taking down.  So that went rather pain free and quickly.  Nora arrived home from walking with a friend just in time to help me with the final stages of taking them down and has been there the past 2 times I put them up.  It sure is a big help to have her giving me a hand on projects like that.  Maybe I should have her sit in on my engine rebuilds for the snowmobile, she could probably catch my mistakes!
    Not sure what I did on Monday that was productive, but I know that everyday this week I have done something that was productive.  On Tuesday we received a dumpster to put garbage in.  The Village rents it out for a nominal fee and you can fill it up and then the guys will come by and empty is and take it away for you.  I did it last spring and found myself with enough garbage to do it again this spring.  I actually was able to fill it nearly to the top with garbage by Tuesday afternoon.  It just amazes me how fast I can accumulate garbage.  I say "I" because I did not even put any garbage of Nora's in there.  She thinks she might have some stuff and depending on how much we might just need to get the dumpster for another week.  I know I am going to have some old boat seats to get rid of soon as I will be putting new ones in the boat in a week or so.
    The snow left the back yard completely this past weekend and left the front yard last night.  There are still a few piles of snow left in the shaded areas in the neighborhood, but nothing too big.  In fact I took a drive up the Calumet Hill today to take a look at the Laurium Glacier and was amazed at how small it is.  The next week to ten days look to be much cooler up here and we may even pick up some snow Fri and Sat, but if you were one that guessed sometime during the first week of May for the melting, you look to be sitting pretty good right now.  The warmth we have had the past 3 weeks has been just incredible.  Even a little too warm for me.  Every spring I try and get myself psyched up for the warmer weather and every summer I fail at being able to keep a positive attitude about it.  I have been thinking that this summer might be easier with the boat, but I know that Monday and yesterday I was already uncomfortable and longing for the cooler temps.  I think that part of my problem is that the house just sits in the full sun all day, so it gets hot (until I put the AC's in the windows and have them going).  The other part that gets to me is that the hounds get uncomfortable and that makes me feel sorry for them.  I know I don't mind the heat nearly as much when we are at the beach and they are swimming and comfortable, so their suffering makes me suffer too.  I know, some of you must think I am crazy, but those two bundles of fur are really important to me and making them happy makes me really happy.
    So we'll see if the boat can make me more tolerant of the warmer weather.  I do like the days when the temp is in the mid 60's and the humidity is low.  Or a day with clouds and low 70's and low humidity.  But I would much rather take a day like today with a high of 50 degrees and mostly cloudy skies, than a sunny day with temps in the 80's.  In fact walking today with the dogs it felt more like a day in late October or early November than late April.  Friday and this weekend is going to feel more like late November.  Time to start thinking about getting the sleds ready!  Oops, not quite yet.
    On Sunday Nora, the hounds and I went to the beach at Big Traverse.  Still a little early for most folks to be going to the beach, so we had it to ourselves.  Burt wasted no time in getting onto the business of fetching sticks.  He really is something.  The water is basically ice cold, but that does not phase him.  I know that they have a fur coat that is designed to help keep them insulated from the cold water, but I also know that he has a lot of exposed skin on his belly and has to feel it there for sure!  Made no difference to him though, he got into fetch mode and went non-stop for about an hour or so.  Baileys has nursing a sore paw and spent most of the afternoon watching Burt and posing for Nora.  However, watching Burt run by so many times was more than she could handle and did have to give chase a few times.  There were a few fisherman out on the big lake Sunday afternoon as well.  I am just amazed at the boats that some folks take out onto the big lake- and not just a little bit off shore, but in some cases miles off shore.  One boat I saw come in from over the horizon and it turned out to be about a 16 foot aluminum row boat with a 20 hp outboard on it.  I guess they must figure if something happens and they end up in the drink, they will not suffer too long with water temps in the mid 30's.
    It was great to be at the beach again and that is one thing I enjoy about the warmer weather, that's for sure.  We'll have to take a ride down to Misery Bay before it gets too popular and also head out to our "secrete spot".  Sure wish Nora would hurry up and win the lottery so that we could buy our secrete spot.  Would become a great spot to have a little summer weekend-camp.  It's always fun to dream about what you would do it you won the lottery, but quite honestly I don't think I would even need a true lottery level payoff.  I think a few hundred grand would suffice for my needs.  Of course a few million would be ok too!
    Well, I think I have reached the end of another entry.  It does not look like the weather in the next week or so will be too good for boating, but could be good for some walks in the woods and maybe after that we will be taking to the waters and can start showing you the sights from that vantage.  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
April 16-
    You would think that after 6 days, I would have tons to talk about, but this is a really slow time of the year for me.  The sled is retired for the season, the boat is out of storage but waiting for the ice to come off and things are a bit too wet to go exploring in the woods.  Plus things are also slow with all of my meteorological duties.  It is the calm before the storm, so I take advantage of these quiet times, but the slow down in my work duties also seems to slow down all of my life.  I spend much of the day just doing little that could be considered productive.  It's not that I am all depressed and moping around the house, but I really am a bum at this time of the year!  The funny thing is I do have a list of projects that I could get done.  Some of the projects cannot be done during my "work" hours as they make too much noise and I need to hear the phone if it rings, others require me to be out of the house which I also cannot do until my work day is over, but a few could be done and probably should be done while I have the free moments of time during my day.  The list includes such things as building some picture frames, building a shelf for the kitchen, putting new lights on the boat trailer, doing some work on the boat, repairing the engine for the RMK and getting going on the paperwork for the property.
    Speaking of the property, Nora, the hounds and I took a trip up there on Wednesday.  There was still some snow on the ground up there, but it was melting fast and I wanted to see if the areas where I plan to put structures had problems with standing water.  There were a few puddles up there, but the only ones that were where a building is planned to go is where the pole barn is planned and they were small and in some depressions.  I think if I am able to provide a grade that slopes away from the pole barn a bit, then there will be no problems.  I do know that the water does not sit in those depressions long as everything was dry when Nora and I went up to plant the trees last spring.  I also know that I did not encounter any clay when digging the holes for the trees last spring.  I did not dig down that far and also did not dig everywhere, but I don't think that clay will be a huge issue.  This is my first experience with building anything that requires permits and inspections, so it will surely be a learning experience.  I am mentally preparing myself for the worst and am planning on things taking lots of time.  There really is no strict time line that we have.  My hopes are to be living up there by the Autumn of 06 or the spring of 07, but if it is later than that, then so be it.  I am going to take full advantage of the fact that I am happy where we live right now and have no reason to get stressed out about being moved up there at any certain date.  I am also blessed by the fact the I am married to someone with a similar attitude towards things.
    One of the main regulators to how much gets done in a given period if time is the financial resources.  I want to do almost everything out of pocket until we come to the log home.  Then take out a mortgage similar to what we have right now (amazingly small!) to cover the finishing details to the log home.  The move up here removed a lot of stress from my life when I was living down south and the fact that I have a very comfortable mortgage payment is something that I want to keep.  In fact I am hoping that after having all the construction done up there, within ten years all is paid off and I do not even have a mortgage.  We'll see!
    The hope for this build season (mid/late April-Oct) is to have a road in, the build site cleared, utilities in and slabs for the pole barn and guest house in.  Perhaps even have 1/2 of the pole barn built so that when it comes time to build the guest home I can store all the equipment in the pole barn and even use it as an indoor construction site.  Keweenaw County has some rules against building a pole barn on property before a house is built.  I guess they have had problems with folks building a pole barn and then moving into it.  The codes for a pole barn are less strict and I think that the taxable value might even be less than a home.  So instead of punishing those that have broken the rules by living in their pole barns, Keweenaw County has decided to have a zoning rule that states you must have a residence up before a pole barn goes in.  I have talked to the zoning commissioner and was told that as long as I show "good intent" on having a residence, then I can build a pole barn before the residence.  I asked what "good intent" was and was told a foundation or footings.  I plan to build the guest house on a heated slab so hopefully we can get that done and then go ahead with the pole barn.  Needless to say I know I am headed towards a very interesting next few years with this whole process!
    Getting back to our day at the property, we did explore the build site quite a bit and Baileys enough so that Baileys decided to take a little break.  Burt was excited to do some "hunting", so he and Nora went off into the woods a bit to see what they could see.  After a while, they came back to join Baileys and I and fill us in on what they saw.  Not much was the report.  The deer have been leaving their yarding areas and returning to their summer haunts.  They did see a few tracks from the deer, but not much else.  I guess my life is not the only thing in neutral right now.
    On Thursday I did get over to get the boat out of storage.  I was able to find space in a pole barn not far from my house at a very reasonable price.  The boat was in the exact condition that I dropped her off in and even the tires were fine, so I hauled it back to the house and pulled off the tarp to let it air out a bit.  The pole barn had a cement floor, so it was nice and dry inside the pole barn and the air underneath the tarp was also nice and dry.  There is some work I want to get done on it before we put it into full action this season.  Some new seats and bimini top and depth finder and we'll be all set.  I was given a book on how to catch walleye and read most of it to and from Wyoming, but I think I need to read over it again and maybe highlight the most important parts.  I have never been a big fisherman, but there are some great places to fish up here (they have the Pro Walleye Tournament up here every Sept) so I may as well take advantage of my surroundings!  Who knows, maybe I can just become a snowmobile guide in the winter and fishing guide in the summer.  Nice life huh?
    Well, I guess that gets you fairly caught up on things up here.  The ice is just about completely off the Torch and Portage Lakes and hopefully in a few weeks we will be taking off to do some exploring in the boat.  I know I am really looking forward to it.  Many of the places we will be going to will be for the first time, so it will be like it was when I first moved up here and was seen things on land for the first time.  Exciting! Stay tuned!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
April 10-
    Well, I do believe the snowmobile season is over for this ol' boy.  Went for a ride yesterday.  Had to trailer up north to where the snow stays longer.  We did find some decent snow to ride in, but unfortunately my ride was cut short by a sudden drop in horsepower accompanied by a rather loud racket under the hood.  A quick inspection found the carburetors were carbing, the spark plugs were sparking, but the pistons weren't pi.....well, you know what they were not doing!  Actually my PTO cylinder had lost most of it's compression and when I got home I took the heads off to quick see if it was the rings or piston and it was the rings.  I am guessing the rebuilder did not put the rings in the correct way since that piston and ring set only had a few hundred miles on them.  The bad news is that it happened only about 20 minutes into yesterday's ride.  The good news is that it happened on the last ride of the season, so I have all summer to fix it, although I am sure I will not wait that long.  I have a few projects I do want to get to, but hope to get going on the fix of that motor in a month or so.
    To tell you the honest truth, I don't even remember putting the rings in and it's possible that they were already installed, but I did talk to Al and he said he cannot remember ever getting a piston kit with the rings already in and if I were a betting man I would bet that I made the mistake rather than the factory!  Live and learn I guess and I will never make that mistake again, just like I will never leave the bolts out of the recoil/water pump/stator assembly housing again!  I just hope the cylinders were not damaged and all it needs is a new piston and rings.  I do plan to take it all the way down to the crankshaft to make sure no pieces of the rings got into the crank bearings.
    Once it became certain that I was not riding my sled out of the bush under it's own power, I was forced to hand over the camera so the guys could get a picture of me and my sled getting ready to be pulled out of the woods, otherwise they were not going to pull me out!  I have no idea what went wrong, but the shots did not turn out.  Brian will probably not believe me, but they really did not turn out.  Of course the two on the Arctic Cats had to give me some ribbing for riding a Polaris, but I really don't get into the whole brand thing.  They all are great sleds and they all break down too.  In fact one of the Arctic Cat's had problems later in the day and went into stutter mode, the mode where the engine timing is retarded to keep it from blowing up.  So I can say it was not a good day for the red team (me) yesterday, but the blue team (another Polaris), the black team (an AC) and the green team (the other AC) all survived the day.
    I had actually broken down very close to Matt's, but much of the way back was up hill and through some pretty deep terrain.  That would make for some difficult towing in the wet and soft snow, so it was decided to tow me up to Lac La Belle since most of that trip would be down hill and we were also very close to the trail that runs to Lac La Belle.  I called Nora to see if she could come and get me, then take me back to Matt's so that I could get my truck and trailer and then head up to get the sled and she thankfully said she would be happy to.  So Dave towed me to where the trail intersects the road to Lac La Belle, Nora came and got me and then the we went back to get the truck/trailer and then got the sled.  I ended up giving the camera to the guys to chronicle the rest of the trip and they took lots of pictures.  Going through the pictures they took sort of reminded me of when I broke my leg several years ago and would give my camera to Brian so he could take some riding pictures for me to put in the journal.  Some of the areas were the pictures were taken I can recognize and some I cannot.  Plus there are pictures taken that I have no idea what was going on or even what the photographer was even trying to show.  When I take a picture I know exactly why and how I am going to incorporate them into a journal.  So I guess what I am trying to say is that as I get into the pictures they took, I may have problems trying to describe what is going on.
    Not much question as to what was going on these next few shots.  The boys found a little slush to play in.  Here is MattHere is Brian and here is Dave.  I also know that part of the plans for yesterday were to head up to some of the bigger hills in Keweenaw County and play on them and from the looks of this picture, looks like they found one of the big'ones.  Actually, that looks a whole lot like the hill that I managed to climb a few weeks ago when the Crashed Toys Crew was up, only with a whole lot less snow on it!  Here is a shot of Brian climbing up and then down.  Here is Matt having a go at itHere is Dave.  Looks like a bunch of fun to me!  I know I am looking forward to that hill when it has a ton of powder on it!  Brian did tell me that Matt had a little mishap on the hill.  No broken bones or broken sled parts, but a fun little ride down the hill for Matt.  This looks to be a shot of Dave congratulating Matt on an entertaining piece of riding.  It also looks like they took a ride to the top of Mt. Houghton, as Dave and Matt take a look out over Bete Gris and the east end of Lac La Belle.  Not much snow left up on the top, but they were facing the south and that face just gets baked by the sun.
    Looks like they then got back into the deeper snow in the woods.  In talking with Brian this morning, he said there are still places up there where the snow is close to three feet deep, although to get to them you had to ride through snow significantly shallower than that.  It is always amazing to me how long the snow lasts in areas up there.  I bet there may even be some patches of snow left up there when the Laurium Glacier is on it's last legs.  Looks like they spotted some bald eagles up there too.
    Of course when you are riding the last ride of the season and the snow is pretty thin in most areas, but you find a spot with deeper snow, you then start looking for hills to climb and looks like they found one.  It did not look like there was a whole lot of room on that hill for snowmobiles, but that did not seem to stop them, with Dave taking off to get up there.  Looks like Matt had a bit of an issue, not sure what happened here, he is plenty good enough a rider and had plenty of ammunition with that RMK 900 166.  Then things looked to go from bad to worse, but Matt seemed to be in good spirits about it and it's not even his sled!  Here is Matt back in action.  No blood no foul.  With the ride over, it was back to Matt's and looks like someone took a shot to show how much snow was still on the ground in Matt's backyard- more than many areas of the Midwest had all season!
    I got my camera back this morning and Nora, the hounds and I took off to do some exploring.  It is waterfall hunting season.  Well, most of them you don't have to hunt, they are right along the side of the road, but some do require a bit of fancy footwork to get to.  Today's waterfalls were kept to the ones that were not too difficult to get to.  We headed north and on the way down from Phoenix to Eagle River there is a spot where the Eagle River drops off a set of falls.  When the river is running high like that the falls are actually a little less dramatic than when the water is low and there is about an eight foot drop.  A little further downstream is the Eagle River Falls (fsv).  Heading east up Hwy 26 we came to Jacobs Creek Falls.
    That pretty much did it for the waterfalls tour, but the hounds were pretty antsy to get out of the truck and do some exploring, so we headed up the road a piece and got out to take a little walk in the sand dunes at the Great Sand Bay.  We got to the back edge of the dunes and I challenged Nora and the hounds to drop off the back of them and down into the ground below and they did.  Here is a shot of them on their way back up- last one to the top is a rotten egg!  After the dunes it was time to cool off and take the first swim of the day.  At least for the hounds! On the way home we spotted our first lakes freighter heading upbound to probably either Duluth or Thunder Bay.  I'm sure that they have been running for a while now, but that was our first sighting of the 2005 shipping season.
    So spring has certainly arrived in the Keweenaw.  I don't see any snow in the forecast and could it be that we will get through April with no snow?  Could be, but then again we have had snow in May several times since I moved up here, so we might not be done with it just yet.  But the yard is clearing and the backyard may be totally free of snow before the week is up.  Soon Nora will be getting the gardens ready.  Think I may just go get the boat this week.
    Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
April 7-
    While I might actually be more happy with 4 feet of snow still in the woods and enough snow on the side of the road to get my sled to the trails/woods, I cannot complain about a day like to today either.  The bluest sky you could ever see, temps in the upper 50's and a light breeze.  Just about perfect for anything... except making snow!  In fact it is going fast.  I can almost watch the edges of the snow peel back in our yard.  With the weather looking to provide even warmer temps in the coming days along with loads of sunshine, I would not be surprised at all to see most of what is left in the back yard gone by the end of the weekend.  The pile in the front is still pretty deep and has a week at least to go.
    Even though I suspended the forecasts for the site last Friday, I have actually been busy this week with some of my other meteorological duties.  Even putting in some 14-16 hour days this week.  Those special duties are now behind me and I can sit back and enjoy a bit of extra free time before starting up the summer forecasts in a few weeks.  I actually plan to get some woodworking projects out of the way as well as pull the boat out of storage and get it ready for the season.  I am getting really excited for boating season, almost as excited as riding season.  I think a big part of my excitement is that boating will be something that the whole family can take part in, so not only will I be having fun, but I will be doing it with my three best friends.
    It may still be awhile before the ice is off of the Torch Lake, but my drive by the Portage Lake this afternoon revealed lots of open water developing on either side of the lift bridge.  I went down there on Monday and the only open water was right underneath the bridge, but now it extends out about 1/2 mile to a mile away from the bridge and soon will be taking over most of the lake.  After seeing ice out there for the past 4 1/2 months it is actually a little strange to look over and see water.  It reminds me of my folks place on a lake in southern WI.  We would see ice out there for a few months and then in just a few days all is water again.  For some reason the transition from water to ice does not have the same effect on me.
    Some of the riding crew is planning one last ride this Saturday.  We will have to trailer up north to where the snow is deeper, but Matt says that there is still enough to ride on and I think even with the weather we had today and will have tomorrow we should be able to ride Saturday.  The biggest decision for Saturday will be what to wear!  Last Saturday I wore my Klim bibs and jacket with just some thermals underneath my bibs and a thin fleece shirt under the jacket.  I never overheated, but temps were only in the upper 40's to low 50's.  Saturday temps may be pushing the 70 degree mark.  I doubt I will put on shorts like Brian, Matt and I wore a few years ago, but I doubt I will have much on, except a helmet for sure.
    Speaking of helmets, I learned that Wyoming does not have a helmet law for snowmobilers when I was out there.  I saw something that just made me gasp.  Riding down the trail was a guy and a young boy.  The boy was sitting between the man and handlebars and neither were wearing a helmet.  I almost could not believe my eyes.  I sure hope that that guy does not make a habit of that. I can't believe that Wyoming does not require snowmobilers to wear a helmet.  Oh well, still a beautiful and friendly state and an awesome place to ride!
    Speaking of Wyoming, there is already talk of me heading out to Togwotee next season.  I am working with their Director of Marketing to set up an informal John Dee ride in out there.  I do not want to make it a very formal affair because I do not want to take anything away from the more formal John Dee ride that's being setup for the Keweenaw next winter.  However, if you are thinking about a trip to Togwotee next season and would be interested to be there when I am there, then keep checking in and I will be providing more details to things with that event.  I can say that it will happen during the last 2-3 weeks of March as that is the only time I can really take some time off from my main meteorological duties.  So just something for you all to chew on.  Details on the John Dee ride in up in the Keweenaw will also be made available as soon as they become known.
    I guess that pretty much gets you updated on things.  No pictures, as I have been inside most of the past few days.  I will be sure to bring the camera along on the ride Saturday and Nora and I have plans to do some waterfall watching, so I am sure I will have pictures to show in the future journals.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
April 3-
    No doubt about it, spring has sprung across the Keweenaw.  It was still winter when I left for Wyoming and seemed like spring was gaining a foot hold when I got back. But, other than the nasty day of rain and snow mixed Thursday, our weather has been more like late April or early May than late March and early April.  The snow banks are melting very quickly, although by the looks of things the banks in Laurium still have a way to go!  The kids and even some adults have taken to the streets on bikes and foot and objects once buried under feet of snow are starting to emerge from their snowy hiding place.  I have even broken out the sneakers again and have been walking in them along with just a light jacket.  I don't know if we have one last big (12"+) snow storm left in the system.  Ever since moving up here we have had one sometime in March or early April, so it will be interesting to see if we get one this season.
    Before I forget, the Laurium Glacier melting contest will start tomorrow at noon central time.  I will put it in the General Discussions Miscellaneous section.  Don't go and start your own, it will just get removed.  I will be posting the rules when I start up the contest.  This year will be a little different from past years.  The difference is that if you guess the date right but are not the first, you still get a prize.  The grand prize is a ThinkSnow! sweatshirt donated by the good folks at the JohnDee Store.  That will be awarded to the person that is first to post the correct date.  So if the day you really wanted to pick is already taken, you can still pick it if you want and may end up with the runner up prize which is a 10" sticker, or you can pick another date that is still open and hope to win the grand prize!  With all the warm temps and even 1"+ of rain last Wed night-Thur it has been melting already, but the Laurium Glacier is still quite formidable.  Keep in mind that the fence dangling in the background is a 4 foot snow fence, so I would gauge the depth of the glacier to be about 12-15 feet deep at least.  You can check out the past dates of it melting in the Firsts and Lasts section of my historical weather page.
    With all the warm temps and the rain things have been softening up out there in the back country.  The snowmobile trails are pretty well cooked in most areas.  I would imagine you could still find some snow on the trails in Keweenaw County, but I would not count on being able to ride where ever you want any more.  For the crew I ride with, this time of the year and weather means one thing- Water Skipping.  We had our first water skipping ride yesterday and that was Brian.  It was actually more of a slush skipping day, as the fields and low lying areas in the valley are just starting to fill up with water, but are also still filled with about 2 feet of snow.  It is still a very exhilarating feeling to shoot across a few hundred yards of water and slush and I finally have a sled that is perfect for it!  She goes across it just like a speed boat.  In fact I was able to really work on my technique yesterday, carving turns and even taking some jumps.  Matt is really an accomplished water skipper.  He likes to take his sled out and do laps on the lake he lives on.  I am not to that ability yet, but I suppose I might be able to pull off a half a lap or so.  Yesterday he let his confidence get him into a little trouble as he went too far up the flooded gully and ran out of room to maneuver.  That resulted in him bouncing off some small trees and bushes and then getting stuck  (please note all of the waterskipping was done on private property owned by Brian or friends/family of his).  We were able to pull him out, but he had swept a rock up into his tunnel and it became lodge between his tunnel and track and that took about 30 minutes to free.  Al actually had the same thing happen to him and I think it took even longer to get his sled out and the rock free.  No damage done to the sleds though.
    Then as Matt was heading out for another run he blew his chain and that caused him to sink it.  Here he is taking a look at what might have been while standing on the seat of his sunk sled.  Matt was not quite ready to fill his boots with slush, so Brian offered to ride by and give Matt a lift.  Here is a sequence of pictures capturing Brian's rescue of Matt.  I guess you could call the the Keweenaw version of Baywatch.  Personally I was hoping for Matt to pull Brian off.  I think a shot of the sled making it to shore with both Matt and Brian laying in the slush would have made for a more entertaining series of shots, but oh well, I will take what I can!  Good thing we have all grown up, eh?
    Matt was then without a sled, but as luck would have it, I actually had brought the Pol-Cat with me because I wanted to run it a bit before putting it away for the summer.  It was only used a few times this winter and I wanted to put a little Sea-Foam in the gas and run it through to help clean things up and also stabilize the gas for the summer.  As it turned out, Matt ended up riding the Pol-Cat for most of the day and it ran great.  Just amazing that a sled with 12,000+ miles on the original engine can run as great as it does.  Starts up first or second pull every time and runs great.  Keep you eyes pealed, it may just be for sale in the late summer or early autumn if I end up getting a new sled for next season.  I might even see if my buddy Joe at Crashed Toys will accommodate me and put it on his site for auction.
    Anyway, after getting Matt situated on the Pol-Cat, we headed over towards Dave's house to play in his and his brothers fields for a while.  There are some low spots that snake through their fields and give you a 1/4 to 1/2 mile long stretch of water/slush to skip through.  The fun part about that section is that the water is only about 1 1/2 to 2 feet deep, there is flat snow and snow covered fields on either side of the run and the run itself has lots of "S" curves in it and that gave me lots of practice in turning while water skipping.  I'm not quite ready for water cross, but getting there!  I actually would not mind trying water cross if the water were warm.
    Not all of the riding yesterday was done on the water.  We did have to ride some snow to get from one spot to another.  Here is Brian heading down a logging road in the bush out behind Dave's house.  The back country riding gets interesting this time of the year as you can suddenly encounter a low spot that is filled with slush/water or even more interesting a creek that has carved out a 3 foot mini canyon through the snow.  That is when it is really nice to have a sled with great acceleration because the only way across those mini canyons is to creep up to them and then hit the throttle and "bunny hop" across them.  I was a little concerned about Matt and the Pol-Cat, but they hopped right across all of them, including a really nasty one.  I think the Pol-Cat really impressed Matt yesterday!  We actually shot onto a section of trail that the trail system up here used last season.  It was the best way to get across the Wildcat which was running around 4-6 feet deep.
   So round one of water skipping is over.  There is talk of round two taking place up by Matt's next weekend.  Plus there is bound to be enough snow to ride in up there too, so I am willing to bet that I am not quite done with riding just yet, but time is surely running out.  I figure I will give it another week to ten days and if no big snow storm is seen I will go and get the boat out of storage and start getting it ready for the season.  It sure will be fun to have that to play in this summer.  I am actually looking forward to the summer!  Plus you all will benefit as well, as I will be bringing the camera along to show you sights that you have not yet seen on this site.  I plan to do lots of exploring of the Keweenaw Waterway (Portage and Torch Lakes) as well as all the inland lakes I can.  I also plan to put it in at Lac La Belle several times and take at least one run up the coast to the tip.
    Nora is chomping at the bit to get going on her gardening.  She did not do much last year because she was so busy with our wedding, but this year she will have all the time in the world to get her hands dirty.  I know I am looking forward to the fresh berries that will be coming from our gardens!  This sure is a great place to live and it seems to get better with each passing year!  I really, really have no idea how I got so lucky, but I promise I will try my best to never ever take it for granted.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -