Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam

Jan 31-
    Busy, busy, busy!  But I'm not complaining because I have been on the sled 4 days in a row, but I sure have been planning to write sooner!  I was actually thinking about writing a journal as early as Friday, knowing that we would be shooting the video this weekend.  However, we had a get together at our house so the guys could pick up their gear and also brainstorm some locations for the shoot.  We had initially planned on shooting Sunday only, but then talk came up about doing a little bit of video work on Saturday, so those of us that did not have to take a KSE ride out on Saturday hooked up with Rick and his crew to do a little early filming.  The meeting on Friday went late and I was too tired at the end to sit down and write a journal, so then I thought that I could do one on Saturday and I would even have some shots and stories to tell about Saturday's shoot.  Well, we stayed out later than I thought we would Saturday and then stopped in for dinner and once again it was too late and I was too tired to write a journal.  That takes me to Sunday when I knew I would be too tired to write a journal, so I became determined that I would not let the month pass without one last writing, so here I am.
    Going back to Friday, my riding was really nothing too spectacular.  I had gotten permission to go out to the School Forest and pack down the trails to ski on, so that is what I did.  There were a few trails that we had already packed down and another was packed down by some folks on snowshoes, but there were still sections that needed to be "panked down".  So I went out there and rode my sled through the trail system to open it up to skiers and maybe even some snowshoers that do not want to be quite so adventuresome.  Actually there is enough snow in the woods that someone on snowshoes does not even need to stick to the trails, they could go anywhere they want as all the stumps and blow downs are covered in snow.  Here is my only shot for the day's activity Friday (not for the journal).  I am glad that I know where the trail goes out there as it becomes tough to know if you are not familiar with things.  All the intersections are well marked and there are also markers every couple of hundred feet (at the most), but you can still come across a spot where it might become confusing as to which side of a grouping of trees the trail goes.  So I was glad that I am VERY familiar with where the trails go out there.
    I was also sure to go very slow and not spin the track.  It's no fun to try and ski over a hard packed pile of snow that the sled had piled up.  For most of the time I was out there, the sled was not going much faster than 10 mph.  I had made about 2 passes over most of the trails I planned to pack that day and was hoping to go over each section at least 3 times, maybe 4, just to make sure that it was firm enough for the dogs to follow me on.  Baileys is without a hip joint on her left side and when she encounters some softer snow it is very difficult for her to get herself up and out.  Well, all of the sudden the sled started to run very poorly, almost dying on me a few times.  I really did not want to have the sled die on me out there and also I did not want the sled to be having problems in the day or two before the video shoot, so I went into a bit of a mini-panic mode.  I was able to turn the sled around quickly and then was close enough to get the sled out of the School Forest grounds so that I could at least tend to it there if it did die.  I was suspecting that riding for so long at only 10 mph might have caused the sled to "load up", meaning that the fuel/oil mixture starts to accumulate in the cylinders and crankcase and can make the engine run bad by flooding it out or even fouling a plug.  I think that is what it was because I was able to go faster on the way home and the problem cleared up pretty quickly.  Once home I checked the plugs and they were a nice brow cardboard color, so they had not fouled and I was also not running too lean either!
    Saturday the plan was to meet out at Brian's house at 10 am, so Al and I planned to meet at the gas station at about 9:45, gas up and then ride out to Brian's together.  Well, I got there about 9:45 and met up with some of the KSE groups getting ready to head out for the day, but no Al.  It got closer and closer to 10 and still no Al.  Then the person working at the gas station came walking out and asked if anyone knew an Al Provost, I said yes and she said he was on the phone.  It turns out that the sled that he was borrowing had died on him as he was coming over to the gas station.  So Matt, Chicken Hawk (an friend of ours) and I went to get Al and bring him to his shop.  He had already determined correctly that there was a problem with the drive chain and knew he could fix it.  So we got to his shop, fixed the sled and headed out to Brian's.  They were actually in the process of doing some setup work when we got there, so we really had not missed any riding, even though we were over an hour late.
    One of the setups they were trying was to mount a small camera, nicknamed the lipstick cam (because it is about the size of a tube of lipstick), onto the back of a sled.  The cam actually has a fisheye lens and the thought was that it would be cool to have the perspective as if you were standing on the rear bumper while the rider carved through the fields of powder.  They are able to review the footage right there on the spot and it turned out pretty good.  One problem was the camera would get covered in snow, so the rider had to keep checking to make sure it was clear and taking a shot.  They also tried a setup where the camera was mounted to the front bumper and looked back at the rider.  I did not see the footage from that setup, but I did hear that it looked pretty neat as well.  We put in a pretty full day of riding on Saturday and I know my arms were feeling it more than I wanted them to knowing that we had the main shoot to do on Sunday.  I also had about 4 hours of work do get out of the way on Sunday before the ride and with Rick and the crew coming to my house at 9 am so that we could meet up at Matt's place in Keweenaw County at 10 am, I knew I had to rise early on Sunday to make sure my work was done.
    The work was accomplished and we all arrived safely at Matt's and took off for the ride.  This years shoot was a little different than last years.  For one we were a lot more organized in where we wanted to go last year.  This year we were trying to provide some new locations and that caused us to improvise a little more.  It worked out just fine, but there were a few times where no one really spoke up about where we should go, so we just sort of let Matt take us wherever as he knows that part of the peninsula the best.  We found some good hills to play on as well as some fields to carve up and some jumps to take.  I brought my camera along, but the only time I got to use it was when we were at a jumping spot.  I have sort of retired from the sport of jumping snowmobiles.  After my leg break 4 years ago I just decided I would forgo the jumping and try and get a full seasons worth of riding in.  If all I had to do was deal with the pain of breaking my leg, but could get up out of bed the next day and be fine (other than a little sore), then I would be a lot more aggressive about jumping.  However, I learned that the worst thing about having a serious sled injury is that you can end up sitting out the rest of the season.  That was the worst part about my leg break was sitting in my house watching it snow for two more months and hearing about and seeing the pictures of the fun rides everyone was taking!
    So I guess what I am trying to say is that the only pictures I have of the video shoot are of the guys jumping, as that is when I was not on my sled too, but rather parked my sled and became a cameraman.  So jumping shot number one is of Al on the loaner.  The kings of air (Ted and BJ) were a bit more timid this year.  Not sure why, but they just seemed to be satisfied getting big air, not really big air! That last one was of BJ, here he is again illustrating how close one can get their sled to going over backwards without actually having it happen.  I really cannot leave Matt out of the big air club either.  In fact I think that he got the big air award yesterday for this jump out on a logging road berm.  If those last two shots seemed a little grainy it is because they are actually captured from the video that I took with the new camera.  One of the many cool features with this cam is to be able to freeze frame the playback and then you can step through it frame by frame and anytime you want you can then take a digital picture of the frame you are on.  So that will be neat, I can just shoot video and find the best frame and make a digital still out of it.  The image is a little grainy, but I think with a bit more time I can figure out how to clean them up in photoshop.
    We did a bit of shooting today as well, but I joined up with the group in the afternoon after I was done working.  Not a whole lot of video was shot when I had joined up, but I think they got some good footage prior to my arrival.  All in all Rick seemed to be very happy with the footage he got.  I know he is planning on following us out west in March and shooting more footage out there.  Rick, the crew and the riders are coming over on Thursday to watch the raw footage, so that should be fun.
    I am running out of time and out of steam, so will get ready to sign off for now.  I can add quickly that I have not been on much of the trail system with my riding in the past 4 days.  We did hop on here and there for a few miles and I can say that those miles were on some pretty good trail conditions.  The temps are suppose to get up into the thaw zone this week, so that will likely cause for some snow loss, but we still have tons on the ground and overall, I think that things should be OK for this weekend.  I doubt that the conditions will be mint, but if you are worried about having to ride in mud, you shouldn't be.  The bases on most of the trails are in the feet range not inches and will survive a few days of warm temps.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

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Jan 26-
    I'm back!  Sorry for my long absence, but I really was busy with some of my family visiting and did try to sit down and write one last Friday, but just about passed out in front of the computer and thankfully Nora stepped in for me.  I am glad that you all liked Nora's view of things and also went to the trouble to let her know that you liked it.  She really was uncomfortable about sitting down to write, but I think that she is feeling better about things now.  I did plan to write yesterday as well, but tagged along on a KSE ride for the fun of it yesterday afternoon and got back quite late, so I had time enough to eat dinner, sift through the 75-100 e mails that came in while I was gone for the afternoon (I get an e mail notification from every Ask John and General Discussion post) and then went to bed.  The ride yesterday was actually my first in about 10 days.  Almost felt a little strange to be on the sled again- almost.
    So let's see what has been going on since I last wrote.  My brother and uncle came to visit and my brother brought his two dogs, so we had quite a house full for a few days.  His dogs are pretty small, so that helps and they both are great about keeping themselves entertained while Nora and I are working, so it really is no extra work to have them up here.  Plus we have fun visiting and doing lots of activities which mainly consist of eating and cross country skiing.  I cannot speak for my uncle, but I know that my brother usually eats healthy and Nora and I also eat fairly healthy, but for the days that they are visiting we eat anything and everything.  My brother brings 2 dozen Crispy Creme Doughnuts that usually last about a day and a half, plus he stopped off at the butcher shop and brought up stuffed pork chops, bacon wrapped fillets and brats.  We also tend to eat out a few breakfasts and dinners and those are is usually pretty filling events.  So it's a good thing that we do so much cross country skiing when they are here to burn off the 1000's of calories we put away each day while they are here.
    On Saturday we drove down to Twin Lakes to ski their trails.  Last year the whole crew went down there to ski, but I was busy setting up the cam at Krupps, so I did not ski.  Plus it was cold and windy so Nora and my uncle did not do the full loop.  My brother did and said we all had to go out there this year to see how neat the "Ravine Trail" was.  Saturday was a little cold and windy and a fairly steady lake effect snow also fell, but conditions were not too brutal for a ski, so we all followed my brother out into the wilderness in the Twin Lakes area.  Here is a shot of Nora heading up the trail behind meMy brother was in the lead and actually had to break trail once we hit the ravine loop.  I was glad for that because I did break trail for a few feet and it was pretty tough going.
    So they departed Sunday morning and I have spent the past few days getting caught up in a few chores that I put off while they were here.  Plus the site is extremely busy as is KSE and I did get out for a little play time on the sled yesterday afternoon, so that explains my absence until now.  Yesterday's ride was fun, we hit some fields and then some logging roads and then up to Gay, back down to Dreamland and then over to Dollar Bay where we ended the trip so the folks could head down to Houghton and Al and I could shoot up to Lake Linden.  We did get in a lot later than we typically would.  KSE rides are scheduled to end about 5-5:30 pm, but a lot of go until 6 and yesterday we were saying good-bye to the crew at a little before 7!  My bedtime is not too much later than that and I was pretty tired from the ride.  A fair share of digging out and trying to walk through waist deep and even chest deep powder.  Yes, chest deep.  I must have parked my sled on top of a bush or something because when I stepped off it, I was suddenly eyeball to my running sleds board and I am 6'1 1/2!  Kind of a perplexing position to be in.  I had to stop for a minute to decide if it would be easier to try and pull myself back up onto the sled, or try and climb out of the snow I was in.  Decided to try and get on top of the snow and then crawl over to help out the stuck sleds.  It's deep up here, that's for sure!
    Yesterday it warmed into the mid 20's and it felt like a heat wave!  Even today with temps in the teens it felt fairly mild out.  Strange what a bunch of sub zero days followed by lots of single digits can do to ones cold air resistance.  I must say it was nice to not have to worry about protecting every piece of bare skin while I rode.  I even went without the balaclava for a while.  We have still been getting a fairly steady supply of snow since the big dumping about 10 days ago.  However, the pace does look to be slowed to a near trickle for the weekend and first part of next week.  It's funny how things are all relative.  Here in the big time snow belt, I get a little sad that I do not see at least a foot of new snow to fall in the next 3-5 days and anywhere else they would be overjoyed at the fact that snowfall in the next 3-5 days may be 3-5"!  The region does need a bit of a break though.  The roof shovelers have had a hard time keeping up with things and the main trunk lines are now just starting to lose their snowpack.  The side streets have a 1-2" mat of snow down and we probably will not be seeing pavement on them until spring.  So this upcoming breather is OK, but I hope that is all it is, a breather!  Well see.
    Rick Dobson and his production crew are coming up to shoot the KSE gang again this weekend.  We are just using one day to get the footage.  Not sure where we will be going this time around, but I am looking forward to the ride because I am a whole lot more comfortable on my sled this year and I know it will be a very fun ride.  That's one of the drawbacks to having KSE is that we never really get together as a whole group anymore, most of the gang are out taking tours on weekends.
    I actually went out and got a new camera.  It's actually a video camera, but can also take still shots.  I know there will be a handful of folks wondering what I got, so I will say right now that it is the Panasonic PV-GS200.  It is almost as close to a professional camera as you can get with 3 CCD's (the device that captures the images for cameras).  It also can take 2.3 mega pixel digital photos and record videos in MPEG 4 format.  I have not had too much time to play with it, even though I have had it for about 10 days.  However, I did take it on a ski Nora, the hounds and I took out at the school forest on Sunday.  I shot some video that when played back on the TV looked better than the signal coming over the digital cable system we have and I also shot a few test shots with the still camera feature.  The first was of the ski trail (fsv) and the second was of Baileys taking a little break.  Seems to do a pretty good job.  The neat thing is that the camera is not much larger than my digital still camera, so I will be bringing it along on skis and rides and hope to be able to add more video content to the journals as well as keep a steady supply of stills going.  What I am really hoping to be able to do is to convert the video it saves to the tape to something that can be viewed on the web.  It does shoot in digital format, so that should not be too hard.  There was some software that came with the camera and I just need to spend more time with it and I bet it will do it for me.  It will also be fun to just have a bunch of video of our exploits on the sleds for my personal consumption as well as that of the other guys in our group.
    I think that gets you close to caught up in things around here.  I do have one of those favors to ask of the readers.  As many of you know the KSE group will be heading out to Togwotee in March to see what the west is all about.  None of us have avalanche beacons.  So my questions are:  Is there a make and model which seem to be better and/or easier to use than another?  Also is there a place in Jackson that rents beacons?  Togwotee does not, but has them for sale.  However, since it is the end of the season they said they could not guarantee how many they would have left, which I totally understand.  So I would sure appreciate any tips on which ones to look for and good sources to rent or even purchase.  I plan to purchase as I have a feeling this will not be my only trip out west, but some of the other guys do not have the 300+ dollars to spend to buy one unless they absolutely have to.  I have created a topic about this on the Tech Talk on the General Discussions board, I would appreciate any comments be put there, unless you have a special reason to e mail me.  I'm sure there will be tons of great advice, so my thanks in advance!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Jan 21-
    Well, I vowed I wouldn't write another journal unless I had some really interesting story to share.  I'm sorry to say that I lied.  John has a way of getting his way when it comes to me, so here I sit.  I will say that he attempted to write this journal but within a few minutes he knew he wouldn't make it. His days are very long and he really wanted a journal to go out tonight.  So you guys are stuck with me.
     Our company arrived safe and sound on Wednesday evening and the house has been a pretty busy place ever since.  Our family came  to visit us but also to do some cross country skiing.  So Thursday afternoon we hopped in the truck and headed to the school forest for an afternoon ski.  It was just a perfect day for skiing with the temps in the mid teens.  We sure are lucky to have such a beautiful place to ski so close to home.  When we arrived at the school forest it wasn't long before we realized that we had some work ahead of us with breaking trail.  We were the first people to venture out for a ski since getting all the new snow.  I'd say that the view that one gets while at the school forest is well worth the extra work to get there!  It really doesn't matter how many times I go out there it always seems like a new adventure.  Although, this time I think the adventure had more to do with my skiing companions than the woods!
     I've sat here now for 15 minutes trying to come up with something to write.  Boy this is really hard to do.  Johns advice is to "just pretend your talking".  This is a hard thing for me because I know a lot of the viewing audience reads these journals for weather information, snowmobile pictures and stories.  Unfortunately, I have absolutely none of those for you all.  If I would have been prepared to do a journal I could have wrote about what it's REALLY like to live with and be married to the weatherman.  Maybe next time.  I will say that his passion for snow and storms just increases as time goes by.  Last Friday I came home from work and he had this huge grin on his face. Initially I thought it was out of love and happiness for me but  I shortly learned that wasn't the case.  Yep you guessed it we were sitting pretty for some good snowfall.  He was like a little kid right before Christmas.  At one point he approached me in the kitchen and seemed really antsy.  I asked him what was up and he said, "the radar's aren't updating fast enough".  Now if memory serves me right the "radar's" were updating every 4 minutes!  Now I'm no meteorologist but I doubt that much was changing within that 4 minute period.  It really was funny to watch him wait for the snow to pile up.
    As some of you will remember last year John's brother Ed shoveled the roof for us as John was recovery from surgery.  They actually had a pretty good system down and did a good job.  It may have worked out too well where Ed was concerned.  John was able to get him back on the roof this year to clear it again.  Actually, Ed says he enjoys doing it and doesn't mind helping at all.  As you will see he has mastered some roof shoveling skills and others still need some improvement!   No one was injured and it was all in fun.  Actually, it did give Uncle Dave a scare as he was sitting inside the house watching tv when suddenly he saw Ed "fall" off the roof!
    Well, that's about all I have for tonight.  Hopefully, John will be rested and able to get a journal out for you all on Sunday.  Have a safe weekend everyone and.....
Good night from the Keweenaw........
-ND -
My thanks to Nora for saving me tonight!  She really gets self conscience about writing a journal, thinking that none of you like it when she writes.  I know better and hopefully she will feel more at ease to spell me from time to time.  It is way past this old boy's bed time, so I am going to retire and sleep up for another busy day tomorrow.  But before I do I can leave you with one last shot.  My beautiful wife!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Jan 20-
    It's late and I have had a busy day, so I am going to postpone things until tomorrow, when I plan to write a full journal and include some pictures.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Jan 16-
    Holy snow Batman!  It's a winter wonderland!  I know we had lots of sunshine last Tuesday, but I have completely forgotten what it looks like.  Not complaining here, that's for sure but it really does seem longer than 5 days ago.  This current round of snow started up Thursday morning and has not stopped since.  If I do my math right, I think we are at 26" and counting since then.  I have not been living around these parts long enough to really be able to utter such a comment, but I will anyway.  It looks just like it did in the old days- when we got lots of snow.  It's funny, my brother and uncle are coming up on Wednesday and last year when they were here my brother was kind enough to shovel the roof while I cleared the snow below.  It sounds like he was planning on a repeat performance this year and with Nora and I doing it about 2 weeks ago I thought that it probably would not even need it.  Turns out it may very well need it by the end of this week.  We still have some lake effect snow to go through until later tomorrow or tomorrow night, then about a 12-18 hour break before a fairly strong clipper system brings us what could be 3-6", followed by more LES and maybe another clipper by Friday.  So even though this past Friday morning's front of house shot does not look to impressive, the snows we have picked up since then (18-20") and the anticipated new snow will make it well worth the while to do the roof again.  This will be the first time since living up here that I have hand to shovel it twice before January is even over.  The record for a single season was in 2000-2001 when it had to be done 3 times.
    The snow I love, the temps?  Well, Canada can keep them!  Of course it is the cold air that is making all of our snow happen, but in a strange twist, if the air were about 10-15 degrees warmer (with a similar raising of the dewpoints), then we probably would have received a lot more snow from this event, perhaps even twice as much.  Plus the winds on Friday and Saturday were pretty nasty.  You know it is bad up here when all the schools are closed as well as a lot of other programs and events and that is exactly what happened on Friday.  The actual snow we got on Friday was not that much, but the winds were causing zero visibility at times and wind chills were in the -25 to -35 degree range.
    All the new snow really put my bush protection system to the test.  That picture was taken Saturday morning after I had cleared the driveway and pathway and just before I cleared much of the snow off of them.  There was about 2 1/2 to 3 feet of snow on them, I usually keep about a foot on it.  They are pretty easy to clear.  Here is a front of house shot taken Saturday morning as well.  It was also fun to break off the overhanging drift on the front of the house.  A roof rake planted in the right spot actually will cause about 1/2 of the drift to calf off in one shot.  Needless to say I have been putting the Ariens to good use as well.  She starts first pull every time and just eats into the snow without hesitation.  I'm not sure I would be as joyful about snow if I did not have it and was forced to move the snow by hand with a scoop.  Forget a shovel, you could never throw it high enough by the beginning of January the banks would be so high.
    I have been getting in some saddle time as well.  Went on a KSE ride yesterday and took some friends from the Chicago area out today.  The KSE ride turned out well, nobody left in a snowdrift and no sleds breaking down.  We did lose a key at the Dreamland for a moment, but were lucky enough to spot it in the snow.  Al even managed to win the "best stuck of the day" award.  That picture was actually taken AFTER they had dug it out quite a bit.  When he first got stuck, all that you could see was the handle bar loop and the top of his windshield!  It was actually pretty funny to watch too.  We pulled up to this ravine that is fun to play in and Al said something to the tune of: "Here's a little spot that any of you that wants to do some hill climbing can try."  He was dead serious, but got no takers.  I actually nosed my sled up to the lip of the ravine and almost went in first, man am I glad I did not!  I watch Al drive his sled down into the ravine slowly and when he got near the bottom he came so a near standstill.  He then inched the sled forward and dropped off a 5 foot drift into the very bottom of the ravine.  He then attempted to get going up the other side of the ravine, but all that happened was the sled went completely under the snow, except for the handle bar loop and the top of his windshield.  Here is a shot of Al posing with his sled in the bottom of the ravine.  The last drop he had to make starts where the legs at the upper right of the photo end.  We got his sled dug out and turned "down stream" and he was able to ride down the ravine to a spot where he could get out. I will again say how happy I was that I did not decide to be the first one in.  I had nosed into it enough that I could not turn my sled around or back it out.  I did have to drop into the ravine a bit, but not too far and just had to side hill a bit to get back to the top.
    With the winds still blowing pretty hard yesterday we stayed out of the fields for the most part.  It would have been easy to lose someone yesterday and not find them until the spring.  The woods provided some nice shelter and also a pretty place to ride.  It was not foggy out when I took that shot, that was snow reducing the visibility.  As mentioned we stopped at the Dreamland for a quick warm up and then at Gay in the afternoon.  When we pulled into Gay, I could not believe how many sleds were there.  Probably the most I have ever seen at one time (there was an equal amount on the other side of the bar) and other than the 4th of July, the most people I have ever seen in the bar at one time.  After warming up in Gay we found our way back to Lake Linden and retired the tour for the day.  I had fun and it was a great group, but I was also quite happy to get into the warm house and take a nice long hot shower.
    Today while I was out riding, Nora took her camera and did a little tour of the Traprock Valley and snapped some shots for you all to enjoy (me too!).  I forgot my camera for the ride, but Nora's shots more than make up for that.  She started her photo tour with a shot of one last overhanging drift that I did not get too at the far end of the house.  I figure I'll just let it stay there until we clear the roof later this week.  I did shovel the snow off the bush protectors so that we could see out of the picture window in the living room.  I will have to do it again once we clear the roof.  The next shot she took was of the pathway I cleared for the oil delivery man.  I am going to call to get the tank filled and did not have the heart to make him have to wade through waist deep snow to get to the fill up spot around the back of the house.  I was really glad I bought the 10 HP Ariens clearing that path!
    She then headed up the valley and came across someone's shed that is slowly getting buried.  We are already at around 36-40" on the ground and not even halfway through January.  Perhaps that shed will get buried by the end of the winter!  Traveling a bit further up the road she crossed one of the many bridges that will carry you over the Traprock River as it meanders through the valley.  Even with all the bitter cold air we have had, one could still take a dip in the swimming hole if they wanted to.  I think I will take a pass on that!  Here is a shot of some mail boxes that have become part of a snowbank.  It's also interesting to drive down the road and see a big pile of snow and wonder what might be under it.  In this case it was someone's truck.
    So that concludes Nora's tour.  It is getting quite late for me.  Since I started this entry (3 hours ago) I have been like a clearing house with lots of phone calls.  But with the snow deep and looking to get deeper, I will be sure to keep my camera close at hand.  I do have plans to ride south of the lift bridge on Tuesday.  That is pretty much uncharted waters for me, so it should be fun to see new sights and get stuck in new spots!  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Jan 11-
    I'm still alive and well, just busy.  Some duties outside of this website have been taking up a lot of my time lately and thus I was not able to sit down and compose a new journal in the past few days.  I can also admit to getting in some play time this weekend, so it has not been all work and no play for Johnny.  In fact I did score the hat trick of riding with some saddle time Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Friday afternoon I did a little testing of the new clutch setup.  Goodwin Performance sent me a different helix to try on my secondary clutch and it seemed to do the trick.  No more track spinning, but yet really nice pulling through the entire powerband.  So I think I am all set for the season now.  I have a sled that runs great and am also getting closer to mastering it.
    I am very happy with the clutch setup and also with the service I got from the folks at Goodwin.  I suppose the main reason why some folks do not get much into clutching is that it is a little more complicated than simply snapping a new pipe or reed into place.  Sure the clutch just bolts on, but there is a real science to getting the most from a clutch setup.  However, once you do have it setup, your sled will run perform better than anything you can do to it.  I learned this lesson a few years back when Al clutched his 440 snow pro and was blowing every sled with 600 cc's down out of the water in sprints.  He even won the hill climb at Marquette Mountain up to the 600 class.  Now that's clutching magic!  So the next year I decided to let him work his magic on the old Pol-Cat.  I said I wanted to get a better hole shot and midrange power and when he was done with it, I could not even believe that it was the same engine under the hood!  That sled ran so quick that I was beating guys on new 700's.  Sure they were not 1/2 mile races, rather sprints of maybe a 1/4 mile or less, but it sure did anger a few of them that this 10 year old XLT with 11,000 miles on it was dusting them by several sled lengths in a race!
    So I am a big proponent of clutching your sled for increased performance.  Adding horsepower is good too, but that route without proper clutching can be like putting a person in a race car that does not know how to change gears properly.  They either shift up too soon or not soon enough and all that HP is wasted.  So for you folks wanting more out of your sled don't forget the clutching!  HP is not the only way or even the best way to make a sled perform better.  Plus with clutching you are treating your engine better by not asking more from it than it was designed to give.  You are just maximizing what it gives you in the first place.  I am sure there are lots of businesses that can help you out, but I only have experience with Al and Goodwin.  If you are in Lake Linden and have a few spare days (he'll probably need to order some parts) then stop in and see Al at Lakes Automotive.  Or an easier way is to get in touch with Goodwin Performance, tell them what you have, what you want and they'll take care of you, they did me.  Tell them I sent ya!  Ok I guess that does it for the shameless plugs, but I am sure that the majority of you know that I will not plug something unless I really trust and believe in what I am plugging.
    After testing Friday I stopped in at Al's and found out that they were planning on going for a ride, so I decided to tag along.  We left LL at around 5 and headed into the bush to ride up to Calumet.  Only a KSE guide can turn a 3 mile trip into a 30 minute excursion, but it was sure a lot of fun!  There are still so many places I have not learned to go and it is such a treat to be taken to these place.  Now if I could only remember how to get to them!  The destination in Calumet was Keweenaw Motor Sports where Brian was picking up his new sled.  The crankshaft on his summit finally gave up the ghost and he decided to just get a new sled and worry about what to do with the summit later on.  He is back to Arctic Cat green with a brand new M6 141.  After Brian finished signing his life away we took off down to have some dinner at the Paradise Gardens south of Calumet.  Of course we could not take the most direct way there and it probably took us another 30 minutes or so do get the 2-3 miles south to the Paradise.  A nice dinner and we were back out in the snow and cold for the trip back down to Lake Linden with just a brief stop off at Al's (no affiliation with my friend Al, but owned by my friend Jimmy!) Supper Club in Hubbell.
    I am not a real big fan of bush riding in the dark.  It's just too hard to see things until you are right up on them, so I am just not as relaxed as I am when there is light.  However we had a good time and it's a ride that will be burned into my memory bank forever.  Not because anything dramatic occurred, but just because it was one of those good times that sticks with me.
    On Saturday I hooked up with the front half of a KSE ride.  I had some work to get to in the afternoon otherwise I would have gone on the full tour, but split off from the group after lunch and headed back.  But that was not before some fun riding in the fields and woods in KSE's backyard.  We are really lucky to have some great fields to play in and even luckier that many of them belong to members of KSE or their family or friends, so we can usually find a field with untracked snow in it, unless we have been in a snow drought for a week or two.  No snow drought last week.  We did not get dumped on, but it did snow every day and was snowing Saturday morning as well.  We found plenty of powder in the fields to have some fun.  That was Dave doing a bit of carving and here he getting ready to do some more.  Here is Matt on his new ride this season and here he is again doing some carving.
    After the fields it was time to play in the woods.  The snow started to let up and eventually came to a complete stop by around noon.  Here is a shot of Matt and two of our clients for the day.  The guys look to be pretty interested in seeing how Dave can pick his way through the trees.
    I was hoping to get most of the work I had to do done Saturday afternoon and evening and after 6-7 hours was out of steam and pretty well along on the project, but knew I would need to put more time in on Sunday.  That did not stop me from jumping into the saddle on Sunday for the hat trick.  This time Nora joined me and the two of us rode out to ride with Brian and his wife.  Al and another friend Kevin could not say off the sleds either and ended up meeting up with us soon after we met up with Brian and his wife.  Before long we were blazing our way through the back woods of the Keweenaw.  Some of the trails ended and caused us to back track, but that is how you learn the bush.  All in all, it was another successful ride, with no crashes, no injuries and plenty of smiles and memories.  I even managed to get a shot of Brian's new sled with no dents, scratches or bruises on it.  Don't expect it to be that way the next time you see it!
    In the weather department it looks like today will be the first day since December 29th with no snow reported and only the 3rd day since Dec 15th with no snow reported.  Funny how many times mother nature give us a break just before smacking us around real good.  We actually had a rare day with lots of blue skies and even temps in the mid 20's.  Tonight snow arrives and continues into tomorrow.  We may even see a bit of sleet or freezing rain mix in tomorrow afternoon and early evening before the arctic air arrives.  I am cautiously optimistic that this arctic air outbreak could just hammer us.  The thing is when the temps are this cold, the air is also very dry.  So in most cases the snows that result from such a bitterly cold air outbreak are not as heavy as if the temps were in the teens.  However- and it's a big "however" - with winds out of the west or maybe even west-southwest for much of the cold air event we could get what is called a convergence band to setup across the Keweenaw.
    A convergence band is when the winds converge and that leads to enhanced lift.  That enhanced lift causes snowfall rates to be dramatically higher within the convergence band.  Usually in the 1-3"/hr range and sometimes even as heavy as 4-6"/hr.  A similar setup occurred back in December of 98 up here and places saw 2-4 feet of snow in 2 days.  I actually nicknamed the convergence band that setup in that event the "Bayfield Bomber" because the peninsula that Bayfield WI is on helped to form the convergence band and the west-southwest winds steered the band just like a firehose into the Keweenaw from about Houghton/Hancock north to Phoenix.  I am fairly confident that a convergence band will setup for at least part of the period Thur-Mon.  It's just a matter of where it decides to hit and for how long, but I really think that someone from around the Mass City/Rockland area north to the tip of the Keweenaw could be counting the snows in feet not inches from Thur-Mon.  Wouldn't be neat if it were ME!  That way you all could watch the fence in my back yard get buried over the weekend?  And I could take some awesome shots for a journal?  Only the shadow knows!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
PS-  Thanks to all that send in suggestions on how to fix my software issues last week.  It was the MS Office Shortcut Bar and I was able to restore it quite easily with help from the tips that came in.  This site sure has an awesome audience!
-JD -
Jan 6-
    Well, you still are not going to get any complaints out of me.  Today was our 6th straight day of snow and quite honestly I think it has been snowing almost non stop for those 6 days as well.  Most of the time not very heavy, but I'd rather have light snow than no snow at all!  It also has not exactly been piling up, at least as not as much as you would think for snowing for 6 days straight.  But the 2-3" fresh we get every day does help to keep things all nice and white...as new fallen snow!  I have even taken some rides the past few days and plan to in the coming days as well.
    Monday night I did end up going for a little ride with Al.  We did not ride too long or too far.  It was all off trail and also at night and I personally do not like to mix the two very often.  I let Al lead and be the guinea pig and we did just fine.  The place we were riding will be a total blast with about a foot more base and daylight!  I'm not telling where it is, but it is a new spot and could be a lot of fun!
    On Tuesday I decided to challenge fate and hooked back up with Dave (my friend I was riding with Tuesday of last week when the trailing arm mishap occurred) and ride the same general area with him that the mishap happened, just a week later and on the anniversary of my sled blowing up last year.  Matt also hooked up with us and the three of us had a grand old time cruising through the back country of the Keweenaw.  That was the trail yet traveled. Here is a shot of the trail been traveled and here is a shot of Dave and Matt and my sled.  As you can see the powder snow was not bumper deep, but not too far off and a good foot and a half of base underneath.  Even with all of that snow I was still a bit gun shy from the mishap of the week before, so I did not venture too far from the others tracks.
    We did find a few hills to play on and here is a shot of Dave making it to the top on his second attempt.  My first attempt ended in failure about 2/3rds of the way to the top.  Thus I was able to snap the first stuck shot of the season!  After playing on the hills for a bit it was back into the flat terrain for some more logging road riding.  With the warm November and early part of December we had, there are still some creeks that are running.  A lot of my friends up here think it's because of Thursday's rain, but we did not get that much rain and what fell was absorbed by the snow and did not run off into the creeks.  I think that what happens is that with a warm Nov and early Dec the swamps and ponds do not freeze up too much.  Then when we get a heavy snow it insulates things and that allows these swamps and ponds to continue to feed the small creeks water.  Happen along them on a snowmobile and this is what you getMud boggin'!  That one really was not as bad as it looked.  It was only about 8-12" deep and with the suspensions on these long tracks we were able to stay dry getting through.  The front of my sled is a bit dirty, but that will come off in due time.
    So we all returned safe and sound Tuesday night.  I am planning on maybe doing a little warm up playing tomorrow afternoon, but also plan on joining the KSE ride this Saturday.  Nora has something going on for much of the afternoon Saturday, so I will probably leave the tour early, but I do look forward to going on my first KSE ride of the season.  I really would like to try and get as much saddle time in as I can this season.  For one it's fun and secondly I would really like to have my sled mastered by the time we go out west.  I'm getting there, but I really want things to come second nature rather than having to work so hard to get the sled to do what I want it to do.  It all just takes patience and practice and I know it will come.  I was able to get that way with the Pol-Cat and I know it will come with the RMK.
    I decided to take my camera along on our afternoon walk around the neighborhood today.  We are pretty close to mid winter snow depth and when that happens the snow really starts to bring out some interesting sights.  Sights that I believe you can only really see in the UP snowbelts!  For instance this is what happens when you do not dig out your car for a few weeks.  This is what happens when you do not move your car since the first snow.  That is actually an S-10 Chevy Blazer.  I don't think they are planning on using this dump truck until spring- at least I hope not!  Of course most folks have already shoveled off their roof once this season and I am hoping for enough snow to make it worth the while in about 2 weeks.  My brother is coming up to visit and actually does not mind it too much.  I don't mind it for the first 10 minutes or so, but after that the novelty starts to wear off rather quickly!
    Some of the snow banks are getting quite large.  On my street they are about 3-4 feet high and we are probably about 1 good storm away from the first visit from the snow-go.  For those of you not aware of what that is, it is a huge snowthrower that they mount on the front of a front end loader.  It can cut through about 5 feet of snow and throw the snow about 60-80 feet if it wanted to.  It moves so much snow in such a short amount of time that the operator could easily put a pile of snow 10 feet deep and about 20 feet around in your driveway in less than a minute if he wanted to.  They use the snow-go to cut back the banks on the side of the road to make room for the plows to push it there.  The use the snow-go regularly in town to keep the streets and sidewalks free of snow.  Not a single pile of snow on the main drag through town, just amazing when you think about it.  But there are banks off the main drag.  Some of them approaching 10 feet in height.  It presents a challenge to those whose homes are close together, thus leaving little room to pile the snow.  Some creative measures need to be taken, including throwing the snow up into the trees for storage until spring.
    I did mosey up to the trail today to take a shot for you all.  Just as I was getting out of the truck to take the shot a band of 4-5 sleds came through the intersection (after stopping and properly looking for traffic).  So here they are riding off down the dusty trail.  Snow dust that is.  Here is another shot looking the opposite direction down the trail.  Looked pretty good to me.  That is your Keweenaw trail report for Thursday, January 6th, 2005!  I'm sorry to be such a wise guy about that, but I do get a bit of a chuckle from folks posting questions about conditions when their trip is still 2-3 weeks away.  I suppose they just do not realize how much things can change in that time frame.  Heck they can change by the hour!
    Before I sign off for tonight I am going to solicit a little bit of help.  I am running windows xp on this machine and the other day I accidentally closed out a feature on the desktop that I cannot figure out how to open back up.  It was a sort of quick launch bar where small icons were located.  All I had to do was click once on the icon and it would launch the application associated with that icon.  I used the term "quick launch bar", but it was not that.  I know how to get that to show up and it is part of the task bar.  This was located on the right hand side of the desktop and could not be moved from there.  I could add or remove the applications from it and when it was first there it bugged me (I like to have a clean desktop!), but grew to get used to it and really got to enjoy the ease of launching programs by just one click.  It also was always visible.  Any open application window would not cover it up either, even when that application was maximized.  So if you know what I am talking about and how to restore it, I would greatly appreciate you dropping me a note to let me know how to restore that feature of XP.
Jan 7 - A quick note, I was able to get the toolbar back up.  It ended up being the MS Office Shortcut Bar.  Thanks to all that helped with suggestions. - John
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Jan 3-
    You will get no complaints from me as far as the weather goes in this journal.  That's for sure!  The Keweenaw has been living a bit of a charmed life the past week or so.  Sure we did get the rain and freezing rain last Thursday.  Sure it was nasty to be out in, but it did little to our snowpack.  Then we got some fresh snow on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and it has been snowing all day today.  All told since the rains changed to snow early Friday morning we have picked up about a foot of snow.  Some of it has been what I call "broom snow".  That's the type of snow that you can clear with a broom, even if it's 4-6" deep.  However, the 4 1/2 - 7" we picked up Saturday night was a very wet and dense snow.  Sometimes I feel guilty using my big old snowthrower for 5" of snow, but I sure needed to Sunday morning with that stuff!
    So we were lucky that the Thursday mess of precip did not harm our snowpack much at all and also lucky that Saturday night's precip was all snow.  There sure were a lot of places that saw Saturday's precip be the final nail in the coffin to things and I really feel for them.  Just a week ago things were looking so good on the trails and then bam!  I also feel a little bad about my Friday forecast hanging out there showing the snows for the Northwoods for Sat and Sun.  Obviously things change in the forecast and there is nothing I can do, but to try and keep up with the changes.  However, I also really have to take a few days off or I will lose my mind in the busy winter months.  I hope that there were not a ton of folks that made the trip based on my forecast for 3-6" of snow across the Northwoods Sat-Sun with the result being rain, freezing rain and sleet.  Don't worry, it has not made me gun shy.  I have been forecasting for over 15 years now and while it is never fun to be wrong, I do see it as part of the whole process.  I learn from it and move on.
    The strange thing is that I have not done much riding since my mishap on Tuesday last week.  I did go out on Friday to do some more testing.  However, it was snowing pretty hard and so windy that the winds were blowing me off my testing area, so I took a few runs and decided to call it a day.  The adjustments to the suspension and track did seem to make a difference.  I still think the track might be spinning a bit too much in the deep snow for a 144 x 2" track, but I will also admit that I am not worlds foremost authority on how that track should be hooking up in the fresh snow.  Most of what I know comes from Al and last week he thought there was way too much track spin.  I am actually writing this journal a bit early because I am going to go for a little ride with him this evening.  We are going to ride in the bush and do some hill climbing in the deeper snow.  That will be a good judge of how well the track is hooking up with the snow.
    I hope everyone's new years was good.  Nora, the hounds and I had a nice quiet evening.  We actually went to bed well before midnight, but both Nora and I ended up waking up about 15 minutes before midnight and so we turned on the TV to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  I don't know, maybe I'm just getting old, but watching that happen just does not have the same effect that it used to.  I can't even imagine getting all dressed up to go out or anything.  Kind of nice to spend it with those that I love the most.
    Speaking of those that I love the most, Nora has taken up the job of updating the Guest Shots!  She did for a while last year, but then I think when she got her job I took over again and I think I finally got caught up with all of the submissions by August!  Nora has said that she would like to have 1 hour on my computer a night to keep up with them and I don't have a problem with that.  She has her own computer, but it's an older laptop and a little slow to handle all that is asked of a computer to do the Guest Shots.  So it looks like that part of the site will be updated fairly regularly.  I cannot promise 24 hour updates, but you will probably not have to wait 2-3 months anymore! That will be a huge relief for me too.  I sure did get lucky landing her!
    Not much else is going on up here.  Things have seemed to quiet down some.  I have to admit I did not ride on the trails or even go by them much over the holiday weekend.  I know during the week last week they did not seem too busy.  Steady, but not nuts.  I also know that I have not heard many sleds go down the trail today.  I actually did go up to the trail and took about a mile trek down it this afternoon.  I can honestly say that the trail was in good shape.  I was able to travel down it at any speed I liked and did not encounter any bumps.  So it has definitely been groomed in the past 12 hours or so.  Plus with the fresh snow today there was a bit of a cushion.  Now I know that I was only on 1 mile of the 200+ miles we have in the Keweenaw.  Plus I was on a section that seems to be in some of the best shape there is most of the time.  I have also heard of some problems with water overflowing the trail in a few spots due to the rains on Thursday.  I do not know exactly where they are and if the problem causing it (most likely a blocked culvert) has been fixed.   However I do know the weather conditions have been pretty similar in the entire Keweenaw (some places getting even more snow than at my local), so outside of the water issues, it really comes down to the grooming.  I believe that they are hitting most of the trails quite regularly, so I would suspect that most of the trails are not too dissimilar from what I was on this afternoon.
    Well, I guess that covers it for another one.  I need to finish up here so I can go ride a bit with Al.  Planning on going for a ride tomorrow afternoon too, so hopefully I can have some pictures other than a broken trailing arm.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -