Past Journals
George's Eagle 
Harbor Web
Pasty Cam

Sept 25-
    Wow, I cannot believe we are at the end of September already.  I suppose with the warmer than average temps we have been having it sort of makes it seem like we could still be in August or early Sept.  Temps have been cooling some though.  I even have worn some long pants and a sweatshirt from time to time as well.  No heat used yet, not even close really.  Friday morning we did drop to 34 degrees, but there still must be enough residual heat left over in the house materials that it was not chilly in the house at all.  I suppose it won't be too long before we have to fire up the furnace to take the chill out of the morning air.  I have smelled some wood burners going on some of the cooler mornings lately.  I just love that smell- the crispness of the autumn air combined with the smoke from burning firewood, you just can't beat it!
    I can say that the last few days of astronomical summer were very summer like with temps in the upper 70's to low 80's and then the first day of astronomical autumn was very much like autumn, with a high in the low 60's.  I wonder how many times that has happened where the actual change of seasons on the calendar matches up with the change in the weather.
    We have been getting some rain.  In fact, Monday was the first all day rain event we have had in months.  We picked up around 1" and the grass is starting to green a bit.  In fact we may even have to cut it soon.  I has been over 12 weeks since we last cut it, I hope the lawnmower still works!  We had some rain late yesterday and overnight as well.  More rain has fallen in the past 2 weeks than fell for all of July, August and the first week of Sept.  Figures, two weeks ago was when we started the workshop!
    Speaking of the workshop, we have been busy up there too.  Monday we did not get any work done due to the rains all day.  As I sat and watched the rains on the radar all day Monday, I thought that if I were smart, I would have gone up and done work at the property Sunday instead of writing a journal, then I could have written a journal while being stuck in the house with all the rain on Monday.  Someday I will put my weather forecasting abilities to good use!  I did get up there on Tuesday and the first order of business was to squeegee out some of the rain water.  After that was done, I was able to take care of some end bracing work and then Nora showed up and we worked together to lift some of the end posts in place.  The side posts were 8 footers and not too hard to get in place and brace, but some of the end posts were 14 footers and that was a whole other story entirely.  I could not believe how much more work it was to get the 14 footers up into the brackets and the brace them.  We actually had one 14 footer come down while we were trying to lift it into the bracket.  No one was hurt thankfully!
    By the end of business on Wednesday we had managed to get all the end posts for the back up as well as braced and were basically set  for the trusses at that point.  On Thursday we took care of a few odds and ends, including laying down some boards so that the boom truck that was going to help us set the trusses on Saturday could drive up close enough to do that.  With the boards down, I decided to try them out and drove the blazer up into the shop.  The boards worked fine and we had the first vehicle in the shop.  That section of the shop will actually not be used for vehicles.  At least not after this winter.  I think we will store the boat and Al's boat as well as some other stuff we have floating around here this winter, but then starting next spring it will become my woodworking shop.
    Yesterday was the big day for setting the trusses.  I was able to get Al to help (bartered for storing his boat for the winter) and then had two contractors from the neighborhood come to help out as well as the boom truck.  With all of those bodies and the fact that the top of the posts were only a little over 8 feet high, we probably could have set the trusses ourselves without the boom truck, but I only had to pay $75 an hour for the truck and it was well worth the money to not have to wrestle those trusses in place.  It actually only took us an hour to set all the trusses.  That was Al on the ladder on the left, Terry (one of the contractors) up in the truss and my neighbor Darcy running the truck.  He actually works for the company that owns the truck and basically comes with it.  Darcy really was able to swing the trusses into place and even though it was my job to man the guy line and help guide the truss into place, I probably could have taken the morning off!
    Once all of the trusses were in place, I decided to take advantage of all the manpower there to get the front posts set.  Nora was happy to know that she did not have to help me lift it up and in place and with the trusses in place we had some ready made bracing for the posts as well.  Terry, Dan (the other contractor) and I were able to get the three front posts in place in just a few minutes.  So in the course of just over an hour we went from a structure with just the posts up on three sides to a structure with posts on all four sides and the makings of a roof.  I thought it was kind of cool how the shop was centered in the sunlight and nothing else in that last shot.  Almost like Mother Nature wanted to do her part to add to that last shot.
    Yesterday afternoon Nora, the hounds and I headed back up to the property to do the final bracing on the shop.  There were wind braces to set for the ends, knee braces for the ends and side braces at all the corners.  I decided to throw some extra bracing in the sides just for good measure.  Sounds like a lot of work for one day, but we had some help.  Baileys did her part to make sure the bracing was done to speck and Burt was by my side just about the whole time making sure I had an extra paw when I needed it.  Burt and Baileys are both union and up here the local chapter has some pretty strict rules about taking naps every 2-3 hours in order to not overdo it.  So both Baileys and Burt did their part to abide by the rules.  I'm just a lowly independent and was not able to take any naps, but here I am securing the last brace in the shop.  So here is a shot of Nora and Baileys relaxing at the end of the work day yesterday.  The shop fully braced and starting to look like a building.
    Today the plan was to put all the roof purlins on.  I figured a couple of hours and we would have them all in and boy was I wrong!  This was the first time that my time estimation for a task was dramatically off.  Nora and I headed up at about 9 am this morning and I thought we would be done in time for lunch.  Things did not start too smoothly and by lunch time we had only managed to get one run of purlins done along the edge of the trusses!  Here I thought we would be done and we had only put one of the 20 runs of purlins in!  Now, I knew that the edge and ridge purlins would take more time as they needed to be butted up to each other, while all the other purlins can just be overlapped, but wha!  We came home and had lunch and then Nora had plans for the afternoon, so I called Al to see what he was doing and if he wanted to help. He obliged and during the lunch break I had thought up some tricks to make the laying of the other edge purlins go quicker.  My ideas worked and in about 20 minutes Al and I had the other end purlins in place.  I thought "great, we should be able to zip through the other purlins and finish them this afternoon".  Well, the going is slow when you are trying to keep from falling 8 feet to a concrete slab below and Al and I were able to almost finish one side, but still have about 20% of the one side and all but the edge course of purlins to do.  I was hoping to be able to put the roof on tomorrow because the winds will be light, but it looks like we have at least 2 more work sessions left before the purlins are done.  Then we can lay the roof- weather permitting.  I did take a shot of things at the end of business today, unfortunately you cannot even see all of the hard work done today, as most of the purlins are not even in view!  Oh well, I did take down the temporary bracing, so at least the structure is standing on it's own integrity!
    So as I sit here and type, just about every muscle in by body aches- some that I did not even know I had, but we are making progress.  Hopefully the roof will be on in a week or so and then I will be able to breathe a whole lot easier.
    Not much else going on in my life at the moment.  The color show is starting to ramp up.  Just about every day more and more colors are showing up in the woods.  At first I thought that this was going to be a really poor color season because the early turners were turning as much brown as they were reds, yellows or oranges.  I also thought that the main event might be a little early this year, but it looks like I will be wrong on both counts.  It looks like the main color show will be pretty close to the normal time, October 6th to 15th, and I think that the trees in the main event are much healthier and their colors should be pretty good.  Maybe not as good as can be, but spectacular none the less.  If you have never seen the Keweenaw in autumn, you have never really seen autumn colors.  Even folks who made regular trips to New England say that we have a better color show then them.  So it looks like two weekends from now and we will be at our peak.  Here is a shot of the hounds walking through the School Forest this past Thursday.  Still lots of green, but the change is ramping up.
    About the only other excitement was the arrival of Born to Ride 4.  That is the DVD that was shot up here with KSE last February.  I have to admit that with all the attention going to my regular work and the workshop building, I was not even thinking much about the DVD, so when it came and I sat down to watch it, it really got my blood pumping to ride!  Personally I liked BTR 4 better than BTR 3 (last years DVD we were in).  Rick Dobson really has some cleaver ideas and put them to use in BTR 4.  I was told that he will also be doing a Raw and Uncut version this season too.  Looking forward to that one as well!  Nora said something to me today and I think she is dead right.  She said that with building the workshop this autumn, I am not all hyped for winter to come.  She also said that just about the time we are done building this season, winter will be here.  Pretty cool how that will work out!
    Well, I guess that about covers it for now.  My only other order of business before I sign off is to remind you all of the ride in this February.  There are still spots left.  I do not know exactly how many, but I would venture to guess around 50 or so.  So don't delay too long, or you will miss out!  Actually, the registration is for the banquet and you are welcome to just show up in the Keweenaw that weekend and partake in some of the other activities.  However, we will be having some informal tours into the woods up here and the registered persons will get first dibs in going on those rides.  You can learn more about the ride in here.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -

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Sept 18-
    Well, I started out the last journal talking about the heat and while we have not had any since last Sunday, there is a bit more I can say about it, so I figured I would get it out of the way.  I did a little homework last week and discovered that we have either tied or set a new record high temperature record 9 times this summer (since June 1).  That is the most of any season ever.  There were several years where we set or tied a new record high 6 times: 1988, 1983 and 1975.  In 1995 we had 5 days that tied/set new record highs.  So from a standpoint of number of days that set or tied a new record high temperature, this summer was the hottest.  As far as actual mean temperature, I do not know, but I seriously doubt that it has been the hottest summer on record for this area.  We did have some cool days in August.
    I'm not one to say that there is a strong connection between hot/dry summers and cold/snowy winters, but I do believe there is at least a weak connection.  If you look back in the previous summers where lots of new record high temps were made, they were followed by winters with some pretty big snowfall totals.  1995/96 was the last really big winter they had up here, with 329" at the airport and 367 at Delaware.  1988 saw 325" at the airport, while 1983 and 1975 were more towards average with 226 and 261 respectively.  So I am thinking that we could be heading towards an above average snowfall winter here in the Keweenaw.  In fact it is also my belief that the longer we stay in above average temps this autumn, the greater our chances for a big winter will be.  The next week to ten days look to be spent in above average temps, so that's somewhat promising!
    The neat thing about above average temps up here at this time of the year is that they are seldom uncomfortable.  The type of pattern that would bring mid to upper 90's in June, July and August now brings upper 70's to mid 80's and the humidity is usually a lot more timid as well.  So above average temps this time of the year can actually be a bonus.  I love those crisp autumn days when you have to wear long pants and a jacket to stay warm and we have yet to have a day like that so far this September, but I also do not mind walking the woods in shorts and a t-shirt like I did today and have been doing all of this month so far.
    With above average temps seen for the next week to ten days, there is certainly no snow in the forecast, which believe it or not is just fine with me!  I really want to get the roof on the shop and then it can do what ever it wants.  Laying trusses and wrestling with 18 foot long sections of steel roofing are not things I want to do when it is windy and snowing out!
    Speaking of the barn, we have been busy this week working on it.  I say we because Nora has been a huge help to me.  On Monday I was hoping to get up there to do some work but it looked like it was going to rain all day and never did, so that day was pretty much a lost day.  The concrete guys did head up on Monday and finished their work by laying down a course of block that we will be erecting the rest of the shop on.  Tuesday was the last day for golf, at least for me.  In fact the season ended the previous week, but last Tuesday was the "Greens Keepers Revenge" where they put the pin placements in very difficult locations and even put things in the holes to make it next to impossible to sink your put.  They also put the tee boxes in very difficult locations to mess with your game.  There is a 10 stroke maximum on all holes and many times that mercy rule is used.  Al and I actually did pretty good, carding a 46.  We actually played with two other 2 man teams and their scores were in the 50's and low 60's.  So perhaps Al and I won some money.  Funny how we don't score so well in the regular rounds, but then do so well in the Greens Keepers.
    So the point to all of that rambling was that I was not able to start working with the wood for the shop until Wednesday and by then I was really chomping at the bit.  Each night as my head hit the pillow, I would rehearse in my mind how I was going to do everything and by Wednesday I was sick of the rehearsals and ready for the real thing.  Here is a shot of the state of things upon my arrival Wednesday.  You can see the block was down and all the wood Nora and I hauled over last Sunday is sitting ready to be worked.  One of the first things I did was to place the brackets that are used to secure the bottom of the posts to the brick and slab.  Unfortunately in all the pictures I have taken of the work up there, I have failed to take a picture of that device.  I will do my best to take a shot for the next journal entry.  In addition to the placement of the brackets onto the anchor bolts, the other task I wanted to get completed on Wednesday was to cut the side posts to length and notch the tops of them to receive the trusses.  I was able to get all of the sizing work done and as the sun was slowly sinking below the tree tops on the horizon, I finished cleaning up the final notch on the posts.  So at days end on Wednesday I was right where I wanted to be, I had the brackets mounted and all 18 of the side posts sized and notched.  Actually in that last picture you can see a few of the brackets, but I will try and remember to take a close up of them.  Also on Wednesday, the trusses showed up.  I ordered them the previous Friday, so it only took them 5 days to be manufactured somewhere in WI and then shipped to Moyle Building Supply up here and then Moyle delivered them to the property.  Pretty good I think!
    Thursday the goal was to get as many posts placed, leveled and braced.  Nora joined me on Thursday for that work as I figured an extra set of hand would come in very handy while trying to level and brace things.  She really is great how she does not mind jumping right in and doing anything that I ask of her.  She says that as long as I do not yell at her, she is happy to help me with anything, although I don't think I test that by having her work in the trusses when we are setting them next weekend!  She is not a big fan of roofs and won't even go up on ours in the winter when there is a 4-5 foot deep snow cushion to fall on if you were to fall off the roof.  Anyway, after a sluggish start with the post leveling and bracing work, we got into a rhythm and had one wall just about completed by quitting time on Thursday.  Feeling confident in our gained knowledge from Thursday, we headed up Friday afternoon to try and finish out the remaining first wall and complete the second wall on Friday.  We were able to accomplish that mark on Friday and here is a shot of the second wall up with the bracing, at least one half of the bracing.  Here is a shot of the first wall as we were working on the girts that will help brace the posts from movement towards/away from each other.  Nora actually grabbed the camera and took an action shot as I was working on the girts for the second wall yesterday.
    On Saturday we finished up most of the bracing for the two side walls.  We still have some 45 degree braces to put in and then once the trusses are in we need to put in some knee braces from the wall to the trusses, but if we wanted to, we could have placed the trusses on at the end of the work day on Saturday.  I was not sure if it was better to leave the end posts out until the trusses were in and then secure the end posts and trusses at that point, or to put the posts up and then secure the trusses to them.  The end posts are not needed to support the end trusses, but I asked some folks in the know and was told to go ahead and put the end posts in and brace them. Then the end trusses can be secured to the end posts and that will help with stabilizing the roof truss network right from the start.  Today I went up and squared up the ends of all the end wall posts as well as cleaned up all the cutoffs and swept the slab clean too.  Nora and I will be heading up in the afternoons this week to get the end posts up and braced in anticipation of the truss setting to take place Saturday (weather permitting).
    Ol' Blue has once again proven to be a valuable workhorse.  I think it is happier in it's duties now compared to what we have asked it to do.  It's duties now are to be the portable workshop for me, hauling things like a generator, air compressor, saws, saw horses and anything else we might need.
    I believe Nora is having fun and I know I am.  We are still talking to each other and I do enjoy it better when she it out there with me than when I am alone.  I am not sure which I like better though- building furniture or building buildings.  The both have their pluses and minuses.  Building at this level I can certainly say that it is nice to not have to be within 1/32th to 1/64th of an inch in all my measurements and cuts.  Build furniture with less stringent tolerances than that and it's junk.  However, I must say that building at this level is much more physically demanding.  I can spend 8 hours in the shop working on a piece of furniture and not feel physically spent at all.  After about 4 hours of this type of building and I am ready for a gurney!  I suppose that having a desk job really does not do me much good to prepare for such physical work and maybe I will get myself in better shape and be more conditioned for that kind of work.  Only time will tell, but I can tell you that I am one tired pup at the end of one of our work sessions!  But it's a good tired and every once in a while I will stop and just sit there quietly and take in the beauty of where I am working.  It's at those moments that I feel like I am in a dream.  Then I get back to work, nail my thumb with the hammer and know I'm not dreaming, but rather living out a dream.
    The hounds went up with us on Saturday while Nora and I did some work.  They were very good.  Usually they like to roam all over the place and I was worried we might spend more time keeping track of them than working on building the shop, but they settled in and just watched the two of us work.  Burt seemed to follow Nora or I around a lot, probably wanting to help in some way.  Baileys just sat comfortably on the blanket we put down for them to lay on.  Today not much work was done and so we took to the woods for a little afternoon adventure.  The temps were in the low 70's, there was a good breeze and some puffy fair weather cumulus clouds- basically a good day for a walk in the woods, so we headed out to the School Forest.  Pretty quiet out there except for a few white tail we saw and a friend of ours who also helps manage the area.  He was out cutting the grass on some of the trails to make it more enjoyable for folks like us who head out there to walk.  After chatting with him for a while, we continued on and I snapped a shot of the woods so that you could see how the color show is progressing.  As you can see, the woods are still mainly green and I suppose that our peak will not be too far from the traditional time which is around the 6th to 12th of October.  We have been getting some rain and maybe that is helping to slow the early change a bit.  Of course they should be starting to change a bit more now as we are just a little over 2 weeks from what should be the peak.  It just does not seem like it since the weather has been so warm.
    I guess that about covers it for this one.  I hope you all enjoy the pictures of all of our construction as that will probably be the main topic for another week or two.  Once the roof is on, I will breathe a whole lot easier as I know I could put the siding up in a blizzard if I had to!  Power will be going in before the snow flies and I hope to actually have a live web cam out there to capture the building of the cabin next spring/summer and probably fall!  Until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Sept 11-
    For those of you sweating it out like me, I have a few shots that might help to cool you off and maybe get your blood pumping.  The first photo I have to share with you is from the top of a ski resort in Montana.  I believe it was the Big Mountain.  As you can see it was taken Saturday evening and they had a pretty decent amount of snow that fell, over a foot it looked to me.  This next shot was taken this morning as the sun was rising at Togwotee.  They got a dusting of snow too.  I have looked at those two shots a few times today and I think it has helped to keep me cool.  That and sitting directly in front of the air conditioner!  Like most of the Midwest, it's been hot up here.  87 tied the record for yesterday and the 90 today broke the record by 6 degrees.  The 90 today was also the latest that a 90 degree day has occurred up here.  Global Warming!!!
    Heat this time of the year is just so much more tolerable for me, for several reasons I guess.  First, it usually does not lock in for days on end.  We can have 2, maybe 3 days and that is it.  Secondly, it usually is not accompanied by humidity, although we have been humid yesterday and today.  Third, because the sun is not rising until about 8 am now, it stays cool until about 10-10:30 in the morning and is not scorching at that mid morning hour like it is in July and August.  Also because the sun sets at about 7:50, it cools off quicker.  There are times in the summer that it will be 90 degrees at 8 pm because the sun is still so strong.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not enjoying this heat at all, especially since we have been doing a lot of work outside.  However, it is somewhat less bitter to swallow now than it is in July and August.
    It has been a busy last couple of days.  Late last week I went and ordered the trusses for the shop.  I had already gotten several bids and so I knew where I needed to go.  I also picked up the anchoring plates I am going to use to attach the posts to the slab/brick.  Saturday was the big day for the pour.  I actually did not get a call from the guy that is helping me with the cement work, but I headed up to be there at about 8 am, thinking that I would have a few minutes to write down which PEX tube was with which loop.  I was surprised when driving up the road the property is on to see one of the guy's pickup trucks sitting at the entrance to our driveway.  As I drove in to the driveway, I saw two concrete trucks, one dumping and the other in wait.  I guess they got an earlier start that I thought they would!  They actually had intended on starting the pour at 7 or 7:15 am, but the trucks did not show until around 7:30, but by the time I arrived at 8, they were already done with the part I was going to help with- running the concrete to the back edge of the slab where the boom could not reach.  Shucks!  I was able to help out a little though.  They were not able to rent a vibra-screed that early, so they had to screed (do the rough leveling) with a 2 x 4.  I helped out with that.  However, I did not even have to change out of my sneakers and into the knee high rubber boots I picked up the evening before at Walmart.  By about 8:30 the concrete was poured and floated and then the waiting began.
    It was neat to be part of the pour, even though I missed the first part.  I know it is not something I want to take on myself, although I may attempt to set the forms and do some of the other prep work for the cabin's slab next spring, we'll see. The one thing I was amazed at was how fast the concrete set up.  I know you want it to cure as slowly as possible as it will be stronger if it cures more slowly, but we did not have access to water and it was a pretty warm day, so it setup fairly quickly.  I don't know how long it was from when they poured it to when we were able to walk on it, but it was a lot quicker than I would have imagined!  The concrete guys did have a power trowel and used that to trowel out the slab.  By mid afternoon all that could be done was done and before heading home, I took one last shot of the new slab.
    With the slab done, it was time to get going on the next stage.  The concrete guys still need to lay one course of block for me and they plan to do that early this week.  In the mean time, Nora and I went to pick up the lumber for the workshop.  We went out yesterday afternoon, but I think it was a blessing in disguise that the sawmill was closed.  It was hot and humid and I think we both would have passed out moving all the wood.  I did talk to the owner of the sawmill and arranged to pick up the wood this morning at around 10, so Nora and I headed out there.  My first time out there, I was really amazed at how much wood he has.  There are piles and piles of logs awaiting to be sawed into boards and probably just as many piles and piles of boards awaiting to be used.  It took us 3 trips and 4 hours to get all the wood from the sawmill to the property and the two are only about 2 miles from each other!  Ol' Blue and the snowmobile trailer were put to good use today.  Here is a shot of the first load after we had already taken a post or two off.  I did not take a picture of the second load, but here is a picture of the 3rd and last load we brought over.  As mentioned, we only had to go 2 miles to get from the sawmill to the property and they were on back country roads.  That is why we hauled such an unstable looking load!  I don't think we went any faster than about 30 mph hauling the loads over.
    So all the wood for the posts, purlins, girts and siding is sitting up at the site.  The trusses are coming in a week to ten days and the doors, windows and roofing is coming next Saturday.  Weather permitting, I hope to get the posts cut to length and notched to receive the trusses early this week, then get the posts up and braced by the end of the week and be ready for the trusses when they arrive.  Then the roofing will go on once the trusses are done and after that the doors, windows and siding.  As soon as my first two posts are up and braced, I will call the electrician to come out and prepare a box for the workshop and then I can send in the work order for the power company to come out and run power into the property.  I have a portable generator that I actually bought from a visitor to the site several years ago.  I bought it to give me backup power for my office when the power goes out.  I think I have used it twice in that time and it has been a life saver for my work on those two occasions.  Now it will be a life saver out at the property to power all my power tools.  I just plan to keep everything in the back of Ol' Blue and not leave anything at the property.  No need to tempt someone and create the worry for me.
    We have not been all work and no play (probably never will be either!) this past week.  Temps were comfortable enough for walks in the woods all last week, but it was too hot for that playground yesterday and today, so we took to the water.  Yesterday we just shot down to the Bootjack boat launch and today with westerly winds we went to the northshore.  There are more and more homes going in along that stretch of lake shore and soon that quiet road and stretch of beach will not be so quiet anymore.  I am not really complaining.  As much as I would selfishly like to have all these neat areas to ourselves, I know that just cannot be and should not be.  However, we are going to have to get a little more creative in the coming years to find the quiet, off the beaten path places up here- especially when it comes to the lake shoreline.
    In any case, I did manage to take a shot out at the beach.  Looking at the forecast, this may very well be the last picture taken at the beach with hot temps in place for this season.  We may still have some days in the upper 70's or even low 80's, but I think the upper 80's are done with for another 9 months.  I have been mentioning how the trees seem to be turning color quicker this year.  Most likely brought on by the drought we are currently in.  Today I have a picture for you.  This was taken up near M 203 just to the west of Calumet.  There is a little more color in the trees in that shot than there is on average up here, but it really looks like the colors may be an early October or even late September peak this autumn, rather than a second week in October event.  So you color hounds may want to think about bumping up your trip to the Keweenaw to catch the colors a week sooner than you might normally.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one.  I suppose the next entry will include some shots of posts standing upright or something.  Kind of exciting!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -
Sept 5-
    Before I get into the typical rantings of the journal, I would like to let everyone know that you can now register for the JohnDee.com Snowfest Ride In this February.  For those of you that may not know what this is, I was contacted by a visitor to the site asking me if I had any interest in setting up a ride in up here.  I have wanted to do one for several years, but because of the overwhelming amount of work the site creates I just did not want to partake in another endeavor.  This person decided to take it upon himself to handle things and I agreed to become a part of it.  The first things we needed to figure out was what exactly it would be.  It was decided to keep things simple this year and not try and do too much.  We wanted to have some form of a formal get together where folks could meet me and other visitors to the site.  Plus we wanted to have different groups going out for snowmobile rides on the days of the event.  One thought was to have structured tours going out each day for all the folks, but knowing how hard it can be to organize just 2 or 3 groups of folks with their guides plus the issue of liability caused us to set things up in a way that informal tours will be going out.  Some of the tours may be "guided", but the guides will bear no responsibility for the group.  Meaning you may follow this person for much of the day, but they are strictly doing this on a volunteer basis and are not an official guide in any capacity.  Some of the tours will be out on the trails, while others will be out in the back country and off trail.  I have no idea who might be able to do any of the guiding or where they would be going, but think most folks would have a good time regardless.
    So the ride in starts on February 16th and ends on the 18th.  There will be a banquet at the Ramada Inn on the 18th and all the folks wanting to go out on a ride will meet up in the mornings at the Ramada as well.  I chose the Make A Wish Foundation because it is an organization that is close to my heart and also fits with the theme of the site a little.  They provide the means for wishes to come true to persons who are ill and might not otherwise be able to see this wish granted on their own.  The wishes are usually some form of entertainment/enjoyment in an activity and that is what this site is mainly about- enjoyment in an activity.
    There is a page setup on the site for the info and registering and it is here.  Please note that due to restraints on the banquet facilities, only the first 100 persons registered will be able to attend the banquet, but folks can still register and receive a T-shirt, qualify for any giveaways going on as well as have a portion of their registration go to the Make A Wish Foundation.
    Now onto the goings on up here.  As mentioned in the last journal, we got started on the slab foundation for the workshop.  By Wednesday evening, we had things pretty far along, with the insulation down in most areas as well as the rebar and reinforcing mesh.  Then on Thursday my friend Dan from the Torch Lake Cabins in Lake Linden went up with me to show me how to lay in the PEX tubing for the infloor heat.  He put infloor heat in his home and the rental units, so I wanted to tap into his expertise.  We were able to get 2 loops done that evening.  Then Nora and I went up on Friday and put in 2 more loops.  We would have been able to finish all of the loops (6 in all), but we ran out of ties to attach them to the mesh.  So Friday night we picked up some more ties and Saturday morning headed up and finished up the remaining 2 loops.  It took about 25 minutes per loop, so all told it took a little over 8 hours to put in all the tubing.  Then on Saturday afternoon Dan headed back up with me to set up the manifolds.  All of that tubing needs to come together at a common point so that the heated water can come into the system at one point and then exit at one point- thus the manifolds.  The system is not going to be used for heating for at least a year, so we did not have to worry about actually hooking the manifolds up to a heat source, but things still needed to be hooked up and organized and thanks to his expertise and help we were able to get the manifold hookup done in a few hours.
    The one problem in this whole story is the fact that while at the Menards in Marquette last week, I only picked up one manifold!  So I picked up another manifold locally on Friday, but it turned out to be the wrong type.  The PEX and crimps would not fit over the nipples on the manifold.  We could get the tubing over, but then the crimps or little brass rings that get crimped and hold the tubing secure to the manifold could not slip over the tube.  So I decided to bite the bullet and Nora and I headed to Menards on Saturday to get the correct manifold.  Sunday I made some modifications.  I turned 2, 4 loop manifolds into 1, 6 loop manifold and capped off the ends.  I have very limited experience in soldering brass pluming- truth be told I only experimented with two other joints prior to my work on the manifold, but was successful.  Because on Sunday after my little bit of soldering work was done, we headed up to attach the return manifold that I made and then pressurized the system with 50 psi of air.  It has been over 24 hours and there is still 50 psi in the system, so I think my soldering job was a success!  The inspector comes to check the tubing and pressure on Wednesday and then we will pour the concrete Saturday.  That means by next week at this time I can start to build the structure!  That also means I am done working on this until Saturday.
    Now it has not been all work and no play since I last wrote.  We have still been taking our afternoon walks.  Nora had to go it alone with the hounds on Saturday while Dan and I worked on the manifolds, but for the most part we have been able to take to the woods and beaches as a family.  It had been cool enough up until today that we could stick to the woods.  We have been taking to the school forest a lot as well as taking some walks in the woods up behind the house.  Although today was too warm for the woods, in fact we hit 90 degrees late this afternoon, so we took to the beach.  Of course Burt was all fired up, in fact he could hardly wait for the truck to stop before he wanted out and to head off to play in the surf.  Baileys did a bit of swimming and then spend the rest of the afternoon lying in the shade and watching Burt swim.
    Burt will actually swim as long as you keep throwing the stick out.  He just becomes possessed and will not stop.  However, both Nora and I could sense him getting a little tired and so I stopped for a minute to discuss with Burt how much longer he should swim.  It was decided a few more tosses of the stick and then we would head 'er home.  Baileys must have felt like she was being left out of the decision making process because she came running over too.  Of course maybe she just wanted to give her daddy a kiss.  That's what I call a great day at the beach!
    As mentioned today is warm, but the other days have been mild.  I don't mind the warmth this time of the year as it's days are limited and there is usually not much humidity associated with it, although we can have humidity this time of the year too.  Plus it cools off at night.  This morning we were in the low 50's with 40's occurring most other mornings and even a 39 yesterday morning.  So autumn is knocking at the door. Things have still been dry and that is causing the splashes of color to be even more numerous.  We are still far from any kind of real color show up here, but there is about 5-10% of the trees up here that have some form of color.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for another one.  Happy September everyone!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD -