April 26-
    Is it me, or has April just flown by for all of you as well? No complaints from me. April has always been one of my least favorite months since moving up here. In fact, it is my least favorite month. It is the month when the snow leaves and things are still cold and also get messy. Just not a fun month to be up here and about the only time when I could actually be happier being somewhere else- at least for the meltdown. Well, the meltdown is still going on up here, in fact it had quite a bit more added to it to melt this week and I will talk about that in a little bit, but there is some bigger news that I would like to start off with.
    That big news is that Nora and I were matched with a birthmom! Yep, in just 4 months, if all goes as planned, we will have a little bambino added to the clan. Nora and I were actually quite surprised early this week when we got the call from the agency that an expecting mom was interested in talking to us about being the parents for her child. We had only had all of our paperwork into the agency for 2 weeks and really did not think things would happen so fast. As it turns out, the woman actually had been given 7 profiles to look at and had reached ours around halfway through and just knew that we were the ones. So when Nora and I first started talking to her, we thought we were one of a couple of other prospective parents that she wanted to talk to. But, during the course of our phone conversation with her, she started saying things that were put more in the manner that she had already chosen us. I don't know what Nora and I said, but she did just come out and say that she had chosen us and that there were no others she was considering. After Nora and I picked our jaws up off the floor, we continued on chatting with her and the entire phone conversation lasted about 70 minutes. The next day the agency sent us her information so that we could decide if we wanted to be matched up with her and we did. So we are officially matched with a birthmom and have a baby on the way! We even have names picked out. If it is a girl, we will call her Tweedle and if it's a boy, we will call him Dan.....Just kidding:)
    Nora and I both understand that the birthmom can still change her mind. In fact, in TX, the birthmom has to wait 48 hours after the birth of the child before she can relinquish her rights, but that is shorter than some states which say that the birth parents can have weeks to change their mind. This agency also does a lot of counseling with the birthmoms so that there are fewer 11 hour changes of mind, plus when the time comes, they are pretty well prepared for all of the emotions. So our fingers are crossed and I think our feet have just started to touch the ground again. For those of you wondering, a 120 has not been ordered yet, but I'm watching E Bay! :)
   Kind of hard to make the transition from that to the weather of this past week, but that is what I wanted to talk about next. Last Sunday as I was typing some snows were starting to fall and they fell from Sunday through Tuesday and by the time all was said and done, we picked up 18" of snow. Monday morning we awoke to around 4" of new snow and then it snowed all day Monday, but with temps at or above freezing and even through the overcast skies, the strong late April sun combined with those to pretty much keep up with that which was falling, so little in the way of new accumulation occurred during the day on Monday. Then once the sun set Monday night the snow started to accumulate again and Tuesday it was cold enough and snowed hard enough that it did accumulate all day and by the end of the day on Tuesday we had about 12" of new snow on the ground.
    Nora got the call Tuesday that schools were going to be on a 2 hour delay, but then just as she was heading out the door to head to work, she got the call that school had been called for the day. A wise decision by the administrators as the plows were not running as regularly as they do in the winter and it snowed hard all day, so it was not a good day to be sending children off to school. After I finished my early morning work, Nora and I decided to take the pups for a walk, so out into the elements we all went. Huck and Millie have definitely my love of snow. They got out and immediately started playing in it.
    The snow was the wet and sticky kind and made for a very pretty scene. Here is the look heading up our driveway towards the road. Speaking of the road. Here is what ours looked like Tuesday morning. We are fortunate enough to live on a road that gets very good attention from the county plow operators. Once back from the walk, Nora and I filled the wood boiler with wood and then I started making a little snow statue of a dog. Nora joined in and in a few minutes we had a little snow dog adorning our front yard.
    I finished my work day and then at a little after 2 pm, we decided to hop in the Blazer and head up the road a bit to see what things were like there. This storm was really an elevation storm, with some locales like Lake Linden and Dollar Bay barely even picking up any snow accumulations, while up in the highest of terrain they were measuring it by the feet. So I wanted to head up to one of the higher spots in Keweenaw County to see just how much snow had fallen there so far. Thankfully the highway had been plowed recently, or we might have had to turn around. We barely made it out of our driveway, even in four wheel drive. None the less, roads were slick and we just took it slow as we made our way up the peninsula through a late April winter wonderland
    I was also glad to see that the road heading up into the higher terrain had been plowed, because I know we would not have been able to make it all the way to the top. I knew that there would be more than the 8-10" of fresh snow than the elevation that the highway runs along had picked up, but I was not prepared to see as much snow up at the top as there was. Just before reaching the top, we pulled off to the side of the road and I got out to take some measurements. I was able to find the top of the existing snow easily as it was still pretty much rock hard and measured 21.5" of new snow on top of the old! I even dug a hole large enough to fit my foot into to take a picture to show you how much new snow we picked up. I wear size 12 1/2 by the way! The snowfall rate at the highway was pretty good, probably around an inch or so an hour, but up at the top, it was easily 2-3" and hour, with visibility less than 1/8th a mile. Basically a whiteout. I don't know exactly how much snow fell to make that 21.5" on the ground up to that point, plus I know that it did continue to snow heavily up there for a few more hours, so I think it is safe to say that the snowfall totals up there for the storm as a whole were in the 28-36" range, but we'll never know for sure just how much snow fell.
    We did get back down into some slightly lower ground and took a walk with the pups. It was a bit of a challenge though, with quite a bit of fresh snow on the ground to walk through, plus the snow falling and the wind whipping it into our face, but the dogs did not seem to mind it at all and Nora and I just took it in stride. By the time we got home, several more inches of fresh snow had started to cover up our tracks from leaving, although the drive into the cabin is all down hill, so we made it in OK. Here is what the driveway looked like when we returned from our walk Tuesday afternoon. It really was all I could do to not hop on the sled and take a ride. There was around 10-12" of fresh on the ground outside our cabin and I knew that within about 20 minutes I could be up in some of the higher terrain up here and playing in the close to 2 feet of fresh snow down up there. But it was closing in on dinner time and I did not want to head out into the storm by myself, so I stayed inside the rest of the afternoon and evening. I did call Brian that evening to see if he wanted to get out for a ride the next day, but he said he had to work, so I pretty much set the notion to ride in all of the new snow aside.
   On Wednesday morning I was finishing up my morning work and the phone rang. It was Matt. He too had taken a ride up to the higher terrain on Tuesday to see what was going on and saw all the snow that had fallen and he was calling me to see if I wanted to ride. With a bunch of fresh snow, some sunshine and a riding partner I could not say no now! So we made plans to just meet up in the higher terrain Wednesday afternoon and ride. 
    I had been wanting to take the handle bar risers off the XTX and put them on the M8 and figured that would only take about 30 minutes, so with about 45 minutes of free time in front of me, I grabbed the pups and we headed into the shop to move the risers over. Things were going pretty good and I was on schedule to complete the job when all of the sudden it became clear to me that the rubber molded onto the handlebars for the M would be getting in the way of the mounting points for the risers a bit. About a half inch of the rubber would need to be removed from the bars to allow them to fit. With time getting tight, I decided to employ a method that would speed the process of cutting through the rubber and in true Tim Allen fashion I reached for my 10 amp heavy duty Dewalt reciprocating saw. I tossed a bi-metal, fine tooth blade into the saw and after marking where I wanted to make the cut, pulled the trigger on the saw. The blade cut through the hard rubber with ease- so much so that the saw blade dug right into the handlebar and before I could take my finger off the trigger, it had cut about 1/3rd of the way through the bar! Hoping that by some stroke of luck I had not sawed far enough through the bar to compromise it's ability to still hold up, I grabbed the side that was cut and gave a good tug. At which point the bar proceeded to snap off and sit in my hand. 
    I really did know better than to rush the job and once it became clear that it was not going to be a straight forward swap out, I should have just left the job for a time when I had more time, but sometimes reason does not always prevail. Thankfully I still had a fully functioning sled in the XTX and so I filled it with fuel and loaded it into the back of Old Blue. I met up with Matt that afternoon and we took off to play in the snow. Things by Wednesday afternoon were much different than just 24 hours prior. Not only was it not snowing anymore, but the sun was out and temps were in the mid 40's. The snow that had fallen with the snow was turning to mashed potatoes very quickly. That did not stop us from having fun, but it probably would have been more fun to be riding as the storm was finishing up and the snow still at it's deepest and also not so mushy. 
    All told I think Matt and I put on around 20 miles Wednesday afternoon. We could have put more miles on, but it was really not about seeing how much miles we could go, but rather just about getting out in late April for a ride on fresh snow in blue bird skies and mild temps. With conditions like that it is nice to stop and chat for a while. There were actually a few tracks in the snow where we started out, which did not surprise me, but then once we took off into the bush, we had the place to ourselves and did not see a single track the rest of the day- which also did not surprise me. Here is a shot of our own tracks through the snow. Neither Matt nor I wanted to stay out too late and that is another reason for only putting on 20 miles. But, I have to admit that riding the sled in 15-20" of mashed potatoes was quite a work out and I could not have put on 90 miles and expected to be able to function without a bit of soreness the next day. So we returned to the trucks at around 5 pm and got ready to head home. I got the XTX loaded into Old Blue and looked over to see Matt sitting on his sled about 50 feet away. That is when he said that his sled had run out of gas! Probably a good thing we decided to head back when we did! Anyway, he had some long tow straps in his truck and we used them to haul his sled to the edge of the snowbank and then pulled his sled into the back of his truck and headed home.
    Driving home I felt very fulfilled and glad that I had gotten the opportunity to ride again this season. The XTX did well in the deep mush, actually better that I thought it might. At one point the track broke through the snow and into a deep water hole, but I gave the throttle a squeeze and it powered out of the situation with no problem. I am also glad that the ride was uneventful as I am going to be selling the XTX and right now it is in like-new condition and I want to keep it that way to sell it.
    I'm not sure if I will be able to get in that May ride or not. On Tuesday as I was measuring the 21"+ of new snow on top of a foot plus of old stuff, I thought it would be no problem. All the snow from this past weeks storm has pretty much melted. At least at our house. There may be a bit left in the higher terrain, but we are back to where we started before the snow started falling. That melting of the new snow does not concern me, I figured it would go pretty quickly. What is the biggest concern for me is that while riding with Matt, I could see that there were more bare spots before the storm than I though there were. Not big ones, but I don't want to force the May ride. I do want it to be a legitimate ride in which I can put on a few dozen miles and not have to ride across bare ground for longer than a few feet. So I will just have to survey the situation later this week and see if that May ride will happen. Pretty hard to believe that a May ride is even under consideration given the fact that our combined totals for February and March his season was only 47". Anyway, the next journal entry will let you all know if I got out in May or not!
    As mentioned, the snow from this weeks storm has all melted around the cabin and I think it's moisture has even helped to green the grass a bit. Here is a shot of Mille chewing on a stick on the greening grass of the septic field this morning. There is still snow in the woods outside our house and the Allouez Township Glacier is still hanging in there, but I am ready for the snow to be all gone. I am ready to get the pups into the woods for our walks and am ready for all the things that the warm season brings. Plus, the wood supply is getting low. I think we have enough to get us through the next 2-3 weeks, but then after that, the snow needs to be gone from the area so I can get to the stack of uncut logs so I can cut some of them to feed the boiler. I think we'll make it, but never thought there would still be so much snow around as we head into May.
  Last but not least in this entry is the latest with Millie and Huck. They continue to grow and Huck will probably eclipse the 40 pound mark this week, while Millie is about 5 pounds behind him. They also continue to get better and better behaved. I am now able to keep them out of their crate and get some work done during the day. Previously if I wanted to go upstairs and do work, I had to put them in their crate so that I could have full attention on my work. This past week I have started to be able to leave them out, which is good for both of us. They are learning more and more commands and are down to one wrestling match per mile on our walks now. When we first started out, it was a wrestling match every 10-20 feet! Plus, all we need to do is say "car" when a car is coming while we walk the side of the road and they come and sit right at our feet until the car passes. They are certainly maturing, even though they are not even 4 months old and I can really see how they want to please us and is a huge reason why they are so well behaved. Don't get me wrong, they still have their moments of wild time, but they sure have come a long way in the past 2 weeks and things are a whole lot less stressful around here.
    I can't wait to get off the roads for our walks and into the woods and I also cannot wait to take them to the beach. I have a feeling that we will be spending hours at the beach with them this summer.
   So in a nutshell, it has been a great week up here. We found out a baby is on it's way, got a neat late season snow storm and the pups are getting more and more well behaved. Sounds like it time to say...
Good night from the Keweenaw..

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April 19-
    Greetings all. Getting an early start today because I think I am going to just want to sit and relax this evening and the thought of sitting at the computer for a couple of hours this evening to write today's entry just was not appealing. Plus the weather has turned a bit ugly out. It is currently snowing and I know just to our south it is raining and the rain/snow line seems to be creeping north. So the bottom line is not the best weather to be outside either.
    I guess I can start with the Huck and Millie story again. Only the tune to their story is quite bit different than a week ago. I don't know if they read the last journal or not, but it was like they did because beginning around last Monday, they suddenly became very good. Not that they were truly bad, but they were certainly a handful. In fact, Nora and I were starting to worry that we might have to allow them to become outside dogs for much of their daylight hours. They were just so wild when not sleeping. I did have hope because they were smart and willing to learn, so I had hope that they would either just quiet down or learn what was proper while indoors.
    Like I say, I am not sure what happened, but there has been quite the transformation in the past week. Three main things have happened. They have found their middle gears. They do not fun full throttle every waking moment. They still have their moments of heavy activity, but they are also finding it nice to just lay there and be content in life. That is a very welcomed addition to things around here. It gives us a whole lot more quiet moments in the house and more time that Nora and I can lead a more normal life and not have to be watching them every second. If you thought that last pic was cute, then you'll love this one
    The second big thing is that I am confident that they are still housebroken. I was fairly confident of this about a week ago, but other than one accident from Huck that was more our fault than his this morning, he has been accident free for around 2 weeks or more. That is a big one for me, because I do not have to follow him around all day to make sure he does not mess the house. Not that I was paranoid about him messing the house, but because I want to be able to tell him he was bad while in the process. Once the process is over, then there is no point in trying to scold them as they have no clue what it is they did wrong. So my life has become exponentially less stressful.
    The third big thing is the fact that they not both sleep all the way through the night. That is more of a big deal for Nora than I as her shift was from 8 pm to 3 am and mine from 3 am to 4 pm and then we shared the duties from 4-8 pm. However, I would spell her a bit and give her a night or two off and I would wake up when they went out in the middle of the night anyway. So we both get to say in bed all night now and some nights even get a whole night without any crying.
    One of the smaller things was the fact that they have become lovers of riding in the Blazer and Old Blue. They never really minded riding in the Blazer because we keep the back seat down and they can have the whole back to themselves. With Old Blue, it was a different story. They were a little more on edge and just never seemed to be too happy to ride in it. However, now, the LOVE to ride in both and actually cry a little when one of us hops into one of the vehicles and they can sit at the front door and see us drive off. Plus the vehicles usually mean something fun like going for a walk or going to the bank and getting treats. In fact, they have now requested that I do not wait to compile a bunch of banking business, but rather go every time I have a deposit or some other business to do there, that way it maximizes our visits and maximizes their socialization and treat getting experiences. True to dog etiquette, they love to ride with their heads out the window and just in time as we are starting to get some warmer weather.
    Another thing that the warmer weather allowed us to do is to take a ride on the ATV. We did not go far, just tooled around the driveway a bit. However, I have seen other dogs riding on the backs or fronts of ATV's and while I knew it would take a lot of work and be too stressful to get Burt to want to ride on the ATV, I wanted to get these guys comfortable with the concept so that Nora and I can take them along on some of our rides. Huck is a little more daring than Millie when it comes to new things, so he rode on the back, while she stayed on my lap, but I will gradually introduce her to the back and also plan to build some platforms with carpet on the bottom and some sides to them to give them something more comfortable and safer to be on while riding. Nora and I will not go fast or go on really bumpy trails when they are riding with us either, but there are plenty of spots that they can ride with us and I know I look forward to it and think that it is not a question if they will like it, but will be an issue that they will want to come along on EVERY ride!
    Another new experience for them this week was our first visit to the beach. No questions as to if they will like the water! They did not go fully into the water and swim around, but they were not shy about going into the water and had a blast running around on the beach. Nora and I had a blast watching them, but it was a nasty day to be at the beach and we were really not dressed for it. Temps in the upper 30's, overcast skies and a stiff breeze off the just thawed waters of the Big Lake. So we did not stay there as long as the dogs wanted to, but they got a taste of things to come and it was fun to watch them have so much fun at the beach. It's going to be a fun summer! As we got into the car, the smell of wet dog took over things and was a very welcome and very much missed element of our adventures at the beach.
   So those are the new items for the puppies this week. Two other things though. It has been interesting to see their personalities change a bit as they grow a little older. When we first went to pick them out, Millie was very sociable and just wanted to be held. She still loves to be held, but also is very much an outside dog. She just loves to sit outside and take it all in. Huck was a little more reserved in his need for human affection, but over the past few weeks has really become very sociable and also very, very loving. He is more content to sit inside with Nora or I and watch Millie sit outside. I just thought it was interesting to see their personalities change a bit as they grow older. Burt and Baileys did not have that change, they were the same from day one. The last item is the fact that all these two puppies have ever known was snow. They were born in the middle of winter and for their whole life so far, there has been snow on the ground. Now as the snow starts to melt and pockets of bare ground develop, they are getting an introduction to a whole new world. What is funny though is that they are so used to going potty on the snow, they still climb up on the snow that remains up here to go potty. I have yet to see either of them go on bare ground. That will bring up an interesting dilemma when all the snow melts!
    Speaking of melting snow (how's that for a segway), we did have some truly warm temps this week. Even hit 70 degrees on Friday. Quite a few clouds on Friday, but the sun was out pretty much all the rest of the week. Our snowpack has taken a hit. There are some bare patches starting to show up around the tree trunks in our woods, although the rest of our woods has anywhere from 5-10" on the ground and the higher terrain up here still has a solid 10-18" down. In our travels yesterday, we did sneak up to some of that "higher terrain" to see how much snow is still there. I have said that the only way I would ride again this year was if I could get out in May and a few days ago I though that was next to impossible, but now looking at the forecast as well as how much snow still remains in spots up here, it has gone from an impossibility to a remote possibility. We'll see. The sun is very strong at this time of the year and things change quickly. So any decision to ride will be made hours before that ride happens and not days. In any rate. Here is a picture of one of my potential drop off points to ride. I have several options and that is one. 
    All the melting snow has swelled the rivers and creeks up here and that means it is waterfall season. So yesterday Nora, the pups and I hopped into the car and took our annual waterfall tour. I think last year we just did not feel up to it with Burt passing and it being such a ritual we shared with them, but with the two new pups, we just had to start things back up. We kind of took the weekend warrior version of the tour, choosing to view the falls that were either visible directly from the car or just a quick hike of a couple dozen feet from the road to see. A couple of reasons prompted that. One was that there is still enough snow to make some of the falls too hard to get to without skis or snowshoes and secondly some of them are too mudded in to want to try and hike to with two puppies. 
   Anyway, our first stop of the day was to some falls on the Eagle River. I have heard these falls called several different names; Secret Spot, 10 Foot Drop, and the upper falls. I know another set of falls on another river called Secret Spot, so to avoid confusion there, I will just call them the upper Eagle River Falls. The funny thing about them is that when the water is high, the biggest drop sort of disappears. The drop is actually more dramatic when the water level drops. Anyway, here is what they looked like yesterday. To get that shot I did have to walk through a bit of snow. We were within a mile of the lake, so the snow is not as deep, but still enough that you would not want to have to walk too far through it go get the shot. The main falls on the Eagle River were really cranking and afforded a nice picture taking opportunity.
    Heading east on 26 about halfway between Eagle River and Eagle Harbor is the Jacobs Creek Falls. During the summer that creek can dry up to just a trickle and I have always wondered if visitors wondered why there was even a sign point them out at that time of the year. A little past Jacobs Creek is Great Sand Bay. No waterfalls to speak of there, but a very pretty stretch of beach and one of the few spots of sand on the north shore of the Keweenaw. That was the look towards the west. I am a little more partial of the look to the east, even though there are some homes along the shore there.
    To my knowledge, there is only one more set of falls on the north end that you can drive a car right up to, so Nora, the pups and I headed further northwest up the peninsula to Lac La Belle and Haven Falls. These falls also slow to a trickle in the summer, but are quite pretty during the spring. Even a little picnic area there. Too cold yesterday for that, but Thursday or Friday would have been good days to sit by the falls and have a nice lunch.
    We decided to stay on the Gay-Lac La Belle Road to get home and as we rounded point Isabelle we got a glimpse of the Bear Bluffs shrouded in low clouds. If that last shot felt raw and chilly, it was! Just one of those days we can have up here, even in the middle of summer. That big lake really impacts our weather all year round and when the winds blow off it from the east, it can almost completely erase the memories of the 70 degree weather we had just the day before. Still very beautiful and I still have to pinch myself to see if it is real that I am living in such a beautiful spot.
    So we continue to work our way out of the snow season and into the warm season. We got a taste of it this past week and I have to admit after a cold winter, it felt good! I was in shorts and a t-shirt Thursday and Friday and even did a bit of spring cleaning of the shop and sleds. Looks like a bit of a setback with some snows and cold in the next few days, but this is the time of the year when new snows do not stick around long and 60's and 70's get to be more common than 30's and 40's. There has been some interest in the status of the Laurium Glacier, so I took a picture of it yesterday. Still hanging in there pretty strong. Pretty amazing given that it sits out in the full sun all day and as mentioned, the sun really does a number on snow up here at this time of the year. To prove my point, here is a road we walk on, with the sun exposed side on the right and the shaded side on the left. A few weeks ago, the snow banks were the same size on both sides of the road.
    Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. Oh, by the way, I have had two very cute and very good pups laying at my side for the last 2+ hours it has taken me to write this entry.
April 12-
    Happy Easter All! Hope all of your Easter's went well. Another week has passed and not a lot new to talk about. I guess I can start out with the Huck and Millie show as they are pretty much the main story up here these days. Nora had the week off for spring break, so we have been taking turns keeping an eye on them. They are still a handful, both literally and figuratively. Nora and I rented the movie Marley and Me this week and after watching it, have come to the conclusion that our situation is nothing like what was presented in the movie. Nope, we have TWO of them! However, I will add that Huck and Millie are good dogs and do listen well and are good at learning. I can also say that I read the book Marley and Me about a year and a half ago and for dog lovers, the book was way better. The book was about the dog and the movie was more about the guy and his family, with anecdotes about the dog. I believe that is why the movie flopped and the book was a best seller. 
    Anyway, in reading the book I was able to tell that Marley really did not get much discipline as a pup and that is why he ended up being such a handful once he got bigger. Now by discipline I don't mean hitting or anything physical, I just mean verbal corrections and showing the dog the behavior you want it to have the rest of their life. Nora and I have been VERY busy doing that with Huck and Millie. They could easily end up both being like Marley was if we were to just let things go and hope that somehow they "grow out" of their mischievous ways. Unfortunately I think there are a lot of dog owners that take the easy way out at first and hope for the dog to grow out of the trouble making ways and then by the time the dog is fully grown and has had a way of life for a year or two, it is a lot harder to break them of those bad habits.
    As much of a handful as these two pups are, I am very thankful that they are also very smart and very willing to please, which is typical of just about every lab I have ever known. It has made the training go very smoothly. We do have to tell them no a lot and have been working on them with things like healing and sitting and staying and they are learning all of these skills. We also give them plenty of exercise (are up to 3-4 miles a day in walking, plus all the exercise they get with their regular playing) to help wear them out. Right now they are both sound asleep as we just got back from a 2 mile walk down by the lake.  
   But man, do these two pups have a zest for life! They still pretty much either go full blast or sleep, although have started to show moments of just being quiet while awake, especially when they are first waking up from a nap or when they are starting to get tired. Otherwise they still need constant supervision, or they will find something to get into trouble with very quickly. Huck has proven to be quite the hunter too. The other day we were out in the woods walking and were about 1/4 mile away from the Cabin. The dogs are always picking up a stick or piece of birch bark and running with it and I saw Huck pick something up and start running with it, only instead of turning and sticking close by (which they both always do), he kept running straight. I called to him, told him no, but he kept running. Millie came to me, but with Huck running full blast and away from us, I really started to worry. We were pretty far from the road, but they can really move these days and so Millie and I took off after Huck. I was on snowshoes, so could not move as fast as I wished. I did lose sight of him, which really put the panic in me and we followed the direction he was headed in, which to my relief was the direction of the cabin. After a few minutes of slopping through the woods on the snowshoes, Millie and I made it to eyesight of the cabin and I could see Huck sitting on the front deck with the object in his mouth. I got down off the snow and could see that it was not a stick, but could not tell what it was. My first thought was that it was a rat because one end was thick and the other was stringy. I ran across the driveway with snowshoes still on and when I got within a few feet of him, he dropped what was in his mouth and I could see it was the back leg of a big snowshoe hare. The upper end had been cleaned of all it's meat and only the lower part of the leg still had the fur and foot on it. I don't think Huck had any of the meat, I think he just found a cast off from some other predator. I did not scold him because he really did not do anything wrong, except for not coming to me, but it was too late to scold him for that. Plus he had such a look of pride on his face, all I could do was chuckle at the situation. 
    I figure he knew he had a pretty prize possession and wanted to bring it back to his home and that is why he went on a b-line back to the cabin and did not stay close. I was thankful that he only went to the cabin and impressed he could find it so well, but we will be working on his task of staying close or coming to me, that's for sure!
    Yesterday, the dogs were out playing and Millie suddenly sat and stared off into the woods, then Huck the same thing. I was actually watching from inside the cabin and did not like the pending outcome of this situation. I have learned that when things suddenly go very quiet, something bad is either about to happen or already has happened! So I put on my shoes and was putting on my coat to get out there with them when I saw them both bolt towards the woods. Before I could even get the door open to give the command for them to stop, they both stopped at a clump of cedar nearby. I then saw a little chickadee flying around them and figured that is what they were going after. Figuring there was no way these to pups would catch a quick little bird like a chickadee, I relaxed a bit and headed outside. A few moments later, here comes Huck with something in his mouth. Yep, you guessed it! The entire bird, except for it's head, was inside Huck's mouth! I told him to drop it and he did right away. I kept the two pups away from the bird to see if it would survive, but about 10 seconds after being dropped by Huck, it closed it's eyes and stopped moving. I let it be for another 10 minutes, but it did not move, so I made sure it was dead and then put it in a plastic bag and into the garbage. I do not know if the pups just got very luck and somehow caught this bird, or perhaps it was already injured and that is how, but in any case, this was one unlucky chickadee and I now have to pups that are very interested in bird sounds!
    Those were the two major events with the dogs this week. The rest is just little stuff like jumping up on a table or other piece of furniture that they are not suppose to be on, putting something in their mouth that they are not suppose to (sock, paper towel, remote control, book) or the latest is barking while playing inside the house. Both Nora and I are not big fans of barking inside and are going to do all we can to make sure it does not become a trend. So, we really do not have major problems to deal with, it is just the 100's of little things that are so wearing on us. But like I say, they are learning and do want to be good, it is just their zest for life that tends to get them into trouble a few dozen times an hour! The bottom line is we are all having fun and all love each other and that is all that really matters when the dust settles.
    There are also plenty of moments when they are behaving themselves very well. They still love to fetch a ball and the other day I played fetch with them for at least a half hour. My goal was to try and teach them to take turns, rather than wait for the one to get within 5 feet of me and then pounce on them to try and get the ball from them. It worked pretty well and after about 15 minutes, I did not have to hold the one back while the other retrieved the ball. I was even able to take a picture of Mille bringing back the ball during her turn. 
    They are also getting very good at walks. At first, it was more like a moving wrestling match than a walk. All they wanted to do was pounce on each other and try and throw each other to the ground, but now they walk very well and we are also working on healing, which Huck seems to have a little better than Millie, but both seem to understand what "heal" means. Yesterday we took a walk on a nice quiet road that we used to take Burt and Baileys down. It is fairly close to the lake, so there is not as much snow down that way, but the road is dry and very quiet and is a perfect place to walk. The strong mid-April sun (as strong as late August sun) is really starting to eat away at the snow up here. As you could see the sides of the road were very clear of snow, but we walked past a logging road that still had enough snow on it you could ride of you want. The melting snow has opened up most of the creeks up here and they are running pretty good. Huck and Millie heard the rushing of the water through some culverts and decided to see what that was all about.
    Today we took a walk on a road that is right now by the lake. It is a road that I walked many times with Burt and Baileys and then Nora joined us once she moved up here. It too is pretty quiet and is about one mile from one end to another and makes for a nice walk. The snow down there has also melted quite a bit, although in this picture you can tell which side of the road gets more sun. The creeks are all flowing out of the woods and higher terrain there too. Looking out over the lake, still lots of ice to be seen, but looks can be deceiving as this satellite image taken yesterday shows the ice really only extends a few miles off shore and the Lake is basically ice free, except for some lagging ice cover on the western side of the Keweenaw. If you liked that image and want more detail, then you can click on the full sized version of it and really get a good birds eye view of things. I am fascinated by imagery like that, you really can pick out the lake snow belts and/or higher terrain in that imagery as they are the areas that still have snow. 
    The snow has been going quickly in areas around the cabin. In fact the area where the septic tank and field are located are almost free of snow. You can see that the snow station is also located in that area and that combined with the fact that the pine trees behind the snow station shelter the area from snow is the reason why I am going to try and figure out a way to get the AL Cam and snow station into an area that better represents the snow we have up here. Once you get away from all the hot stuff going into the septic system and also away from trees that steal a lot of the snow that falls, there is still 14-16" on the ground outside the cabin. Here is a shot I took while out in the woods with the pups late this week. Kind of hard to tell how much snow is still on the ground until you come to an object out in the woods with almost 2 feet of snow still on it.
    So the snow is disappearing. Not at a rapid rate, but at a steady clip. Daytime highs have been in the 40's and overnight lows have been in the 20's, so it is really the strong April sun that is doing all the work right now. I have a feeling I am done riding for the season. I have pretty much decided that they only way I would really go (and even by myself) would be if I could take a ride in May. However, that is still almost 3 weeks away and while I know of places up here that have considerably more snow on the ground than I have outside the cabin, I doubt that even those areas will be able to hang onto enough snow to ride by May 1st. Only time will tell!
    We really do not have much spring cleaning to do around here and with the dogs, it would not be worth the effort, but with the spring weather, we have started a few projects. I hung the door to our bedroom poorly and it did not latch shut. It was not a problem while it was just Burt, Nora and I. He slept in the bedroom with us and could be fully trusted, but these two cannot be fully trusted yet, so I re-hung that door. Plus I had bought the wrong swing door for the upstairs bedroom. Again, not much of a problem as we hardly went into that room, but the door did swing open and blocked the light switch. So after two and a half years, I finally fixed that situation too. We also gave away the bed in that room and picked up a futon and crib as it will be the nursery. So I put together the futon and crib over the weekend. No baby yet, but we do have all of our paperwork into the agency in TX and at the orientation we went to back in February, they told us all to get ready like we were pregnant, so Nora and I figured we would at least get that room situated so we will be prepared. There are a handful of other projects that I have planned for this outdoor work season. Nothing as ambitious as the shop addition I did last year, but still enough to keep me busy.
    So I guess that about covers it for another one. Who knows, if enough snow melts this week, perhaps next weekend will be the annual spring ATV ride!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

April 5-
Another week has come and gone and for the most part things have not changed much up here. The puppies are still full of energy and have gotten bigger. We were cold enough for most of the week to keep the snow that we started with. In fact we did pick up around 3-4" of fresh snow earlier in the week. I finished up my snowfall forecasts for the season and will be trying to recharge my batteries for the summer season and lucky Nora is on spring break and gets to stay home and play with the puppies all week! I took what might be my last ride for the season yesterday and other than that, it has pretty much been status quo up here.
    I guess I can start with the puppies since I pretty much finished with them last entry. As mentioned, they continue to grow and are probably twice as big now as when we first brought them home. I have no idea how big they are going to be getting, but have a feeling they will both end up being pretty big dogs and will be larger than Burt and Baileys. Huck is closing in on 30 lbs (28 to be exact) and Millie is not far behind at 25 lbs. They are still cute as ever, but are starting to look less like little puppies and more like adolescent dogs. I was looking at pictures of them from when we first picked them out and then also from when we first brought them home and it is amazing how much they can change in such a short time. I am glad that I have been busy taking pictures and video of them these past four weeks so that we have these early days saved forever. 
    You all will never know the great pains I went through to get those last two shots of them. Well, maybe someone that has visited us and seen them in action while awake will get some idea of how difficult it is to get a shot of them sitting still, but the rest of you will just have to try and understand that they do not sit still like that for very long at all!
    They are very good dogs though, which I am thankful for. As mentioned, it looks like Huck has joined the ranks of the potty trained. I still would not be surprised to see either of them have an accident, but Huck has only mess the house twice (both last Thursday) in the past 5-6 days. One of them was more my fault for not letting him out when I saw him at the door, giving me the signal. I was putting on my boots and he decided he could not wait anymore and started going. I cried "Oh No Huck!" and he stopped, I opened the door and he finished. I can say that while he may not yet be 100% house broken, where he is right now has reduced a lot of stress for me. They are able to be somewhat unsupervised while outside of their crate and do not get into too much trouble. Actually, when things go quiet is when I know I have to check on them. So now I can be doing something and not have to keep constant supervision on them, as long as I can hear what they are doing. That constant supervision for 8+ hours a day was really starting to wear on me. Plus for the next 8 days I will have Nora to help me with the supervising and hopefully by the time she has to go back to work they will be even more trustworthy while inside.
    Their outdoor skills have been coming along nicely. Millie has joined Huck in understanding our command to return to us. We use the word "close". Not sure why, but I did with B & B and it worked well, so it just carried over to H & M and has seemed to work well. They do very well with sticking by Nora and I while we walk in the woods. In fact we really do not even have to tell them to stick close by us most of the time, they just do it naturally. That is also a very nice thing to have them doing all on their own, that will mean we will be able to take our daily romps through the woods and I know they will stay close by me and not run off as I have seen other dogs do and come back smelling like a skunk or with a nose full of porcupine quills. 
   Nora made the comment while on our walk today and I have to agree with her that we have never seen two dogs so interested in sticks or other objects of the woods. A few days ago, they were able to peal off a foot section of birch bark off a tree and have been running to that section ever since and peeling off a little piece at a time and playing with it. One will put a piece in their mouth and the other will chase it around the woods. They take turns at playing this game of chase or maybe better yet- cops and robbers. The funny things is, our neighbor down the road actually has a yellow female from a different littler, but same parents as Huck and Millie and his dog also is fanatical about sticks. Before we brought Huck and Millie home, we paid him a visit and the dog was just running around with a stick in her mouth and he said that we will never have to worry about picking up any sticks in the yard, that the dogs will have that task covered and he looks to be right!
    The pups do have their down time and it seems like they have at least a few moments when they are not sound asleep or going full throttle, but I would say those quieter moments only account for 2% of their entire day. Right now I'd say that the two biggest things we will be working on with them is to stop puppy biting and also to stop jumping up. They do pretty good on both of those two features with Nora and I, but when visitors come it is a whole different story. We do not get a lot of visitors, so we will really have to use the opportunity to try and get it into their heads that they cannot jump on others, nor can they give them the little puppy bites. It's going to be a challenge because they sure do get excited when we have visitors. Another thing we want to do is to socialize them with other dogs. However, I want to make sure that the other dog it not a total stranger and will be OK with their exuberance to see them. Not all dogs are happy to have two puppies going nuts around them. All in all though. I am very happy with where they are in their training. They are already better behaved than some adult dogs I have known. They are super smart and like your typical lab are happiest when they are pleasing us. I am looking forward to the days when we take off for our adventures in the woods and the beach. They have no idea what is coming once the warmer weather arrives.
    Speaking of warmer weather... We have not had any of that in the past week. Hardly any sunshine either. Although yesterday did have some nice sun. I don't think we have been able to warm out of the 30's for the past 7 days and as mentioned, we had some snow earlier in the week. We have dodged lots of bullets though. I think there have been about 5 storms in the past 2 weeks that have either missed us completely, or just given us a glancing blow. In all honesty, I am ok with the fact that we did not get hit by any of the storms head on. It would have been nice to have some fresh powder to play in and I can also admit that snow falling from the sky is a magical thing for me to experience at any time of the year. However, new snow this time of the year just turns messy real quick and right now our melting is going on at a pretty slow and clean pace. No big puddles or muddy spots, just a very slowly shrinking snowpack.
    It looks like that very slow shrinking is going to continue this week as well, with temps struggling to get out of the 30's for highs and down into the 20's and maybe some teens for lows. Perhaps a bit of lake snow tomorrow and Thursday as well. It has been flurrying up here for most of the day, but the conditions for LES look best later tonight into tomorrow and early Tuesday. Might even pick up an inch or two of LES as the lake is pretty much wide open again.
    I did go for a snowmobile ride yesterday. I am not going to call it my last ride of the season, because as long as there is still snow to ride on up here, anything can happen. Although I really am not chomping at the bit to ride any more and do not feel the need to be the last one to take a ride or anything like that. However, you just never know.
    In any case, Skylar and his brother came up this way for the weekend. They stayed in Twin Lakes and rode there on Friday. We had made plans to ride on Saturday, but were not sure where we were going to be going, here or there. Then on Thursday evening I saw Dave and he mentioned that he was up for a ride on Saturday and then before you knew it, much of the regular gang were all planning on getting together for a spring ride, so I figured Skylar, Kim and I would join them. Had Skylar, Kim and I gone out by ourselves, we would have just ridden right from the house. There is still plenty of snow down here and I can go right from the cabin to anywhere in the Keweenaw without having to take a road or trail if I want. However, the talk was that we would head up the Keweenaw and that would allow us to play in some areas many of the group do not get to on a regular basis, plus we would not have to worry about refueling during the day. 
    So the caravan of 6 trucks and 11 sleds made their way north and upon reaching the unloading point we parked 'em and got ready to ride. Skies were cobalt blue and temps were in the mid 30's and it was setting up to be a perfect day for a spring ride. The snow early in the day is pretty setup, so we waited until around noon to head out and by then the sun had softened up the snow nicely and we were able to keep the sleds cool and slides lubricated. The snow conditions were very good for spring riding too. Everywhere we went yesterday (which was a lot of the upper end of the Keweenaw) the snow was at least 2 feet deep and in spots I saw holes in the snow from creeks that were three feet deep. I know I stepped into a few tree holes in which the snow went up past my waist. So plenty of snow and with the couple of inches of snow earlier in the week, we were making first tracks everywhere we went.
    At times our travels took us across the snowmobile trails up here and at times we even rode the trail for a bit. Still plenty of snow on them too. The base on most of the trails we rode on looked to be at least a foot, although some of the south facing hills and corners did have some bald spots. Our travels look us high and low, down the regular snowmobile trail, down logging roads, skidder trails and even through some pretty thick woods with no trail existing, but with the snow the way it is, travel anywhere is possible. We got down to some of the inland lakes of the interior Keweenaw and held some informal drag races. On one of them, Dave's sled had his belt grenade and take out the shroud. All of the race participants doubled back to see what was up with Dave's sled and I took a picture of his belt mishap for all to see.
    One of the goals for the day was to get over to Lake Medora. There was a get together of vintage sleds there and many of our friends were there with their vintage sleds. We did manage to get to Medora and found the group and had fun looking at the sleds. Like a bone head I did not take any pics, but there were some cool sleds there. It was getting late and the sun was starting to head below the horizon for the day. Most of us were not setup to ride in the cold, so we left the party at Medora and headed back through the bush to our vehicles, got the sleds loaded and headed home. It is pretty strange to finish the ride and look at your watch and see 9 pm on it, but that is what you can do this time of the year. I made it home, had a quick bite to eat and went to bed.
    As I mentioned, I am not sure if that was my last ride or not. We will for sure be able to ride for the next 7-10 days and possibly longer. I guess it will just depend on what we all feel like doing. For now the sled is in the shop and thawing out. I have taken the plow off the ATV and it is ready for the spring ride too. The way the snow is right now, you could go anywhere you wanted on one of them too and some in our group have already.
    I guess that about covers it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..




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