October 30-
    Another week in the books and all things considered, I think it was a pretty good one up this way. No snow yet, but I am very good with that. I would be perfectly happy with no snow until the end of November and then it can dump and stick around. I did fail to mention in last week's entry that we did have a touch of flakes on the 18th and had some sleet on the 19th. However, both events were so short lived, that if you were not looking hard, you would have missed them. It was neat to see the pictures from the storm out east this weekend, but I would not want to trade with them. All that snow is going to melt and just make a mess of things. Been there, done that. Still very pretty to look at and I hope all out there enjoyed the snow.
    While on the topic of weather, I always start up the snowfall forecasts in early November, but was going to wait until we had some snow to forecast for before starting them this year. Well, it is looking like I might have some snow to forecast for in the far northwest and perhaps far northern Midwest for about this time next week. So my plan is to start the winter forecasts this Wednesday the 2nd. Stay tuned!
    As mentioned, we have not really had snow up this way yet. In fact, we have sort of stuck in a weather rut, with daytime highs in the low to mid 40's and overnight lows in the low to mid 30's. We also have had lots of clouds and some light rain showers from time to time. Nothing too heavy or too long lived, but also very random in nature, so we have been confined indoors for much of the week, due to the threat that we would get caught in one of those rain showers. If the temps were in the 70's or warmer we would have gone exploring, but getting caught in even a light rain shower with temps in the low to mid 40's is not fun. So no woods adventure pics this week.
    We were only rained out of our morning walk once this past week and that was on Monday. This morning the whole family too the walk and it was as close to a winter wonderland as you could get without any snow falling. Skies were mostly clear last night and that allowed temps to drop off into the 20's and we had a hard frost that coated everything in white. We did not encounter any puddles, but had we, I am sure they would have been covered in "night ice". So things are starting to have a bit of a late autumn or early winter feel to them.
    I did not do a lot of work in the shop this past week. There was another project that took precedence. Meaning it was not something that was done out of want, but rather need. Little Gracie was starting to out grow the kitchen sink, so I needed to demo the stand up shower we had and install a tub. The main issues with this remodel were that: 1) I did not want to be without a way to get cleaned up for too long and 2) The cabin sits on a slab and the drain setup was set for the shower (never thought we would be in the cabin so long!), so the drain for the tub became a bit of a complication. I knew that would be the issue, so I hired a professional plumber to help me with the plumbing end of things. 
    I started the demo on Tuesday and I can honestly say that things could not have gone much better. By lunchtime, all the demo work was done. So I called the plumber to see if he wanted to come over and we could compare notes as to the framing I should do and see if he could bump up his time to come and do the main work a day early. Thankfully he was able to do both, so I spent Tuesday afternoon doing the framing for the tub enclosure and a few other things to be ready for the plumbing and installation Wednesday.
    If things went nearly perfect on Tuesday, it was nearly the opposite on Wednesday. It did not take long for it to be determined that the pedestal that the tub would sit on needed to be even higher to accommodate the drain. So the first step was to make the pedestal higher. That done, we move on and encountered a handful of other issues. None of them insurmountable and rather than bore you with the details, we were finishing things up just and Nora and Grace came home for the day. I can say that as each new problem popped up, I felt bad for the plumber, but also felt very glad that I hired him to do the work! I would probably still be working on it right now had I chose to do it myself.
    So Grace now has a nice big tub to bathe in and she loves it. I actually like the additional room that the tub gives and so does Nora. I just have to do a little more drywall work on the ceiling and then paint it some day. A funny side note about the remodel. In the early stages, we needed a piece of 1 1/2" PVC pipe. I knew I had some pieces of differing diameter in the attic of the wood shop, so I went up there to check. I was scrambling around in a hurry so I would not waste the plumbers time and did not notice that my next step was to a spot where I did not have any sheathing down as a floor and I ended up going right through the ceiling of the shop. Thankfully, all I ended up with was a banged up knee and elbow and tweaked my back a bit, but did not actually fall to the floor or get seriously injured. 
    I did not destroy any of the shop ceiling, just pushed down one of the sheets of luan plywood and some of the trim work. So yesterday I did get the chance to head into the shop and start putting it back together, but the first thing I had to do was repair my damage from Wednesday. That done, I go to putting up some of the layout and hand tools on the wall above the work benches and also got some clamps into place. 
    I think I have said this before, but this shop setup is kind of weird for me, as things I do now could be the way things sit for the rest of my wood working career. Sure I can change things, but I am really trying to do things right the first time, so I am spending a lot of time in thought about exactly where I want things to go and why. Things went kind of slow at first, but then I seemed to get into a groove yesterday afternoon and was able to get all the stuff hung that I wanted to and I am happy with how things turned out.
    So now "all" I have left to do is to get the central dust collection system going and take care of putting a few things in their place and I can get down to the business of woodworking. I put all in quotes because the dust collection system will likely be a project that takes more than a week, but will be nice once it is set up, plus will be a nice healthy feature for the shop.
    I also will likely be side tracked a bit with another "have-to" project this week. Al arrived with his logging truck Thursday and dropped off another 3 cords of firewood that will need to be cut and stacked and I do not want to be trying to do that with heavy snow falling, so I better get to it sooner, rather than later.
    So as I finish up, I notice that I do not have a single picture of Grace this time around. My apologies, but I am confident that there will be some for next week. After all, tomorrow is Halloween and her top-secret costume is all ready and hopefully we can get into the great outdoors and have some fun and take come pics.
    So until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..

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October 23-
    Getting an early start this week, as I can feel a nap coming on real soon. I guess it's the result of all the fresh air hard work :). The smiley face was for the hard work part, as I really did not work too hard during the work session, but others sure did. All went very well and we now have some trails that will probably not need any real heavy brushing for a few years, as we got pretty aggressive with our pruning back. Not that most of you will even notice the work done when you are up riding, but for the groomers, they will have better visibility and also not have to worry about trying to sneak under any low hanging branches. We did not get the entire 250 miles of our system done, but I would say that close to half of that was done by the work crews this weekend.
    We sure were blessed with the weather we had as it rained pretty much all last week and then stopped just in time for Friday and yesterday and has threatened rain for most of the day today, although we have been dry. We even had sunshine on Friday to help out with the beauty of the woods. Yesterday was overcast and only in the 40's for temps, but that is not too bad of weather to be out in the woods brushing trails. Thanks to Lac La Belle's microclimate, there were even some leaves left on the trees. Here is a shot of us climbing up into the higher terrain just to the east of Mt. Bohemia, with Lac La Belle in the background.
    I won the bonehead of the year award and gave our work crew something to chuckle at on Friday as we had to go through a mud hole. It was actually the same one that Dave from the Lac La Belle Lodge got stuck in last year, only this year it was driver error and not the depth of the mud that was the problem. As we approached the mud, I leaned forward and thought I was pushing the button to put it into four wheel drive. Only my truck has that four wheel steer and that is what I engaged instead. We actually almost made it out of the mud hole, but one of the front tires hit a rock and we just did not have enough momentum or traction to make it past that. So I backed up and tried again- to no success. About the third or fourth time I tried, we became stuck in the mud, could not go forward or backward. I was pretty surprised that we got stuck because we made it through last year and it was a lot deeper then. I was even more surprised when I got out of the truck to access the situation and saw that we really were not deep into the mud at all. It then hit me that we might not be in four wheel drive and so I hopped into the cab and saw that I had engaged the 4W steer and not the 4W drive. Needless to say the truck came right out on it's own once I hit the correct button!
  If I won the bonehead award, then Zach won the most challenging way to cut a limb award. I was cutting an overhead limb and the hand pole-saw I was using became binned in the limb as it broke and dangled. So Zach shimmied up the tree and whipped out his machete and proceeded to break the limb and free my saw and also finished up with another limb that was overhanging. 
    A bonus to the work we did both Friday and yesterday was that I was able to come out of the woods with enough firewood to give us heat and hot water for about 2 weeks in the dead of winter. Typically it is illegal to cut firewood on the land company land, but we all figured that what we were cutting had to be cut to open up the trail and it was just going to get tossed aside to rot in the woods, so may as well make use of it.
    After all the work was done yesterday we all got together at the Bear Belly Bar and Grille to enjoy some brisket and pulled pork that I had smoked for 14 hours on Thursday. I think everyone enjoyed it, as I cooled up two huge slabs of brisket and two huge pork shoulders and there were only a few scraps left. Cathy from LLB Lodge also made some coleslaw and provided a carrot cake. The firefighters from SE WI also brought along some cringles and I cannot leave out Ken and his wife from the Pines/Zik's in Copper Harbor that made us sandwiches to eat both days for lunch. So a huge thanks to everyone that came up as well as to all the folks at the Lac La Belle Lodge and the Pines/Zik's in Copper Harbor for all they did to make this another very successful work party!
    Before we left for the evening, Nora took Grace out to play outside for a bit and I broke free for a moment to join them and watch the sunset by the lake and even toss a few stones into the water. Today we got to enjoy two more bonuses from the work party and that was our own private cringle, courtesy of the boys from SE WI as well as a nice new book to read from "Willie".
    So other than the work party, there really is not a lot to talk about. Grace and I survived the bachelor status we had for Monday and Tuesday. The weather was too junky to really do much outside all week. I had other stuff to tend to so I did not do any work in the shop, but the HVAC guys did come on Friday and got most of the work done. It looks like they have just an hour or two left and then I will have heat in the wood shop and I do plan to do some work in there this week, getting things straightened up.
    I did get to use the chain saw during the work session and did not have the defibrillator go off, so all is well with that. I even cut up the tree that fell a few weeks back and had been sitting on the side of our driveway. The heat did kick on last night as I noticed the floors were warm this morning as we made breakfast. I am really surprised that we made it this long without needing heat.
    The entire week was not a total wash out as Grace did get to play on the playground a bit. Although gone are the days of wearing a t-shirt and shorts. It is jeans, a jacket, gloves and hat wearing weather now. Makes it a little more of a challenge, but not impossible to play peak-a-boo.
    Or course Huck and Millie love the cooler temps and have been having lots of fun with us outside. Their stick collection is really growing. It's funny how they will have a few dozen stick on the ground in the same spot, but when they want to play chase with a stick, will go into the woods to find a new one and will then deposit it with the others when they are done. My only wish is that their drop off spot was closer to the wood boiler! Not sure if you noticed in that last shot, but I asked the pups to say: "Cheese" when I was taking their picture and this was Huck's response. What a bugger!
    Well, I guess that about does it for this one, it's nap time!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
October 18-
    Sorry about that, but yesterday was like Grand Central Station around here. I don't know what causes everything to have to happen on one day, but yesterday was it. To add to that, I am a bachelor for a few more hours as Nora had a conference for school to go to in the WI Dells, so we dropped her off on our way home Sunday. So any free time in the evenings has been spoken for the past two days. 
   Anyway, here I am and it is great to be back. It was really fun to be at the Milwaukee Snowmobile Show again and see so many of you. I see the numbers of visitors to this site from the web statistics, but I am just amazed at how many folks go to it and appreciate it when I meet them in person. I realize I did not meet everyone, or even close to everyone that comes to the site. That would number in the 100's of thousands, but it really is a treat for me to meet all of you. It also really rings home the idea that I have that this site is more than a website, it really is a kind of family. 
    The trip down and back went very well. Grace is a very good traveler and never once complained on either trips. We do have one of those portable DVD players that can work in a car and that REALLY helps to keep her entertained, but still, to have to sit in a car seat for over 7 hours is not much fun and she just troopered right through it. The dogs also travel amazingly well. Hucky gets pretty excited the first hour or so of the trip, but then realizes this is going to be a long one and then joins Millie in laying down and sleeping for the rest of the trip. So we are very lucky to have such good travelers, it makes the trip down to southern WI a whole lot better.
    Things sure were windy around here while we were gone and the strong winds lasted through yesterday as well. We did not have any trees come down and best I can tell, little in the way of branches either, but the wind did strip all the leaves off the trees. On the plus side, the strong winds also blew all the leaves into the woods, so there will not have to be any raking or leaf blowing this year. I do plan to cut the grass as soon as it stops raining around here, but that does not look to happen until Friday and then I will be busy with the trail work session Friday and Saturday, so looks like the grass will have to wait until Sunday. 
    Temps have been holding in the 40's for the past 4-5 days, but amazingly our heat has not kicked on yet. I thought for sure when we got home on Sunday that it would have been on already, but the house was nice and toasty and the pex for the in floor heat was not hot yet. The shops are a different story, they are quite chilly. I am waiting for the HVAC company to come out and hook up the heat for the woodshop before I turn the heat on in the front shop as the two are now really just one, with an 8 by 7 foot hole in the wall between them where the garage door used to be. Hopefully that will be soon, or I may need to toss something up to cover the garage door opening and start heating the front to make sure nothing freezes.
    Last week before we left for southern WI, we went and did some pumpkin picking. Hard to believe the weather was still so nice just a week ago, but I guess it's October in the Keweenaw, so 40's and rain are pretty much expected. In any case, Grace had a blast at the pumpkin farm. Both Nora and I wish we had a child that was a little more happy. :) Just kidding of course. The smiles you see on her are all natural and are on her face most of the time. She has her moments, but I actually wish I had a smile on my face as much as she. I think that is something I need to work on and something that she is helping me with and does not even realize it!
    Not much else going on, I guess this will be the final call out for anyone interested in helping out in our trail work session this weekend. We will be working both Friday and Saturday, starting around 9:30 or so and will be staging out of the Lac La Belle Lodge. Free lodging is available through the Lac La Belle Lodge or the Pines in Copper Harbor. Also, if those planning to attend did not see, I do have a roll call on the discussion board that you can chime in on and let me know you are coming, so we have enough smoked brisket and pulled pork Saturday. Also, we will mainly be doing brushing, so bring your saws, loppers and work gloves and we get to leave the post hole diggers and spud bars at home!
    Guess that covers it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
October 16-
    Trying to get settled in from the trip back from the Milwaukee Show, so will write tomorrow.
Good Night from the Keweenaw..
October 9-
    Wowzies! What a week! Lots to talk about this week, in fact I have a list. First on the list is to wish my beautiful bride of 7 years a Happy Anniversary. I like to joke about having 4 years of marital bliss, but it is just a joke. 7 years ago my life changed for the much better and each new day is a good one and I feel blessed to have her by my side. It's funny that sometimes it can feel like a certain amount of time is either more or less than it has been, but I remarked to Nora as we were headed out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary a day early that the past 7 years has really seemed like 7 years, which I think is a good thing. So happy anniversary sweetie, here's to many, many more happy days and memorable years.
    The color show up here went into full swing this week and I would have to say that either Friday or yesterday was the peak. I always brag about the colors up this way, but they really are something to behold. At times, your eyes seem to be lying to you, as if someone has "photoshoped" what you are seeing live. I guess the best example of that is this picture I took of the view out of the front of our cabin on Friday. Not bad- eh?
    The timing of the peak seemed to be right about on time, but the one thing that seemed to set this year apart from others is that the leaves did not seem to stay on the trees as long once they changed. In most years, we get at least a few days from when they change to when they drop, but this year we seem to be getting a day or two at most. I do not have a picture of our woods right now, but about half of the leaves in that last shot have already dropped.
    Of course I am using that unusual leaf drop as my excuse for not having a treasure trove of color shots this time around, but it really is true. I was planning on taking a bunch of pictures this weekend, but the show was already in the latter stages of the final act and things were just not as dramatic as they were on Friday. I did bring the camera along with us on our trip to dinner yesterday and here is a shot of the "covered drive" between Delaware and Copper Harbor. That is a road that is absolutely gorgeous any time of the year, but I think my favorites are after a big dump in the middle of winter and during the color show. Here is one more of the covered drive. That unfortunately does it for my shots of the color for this week. We still have some color up here and I will make it a point to travel with the camera this week, so I still may have some goodies for the next entry, but we have hit and are at past peak and I would not be surprised that in a week most of the trees will be bare.
    The weather has been big news up this way this week. We have actually been having summer weather for the week- including a record high on Tuesday of 75 and a record high yesterday of 83. We also rose into the 80's on Thursday and Friday, but did not set records. I have to say that it was really nice having this weather. As much as I like the snow, it can wait. It is always a treat to see the first snows fly and that has happened many times by this time of the year up here, but it was nice to be able to get out and around all week in the comfort of summer like weather. My only complaint was that Friday night and Saturday night the house did not cool down enough to my liking, even with all the windows open. The rest of the week we had perfect daytime temps and great sleeping weather.
    It has been fun to be basking in our beautiful summer weather while watching the Rockies get their first significant snows of the season. Most of the webcams out there were turning white with the big storm that hit at the end of the week. I can honestly say though that I was not yearning for it or even jealous. October snow is about as useless as it gets and I am content to wait it out until it can stick around.
    Most of my week has been spent in the woodshop, trying to get it finished out. I can say that on Friday, I finally hung the last piece of trim and thus the construction phase of the finishing out is officially done. There was a Yaaaaa Hoooo! upon completion and that last picture was taken on Friday and since then all the lights have been re-hung and I got the wood storage racks up today. I can also say that I sure am glad to be done with that phase of the project. For some reason it just seemed to fight me the whole way. Just about everything that could go wrong or be complicated seemed to and there were moments that I just had to stop, take a deep breath and regain my composure and will to finish. I think one thing that really helped was remembering to be grateful for the fact that my health is good enough to be working like that and that I also have the free time to be out there working like that. I forgot to mention last week that it was just 2 years ago to the day that I was opened up for the first heart surgery and although I was not coherent, there were moments where things were touch and go. So running into a few challenges hanging sheets of plywood or finishing out electrical or fitting some squirrely tongue and groove suddenly did not seem like such a bad thing. I plan to bring the wood that has been in temporary storage in the lean-to back into the shop and put it on the racks tomorrow and that will be the last of the grunt work. The rest should all be pretty much fun things like setting up tools and getting things organized. I love to have my shops really clean and highly organized, so that kind of stuff is fun for me.
    A neat thing happened on Friday too. I was doing some work in the shop when Nora and Gracie came home. They came into the shop and I was showing them my work and when I finished talking about everything, Gracie looked up at me, smiled and said: "Good work Dadda". I just about melted. She is such a sweetie and so sharp, it just amazes me.
    It's a good thing that I am getting the woodshop finished as I got an e mail from Rt 12 that the sled is in and all put together. All that needs to be done is to put in the Boondockers pump gas turbo.....Er.....I mean the proper clutch components for this altitude and it will be all ready to make the trip up north. Pump gas turbo... did I really say that??? Hmmmmmm.......;)
    When I sat down to write, I realized that I did not have a single picture of Grace to share this week, so I went and borrowed Nora's camera and have some goodies. She, Grace and the pups went out into the woods this morning when I was working on the shop and Nora took some nice pictures. For a while a month or two ago, Grace developed a case of camera shy, but what ever caused that to happen went away and she once again is happy to look at the camera and give a smile and I sure am happy for that as you all can see her happy nature. Of course when Nora sets out on a photo mission with Grace, there is usually some kind of a wardrobe change that takes place. This time around it was just a hat change.
    Once the photo session was over, then it was time to get back to work and we do not let the fact that Grace is only a bit past being 2 years old stop us from putting her to work raking the entire yard. She is still out there and we will let her in when it gets dark, but she did stop to take a break and play in a pile of leaves. Just kidding of course. Grace is being taught to be responsible by having to do things like put her toys away, but the real work like raking the entire yard will probably not happen until she is closer to being 3 :) For now, life is full of fun things like chasing the pups around the driveway in her F 150.
    So I guess that about covers it, except for a few quick announcements. First, I talked with the trail boss and it looks like most of the work at this years trail work session will be brushing. In the past it has mainly been signing, but this year we have a lot of brushing work that needs to be done, so folks planning to attend can feel free to bring their chain saws, loppers and work gloves. I for one would rather clear brush than try and dig a hole in the rocky Keweenaw ground. The next announcement is that I will be putting out my seasonal outlook tomorrow, so check the forecast text page for that and lastly, I hope to see all of you in Milwaukee next weekend at the show! Be sure to stop by the Togwotee booth and say hi!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
October 2-
    Welcome to October everyone! After what seemed like a solid week of rain, we are having a beautiful day and yesterday was beautiful as well. That clear blue Keweenaw sky and temps around 60 degrees. As mentioned, it rained a lot up here this week. The same upper air low that plagued the eastern Midwest all week also kept us in clouds and scattered showers much of the day. The weather was unsettled enough that I was really worried about having much content for this entry.
    On Thursday night we had a big blow up here. Not the biggest and quite honestly pretty much a run of the mill autumnal wind storm for this neck of the woods with sustained winds of 35, gusting to 55. We did not lose power, but there were power outages- including our neighbor down the road. We did however have a tree come down and block the driveway. Truth be told, we were able to drive around it, but Friday morning I did trim off enough of the top to allow us to drive on the driveway and be able to get around it. I will be firing up the trusty Husqvarna to make firewood out of the rest. Yep, you read right. I can play with chain saws again!
    On Monday I traveled to Marquette and met with my cardiologist there and got a glowing review from him and also was able to get the defibrillator deactivated. So I can once again play with gas fired power tools. I also ordered up another 3 cord of firewood, so anyone that was feeling left out from the wood cutting party a few weeks back is welcome to come on up and help with the 3 cord I have coming this week. Actually, I am just kidding. I will be able to cut that up and get it stored with out any help and will be grateful for being able to cut the wood myself, but also be thankful to those that came and helped with the 12 cord back in August.
    The inclement weather this week really did not impact my spirits much as I was in the shop working on getting it finished out. Still not done yet and it really has been a lot more work than I had thought. Plus I am taking my time and not rushing things (like I did with the first wood shelter!). However, I was able to get all the framing done between the trusses and also got all the fiberglass insulation in place. My next step is to put up another layer of insulation, only this stuff is like foil lined bubble wrap. It will go between the fiberglass insulation and the ceiling material. When combined with the fiberglass, I will have close to an R-30 in the ceiling. Not bad for a 5 1/2" cavity to work with. Most of the area above that shop is storage space, but where there is no storage, then I will double up on the fiberglass to give another 19 "R's" of insulation. As long as there are no surprises and I am able to rent a drywall lift this week, then by next writing, I should have all the construction work done.
    The color show is underway up here. It is not at peak yet, in fact I think that next weekend will be the prime time for leaf peeping in most areas of the Keweenaw. Some spots to our south look to have reached peak and I know on my trip to Marquette on Monday that most areas between L'Anse and Marquette were also very near peak.
    I did bring the camera along on my morning walk with the pups and here is a shot of some maples glowing even before the sun was above the horizon. Here is a shot taken just about an hour ago of the woods surrounding the wood shed and boiler.
    Nora's dad and stepmom are up visiting us and we all went out to the School Forest this morning for a walk. It was the first time in about a year that the pups and I had been out there and the first time since this past winter that Grace and Nora had been out there. I doubt that the pups even remember the place as we have not been there much since we do not live too close by anymore. However, it did not matter, they took off and had an absolute blast running around in the woods. It sure is great to watch them play and I am so happy that Millie's knee surgery put her back to 100%. The colors there were not nearly as far along as up our way and look to be even more than a week away from peak.
    Gracie had her hiking boots on and made good use of them today by hiking a good half mile or so. It will be so much fun to take full length hikes in the woods with her in a few years. Towards the end of the walk, we happened along some apple trees that had some treats waiting for us. Some of the better apples were up too high for me to reach, so Grace and I teamed up to pick a few. About a second after that picture was taken, an apple fell from the tree we were under and nailed me right on the upper lip. No blood, no foul, but it gave everyone there a good laugh. Here is a picture of Grace examining the fruits of her labor and here is a shot of her enjoying the fruits of her labor.
    Before leaving, I snapped one last shot of the developing autumn color. It sure is a beautiful time of the year and if anyone here has not been up this way to see the colors, you really should consider it. I am not trying to sound like the Tourism Board or anything, but the colors up this way really are something to behold and are for some reason more vivid than I have seen anywhere else. But you must not delay because in about two weeks, the show will be all but over. For those that cannot make it, I will try my best to give you some glimpses of the show.
    I guess another sign of the season is that I have stopped producing the warm season forecasts and will take the month of October off, except to produce my Seasonal Outlook. Have already been doing some work on that and will be releasing it on October 10th, so stay tuned for that. Funny how the more I seem to tell everyone to not put a lot of faith into any seasonal forecast (including mine) the more excited they seem to be for me to put mine out! Anyway, that will be out in 8 days, so hang tight.
    So I guess that covers it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..


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