February 23-
    This will probably be a short one as there is not much to talk about. A pretty uneventful week- especially weather wise. NOT! For those you that did not hear, we had quite a storm hit Fri-Sat. Not the biggest storm in snow totals and not the biggest storm in wind speeds, but certainly one of the biggest storms in snow and winds combined and perhaps the biggest in how long it produced snow and winds. The storm started late Thursday night and produced heavy snows, even some thundersnow  across the region. I slept through it all, but Nora said she saw the lightning and heard the thunder and the airport also reported thundersnow. 
   I awoke to 6" of fresh snow and some light snow and little to no winds at 4 am. The forecast was for a bit more snow and much stronger winds, in fact, blizzard making winds. Without even getting a look at things on the computer, I figured there was no way the storm fizzled out and that we must be literally in the eye of the storm. Some quick checking of the radar, satellite and surface observations did prove that we were in the eye of the storm. Very strong areas of low pressure like that which was working through on Friday morning can produce a center that is fairly tranquil, not unlike how the eye of a hurricane also brings very tranquil weather.
    My biggest fear then became the idea that all the locals would think the storm was a bust and that they could go about their business with no concerns at all. Not that we were talking about hurricane-type conditions, but the wind would go from the current rate of around 5 mph to 35-40, with gusts to 50, maybe 60. Add to that the light snows that were currently falling would increase in intensity and create whiteout conditions.
    So I did my best not to create panic on my two weather segments that I do for the local radio stations, but also did my best to explain that we were literally in the eye of the storm and that things were going to get ugly in a short time. I think some took warning and others did not, but the bottom line is, things got ugly. We had sustained winds of 45 mph, with gusts to 60 and near zero visibility with heavy snow and blowing snow.
    Here is a shot of the front of the house taken Friday afternoon, we are pretty sheltered from the wind, so it did not look too bad there. When I got out to the highway, it was a different story. The fastest I could drive at any time was around 35 mph and I also found myself driving around 20 mph at times. It snowed pretty heavily all day Friday and with the winds, it was hard to get an accurate measurement, but the parking area was not too drifted or wind scoured and by the end of the day we had picked up another 7" of snow. Two more overnight Friday gave us a total of 9" from 7 am Fri-7 am Sat. 
    I got out to clear snow in the mid afternoon on Friday and did not finish up until early evening. 3 hours or manhandling the snow thrower around. I do have the tractor in the shop, but I need to give it back this spring with around 10 hours on it and right now it has 8.5, so I am saving those final 90 minutes for either the end all storm or some moving that only it can do, or perhaps just some late season fun. I really did not mind spending 3 hours moving snow. I was all bundled up and I either dreamed about being in my enclosed, heated cab of the tractor, listening to tunes, watching the snow thrower mounted on the front of it do the heavy work, or thinking how much better it was to be out in 50 mph winds, temps in the teens and heavy snow falling than lying in a hospital bed with tubes sticking out of me.
    Let's back track a bit for a moment. The weather was not nasty all week. In fact we had some very beautiful weather Tue, Wed and Thur. Monday we had a bit of a storm though, with around 6" of snow falling from around 11 am to 5 pm. I had some friends and business associates up in the area and we rode sleds up to Copper Harbor for lunch, then swung by the Bear Belly Bar for a quick warm up before heading home. We were hoping to hit Brockway Mountain before the storm hit, but lost the race. By the time we got there, it was a total whiteout, with heavy snow falling and winds out of the east blowing at around 50 mph. It was so windy, I did not even risk getting my camera out to take a picture, as I worried about losing it in the wind and I could only see around 20 feet anyway. I did take a picture while we were on the trail heading from Copper Harbor to Lac La Belle. It is a snowy shot of the Mandan Trail. I think of all the trails up here, that one is my favorite. Low traffic, very wide, with some big sweeping turns and always plenty of snow.
    As mentioned, we did have some beautiful and welcomed sunshine and mild temps Tue, Wed and Thur. All three days we rose above freezing to boot. A real nice taste of things to come. Some of the roofs even cleared and the pups enjoyed hanging out in the sun and warmer temps, although its going to be a long time before they have bare ground to lay on and bask in the sun!
    While they did that, I was busy getting ready for the big storm- and enjoying the sun and warmer temps. Most of my chores revolved around just trying to move some snow to make way for the new stuff to come. One of the jobs Wednesday afternoon was to chop away at the 8-10" thick snow mat in front of the wood boiler. It actually came up pretty easily and I was able to get things all cleaned up.
    Clear skies at night also allowed my favorite local aurora photographer, Mark Upton, to get some shots of the light show put on earlier in the week. He is always great about sharing his shots of the aurora with me and equally generous about letting me share them with you.
    The wood shed also reached a historically low level of wood in it this week. Although I did enjoy the significantly low level of wood I had to put into the boiler during the warmer temps this week. I almost forgot how little wood that thing uses when temps are not bitterly cold. The low level of wood was not anything to worry about though as Monday evening, a fresh 5 cord got delivered. The only down side to the wood delivery was that because of my schedule and my helpers schedule, we could not get to cutting it up until Saturday. Which meant by the time we got to it, it was buried under a foot plus of snow. None the less, my helper, Owen, and I braved the 30-50 mph winds, heavy snow and temps in the single digits to make enough wood to get us through the next few weeks. I figured we would just cut enough to get us into the middle of March and then the weather should hopefully be more agreeable for cutting wood. Plus, I also need to make repairs to the wood shed, so I do not want to put too much wood in it and have it be in the way of the repairs. As we were cutting, hauling and stacking the wood in those conditions, I couldn't help think about how, at times, my life would make a pretty good reality show!
    By yesterday afternoon, the falling snow had let up a bit, but the winds were still howling. Neither Nora or I felt like cooking and anything we had a taste for, we would have had to drive to the store to get anyway, so we decided to pile in the truck and head down to the Dreamland Motel for dinner. Most of the drive was not too bad. There were some spots on the Valley Rd where drifting had closed down one lane and other spots where the snow was busy drifting across the road.
    As we turned off the Valley Rd onto the Bootjack Rd, things got a little more interesting. The drifts got bigger and the blowing snow worse. However, it was not all like that. Just the spots where the road was more exposed to the winds blowing off the Torch Lake. We made it to the Dreamland safe and sound and enjoyed a great dinner and then headed home. Conditions on the way home were not as bad and we were even treated to a beautiful setting sun.
    So that just about covers it for this one. It looks like the big winds we had have opened up Lake Superior some. It is not wide open by any means, but we have had pure LES fall for the past 24-36 hours and the satellite imagery does reveal that at least the northern 1/3rd of the lake is free of ice. A more dramatic clearing of ice happened on Lake Huron, which went from around 100% ice filled down to around 30%. Lake MI went from around 60% to less than 10%. The winds are suppose to keep blowing pretty good for much of the next week to ten days. We also have some really cold air coming the middle to end of this week, so it will be a battle royal to see which wins over, the wind or cold. Hopefully wind!
    Despite having the snow being up over the cutting bars on the snow thrower on our entire driveway and in some cases way over the cutting bar, I am not quite sick of snow yet. Bitter cold, for sure, but not yet the snow. 
    Good night from the Keweenaw..

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February 16-
    Well, last week was a little less crazy, but only by a little! I did manage to have internet all week and it even looks like I may have been able to convince the cable company to bring a line to me. I will need to take out a second and third mortgage to help pay for the install, but we will be able to "bundle" the internet, phone and TV on the cable and save enough money that over the long run, we will come out ahead financially. The best part will be the internet service. I will have a business account, so my speed will be about 20 times faster than we have right with the MiFi and even more importantly, no download limits. Now we just need for the snow to melt and they can bring the line over. So maybe sometime in June or July we will be making the switch!
    I am sitting here trying to figure out what kept me so busy this past week and initially drew a bit of a blank, but then looked up at my calendar and saw that on Tuesday we all went to Marquette for my annual visit to the cardiologist. All came out good, with the heart functioning as well as it was last time I had things checked out. Nice to know that, with the trip to WY and the elevation we will be at coming up.
    On Wednesday, I got to play Mr. Mom as the woman that watches Grace during the day was not feeling well and Grace stayed home. Then on Thursday, I had to head over to the trail cam to do some repairs to it. Apparently, someone decided they were going to try and steal it and just ended up doing a lot of damage to the mounting hardware, but not taking the cam. Dave Sleeman was able to temporarily fix things so that the image the camera provided was good and then I went out and did a more substantial, but also temporary, fix to make sure that it was nearly impossible to steal. There is also a hidden security camera with infra-red, night vision keeping an eye on the cam as well.
    I did have plans to head out to fix the trail cam on Wednesday, but had to move it to Thursday because of Gracie being home. It sure would have been nice to do it on Wednesday as it was sunny and not that cold out, whereas Thursday was a raging snow storm and lots of wind. Not the most fun weather to be up on a ladder with bare hands working on the trail cam. I do have plans to do a more permanent fix, but will wait for a nice 65 degree day with sunshine and a light breeze! It is secure now, you would pretty much have to destroy the cam to take it down from it's mount, so waiting until nicer weather will not be an issue.
    The Thursday snow event ended up being a bit of a surprise to the high side in amounts for the north end of the Keweenaw. Even though there is a lot of ice in the lake, we still managed to get some enhancement from the lake with east winds during the day and evening and then even some enhancement Thursday night with a NW wind. On Thursday evening I plowed 6 1/2" of snow off the driveway and then on Friday morning we had another 4 1/2" on the driveway, so all told we picked up 11" of snow with that clipper system. Here is a shot of things as they looked Thursday morning, not long after the sun had come up. Gracie got into the action Thursday afternoon, catching some flakes on her tongue
    Then last night, we picked up another 2" of snow, but it was mainly system snow. There are also some snows seen tomorrow and tomorrow night and some more towards the end of the week and weekend. It will be nice to keep freshening things up. It also looks like we are done with the really cold temps. No thaws seen, maybe a flirt with some freezing temps by the second half of the week. I am not worried at all about the flirt with freezing temps and am looking forward to getting out of the really cold stuff.
    The bad news is that all the easterly winds we have had recently has actually helped the ice build up more on the lake and the big lake is about as full of ice as I have seen all season. The winds and warmer temps my help to dissolve some of the ice, but I do not have very high hopes for a lot of lake effect the rest of this season. Truth is, we are also getting to the time of the year when the lake effect starts to tail off anyway.
    On Friday I headed out of town to meet up with some friends to go play in the snow. As much as I love playing in the snow in the Keweenaw and would really not want to live anywhere else, I also enjoy seeing new places and riding in new places and it is always fun to get together with friends. 
    I left pretty early on Friday and was able to meet up with the crew to get in over a half day of riding on Friday. The day started kind of chilly, but with sunshine hitting by the afternoon, it warmed up nicely. The snow was not as deep where we rode (forget about trying to find out where, I am keeping these areas a secret, as I am fortunate to be able to go there and do not want to spoil it for those that host me), but still deep enough to have some stucks, of which I had a few and others in our group did as well
    Here is a shot of one of my stucks for the day. A bit more track and I think I would have had the hill. A bit more talent and I would have probably had made the top as well! The trip back down the hill was even a little eventful as after I had pulled the sled around and was headed back down, I managed to hook my ski under a half buried fallen tree. I was not going fast enough to do any damage, but as anyone that has been there knows, there is probably no worse stuck than to have your ski stuck under a tree while headed down a steep slope. It is not really feasible to pull the sled backwards to free the ski, at least not without a bunch of others helping. So the technique is usually to break out the saw and trim the fallen tree back to free the ski and sled. That is exactly what I started in on and then had a friend drop in to help. His trip down proved to be a little adventurous and he slid gently into the tree as well, so the two of us worked on clearing the tree and setting us free! We got free and had fun riding the rest of the day, although the setting sun did allow temps to drop and part of our return trip involved some trail riding and we all had some frozen hands by the time we were back at home base.
    I returned to my home base this morning and after getting settled back in and having some lunch, I headed out to clear some snow and then fired up Gracie's sled so that she could scoot around on it. She has really picked up the skills needed to drive a sled well. Here is a quick video of her riding. As the riding session progressed, so did her will to do something more adventurous. It was not long before she was picking out some hills to climb- without any coaxing, buy the way! Like father, like daughter, I guess! So this little video can be called like father, like daughter. And quite the high-hole it was!
    After the hill climbing, it was time to do a little side hilling. Of course that last picture was all staged and the sled was not even running, but in explaining why we were setting her sled up on the snow bank and she was hanging off the side of it, I said that riding like that is a little trick. Sooooooo, before I knew it, she was off onto the banks to do some "tricks". One of the attempts ended up in a complete roll over, but that did not seem to dampen her spirits at all, although I did put the nix to any more tricks the rest of the afternoon. 
    After pulling the sled into the shop, we had a little talk about learning the fundamentals to riding first, and then moving on to tricks. So as we are walking out of the shop, she says to me that she just wants to do tricks, because learning the fundamentals is not any fun. I think I am in trouble!
    So I guess that about covers it for this week, about. I have plans to ride a couple times this week, so I should have some pics to share. I do have one more pic to share with you this week. It is from back on Wednesday when Gracie, the pups and I were hanging out all day. I was busy loading the wood boiler, when out of the blue, Gracie and Millie decided they would join in and help. It's always nice to have help!
   Good night from the Keweenaw..
February 9-
    Whew, what a week. I rely on the internet so much, it really throws me for a loop when we lose is at home. If you do not already know, we use the cellular service in the area for our internet. There is a device called a MiFi, that uses the cell towers data service (just like your smart phone would to view the internet or get e mail...etc) and then creates it's own WiFi network with that cell service. It's actually a pretty slick setup for us folks that do not live in an area where things like cable internet is an option. We used to use satellite, which was OK, especially since there was no other option, but the MiFi is much quicker. The only problem is, it has been a little unreliable as far as service goes. In the past 3 years we have had it, we have probably lost service around 7-8 times. The first 5-6 were just for a few hours or a half a day. Then the last two were for several days. I think the problems that took out the service the past 2 times were different issues and I am hoping that maybe all the gremlins have been worked out of our network. I do know that it is usually way more reliable than that. None the less, it was no fun at all to have to travel down to Calumet and sit in the lobby of the AmericInn and do my work. Although I am very grateful to them for allowing me to do that and I did get to meet some great visitors of to the site! I also am doing reasearch on back up or other provider solutions for me. 
    I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can convince the cable company to run a line to us. We are out of the typical service range of 250-300 feet, but if it is not too expensive, I might even consider picking up the price to get the cable to us if they choose not to. It would be fantastic to have that speed and unlimited bandwidth and would save us a bunch of money on a monthly basis. So fingers crossed, but one way or another, I will have some redundancy in my internet service as both of my businesses rely 100% on it!
    So other than commuting to and from Calumet most of the week (the internet came back on late Wednesday afternoon), I was also busy running around most of the week. I took trips to the Houghton/Hancock area Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Can you tell I am spoiled in my lack of having to drive around much when I consider the 25 minute drive to Houghton/Hancock a big deal? Anyway, it seemed like I did a lot of driving around this week. The pups did come along with me on some of my trips and on Monday, temps rose into the upper teens and we even had a bit of sunshine. That was warm enough to roll down the windows on the truck and let the pups hang their heads out (when we were in down and not driving too fast).
    The lack of snow in the past 10 days I have actually welcomed. As much as I love snow, it is nice to get a little break. I am not quite ready to head into melt down mode and am excited for the potential for some fresh this week and next, but I have enjoyed not having to spend 90-120 minutes a day moving it around. That is not to say that during these slow periods of snow, everyone lays around and does nothing. The road crews have been busy either winging back the banks (that is where they set the plow blade for around 2-3 feet above the road surface and cut into the existing plow banks on the side of the road, pushing the snow that is above the bottom of the blade back even further) or using the snow-go to cut back the banks and make room for more. It sure is impressive to watch those things in action. I think if I ever win the lottery, I will get one!
    I may have not been busy moving snow from the driveway this week, but that does not mean I layed around all week either. On Saturday, I had to college boys come over and help me shovel off the roof. We have been without any above freezing temps for over 60 days now and are actually working on an all time record for consecutive below freezing days. Marquette will break their record in a week and based on the forecast, that looks likely. Anyway, the lack of any thaw has caused the snow to remain on most of the roofs of our house. The side that is a 12/12 pitch (45 degree angle) has cleared and I have already shoveled off most of the front of the house roofs, but it was really starting to get deep in all areas, so we needed to clear it off.
    When I did my shoveling about a month ago, I did not shovel any of the back side of the addition roof off and that is where the snow was deepest and I had the most want to get it off. The roof trusses made for this area are designed to hold a lot of snow, but I would rather be safe than sorry. So that is where we started. The one nice thing about shoveling most roofs is that unlike shoveling a driveway or walkway, you have gravity on your side. Most of the time you need to just break off a chunk of snow and get it going towards the eave of the roof and it will continue it's momentum and slide off the roof. The main draw back is that you need to make sure your momentum does not carry you off the side of the roof! Thankfully there were no incidents of that nature yesterday, but Jake does illustrate some of the perils involved in roof shoveling here.
    The spot I was most worried about was on the back side of the addition, where the main roofs for the addition and the cabin meet. In a typical year when we have some thaws during the winter, that area will likely slide all on it's own, but not this year and when we got up there and started digging, we found the snow to be around 6 feet deep.
    I helped shovel the roof for a while, but then when we were done with the back and side, then it was time for me to fire up the tractor and clear the stuff coming of the roof and onto the driveway. So Owen and Jake stayed up on the roof and did their shoveling and I used the tractor to scoop up the snow from the driveway and move it to the dumping spot. Gracie even hopped on to help for a little bit. She did real well steering the tractor around and even did a little of the bucket control at times.
    Every since constructing the addition, I was concerned about the spot where the cabin roof, the main roof of the addition and the foyer roof all come together and would dump their snow. Well, the snow has never dumped there naturally this season, but that did not mean the concern was still not there. I knew that once we shoveled the roofs in that spot, that the snow there would need to be moved. 
    The snow did pile up quickly in that spot and that scene was repeated 2-3 more times. However, the tractor and scoop really shined and made moving all of that snow a breeze and pretty fun! We started clearing the roof around 9:30 in the morning and I was done clearing the snow from the ground around the cabin by around 2:45 in the afternoon and we now have roofs that are ready for more snow! The only casualties were two shovels. The snow was exceptionally hard the further down you went, almost like rigid foam.
    So while the boys and I were busy clearing the roofs, Nora, Gracie and the pups took advantage of the temps in the teens and the bright sunshine to do a little snow shoeing in our woods. It looks like Gracie started out in a little goofy mode, but it is so neat to see her tool around on the snow shoes. She has no problems at all going about anywhere and will even slide down off the 10 foot banks we have. She can even navigate low hanging limbs (probably around 5 feet off the ground in the summer) and here she is checking out out her buried swing set. They even came across an old dead-standing white pine, still cloaked in the snow that has fallen this season.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. I have yet to determine the final amount raised this year for Make A Wish. I am still waiting for two more bills to come in, but if my calculations are correct, I believe we brought in more this year than last year, which would be a new all-time high and also quite a feat, seeing as though last year the raffle for the restored Skidoo brought in over $7000 alone!
    As far as an early look at the forecast goes, there is some better news for the Northwoods. It looks like the bitter cold will be giving way to temps that are seasonably cold or even a bit above average and some light snows are seen every few days. I know I have been keeping an eye on the big lake and she is trying to erode the ice that has formed in her this winter. It's been a struggle this week, with all the bitter cold, but things might go easier on her later this week, with some warmer temps and stronger winds. None the less, it looks like I will be back to moving snow around this week and I am ready!
Good Night from the Keweenaw..
February 2 (really Feb 5)-
    Well, I am still waiting for internet service to be back on at our home and my office.  Nothing like trying to run two businesses that rely pretty much 100% on the internet, without internet access! The sad part is this is not the first time (or even the second) that we have lost our internet service for an extended period of time. I am seriously considering changing around things a bit. I do enjoy the MiFi device and the service we get from it (when the service is functioning), but since we have signed up with the service around 4 years ago, it has probably gone out an average of once every 3-4 months. Sometimes it is just for 4-8 hours, but sometimes more. This latest outage lasted more than 48 hours and so did an outage back in October. Back when we had satellite service, it was slower, but much more reliable and now the speeds on satellite have been boosted and so has the data usage, so I am thinking of changing our cell plan to a lower usage and adding the satellite in to use as a secondary and/or backup service. Once we have internet service again, I will have to do some researching of plans to see if we can make it work. 
    So I guess if you are reading this, then my juggling act to get this entry and all it's pictures uploaded and my sincerest apology for not writing sooner, but the journals are just too involved to try and write using my emergency internet plan (drive to Calumet, sit in the lobby of the AmericInn and use their WiFi). 
     I am happy to report that the 9th annual SnowFest Ride in was another huge success! The turn-out was awesome and the funds raised was incredible. There are still two bills to pay, but it is looking very much like we actually set a new all time fundraising high. Last year we collected $15,500, which included over $7000 from the antique sled raffle. I need to wait until all the bills are paid to say exactly how much was raised, but I know it is save to say that since the SnowFest was started back in 2005, over $100,000 has been raised!
    The donations this year were incredible. We had a ton of cash donations mailed in. Several has high as $500-600!!! Then there were the prizes donated for the auction and raffle. The amount raised from the silent auction this year alone was over $7700! So the attendees to the event sure did step it up in a huge way and those that sent in donations, but could not attend, matched them step for step. Also, the Guest Bartending gig at Lac La Belle raised $1550 and "Scottikings" Karaoke party at the Mosquito Inn raised $1800. Over $700 of that was from the 50/50 raffle and then Gary L (the person who won the 50/50 donated back to the pot to raise it to $1000 and spent the rest of his take at the banquet on Saturday! 
    Those are the stories I love to tell and my HUGE thanks goes out to ALL that were involved and I will be going into more detail on the help in a bit.
    I arrived at the Brownstone Hall at around 2 pm and when I opened the door and walked in, it reminded me of the scene from the movie the Blues Brothers, when the band steps out onto the stage of this concert hall that is empty and they all are a bit nervous, but also excited about the potential of what was to come. Granted the hall I walked into was not as big as the one in the movie, but it was still both a little nerve wracking and exciting to be stepping into the empty hall. An hour or so later, Lori Sleeman arrived and got busy right away helping me, then Nora arrived as did John Stachler and his friends. Soon, things were really starting to take shape, with the tables being set up and the 100" of prizes being brought in and organized for the silent auction and raffle. I had planned to snap a shot of the hall all decked out for our event, but as is the case most years, just as things were set up, participants started arriving and I was being pulled in a few different directions to handle some questions folks had. So no official shot of the hall all set up, but I do have some more "action" shots.
    For probably the 5th or 6th year in a row, we were blessed with the fact that the Wish Child and his Family were able to attend. 4 year old Brody is really having a rough go of it at the moment, but still came out and sure added a very special feel to the event. 
    Speaking of special...There was a special gift presented to Brody at the event. A brand new Yamaha 120 snowmobile was donated to him from Pat's Motorsports in Greenland. Owner Kip and his wife Trisha brought it up and I know there were more than a few lumps in the throat and tears fought back (including by me) by many in the room as the sled was brought in and Brody got on it with his Mom. Just an incredible act of generosity from Kip and the rest of the crew from Pat's and if you are up in the Greenland area, I encourage you to stop in and give them a pat on the back!
    I do not have the official count of prizes donated, but am confident it was over 100 and in many cases, multiple prizes were donated, so I am sure that we had more prizes than persons attending and I hope no one went home empty handed. The prize tables were packed with items and we even had to add extra tables this year to handle everything. There were even prizes too big to fit on a table, like a super nice Weber Grill and top of the line Ariens Snowthrower. As if donating a snowmobile to the Wish Child was not enough, Kip from Pat's also was the high bidder on the snowmobile (much to the disappointment of a few that were also bidding). 
    As mentioned, Brody and his family attended the event. His two sisters jumped up on stage and helped do some calling of raffle numbers and his mom got up and gave a very special thank you to everyone for doing so much for their family.
    The one thing that I have always struggled with when it comes to the Ride-In is that it is officially called the "Johndee.com SnowFest". I don't have a problem with the SnowFest part at all, but am always worried that the Johndee.com part gives the illusion that I am the only one responsible for making it happen. I will admit that all told, I probably put 80-100 hours into the event over the course of the months leading up to it, but the truth is, the event could never, ever be what it is without those that help me organize it and those that attend.
    Since I don't have the written permission from every attendee to put their name out that they came, I never have, but that should never be taken that I am not fully humbled by those that make the choice to spend the money and dedicate a weekend of time supporting this event. We do have a lot of fun, but I am sure that there are other things that they could be doing with their time and money.
    When it comes to the organizers of this event, I need to put my wife Nora at the top of the list. She handles all the reservations and shirt orders and then comes over early to help set up. Once there, she (along with Lori, Suzy and John) is my "right hand" in making sure things run smoothly. All of those are pretty big tasks, but I think the biggest task is giving me the time, space and understanding I need in the months leading up to the event. Those 80-100 hours are available to me because of the fact that she gives them to me to work on things. That is a lot of sharing and a lot of generosity. 
    Another person that does a ton of work is Lori Sleeman. She spends days going around and collecting prizes for the event from businesses south of the Bridge. Year in and year out, her hard work, awesome smile and warm personality is able to gather a ton of great prizes that are either put into the silent auction or raffle. On event night, her partner in crime is Suzy Landers, co-owner of the Brownstone Hall where the event is held. She steps up (literally and figuratively) and has been the emcee the past few years. Her fun-loving personality is a perfect fit for keeping the crowd entertained during the event. If it were not for her, the emcee would likely be me and I don't think there is enough No-Doz in the world to keep the audience from drifting off to sleep! Here is a shot of both Lori and Suzy at work at the event. They smile like that all night too!
    A ton of credit needs to go out to John Stachler. He is the one that thought up of the whole Ride-In idea, initiated it and is responsible for gathering a bunch of the great prizes as well as setting up the hall.
    I mention their names often because they are my friends, but also great people. Troy and Cathy Westcott are the owners of the Lac La Belle Lodge and every year for the past 5-6 years (at least) they have held the guest bartending event in the weekend or two prior to the Ride-In. They and their employees donate their time and tips for that day to go to the funds raised for Make A Wish and then Troy and Cathy go the extra mile and reach into their own pockets to match the money raised in the tip jar to double the amount. This year they went one step further and volunteered their time, drove all the way down from Lac La Belle (probably a 90 minute trip one way) and bartended at the event.
    For the third year in a row, Don and Donna from the Mosquito have paired up with "Scottiking" to hose a pre-party the night before the Ride-in at the Mosquito in Toivola. Scott sets up all of his Karaoke equipment and runs the show, while Don, Donna and staff have a raffle, 50/50 and make sure all of the patrons are having a great time. This years take from the pre-party was $1800! Sorry, not pictures of Don and Donna, so you will just have to stop into the "Bug Bar" to meet them in person.
    Ever since moving from the MI Tech Memorial Union to the Brownstone Hall, we have had to have the event catered and the Kangas Cafe/Catering has done a great job of that. The first menu we chose got so many compliments that I have just repeated it every year since. Sure it may be predictable on my part, but why not when it is that good!
    I have said it a few times already and I will say it again. I cannot express my gratitude to everyone that participates in the event. I guess that is why I continue to keep the JohnDee.com part in the title. I have never thought that the magic behind JohnDee.com was John Dee, but rather all the visitors to it that make us a "family". Same goes with the Ride-In. Without all that participate, it would be nothing. So to all that donated time, money, prizes and those that attended, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
    So in keeping with the Make-A Wish theme, the good folks at Land 'O Lakes Recreation were reading my journals the past few months and took to heart my yearning for a tractor to help me move snow. So on Thursday of last week, a truck and covered trailer showed up with something special in it for me. A tractor! Yeppers! It is on loan to me for the rest of the winter to help me move the piles of snow around. Recently LOL Rec became a dealer for Mahindra tractors and I get to try one out for a while.
    The first order of business is likely to be to move the snow that will come off the roof of the addition either later this week or perhaps this weekend. I need to arrange to have some boys come over to help shovel the roofs and then put the tractor to work scooping the snow and moving it out of the way. Hopefully more on that in the next issue!
    We did get out to play on Wednesday of last week. After 3 days off from school last week, temps finally warmed enough and the snow let up enough to allow schools to resume on Thursday. It was still very chilly out to start the morning on Wednesday, but then the winds let up, the sun even appeared for a bit and temps warmed and we all were able to get outside and work off some of the cabin fever. We even got Gracie's sled fired up and she took her first spin of the season on it. Last years ride was a little sketchy. She handled the throttle very well, but just did not grasp the steering 100%. This past Wednesday, she had everything down pretty good. We did move the vehicles up into the driveway to make the riding areas as safe as possible for her and she did run into a few snowbanks, but all in all, did very well and is excited to go more. Nora took some pictures, but because of our internet issues, I do not have them. We did take some video, but they files are too long to post. After coming inside, we did all gather in the bedroom to watch the video footage from her sledding experience. It was so neat to sit and watch not only her fixated on the screen watching the video, but the pups too
    It has been pretty quiet in the snow department for around a week now. We did pick up a few inches Saturday night and early Sunday and have had off and on light snow dustings most of this week, but there is a lot of ice "in" the big lake. Not just on the western end, but in much of it. I use the term "in", because most of the ice is not a solid sheet, but rather a mixture of ice and water. More like a giant slushy really. That does allow some heat and moisture to still escape from the lake and produce a muted lake effect, but nothing like what would happen if the lake were wide open. The lake does not like to stay frozen either, so hopefully some winds and perhaps a lack of bitterly cold air will allow it to open up some and bring back our LES guns.
    To be perfectly honest, I am actually enjoying the break from having to move it around. Even though I have a new weapon in my snow removal arsenal, I am perfectly happy to keep the powder dry for a little while longer!
    So that just about covers it. I do have to cute Gracie-isms to share with you. She comes up with come good ones from time to time and Nora told me about two of them recently, so I wrote them down to share with you. The first happened one morning after waking up. When asked how she slept last night, she replied: "I was so tired, I slept with my eyes closed!". The other came when Nora was preparing a meal and part of the prep work included cutting up an onion. Nora had asked Grace if she wanted to help cook, to which Grace replied: "No thanks, onions make my eyes rain.".
    Ok, so maybe not the most exciting thing for the big, tough, he-man, snowmobiler types, but I thought the rest of you might get a chuckle out of them. She's a dandy for sure!
Good night from the Keweenaw..



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