August 30, 2015-
    Sheesh, I was going to start this entry by saying: " we go", but it appears that I already used that one, just last week! Oh well, final entry for August of 2015! I am not usually sad to see August end and this year is no different. Don't get me wrong, it has been a great summer and I could not live in a place where summer did not happen. But...changing the calendar from August to September is probably my favorite. November to December is also fun, but it seems a little less dramatic. Sure the trails can open if we have snow, but the weather change from the end of November to the first few weeks of December is typically not that dramatic, while the change in weather from the end of August to the first few weeks of September typically is. 
    The week ahead looks to be quite warm and humid- by our standards- with highs in the 80's and dewpoints in the upper 60's. A cold front is seen by next Sunday that will knock down the heat- perhaps for good. So I will just grin and bear the warm/hot temps and humidity this week, do indoor tasks that can be done and look forward to the cool down in a week.
    It was a pretty eventful summer. Gracie learned to swim without her floaties and this week she learned to ride a bike without training wheels. Truth be told, she probably would have been riding a bike without training wheels a long time ago, but our bike riding season is pretty short and we also just did not practice trying to do it much. However, she was home all day this past week and coming week and then school starts next week and I really wanted to teach her how to do it before it started, so I took advantage of the extra time with her to get out there. It probably took her around 60 minutes with the training wheels up a few inches to give her the feel of riding without their instant help, but still not letting her fall right over, and then she was not using them at all. So it was decided to yank them off and I can say that she took right off and never looked back. Rode for around 2 minutes all on her own and then stopped and accepted congratulations from both Nora and I. I have to admit that it was one of those proud daddy moments that I will not soon forget. She was so excited too. The look on her face for the first few peddles was a bit of concentration, perhaps even worry, but then she realized she could do it and her face lit up with a smile ear to ear and she was off.
    We let her ride around for another 15-20 minutes and then headed back home. She has been practicing a bit on our driveway, but it being crushed mine rock makes it hard. Sometimes the front wheel washes out on the rocks, but she takes each tumble like a champ. The next day both Nora and I were thinking hard of a place where she could ride the bike and we could walk with the dogs off-leash. We came up with one of our quiet Keweenaw County Roads. It is not paved, but the stamp sand provides a much more stable base than our driveway does and the road seldom sees any traffic, so she is able to ride ahead of us, the pups can do their thing and everyone can move off to the side of the road if a vehicle decides to come down. None came in our travels. So I can see us going down to that road a lot. Gracie can ride her bike, the pups can run free and Nora and I can get some nice, mild exercise in as well.
    Around midweek, we were passing through Hancock when we saw this fellew. He kept saying: "Hey, hey, guess what day it is. You know what day it is?" Finally he told us. It was the day the Houghton County Fair started! Now, before you all wonder where everyone was, that last picture was taken opening day, around 10 minutes before the gates were suppose to even open. We decided to get there early on the first day and try and beat the crowds and were actually able to get in before the official gate opening. By the time we left, the isles were pretty much packed with people.
    We did not go last year because of other things going on, so this was the first year in which Gracie could actually do many of the rides. I think Nora and I where not sure how far up the excitement scale she would go. If it were entirely up to her, she probably would have done them all, including sneaking into the ones she was too small for! Anyway, we came across a friend of hers and they palled up for the first hour or so and first headed to the "kiddy" rides. Some were a bit more tame than others, but none of them were too crazy. She did enjoy all of them and had a smile on her face the whole time. I joined the two of them on the spinning strawberry ride, but smiles from me were hard to come by! Good thing I ate that pizza, gyro, bag of doughnuts, pop, water and shave ice after that one! ;)
    A trip down the carpet slide and then they moved up to the Ferris wheel. I would have easily done the Ferris wheel, but Nora not so much. One the Ferris wheel was done we broke off from her friend, had some food, took in some of the animals and then bumped into some other friends. This time it was the roller coaster that got the call. She is just like her daddy and loved the roller coaster. I am not really scared by any ride, but prefer to stay off the ones that just spin around, as they can induce a bit of motion sickness. Anyway, she did ride the roller coaster 3 times and I am pretty sure she would have rode it the rest of the evening had the situation presented itself.
    But alas, there was some more things to take in and some more food to eat. I slightly over did the eating part and ended up having to move from our bed to the recliner to fight off some indigestion, but learned a lesson! The fair also had a side show put on by the Marvelous Mutts. They are a group of rescue dogs that have been trained to do some really cool tricks. They have even been features on Late Night with David Letterman. Anyway, it was cool to see all the tricks these dogs could do with Frisbees and the agility course. They also had a big pool that the dogs would leap into and fetch a toy.
    Since the calendar says summer is winding down and it won't be too long before the day at the beach come to an end, we all headed to the beach yesterday afternoon to enjoy the beauties of Lake Superior in the summer. Gracie had fun playing in the sand and on the rocks. Man, when I see a picture like that, I cannot help but think about how fast she is growing up! She also braved the water for a swim and then we settled in for a cook out and had some burgers, chips, fruit for dinner and then a few Oreo cookies for desert, all while basking in the sun on the shores of the big lake.
    Today was actually the first in the string of 80 degree days. Nora and Gracie got an invite to go pick some apples, which did not sound like a whole lot of fun in 80's and sunshine, so the pups and I headed to the beach for some frolicking. It's so fun to ask them if they want to go to the beach. They pop up from where ever they are and run right to the front door. The trip to the beach can be a little challenging as they are all ramped up to get there, but we have learned to just roll with their excitement. Today was no different. Heads either stuck out the window or faced right ahead between the two front seats to see how much longer. We made it in good time and found our regular beach deserted and had a fun time retrieving the fetch as well as tennis ball chucked down the beach by the chucker. I am so happy to see them is such good health still. They do not quiet have the staying power that they had when they were younger, but to watch them play, one would have a hard time believing they are 6 1/2. Hopefully that trend can continue for many years to come!
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Enjoy your week and talk to you in September!
Good night from the Keweenaw..

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August 24, 2015-
    Ok, here we go. Thanks again for putting up with my delays, but as mentioned, I got tied up working on something and when I finished, I looked up at the clock and it said 8 pm, so I knew that there would be no way I could write last night.
    Anyway, I guess I can start off with another meteorology tidbit. Not a full lesson like last week, but we did have an interesting event take place this past week. Wednesday afternoon we had a cold front pass us coming up from the south. I can honestly say that in all my years as both a casual and more serious weather observer, I cannot remember ever being part of a cold front that moved in from the south. I have experienced a cooling effect from the south that happened from an outflow boundary that happens under a thunderstorm. However, those are only temporary cool offs, with a return to heat and humidity shortly after.
    What happened on Wednesday afternoon was an actual cold front that was part of an area of low pressure in off to the west of us in MN. The front was able to sweep all the way to the SE quadrant of the low without catching up with the warm front. Ahead of the cold front, our temperature was 80 degrees with a dewpoint of 70. The front then passed through and 30 minutes later our temp was 65 with a dewpoint of 60. Both the temp and dewpoint continued to drop the rest of the day and into the overnight and were not due to the general drop in temp and humidity seen as the day comes to a close. The cooler and less humid air actually extended off to the south and west of us all the way into northern IA.
   The front even touched off some thunderstorms across the western UP. Here is a radar image of the front and its squall line as it was passing through the Keweenaw. Here is a visible satellite image from around the same time. While that particular radar image did not look all that impressive, we did get quite the gully washer. We ended up getting around 2/3rds of an inch of rain in around 10 minutes! That is rainfall at the rate of around 4" per hour! Needless to say, it did bring about some ponding of water in our parking area and brought the level of the pool up a bit, but about 30 minutes later and all the rainwater had been soaked into the ground. Things had been pretty dry, so we sure welcomed the rain as well as that which has fallen since last Wednesday.
    The next few days following that were pretty nice. Not too hot or humid. It allowed the pups and I to take some walks and check out some more of the signs of the changing seasons up here. The trees have not changed much since I last wrote, but the ferns have started to go.
    On Friday, we met up with friends for dinner and then headed to the beach for a sunset bonfire. While I got the fire going, Sydney, Linda and Gracie brought a log over to sit on. Or at least that is what Sydney and Linda thought. Grace had other ideas and ended up rolling it to the waters edge to use as a balance beam! We also took the advantage of the company to take a family portrait.
    As you can see, we got there just a bit before the sun was going to set. In addition to that a lakes freighter (if I recall, it was the Roger Blough) was rounding the bend, on its way to Two Harbors MN. While it was actually traveling at around 13-14 mph (all of this info was gained from the internet via smart phone while we were sitting on the beach!), it seemed to take for ever for it to pass through our line of sight. In fact the sun was able to set and it was able to get pretty much pitch black out and the lights from the ship were still able to be seen, even through the flames of the bonfire
    Saturday it did warm up a bit, with the temp topping out at 84 and a dewpoint in the 60's. Thankfully it did not get too warm too early and the conditions for Gracie's soccer game were still comfortable. The warm and humid weather did allow for one last dip in the pool. The pool was actually already draining at that point, but still plenty of water for her to swim in. I still cannot get used to seeing her swim without the floaties!
    The periods of cooler air this week also allowed me to get going on the first of my three outdoor projects I want to accomplish before the snow flies. Before I could get going on it, I needed to evict these guys from their spot in the wood shed. I have to admit that I did feel a little sad about having to spray down the nest, but there was some things in the wood shed that I needed to use and the nest was quite active and they did not like me going in there. So it was taken care of by two cans of spray. The instructions said to wait for 24 hours after spraying before taking down the nest. I think I may wait until it is 24 degrees! Although I have only seen one hornet come and go from the nest since spraying and it might just have been one that was away while the spraying took place and now wonders were everyone went.
    The real task at hand was to finally put the siding up on the lean-to for Big Red. It has been nearly a full year since I built the lean-to, but sure seems longer, as I have been staring at the ugly house wrap the whole time. It is all done except for some battens on the one side, which will get done as soon as the weather improves this week.
    Speaking of the weather. It is a true autumnal day out there. We have barely been able to get above 50 degrees, high temp since sunrise has been 51, and in addition to that, the wind was whipping up out of the WNW this morning and it has been raining pretty steadily since around 10 am. The air aloft is cold enough and the lake water warm enough that the rain is actually being enhanced by the lake. So we have lake enhanced rain occurring.
    Before the rains hit, Grace, my brother and I went with the pups to take in the wave action at Calumet Waterworks. It was quite windy, pretty chilly and I was glad that the pups enjoyed romping around on the beach, but were smart enough not to go into the surf above their heads. I certainly did not want to have to perform some kind of a rescue, although they are probably both stronger swimmers than I am at this point. Here is a shot of my brother and Grace all bundled up against the elements on this 24th day of August. Hard to believe that it was just two days ago when the pool was still getting used!
    So that about covers it for this one, but before I go, I can leave you with one of the latest "dandies" from Grace. Since the weather was so nasty and the school summer daycare is over for the season, I thought that she might enjoy being able to sit and watch a movie. For what ever reason, she has really taken an interest in Star Wars. She has yet to see any of the movies, but did trade one of her necklaces for a plastic light saber with one of her friends, so I suspect that has a lot to do with it. Anyway, we tried to get the movie the new way off of Netflix, or Amazon Prime or the other online venues, but the only place was to purchase it from the i Store for 20 bucks. So this morning we headed over to the video rental store. They did not have it in DVD, but did have it in VHS. We have a functioning VHS machine, so we took that version. On the way home, she was very inquisitive about what this "tape" was and how it worked. I proceeded to explain things to her and said that back when I was growing up, that is how we watched all movies, as there was not DVD's yet. To which her reply was: "That's cool that we are going to watch it how you did when you were a boy, dad. But it's not going to be in black and white is it?"   I guess at least she did not ask if it were going to be silent!!!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
August 23, 2015-
    My apologies, but got tied up on a special project and it is now bed time for this Bonzo, so I will write tomorrow.
August 16, 2015-
    Let's clear one thing up right out of the box... I am not even going to try and compete with last weeks entry! Nora did an awesome job in all ways and I hope that maybe her appearances in the journal can become more frequent. She is afraid that people do not like it when she writes or that she does not have anything interesting to say, but I say not true and have a sneaking suspicion that she is just saying that so she does not get wrapped into this thing too deep! In any case, I am grateful for the work she did last week and am glad so many of you took the time to congratulate her.
    So the tide of my emotions for the summer has changed. I am ready. I am ready to put summer in the rear view mirror and look out at fall in all directions. I can honestly say that it does not have much to do with the fact that we are on day 4 of our current "heat wave". I put that in quotes as we have not even hit 90 on any of those days, but have been solidly in the upper 80's and have had loads of humidity. I actually felt this way before we even entered into this hot spell and all it has done is to re-enforce my feelings on things.
    Despite the cooler weather the week before, we did keep the pool up and have been in it much of the past 4-5 days, but quite honestly, I am getting pooled-out. Perhaps not sick of being in the pool, but have grown tired of being in the full, hot, sun. I have a history of skin cancer and even though I bathe myself (as well as Gracie) in zinc based sunscreen, I still feel a little uneasy about being in the full sun for too long. I have some swim shirts, but just cannot get used to their feel while in the water. I think that perhaps next summer I will come up with a way to allow for some shade in a spot of the pool and then I can hang out there and not feel as uneasy. 
    It's funny how my feelings about the seasons changed so fast this year. When I first moved up here, I think I was ready for autumn to arrive by the middle of June! Then the past several years, it seemed like there was sort of a gradual transition in the loss of love for summer and yearning for autumn, but for what ever reason, I practically woke up one day being ready for autumn.
    There are actually some signs of autumn showing up around here. That was a little tag elder growing along side the road that the pups and I walk on every morning. It started changing earlier this week and is now pretty far along. There are also a few maple trees in our woods that are showing some splashes of color. Of course these are the exceptions and not the rule. We are still a full month and a half away from the real color show, but we always get a few "early changers" every late summer, just to toss out the hint of things to come.
    We officially ran out of the firewood that I had made earlier in the summer when I cleared some of the trees out from around the pool area. We picked up some land right next to ours this spring and there are a number of dead standing trees out there that I harvested this week. It was cooler- especially in the mornings, and allowed for getting all geared up to cut wood (steel toe boots, long pants, cutting chaps, head gear, ear/eye protection). The cutting is usually the easy part. The harder part is the moving and stacking part. Thankfully I have been able to make use of many vehicles at my disposal to help make the moving a bit easier and a bit more fun. The Commander has come in handy for some of the smaller loads of wood, the dump box is awesome as it will still dump automatically, even with a full load in it. The truck gets the call when the pieces are bigger and/or more numerous. When the pieces are really big, then Gracie gets the and Big Red!
    Those pieces were going pretty quick, as we are still heating the pool and it was looking like I was going to have to switch from dead-standing to trees that were in line for coming down due to being diseased or perhaps in the way of further "urbanization" around here. :) Thankfully the calvary showed up on Friday and dropped off a load of firewood to get us through the rest of the pool heating season...and then some. Actually, that should be enough to get us into the heart of the heating season. I still kind of plan on going hand-to-mouth with the cutting of that wood until we get some nice cool days and then might cut enough to last a month or two until the main cutting party takes place. I will be having another load delivered and that will be all hard maple. 
    Despite the heat and humidity the past 4-5 days, we did have a very nice cool morning yesterday morning. I woke up, gave the pups their breakfast and then let them out and was completely surprised at how cool it felt (way cooler than in the house). Turns out we did get a tiny bit of dry air to move in and that combined with clear skies and calm winds to produce a nice inversion. So the air temp right at the surface was around 60. I quickly opened all the windows in the house to take advantage of the natural cooling and then we closed up the house as soon as the inversion broke down and things heated up.
    For those of you who do not know what I am talking about when I use the term inversion, here is a little meteorology lesson for you. Cold air is more dense than warm air (the whole reason why a hot air balloon can fly). On nights when the air is very calm and the sky is clear, the air will be able to cool due to the heat escaping to the clear skies. As the air cools, the cooler air finds it way into the lowest levels of the atmosphere. In some cases, this might just be a valley, but if the cooling is allowed to happen for long enough, then that layer of cold air will be able to sit over most areas right near the surface. In many cases, that layer of cooler air may only be 10-20 feet thick and then the temps warm. The point where the air starts to warm as you go up is called the inversion. This is because the atmosphere from the surface to around 30,000-40,000 feet generally cools as you go up because the air gets it heat from the ground which is warmed by the sun.
    I also took advantage of the inversion Saturday morning to take the pups for their morning walk in nice cool conditions. While returning to our place, the smoke from the wood boiler illustrated the inversion perfectly. What was happening there was that the smoke (actual particles, not just the air) was coming out of the chimney of the boiler, while it was very hot as it came out, it cooled to the same general temperature of the air around it fairly quickly. It then stopped rising as it hit the inversion and remained trapped below the inversion as it was then cooler than the air above it. By the way, the pups were busy listening to their sister from the previous litter say "good morning" to them as we walked by. She lives next door. So there is your meteorology lesson for the day. Now you can impress all of your friends at the next cocktail party!
   A little later that morning (after the inversion had broken down unfortunately), Gracie had her first soccer practice and scrimmage. The season actually started last Saturday, but we had company over and did not partake. Anyway, she always cracks me up. We were driving and I noticed her fidgeting a bit and asked her if she was nervous about the new season starting and she said she was very nervous. I gave her some words of encouragement, but what cracked me up was that I knew it would take her all of 3.7 seconds to become the coaches-pet and to jibber jabber with all the others on the team. I did not time it, but that is exactly what happened.
    This is her second year in soccer and I could notice the confidence in her when compared to last year. Last year it was all new and a huge curve to negotiate, but this year she was a seasoned veteran. As much as I do not wish to have to wake up a bit earlier on Saturdays and spend the morning traveling to and from Hurontown (just south of Houghton) for soccer, it is a ton of fun to watch these kids play and have fun. The way the league is run as well as the attitude of the coaches and parents is awesome. The kids are there to fell comfortable first, have fun second and learn third. Winning is a long-distant fourth. Not that I do not think wanting to win is wrong, but for kids that are 4, 5 and 6, that time is still a bit off in my opinion.
    They also changed the rules around a bit this year. Instead of having the full field of 11 players, there are 5 players out on the field and a goalie. That makes for a slightly smaller swarm around the ball and also allows for around half of the players to be resting while the others are out on the field.
    So on the way to soccer on Saturday, Gracie said said that she really hoped that she scored a goal this season. I told her that I did too, but not to be disappointed as I played for around 7-8 years and did not score a single goal. I did play my defense. Anyway, she said that she really wanted to score a goal from mid-field like the girl in this years women's world cup did. Like a supportive dad should, I said: "I do too sweetie, I do too.". About five minutes into the game, Gracie was bringing it across mid-field and noticed the goal keeper for the other team way out of the net and decided to go for it. She booted a good one and it looked like she might get her first goal and from mid-field and it ended up bouncing off the cross-bar! 
    Just kidding, but she actually did almost get her first goal. She got around a defender and brought the ball inside the penalty box area and found herself staring at a wide open goal due to the fact that the other team had decided to change goalies out while the game was still going on. As she got into position to bury it into the back of the net, players from the other team swarmed her and she was able to get off a shot, but not the one she had hoped for and it ended up being caught by the freshly replaced goalie. She had a couple of other close calls, one of them a bit controversial and is being reviewed by FIFA to see if it was in fact a goal and not saved as was called on the field.
    Yesterday was probably the hottest of the past 4, as today we have had a stiff breeze blowing and that has helped to keep our temp from going past 84. It is still very humid today, but with the wind, it has been very comfortable to be out on the screened porch. I almost wrote this entry from there, Nora even suggested the same thing, but there is quite a bit of work that needs to be done besides the actual writing, so decided to head into the air conditioned office.
    It was still in the upper 80's after dinner last night and instead of heading back into the pool to cool off, we decided to pile everyone into Nora's Pilot and head down to the big lake. It was just a few weeks ago that even putting your toes into that water would bring about some real pain, but it has really warmed up since then. The surface temps on most of the lake range from the low to upper 60's and I bet there are pockets of warmer surface water that are solidly into the 70's. I had some aspirations of taking my annual "full dip" in the lake last night. I have not done it in at least a year or two, but decided against it as the sun was getting lower on the horizon when we go there and I just did not have the same urge I did earlier in the day when things were so much hotter and the sun so much stronger. I did manage to at least get my knees wet! And who knows, perhaps there will still be a chance for a full dip before things cool off for good.
    A much different story for the pups. They get so excited when we take the turn off the highway and head down towards the lake. It's so funny how they just cannot wait for us to get there. I guess they don't always live in the moment! Anyway, they had a total blast taking turns fetching a stick and we even brought along a bit of shampoo to help remove the grime collected on their coats since the last time they went for a dip in the lake.
    The pups were not the only ones that took a full dip. Gracie also loved the warmer water and also loved the fact that she did not need to wear her floaties anymore. Don't worry, she was not in over her head, figuratively or in actuality. We did not let her go in past mid-chest. That was plenty deep enough to engage with the pups and here she is having a race with Millie. She also had fun grabbing onto both of them and riding them in like dolphins in a Sea World show. When a collar escaped her grip, there was always a tail! Actually she did that only once, Nora caught it with the camera, but we told Grace that she should not hang onto the dog's tails because it could hurt them. The picture was just too cute not to post! Really helps to give the feel of things on the beach yesterday evening.
    So I think that about covers it for this one. Our cooler temps are about 8-10 hours away and then it looks like we will be fairly comfortable through Wednesday and then possibly heat up again. Besides making wood, I have a few other outdoor tasks I want to get done before the snow starts to pile up, so I will be welcoming all of the 60 degree days I can get for the next 60 days or so.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
August 9, 2015-
    Well, as promised, you are in for a special treat this week. Nora went on a quick trip to Isle Royal with her brother, sister-inlaw and their friend and took tons of pictures. I know she is always a little apprehensive to write, as she things everyone is coming to read what I have to say, but I know how you all have enjoyed her writings from time to time and I think this will be more of a photo display that writing, as she has lots of great pictures to share. So for those of you (including me) that have not been to "The Island", sit back and enjoy!
   Boy, where do I begin. John had warned me last week that he would like me to write this week so while I was gone I took alot of pictures. Over 500 actually! I know John likes to wait for the perfect shot, but I'm more of the take alot of photos and hope for a few good ones kind of photographer. I must warn you that I have so many pictures I might not be able to be as clever as John is and have them flow into my writings.  
    As some of you may know, the Queen from Copper Harbor had some problems last week and on Tuesday was actually in Wisconsin getting some repairs and then an inspection from the Coast Guard. We had tickets for Wednesday morning and for a few days were holding our breath as to if our trip would happen. The folks from the Queen were very good at keeping us informed of the status of the boat and when we received the call Tuesday evening that she would be back at the Harbor in time for the morning sail we were pretty excited. We got up bright and early and headed to the Harbor. It was a beautiful start of the day. We all fueled up with a piping hot turn over and a coffee as we waited to board. It was a full boat as some had planned to head out Monday and/or Tuesday but were unable to.  I over heard one of the Captains say he arrived to the Harbor around 4 am! As we headed out I watched the the Captain on the dock.  I can't imagine the money, time, stress etc. that it took to get everything up and running again. I could almost see the relief in his eyes as they watched us sail away. It was a beautiful day to be on a boat and we had smooth sailing the entire 3 1/2 hour trip. I spent the trip out on the stern to avoid some motion sickness. The others joined me from time to time as well. 
     As we arrived on the Island we were greeted by one of the park rangers. He goes over the basic "rules" of the island. The briefing doesn't take too long and then we were free to start our adventures. We decided to stay in one of the house keeping cabins on the Island. Nothing fancy but it certainly did the trick. The cabins have showers, stove, fridge and sleeping for many. So it worked out well for our group.  
     Our stay was shorter than we had wanted but the Queen was filled on the Friday return and we couldn't miss the Eagle Harbor craft show on Saturday:-)  The things on our "to -do" list were:  kayak, fish, hike and have some laughs. I'm happy to say that we accomplished all of the above. We brought out 3 kayaks and then rented the 4th. Next time we will skip hauling our own and just rent. When you rent your kayak is ready and waiting for you. When you bring your own, one must portage....Not a long way, but up and down up can be tricky at times. Once we got all our fishing gear and kayak gear to Tobin Harbor we were off!  My sister in-law Tammi took the lead, followed by Alan, my brother Joel and then myself. I found it tricky at best to kayak, fish and take pictures. It seems like every time I'd put my camera down, I'd want to pick it right back up and snap another picture. Once I got my pole situated that made life a little easier as well. We did a little trolling kayak style. 
     Last year Joel and Tammi had been on the Island and went on a hike that ended up spitting them right out to Lake Superior. So they thought it would be fun to take the kayaks there as there was a small beach area and some beautiful scenery. Well, we were not disappointed! When we paddled out onto Lake Superior and rounded the corner, all you heard was  "WOW" for everyone. Since we had been paddling for a few miles, the beach looked like an inviting stop to get out and stretch our legs a bit. While there we decided to each make a little cairn and snap a picture for Gracie. She loves to make them and see them along her adventures back at home. The shore line was filled with interesting rocks and even a little something left behind by a moose. Before long we decided it was time to continue on. I did have a little mishap and tipped my kayak at shore. Luckily, I fell just right and kept my camera dry. I've done something to my shoulder that I'm praying with go away on it's own. I must say the water was a tad shocking at first but not so bad after I had been in a bit. Tammi and Alan wanted to jump in Superior together for their 50th birthdays. Tammi was first, followed by Joel. At that point Alan knew he had to go and couldn't be the only one left to go in the water. My spill earlier surely counted in my book. It wasn't long and Alan took the plunge as well.  I will say that they were all proud and happy to have jumped in, but no one lasted real long due to the temps. It was getting a little late so we fished for awhile longer and then decided to head back to camp. By the time we arrived at the shore we were all pretty whooped! There is a nice little restaurant on the island and we had a delicious dinner. I must say we didn't "rough it" too much and that was ok. We really had more time to explore and enjoy each other while not worrying about cooking, hauling food, dishes, etc. 
     As some of you long time readers might remember my brother Joel and I have a long standing fishing bet. So as soon as supper was finished we went fishing. The fish weren't biting so for fun we would see who could cast the furthest. Being with Joel and fishing brings out the kid in me and him! I'm sure the people at the Lodge heard us whopping it up each time one of our little competitions ended.  Tammi and Alan even got in on the fun. Tammi kissing Joel's lure for luck and all sorts of craziness. By the time the sun set it was time to call it a night. After several, "just one more casts" we called it a night. No fish in the net but lots of laughs and memories made. 
     The next morning came around and we had until about 2 pm to do some hiking. The idea of some kayaking in the harbor was mentioned but with my bad shoulder and some sore arms we decided a hike and a picnic lunch would be just fine. The weather was just perfect the entire time we were gone. While on our hike we had a little breeze that was just enough to keep the bugs away. For those of you reading who haven't been on the Island hiking, it's really an adventure. I find that if I want to look at something it's best to just stop. Alot of the trails have tree roots sticking out or even 2x4's to cross where the land is swampy.
On our morning hike we stumbled across some delicious blueberries! It was a perfect late morning snack. Those wild blueberries are just so sweet!  As I was stopping and taking pictures I looked down and noticed this little guy looking at me. Can you see him? There's just so much to see it's incredible. At one point someone spotted moose tracks in the mud. They looked pretty fresh too. He saw them for some time along the trail. It looked like an adult and a smaller, baby moose. Well, it wasn't long before we heard something in the woods. Everyone heard it and stopped. We waited and looked, hiked a little more, stopped and looked. This was the closest thing to a moose we saw that day. Along this particular path there are some interesting signage and it was nice to have the time to stop and read along the way. The views were awesome and before we knew it, it was time to head out. 
     After our group shot and some lunch it was time to get back on the Queen. The ride back was much cooler and by the time we got to the middle of the lake, it got a little rough. The last hour or so was probably the roughest seas I've been in. It was fun to catch the birds following the boat, the freighters and the waves. The picture doesn't really capture them very well but trust me they were pretty impressive! We were greeted into the Harbor by the George T. and crew from the Harbor Haus. I was glad to see that they still carry on the tradition of greeting the boat when it comes in. 
     By this time it was around 7 pm and we were all a little hungry. So after a quick trip up Brockway we were headed home. For those of you who haven't been on top of Brockway lately they have a few new signs up. Oh we also saw a turkey on the way up. I always loved watching the turkeys when I lived downstate so I'm happy to see them around the Keweenaw. 
     The weather on Friday wasn't so nice, with on and off drizzle. The rain didn't stop us and we loaded in the car to head out to Jacobsville. It wasn't long before the girls found a cool piece of drift wood. It didn't take much convincing to get Gracie to pose for that one. Such a ham! The usual Jacobsville rounds were made including a stop off at bbb. We all went home with a few pieces of sandstone and rocks. I think Gracie got a few of hers from the man made fire pit. As luck would have it we ended our adventures with a bang. As we were driving along we found a super great wild blueberry patch. I wish we had containers with us as we could have picked enough berries to make some muffins. I was playing around with the camera and snapped that in black and white.  In case you are in Jake and need some syrup you will be all set. I love that the honor system can still be successful. 
     I almost forgot the highlight of Gracie's Friday! Joel and I were reminiscing about who lived where etc. and we pulled up to a house and stopped in front of it, remembering the people who had lived there. The couple who live there have dogs, horses, chickens, roosters etc. Before we knew it, out comes the current owner of the home and he says, "come on in I'll show you the place". So we pulled up into his drive I spent some time talking with the gentlemen about what I knew about the first owners of the house etc. He was so nice and let Gracie feed his horses.  She's wanted a horse since she was 2, so this was a real treat to be so close to the horses. She giggled and laughed and didn't want to leave. The smaller guy had us adults giggling too. 
     Our company left earlier this morning and we were all a little sad to see them go. Joel and Tammi back to lower Michigan and Alan to California. The only downfall to living in the UP....all our family is so far away! Lucky for us, some of them really love it here and visit 1-2 times a year which makes it nice. I believe that everyone had fun and I think the highlight of the trip might have been John's little side by side tour....I stayed back with Gracie but I heard they hit some pretty deep waters and really steep hills for a certain flatlander:-) As you can see by the pictures the dogs really wanted to go with. 
     I was joking about writing the journal and said I'm just going to write, "here's some pictures hope you enjoy". I think the hardest part is trying to fit the pictures into the text so it flows. So this time I decided to just write the journal and then go back and insert pictures. Sure hope it works:-) 
Good Night from the Keweenaw!
August 3, 2015-
    My apologies for not writing yesterday, but we had a pretty busy day and I had quite a bit of material to share with you all, so I did not want to just sit down and write a quick one.
    So welcome to August everyone! For the snow-lovers among us, that is pretty good news. Not as good as September, or more so...December, but for those waiting for the flakes to start falling, August presents the beginning to the end of summer and it's heat and humidity. With as beautiful as this summer has been, I remain in no hurry for it to end, but being a lover of all four seasons (well maybe not the Keweenaw spring!), I do start to get excited for the change over to occur. In fact, I did have my first "snowmobile dream" this past week. At least that I can remember. Perhaps there have been others and I can imagine that some of you reading this probably have them all summer long, but on Tuesday, I had my first vivid snowmobile dream. So my thought process must be at least creeping towards things to come.
    Snowmobile dreams or not, it is still summer up here and as mentioned in the last entry, late summer means berry season. Earlier in the week, we all hopped into the Commander and headed out to "the back 40" to see how some of the berry patches on our property were doing. First off, I will say that Gracie does not normally ride in the back. That last shot was taken while they were turning the machine around. Anyway, the thimbleberries and raspberries are just starting to ripen. It looks to be a fairly healthy thimbleberry crop, but the raspberries seem to be a bit off. Kind of a bummer for me as I do not care for thimbleberries, but love raspberries. A little later on in the week, as I was walking the pups, they dipped down into the woods off the side of the road and did a bit of berry picking themselves. It still cracks me up to watch them pick berries. They sure do love them! I have discovered that they also love cantaloupe and am trying to have some already cut up in the fridge for us all to snack on.
    So after about a 2 month break from the woodshop, I returned this past week to work on a project. It is something that was right up at the top of the list for both myself and Nora to have done, as it not only filled up an empty spot in the addition, but also will be very functional and used pretty much every day. What could it be, you wonder? Well it is a bench for the foyer. I had picked up the slab of natural edge, spalted maple for the seat in early June and just was waiting for a week where there was not much on the schedule. That week finally arrived last week and so I got started on things on Sunday and by Saturday, Nora and I were putting it in place. It will work out perfect for putting on my shoes (or boots) before the morning walk with the pups, as well as store their leashes and hat/gloves for me. Technically it is not 100% completed. Nora has some old ceramic door knobs from her grandparents and I am going to use them to make some coat hooks on the top rail. 
    The next project will take me outside, so that will be a "weather permitting" project and is also not anything that has to really be done until the snow flies, but I would like to have it done much sooner than that.
    Tomorrow will be Gracie's 6th birthday. The first three years of her life seemed to crawl by. Not by any of her doing, but because I was so sick and really struggled to feel good for those three years. The last three have flown by like everyone said they would. She is such a beautiful gift to Nora and I, I cannot even begin to formulate words to express the way I/we feel. In ways, I do not like to see her growing up so fast, but in others, I am so excited. She lives every moment of her life like it is the best that has ever happened and it is so magnificent to be able to be part of that.
    With her birthday falling on a weekday, we decided to have her party with friends (the first one by the way) this past Saturday. So 9 of her friends came over for the festivities. She wanted the theme to be something like snowmobiling, or the Keweenaw or the Chicago Blackhawks, but I insisted that it be My Little Pony and since I was paying for the party, I got my way! :) Kidding of course, but it was really fun to see some of her friends over and all of them interacting with each other. Many of them were in the same kindergarten class together, but a few were not and it was neat to see them all get along so well.
    We had a dinner of hotdogs, chips and watermelon and then they played some games, went outside to do a scavenger hunt (Nora's great idea) and even an impromptu snake hunt. Then it was back inside for cake and ice cream...after blowing out the candles. Later in the day after the party had ended and all the friends had gone home, she played with some of the presents, including a Lego kit. It was cool to see her actually using the instructions to put the Lego kit together all by herself. She did invite me to join in and we finished it up together.
    Yesterday Nora's brother and sister in-law arrived for a visit and we all went to the Quincy Mine for their tour. I have to admit that I have probably drove by the mine several hundred times, but had never taken the tour until yesterday. It starts out above ground with a guided tour of the main lift house and hoist. Gracie actually went on her birthday last year with the woman that had been her sitter before Gracie started school. It was all she talked about for weeks and ever since going on the tour, we cannot pass the mine without her talking about it, so we asked if she wanted to go again for her birthday this year with Nora and I and she excitedly said yes. So of our group, she was the only veteran of the mine and tour. 
    The mine was established in 1846 and continued in operation for 99 more years. When it ceased operation in 1945, the #2 shaft was the worlds deepest at 9,260 feet. The hoist used to bring miners up and down as well as the mined material up from below was the worlds largest and lifted 10 tons of ore at 36.4 miles per hour! Here is a shot of three miners getting ready to go into the hole for a days work. Looks like I was the only one with my "game face" on. 
    Actually, the hoist is no longer in use and hasn't been for almost 90 years. These days, the participants are brought into the mine by taking a cog railway (one of three in the whole US) down a hill from the mines surface buildings to a level a few hundred feet below. The ride down was pretty fun in itself. The view is very cool, the grade is pretty steep and some of the others in the tour got scared, but not me. I remained cool, calm and collected. Once at the bottom of the hill, you then get off the cog tram and get onto a wagon pulled by a tractor that takes you 2000 feet into the side of the hill and into the mine itself. The tunnel you travel into the mine through is actually an old adit at the 7th level of the mine that was used for drainage. It was widened back in the 70's by MI Tech for a mining study and even includes a classroom off the adit that was used for a period of time. 
    Once the tractor takes you in the 2000 feet, you take a short walking tour and see things like the power drills that they used near the turn of the century, as well as some of the other tools and techniques used in those days. Down below they also have a map showing the entire mine complex. When you are down there, you feel as though you are down really deep, that is until you look at the point on the map where you are and how much deeper down and in it goes! You are also taken into one of the stopes, they are the "rooms" created when a larger deposit was formed. Here is a picture of one drifts going off towards the stope. I believe the cloudiness in picture was just from some spirits that haunt the mine.
    The mine is a constant 43 degrees. I did bring a jacket with me, but had to loan it to Gracie not long after we went inside as she had insisted that she only needed a hoodie and would be warm enough with that. I was able to manage the 43 degree temps better than I thought I would after handing Gracie my jacket, but by the end of the tour was happy to get it back for the ride back out to the outside world.
    So that about covers it for now. Tomorrow is the big day for Gracie and then Nora heads to Isle Royal with her brother, sister in-law and a friend of theirs on Wednesday for a quick trip. Nora is planning to bring the digital SLR camera, so perhaps I can coax her to write next week's entry and tell us all about the trip to the island!
Good night from the Keweenaw..


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