Holy wa! I did not even realize that it had been 3 weeks since I last wrote! I can say that last Sunday we were invited to a neighbors house for a get together and two weeks ago there was something going on as well, but I could have written on one of those Monday’s as well. So my apologies for being away for so long!
I don’t know about the rest of you, but this summer is flying by for me. Hard to believe that in three weeks, it will be labor day weekend and in three weeks and two days, school will be back is session up here. I suppose one reason why it has gone by so fast is that we really struggled to put together any kind of summer weather until July came, so that means we have only had around 6 weeks of true summer weather.
Here I am talking about how fast the summer is going and we already have had some hints of autumn creeping in. When I say hints, I do mean just small things that could probably be missed by visitors or even locals not really paying close attention. Such things like it getting darker so much earlier now. By around 9-9:30, it dark enough that objects become difficult to see. Basically Nautical Twilight. That’s around 2 hours later than it is around the solstice. Another thing is the nearly regular occurrence of dropping into the 50’s and even a few upper 40’s at night. This has not been a sultry summer and I’m sure I can count the number of really warm and sticky nights on one hand. Typically the Keweenaw will only have around 5-10 of those a year, but with it getting darker earlier and lighter later, it just gets more and more difficult to keep things too hot and muggy overnight.
I have not seen any colors starting to pop, which is a bit rare for this time of the year. These early turners, as I like to call them, are really not part of the main color show, just trees that are under stress and decide to go dormant early. The main show, of course, will be the first 2 weeks of October, kinda centered on the October 7-10 period for most of the Keweenaw. Every year when we get to the end of August, I become amazed at the change about to unfold in the weather. In the span of just around a month, we go from summer weather to pure autumn weather, with the chance for some of the first winter precip of the season. All in the course of 4-5 weeks. Wish we could go from winter to summer that fast!
The summer tourist season is still going strong. We were up in Copper Harbor on the 4th for Grace’s birthday and the joint was hopping. All the business owners seemed to still have plenty of energy, with the end of season burnout not yet setting in. Strange to think that in some areas, the kids are already back in school and in others, they will be starting in the next 1-2 weeks. Not here in the great state of Michigan! Unless a school is granted a waiver, they cannot start until after Labor Day. The good old fashioned way!
The week of Grace’s birthday she attended a figure skating camp at MI Tech. Even though tech is “local”, it it still about a 45 minute drive away. Add in another 10-15 minute cushion to handle any construction or the bridge going up, plus another 15 minutes or so for her to get into her skates and be ready and a 60-90 minute session on the ice turns into an at east 4 hour affair. Which eats up a good chunk of the day. Nora and I really do not mind taking her, but it’s amazing how little gets done around the house on day’s like that! The camp is done and she tested out of two dances, so now we are down to lessons at Tech 2 times a week. It’s been so much fun to watch her progress. She still has 5 years left with the local programs and it will be really cool to see where she is at by the end of those 5 years. Also sad to see it come to an end, at least locally.
This past week a friend and I took Grace out on the boat to go kneeboarding. It had been a year since she last went, but her older age and more developed strength/coordination allowed her to not only pick up where she left off, but to advance even more. She was out there for around an hour and even though she wanted to go more, I said she had better stop if she wanted to be able to move the next day!
After the kneeboarding, the three of us did a little exploring on the other side of the waterway from Jake. Even though we look at it all the time, it is from nearly a mile away and so I never really have seen the details of that side. So we motored slowly along that shoreline, checking out the marina and homes over there. Most of the homes are actually old homes from way back in the day that there was more commercial fishing done out of there. One in particular you can see had a net/tackle room on the first floor and living quarters on the second floor. Commercial fishing is still done from that side, although the boats dock a bit further up the waterway. While on that little excursion, we came upon a small island with some trees and an old abandoned boat on it. Even though I was around 1400 miles north of it, the sight really reminded me of being in the backwaters of the Florida Gulf, around Ft Myers and Bonita Beach. Our family used to vacation down there and we would cruise around the inland waterways to fish and explore. I think it helped that the weather was very much Florida-like, with sunshine and temps in the 80’s.
The other evening the girls headed over to the waterway to do a little fishing. For some reason, I have lost my interest in fishing for the past 15 years or so. I used to really like it, but now I just prefer to drive the boat or sit and watch. I did not even tag along for that fishing adventure, as I had some other stuff to do, but Grace was able to catch a little rock bass and Nora was skunked. I do really need to get Nora out on the boat fishing. While Grace was kneeboarding, I kept seeing fish on the depth finder at the same spot and perhaps Nora can catch a few of them and find out their species and size.
Last night Grace, Nora and I took to the back yard to practice our aim. I have a 9mm pistol, a .22 lever action rifle and a break barrel pellet gun. Grace is allowed to shoot the pellet and .22, but the 9mm has a fair amount of kick and I would like for her to get some training from someone that knows more than me about handguns and shooting before she shoots it. I know she has shot a .22 and .45 pistol with her uncle, so I am hoping we all can get together and shoot sometime and Grace and I will become knowledgeable enough to let her shoot the 9mm. Then we’ll move up to a .50 cal!
The biggest news in the Keweenaw this week was probably the arrival of the cruise ship Viking Octantis. It has been sailing the Great Lakes all summer and while in Lake Superior, Houghton has been one of it’s stops. The first two times it was supposed to head up the waterway to Houghton, it could not. The first time because of wind and the second because of fog. Third time was the charm this past Wednesday as it quietly slipped through the south entry at around 4:30 am and headed up to Houghton. It cannot dock anywhere there, nor does it fit beneath the lift bridge. So it goes up the waterway to around Dollar Bay where it then stops and passengers that want to go ashore get into a launch and that takes them to a docking area in Houghton.
I don’t know how many people turned out to see it while it was in the Houghton area, but there were quite a few here down in Jake/white City to watch it travel back down the waterway and back out into the big lake. I was one of those spectators and have to say that it was really something to see that ship. It is brand new, having being put into service just this year.
Even though it was only traveling at around 5-6 knots as it passed through the waterway, it did not take long before it was passing the lower entry light and back out into the big lake, on its way to the Soo Locks. As it slowly cruised by, there were some passengers on the decks that shouted “Thanks for Having US!”, which drew the immediate reply from the shore of “Thanks for Coming!”. It still has several more stops planned before the summer ends and it starts doing cruises to the Caribbean, South America and even Antarctica.
Well, just as it was time for the Viking Octantis to sail on, it is now my time to do the same. Like the ship, I will be back for more, hopefully a lot more than just a few more!
Good Night from the Keweenaw..