Back On The Island

BOTI! Back on the Island…and boy does is feel good! Hey, that might make a good t-shirt. BOTI. I guess it could also mean Better on the Island! Anyway, my pretty-regular trip to southern WI to attend the Milwaukee Snowmobile Snow is over and it feels as good as ever to be back home. This was a unique trip for me, as I traveled alone. Both Nora and Gracie had stuff going on and Gracie also got into a play last minute. I was totally bummed to miss the play, but was able to catch the rehearsal they had on Wednesday.
It was strange to be traveling down that way all alone. I cannot even remember the last time that I did it without Gracie, Nora and I don’t think I have ever made the trip without at least one furry child. I did get to visit with my mom a bit on Thursday afternoon and evening and again on Friday and also got to briefly visit with my older brother.
The show seemed to be a pretty good one. I did not walk around the entire hall, but did walk around half of it and it seemed like the selection of things was better than it has been recently and the crowds seemed pretty good as well. We were never swamped, but pretty steady Friday night and Saturday.
It was awesome to see so many of you there. I really consider this site a kind of family, so it was nice to meet so many good folks. I did not keep track of how many folks I did meet, but would have to estimate it at several hundred, if not more.
I was able to leave 2 hours before the show closed on Saturday and then took right off for home. After a bit of driving in circles, trying to get onto the expressway (really Milwaukee, why close ALL the entrance ramps!), I was on my way and got home last night around midnight.
Nora and I almost passed in the night, as she is on her way to central WI for a training seminar, although we did get to spend some time together last night and this morning and she will be back Tuesday evening. So a pretty short trip for her and it will be nice to have the whole family together once she is back on Tuesday.
For those of you waiting for her second entry, it will come next week. Because we need to coordinate together to get it posted, and first I was out of town and now her, we did not have the chance to compile things. So that is why you are stuck with me again!
So it is for sure autumn up here now. The colors are at full peak. This was
the look from our front porch this morning. The pups and I took a very short walk in the woods this afternoon and this was the look from there. It is also a very beautiful autumn day up here, with tons of blue sky and temps in the upper 50’s. While walking through the woods, it was fun to look up and see the colors of the trees accented by the background of the blue skies.
Gracie had left with her uncle on a road trip to Copper Harbor to see the colors and Nora was getting ready for her trip, so it was just
the pups and I, but we still had fun. My brother was gracious enough to come over to the house and feed and take care of the pups when I was away. He even went the extra mile to take them for some walks in the woods. So it was nice to know that they were in such good hands when I was away and Nora was busy at work, or taking Gracie to the rehearsals for the play and then the play itself.
Those were the only pictures I have to share with you this week, but I promise you that they will not be the only color pictures I share with you this season. The weather looks a little questionable for leaf peeping tomorrow, but later Tuesday and into Wednesday and Thursday look like it will provide some opportunities for taking them in.
I really do not have a whole lot more to talk about, other than the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will be holding their trail work session this coming Friday and Saturday. We will be meeting at the Trailside Lodge both Friday and Saturday morning at 9:30 to organize, get our marching orders and then head out. It looks like the weather will be OK. Perhaps a few flakes of snow or scattered showers later Friday. If you want to head up and help out, the
Trailside Lodge and D’s Basecamp are both offering free lodging for workers and I will be cranking out the smoked brisket and pulled pork for Saturdays dinner.
Speaking of snowflakes, we did have our first ones fly Thursday around midday. I did not see them as I was headed down for the snowmobile show, but both my brother and Gracie reported them to me, so I will take that as official!
I did release my seasonal outlook last Monday and while there were no dramatic fireworks associated with it, my general thinking is that most folks will be at least OK with what this winter brings to most of the Midwest. I cannot see any reason to say that record breaking cold and snow will occur for anyone, but it will be at least an average winter for snow and cold. I can also add that I am encouraged by the warm autumn we have had thus far. I ran into quite a few folks at the show this weekend that were worried, but based on my knowledge and experience, a warm autumn can be a better sign for the upcoming winter than a cold one.
So I guess that about covers it for this one, except to let you all know that a good friend of mine and guide at Togwotee Mountain Lodge just had a special series of videos posted to YouTube highlighting his story. He is a great guide and an even better person and I encourage you all to
check it out here.
Good night from the Keweenaw..

The warm-up band is back.

I feel like the opening band that nobody came to see by sitting down to write. Don’t worry, I am not sulking, but with as great as Nora’s entry was last week, there is no way I can compete with that. Especially based on the fact that the past week was pretty uneventful and the fact that today is Nora and my 12th anniversary and I am more interested in spending time with her than sitting here and writing! Sorry!
Anyway, Nora will be writing again very soon. Hopefully next week! I suppose it is a good thing that I have the opportunity to write this week, as I do have some important announcements. First is that I will be manning the booth for the Keweenaw at the Milwaukee Snowmobile show next weekend, so if you are at the show, please stop by and say hi! I will have memberships for the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club for sale as well as some ThinkSnow stickers. I am looking forward to the show as it is always fun to be in a room with the “snow brotherhood” (sisters too!). Haydays is a lot of fun, but it really seems like it is still summer when that happens and although the weather can be very nice in Milwaukee for the show, it just seems more like winter is just around the corner when I attend that show. So pleases stop by to say hi and talk snow!
The second big announcement is that in two weeks, the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club will be holding its pre-season trail work session. The work will be done on the 21st and 22nd. There is free lodging for workers at the Trailside in Calumet as well as D’s Basecamp in Toivola. We will be all meeting up at the Trailside Lodge at 9:30 in the morning both days. There also will be a dinner held for all volunteers on Saturday evening, the 22nd. We have some important work do to, so all help will be much appreciated. No special tools are needed, although if you have some light construction equipment and want to bring it, that would be great, as a bridge re-build is part of the work we will be doing. If you have any questions, you can
e mail me.
The third announcement is two parted. First, I have ended the warm season forecasts and will be taking a break for a few weeks and then starting up the snowfall forecasts in early November. If there is some snow to forecast for by November 1st, then I will start then, otherwise will start on the 7th. Part two is that I have all but completed my seasonal outlook. Just a few more things to polish up and then I will post it to the site. That will be happening tomorrow morning. So be sure to check back into the site tomorrow for that dandy!
That about covers it for the announcements. Now onto the goings on in the Keweenaw! The weeks weather was a mix of nasty and nice. We had some beautiful days with sunshine and temps in the 60’s, but we also had some days where it rained all day and did not get out of the 40’s. Yesterday morning we even had our first wintry precip of the season. It did not fall as snow, but was frozen. It fell as sleet. I actually got a text message from a friend living up here for his first winter and said it was sleeting out. So I went out onto our front porch and sure enough, some sleet was bouncing off the vehicles parked in our driveway!
Believe it or not, we have not turned our heat on yet! We probably could have or should have! But the house has not gotten too cold. Plus, we have been
firing up the fireplace quite regularly, that takes the chill out of the main living areas of the house very nicely and technically, I guess it could count as heat. Anyway, the heat in the floors has not been turned on yet and it looks like we will get through the first half of this week without having to turn it on.
It is amazing how true autumn weather has been avoiding us so far. In many years we would have already seen our first snow and by far our first frost, but no snow and no frost, just the short period of sleet yesterday morning. Without a frost yet, the garden is still producing some yummies, although the plants do look to be running out of steam and almost longing for a frost, so they can call it quits for the season! While out cutting the grass this week, I was able to stop and pick
a nice ripe strawberry! We picked up some plants this season and one group of them are ever-bearing and are still producing fruit. I never thought I would be picking strawberries up here in October!
As I think I mentioned a week or so ago, Nora’s brothers came up from downstate and were joined by her nephew who attends Northern MI University in Marquette for some hunting. Nora went out and did some bird hunting with them on Saturday and then they came over Sunday and did some hunting in our woods.
Grace even got in on the action. While she did not actually hold or shoot a gun, she did help them clean their catch for the day and ate the partridge for supper that evening!
Since I got far enough along with the office remodel that I could take a short break I jumped back into the lighting project for the kitchen. I cannot even remember when I started that project, but know it was well over a month ago. Then the office remodel took over and the beam for the lights sat in the shop for weeks. So it was nice to get back on that job and even nicer to finish it this week. Not only did another item on my to-do list get checked off, but we gained a nice and very much needed
lighting fixture in our kitchen area. We can now sit at the “bar” and be able to see our food while eating! It was none too soon, as it is now dark out when I am eating my breakfast and is getting dark when we sit down for dinner.
I think I will be jumping back into the office remodel this week. I still need to make the counter top for my work area and hang some pictures in the room. Once that is all done, I will be sure to give you a look at the final project. I actually am going to build a secretary type desk for my office, but that may not happen for a month or two, as I would like to get started on a new dinning table in time to finish for Thanksgiving!
The mild autumn has really delayed the color show up here. Typically we would be right at peak right now, but I would have to say our woods are at least 4-5 days away from peak, if not a bit more. Next weekend will for sure be the peak weekend for the colors in our area, although we will probably still have something of a show for the trail work weekend! Here is
a shot I just took out our front door of the color in our woods. It is cloudy out, so they do not look as far along as they really are. I would put them at around 60-65% right now. When the sun is out, there are trees that are just magnificent. Here is a shot of a few leaves I took earlier this week on a tree that is on our property.
So I guess that about gets you caught up on things for this week. As mentioned, it looks like the mild weather will continue for at least the first half of this week, with a bit of cooling, but still nothing that would be considered cold by our standards. I hope to see as many of you as I can at the Milwaukee show next weekend and until next time…
Good night from the Keweenaw..    

Nora’s Discoveries

At long last! My apologies for the delay, but this entry was a true collaboration between Nora and I and so not only did we each need to do some work, but we also needed to sit down together for part of it. So that can get a little tricky at times! Anyway, this will be the first of two entries she will be writing. So enjoy!

 “Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods and listen to the magic whisper of old trees”….I came across this quote and just love it. Do we stop long enough to really be still? To listen to our surroundings? For me, this has been a recurring message that someone has been trying to tell me this summer. I see the words, “be still” often. I’ve never enjoyed the crazy busy life style and seem to struggle with the need to slow things down a bit at times. Wasn’t it just last week I was flying back home to the Keweenaw with our  brand new baby Gracie in tow? Hard to believe that was 7 years ago and now that little one climbs in my lap, I look and see that same face smiling back at me….minus a few teeth. She’s dreaming of getting married, driving a car and having “real science” when she gets to Middle School. It’s at those moments I want time to slow down and just be still a little longer.
You may have noticed that John is taking a much deserved break from the weekly journal. I went on a little adventure and John wanted me to share it all with you. I will admit that there is a small part of me that wants to just keep it with me and not share. To me… it’s just that special.
As a small child I would spend a considerable amount of time with my grandmother, June Bergh. She lived in Jacobsville and was a gem of a lady. The door to her home was always open, with fresh coffee, a story about Jesus and treats waiting to be had. One of the things she loved to do was gather up all the old photos and jewelry and spread them out on the dining room table. Oh how I loved that! Grandma would let me touch and wear everything my little heart desired. We did this often and I believe that is where my love of my family history began. My only regret is that it wasn’t until I was in college that I started to write down little things that she told me along the way.
My interest has always been my grandfather Russell’s mother’s side. That was until I rec.’d a call from a friend in July saying, “Nora don’t you have relatives that were Bergh’s?”.
My friend had found some stationary behind a wall in a home belonging to the Anderson’s in Lac La Belle. (If you’re still with me this little tid bit will be of interest later) It was Grant Township stationary from the 30’s. On this stationary William Bergh was typed and then crossed off and replaced with “Ida Bergh”. Ida was my great, great aunt and also the Sheriff of Keweenaw county. You see she was appointed as Sheriff after my Uncle had passed away within hours of beginning his 2nd term as Keweenaw County Sheriff. Ida was re-elected 3 additional times and “reduced crime and applied a philosophy of kindness and cleanliness to the courthouse and jail”. How’s that for a take charge, 1940’s kind of gal?!  Ida was also responsible for saving many of the men from the shipwreck “City of the Bangor”. Here’s a little blurb from my cousin, Martha. The “City of Bangor” ran aground on the Peninsula quite a bit north of the Copper Harbor lighthouse. The men on the boat were from Detroit and most were not dressed for Copper Country winter. They were wearing loafer shoes and their coats were not warm enough. They were able to get off the boat and waded through hip-deep snow drifts until they got to the lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper then walked from the lighthouse to the west end of Copper Harbor to my grandma and grandpa’s house. My grandpa was outside and heard the swish of the lighthouse keeper’s oil slicker pants as he walked, knew who it was from the sound, and knew there was trouble. My grandparents had just butchered a pig for meat for the winter, so they had enough provisions. The crew of the Bangor came and stayed at my grandparents house, lying all over the floor as they thawed and melted. My grandmother tended frostbite and hypothermia, and made sure they were well fed.
Later on, they were able to get most of the cars off the boat and drive them over the ice, through the Harbor to land. Some of the cars were washed overboard.”
Stories like this remind me of the hard times folks faced back then. How many people today would give their only meat? Or welcome strangers into their home?
The letterhead prompted me to  contact my cousins Lois and Martha (Ida’s granddaughters) and they were able to fill me in on much of the history that I hadn’t been told or didn’t remember. The most exciting news was that my Great, Great Grandparents, Eric “Jig” Bergh and Hansine Henriette Bergh (that’s Hansine in the back) had come from Norway and settled on Traverse Island, also known as  Bergh Island. The best part? Parts of Eric and Henriette’s cabin were still there on the island. Something that my great, great grandparents built with their own hands, was still standing. How can that be?  The moment I heard this I knew I had to find a way to get permission to go to the Island.
The island, which is now called Rabbit island is privately owned and about  4 miles off the Keweenaw Peninsula. My initial thought was there was no way the owner would allow us onto his private island. I was so wrong!  After doing a little research I learned that  Rabbit island is home to the Rabbit Island Residency, an artist retreat. So I reached out to Andrew, co-founder of the residency program and Rob the owner of the Island. Within a few days I heard back from Andrew saying that he’d gladly welcome us on the Island.
This summer they held a series of “Island Talks” and as luck would have it there was one last talk being held in September. Andrew emailed saying, “I’ll be happy to take you to the Island myself”.
My cousins Lois and Martha were up for the week and were excited about the opportunity to go to the Island. The only thing that could stop us from getting there at this point was the weather. We all held our breath waiting to hear that the weather would be ok to head out. Earlier in the week the weather looked pretty sketchy for Saturday. And since our house was struck by lightning the week before I wasn’t taking any “weather’ chances.
Feeling like a kid on Christmas eve I tossed and turned much of Friday night. Saturday arrived and after picking up the girls we headed on our way to Rabbit Bay. Being overly anxious we had arrived about 45 minutes early. That gave us some time to catch up with each other. Shortly after arriving we were joined in the road by Charlie. Charlie lives in lower Michigan and his daughter was one of the artist on the Island. Next to arrive was Karen. After arriving on the Island I heard someone lovingly refer to her as “Grandma Karen”. Let’s just say that I hope I’m as lively and full of adventure as she one day. The final group of folks to arrive were young adults from Ahmeek. They were actually moving out West the following day. What a way to spend their last day in the Keweenaw.
It wasn’t long and we could see Andrew coming across the lake. I had wondered at that moment if he knew how excited we were? Could he know  how grateful we were for this chance to walk the very intimate wilderness that my great, great grandparents had walked? I had hoped.
The group was too large to all go in one trip so Lois, Martha, Karen and I stayed on shore and waited for the second trip. During this time we were able to take some pictures and enjoy our view. There she was….just waiting for us to come ashore.
Andrew had warned us that it was a little rough on the lake. The plan was to head down the shore to the sandstone cliffs then shoot across the lake. I had the Nikon and one extra lens with me and had planned to take enough pictures to last a lifetime. I found out  quickly that the rough seas were going to make it tough to get any good photography on the journey over. I was able to snap a picture of the little falls and an eagle flying overhead. (It wasn’t until I downloaded the pics that I saw the bonus on the tree top) After taking these few pictures I spent the next 5 or so minutes trying to figure out how to get my camera around my neck to secure it as the waves were picking up some. The problem being I really didn’t want to let go of my safety line….which was a metal pole. As we continued on, in some nice winds, it struck me that here we were in the middle of “Big Lake” totally trusting our new friend Andrew. Turns out he was a great Captain and got us to the dinghy safely. I had done my research and knew we had to jump in the dinghy that would take us to the shore. I think the others might have been a bit surprised about the transfer that was about to take place. But, everyone took the leap and made it to the shore safely. Once on shore we were greeted by Charlie and company who helped us make it across the slippery sandstone ledge. Maybe I’m wired differently but there’s something about an adventure with strangers….it’s as if you become instant friends.
After arriving on the Island we made our way up a small incline of rocks that lead us to a welcoming area of sorts, the “foyer” of the Island, that included a fire pit and handmade benches. The perfect spot to sit and be still…..or put one’s dry socks and shoes on.
Andrew welcome us all and introduced us to the artist who had been staying on the Island. First up is Mary Rothlisberger. Mary is an artist from Colorado. Followed by Jack Forinash from Utah who is an architect along with Kelly Gregory from California who is also an architect. They came to the Island as a team and had previously worked with each other before so they knew each other well.   At this point I was really looking forward to hearing from the artists but I was having a hard time focusing. Would anyone noticed if I just wandered off? Probably. I longed to walk the shore and feel the crisp air on my face, just as Hansine had done 120 some years before (that’s her2nd from the left).  Be still Nora. Just be still.
Next up we learned that Mary, Jack and Kelly had a few activities to share with us. The first was a short 10 minute or so hike  to the middle of the Island. During our hike Jake carried a boom microphone to record the sounds. They were going to record the walk in the woods so we were all asked to be quiet…again someone saying, be still. I had a feeling the quiet part of the journey would be the most difficult. We were all so enthusiastic and wanted to share everything we were experiencing at those moments. One of the things we were asked to do was to really observe what we were hearing, smelling, the general feel of the Island. Did it feel differently? It didn’t take long to notice the difference. The crashing of the Big Lake was quieter. Still present but much quieter. The air seemed thicker. Almost a jungle like feel. Not that I’ve been to the jungle lately but you get the drift. Green….everything seemed so green.  I never did see them, but there was a welcoming committee of birds just singing and chirping away as we entered the forest. I hadn’t noticed them while we were on the shore. You’ll see that much of the ground is rock and roots. I didn’t get many pictures of this hike due to the camera noise after shooting a picture and even though I dumped all my iphone pictures the day before somehow I had no space when I went to use my camera on my iphone. It really was a blessing because I wasn’t distracted by either camera. I was able to just take it all in. Time to stop and feel the leaves, smell the spruce needles. The smell of home.
We returned to base camp and had a quick snack. I noticed this hanging at camp. Who knew Superior had a tide? Right around this time it started to drizzle and the wind picked up. What seemed like a doozy of a storm quickly passed us and we were met with blue skies and some sunshine. Perfect hot tub and sauna weather!
Next on the agenda was a trip to the sauna. This is such a beautiful building. Much more than just sauna! Some of us had arrived at the sauna ahead of the others which gave us some time to chat and tell a joke or two. Here’s Lois and Martha telling a “Sven and Oliei” joke to pass the time.

More to come…!
Good Night from the Keweenaw..