The Gravitationally Challenged Lady is Singing

The countdown is at 4 days and 8 hours (as I type anyway) to get your snowmobiling in for most trails in the state of MI for the 2022-23 season. I had my one and done for this season and am looking forward to the green grass of summer. I know there are some hard-core riders that will go for a while longer yet. There are some trails in MI that are dual-use, meaning they never close to snowmobiles, even if there is no snow on the ground! There are also some private and public tracts of land that can be used to ride on until the snow is gone, but I am not going to be getting into them here and please do not inquire, as those situations can change and thus I am not 100 percent positive of any place other than the dual use trails.

We still have plenty of snow on the ground up here in the Keweenaw to get you through the rest of this week and likely beyond in some spots. It’s old news, but we had an official St Patrick’s day storm this year. Here in Jake it was not too bad. We picked up a total of around 12″, but there was a lot of wind. The rest of the Keweenaw saw around 18-20″ of snow, with the same wind. Schools were closed the day before, only the third snow day all season. This is a shot of our driveway with the vehicles pulled out Saturday morning so I could clear it. Here is a shot looking west down the road we live on. It snowed at varying intensities through mid-afternoon on Saturday and then shut down.

Nora’s dad had passed away late in the St Patrick’s day week, so she drove down to lower MI with a friend of hers who was also going to lower MI for a speaking engagement. That had Grace and I holding down the fort for the entire week, which was quite easy now that Grace is almost 14 and a great kid! The only “challenge” for me was taking her to school in the morning, as they usually leave about 45 minutes to an hour before I get up. I also was in charge of taking G to her skating practices, which also were not too bad, as they were on Sunday and Wednesday. 

Saturday afternoon, after the snow calmed down, Grace and I took a drive up to Eagle Harbor and had a great dinner there. On the way home, we took the “long way home” via the shoreline drive on M-26. The storms strong west winds were still blowing and we wanted to see how angry the lake was. She was rocking and a rolling, and without any shore ice, the wave were able to make it all the way to shore to expend their energy and die, rather than do it well off shore as it more typical this time of the year. There were still plenty of clouds in the sky and with the sun hanging low at that time of the evening, it cast a really cool light on the many different elements of the shoreline. One really does not have to look too hard up here to be reminded of just how beautiful a place we live in.

We had another snow event on Wednesday morning. It had just begun when Grace and I got into the truck to head to Calumet to drop her off at school. However, it really snowed quite hard and in the 30 or so minutes it took us to get to Calumet, there was a fresh 3 inches that had fallen. It snowed about another inch and then stopped and by the end of the day, most of the new stuff was gone and a cold rain was falling.

The rains quit falling sometime during the night on Wednesday and skies were fairly clear for most of Thursday, including Thursday night, which was a blessing, as a fairly strong aurora event took place Thursday night. You would think that because I have lived here for 24 years, I would have seen quite a few Northern Light events, but because of the hours I kept when I was working, I missed just about every one as I was sleeping! There was a big one that was finishing up back in 2003 that I saw as I was starting work. Nora and I were living in Lake Linden and drove out to a dark field to watch them dance for around 45 minutes and then I had to get to work. 

The past Thursday’s event was pretty well advertised by the space weather folks, so I purposely stayed up later than usual to see if I could catch the start of them. At about 9:30 it had become dark enough to see them if they were visible. There was a faint glow on the northern horizon, but there was just enough light pollution from the barndeeminimum to make me question if they were actually visible without any light pollution. So I drove to the White City boat launch and was treated to this sight! The actually did not stay that way for too much longer after I arrived and in ten minutes that vivid look was replaced with something that looked more like thin clouds being illuminated. What made up for the lack of intensity was the fact that they stretched from the eastern horizon, to directly overhead and then to the western horizon. So they were a huge ark across the entire sky. I waited a bit to see if the more vivid version would return, but by around 10:30 they had not, so I decided to head back home and leave the wolves and coyotes to howl at the night sky.

Nora returned late on Friday night and Grace and I were both very happy to have her home. Ironically, Nora and I were both exhausted from our week and got into a little tiff on the way home from picking her up, but we’ve never had a “disagreement” that has lasted too long and by Saturday we were back to being best of friends. I’m so thankful for the fact that we can drop the gloves, but soon afterwards we are back to being a couple of newlyweds!

Saturday Grace’s ice skating club had their spring show. There was an early morning practice that I took her to and then the show at 7pm. Nora took a bunch of great shots and I would like to share a few of them with you. She was in three numbers. The first was the all-club skate and the next two were with two of her best friends from skating. She has gotten quite good for the time she has been involved with figure skating and we are all excited to see her develop her skills and are also all looking forward to her future performances. The one thing that Nora, I and all the others that knew her and were they watching commented on was her personality while performing. She is always smiling and looks to be having loads of fun, which she says is the case. She also is very good at remembering and executing the smaller details to the performance. It makes me a proud dad to watch her skate and some of the other skaters taking their cues from her.

At the end of the show, they do a call-out for all the skaters and have them line up in front of the audience. Here is a shot of her with her two skating besties and here is a shot of the entire group. It was a great show and included a guest skater from Maple Grove MN and also the clubs from Tech and L’Anse/Baraga.  

In house construction news, things are coming along. A bit slower at the moment, but still progressing. The 2 man crew that is doing the drywall finishing is almost done. They told me that they will be done either Wednesday or for sure Thursday of this week. Then the contractors will get onto priming all of the drywall and if we can get them some paint colors, they will paint too. I am letting Nora handle the paint colors, as she is WAY better at it than me. She is kind enough to run her ideas through me, but the truth is, I would trust her even if she didn’t! 

The contractors have been working on the exterior siding and are almost done. About all that is left to do is what you can see in this picture. Both Nora and I are looking forward to when the remnants of the old home are totally gone. I am pretty anxious to have a nice lawn too. I am thinking of using sod, rather than seed. I just am not sure we want to stomach the price tag of sod. If anyone has suggestion for getting the best lawn without sod, I am all ears. The problem with seed is that we really cannot put it down until the very end of May or early June because of the soil temps. So that means that we would probably not have a fully developed yard until the middle to end of August. I’m not sure I want to deal with that!!!

I guess that covers it for this one. I will not be writing next Sunday as Nora and Grace’s spring break starts at the end of the school day this Friday. So who knows, maybe the next time I write, all of our snow will be gone. Not the Keweenaws, just here in the banana belt of Jacobsville.

Have a great two weeks and easter!

Good Night from the Keweenaw..

First Ride

Greetings my friends! Another week in the bag and another week ahead of us. Hope you week was well, mine was. Spent quite a bit of time updating the website, working on the cabinets and checking in on the new build. Unlike the last few weeks, there weren’t any new or huge strides made on the house. The finished the insulation and also finished the drywall in the house. The garage still needs drywall and then all the drywall needs to be finished, but a subcontractor will be doing that work.

The house also has heat now, as does the garage. So it’s a whole lot nicer in there for the workers and with the drywall all up and the heat on, it is starting to feel a bit more like a home, rather than a construction zone. I didn’t take any pictures, as there really was nothing new to show. I believe they might get started on the siding the week, so perhaps there will be some picture worthy things to share next time.

I did get all the parts for the cabinets made and the cases assembled this week. The two smaller ones are the uppers and will go on either side of the interactive screen I use for Snow Church. The four larger ones are the base cabinets and will go underneath, with a top made of hard maple. I still need to put the drawer boxes together, as well as the drawer fronts. Some sanding needs to be done and then the cases and drawer fronts and doors will get two coats of primer and a top coat and then the drawers will get installed, top made and finally the install.

Looking at my schedule this week, it looks like I will not have a lot of time to work on them, but with two out of the 5 days this week, plus a bit of time next weekend and then quiet a bit of free time next week, I hope that by the end of next week, the assembly and priming will be done and can do the painting and install the final week of March. We’ll see, but I really need to finish this project up so I can move on to the cabinets for the new kitchen! That will not be as big a project as the kitchen in Mohawk, it will have 8 base and 7 upper for the wall cabinets, plus an island with 5 bases in it. The design will be a bit more complicated though, but still, without having to dedicate the entire morning to the website, I should be able to get those done in a few weeks.

So as the title to this entry states, I took my first ride of the season yesterday. It was actually 100% on the trails and on a rental sled. I got invited to ride with some friends who have made a March trail ride an annual event. I have decided that I am going to pretty much stick to the trails for the rest of my riding carer.

I will be selling the Riot I have now and probably go a season or so without a sled, just renting when I have a chance to ride with friends. I hope to then get a nice comfortable cruiser, with all the creature comforts, including power steering, and make that my long term or perhaps forever sled. With a little luck, I can pick up a nice enclosed trailer and take some trips around the country and into Canada to explore other areas. My main reason for riding has always been to explore, to go where I have not been before and see things for the first time. That is why I enjoyed backcountry riding so much.

Since my health just will not allow me to do the physical exertion needed for off-trail riding, the next best option is to ride new areas. I am not a fast rider, nor am I into riding hours on end without either a warm pitstop or even just pulling off the trail and stopping to chat for a bit. Of course all of these plans are in pencil, as one never knows what life will bring, but that is what is in the works for now and the selling of the Riot is pretty much written down in ink.

The sleds we were all on yesterday were rentals from M&M Powersports in Hancock. They were Polaris 650 SP’s. A fun sled that really had some get up and go. I never once had it wide open, as mentioned, I am not much into going really fast, although one of the mapping apps on my phone did say my top speed at one point was 65mph.

After leaving Hancock, we shot up the trail to Calumet, and then on up to Mohawk and Phoenix. After that, we jumped on the Eagles loop and took that down towards Eagle River, but did not take the spur trail to that hamlet. We instead continued on the Eagles Loop to Eagle Harbor, again bypassing the spur to the village and rode up to connect with the main trail to the Brockway Mountain Trail. Up and over Brockway, where we stopped for a quick view of things (where the pic of the sleds was taken too) and down into Copper Harbor for lunch at the Mariner. Then back out onto the snow and a look at the trial to High Rock. It was pretty bumped up, so we gave it a pass and headed up the trail to the tiny Fish Cove loop. We did stop to take in the views at Fish Cove, my first time there via sled!

After Fish Cove, a ride down to Lac La Belle for some fuel and then quickly back on the trail to Gay. In all the years that 133, the trail from Lac La Belle to Gay, has been in existence, that was only the second time in my life being on it. I had rode the backcountry in the vicinity of it many times, but to take it’s entirety between LLB and Gay, only once before yesterday! At Gay we stopped for some refreshments and to warm up a bit, although it was not a cold day, with temps in the upper 20’s. Then from Gay down to Lake Linden, up the hill to Calumet and then back down to Hancock. I would have taken more pictures, but we did not stop that much!

All in all, the trails were in pretty good shape. The snow was kinda old, so not the best to be trying to keep perfectly flat by grooming, although there was no stretch where the moguls were so bad that I wished we were not riding on that particular stretch. Most of the trails were flat. A bit soft, but flat. It’s March riding, so there were some bare spots, mainly in the towns. The stretch in Hancock that runs from M&M to the outskirts of the city was pretty much bare and so was the riding once out of the woods in Copper Harbor, although they do not use the little alleyway anymore, rather you ride the side of the road from Brockway into town, so no surprise to have to run some pavement there.

Trail 122 was just recently opened up, it was being used for some logging and the section where they had plowed the snow for the logging was bare too. We hit that and traveled a few hundred yards and stopped, wondering how far the trail had no snow on it. We decided to venture on and in less than a quarter of a mile, we were back on decent snow and the rest of 122 into Lake Linden was in good shape.

Looking at the forecast, I’d say there is a pretty good chance that the riding will be similar to what I experienced yesterday. It is currently snowing and I have picked up around 2-3″ and I suspect the higher terrain has picked up a bit more. Tomorrow and Tuesday will remain below freezing for highs and then things get a little ugly for Wednesday and Thursday, with a high around 40 on Wednesday and a chance for some light rain on Thursday with a weak system. There are ideas of a big storm for Friday and Saturday and if it comes in as advertised, even the boondockers will be up here to make one last play in UP powder. Long way out in the forecast, so I’m not betting on it just yet.

That about covers it for this one, except I have one last picture. Nora and I have started to do daily walks. Nothing too big right now, we want to get the muscles in our legs stretched out and in slightly better shape before we start doing multiple miles, but we are going around a half mile to a bit more. We take the dogs along with us and the other day it was a little brisk, so Nora decided to put a little jacket on Kashi. Honestly, I’m not sure she needed it, as she is a husky! but once it was on her, she did not seem to mind in the least. Here is a shot of the little girl with her jacket on, taking a walk with us.

Good Night from the Keweenaw..

In a New York Minute

One of my favorite songs by Don Henley that title is. It’s happened to us all. One minute life seems to be normal, or at least void of dramatics, and the next, it’s off the charts full of drama. Sometimes the changes are dramatic in our mental state, sometimes physical, sometimes both. Sometimes the changes are instantly seen for the better, sometimes it takes time and sometimes the positive in the changes are never recognized.

There were some big changes here at the Dee compound this week, seen by us as good. The old house is gone. Nothing left but a few items yet to be hauled off for either recycling or unfortunately a landfill. We pondered for a bit the way to get rid of it. Should it be slow and meticulous or swift and decisive. We chose the latter and called in for an air strike. A pair of F-35’s flew up from Truax Field in Madison, we gave them the coordinates for the place and in less than an hour from placing the call, this was all that was left.

Now, wouldn’t that be cool if it were true? It looks like that is what happened, that description came courtesy of my brother after seeing what was left. The truth is much closer to the first scenario is really much closer to the truth. Starting about a month ago, one of our neighbors, along with his brother, went in and removed a lot of the tongue and groove paneling that was in the home. It was rustic, but also beautiful. 8″ wide fir, stained a deep honey color. If I had the time and energy, I would have liked to removed it and taken it to the repurposing store in Calumet, or tried to sell it. None, the less, it was saved and will be used again, which is the good thing. 

The interior was stripped of other things, like the framing lumber from the interior walls. The metal roofing was also salvaged and will be used for roofing on an outbuilding up in the Traprock Valley. As mentioned in a previous entry, the large picture windows put in just 2 years ago have found their way into the new house and the old windows as well as things like the asphalt shingles underneath the metal roof were hauled away. Basically anything that would not burn completely was hauled off to one place or another.

Then late in the work day on Thursday they took the bucket to the one end of the roof and the entire place came down like a house of cards. I feel pretty vindicated, as one of the main reasons why I did not want Nora, Grace and I living in it any longer than we had to was because I did not feel it was the safest of houses because of the lack of framing in the exterior walls. Most folks I mentioned that fact to said the same thing, “Well, it’s held up for over 50 years, so it should be good”. I had a hard time agreeing with that and watching the bucket of the mini-excavator barely put pressure on the ridge and the whole house collapse confirmed my suspicions. 

To be fair to the house, the gable end wall was removed, so that was a definite loss of structure, but I am pretty sure if you did the same thing to a modern-era home, it would not come down like that. Most likely the roof framing would go before all the exterior walls folded. I was in Houghton with Grace when all this happened and we did not get home until after dark, so I did not get a good look at the place until the next morning and this is what I saw. The crew had basically stopped when it came down the afternoon before and then returned on Friday to beat the clock in hauling things that were not slated for burning before the road restrictions went up for the season. They had already temporarily gone up around two weeks ago and then came down when things got cold again. 

They were able to beat the clock and got things hauled off with the help of the dump truck in this pic and a dump trailer. Then it was time to strike a match and let the little that was left to burn down to the crawlspace. There are still a few items to be hauled away and the right hand side of the house did have a slab foundation and that will need to be broken up and pushed into the crawl space before topsoil is added this spring.

There were no mixed emotions for me and surprisingly none from the girls either. Nora put it best by saying that we had not been living in the home for around 5 months and really did not go into much since moving out, so it was already kind of out of mind. I can say that I am glad it is gone and the view of the new home from the road is really nice, as is the view of the road from the new home! Both of which I will have to share with you when all the equipment is not parked around the old home’s site.

The new place is coming along nicely. The electrician finished up with the rough-in early in the week and then the construction crew got busy hanging drywall on the ceilings so that when the spray foam insulating crew showed up on Thursday, things would be ready for them. They met that deadline, the spray foam crew got around 1/3rd of the place done on Thursday, so Friday, the construction crew got some of the drywall on the walls hung and by the end of the day on Friday, we had a few rooms that were completely done with the drywall hanging.

I have not been over there yet today, but I believe the spray foam guys are done spraying and are cleaning up. I have not seen any of the construction crew working outside, so I suspect that they are inside hanging drywall and I also know the furnace is being hooked up. The propane tank was moved and filled today, so when the furnace is ready to go, they can start heating the house. The garage doors should be coming soon and once installed, they will be able to start heating that too. 

In the weather department, early spring has sprung up here. That does not mean we are in the midst of a major meltdown or anything like that. In fact, it is snowing today and it looks like we could have some meaningful snow by the end of the week, into the weekend and early next week. What I mean by “early spring” is that we are starting to get those sunny and warmer days that happen in early spring. They are so welcomed up here, it’s hard to describe. The sun feels so good and lights up the snowpack so beautifully. It makes for some nice afternoon walking conditions, as well as clears the road of snow quite handily where the sun can get to it. 

On Saturday the girls and I took a trip north to Copper Harbor to watch the sled dog teams come in from the second leg of the race. It was a great day for the spectators, but might have been warmer than the dogs would have preferred, although not too warm. To tell the truth, we did not stick around for all the teams to come in. The race’s website said that the teams would start coming in around 11 am and we were there shortly after, but it took until around noon for the first two teams to run into town an pass under the finish line. So, we left after that second team, as a brisk wind had developed off the lake and nipped at our exposed ears and faces.

So while the weather has taken on an early spring mode, we still have plenty of snow on the ground and more on the way. In fact, after the storm early last week, I had to go dig the satellite dish out to get better reception. If the snows later this week through early next week arrive as indicated, then that dig out job will need to be repeated for sure! Funny how we get into March and all of the sudden the pattern becomes favorable for snow up here and across much of the northern Midwest! Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes!

I guess that gets you caught up for this week. I have plans to ride for the first time this season this coming Saturday. Yep, can you believe it, it will be March 11th and I will be taking my first ride! Well, I think I have some legit excuses with the house being built, me working on the shop and cabinets for the office and the usual day to day things. Plus I like to be home when my sweeties get back in the afternoon. So it will be nice to get out Saturday and ride and I’m sure I will have some pics to share.

Good Night from the Keweenaw..


I miss the ghosts

Wow, final writing for February 2023! It truly is hard to believe that March is just 3 days away. I guess I can really say this about every winter, but in some ways, it seems like this one has flown by and in others, it seems like it has creeped along. When I think back to the beginning of November when the crew was just showing up to break ground for the new home, that seems like a long time ago, but then when I think about things like the holidays, it seems like they were just a few weeks ago.

Oh well, whichever the case, the sands are getting thin on the top side of the winter hourglass. I think March will go by pretty quickly and I HOPE April will! It should be pretty well known that April is my least favorite month up here, although it has become more tolerable since moving to Jake. We usually do not have any snow left, which means that we can do yardwork, take walks in the woods and other outdoor activities, whereas those living up in the higher terrain can still have feet of snow on the ground.

We did get a replenishment of snow this past Thursday, much like the rest of the the northern Midwest. The storm was one of the most extensive storms to produce snows in excess of 12″ I have seen in quite awhile. It did not produce the as much snow as was indicated by the models in many spots, but it was still a doozy. What was interesting up here in the Keweenaw is that Jacobsville saw some of the heaviest snows. We tied with the Keweenaw County road commissions measuring spot up on Gratiot Lake Rd, but outpaced places like Houghton, Handcock and Lake Linden. I don’t know how much Calumet got, but I do know that they got much more snow with the event earlier in the week. They picked up around 8-10″, while we picked up 3.

It was nice to watch it snow at a moderate to heavy pace for most of the day. By late afternoon, it had piled up pretty nicely on Big Red and by the evening, it had slowed down, so I hopped into Big Red to clear the snow off the driveways and also off the road upstream of the driveways so that I would not have to contend with the the snow the plow would push in the morning.

It was quite windy while the snow was falling, so it did not stick to the trees too much and quite honestly it has been that case for most of the winter. Little in the way of flocking of the trees. I really love that and miss it. It seemed like when we lived up outside of Mohawk, several times a season the snow ghosts would show up. I also miss sights like this and like this. Not this year, at least I doubt it! We have had some monster storms in March and even April, so I am not going to rule it out, but this just seems to be one of those winters where that is not going to happen, even though the official measurement for Keweenaw County is just 7″ shy of 200″.

Speaking of monster snows, I think I spoke a month or so ago about Mammoth Mountain in the Sierra Mountains of California. By mid-January they had already seen 400″ of snow. Things quieted down a bit, with just some smaller storms hitting. They are back into the deep end, with over 30″ of snow falling this past Thursday and another 12″ on Friday and another 12″ on Saturday. A storm is just starting there and holds the potential for another 60″+ between now and late Wednesday. I stole a screen shot from a video a guy shot on Saturday while walking his dog through their neighborhood. The objects on the left are a person and the back of his SUV with the rear hatch up. That’s the depth of the snow out there! That may be approaching my limit!

So it’s been a busy week at both the new house and the old house. The old house had some work done and now has incredible ventilation. One of our neighbors decided to strip a lot of the interior tongue and groove paneling. I had thought of doing it, but just did not have the time. I’m glad that he and his brother are doing it, as it was very nice wood and it would have been a waste to just have it destroyed. Not much else of the house is worth saving and it will be nice to see it go. We are just waiting on the power company to come out and move the line from the old house to a temporary stand for the new home. Hopefully that will be this week.

The large picture windows missing from the old home were put into the new home, along with the rest of the windows for the new home. The doors arrived as well, so the place can now be sealed up. Inside, most of the plumbing and electric has been done. The boiler for heat is not in yet, but I’m sure it will be going in shortly after the insulation. Somehow, Grace ended up with the biggest room in the house for her bedroom. It measures 17×30′! Actually, she deserves it. Ever since moving out of the Mohawk home, she has had to sleep in some not so desirable spots. Currently, she is living between a knee wall and the roof trusses in the apartment. It is very cozy, which she likes, but not enough room to even change her mind! So it will be nice to see her have all that space and the master bedroom is no slouch either!

The electricians are just about finished with their rough-in. At least according to their list! Haha. Also by the amount of things done. They are doing a great job and even though I actually like to do electrical work and have done all the work for the shops, the cabin and addition in Mohawk and the barndeeminimum. However, I am glad I am not having to do this monumental job and do it in the cold like these guys have had to do. Plus, now if a wire comes loose, I can just call them, rather than start digging around for the culprit!

The drywall arrived yesterday afternoon and I was a little surprised to see it just stacked on the driveway, but that was done by one of the contractors working on the house and not the supplier. Plus it looks like the weather will be fine until about midday tomorrow, so I’m sure it will be all hands on deck first thing tomorrow to get the drywall inside and out of the weather. Once the rough-ins for the electrical and plumbing is done, then the drywall can go up on the ceilings and the sprayfoam insulation can be done and the crew will no longer have to work in the cold while outside. Although the siding is on site too and they seem to be kind of anxious to get that done too.

It seems hard to believe that in just 3 months we will be living there! Every time I try and imagine it, I just have a hard time picturing it. This place will have so many things new to me/us, it’s just going to be like a dream. It will be the first time I will have a spot in the garage to keep my vehicle since Nora moved up. It will be the first time the garage is heated in all the time I have lived in the UP! There will be heated garage space for the Golf Cart in the summer and Big Red in the winter. The back porch will have a dedicated spot for the grill and smoker, complete with exhaust hood. Down the road, there will likely be come countertops and cabinets by the grills and maybe even a little fridge to either keep what is to be grilled in, or perhaps some sodas or hockey pops.

We all feel so fortunate to be able to be doing what we are doing. Even a bit guilty to a degree. Others have so much less in life, how did we get some blessed? One thing is for sure, both Nora and I plan to have lots of get togethers with family and friends. Plus out of towners will have their own apartment here were we currently live to stay at and enjoy!

Well, I guess that about covers it for this one.

Good Night from the Keweenaw!!