What a July we have been having! Probably parts of June too, but I can’t remember back that far! Many of the days have been in the low 80’s for highs, with loads of sunshine and low enough humidity to make it not feel too hot. The reasonable humidity also allows the night time temps to drop into the 50’s and even some 40’s. I cannot even remember the last time we had a notable rain. The rains have fallen mainly to the south across WI, but some have snuck into the southern and eastern parts of the UP. There have even been some rains that have fallen in the Keweenaw from Houghton north, but I know we have not had any kind of meaningful rain since the 24th of June when we picked up a quarter of an inch.
Miraculously the grass in our yards is still very green, but I am going on day 8 without having to cut it. I do plan to cut it tomorrow and it is suppose to rain on Wednesday. So we will see what that does. The dry weather has also helped to reduce the bugs. Not eliminate them, but their numbers are down for sure. It has kept Nora busy watering her plants at least once a day. Some more than that if they are in the full sun all day and are wet soil lovers. So far the dryness has not seemed to impact the berries. Strawberries were down a bit, but because of a late frost. Raspberries are just starting to come on-line and so far so good. The blackberries flowered a few weeks ago and generally ripen at the end of August. Our cherry tree in the front yard had a bumper crop. They are Rainier Cherry’s and are as sweet as they are red!
Retirement has been treating me very well. The removal of the stresses of the two jobs that have been put on the shelf has been wonderful. Although in some ways, it still has not fully settled in. I still need to get used to the idea that I don’t have much “next day” responsibility to be concerned about and that I can stay up or out late. I do feel guilty when I hear Nora getting ready for work in the morning, while I am still in bed. She is a true sweetheart and has never complained about me retiring, in fact, she is more than thrilled for me to have those stresses gone. Once the snowfall forecasts start back up, then I don’t think I will be sleeping in much past when she and Grace head off to the school. That is what I did before summer break hit. One perk she does have by going in to work in the morning, is the scenery. This is a shot she took about a week or so ago while on her way to work.
I am not the only one I know who has retired at an early age. This past week I met up with some riding buddies from the past. Three out of the five in that picture are retired. From left to right is: Nick (way too young to retire!), Brian (recently retired), “Lefty” (recently retired, although will be riding for Chris Burandt this winter), Al (not yet retired) and of course me. Lefty was our guide when we went west to Togwotee to ride. Although the get together was just a few hours long, we had a load of laughs reminiscing about the past adventures we had! Those days (2001-2009) were by far the best I ever had, both here in the Keweenaw and out west. A great bunch of guys! Hopefully we can manage to get together for some more rides in the future.
So it’s no secret that I did not write last week. I came down with a wicked summer cold that is floating around Jacobsville and perhaps many other areas. It starts out as a sore throat and runny nose/sneezing. A few days later, you are down for the count. No energy, horrible headache, sneezing, coughing, etc. That lasts for around 24-48 hours and my two bad days were last Saturday and Sunday. Through this week I have been making gradual improvements, but still have a cough and stuffed up nose. To make matters worse, I cracked or broke a rib about the same time I came down with it, so all the coughing was not only painful, but kept the rib from healing much. I am thankful to say that the rib is finally healing up so that I can move without pain. The cold also has gotten to the point where it is just a nuisance.
Before I came down the cold, Nora and I took a ride with one of our neighbors through some of his land. It’s amazing how different much of his woods are from ours. Our woods are dominated by mostly softwoods (pine), with a few hardwoods. His land, which sits just a few hundred feet from ours, is mostly hardwoods and reminds me a lot of the woods we had when we lived up north. At one point, he told us that just off into the woods was a old root cellar, so Nora and I ventured off the trail and into the woods to try and find it. We were successful and upon finding it, we both immediately started thinking about who built it and what life was like back then. Jacobsville was a pretty populated place at one point, with over 1000 persons living here. Most of the buildings that those residents lived in are now completely gone. Even the foundations being covered up by the years of organic matter accumulation. That old root cellar was like a time capsule of sorts, taking us back over 100 years to life in Jake.
Besides hanging pretty low and trying to get rid of my cold, this week was also spent taking Grace to MI Tech every morning for rock climbing. Yes, I said rock climbing. It is not actual rock that they climb on, but rather a climbing wall made of plywood and pieces of dense plastic that are bolted to the wall in order for the climbers to use to go up the wall. Climbing this wall has been on Graces bucket list since the first day she saw it a few years ago. Tech has many summer programs for kids and one of them is this 2 week rock climbing class. It really is a cool thing. Tech supplies all the shoes for the kids to use, as well as the harnesses and two college age instructors. The program is pretty loose, meaning that the kids can just take turns climbing the walls and if they want some instruction then they get it, otherwise it is just about having fun.
Grace is the oldest of the 6 kids in her “class” and really loves to climb! I am amazed at how well she took to doing it and how fearless she is. There are three interconnected walls. The one in the middle is the easiest, being just straight up. The one to the left has a spot where the wall protrudes a bit and thus when the climber get to it, they are no linger vertical and are leaning back in conjunction with the wall. The right wall has what they call a “cube” near the top. It’s basically what is sound like. A cube protruding from the wall, meaning that the climber is either upside down while climbing that part, or just using their hands.
Here is a time lapse video of Grace climbing the middle wall. Here is a shot of her navigating the bump out on the left wall. Here is a shot of her making it to the top of the left wall and here is a shot showing the full height of the wall, for a good perspective of the lack of fear of heights one needs to have to get to the top! She has also been trying her hardest to bag the cube! She has not done it yet, but still has this week to try and get it done. I would not put it past her to accomplish it, she basically had NO experience rock climbing before this program and has not asked for much help so far. I know my jaw will hit the floor if she makes it! Here is a shot of another attempt to get past the cube.
Outside of the rains slated for this Wednesday, it looks like it will be another outstanding week of weather up here. I have not put my feet in the lake in around a week, but when I did, it did not feel too cold at all. A lot depends on wind direction, but I may just get in my first Lake Superior swim of the season this week! If not, then the heated pool will continue to get the call. Either way, I will be wet behind the ears!
Good Night from the Keweenaw..