How you can help Nora and John with something very special.
Greetings. First I would like this moment to thank all of you that sent notes to Nora and I with advice and encouragement in our quest to start a family. It was great to get notes from all of you. We are both very excited to be in this process and are full of hope that things will work out for the best.
Wow, Thanksgiving week and just a week and one day away from December 1. Exciting times! It has been a pretty wintry week up here. Snowed on and off all week. We did not get dumped on, but did add to our snowpack and at times it did come down pretty good. That was the front of house shot from this past Thursday. It came down pretty good in the mid-morning and I thought we might meet the high end of the totals expected for that day (5"), but the intensity of the snow backed off by late morning and we ended up with the low end of the expected totals (2"). Some more snow through the day on Friday and all told we ended up with about 6 1/2" for the event and have about 6" on the ground right now. While it is always nice to get as much snow as possible and some areas of the UP as well we sections of lower MI, NW IN and even spots of SW Ontario did pick up considerably more snow than us, I was perfectly happy with what we got. In fact, to me it was about perfect. The steady, but light doses of snow allowed me to pank down a good mat on the driveway. When we get the first snows to be a big one, then it can be difficult to create a mat. Plus the snows have not been too deep for hunters trying to get into the woods to do their thing, but enough snows have fallen to make the woods very beautiful. Plus, it has been COLD! Temps basically in the 20's all week for highs, with low 20's by Friday. Lows have been in the single digits and teens, so with the cold and not super deep snowpack, we are freezing things up nicely.
I have a "perfect scenario" in which the weather is nice and mild through most of the autumn and we get enough rain to keep the fire risk low, but not so much rain as to create lots of problems with water in the woods. Then around the start of deer season it cools off and we get enough snow to help with the hunting season, but more importantly lots of cold to start freezing things up nicely. Then as we head into the end of November and beginning of December, winter unleashes on us with both barrels. The snows come hard and fast and we get a great base for the skiers and snowmobilers going and never look back for the rest of the winter. So far things have gone about like clockwork and quite honestly the forecast has the potential to keep my dream scenario going. I am not going to get into the specifics of the forecast here, but I will say that there are growing indications a major change in the pattern across North America is about to unfold and the "flip" that I refer to in my Seasonal Outlook could be about to occur. I will add that this change in the pattern is indicated to start getting underway next weekend and will take a few days to fully take shape across North America. If that is not reason enough to check out my forecast tomorrow, I don't know what is!
Yesterday Nora and I headed up the peninsula a bit. We wanted to take a walk, but do not want to bother the hunters in the woods, so we headed to one of Keweenaw County's quieter country roads. Not that it has any "busy" roads, but we can typically spend an hour walking on this road and never see a vehicle. Yesterday we saw one jeep make it's way past us. We were actually a bit higher in elevation (about 300 feet) than the cabin sits, so the snow was a little deeper up there. I would have had to guess about 8-10" deep there. On the way home we passed the snowmobile trail, so I stopped and took a picture of it. Looks like it is just waiting for the hunting season to close and the sleds to arrive.
I did a bit more work on the sleds. Nothing major, but I did get the saddles for the simmons skis that I was going to put on the Yamaha. So I swapped out the saddles and then swapped out the skis. So they are on the Yamaha and all ready to go. The Yamaha Nytro XTX has pretty much zero storage on it. I really do not need that much storage, as I typically ride with a backpack, but I did pick up a little pack for the back of the sled to add a bit of storage. I need to put an exhaust deflector on to keep the hot exhaust gas from damaging the pack and that has been ordered. I still have a float plate for the front of the XTX to put on, but that looks to be a bit involved, so am waiting for a day where I have a few hours to devote to that.
A few mods were made to the M8 as well. Nothing too major, but I was placing an order with Sled Solutions to get the stuff for the Yamaha and decided to try out some hand guards they had for sale and I also picked up a pair of knee/shin guards. Brian has them on his M and seems to like them. Paul from Sled Solutions even sent a special toy my way, but I am going to hold off on what that is for now, but hopefully in not too long I will be able to reveal what it is.
Really not much else going on. Sort of in a holding pattern, which is pretty much standard operating procedure for this time of the year. Not really beach weather and the woods are off limits, so I have been fairly home bound. Not complaining though, just stating the facts and why I don't have a whole lot of material. I did get a picture of the shirts for this years charity Ride-In sent to me. They are the same quality, long sleeved shirts that they have been in years past and if you cannot attend the Ride In and want to get one, you can at The Store.
Well, I guess that about covers it for this one. One week and we'll be on the eve of riding season and hopefully in the midst of a change in the pattern that will send us into dig-out mode!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
This is going to be a short one for sure. However, there is going to be a special "extra" to this journal, which I will talk about in a bit. I regret to say that I do not even have a single picture to share with you and realize that is a big reason why many of you come to the journal. Sorry! To be honest, it was a pretty uneventful week up here. Nora and I did finish "making wood" this week. Not sure if we have enough to completely get us through the heating season, but we have enough to get us pretty deep into April and at that point if we need to cut some from the remaining 8 footers stacked where they are, we can. It's funny, I think earler this week was the first time in my entire life that I have ever wanted the snow to melt! We only had a few inches down, but I figured it would be easier to cut the remaining wood we needed to cut with no snow on any of the logs. So Monday and Tuesday I found myself cheering on any sun that tried to poke out as well as temps warming as much as possible. Monday saw lots of clouds and a high of 31. Tuesday was a bit better, with some peaks of sun and a high of 38. It did not melt off all of the snow, but I got to some of it with a broom and Tuesday afternoon Nora and I got to cutting the last half dozen or so logs to finish off our wood pile.
I spent the rest of my free time this week doing the final chores that need to be done before the snow starts piling up for good around here. All the cutting of the wood left a pretty big pile of wood chips, so I hauled them over to a big hole in the ground we have for burining brush and stuff. It took 20 wheel barrel loads to get all the chips hauled over. I wish I could have put them in the boiler, but they were wet and would have just put the fire out in there. I will wait for the snows to get a few inches deep again and coax the chips to burn. Once you get them going, they will burn slowly on their own. The heat generated by the fire drys the chips next to the fire out enough that they will burn. It is a slow process, but after a day or two, all the chips will be burned. I also got all the firewood covered, so that it will be easier to shovel the snow off this winter. It's never an easy task to have to shovel 4 feet of snow off of a wood pile that is over your head to begin with, but it does tend to slide off the plastic tarp easier than the bare wood itself. Another job was to get the Christmas lights up on the trees beyond the septic field and also on the Cabin. Truth be told, they never came off the cabin, but one section did have to be worked on to get them to work again. I also put up some snow deflectors (used pallets) to help protect a few small pine trees growing along side the cabin. The snow can come off the roof of the cabin so violently that it would destroy these smaller trees and I would like them to grow up to be big trees one day, so that they can give the cabin an even more intimate setting. So thus the protectors.
Another task this week was to go down and help move the wireless router at the Wildlife Refuge Cabins to a location where it would provide a better signal to the Trail Cam down there. Nora works in Hancock, which is about 1/2 of the way to the cabins from our place up here, so I came up with the idea to have her join me and then we would go to dinner afterwards. Well, we got to the cabins and needed a ladder, so Nora drove over to the gas station in South Range to get a ladder from Dave and Lori. When she went to come back to the cabins, the blazer would not start. So that complicated things a bit, but due to the generosity of Lori in letting us borrow her truck, we were able to get Old Blue over to the cabins, get the router moved and talking to the trail cam. Turns out the fuel pump on the blazer went out and Al fixed that for us on Friday. So for those of you that have been anxious for the trail cam to come to life again. It is. There still may be brief times when it is not updating, but hopefully they will not last more than a few hours. I have the ability to control the PC that the trail cam is on remotely, so I can unfreeze any minor lockups it has, plus it does automatically reboot itself every morning, so that will take care of the major freeze ups. Anything beyond that will take either myself, Lori or Cathy to go down and take care of. But the bottom line is the trail cam is alive and well again and ready for a season of action.
So I think that about covers it for this one. I promised it would be short and did not break that promise as can happen sometimes when I get to gibbering on this Journal. I also promised an "extra" in this entry and here it is:
Good night from the Keweenaw..
Wow, November 9th already! A week from now and we will be over halfway through the month and into firearm deer season. Three weeks from now we will be on the eve of the snowmobile season. I have really not been thinking too much about it, but with snow falling out my windows for over 24 hours now, I think the thoughts of getting out on the new sleds are starting to pop into my head more and more. Plus, our riding gang got together on Friday to discuss the plans to head out west again this March (we are going the first week of March) and that was the first time we have all been together in one place since last riding season finished up. I have seen all the guys from time to time this summer and early autumn, but that was the first time since we have all been together. Pretty neat how we can all get together and pick up right where we left off. We may not see much of each other in the summer, but are still all good friends and enjoy each others company and have a good time together. For me, snowmobiling has several things that make it fun, the friendship I make with those I ride with is one of them.
We had another very mild week, with temps in the 60's every day and even flirting with 70 degrees on Tuesday, but as mentioned we have snow now and it has been snowing for almost 36 hours straight now. The change over happened at about 9:20 in the morning yesterday. It is cool to watch the change over occur, with a few flakes mixed in at first and then more and more and before you know it, the air is filled with the white bombs falling from the sky, rather than that dreary rain. We picked up about an inch during the day yesterday and then about 1/2" overnight and about another 2" today. This is the "teaser" snow. It will not last, but is giving us a tease and a taste of things to come. The forecast actually looks pretty good for some more snows in these parts later this week, into the weekend and early next week. Hunters up this way may have some tracking snow for opening day on Saturday, but may also be a bit chilly at it looks like temps will probably be in the 20's as well.
It's a good thing that the snow came, because as of this morning, I did not have a single picture to share with you, but I did get out and took some shots of the snowy conditions we had today. The snow yesterday was the really sticky kind and then overnight, temps dropped to below freezing and that firmed it all up and we have remained below freezing all day today, so the snow is still stuck to everything. Here is a shot I took of the front of the house this morning. I am sure you all have heard of the phrase "frost on the pumpkin", well, here is snow on the pumpkins. Directly across the street from the end of our driveway is a stand of softwoods and in the wintertime, they just fill up with snow and it is always such a treat to get to the end of our driveway. They are not "full" at the moment, but are started with their snow flocking.
Nora was at church and I finished up with my work early, so I hopped in Old Blue and headed out to take some shots of the sights with the newly fallen snow. Here is a shot of Cliff Drive, with snow sticking to just about anything I could. Here is a pic taken a little further up the drive. You sure can get an idea of how it might have gotten it's name from that shot. The Cliff Range is about 10-15 miles long, with various sized and shaped cliffs along it's length. Here is a look at one of the many precipices (FSV). I have a favorite spot where I like to stop and take a picture of the Cliff Range. You all have seen it many times before if you have been a long time reader of these journals, but I never get tired of posting this view (FSV) and I hope you all are not tired of seeing it!
After I toured the Cliff Drive, I decided to get off into the bush a bit and see if the deep woods would provide some scenic shots. Most of the views were of frosted hardwoods. A pretty sight, but nothing that I have not already presented, so I did not take too many pics. However, I did come across a logging road laying in wait for a bit more snow. Hopefully in 3 weeks and one day, that bugger will have a foot or two of snow on it and I can go make some tracks! I suppose if one were desperate enough, there was enough snow on it to ride it (about 4"), but I will wait. That is one of the great things about living where we do, one does not have to be desperate, nor do they usually have to wait too long for the snow to get obnoxiously deep!
I got home and did some chores and then Nora and I headed out into our own woods on foot to see if we could do some deer tracking. We have a few deer that are regular visitors to the clearing that the cabin sits in, but I know many other deer traverse the deeper woods of the property, so with the fresh snow on the ground, we bundled up and headed out to do some tracking. Nora really loves to look for deer sign and it was a beautiful day to be in the woods. A couple of inches of snow on the ground and a steady supply of new flakes falling from the sky. Temps were not too cold and the woods protected us from the winds. It did not take us long to come across some old rubs from years past and then with a bit more looking, Nora was the first to spot a fresh rub. There were several more in there too. Some pretty fresh tracks were seen too and I was kind of hoping to spot the guilty party that made the rubs, but no such luck. We were talking as we walked through the woods, so it is likely that we were heard long before we arrived. I keep saying it and one of these years I will set up a stand for the two of us. I am not a hunter, but would still like to get a shot at the buck that is visiting our woods. Only I would use my Olympus rather than a Remington to do the shooting. I have one last shot to share with you from our tracking mission, it is a view that you all seldom see of the cabin and shop, because I am not usually out that way with the camera!
With the snow starting to fall, I figured it was time to get ready to clear it, so I put the "snow tires" on the ATV as well as the windshield and plow. So now it is all ready for business. I also had some time today to do a little work on the sleds. I did not have too much to do to them since they are both brand new and I have decided not to put too many mods on them at the moment. However, one thing I wanted to do to the Yamaha was to raise the handlebars up just a bit. Yamaha must have raised them up already from where they were on the prototype I rode last winter, because that sled's bars were low enough that I had wished they were around 3-4" higher. On the sled sitting in my garage, all they needed was to be raised about an inch or two. Go I got myself a pair of articulating risers from Rox Speed FX and they are the perfect height. Not to mention looking pretty cool too!
On the kitty, I swapped out the stock skis with a pair of simmons flexi ski. They are the first generation kind, not the snowboard type second generation. I have really grown to love those skis. Not that I did not like them in the first place, but for the type of riding that I do, I find them to be second to none. I know opinions will vary and there are some other great aftermarket skis out there, so no need to e mail me to say yours are better or anything like that. I will not argue with you. To each his own. I will also be putting a pair of simmons on the Yamaha. I just need to order up a different set of saddles for the Yamaha and will also be replacing the yellow ski loops with black. I could get by with the yellow on the 800 RMK, but not a speck of yellow on the Yamaha.
So other than making more wood (only have about 30 minutes of cutting/stacking left to do), that was pretty much my week. As I look out at the snow, it is hard to believe that I was swatting at some mosquitos and even a stray blackfly earlier this week!
Before I close I want to just put in a quick plug for the charity snowmobile ride in happening January 30-31 up here. For more info on that, you can go here. Hope to see everyone that came in previous years back again and am looking forward to seeing some new faces. Some great prizes are already being gathered for the event and a whole lot more to come!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
It sure seems like it has been more than a week since I last wrote. Actually I even snuck in the little write up on Tuesday about the new sleds. If you missed that one, you will have to go to the past journals link above and click on the October 2008 link to read all about it. I actually have been so busy with other things that I have not done much with either sled. Not that there is that much to do with them or much that I could do on them without snow, but I have not even opened either manual just yet. I had planned to this afternoon, but got busy with other things and then started to get tired, so I figured I had better stay inside and get a journal out before I lose all my energy. Plus a sauna might be a nice thing to take this evening, kind of raw out there right now with temps in the low 40's and some rain.
The only new pictures I took of the sleds were of the instrument panels. I started up both sleds and let the instrument gauges sync up and show zero miles on them. Well, the M actually had .4 miles on it. Not sure how that got on it, I could see a tenth of a mile or so, but seems like almost a half mile is quite a bit. I'm not worried or complaining though. The XTX had 00000. It is pretty neat to go into the shop and smell the new sleds. It smells like a snowmobile or even a car showroom in there. I think that is a smell that everyone would like. I already bought a pair of simmons skis for the M on E bay this week will need to get some saddles for the skis I want to put on the Yamaha. I also need to look into a set of handle bar risers for the Yamaha. No need for them on the M. That telescoping handlebar setup they put on that machine is awesome. Goes up plenty high for me and when lowered is a perfect height for sit down riding.
The weather has been a bit noteworthy up here this past week. On Monday we got our first dusting of snow. Not too much, but enough to coat everything in a thin layer of white. It all happened in about an hour too. Came down pretty good for a short period of time in the mid morning and then tapered off to flurries until about mid afternoon and then quit all together. So we did not get through October without snow, but sure did not have much and had to wait until the very end of the month to get it. That is just fine with me. Through my years of living up here, I have come to not get too excited about early season snow. It is always nice to get some snow in October, but it ALWAYS melts, so is pretty much wasted. My first year I could not wait for it to snow and now I am fine with it holding off (other than a dusting or inch or so) until about the start of the main firearm deer season, November 15th. Then it can start to snow all it wants as we usually will hang onto a significant portion of that snow.
After the snows on Monday, we started a warming trend and ended up tying the record high on Thursday at 68 degrees. In addition to all the warmth on Thursday, we also had lots of sunshine, so it was a really nice day for the second to last day of October. Even Halloween was pretty nice, with temps in the low 50's and quite a bit of sunshine. That combined with the fact that it fell on a Friday led to a very active trick or treating event for areas around here. In many years we are seeing very nasty conditions for trick or treating and the turn out is not so good. Living were we do now, we do not get any trick or treaters and do not even get any candy for handouts. I suppose if a friend showed up, we could scrounge up something. Maybe a 1/4 pound of ground beef or something!
The main activity this week for both Nora and I has been to make firewood. The big piles of logs parked in front of the cabin have been calling to us to get them cut up in time for winter to arrive and we finally had a run of free time this week and have been pretty busy "making wood". Each evening we spend around 60-90 minutes cutting and stacking the wood and have gotten a lot done. The one stack of logs is completely done and we have eaten into the other stack pretty good. We do not have to cut all of that second stack of logs up. In fact, I think we only need to go into it another 10 feet or so. The rest will be used next season. Right now I think we have enough to get us well into March. Kind of hard to tell for sure as we are heating the shop addition, plus it is impossible to say how cold a winter it will be. However, if we were not heating the shop addition, then we would probably have enough firewood for the entire season right now. So hopefully we can have about 3 more hours of good wood cutting/stacking weather this week and will be able to get all of it done and be set for the season.
Not much else going on. The snow forecasts will start up tomorrow, seems hard to believe that is happening already. Seems hard to believe that in a month, the snowmobile season will have started up here as well. Seems like a good note to end with to me!
Good night from the Keweenaw..