Hard to believe that
January is almost all over. Up this way it means we only have about 2 months
of winter left, but for areas further south in the Midwest, it means just
about a month left. I am always amazed at how we are still in the midst of
winter and in some cases having our deepest depth and best conditions in
March and a lot of folks have already gone into warm season mode to our
south. Of course it's not a guarantee either- we have had Marches where the
snow just about all melted, but I would say in about 90% of our winters, the
first two weeks of March provides some great snow play in the Keweenaw, so
keep that in mind.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the Ride-In is
happening next weekend! I believe things are pretty well set. There are
still a few things to take care of, but of the 30 or so things on my to-do
list for the event, most have a check mark next to them. For folks that will
be up in the area this weekend and could not get into the event itself, a
lot of us will be at the Mosquito Bar in Toivola this Friday starting around
8 for Karaoke and other fun stuff. Proceeds made there that night will go
towards the Make-A-Wish Foundation as well. After the huge haul from last
weekend at Lac La Belle and the potential for a good night of fundraising at
the Mosquito, we could be headed for another great total for raised funds
It's been a busy week. When I last wrote, I talked about
the potential for getting around 6-8" of snow Monday and then "few
more Monday night". Well, we got all of the 8" on Monday and then
another 6-8" Monday night and ended up with around 16" of fresh
snow from the storm on Monday. The snows during the day on Monday were a
pretty wet and sticky snow, which helped to build up our base very nicely
and then the snow Monday night was lake effect champagne powder.
By Tuesday morning, everything was frosted in a heavy
coating of fresh snow- including
the woods. Gracie's
playground has pretty much been put out of commission- except for the
slide, which is more fun than ever. The plow
banks are getting pretty big on the driveway too. One of the coolest
things was watching the pups walk around in the fresh snow. Once they got
into areas that do not get plowed, they snow was so deep and fresh that all
you saw was the very top of their head and their tails going through the
snow. The rest of their bodies were either buried in the snow, or lower than
the top of the snow. I did not not have my camera while they were doing
this, but here is a picture of Millie
I also took a ride Tuesday afternoon. The plan was to
head up to Copper Harbor and pick up prizes that had been gathered by Syd, a
resident of the harbor and one who has been very helpful in gathering prizes
from there. She got a bunch of great things for the auction and raffle and I
am very lucky to have her help me with gathering things from all of the
great businesses up there.
So a friend of mine came up to our house and then we took
off from there Tuesday afternoon in search of the harbor. Our plans were to
run some of the "roads less traveled" much of the way and then the
groomed trails the rest of the way and all the way home. I was pretty pumped
to play in all the fresh snow that had fallen, but found the snow condition
to be a little weird. The powder that fell Monday night was awesome, but
then below that, the denser snow that fell during the day on Monday was so
dense, that it did not allow you to carve into it very well. None the less,
it was a lot of fun to be heading down some
logging roads and floating
on all the fresh snow.
Then, shortly after that last picture was taken,
something unique happened. The bottom started to drop out of the snow and we
found ourselves riding in about 2 feet of pure fluff. I think what happened
is that we were climbing into the higher terrain up here and the temps there
probably were not as warm on Monday as they were at places like our house,
so the snow that fell during the day at the higher terrain was pretty fluffy
and thus accumulated to a deeper depth. Then they got the fluff Monday night
too and led to the 2 foot+ of powder we found. I was all grins behind my
helmet riding in this stuff, but that did not last too long as I turned
around to see my riding partner about 1/3rd of a mile behind me with his
When I got back to him, he had already discovered that
the little copper ring that sits inside the spark plug cap and goes over and
around the top of the spark plug had broken in two. This caused the spark
plug cap to be able to bounce off the spark plug and cause the sled to only
run on one cylinder. We were able to get the plug cap to be secured enough
to the plug so that he could ride the sled down to the trail, but we both
decided that we should not chance taking it all the way to the harbor and
back in that condition, so we headed back south to home base. Which was kind
of a bummer, but still not too bad a thing on trails
like this. My riding partner felt really bad, but I told him it was no
big deal and just how snowmobiling goes sometimes. I have a feeling that we
have a few more great powder days left this season and hopefully he and I
will be able to take advantage of them.
So my reason to go to the harbor on Tuesday still
existed, so on Wednesday, Grace, the pups and I piled into the truck and
headed up there. Nora already had plans to meet a friend for dinner, so
Grace and I had a nice dinner "date" at the Mariner. The scenery
on the way up was very beautiful, much of the snow was still sticking to the
trees and the "covered
drive" just southwest of the harbor was beautiful to drive through.
The harbor itself was also very pretty. It had iced over after the snow had
fallen, so the ice was
smooth and clear and the big lake was still wide open beyond.
I also got out to play in the snow yesterday. Hey, I need
to make up for the past two seasons! Anyway, a good chunk of the "Old
Gang" actually got together (Dave, Brian, Al), plus a couple of
guys I have never ridden with and a few that have ridden with the the
regular gang from time to time. We all met up near our house and then headed
off to ride. Just as everyone was congregating, the skies darkened and the
snow started to fly. At times it was snowing so hard you had to slow way
down just to make sure you could react in time and at other times it was
It's funny, I have taken the past 2 years almost
completely off from riding the backcountry up here and have actually
forgotten a lot of the routes. Not sure why, but I was put in charge of
leading for parts of the day as well, which made it all the more
interesting. I managed to lead the group through some of the
old haunts and at other times came to a dead end or ended up making a
big loop. If it was any consolation, nobody else riding in the group seemed
to remember much better than me! Still a great day to be in
the woods on a
sled. Here is a shot of some of the
group taking a break during one of the heavier snow squalls. I pulled up
to them after taking that shot and when we took off to ride again, I had
about an inch or two of snow on me in the 20-30 minutes we sat and chatted.
We all made it back safe and sound, which is pretty good
for a group of 8. I am loving the new sled more and more and while I cannot
say for sure, the odds are increasing at an alarming rate that the 09 M8
will be up for sale this spring. I can't see myself ever wanting to go back
to riding it- unless I have to. I have been letting other ride the new sled
and each time I do, I really wish I could get back onto the new sled! I just
feel so comfortable on it and other that have ridden it also say they like
it a lot.
I guess that just about covers it for this one. More
snows look to fall up here (and in much of the Northwoods) this week. A bit
for Monday, some more later Tuesday and Tuesday night and then it looks like
some more by later Thursday into Friday and Saturday. Not sure if conditions
will be "epic" for the ride in, but at this point they look to be
Good night from the Keweenaw..
|This business directly sponsors
Boy, it sure seems
like longer than a week since I have last written. I guess it was a pretty
busy week for me, so that might explain it.
First off, I need to send out a HUGE thanks to Troy,
Cathy and the entire crew at the Bear Belly Bar and Grille in Lac La Belle
as well as all of those that came out for my guest bartending stint
yesterday. We had a pretty packed house from wire to wire and made a ton of
money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The tips raised for the day were $715
and then Troy and Cathy match that, so I went home with a check in the
amount of $1430!!! That is the biggest haul we have made in all the years
doing it. I always feel kind of guilty when I do this because I really do
not work very hard. I find that I get in the way more than help, so I do
more schmoozing than anything and I am not even very good at that! But
thanks to the professionals behind the bar of Marc, Janna and Christin as
well as cheff Dave and sous chef Jeff, things ran very smoothly the entire
afternoon and early evening and we got our fundraising for this years event
off to a great start. I even got a t-shirt out of the deal! Here
I am posing in it with Troy.
As I mentioned, the place was pretty packed all day, here
is a shot of some of
the crowd and here
is another. Later in the day, local entertainer Tom
Katlin stopped in to play some songs for us all. He does a great job of
covering all kinds of tunes and will also be helping out with some of the
entertainment at the ride in (along with Big Vin and perhaps another
entertainer). Not long after Tom started playing, Grace, Nora, Nora's aunt
and cousin arrived and Grace was absolutely captivated by the live music. It
did not take long for her to start dancing
on one of the tables. Then she danced
with me. After dancing to the rest of the songs Tom played and doing a
few shots of Jagermeister, she
was done for the night.
So all in all, it was a very successful afternoon at Lac
La Belle. I am thrilled that we are off to such a great start with the
fundraising and grateful to all that came up and to Troy, Cathy and staff.
When I last wrote, I mentioned how I thought I might be
coming down with something and I was right. I was coming down with a cold,
my second of the season. The first one had me feeling off for almost 4
weeks, but thankfully this one hit hard and in a few days I was feeling
better. On Monday I had to travel to Marquette for an appointment with the
cardiologist and then spent much of the day Tuesday licking my wounds from
the cold. By Wednesday I was feeling better, but still not great and then
the bitterly cold air hit us for Thursday and Friday. Schools were even
called on Thursday due to the cold. That is the first time in over 2 years
that the weather has cancelled school up here.
Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say here is that I
did not do much this week to write about. I am thankful that I got feeling
better in time for the event at Lac La Belle and then this morning I got a
call from one of the gang saying some were planning on heading out for a
ride. We did pick up some pretty decent snow this week, about 18" fell
from Tuesday through Saturday morning and 34" have fallen since Jan 11.
It's starting to look more like it should around here. Still not obnoxiously
deep like it typically is, but still pretty deep. Around 2 feet on the
ground in most spots and the plow banks are starting to get a bit taller
too. Here is a shot of my
truck on a quiet country road Friday afternoon. I meant to take some
more shots of the snow piling up around here, but forgot the camera on the
trip I was planning to do it on. So I guess you will just have to wait until
next week. We have an advisory for snow for tomorrow and to me it actually
looks like we could see 6-8" tomorrow, with another few inches tomorrow
night and early Tuesday. That will be perfect, as I have a ride planned for
I had fun today too. There was around 8 or 9 in our group
when we started out, but it did not take long for the first casualty to
occur. Then a little while later we had another have to split and head for
home, but then picked up a rider and stayed at that number the rest of the
day. The fresh show we had this week and the grooming job the boys up here
do have put the trails
in great shape. That was the main trail near Phoenix. We were not on the
trails a lot, but I did break off from the group to head home early and took
the main trail home from up north and it was in very good shape all the way
home. Traffic was heavier than I would have thought for a non-holiday Sunday
afternoon, but not too busy either.
We did hit the backcountry for most of the day and
despite all the weekend boondockers hitting the area were still able to
sniff out some untracked snow. Here is a shot of Teddy
laying down a carve and here is a shot of Scott
getting ready to head down a logging road. I Still love the new sled and
am looking forward to Tuesday's ride- especially if we can pick up the high
A quick note on the Ride-In, we are just about at
capacity, with only a few spots left. So if you are planning on coming and
have not registered yet, better get to it, or you may miss out. I have just
about finished up with my prize collecting and if you missed it, we will
have another honking 2 stage Ariens snowthrower for the silent auction-
among lots of other goodies. I will also mention again that there will be
another pre-banquet fund raising event the Friday of the event. It will be
at the Mosquito Bar in Toivola, with Karaoke and other fun things going on.
I will be there from 8 in the evening for a few hours. I wish I could stay
there the whole night, but have a pretty busy day the next day! Still, I am
looking forward to it and hope to see lots of you there!
So I guess that about covers it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
I'm thinking that this is
probably going to be a short one. I am either coming down with cold number
2, or am just worn down from a busy weekend. In either case, I am a tired
pup and getting a late start and have a busy day tomorrow.
I guess I can start with the weather this past week. It
started with another thaw and record high temps. Both Monday and Tuesday
were new records for the day and those were the second and third record
highs for the month and the year and both were only 10 days old! However, by
later Wednesday, old man winter cam a visiting with some snows that continue
into most of Friday. All told, we ended up with around 16" of new snow,
which did wonders for the trails up here. We sure needed it as on Wednesday
I drove down to Hancock and some of the trails that go through town were
bare. I even had my first double snow clearing day on Thursday!
I guess one good thing about all the mild temps we have
had so far this winter is that we still have plenty
of wood left for heat and hot water. I don't think we have any concerns
about having to call for some more this spring like we did last spring. As
of that picture taking this past Tuesday, we still had about 2/3rds of what
we cut for this heating season and are around halfway or more through the
heating season. Another good thing has been our morning walks have been
rather enjoyable. Not too many days with bitterly cold air and nasty winds.
I did not get any riding in around here once the fresh
snows fell, but I did get some riding done in fresh snows. This past autumn
I was invited to ride with some friends out of the Marquette area and this
was the weekend that had been picked back a month or two ago. There were
some nervous moments a few weeks back when there was little new snow there,
but they got hit pretty hard around New Years and also picked up a foot +
snow out of this latest storm, so we were treated to some
very nice conditions.
I drove over on Friday and rode the afternoon with the
others. We then rode all day on Saturday and even got in a bit of riding
this morning before heading home. It was really fun to ride in an area that
I had never been to before. To me a huge part of why I ride is to explore
and see new things and while I have not yet seen all there is to see in the
Keweenaw, much of it is pretty familiar. So this weekends riding was all in
uncharted territory for me. It was also a joy to be making tracks like Keith
is here in this shot, no matter where you are!
We rode a mix of trails, some groomed and some just
logging roads. The terrain in the area was also filled with hills
to climb and vistas to take in. It was weird to be in such unknown
country. Usually I am either riding in areas that I am very familiar with,
or riding with someone that is very familiar with the area, so there is not
a lot of backtracking done. This weekend had a lot of backtracking, but we
did manage to find some good long tracks through the woods too. Here we are taking
a break on one of the longer running tracks.
One of the trails we were on took us by this
rock wall that is in the process of getting covered in ice by slowly
Another thing happened this weekend, I fell in love with
the new sled. Up until this point, I was holding back my opinion on things
as I really have not had much good snow to ride it in. The very first ride
was in some pretty nice powder, but it had no base to it. All the rest of
the rides were on snow that was pretty good as a base, but lacking in depth.
So I really could not get the feel for how it was to carve it. In fact, the
limited carving I tried to do on it I had found rather difficult. Turns out
it was just the snow conditions as once I got into the good snow of this
weekend, it was a total joy to ride and really not much different than the
older M chassis. What makes this sled so much better than the old M chassis
is how it handles the bumps as well as how much better it rides and handles
when you are keeping both skis on the snow. So now the big dilemma this
spring will be if I should buy this one and sell the old M, or not. Such a
terrible problem to have! One thing is for sure, I am going to pretty much
spend the rest of this season on the new ride!
So I guess that about covers it for this one. Looks like
some good lake effect snows coming this week. Looks to start up later
tomorrow and continue almost non stop through Friday or perhaps even the
following weekend. Could be some pretty hefty totals in some of the LES
belts of the UP and northwest lower MI. Also looks to be a bit of fresh snow
for the rest of the northern 1/2 of the Midwest this week as well. So
perhaps winter has finally decided to stick around for a while.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
A profound change has
occurred with me recently. Normally the way this winter is going, I would be
completely down in the dumps. This is by far the most unusual winter the
region has seen since 97-98. What is most unusual is the warm temps. On
Friday we set a new record high for the day of 42 and that was before the
sun even rose!
Maybe it's all the medication talking, but I have really
not been too down in the dumps by what is happening. I am not happy with it
by any means, but my mood really is not way down during the thaws or way up
during the snows. Of course I am joking about the medication. I am not on
any meds that would influence my mood. I actually think that all that I have
been through, medical wise, in the past 2 years has really re-arranged my
priorities as to what is important. There is nothing I can do about the
weather and I think I have finally stopped fretting too much about what is
happening or even what is going to happen. With all that said, I sure with
it would start dumping and not stop until early April!!! :)
Actually, now that I say that, I have this growing
feeling in my bones that something not too dissimilar from that is actually
going to happen. Perhaps not snow every day until early April, but that the
second half of Jan and most of Feb and March will all but erase the memories
of this mild winter we have been having so far. Only time will tell I guess.
Needless to say with temps so mild and little fresh snow
all week, I did not do a lot of playing in the snow this past week. I did
get out for a ride on Tuesday with a friend. The fresh snow over the weekend
had set up trails very nicely and traffic was pretty low this week, so we
found them to be in
pretty good shape Tuesday afternoon. I had hoped to get out again this
past week, but other things took up my free time. Probably a good thing as
we started the melting process Thursday and really got it going on Friday.
Friday morning when I awoke to start work at 4:15, we had already set a new
record high for the day of 42 degrees! We actually backed down on temps a
bit soon after sunrise, but still managed to stay in the upper 30's all day
and that really took a toll on trails- especially in town. Here is a shot of
the ugliness in Hancock
Friday afternoon. We have since picked up around 3-4" of snow, so
things have improved from what was going on Friday, but they would be far
from what I would call good.
There are signs that we could get into a pretty good snow
cycle starting up this Wednesday and then continue off and on for the next
week to ten days after that. It sure would be nice to get into one of those,
it has been about a year since we did and I have almost forgotten what it is
like to live in the Keweenaw in an average winter. Plus, the Ride-In is
coming up in less than 4 weeks and I sure do not want what we have here now
for that event!
Speaking of the Ride-In, I will remind folks to not delay
in registering. We do have a limited amount of persons that we can host and
are getting closer to that number. I would also like to make two
announcements regarding some special activities that will be going on in
advance of the event. On January 21st, I will be doing my annual "Guest
Bartending" at the Bear Belly Bar and Grille in Lac La Belle. All of
the tips gathered for the day are donated to the event and then owners Troy
and Cathy match the tips made do double the donation. So if you are in the
Keweenaw on the 21st, be sure to stop in for some great food and great fun!
Also, on Friday the 3rd of February, which is the Friday of the event, I
will be down at the Mosquito Bar in Toivola for a few hours starting at 8.
There will be a friend of the website having his DJ and Karaoke equipment
set up and as mentioned, I will be there hanging out with everyone for a few
hours and even signing some t-shirts that will be getting sold to raise
money for Make-A-Wish. The party will likely go on until late, but I will
have to leave early because the next day is a pretty busy one for me! and my
day will have started at 4:15 in the morning that day! At any rate, I hope
to see lots of folks there too!
Today I was tending to some indoor chores, Nora had
finished taking the pups for a morning walk and was playing outside with
Gracie, when she came in said that Grace wanted to go for a snowmobile ride.
So I put on a coat, boots, hat and gloves and then fired up the 2012 and we
took a spin around the yard. After about 20 laps, I think we were both
getting a little bored of the limited area to ride around our yard, so I
decided I would see if we could toss the sled in the back of the truck and
head down to Dave's to play in his fields. I gave Dave a quick call and he
said: "sure, come on down".
So after lunch lunch, we got the sled loaded and headed
down. Driving over to his place, I was amazed to see some farm fields with
the stubble still poking through the snow. We had the 50+ mph winds occur
last weekend and that scoured most of the snow off of the fields and piled
it up into the fence rows and lines of trees put in to be wind breaks.
Still, very strange to see almost bare fields at this time of the year.
Dave has trees sheltering much of the land around his
house, so there was plenty of snow to ride on and so Grace and I suited up
(including her new pink snowmobile helmet) and headed
off for a ride. She sure took to the
higher speeds we could go in the fields! We did not go real fast, but a
few times got it up to around 45. Maybe
50 in this shot. Anyway, she loved every minute of it and was wanting
more. It was really cute to see the
big grin from inside the helmet. It was also funny to watch her eyes
grow heavier and heavier on the way home. She did not even make it the 10
minutes or so to our house without falling asleep. I think we have a new
full fledged snowmobiler in the family.
So I guess that about covers it for this one. I know I
keep saying this, but hopefully next week I will have some nice deep snow
shots to share with you all, sure looks to be a possibility!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
I'm sure I am
not the first, but I am going to say it anyway, Happy New Year everyone! I
know for me, 2011 had a few bumps in the road, but all in all was a good
year and I am hoping that 2012 can have all the joys of 2011, minus the
health related bumps in the road.
I don't have a ton to write about this week. I had my mom
and brother come up to visit us this week, they arrived Monday evening and
stayed until Thursday morning. The main purpose of the visit was to
celebrate a belated Christmas with us and of course get some
"Gracie-time". Both were accomplished very successfuly.
Even though snows had been severely lacking for December,
we still had enough snow on the ground to facilitate a snowmobile ride, so
my brother and I took off on Tuesday afternoon in hopes of making it to the
harbor (Copper Harbor). Trails were a mix of being very thin to actually
quiet good. The thinnest snowcover was right next to the lake, but even in
those areas there was just enough to ride on. Here is a shot of Brockway
Mountain Drive on our way up.
We had a nice pit stop at Zik's, chatted with Ken a bit
and then headed back down. The trails inland on the way back from the Harbor
were the best we found for the day. Here is a shot of the
Powderhouse trail just outside of Copper Harbor. This is the
Mandan and was in very good shape. It did not have it's traditional 2
foot snow banks on either side of it, but it was flat and fast.
On Thursday the north end picked up anywhere from
3-6" of new snow, with the heaviest falling the further up the Keweenaw
you went (6" both at Lac La Belle and Copper Harbor). Early this
morning all of the Keweenaw picked up around 4-5"
of new snow, so we are getting ourselves into better shape snow cover
wise and we are to get some more lake effect later today into tonight,
tomorrow and tomorrow night. In fact, it is possible that double digit
accumulations of lake effect could occur in that time frame. It sure would
be nice and I hope to get out on Tuesday for a ride. Of course if we were to
wake up with 2 feet of fresh tomorrow morning, I could probably be talked
into a ride tomorrow too!
Yesterday, Nora, Grace and I partook in an event that was
really a special thing. Back in mid-December, a friend of ours was hit by a
car and had massive head injuries. She underwent 2 brain surgeries that day
and has since been in a coma. Everyone is hopeful that she will pull through
and be able to return to good healthy, but meanwhile the costs of everything
are adding up. So there was a benefit run/walk for her yesterday morning in
Laurium and we headed out for that. The turn out was just amazing, here is a
picture of the line to
get in to register for the event. I did not hear if they gave numbers of
folks that attended, but it had to have been 500-600+. Pretty amazing for a
cold and damp December 31st morning, but not surprising given how many folks
know her and how this community really comes to the aid of one of it's own
when the need arises. There is a long list of things I love about the
Keweenaw and that is just one of the things that makes me proud to be a
member of this community.
I guess my last order of business can be to remind
everyone that the annual SnowFest Ride in is coming up quickly! In just a
little more than a month it will be all wrapped up. I know I have a big long
list of things to take care of in the coming week or so and if you have not
registered, best not delay too long as we can only handle about 130 persons
and will have to cut off registration after that. The page to learn more is here.
So until next time...
Good night from the Keweenaw..