Wowza! Is this ever
turning out to be a snowy winter! Since I last wrote, we have picked up
28" of new snow, much of that in the storm Tuesday and Wednesday, but
even Friday night into early Saturday we picked up a half a foot of new
snow. It is really looking like the winters of old around here. Or at least
the winters prior to the past 2-3. I measured 40" on the level outside
our house and I would not be surprised if the higher "bumps" up
this way have a foot more on the level.
The Tue-Wed storm was a full fledged doozie, with just
about every school district in the UP (not just the Keweenaw) closed. The
schools of Houghton and Keweenaw counties were closed both Tuesday and
Wednesday and the storm was so bad that even businesses were shutting their
doors on Tuesday and probably the most impressive indicator of how bad
things were was that MI Tech closed it's doors by noon on Tuesday and
remained closed on Wednesday. Since I have lived here the past 13 years, I
think I can only remember a day or two when Tech was closed.
The storm packed a double punch, with 15-25"+ snows
falling, but also 50 mph winds. I really did not go out in it at all on
Tuesday, other than to clear the snow off our driveway, but I heard stories
and saw pictures of drifts of 6-9 feet tall out in the rural areas and even
some pretty bad roads in the cities.
Thankfully by Tuesday I had gotten over the hump with my
cold. I still had, and have, some sniffles and a cough, but my energy came
back to full strength. Which I say was good because I had to clear snow
twice on Tuesday and then again Wednesday morning. All three clearing jobs
were big ones, taking around 2 hours. Here is a shot Nora took of me
clearing the side walk way Tuesday.
The banks have all gotten very big and where the snow
slides off the roof, the piles of snow are 8-9 feet high. Which presents a
unique situation for the
views out of the windows on the side of the house. Here is the
other. I just knew that this winter would not turn out to be another
dud. The reason being that as soon as the snow was gone, I am going to get
going on the addition and the sooner the start the better. Last winter I
could have gotten going by around March 10th. This
is the snow that needs to melt before I can start building this year!
Remember the picture I posted in the February 3rd journal of Nora
and Gracie by the snow family they made? The lump
of snow in this shot is that snow family!
The banks in town are getting big. Here is a shot
of a house who's owners must go south for the winter. Here is a shot of a
side street in Mohawk. I was standing on the running board of my truck
when I took it, the banks are around 8 feet high. Here is a
shot of a full sized van that has sat unused all winter. Probably not
going to be used for a while either!
Things did finally quiet down enough on Wednesday
afternoon that I could get out and play. I initially had plans to ride with
Dave and Matt, but they both were too busy with work and chores due to the
storm, so I went into a bit of a panic mode, thinking all that fresh powder
was not going to be enjoyed by me, but I lucked out and was able to ride
with Zach Westcot and his friend up out of Lac La Belle. They both go to
Tech and had the day off, so we rode out of Lac La Belle. I did not take a
ton of shots as quite frankly we did not stop much! But here is a shot of a
small field we were carving up and any one that has ridden in
"powder over the hood" can relate to this view
of the dash of my sled.
As mentioned, we did get another 6" of snow Friday
night and Saturday. For a while, it was looking like the storm might end up
being a dud for us as the snows were slower to start than the models
indicated and once they did, just sort of spit on us. Then not long after
darkness fell, the snows picked up and I awoke Saturday morning to find more
snow than I thought we would get. I got to moving it pretty early, because I
had plans to drive down to Mass City and ride down that way with friends.
Again, the snow clearing took almost two hours, but I still had plenty of
time to get down to meet up with the others. Or so I thought... Just before
getting to Twin Lakes, I came across this
18 wheeler that looked like he had decided to do a little boondocking of
his own! Crews were already on scene to help get things straightened out and
I probably only had to wait around 10 minutes before they were able to get
the back end of the trailer swung around enough to let traffic pass. So I
still made it down in time to ride at the designated time.
This was only my second time riding down that way since
moving up here. There was a good amount of snow down that way too and it was
a ton of fun to see new sights and experience new areas. It did not take
long to find a challenge for the group. Here is a picture of my
sled laying on it's side on the side of a hill, with my buddy Keiths sled
nearly upside down a little further up the hill. It was a good thing I
wanted to take it easy and keep myself from getting injured before heading
out west for a week! Actually, it really was not as bad as it looked. I had
rolled my sled over to get it pointed down hill easier and Keith was doing
the same. The day was lots of fun though with lots of fun play areas and new
sights to see.
I made it back safe and sound and after a good nights
sleep and a filling breakfast, I got out to do a better job cleaning up the
snow. The cabin roof had cleared and had dropped onto the side walkway and
the driveway had picked up around an inch of fresh since I had plowed
yesterday morning, so I got busy on that while Nora, Grace,
the pups and Rynada (her dolly) played in all the snow. Here is a shot
of Grace climbing the
the pile along side the cabin. It was safe for her to play there, but
everyone (including the pups and Rynada) were kept clear of the shop, as the
snow on it was in a
hang fire setup. The shop roof did not clear when the whole family was
out, but I had gone to drop off my sled to be put in the trailer to head out
west and was talking on the phone with a friend when it let go. Pretty
impressive and so much power.
Here is one more shot from today's snow play. It is of Huck
and Millie staring down each other from opposite snow piles on the side of
the driveway. The banks are over the cutter bars on the snow thrower. It
has been several years since it was that deep up here and I toss the snow
well clear of the area I cut with the snow thrower. In that area, the snow
is about face high and is what Millie is behind. I also took a shot on my
way back from Dave's today. It is a shot of the
Trap Rock River, still flowing through the winter wonderland up here.
So I guess that just about covers things. Just about. I
was finally able to pay all the bills for the Ride-In and come up with this
years donation amount. Actually, that amount will grow further and I will
get into why in just a moment, but thanks to the huge bump we got from the
restored sled raffle, the donation going to the Michigan Chapter of the Make
A Wish foundation will in the amount of $16,500. That is a new all time
high. The funds raised without the sled raffle were also impressive as we
did have a smaller turn-out this year than in past years.
Now, the reason why the donation will grow is that there
was a miscommunication when I sent in the final shirt order and instead of
getting just the additional shirts we needed to complete the order, we got a
full order. So I have about 80 extra shirts that I will be making available
for sale on line. I am going to wait until I get back from my Togwotee trip,
but for you folks that could not make the event and want a shirt, or for
anyone that might want two, or someone just wanting to help out, that
opportunity will be available in around 2 weeks. I figure I will just sell
the shirts at their cost ($12) + shipping ($6). So they will be $18 a piece,
including shipping. Also, if there was someone that had registered and did
not get your shirt(s), let me know and we will check our list and get them
to you. Please no orders until I get back from WY and get things set up!
One final Ride-In note is that I was finally able to get
list made up. Note I did not include the names of the persons that
registered and came to the event and that is a huge part of the success (at
least half really), but I just did not want to post names of persons that
might not want their name plastered onto the internet! So a huge thanks to
all those that attended too!
Now, that will do it for real this time. No entry next
week, but then the entry for the 10th or maybe the 11th should be a good one
with lots of high holes and tin horn shots, as well as the beautiful scenery
from the Togwotee WY area!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
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Getting a bit of an
early start today. Nora and Gracie went on a road trip, but are on their way
back, so I would like to be done with this by the time they get back. Also,
there is some good hockey on today and I would like to be able to sit and
relax and watch some of it.
It's been another pretty quiet week for me. Not
completely quiet, but the cold has been stubborn and I continue to fight it.
It does seem to be better and I have heard that it lasts at least a week, so
hopefully in a few days it will be gone and I will be back to having full
strength all day long.
We did get our storm last Sunday and Monday. I awoke to
around 6-7" new snow Monday morning and it kept up for most of Monday,
with another 3-4" falling and then a couple of inches of snow Monday
night. It was a very dense snow and packed down the existing snowpack even
further, so now we have a very solid 30-36" on the ground up here. It
was also a big job to clear. I typically use the ATV and plow to do most of
the work and then cut back the banks with the snow thrower. The snow Sunday
and Monday was so dense that I could only use the snow thrower to clear. A
job that typically takes me around 35-40 minutes took me over 2 hours. In
that 2 hours of clearing, another 2" had fallen! So I let the heavier
snow finish up and Monday afternoon did the second clearing of the day.
One of the big jobs Monday afternoon was to clear the
path along the side of the house. Typically the snow slides off the roof
quickly enough that it will over shoot the walkway, but when the snow is
more dense and/or is wet, then it slides much more slowly and actually just
dumps off the roof and down onto the walkway. So when the snow came down off
the roof Monday, this was the
look of the side walkway. The 12 year old Ariens handled it very well. I
just locked the hubs and let the machine do the work.
The shop has also been clearing all season long and on
the side with the lean-to, the snow has piled
up to the height of the edge of the lean-to's roof. So in order for the
snow to continue to be able to slide off the roof, it needs a place to go.
Typically, I just go out there with a shovel and clear enough of the snow
away to allow more to slide off the roof. However, there was a thread going
on the discussion board about this big Yamaha snow thrower down at Pat's
Yamaha in Greenland, so I through out a invitation for them to come up with
that thing and help clear the snow away from the drop zone of the lean-to
and as luck would have it, they took me up on my offer.
Lenny arrived with his friend Brad and we got the
behemoth unloaded from Lenny's truck and headed over to clear the snow.
Lenny first cut into
the snow that was just on the level, in order to get to the pile by the
lean-to. The machine at into that nearly 3 feet of snow with no problems and
boy, could it toss it
too! Then the eating
away at the big pile commenced. Because that snow was so compacted by
sliding off the roof and compressing itself, the big Blue Monster would want
to climb. So we had to use shovels to slice off chunks from the pile and
then let the thrower toss it out of the way. Still a much easier process
than to shovel by hand and in around 2 hours, the
way had been cleared for more snow to drop off the roof. So barring an
incredibly snowy last two weeks of February and all of March, I think I will
be all set from having to worry about that area again. In the future, I plan
to either beef up the framing of the lean-to to be able to handle tons of
snow, or to get a mini-excavator out there to excavate the dirt out to give
me more room for the snow to drop into.
It wasn't all work this past week though. I was able to
get out with Dave yesterday for a ride. I am now within the "2 week
warning" for the out west trip and last year just about ruined my out
west trip by hurting my leg a week before we left, so I did not want to do
anything too crazy. Dave was riding a sled that just had the top end rebuilt
and also did not want to get too crazy with things, so we made a
good pair. It was a bit chilly, but not brutally cold, with the air temp
around 10 above. The sun was trading places with snow showers and it was
nice to be cruising around the
snowy woods. All went well with no sled injuries or body injuries and we
finished up the ride with some
carving of the snow in Dave's yard. One more for
I am really hoping that my body can get the final push it
needs to get over this stubborn cold, as it looks like we have quiet a snowy
period headed our way in the next 10 days. A bit of system snow tomorrow and
tomorrow night and then perhaps some fairly substantial lake effect snow for
Tuesday and Wednesday, with some more system snow by Fri-Sat and yet more
system snow by early next week. We're not the only ones to see lots of snow
chances in the next 10 days. It looks like a good portion of the northern
1/2 of the region will see some chances for snow. So while there may not be
a ton of time left for areas of the central Midwest, there does look to be
at least some chances to put them back into action for snow play as well as
build to the bases down across the northern 1/4 to 1/3rd of the region.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
This will be a short
one I promise. Gracie came down with a cold virus in the days leading up to
the ride in and then this week both Nora and I got it. It's not the worst
thing I have ever had, but still enough to have kept me fairly well
sidelined for the past few days.
I did get out for a ride Monday afternoon with Matt and a
few others. I was able to take out the Crossfire with the shorter a-arms on
it and I really loved it! In fact, if there are any Arctic Cat engineers or
managers out there reading this, it it my recommendation that you put the
mountain a-arms on the high country as a stock feature. It already comes
with the 2.25" track and is on the mountain chassis, so it is not
exactly at trail sled, more like a short tracked mountain sled and with the
narrower a-arms, it is a boondocking machine! That and the sway bar was
removed. Way easier to toss around. In fact, a bit too easy at first, but I
added a little more air to the front shocks and it did not initiate the roll
over quite as quickly, but was still very friendly to toss around.
To me that sled is now the perfect UP boondocking sled
and it will be a tough decision to give it back at the end of the winter! I
do also like the idea of having a long-tracked mountain sled for out west
too. That 12" of track on the 153 is a help in the mountains for this
guy. Perhaps someone with more talent could get by fine with a 141, but I
really do not see too many of the pro mountain riders out west on anything
as short as a 141, so I think my ideas of having a long track for the
mountains is not a silly one.
Anyway, it was fun to get out and ride on Monday, but
then it was mostly work the rest of the week. I had really fallen behind on
the Kitchen remodel work. Still in the planning stages and Nora and I had
done quite a bit of research and planning, but I did not have anything
firmly drawn up. As mentioned a month or two ago, I picked up a great CAD
program for designing kitchens, but I was worried I would not be able to
learn all the features of it fast enough to be able to produce the plans to
get building later this winter and early spring. So I contacted the author
of the software (who lives in NE WI) and he was kind enough to say that he
would do the plans for me. I sent everything to him on Friday and he got
back to me within an hour with a rough draft 3D rendering of the kitchen!
His speed in getting back to me proved I had made the right choice, as it
would have taken me at least a week or 2 to get to the point he was able to
get to in just an hour. I guess it helps when you wrote the software!
Anyway, we have already gone back and forth with a few
minor design changes and hopefully sometime this week I will have the full
set of plans. Since I have the software he is using, all I need is the file
he created and then I can do the 3D renderings, and produce things like cut
lists and price estimating. I can stay that as I worked on things last week,
I was really getting excited to get building. The shop is pretty well setup
for things and I plan to build a few cabinets for the shop, using the plans
for the kitchen cabinets, that way I can make my mistakes and get through
the learning curve with them, using less expensive materials. Seems like
anytime I build something, there is always a learning curve at first and
once past that, things go very smoothly and even quicker. It is still my
hope to have all the kitchen cabinets done before the snow melts completely
and I can start with the addition. I guess the spring weather will have a
big say in that. If we have the type of spring we had last year, no way! But
if we have a typical spring, then I have about 2 months from now until I can
even think of getting onto the slab to clear the rest of the snow off and
I had a neat experience yesterday. I do the weather for a
set of radio stations owned by the same parent company and one of the DJ's I
talk to in the morning also does by the play-by-play for the MI Tech Hockey
and Football games. One thing led to another and as luck would have it, I
got invited (or kind of invited myself!) to be able to sit in
the press box and watch last nights game from there. It was game two of
a 2 game home stand against the University of Alaska Anchorage. The night
before, Tech had blown a 4-1 second period lead to lose 5-4, so I knew that
they would be seeking revenge last night and they ended up pounding A-A 6 to
1. It was really cool to be up in the press box watching the game and
sitting next to Dirk as he called the game. He does an awesome job, as does
the color man Randy. I even got called in during the intermissions to give a
little impromptu weather forecast as we have a storm slated for tonight and
tomorrow. A great game and a great way to watch a game!
As mentioned, we have a storm headed our way. In fact the
flakes should start falling in another hour or two and really get going to
night, before backing off some for the day tomorrow and into tomorrow night.
I would not be surprised at all to see us pick up double digit accumulations
out of this. Not the mega-accumulations areas along the east coast saw
Friday night, but still a nice snow event for us. It will be nice to get as
we have not had a ton of snow in the past week. We did have several inches
fall Mon, Tue and Wed, but then has been pretty quiet for the past 2-3 days.
So perhaps my little cold will go away and I can put some tracks in the
fresh this week!
I guess that about covers it for this one. Going to sign off, lay on
the couch and catch the rest of the Red Wings hockey game.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
The 8th annual
SnowFest is in the books and was a great one! I would have to say that it
was probably the best one yet. We are still counting up the money raised and
there are some bills to be paid, but I have no doubt that from a fund
raising standpoint, this will be the most successful year. Due in large part
to the success of the Sled Raffle. There were close to 700 tickets sold for
that raffle and that generated close to $7000 itself. Congrats go out to the
winner, more on that in a bit.
First I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all who attended.
There were quite a few new faces and also a lot of familiar faces. The level
of generosity by those that attend never ceases to amaze me. Here we have
somewhere on the order of a hundred people or so, but yet between the silent
auction and raffle tickets sold at the event, the money collected at the
banquet alone is in the 4000 to 5000 range. That means that there is an
average of 40-50 dollars spent by folks who have already paid 50 dollars to
attend the banquet as well as travel and lodging expenses to be there.
I also need to say a huge thanks to Lori Sleeman, Cathy
Bonini, John Stachler and my wife Nora for their help in setting up, prize
collection and registration. Also, Bobbi Joe, who helped with raffle ticket
sales and handing out the prizes. There is no way the event could ever go on
without all the work they do. Tim and Susie Landers, who own the Brownstone
Hall where the banquet is held also stepped up to go the extra mile to make
sure things ran smoothly. Susie filled in for Big Vin (who had to work and
could not attend for the first time in 8 years) as emcee and Tim jumped into
action when ever there was a need as well as providing the background music
for the banquet. I would also like to thank bartenders Scott and Bob who
once again donated their time to make sure folks did not go thirsty.
I will be putting together a formal thank you list
in the next week or so and should also have the final number for funds
raised by next week's entry, but for sure it was a great event and everyone
seemed to have a really good time and I was thrilled to meet all of the
attendees and am glad that it seemed universal that all those that came for
the first time this year are already looking forward to next years event.
Those attending this year were greeted at the door by my
beautiful wife and her aunt Phyllis. Nora handled all of the
registration reservations for this years event and I sure hope that she
feels up to the task for next year as it is really a big undertaking! After
helping me set up for the event, Lori,
Cathy and Bobbie Joe made sure that plenty of raffle tickets were sold.
As mentioned, the big item of the night was the sled
raffle and we were able to bring the sled into the hall and have it on
stage for display. Kind of neat that in that last picture, the future
owner of the sled can be seen in the background. The hall
filled up pretty quickly and it was neat to see folks interacting with
One of those to arrive early in the evening for the event
was the guest of honor, Tom-
as seen here with his dad. Once everyone was there and we had gotten the
silent auction and raffle rolling along, we sat down and enjoyed a great
dinner of turkey off the bone, roast beef, potatoes, lasagna, some veggy
dishes, salad and dessert. Nothing cosmopolitan, just GOOD old fashioned
home cooking provided by Kangas Catering out of Hancock.
Once dinner was over, then we got to the sled raffle. So
I was joined on stage by Tom,
Lori and Adam. Adam is the man behind the restoration. It was his sled
that was taken from a "ready for the scrap pile" stage to better
than new. He along with a team of others stripped the thing down to the bare
bones and meticulously restored the sled to its full grandeur.
We did not waste to much time in getting to the drawing.
Tom close he eyes and
reached into the bowl of tickets, pulled the
winning ticket, handed it to me to read, followed by me
handing it to Lori because I did not have my reading glasses on. Lori
studied the ticket as the anticipation grew in the room...a
smile started to form on her face as she read the winning tickets owner.
The name was called out and as if scripted by Hollywood, not only was the
winner at the banquet, but it was Donna
Jarman, who along with her husband own the Mosquito Bar In Toivola. The
sled sat on display at their place for over a month and they were
responsible for selling over half of the tickets for the raffle. Soon Donna
was joined by Don and I may be wrong on this, but I am guessing he is
thinking right at that moment... "This is awesome, come on honey, lets
go look at OUR sled!". Or maybe by the
look on his face in this shot... HIS sled! I would imagine Donna might
frame the winning
ticket, just to remind Don who's sled it really is!. None the less, it
was a very cool moment and the sled has found a great home.
Before leaving the stage, Don presented me with a gift.
The night before the Mosquito Bar had hosted a Karaoke party that raised
funds for the SnowFest event and he had all the patrons at the bar that
night sign a banner and then presented
me with the banner to hang in my shop. The banner was also signed by all
those in attendance at the banquet.
With the sled raffle over, we moved onto getting the
raffle of items donated to the event going. The community that we live in
really steps up to the plate and donates tons of items for the silent
auction and raffle and several friends of the site also send in some
wonderful things. At times, it almost seems like we have too many things,
but it's nice to know that almost everyone in attendance goes home
with some kind of winning. One of the persons winning multiple raffle prized
was Tom. Even
Gracie got involved in the raffle by picking
some of the winning tickets. As the raffle was going on, we gave the
2-minute warning for the silent auction and there was one
final push to make sure that folks had their bid be the highest for what
As is the case with an event with so much going on, there
are lots of sub-plots that all contribute to make it such a special event. I
am sure that I could tell dozens of stories about the special acts of
unselfish kindness done by those involved with the event, but will just
stick with one that happened last night. A man named Guy Ellis has donated
an American Girl doll to the past few events and they have helped raise
funds for those events. This year, he again donated a doll, along with some
clothing for it, a storybook about doll and other items. He then went on to
make sure that he was the highest bidder for the doll and upon winning it,
went on to give it to
Gracie. Like I say, there are lot of other stories about similar acts of
kindness and generosity that can be told and I wish I had the time and
energy to tell them all, but please know that they do not go unnoticed by
myself and others and are a big part what makes this event so special.
Before the night was over, Tom
took to the stage and asked if he could say a few words. So I handed him
the mic and did my best to fight back the tears as he gave a heartfelt thank
you to everyone at the event. Then this morning, I received an e mail that
was sent from Tom to Nora and forwarded on to me. Tom had gotten home and did
some art work from his night.
I have to admit that in the months leading up to the
event, there are times when I am spinning a dozen places at the tip of a
tall, thin stick. Some of the plates have to do with the ride-in and there
are times when I am asked to spin some more and feel overwhelmed. Thoughts
briefly pop into my head that this will be the final year I do the SnowFest,
but then the event takes place, I get to hang out with so many great folks,
raise money for a very important cause and most importantly... see the
effects and gratitude that the Wish Child has and it washes away the
thoughts of ending that chapter of the book which is my life. There will be
a 9th Annual. I promise.
So the 8th annual is over, the
cleaning up is all done and it was a GREAT time. My deepest thanks to
all that made it happen and will make a wish come true.
In other news up this way... the weather can be described
in one word. SNOW. After a very sluggish start, we are getting pummeled. I
have been keeping a daily record of the snow, but am too tired to add all of
those numbers up since things got going a little over 3 weeks ago, but it is
deep, really deep. I went to bed last night and it was only flurrying out.
As my head hit the pillow, I had thoughts on how it was going to be nice to
not have to move snow in the morning. I am not sick of doing it yet, just
was very tired from the banquet and looking forward to a morning off. No
such luck. From the time we went to bed at around midnight, to 8 am this
morning, we had managed to pick up a fresh 6" of snow.
As mentioned, I am by no means tired of the snow and not
tired of moving it...yet. Quite the opposite. I am thrilled to see things
starting to look like they should around here in winter. It has been a
disappointing past few seasons, but the snow banks are getting huge and the
woods and trails are in prime shape for playing in the snow. The forecast
also looks pretty good for more in the next ten days to two weeks. Time to
Earlier in the week, we had a bit of a warm up and the
snow actually became really good for packing, so while I did some work
Monday afternoon, Grace and Nora got busy building not just a snow man, but his
wife and little girl too. I was very impressed! So from a very snowy
Good night from the Keweenaw..