Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Things I Forgot

Right now I am not in da Harbor. I am in Wisconsin to see family and friends for the holidays. I even made it all the way to Madison, WI. That is the place that inspired this post.

On a regular basis, I realize many aspects of living in da Harbor that are so precious and rare: no traffic, no chain stores, fresh air, friendly faces, etc. But as I was submerged in city, I was reminded of a few other things that I seem to have forgotten about while I was away. Things that I just thought were normal because I used to be part of the city.

Constellations. At night I looked up and saw Orion bright in the sky. That is nothing out of the ordinary, except for the fact that it was pretty much just Orion up there. Not the points of Orion speckled in with all the other stars like I see at home. In the city (unless you have a telescope), many people might think that the sky is made of constellations that astronomers have grouped and named. Not true. The sky is full of stars! Full of them! So many that sometimes it's hard to find those constellations among the sparkles. If you ever want to see some stars, come on up to Copper Harbor!

Airplanes. On a rare occasion in da Harbor, I will look up and see a jet in the sky. This might happen once a month to remind me that airplanes are above us, flying around in the big blue sky. But down on land, where planes actually fly over, I saw streams of planes. At one point, I could see so many that I noticed the "lanes" they used for going this way and that. What a thing to forget about at home!

Silence. To be outdoors in the city means I will hear a car, a horn honking or the rush of traffic in the distance. At home, I can hear nothing. Oh, I guess I will hear the wind or the bell buoy, but those are quite serene sounds. I understand that the sound of traveling cars may sooth some ears, but it certainly ruffles mine. I am grateful for the sounds of the natural universe.

I'm not knocking the city. It does serve a purpose (what that is will be left up to you to decide). I just thought you might enjoy to notice some of the subtle differences I noticed when going back to a heavily populated area. Those subtle differences are what make da Harbor Home Sweet Home to me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Surprise

As far as I know, I didn’t ask for anything for Christmas. Maybe I should have because I got something devastating.

On Christmas Eve day, Aaron and I went to Bohemia to ride the fluffy, white powder. It was the freshest of the fresh. It fell in globs as we rode down the mountain. “What a great Christmas present!” I told myself! And I didn’t even ask for it! But I usually work Thursdays, and being it was Xmas break, I was elated to spend the day in the best of conditions. I was having so much fun that I couldn’t believe when the liftee told me it was last ride up! No! I’m having so much fun! I wanted to scream! But I knew I was coming back the next day, and it promised to be spectacular too.

So the next day started off wonderful. Pure, fresh rides down an extremely unpopulated hill. It’s always the best when I’m one of the few people there -- I get so many fresh turns to myself. Another glorious day, I thought.

I was in denial as I looked over Lake Superior from the top of the lift and saw rain clouds. It won’t be much, I told myself. Just a short sprinkle, if anything. But those clouds sure were big and dark.

So I rode and rode in the sticky snow. I didn’t have the right wax on my board for such warm conditions. On my seventh ride up, I was getting rained on. I still tried to deny it, but the soggy spots on my pants told me the truth. I was determined to keep riding, though, and I went for a couple more runs.

But by then, my jacket and pants were soaked, my goggles looked like a windshield with no wipers and my board would hardly slide down the flat parts. It was time to be done for me.

Now, I am okay with the fact that my snowboarding day got cut short -- one that was supposed to be great. But the fact that it poured and rained for the rest of the day was really quite sickening. As I look out at the brown pathways, exposed rocks and sidewalk, I cannot help but feel my heart sink just a little. Good-bye, snow. Come back soon!

I think, yes, it is snowing out already.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Comments Welcome!

As a reader of this blog, you are encouraged to let me know what you like, what you don't like and share any other comments you may have. I think I have my comment page all set up now, so feel free to let me know, so I can better entertain you!

By the way, thank you to my 3 admitted followers! I keep it up for you!

Skis and No Ice

The last two days have been cross country ski days for me. On my first day out, the trails were not freshly groomed by any means, but I’ve been longing to give it a try. I found enough of a track along the way to make it enjoyable. Hard, sweaty work type enjoyable.

Like snowshoeing and snowboarding, the skiing came with an oh-my-gosh-I-forgot-how-much-work-this-is surprise. The “work” is in the arms -- trying to pull myself forward with poles. I also remembered too, that I liked xc skiing for this reason. I don’t get a good arm workout like this in many other aspects of my day.

Though this is the beginning of the winter in da Harbor, it is winter nonetheless. I have partaken in all of my outdoor activities in the snow. It’s time for more to fall. But the component of winter that I have not touched on yet is a slippery one: the ice.

Remember when I told you about that peaceful day on the north shore? Since the lake was so still, ice started forming in the harbor. And it has been since then. Sure the expanse of it would vary each day, but ice was on the harbor -- at least on the east side. And today it is all gone. The temperature must be warm enough for it not to stick because the waves have not been, what I would conside, much at all.

I had to tell you that because, although I know how spontaneous its appearance is, I was shocked to see it all gone. At least Aaron is making the best of that -- he’s trying to catch us dinner. I’ve been dreaming of fresh spake for months now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No Expectations on the Mountain

When my friends came back from opening day at Mt. Bohemia, they said it wasn’t that great. Coverage was lacking, and some rocks were exposed. Bless their hearts. I didn’t feel so bad.

But Saturday was my turn to go and check it out for myself. I was even a little leery because of what I’d heard from the day before, and it didn’t really snow overnight. I expected my first day back on the board to be brutal. I was hoping we would only have to stay for a few runs. The back side of the hill was going to open that day, though, so that would make it worth it. Aaron and I rode up on the first chair of the morning.

That first run was rough. The snow was hard and too fast for how steep the run was. I ended up on my butt at least six times before reaching the lift again. If you are not familiar, the runs at Bohemia are all labeled black and double black diamonds (difficult and very difficult), except for one blue square (moderate). I decided to go for the blue square run, though I usually never choose it during the season.

That was just what I needed. Not too steep and not too skied out yet. I built up some confidence and was ready for another run. I had been hoping to ride the back side of the hill all morning, but that wasn’t going to open till 1:00 pm. Since we got there at 9:30, I had a lot of time to kill without killing myself before the fresh snow was available.

And do you know what? I had a blast! I found some decent snow on some of my favorite spots. Sure some rocks would scrape under my board and I’d have to dodge branches sticking out, but by gum, the first-day-fever had a hold of me, and I was tearing it up. And the bonus was that it snowed all day, so ruts continually filled in.

I already had taken 13 runs before they opened the back side, but once I saw those ropes pulled apart, it was like a new day. I took my first run on my favorite path (which, unexpectedly, lots of others liked too) and hooted and hollered the whole way. I even had some fresh tracks down the Baby Bear run. Fresh powder runs are a snowboarder’s dream come true. I took that trail again.

But after half a cookie and no water during 5 hours of riding, I tired rather quickly. I was beat. I was done. Luckily, so was Aaron, and on the way home, we talked about how much fun we had on a day that we thought would be so horrible that we would want to leave early. Guess I can’t have any expectations on the mountain.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Flat Calm

Today I got to walk a short walk. A short, but a lovely walk to the little North-facing beach off Horizon Rd. It's my favorite place to bask in Lake Superior's glory that's so close to my house. The lake was sooo peaceful today. Not even a splash on the shore line -- just a gentle seiche.

It was so lovely. It's not often that I see the lake this quiet, especially in the winter. I had to stand at the shore for a few minutes and take it all in. Ahhh.

Tomorrow is opening day for Mt. Bohemia. That's awesome. Yes, awesome for everyone who gets to go. I will be teaching preschool. But that's okay. I will suck it up and shred some tracks the next available time. If you get to go, don't tell me how good it was. Or even that you went.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Season's First Snowshoe!

School was called off today, so I figured it was my day to see if my snowshoes still work. The snow has been blowing around since Tuesday afternoon. It’s hard to say how much has accumulated in the last couple days because the wind keeps shifting it to different spots. Probably at least 3 inches here, but I’m sure the towns over the ridge got more -- they usually do.

But it was enough for me to go for my long awaited snowshoe. On my trek to the lighthouse, while I was still on the plowed gravel road wearing those metal-framed apparatuses over my boots, I began to sweat. I wasn’t nervous. I was heating up and had hardly gone 100 yards! Wooh! I thought, this showshoeing business sure takes some getting used to. I remembered the end of last winter when I was a snowshoeing champ. I would drag people out farther than they really wanted to go just because I loved it so much.

And now I was not even one tenth of the way through my day’s journey, and I felt beat. I had to remind myself why I loved snowshoeing, ponder life and think of new writing ideas while I was trudging along, so it wouldn’t seem so rough. And I wasn’t even in the powder yet!

As I broke through past the plowed road, into the fresh snow, I was reminded how hard it really was. This walk to the lighthouse, which seems so effortless in the summer as I prance down in tennis shoes and shorts, becomes a chore when I plow through it in three layers of clothing and boots. But underneath those few curse words I may have muttered, I was grateful for it. Winter is here, and I’m going to become stronger as I battle the snow and the elements.

The first few times will be drudgery, but I’ll sure be glad when the spring comes, and I can fly up hills on my feet and bike. Cheers to winter!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Event in da Harbor!

I just wanted to let you know that Copper Harbor is hosting a Winter Wonderfest this Saturday, December 12th. We will have carnival-style games in the park, bonfires, Santa, crafts for sale, pies and cakes, the lighting of the Christmas lights in the park and a fireworks display! We get excited for parties, so why not go all out?

After these daily festivities, the trails club is hosting an all-you-can-eat pizza fundraiser at the Mariner. $20 for all the pizza you can eat ($10 for the littl'uns) -- proceeds go towards a groomer for the Copper Harbor ski trails. Live music too! So if you are in the area or you just can’t wait for Christmas to be merry, come on up and support this magical corner of the world!

Let it snow!

Inbetween Season

It really is winter. It came quickly. So quickly that we don’t even have winter tires on the car. So quickly that I had to dig out my boots and scarf before I could go anywhere. Remember all that unseasonably warm and sunny weather we were having up here? It turned winter within a day. Raise a toast to winter!

I even saw snowmobilers today. They came all the way up here on ungroomed trails to realize that the gas station isn’t open. Luckily for them, the Gas Lite General Store usually has a secret stash. But as for the next sledders who come here... they’re probably stuck here for a while.

Isn’t that crazy, though? A town actually exists that doesn’t always have a gas station open. The locals definitely have to prepare themselves in the spring and fall, so they can stay mobile. As long as I’m prepared, I love it. I love telling people that they shoulda filled up before they came here. But I must be mean. Yes. Yes, I am.

So it’s winter, but it’s kinda that inbetween time where I think: the hill is not open yet for snowboarding, there’s not enough snow to cross country ski, too much for biking... what do I do? Never fear. When I am antsy enough, I will always find something to do. So far this year, the answer is snow hiking. The great outdoors is perfectly suited for boots and snowpants and hoofing it. And with the nice layer of snow to pad the forest floor, I don’t have to stay on the trails! Today I was hiking down “Here We Go” and took some liberties to slide down parts of it on my bum. It adds a whole new element to outdoor adventure.

Tomorrow I’ll be at school again and will get to go sledding with the kids. Another perfect sport for an antsy outdoor enthusiast.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sun & Snow

Hello! Welcome to the new site. I hope you like it or can at least get used to it. I needed to make a change.

So while you're here, I'd like to share a little story about my walk into town from my house.

The world was covered with snow. The sun was shining through the trees. What a beautiful day! I was thankful to be a part of it, so I decided to walk to Copper Harbor and take care of some errands. I'm a pretty happy person in general, but man oh man, I couldn't help but smile with this day. 'Glorious' is the word I would use to describe it.

I know that there are not many days in winter when I can feel the radiance of the sunshine, so bask in it I did. My body was grateful for the vitamin D.

As I passed the stretch close to the lake, where I could see the water through the trees, I noticed a dark curtain in front of Porter's Island. I couldn't even see Porter's. Oh, boy, I thought. It could be snowing on me any minute. I knew the sun and I had to get all our personal time in as quickly as possible. I sang my sun songs to it and got a few eyes full.

I watched the clouds get closer and darker. Then, within seconds, the sky opened up and dropped all its chilly powder upon me. I waved goodbye to the sun and got to bask in the snow for the last hundred yards into town.