Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ice Volcano

Yesterday I stepped outside to see Duce running and barking towards the lake. What got him all fired up? I wondered. Some sort of animal? Close. An ice fisherman. Wait, wait, wait, an ice fisherman? But the ice just started holding three days ago. "I've been watching the webcam, and I knew I had to try it now," he said. He already caught a couple fish! Splake and Menominee.

I was half tempted to sit and fish myself since I still haven't gotten the pleasure of that succulent meat coated with a crispy beer and herb batter fried in oil. Mmm, fresh fish. But I had a few chores to do before spectating at the Ocha Potter Terrain Park Rail Jam, which went very well, by the way.

But I sure was enamored at the fact that I was walking out on the Harbor for the first time this winter. I was on the lake! I was on the lake! Soon I will be taking short cuts to Hunter's Point and the Lighthouse over the bay. He said he chopped through 4-5 inches of ice that morning. Solid. It looked like it was here to stay, and it stretched across the harbor.

So today I had to take a stroll to see how the big lake was doing. When I got to the north shore, I was surprised to see ice caves already formed. Probably 8-12 feet high so far. I almost turned away too quickly to get out of the wind, but a splash caught my eye. And another one. And another. And another!

A symphony of waves crashed on the ice castles so hard that the water was twice the size as the ice! It was amazing! And one ice cave had a half circle weathered away, so when the wave hit it, the water shot up like an erupting volcano! That one was the most active. I forgot how cold I was as my jaw was hanging in the air. What a show!

I tried to get a video of this exhibition, but my timing was off. The show came in waves, and I couldn't quite figure out the pattern before my hand went numb. But I hope you can at least kind of see what I saw today. It is winter... maybe it will happen again!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Buttery Bohemia Beating

Aaaaaaaaaaaalleluia! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaalleluia! Alleluia, alleluia, alle-eluia! That song has been stuck in my head for the past three days because that's how long it's been snowing. Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun. Now the snowboarding has begun!

Yesterday (the only day I got to go) was pretty freakin awesome at Mt. Bohemia. Every turn, every b-line, every fall was smooth and buttery. It reminded me why I moved up here -- to ride the powder at Bohemia ( I stayed for many other reasons, if you haven't noticed).

I apologize for not knowing the exact amount (the wind spreads it all over), but I know that over a foot has fallen since Tuesday. Copper Harbor is back in business, baby! And the best part, since I am a selfish local, is that it's the middle of the week, and we get it all to ourselves! All the people who are eager to snowmobile and ride Bohemia will be here Friday or Saturday, and I have already ridden in spectacular snow.

Since I am such a devoted teacher at the Copper Harbor one room schoolhouse, Wednesday was my only day to ride until the weekend. But I have no complaints. The snow was amazing, and, quite frankly, I was beat after riding all day.

Get this. Aaron and I made "first chair" on the lift up, so we made the first tracks in the snow that day. I'm not going to lie. It was hard work. All day. And I was going up and down all day. Even the tele-skiers were telling me that it was hard work, and they were sticking in the snow a bit. That made me feel much better because I thought only I did that.

And when I thought I couldn't make another run down that beautiful, burly mountain, I met up with the ski patrols, who happened to be Aaron's uncles, and did four more runs to "sweep" the mountain, and make sure everyone was off safely. On that last ride up, Uncle Mark pulled the rope behind us, making us the last chair up (which needs no quotes).

I wish I could have been more alive to celebrate the fact that I rode all day, and made first and last chair. Those are bragging rights. But no. I practically fell asleep at the table while my friends drank micro-brews. And I don't like to admit it, but I was even a bit cranky. Oh yes. They were all better off not talking to me at all. I was ready for bed.

But hey, that was more runs than I have ever done in one day in my life. And considering the energy-exerting conditions and the fact that I rode on the biggest board I've ever ridden, I was pretty proud of myself. I just may have deserved to sleep at the table.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Making the Best of It

Today, despite the sprinkles of rain, I decided to take a trip past the beginning of Hwy. 41 on the snowmobile trail. What kind of trip it was going to be would be decided when I got there. I put my xc ski gear, snowshoes and dog in the truck and headed to where the pavement ends.

The snow didn't look too terrible, so I strapped on my skis and decided to go for it. I really could have hiked it in my boots, but this road goes up and up a ridge. I was eager to come back down on my skis and feel like a real skier for once.

When I got to the turn toward Horseshoe Harbor, I was tempted to take that way to the shore and watch the lake for a while. But the ground was a bit too sandy for my skis, and I decided against it. Dogs are not allowed there anyway, as it is a nature preserve. So up the ridge we went some more.

A couple times I stopped just to listen to the world around me. Wow, it was a quiet day. I could faintly hear the lake to the Northwest. Mr. Weatherman says the wind is going to blow tomorrow, so I enjoyed the calm while I could. Another time I stopped, I was fortunate enough to catch the sound of a woodpecker in a nearby tree. I love watching woodpeckers. They sure are persevering.

When I was sweaty enough, I figured it was time to try my luck at the downhill. I mostly just skid down as best I could without falling. It was pretty anti-climactic, really, but it sure was more fun than going back up!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Yesterday was the end of my boring streak. It was Friday, so I felt relaxed and energetic. The sun shone bright in the blue sky. My cross country skis just got a fresh wax, and Duce and I were going to try them out.

For starters on this fabulous ski, the sun was just gleaming unto my cheeks. The second wonderful part was that the trail had just been groomed. My skis were the first ones to glide through its flawlessness (not bad for not getting any snow for weeks). And the next great thing in a row was that my skis actually glided in the tracks! Oh, heavenly wax, where have you been all my life?

I rounded half the loop much quicker than ever before because I wasn't walking on sticks -- I was skiing. (Oh, so that's what skiing is like.) When I came to a tiny downhill, I had too much speed to control, and flew off the track. It worked out well because I was going to walk out to the middle of Fanny Hooe anyway. See? She calls me every time. Would you say no on a sun-shiny day?

So I sweatily hoofed it out to as middle as I could. A breeze blew through me, and the sun warmed my soul. But I knew it could warm more than that.

I looked all around to make sure no one was around. Of course no one was. I had a crazy idea and only myself to document it. I knew it was now or never because I can't travel to the middle of the lake without a boat or a swim (of which I'm not too fond).

If you don't already think I'm crazy, you may after today. But when inspiration strikes, I have to go with it. The sun tempted me beyond rationalization. In the middle of the Great Fanny Hooe, I pulled off my hat and gloves. I threw my coat and shirt on the ice. I dropped my pants to my boots. I threw my hands up in the air and yelled, "SUNTAN!" Then I spun around rotisserie style to get a full dose of Vitamin D.

Wow. That is the best cure for the winter blahs I have ever found. I recommend it if the conditions are right. That may have been my only chance, and I had to take it. It was worth every goose bump.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I regret that I found nothing too interesting to report. The weather has been lovely: calm and in the teens with a glimmer of sunshine now and then. Still wishing for snow.

But I have been putting in some extra hours at the schoolhouse and trying not to let my sneezing turn into sickness. Waa, waa, waa, I know. Just informing you that that has dampened my outdoor time, which is a bummer for us both.

Life is most peaceful, though. Maybe this weekend will bring some excitement. I know Duce would love some!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting Lighter Everyday

I know I've mentioned before, that the sun does not set until after 11 pm on the longest day of the year here in da Harbor. But have I ever mentioned how quickly the shortest day seems to get to the longest? For this 19th day of January, the length of visible light (according to Weather Underground) is 10 hours and 10 minutes. Tomorrow we will have 2 minutes and 17 seconds more visible light. Over two minutes in one day? It may seem drastic, but it's true.

Now I wouldn't have known those details if I didn't look them up. The only reason I was even curious was because it's quite noticeable to the eye. Last month at this time, I was only able to see the "city lights" in da Harbor from my house. Now I can still see the trees, water and slight orange glow on the horizon (which, might I add, often makes me quite giddy).

Two minutes a day. And if I'm not mistaken, as the sun appears more and more North in the sky, the light of day can grow over three minutes daily! So every day the sun rises one and a half minutes earlier and sets one and a half minutes later. I know this isn't as extreme as Alaska or even the North Pole, but for the mainland U.S., it's pretty spectacular to this earth-enamored girl. I'm allowed to have my moments, right?

And before you know it, you'll be able to catch spectacular sunsets over Sharon's webcam. Ah, yes. It's always nice to catch a little slice of heaven from right here in da Harbor.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January Spring

I’m a self-proclaimed optimist. With that said, I needed to find the silver lining in the warm weather. So on the bright side, I realized I didn’t have to look too hard to find it, and I found it three-fold.

Reason 1: Saves on wood. Was I worried about runnng out of split wood this winter? Not any more! I have to stoke the stove modestly two or three times a day. 43 degrees you’re predicting, Mr. Weatherman? I just might not stoke it at all!

Reason 2: Bike rides. I rode my two-wheeled apparatus to school twice this week. Why? Because I can. I don’t know if I do it more for the exercise or to hear the kids ask, “What? You rode your bike today?” They are both fun reasons. Highway 41 is really quite lovely for a ride right now. I bit on the splashy side, but at least I won’t slip on the ice and break my neck or get stuck in the, e-hem, snow.

Reason 3: Sunshine!!! I really can’t deny the sun to shine on my face any day of the winter. We see it so seldom that sometimes I think we forget it’s out there behind those thick, dark, constantly looming, gray clouds. Seeing the sun peek through for even a moment makes me rush outside and throw my hands and face to it. Man, does that feel good. And the, e-hem, warmer weather, makes it especially pleasant.

So there. I said it. I love the warm in January. Did you hear that, Snow? I don’t need your stinkin white fluffiness! I’ll just ride my bike and bask in the sunshine. Yeah. That’s what I’ll do all winter long if I have to. So just stay where ever you are and don’t worry about the Keweenaw.

Let’s see if my reverse psychology works. I sure didn’t get anywhere by begging earlier.

On a happy note, the other day I ran out to the sunshine, and the only spot I could be in it was on the ice shore. I call it an ice shore because I’m not really sure where the shore ends and where the ice sticking out over the water begins. But that was the first day the sun came out to say Hello, so I didn’t care if I had to run in the house with a wet boot. I was going to sit in the sun.

It was simply marvelous -- warming and healing. And what made it so wonderful that I could have died there happily, was that I got so sit next to a harbor full of floating ice pieces. They made the only sound I could hear: Swish, swash, swish, swash, swish, swash, splash, swash. And there I stood on the ice shore in the sunshine meditating on their breathing. It was simply another magic moment in da Harbor that I wish you could have been there for. I hope you could feel it just a little bit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To Rail or Not to Rail

The Ocha Potter Terrain Park is up and running. Aaron goes up to work on it most everyday. Knowing that there was to be a beginner line, I was eager to hit some rails for the first time in my life. But when I actually got there and looked at them, that was a different story.

I eyed a couple of the "easy" ones up for what seemed like hours. Then, realizing that it was not plausible under any circumstances (except maybe a shot of whiskey), I decided to just hit the jump at the bottom of the run. I've been practicing jumps at Mt. Bohemia, and I really enjoy them. I was hoping all the jumps I was trying would get me ready for the rails at the Park. No such luck.

But that kicker at the bottom was pretty sweet. I hit it five times -- four without falling and once at an actually decent speed. Being a 27 year old female, I have a high fear factor. Don't be offended if you are a fearless 27 year old female because not everyone is a big of a wuss as I am.

Finally, after comfortably flying through the air multiple times, I was ready to try my luck on a hard steel rail. The first real attempt left me chickening out at the last second, but at least I knew what to expect coming up to it, so I felt ready to try again. The second time I was going to do it. Aaron and Duce were watching.

That time, I baled at the even laster second -- I was already on the ramp up. Then, of course, I got in trouble by the park maker for ruining his ramp. Oy, was I ever going to make that leap?

I realized that my state of mind was not going to launch me at that point in time. I trudged up the hill for the last time that day and took off my boots. I will do this another day, I told myself. I just might need to bring a flask.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Letter to the Snow

Dear Snow,

How have you been? I miss you. I know you have been briefly by in the form of flurries, but I really miss the times when you would stay longer. Sometimes you would come so big and thick that I couldn’t drive, and the plows would have a hard time keeping up with you. Isn’t that a fun game? Don’t you want to play it again?

Snowboarding at Bohemia is just not the same without your fluffy softness to turn on. Cross country skiing is not the same when I crunch over pine cones. Sledding is not the same on the ice. Snowshoeing isn’t even a challenge right now because I keep stomping through my old tracks.

But it’s not just me who noticed that you haven't been around lately, it’s the whole town! How are the snowmobilers supposed to get here and spend money if you don’t give them more snow? How are kids supposed to have fun at the terrain park without more snow? I know it’s a lot to ask right now. Maybe you’re busy in other parts of the world. Maybe I (and the rest of Keweenaw County) are just impatient and used to being spoiled.

Have we offended you in any way? Are you mad at this little jut of land in the middle of Lake Superior? What can I do to make it up to you? Does Jake need to do his snow dance? Maybe I should do a snow dance! What if I went for a long drive without mittens and a shovel? Would you come and bury me in the snow to make me learn a lesson? Do I really need to go to drastic measures to see you again?

I really am sorry to bother you like this, but it is winter. And I know this isn’t the worst winter we’ve had, and I should just be happy with what I have right now. But, gosh darn it, Snow, I really miss you, and everyone else here (well, almost everyone) misses you too. So maybe one day soon you can stay for a long visit, and I can be tired of shoveling. That will serve me right, won’t it?

Okay. Well, anyway, Snow, I just wanted you to know that someone down here is thinking about you. We hope to see you soon!

Lots of hexagonal love,


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Irresistible Fanny Hooe

I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve been getting out in the snow everyday for some sweat and fresh air. Snowshoe, snowboard, cross country ski, walk -- and one thing I realized I miss is riding my bike. I can’t quite say that each of these activities was worth writing to you about, but the story I have for you today takes place during the cross country ski.

I really didn’t want to go. You know how you just see gray day after day, and you start to think, “I really don’t want to do anything. I want to sleep.” Believe me, that’s how I felt. But then I looked Duce in the please-Mom-please-can-we-do-something-fun-today eyes and found the motivation to put my gear on.

So I pretended to ski down Woodland Road to the local trail system. I really had to work on my balance without any track set for my skis to glide in, but I figured I’d be in x-c ski heaven once I got to the tracks. It took me a few minutes of skiing on tracks until I realize that there were no tracks set by a groomer, just the skiers who came before me. No wonder I could never figure out which were the right tracks. (Hey, nobody ever gave me the ‘Brightest Crayon in the Box’ award.)

Long story short, I was free-skiing (which I don’t even know how to do) on the lovely snow in beat up skis. I don’t mean to sound like I was doing well because I wasn’t. Someone on snowshoes could have passed me.

But then it happened. I looked over at Lake Fanney Hooe, and she looked back at me with one of those “why don’t you come over and try me out?” stares. Before I thought about it, my skis were off and I was sliding my way down to the lake. It would be my first time this winter out on the ice of Fanny Hooe.

“I think people have already been out here,” I told Duce, just as eager as I was. I was hoping he’d go first. He did, but I weigh more than my dog, and when I got to the shore ice, it crunched under my feet. Oh, that’s not a healthy sound, I thought. But I think I see snowmobile tracks in the middle of the lake, and, you know how that ice next to the shore is so finicky... I convinced myself to forge ahead.

To spare you the drama, I made it to the middle, and what a wonderful middle it was! I could see a mile East and a mile West from where I was standing -- uninterrupted. Nothing grows on a frozen lake, you know, so it was like standing in the middle of a white sand desert. A very cold white sand desert, but that wondrous feeling came over me nonetheless.

This really is the only time of year when I can see Copper Habor from that perspective. The view seemed so fresh and new. The only sound I could hear was Interstate 41 whooshing by. Oh, no, wait. That was Lake Superior who sounds like a busy highway when she kicks up the waves. My mistake.

I wish you could have been there with me to take it all in. I honestly had to stay out there and take a few deep breaths of its majesty before I felt like I could leave. Besides that, Duce started digging the ice under my feet, so I knew it was time to go back to shore.

On the way back to shore, I noticed Duce peed in that boot track. And that one. And that one. Oh, boy, that wasn’t pee. It was the lake soaking up into the snow all around me. Okay... maybe I’ll wait a couple more days before going out there again.

Curious as to the ice conditions on the Harbor? Check out webcam!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

All the Pretty Colors

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about this one. I’m hoping to make this my best year yet. Why? Because I do that with every year.

In da Harbor, 2010 started out with at bang -- actually, lots of bangs and booms and pops. Eat your hear out, Time Square. Copper Harbor has the best New Year’s party around. Zik’s Bar, once again, had live music, hats, noise makers, champagne, kisses, whiskey and a balloon drop. Not bad for the end of the earth, hey? After this chaos at midnight we stepped out into the frosty air to watch the fireworks.

Fireworks again? Yes, fireworks again. This year’s show was quite spectacular. I didn’t expect anything too elaborate, but everytime I thought the show was over, boom, boom, boom came some more! It was more exciting than most places’ grand finale, and the whole show was lit off at a grand finale pace!

So not only did I get to watch fireworks for this grand occasion, but I got to watch them above the Christmasy lit up park. Colored lights above and colored lights below! Anyone on hallucinogens surely would have overloaded their senses. I wish I had evidence of this merriment, but once again, my lack of photography skills and remembering to bring a camera deny me any photos to share with you. But you know, they wouldn’t have done the scene justice anyway.

In the midst of my having a moment about how freakin awesome this is for a little town, I went around to others to make sure they were fully taking in this venue. “Have you ever seen fireworks over a park lit up with Christmas lights before?” Nobody had, but they sure were impressed.

And there I stood, bouncing and shivering next to people I didn’t necessarily know. But in a moment like that, I couldn’t help but feel that we were all brothers and sisters.