Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shipping West

Today Duce and I ship off West to meet Aaron in Rapid City, SD. See you out West! See you later Copper Harbor and Lake Superior! You'll be in my thoughts and dreams!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wind Switch

I figure I should write to you while we still have internet... and power.

Day five in a row of chilly, wet and windy weather is upon us here in da Harbor. Snowflakes/crystals fell from the sky yesterday, so that should give you an idea of the temperature here. Not enough for snowboarding (okay, so no accumulation at all), but snow nonetheless. The power went out twice on Tuesday.

Tuesday we had strong winds from the East, which is why we lost power. The winds usually blow from the West and North, leaving the Easterly gusts to blow over everything that was leaning the opposite way. This switching of winds often leads to a power outage.

And Wednesday brought winds from the Southwest, which is slightly less rare. Knowing that the winds were just going to blow and blow, a good friend and I each clicked on our light bulbs about what to do when the gales are ripping: watch the waves.

Since Copper Harbor faces North, we had to be on the Southern shores to really get the rollers. Hwy. 203 through Calumet and Hancock, along the West coast was the first adventure. We touched down at Tamarack Waterworks Rd., Calumet Waterworks Rd. and McLain State Park. At each shore, on sandy beaches, we would have to keep an eye out at our feet so the stretching tide didn't soak us.

At McLain, however, we had to stop and have an adult beverage, for the entertainment was quite unique to the Keweenaw. At the breakwalls, where Portage Canal exits into the Great Lake, we found five hearty (and quite ballsy) surfers. Cowabunga, Dudes!

And to prove these are not just stock photos, here they are walking along the pier to the break wall, where they would jump off into her Majesty's waves. Brave? Crazy? After talking a bit to them, I would say both. And definitely admirable.

After that excitement left us shivering in the wind, we shuttled to the East Coast. Along the way, we noticed a freighter resting in the canal. I sure wouldn't want to be sea-bound on a day like that either!

Our next stop was the East entrance to the Portage Canal -- how fitting! Since the wind was more from the West, we didn't have quite the whitecaps here, but we did have some flitting wind that made us watch our steps carefully while walking almost a quarter mile along this pier.

From there we saw the Lake from many other angles I have never seen before (like the previous ones have all been). Up north on Bootjack Rd. and the Gay-Lac La Belle Rd. with a stop in beautiful Rabbit Bay.

And as I sit in my cozy cabin today, I can watch the waves smack in through the gaps into Copper Harbor from the Northwest. The wind has switched again....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Little Slice of da West

Two years ago, in this carefree month of October, I embarked on a journey out West to Colorado and Utah. Aaron, Sam and I brought our mountain bikes and rode thousands of feet of elevation in the mountain air. I remember the couple weeks before we left for this trip Copper Harbor was getting rained on almost everyday. We were glad to get away to a sunny state.

As I write, I listen to the rain splatter on the windows and the wind whip through the nooks of the house and trees. This is gray and wet day number 3 in a row. Without sight of a break in the clouds in the forecast.

It only seems fitting, then, that I am about to take another journey out West to escape the Keweenaw fall (though I love the fall here). There. I said it. I'm leaving da Harbor for a month and a half.

I apologize because you probably read this blog in hopes and clutch of what's happening up at the end of the peaceful earth. I can always make comparisons for you! But I will do my best to give you a little slice of da Wild West. That doesn't sound too bad, hey?

So from early next week until the middle of December, you will experience a little slice of South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming -- pretty much in that order.

I hope you don't mind a little change of scenery. Remind me to bring my camera... you know how I am.

With snowboard, mountain bike, notebooks, Duce and Aaron, I will experience another part of this land. And as always, it will make returning to da Harbor that much sweeter. My heart always misses Her Majesty Superior when I'm gone. I guess I'll see how the Pacific Ocean compares, but I can't lie that I'm a little biased.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Walk

Wednesday, October 13, just after 7 am, Jo, Donica, Jay and I took our first steps in the dark out of Calumet. Northbound on Hwy. 41.

The wind cut a bit, but we knew we'd warm up soon both physically and from the sun, who's orange haze would glow on the horizon in less than an hour.

First stop would be Slim's Cafe in Mohawk for a gooey, buttery omelet. Gurgle, gurgle said my tummy. Don't worry, only two hours and 6 miles to breakfast. I could hardly wait.

The rising sun soon took over the stars in the black sky. The hundreds (if it could really be hundreds) of automobile headlights bounced off our reflective vests on their way to work. That would definitely be the most traffic we would see all day. Thank goodness.

Breakfast was heavenly. TV 6 was there to do a little interview with Donica and film us walking. I can't imagine its too exciting watching people walk. But we were excited. The sun sparkled upon us, and smiles graced our faces. Six miles into it, it was time to start our walk.

Four people is really a nice group to have (not that I would object to more or less) because it gave us a nice variety. We could all talk in a bunch. We could spread out and keep to ourselves. Or we could walk with different partners. This rousing display of events got us to Phoenix faster than I would have imagined. 17 miles down. We were all in high spirits.

Then we had that stretch to Delaware. Delawhat? Delawho? Where the hell is Delaware anyway!? I'm hungry! The skin on the balls of my feet is rubbing off. Delaware is always late. Good thing we were all slightly delusional. We laughed much of the way despite Delaware's inconsideration for us. Thank goodness Ed, Jo's husband and our supply runner, (thank you, Ed!) shared his bag of giant cookies from Slim's. Mmm, giant cookies. Still. 3.5 miles to Delaware. Delawhat?

But the stop at Delaware is really the best. Karen waited there for us with fold-out chairs, homemade hoagies, chips, grapes, Snickers, water, ibuprofen and her wonderful coffee. Oh, she is an angel.

And I swear, the next 8 miles to Mac Frimodig Park were the best. For me, at least. We felt surprisingly, rejuvenated from the previous stop, the sun's warmth and our blue streamers found along side the road that we fastened to our packs and wrists just so we could watch them blow in the breeze -- entertained like cats -- we marched on, soon unable to feel our stumps of feet pounding the ground.
The sun set into Lake Medora to our left, and soon we were in the dark. Literally. It was sort of fun, though, because by the last 5 miles, we knew 1 out of 3 cars that passed. Honk and wave my friend, honk and wave. That's all I ask besides moving over a little so no one gets clipped.

Then the Mountain Lodge took forever to get to us. Where is the Lodge? I wondered if someone moved it for a joke. It sure is illusionary, walking the stretches that we usually drive by so quickly to our destination. Sure makes you pay attention!

After smack, smack, smacking our numb feet down, down, down the last mountain, we were met by the loved ones that came to greet us.

Home. Home. What a wonderful journey home it was. I can't wait to do it again next year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Just wanted to send you a quick note that tomorrow is "The Walk." Jo, Donica, Jay and I will all be walking from Calumet the 37 miles north to Copper Harbor. The weather should be impeccable.

We are doing this to try to raise funds for the Barbara Kettle Gundloch Women's Shelter. If you see us, please honk your horn and wave. Or stop and give a donation! Really we'll need the encouragement -- especially mile 30.

Wish us luck!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Other Bookend

Wow. Each day, for the last 4 days, I have gotten up with the sun shining. By 10 am the air is warm enough to sit out in a long sleeve shirt. The wind has been calm from the south. I guess that would make this our 'Indian Summer.' Thank you, Indian Summer. You feel so nice.

The skies have been clear during the day and night. I've had the good fortune to lay under the stars. Thursday had a little surprise to the north -- the Northern Lights. The white lights shimmered across Porter's Island and dropped my jaw.

But where was the best place to look? At the Northern Lights or right above where 'shooting stars' dashed across the sky? To be fair, I took turns until the horizon show faded. Shooting stars kept my mind wandering and pondering until I fell asleep in the crisp air.

And then Friday, a whole day to myself Friday, was even better. A good friend and I rode our bikes east with a couple destinations in mind.

We saw the petroglyphs -- rumored to date back when Lake Fanny Hooe was Fanny Hooe Bay. The maples, birches and evergreens that blocked our view of the Great Lake that day were non-existent when those carvings were made in the rocks. It was a great place to imagine being thousands of years ago.

Our next stop was Schlatter Lake. Bathing in the sunshine, we enjoyed the peace and calm of the afternoon air. It was so relaxing that we had to move on so we didn't fall asleep!

Next stop was at High Rock Bay. Oh, High Rock, you sure know how to make me smile! I found my big meditation boulder and sat for a while. We checked out the old rocket blasting site. We ate lunch on the beach in the sunshine and pebbles, looking out at Manitou Island.

Just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, we headed back west. I have never been to Horseshoe Harbor before in the day time, so we trekked down there. Let me just say that I like big rocks. I love boulders that overlook the water and everything around. I am drawn to them like the flies love a sun-shiney window. What I saw at Horseshoe, I was not prepared for.

The whole west edge was a giant (30-40 foot high) barren ridge. Even though I had metal cleats on the bottom of my biking shoes, I b-lined it right to the top, scaling up the side. It was like the moon up there. And to the right, it gradually sank into the lake. We sat on top until the sun dropped and left us in the cool twilight.

That day was like a the other bookend from Isle Royale, with the summer of work sandwiched in between. Those bookends held me together through another busy summer.

And now, only 6 more books (days) of work for me to go! Better get your last Harbor Haus meal while you can!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy October!!!

Holy Buckets! If you have been voting for the ambulance barn in Copper Harbor, bless your heart!!! We are now at the number 2, yes 2 spot. We are starting there in October, so please keep voting here every day to keep us there or move us to number 1. Then you won't have to vote again. Until we come up with another crazy idea!

And so this is October. The month I look forward to all summer long. Oh, sweet crisp air. Oh, colorful leaves. Oh, only 16 days left of my six-nights-a-week job. Thank you, October. Thank you for coming.

In this month of October, a couple friends and I will be walking the Keweenaw Path for the Barbara Kettle Gundloch women's shelter once again. If you were with me last Spring, you may recall that three Copper Harbor residents and I walked this walk -- 37 miles from Calumet -- in May of 2009. We are doing it again October 13th. Only this time, we will be in the dark for the beginning and the end.

We will depart from Calumet at 7:00 am and arrive in da Harbor by foot, of course, around 9:00 pm. We will have a gathering thereafter at the Community Center. You are welcome to bring a dish to pass and rub our swollen feet!

Since you know how my schedule has been lately, it goes without saying that I do not have time to walk for miles to practice this journey. But, as my Brockway bike ride went, it will be more a journey of will power. Maybe with a little scotch mixed in with that last 5 miles of asphalt down hill. We'll see. I'll definitely let you know how that goes.