Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Ah, another beautiful sunny day in da Keweenaw. Woah, wait... it's winter! Though the little snow that we have is slowly melting in the sunshine, I'm not going to complain. I'm just going to take it as it comes, and sunshine is always welcome.

Yesterday, Aaron and I had our first cross country ski of the winter up at the Mt. Lodge. The trails were freshly groomed, and the sun rosied our cheeks. I enjoyed remembering how much I sweat during a good ski. No need to wear a lot of clothes for that!

While on that ski, we skirted around snowshoe/mountain bike trails, a terrain park, a disc golf course and a place for snowmobilers to park. Wow, I thought. The Lodge is really becoming a great spot for many recreational activities. That is surely what this town needs in order to thrive. So here's a special shout out to all those in the Copper Harbor Trails Club and the Mt. Lodge who are involved in building, maintaining and signing those areas. They will keep people coming back.

And tonight I get to serve drinks to snowmobilers and skiers at the Bear Belly Bar and Grill. Ah, yes, the winter work force. It's nice to make a few bucks this time of year, but I mostly appreciate the time I can spend at home to cook, read, write, make wine, go outside and do whatever else my little heart desires. So I guess the 4 1/2 months I work my butt off is certainly worth it.

Cheers to winter... even if it melts!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Cheer

Merry belated Christmas!

As I have gotten older and wiser (or perhaps just more cynical), I have really come to shun Christmas. For reasons I will not get into, I just don't think it's necessary to make such a big fuss over. BUT, I do enjoy Christmas in da Harbor.

Every Christmas Eve, half the town gets together, bundled up wearing Santa hats and each carrying the words to several holiday songs. We go caroling to the other half of the town who waits patiently for our arrival to feed us snacks and warm drinks. It's truly a magical experience, where people who are far from their families can get together with their community family, and spread the spirit to those they (somewhere deep inside) love like brothers and sisters.

Also, since I've been back in da Keweenaw, I've attended five other holiday gatherings. To me, that's more what Christmas should be about -- getting together with everyone (even if it's over and over again!) for a "cheerful" reason. People around here just really like to gather over drinks and good food. It's quite refreshing.

So the Scrooge in me is slowly being replaced by a little elf who just wants to make people feel loved. I know this is one of my goals in daily life, but this time of year, I want to go that extra mile -- even if I'm already with a group of others.

I don't give presents. I just don't, and I really don't need to receive them just because it's Christmas time. So I want to thank all the people in Copper Harbor for reminding me about the spirit of Christmas. I know that if I lived in any other town, I surely would not want to join in any reindeer games.

I now leave you with a few pictures taken out by the lighthouse shore on Christmas Day.

These are some icicles on the side of a rock. The bottom part that looks like it's dripping is as big around as my thigh.

Below is a view from the lighthouse loading dock straight down to the lake. Notice the log stuck in there.

Here is the dock covered in ice from Lake Superior's waves. It gets like this every year (and changes everyday!).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vote Copper Harbor!

If you have been voting for the Copper Harbor ambulance garage everyday, then Thank you! If you have not been voting, you sure can! Here is the link to the Pepsi Grant Copper Harbor page. You can also vote on facebook and your cell phone.

Come on, let's make December the last month we have to vote and give 'er heck! Please!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Double Take Lakes

This morning I woke up to a thin layer of ice sheeting this end of the Harbor. The water has been so still... it gets me riled up. I'm pumped for a frozen harbor to walk to the lighthouse on. I'll try to be more careful this year. I promise.

Another beautiful (and even more surprising) part of the day was Mr. Sunshine. He came to visit all day long! What a sweetie.

To celebrate, I took a walk to my favorite sunshiney-day lake: Fanny Hooe. She was frozen solid. She also had some unsnowy spots where I could run and slide across on my boots. Oh, I even got to lay sprawled out on my back right in the middle. I tell you, that never gets old -- especially for the first time this year!

Two days ago, I hiked out to the lighthouse to see how everything was doing out there. When I got to the shore facing north, it struck me. I was once again relishing Lake Superior's majesty. Oh, just hear those waves roll in. Gaze into the open waters -- the only sight below the sky! I really didn't realize how much I missed her until I stood there and appreciated it all. I had a bit of an emotional moment.

I was so overjoyed to be back on that shore that I even steadied my way down the icy rocks to dip my hand in her fresh glory. Ohhhh, so pure and revitalizing. We had another little moment.

On the way back, I walked through the 3 inches of settled snow that lay upon the ground. I sure hope we get more of that soon! I should be snowshoeing and skiing by now!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

9,000 Miles and 14 States Later...

Home again. Home again. Jiggity jig.

Last night brought many moments of excitement as we worked our way north: the Portage Canal lift bridge (ooooh), the Hancock hill, Calumet (oh, boy!), Mohawk, Cliff Drive (getting closer...), the Phoenix church, Delaware (Delawhat?), the covered stretch (almost there!), Lake Medora, the Mountain Lodge (all downhill!) and finally, finally the blinking light in front of her majesty, Lake Superior.

Oh, it sure feels nice to be home. I even got to look at all the Christmas lights in the park as we drove by.

For my Harbor updates, there's not as much snow as I would have thought. Really, only a few inches right in da Harbor. We even have bare spots on the driveway. Some snowy ice is floating on this East end of the Harbor, but it's definitely not frozen over. My friend the bell buoy is gone. Good thing I said goodbye before I left! The rest of the summer businesses are boarded up. I saw a handful of snowmobilers, but otherwise, the town is peace and quiet. I love this place.

Otherwise, things seem pretty much the same as when I left. I'm looking forward to a lovely winter this year.

Before I close the trip thoughts, I must say thank you to Barb, Dan and the girls in Bayfield, CO and Abbie and Karilynn (sp?) in Avon, CO for putting us up for days in a row while we visited. That's what friends and family are for! I can only expect to have lots of people crashing at our house after this trip -- it's crashing karma.

Oh, props to Mr. Butters, who was such a good boy the whole way. He is happy to have his couch back. So am I.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finishing Colorado

One cool thing about the Colorado skier life in the Vail area (besides the great snow and long runs) is the entertainment. This weekend presented "Vail Snow Daze." What does this mean? Lots of people and free outdoor concerts.

Free concerts? Oh, yeah. On Thursday night we watched Mix Master Mike, the dj from the Beastie Boys, spin the records on the decks. What a great show with lights, screens and bass. Spine tingling bass -- something I haven't heard in the Keweenaw -- ever. It was, um, really awesome. We danced the whole time.

Sunday night was Weezer. I've heard Weezer tunes since high school. And there they were, playing in their goofy sweaters and hats while we bounced around in our ski pants and boots. The show ended a little too early, and we were pretty sober, but hey, it was a free concert! We made the best of it. After all, it was our last day in Vail.

But before that last day, we had one more powder day. Some places had 15" of fresh snow to cruise on. Really, another great day in Vail with two more that followed. It made me look forward to Mt. Bohemia. Is it snowing in da Keweenaw? I don't know... I hope so!

For five days we ripped up the Rockies. One special trip was the Minturn Mile. This Mile, which is actually seven miles, drops off the back side of Vail mountain and into the town of Minturn. The first 20 turns are glory powder turns. I mean, thick, solid, steady snow fit for surfing on. Oh, it was deep and glorious -- hence glory powder.

The rest of this "Mile" was gradual descents on a single track path of snow. I actually did okay for a snowboarder without any poles to push myself through the flat sections. It was a unique experience that ended in a luge-type style where I had to curb my speed and not fly off into the creek. I made it out dry and proud.

The social aspects and snow in Vail surely made that part of the trip a cool experience. The other thing that, surprisingly, always took me by surprise was the fact that whenever I went outside I saw mountains. Mountains all the time. Everywhere. I guess I'm just not used to that. But they were snow-covered beauties. Here is a picture of them from Denver. I even took it myself.

Today we drove all the way to Omaha, Nebraska. We're on the way home. We are ready for da Harbor once again. My little slice of da West has come to an end. Thank you for coming with me!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vail Mountain

Tuesday morning we woke up to eight inches of fresh powder on the ground. Sa-weeeeeet! We even got up at 7 am to take full advantage of our powder day in Vail.

We ended up skiing with about the same size group of people as we did on Social Sunday. A big group on a powder day? I'm used to hearing, "No friends on a powder day," which translates into, "It just snowed 8 inches, and if you can't keep up with me on the hill, I'll see you at the end of the day."

But not that day. The skiers all waited for little Amanda on her snowboard to make it to the bottom of the mountain. Wow. Thanks, guys. That's a noble amount of patience.

We rode from 9 am to after 2 pm. Oh, man. That was a fun day of work. All of our legs were so tired that we each had to drink a 24 ounce PBR before the bus came to pick us up. Mmm, PBR. The pain went away before I even finished mine.

The next day we woke up to a sunny (and lazy and tired and sore) morning, but decided to do it again. The snow would still be good, right? Right. The conditions were really perfect for a sunny day: some choppy powder, some freshies and, my favorite that day, smooth groomers.

I was hoping for a day riding groomed runs, but our adventurous leader took us back to the thick stuff. I tried my best to twist and turn my way down. I really did. But after a few runs, I had to admit that I was a hazard to myself and those around me. Luckily, half the crew felt the same, so we stuck to the easy runs for the last couple. Oh, thank you again.

Tomorrow promises a hike, but I have to believe it won't be an easy one.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I could tell that Barb and Aaron wanted to ski the day after our low oxygen mountain climb through the thick snow. I racked my brain for another adventure idea, so that could be avoided.

"Aren't ski passes $31 at Wolf Creek on Wednesdays?" I asked. Yes, they were. And it was Wednesday. We geared up for our first real afternoon of skiing... without climbing up.

The sun rosied our cheeks on the way up the lift. The way down in the snow was phenomenal: soft and strong! We got fresh tracks all over that hill... and hardly anyone else was there! We all agreed that it was a great day of riding down the mountain... and an easy day for Amanda.

Two days later we left for Denver to have a social time with a couple other friends that could easily get to the there. A night in Denver... good thing we stayed in the hotel most of the time!

From there we scurried West to the Avon/Eagle area, where Aaron's cousins live. Our first full day there we rode Vail Mountain. Vail!? Vail is the mecca of ski hills in the country, they say. And we rode it for four hours.

The long, smooth runs were nothing like I have ever boarded before. I mean, some of the runs were s0 long and smooth that I felt like I was cheating somehow! What was the challenge? Snowboarding couldn't really be that easy. But it was. The snow was a little crusty and wind-blown in spots. Since most of the runs we skied were groomed, we really didn't get much for fresh pow, but the fast-paced action made it all worth it for me.

The coolest part of the day was that it was "Social Sunday," which meant that at a couple points throughout the day we were all in a group of about 15 other skiers. We drank PBR on one of the decks on the hill while grilling hot dogs. What a sweet little break! "Social Sunday." An all new experience for this girl.

Today, since we were waiting for more snow, we hiked up a mountain with the dogs. Up and up until, finally, someone mentioned that going back down would be a good idea. My sweating pits agreed.

All is well in winterland. I suspect we'll be making our way back home a week from today. I will be ready to return to da Harbor.