Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fort Juniper

Sorry it’s been so long.  I just got back from Christmas in Wisconsin.  Three Christmases in one week.  That’s a lot of wine, cookies and cheese!

The furthest south we went was to my parents’ house in Clintonville.  They had no snow.  The more we drove north, however, the snowier it got.  Watersmeet had quite a bit, and the snowmobilers were flocking.  I saw lots of trailers at the Casino Hotel there.

We even got some snow here!  According to my little shovel, there is 7-10 inches in the woods.  Snowshoeable, but I hiked today.  Mostly because I didn’t realize how much snow fell while I was gone.

We’ve had lots of snowmobilers up here too.  Even on my one block walk to get the mail, I couldn’t keep track of them all.  I’m grateful for the economy boost, but I’ll miss the peace and quiet... and the fresh air.

Today snowed all day.  It just dumped.  So I decided to start building my snow fort as my first adventure back in da Harbor.  The snow was glorious to pack.  I mean, it was bricks and mortar all in one!  Very sticky and sturdy.  I built walls for about four hours today, and this is what I got.

Fort Juniper and my little red shovel.

Fort Juniper, I call it because it’s surrounded by juniper bushes on two sides, and I had to bend back some branches for my west wall.  I thought that I would get tired of packing snow within the first half hour, but my fantasies of sitting in my little fort, blocked from the north winds watching Lake Superior’s waves through the window kept me scooping and patting endlessly.  I only stopped because I noticed the snow was drying out and daylight was fading.

Here is my lake view from the fort.

Look to the back behind the drear, and there is the Lake!

I’m excited to have this secret little hideaway in such a serene spot.  It gives me something to do outside now that I can’t ice skate or snowboard.  But the cross country ski trails just got groomed tonight, so that sounds fun for tomorrow!

Bonus!  A snowy path in da woods.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Lesson in Ice and Desire

There is a fine line between listening to what EVERYone else tells you and doing what you know you can do.  Here is my example.

Tuesday was a beautifully sunny day.  Soooooo unseasonably gorgeous.  Since it's natural for me to want to be in the most sun possible, my heart was steering me to Lake Fanny Hooe.  I was out the day before, and I knew it was traversable.  I wanted to go skating.  "No."  "Don't go out yet."  "Don't do it by yourself."  

Those were the comments from my townsfolk.  I appreciate their concern.  So instead, I found Steve Brimm to come out with me.  We carried long poles (his was a garden hoe, mine was a mop) in case we did go through.  He didn't have skates, so we slid around in out boots.  Here are some photos of our adventure.

Our shadows on the ice, poles in hand.

Looking west toward Brockway Mountain

The giant, but solid crack starting at the mouth of Manganese Falls and going to the north shore.

Steve capturing a high quality image of these beautiful ice gems.

Verdict: the ice is fine.  It was at least three inches thick.  I was going to skate on it the next day.

"Don't go out there," they said.  But they were not out the day before trying to punch holes in it to no avail!  They did not realize that it could snow any day, and this pristine rink would be no longer!  They are probably not as crazy as me to get out and do some winter activities.

So I went with only Duce at my side.  I knew how the ice was for two solid miles, and I was going to get my fix.

I skated all around and up and down and twisted and twirled and laughed.  My goodness.  I looked around at that sanctuary and wished the whole town was on skates in a giant game of hockey or a figure skating party.  I have never seen the ice like that on the whole lake.

HERE IS A BRIEF VIDEO of my skating adventure.

So here is my lesson.  I'm ever grateful that I did what I thought was right because today it is snowing.  Fanny Hooe is already a half inch covered in snow.  Well, at least it's snowing!  Let it snow!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Skating Rink

I thought for sure the ice on Lake Fanny Hooe wouldn't make it through the thaw/wind combo we had last week.  I was wrong.  She is an ice rink right now!  I better get out my skates!  


I didn't plan on walking on her today, but I saw remnants of an ice fisherman, so I went out as far as he did.  Thick and smooth that lake was.  I let Mr. Butters test it for me.


Other than that, it really hasn't snowed anymore.  The snowmobilers have been around nearly everyday, however.  Those trails must be decent (or people are just desperate!).  I don't blame them.  I'm about to take desperate measures myself... maybe I should bring someone ice skating with me!

I was in Houghton this weekend.  Overnight, even!  That means I got to wander around and enjoy myself in da Big City.  I walked along the Portage Canal.  She is freezing over too.  I also snuck down beside the old Ranger III that took my friends and I to Isle Royale two springs ago.  So nostalgic.

It was all quite lovely.  I even walked the Downtown strip and caught snowflakes on my tongue.  Some of them were huge!  Now come on, huge snowflakes... Come to Copper Harbor!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Aaaaand the Melt

So, yeah.  The snow is melting.  The good thing is that when the ground freezes after this, the trails and ski hills will have a solid base for more snow to fall upon.  That's sounds lovely.  Yes, yes it does.

I hiked up to Lake Manganese two days ago to see if it was frozen over.  Below is what it looked like.


With the temps in the forties lately, I would imagine more of the ice melted by now.

After Lake Manganese, Duce and I hiked down the Mango Trail.  I found some hearty friends out there.  The pipsissewa stay green and lush throughout the whole winter!  They are always green in the spring as well.  Here is proof.


With all the calm days we've been having, the freighters are out like mad.  Check out this Lake Superior Marine Traffic site to see who is cruising now.  If you hold your pointer over one of the ship icons on the lake, it will tell you which boat it is and how fast it's going.  Another way to make you feel one with Lake Superior!

Other than that, I'm still waiting for the final proof of my book, so it can hit the market soon.  Oh, and the lights look beautiful in the park.  I'll have to get a picture for you!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Official... It's Winter

Yesterday I took a long hike on my double lake shore loop.  During this escapade I realized that it is truly winter.

I had to trudge through 4-5 inches of snow.  Not enough for snowshoes, but enough for the heavy duty boots!

Lake Fanny Hooe was frozen.  Overnight!  The winds were calm the night before because she was frozen all the way across.  Here is some proof.


A little critter even tested the ice already.  I wouldn't try.  Duce did, and he was cracking through and slipping all around.  Never a dull moment with that pup.

In the middle of Fanny Hooe, however, some spots were open.  So if we get high winds soon, these holes could break up the ice and open her up again.  Personally, I think the ice is here to stay, but there's always that chance!  I can't wait to walk to the middle.  That is one of my favorite frozen spots.


On Lake Superior's shore, I saw something that was more uncharacteristic of this time of year.  Two freighters at the same time!  The south winds were only slight, so they took their chance while they could.


I relished in the peace, quiet, majesty and serenity of these wintery moments.  I know they won't last long.

And they didn't.  Later that afternoon, I saw the first two snowmobilers cruising through town.  Snowmobilers!  The trails aren't even open yet! 

So that's it.  It's officially winter as far as I'm concerned.  I just hope I didn't jinx the snow!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Update

You're probably wondering what the snow is like up here.  I'm kind of embarrassed.  It's pretty pitiful.  In the woods we have just over an inch.  In the sunshine we have nothing.  Ice on the roads.  But we are supposed to get a big dump soon, so cross your fingers for da Harbor!

My tracks both ways and... cat tracks?  Coyote?  Little doggy?

Lake Medora is pretty much frozen over.  At least when I drove by last.  Lake Fanny Hooe is starting to ice up on the west end (and probably the east, but I haven't been there).  Some ice lines the north shore as well.  Lake Superior has been kicking up some waves, so she isn't freezing anytime soon...

Other than that, today had a bit of sunshine, and partly cloudy skies tonight.  That should cool things off even more!

I am really looking forward to winter.  I found an awesome hiking loop that will double as a great snowshoe loop.  It parallels two lake shores.  How can you beat that?  Plus, I found my new favorite spot high on a rock that overlooks Superior.  I think I'll make a snow fort up there.  If you come up, come find me, and we'll start packing snow!

So life is good in da Harbor.  I expect my book to hit the market in three weeks.  I just okayed the final draft to send to the printer... then a hard copy to me for approval!  Wow, to hold my Copper Harbor book in my hands will be surreal.  I hope it is for you too!

Well, the winds and snowflakes are supposed to pick up, so I wanted to catch you in case the power and internet go out.  Maybe next time I write, I'll tell you that I had to shovel through 10 feet of snow just to get out of my house!   Wishful thinking... let it snow!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Petroglyphs: Fact or Fiction?

Petroglyph: |ˈpetrəˌglif| (noun) a rock carving, esp. a prehistoric one.

With that definition in mind, I take you to the petroglyphs.  Yes, a more exciting adventure for you... and myself!

Since darkness was approaching that day, I hopped on Aaron's ATV and gunned it (at 30 mph) up the hill to the site.  That was my first time taking that beast out on my own.  I can honestly say, I now realize why people tool around on those things.  Although, if time permits, I prefer to pedal my bike.  It's much quieter.

Surprisingly, I found the site with ease.  It's been just over a year since I was there last, and that was my first time.  My memory hasn't failed me yet!

I should say this about the petroglyphs: they are supposed to be a secret.  The Michigan Nature Conservancy doesn't want anyone to tamper with them let alone tell their friends (or blog readers on the internet!)  I hope the Nature Police don't show up at my door after this!

But I do respect that, and I won't tell you where they are.

As I walked around, I tuned into my intuition to try to remember where the carvings were.  I was looking for two that looked the most authentic: the bear and the boat.

While walking around for a couple minutes, a shiny thing caught my eye.  Is someone bringing car parts out here I wondered?  This shiny thing was also in the area where I remembered the sailboat being.  When I approached it, I realized what it was.  I would assume an effort of conservancy bolted this glass shield over the top, so nobody could mess with it.  It doesn't really make for good photography, though.


If you look at my reflection first, you can see that my camera hand is right over the mast of the ship.  Above my camera is the sail, and all below over to my head is the hull.  Kinda cool, huh?

Another neat thing I found out there was a little spring coming up through the rocks.  Now, these rocks were elevated enough, so to see water running down from them was quite a surprise.  But I don't know much about that stuff, so I simply took it as an observation to share with you (and a source for fresh water if need be!).

While channeling my inner guide, I was lead to the bear.  Once you're up on the rock, it's hard to find this one... the conservancy didn't.  Here it is in all its rock glory.


Pretty neat, huh?  This one was just like I left it.  They say it's a bear.

They also say these carvings are from thousands of years ago, when the water was much higher -- hundreds of feet.  It is really amazing to chew on that, and imagine what those natives saw and did around at that time.

I have also heard, however, that a couple old boys back in the 1970's carved those in.  

Either way, they are neat works of art.  I see many little trails from all the people who have visited there, checking out the wonders of ancient man.  You can decide what you believe.  I know what I think.

Though I can't tell you where I was, on my way home, I saw this view.


Pretty nice for the end of the earth, hey?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Stroll Through da Harbor

Today I walked some errands all the way to the west end of town -- just before the Marina.  Boy, I thought.  This town sure is quiet.  So I snapped some pictures of the current happenings for you on my way back.  Here they are in the order I took them.

Phoebe's truck dressed as a reindeer!

The King Copper, like many other buildings, boarded up for the winter.

The Gap between Hunter's Point and Porter's Island.
This view never gets old.

Rocks resting in the lake.  The water is so clear!

Don Jr's equipment and decorations for another colorful winter in the park!

Perhaps I should take a more rugged adventure soon!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Little Slices of da Harbor" is Becoming a Reality!

I should update you on the progress of my book, Little Slices of da Harbor.  As of now, I have agreed to a contract with booklocker.com.  Thank you Angela!  They have my file including 16 fabulous illustrations by Kevin Blackstone.  Thank you Kevin!

Little Slices will be a 95 page paperback.  It could be ready to purchase from booklocker.com by Christmas!!!  Or if you live in da Harbor, I plan on doing a signing/reading this winter to get things started.

Keep thinking good book thoughts for me!  Number one is on the way!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Snow and a Ball of Fluff

It's a rainy day in da Harbor.  That leaves a body pretty much inside for the day.  However, I'm itching for a stroll in the Keweenaw woods, so if it dries up, I'll have to get out there.

While in Wisconsin, no other deer were harmed by the Rogers.  They said they didn't even see a horn.  That's fine with me.  Butchering and wrapping one deer a year is plenty for this girl.

And for your "aww"ing pleasure, I have included a picture of Linda's newest arrival, Greta.  She's probably about two weeks old today.  An energetic ball of fluff.


Isn't she a cutie?  I personally love the hairdo myself.

Other than that, it sounds like everybody held down da Harbor while we were gone.  It's always so nice to come back.  I'm always glad when they let me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What I just Herd

I forgot to tell you that I'm on my annual trip to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving while Aaron hunts.  The boys go to hunting camp, and the girls, Aaron's mom and I, hang out and do fun girl things.  

Here in northwest Wisconsin, they got their first snow on Saturday.  It snowed half the day and all the night and most of the next day.  Probably about 5 inches stuck here.  Then it was time for that dirty 'sh' word: shoveling.  Shoveling was fun, though.  In da Harbor, we have a plowing machine, so I don't often have to do it up there.  It's good exercise, and Duce loves to catch the snow I throw off the shovel.

But you're probably thinking, "so what?  It snows in Wisconsin.  It snows in da UP.  Why are you wasting my precious time telling me about this?"  Chill out.  It's my transition.

Are you ready for something really Wisconsiny?  Yesterday Linda, Aaron's mom, and I were driving to Hayward.  On one of the  little roads by her house we saw something odd going on up ahead.  I thought they were hunters on the road at first, but hunters don't wear black.  Or weigh 500 pounds.  They were cows.  ON THE ROAD!  Ha!

There must have been 20 cows wandering down this road, lost.  As we drove by, they met up with another herd of cows behind their fence, probably to catch up on the latest moos.  Some of them jogged down the road.  Have  you ever seen a cow jog on the road?  I didn't know it was physically possible, but it sure was hilarious.  The funniest sight of this whole spectacle was a pregnant cow trotting down the road to catch up with the others.  I still chuckle when I envision that double wide belly bouncing dangerously over those stick legs.

I don't know if it's politically correct to laugh at big, pregnant, running cows, but I sure wish I got a video of that for you.  They just looked at us and mooed as we drove by.  We drove slowly as Duce starkly barked at the huge beasts.   We then stopped at the neighbors to let them know about the cows, but they already called the owners.  Apparently they had enough people to round them up because the cows were gone on our way back home.

Other than that, all is well.  Happy Thanksgiving to you.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snow and a Trail of Blood

Copper Harbor has it's first official dusting of snow.  The last time it snowed, it didn't stick.  Now the air and ground are cold enough to color the lawns and rooftops white.  Unless it snows soon, however, this batch won't stay around for long.  Sounds like they got lots more snow up the hill at Lake Medora, though.  I hear the roads are icy, so be careful if you're traveling!

Yesterday, as I was at home working on a project, Aaron came home early from hunting.  "Why are you back so early?" I asked, with an inkling of an idea.

"I came to get you," he said.  "Want to come help me track a deer?  I shot it, but I didn't find it yet."

My first deer tracking ever!   I was pumped.  Now let me say, unless the world came to an end, and we had to kill our own meat to live (though I would be more of a forager), I would never sit in the cold, cold woods with a gun poised to shoot an animal.  But this one was already shot, so I was compelled to track it down, and make sure it was put to rest.

DISCLAIMER: If you don't like blood, you might not want to read the rest of this because that's what I was looking at the rest of the time.

We parked the truck and walked into the bush where Aaron found the last blood.  He shot it behind the shoulder, through one lung.  "Not the best shot," he admitted.  I could tell he felt bad, but it was now a mission for us.

We followed the red sprinkles through the cedars, over dead trees, through a swamp, over a brook, through the pines and so on.  I liked it.  I thought it was so cool to follow in a deer's footsteps.  You know, go where a deer would go (although this one was wounded, not just looking for food).

I felt like a detective.  Following the trail of blood -- the poor thing was leaving a steady trail -- and going the way of its hoof prints.  We saw a couple spots where he laid or fell down.  "He must be wearing out," Aaron said.  I thought we would be getting closer.  Yup, there was another spot where he laid for a while.

Aaron's friend Mike, who also came to track with us, found him first.  At first I thought he was still breathing.  He looked like he was alive!  But nope.  Deader than a door nail.

I took a moment to thank the young buck for sacrificing his life to feed us.  He sure looked like good eating!  Besides that, he was beautiful.  It was nice closure to find him and admire him before Aaron sliced him open and pulled his guts out.  Cedar leaves were his last meal.  Man oh man, that was my first experience at a gutting too.  I can't say it was my favorite part.

The boys dragged him over a hill an out of the woods, while I got to carry their guns -- unloaded, of course.  It was a neat experience for this girl.  Aaron's first Keweenaw buck was my first "hunting" experience.  Tonight he will be cut into pieces, wrapped up and put in the freezer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quoth the Bell Buoy...

Remember when I heard the bell buoy dinging up a storm last week?  Today, on my walk, I realized what he was saying.  "So long, Mateys!  I'll sees you next spring.  Argh, now gets me outta these frosty waves."

Know how I know this?  I noticed he was gone today as I hiked along the shoreline.  I looked out and thought, hmm, I must be at the wrong angle to see the buoy.  But I didn't hear him, and he never came into view.  That little bugger went back to the Portage Canal for the winter.  I miss him already!

But I found something new and interesting on my hike today -- concentric lichen.  It's okay to scratch your head.  These patches of lichen were formed with white and black dots -- alternating in layers -- to look like mini bullseyes.  I have never seen lichen like this before.  Bullseyes!  At first I thought there was just one, but they were all over.  They were less than an inch in diameter.  Try that for target practice!

Though it snowed here last week, none of the fluff stuck in da Harbor.  We had to climb in elevation to see patches or piles of it.  But Calumet and Houghton got about eight inches!  That's what we get for being at "sea" level!

Other than that, rifle hunting season starts dark and early tomorrow for deer.  Wear blaze orange if you're going in the woods.  Or heck, just stay out for a couple weeks!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What the Weather Brings...

I heard the bell buoy today.  I couldn't tell if he was squealing with glee and child-like amusement, or if he was cursing the winds and frigid waters.  I'll let you take a wild guess.  

It was funny, though, because when I sat on Lake Superior's shore today I could watch him bobbing and tipping about, but I couldn't hear him until I was on the shore of Lake Fanny Hooe.  The wind was probably too loud in my ears.

And the wind was cold on my cheeks!  This is really the first day this fall that I can say the wind from the lake stung my face.  Brrr!  But yet it was so invigorating!

On the rest of my walk beside Fanny Hooe, the sky started dropping this crystally wet stuff.  I would like to call it snow, but snowflakes have intricate structural design.  These looked like misshapen blobs of ice.  I hear we're supposed to get some of that refined fluffy stuff, though.  The lake sure looks like she's brewing a batch!

Want to know what's ironic about this today?  I saw bearberry flowers on that same walk.  The flowers!  Those come out in May!  But the last warm spell we had must have tricked them into thinking it was spring again.  Here is proof.  You can see the red "berries" have already fruited too.


The flowers are the pink cluster toward the bottom center.  What an unseasonal treat!

It seems like all is well in da Harbor (I really only know my little slices), and I hope all is well with you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Sounds of Wood

Brrr!  It sure is getting chilly up here in da Harbor.  Got your wood pile ready?

All around the town, I can hear the sounds of wood: throwing logs out of truck beds, chainsawing trunks into fire logs, splitting wood and stacking wood.  It has that unmistakable "donk, ta donk" sound when it hits the ground or other logs.

I've been splitting and stacking for the last week.  My first day was hard, and I didn't last more than an hour (with a sore back the next day.)  Second day the logs were too darn twisty and knotty for me to deal with, so I let Aaron split those.  Third day a friend shouted, "Hey!  Don't you know that girls can't split wood?  Put the maul down!"  Of course, then I split more fervently.

Fourth day felt like a dream.  The pieces were nice and straight, even though they were thick.  I thought you might get a kick out of a little clip of me splitting one.  That's our wood pile in the background, and the rest of the logs that had to be split.  Enjoy!

video

In the video, I showed you the top of the log, so you can see that I didn't already start it.  Not bad for a girl, hey?  Aaron makes fun of my swing form, but I bet he's not as fun to watch (although he can bust that pile of splitters into chunks in a third of the time I can!).

When the wood pile is stacked and covered, we can relish in the nostalgic smell of wood smoke through the chimney and the glowing orange heater in the corner of the room.  Oh, I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monster Oak Leaf

I went for a run yesterday (which actually felt amazing!), and I came across this oak leaf, already on the ground.  IT IS HUGE!


It's almost as big as a butt in a chair.


It's almost as big as a rhubarb leaf!  Holy wah!

And it came from the tiniest twig of an oak tree.  That must be how they start.  All leaf, no bark.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rainbow

I saw this rainbow yesterday.  You'll have to hold your computer (or your head) sideways.  I am not a photographer.  This is the best I could do.  

























With Lake Superior in the background, it looked like this double rainbow was a portal to another dimension.  I stood at the end of the Harbor Haus dock and gazed for a while.  Notice how the colors actually reflect in the water.  Truly captivating.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Where did Everybody Go?

Okay, so I've longed for the days when the only people around are the locals -- my friends -- people who don't ask 100 questions about me and da Harbor.  Now that time is here, and it's so surreal.  I've seen two tourist couples in the last week (though the weather has been nice).  The residents' spirits are renewed.  I can tell.  Here is a picture of Main Street taken this morning.


Not much going on.  Not only is this our main drag, it's Highway 41, which runs through eight states and two time zones.  Ah, we have our town back.

One funny story (maybe more of a shocker to me) was that a couple days ago I set out on my bike to deliver thank you letters to some of the businesses, and over half of them weren't even open!  Either boarded up for the winter or closed on a mid-week day.  I shouldn't have been surprised, but that sure helped it soak in.

Well, back to work for me.  I've got lots of projects before next summer!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Patience is a virtue.  Since you waited so long for me to post, I’m going to make it up to you by adding some lovely pictures. Go ahead, scroll down.  Hopefully I won’t forget everything I have to tell you.

Let me start by saying that “The Walk” went well.  We had two runners and three walkers covering our 37 mile stretch.  Jo and I walked the last 12 miles together.  Here we are at our starting post.



A couple notable events:  We saw a turkey cross the road.  That might be the first turkey I have ever seen up here.  During our stretch of pavement, we wondered how the heck we walked that whole way the last few years.  Jo kept saying that it was nice not to be walking on “stumps.”  Yes, we could actually feel our feet by the end of it!

Next year’s adventure is scheduled for May 9, 2012.  That one will be a doozy.  Stay tuned for details!

If you have experienced any kind of media today, you probably already know that the Northern Lights made an appearance last night.  A crew of us walked outside at around 10:30 pm to watch them fill up the whole north half of the sky.  I have never seen that phenomenon where they all meet at the halfway point and turn the rest of the sky green.  From here, they were only green, but a spectacle as always.

Today I went for a hike up Keweenaw Mountain.  Oh, did I need that.  I thought I might find some Harboresque pictures for you, so I took my camera.

Below is the “bear” made out of a fallen over tree stump.  It gets me every time -- even when I know it’s the stump, I think, “oh, but there could really be a bear there this time!”  Come on, use your imagination... he even has a face!  He looks like he's coming at me with a stick.  Run!


I also saw this little birdie eating something white.  Do you know what kind of bird this is?  It made a beautiful sound.


As I looked back at the nose of Brockway Mountain, I thought you might like to see its yellow colors reflecting in the little pond.


Here is another shot with the Garden Brook Valley as the dip in the middle.


Other than that, I AM FREE!!! and it feels wonderful.