Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ice Arches on the Shore

I went for a little jog to the shore today.  Just a little jog, so I didn't bring my camera.  As Murphy's Law would have it, I saw some sights that I knew you would love to see too, so I ran back to get my camera and pedaled back to the shore.  See what you make me do?

The day was so sunny and bright that the ice just sparkled.  The old ice mounds from last week turned into dripping ice arches.  I perched myself as close to the edges of these as I could to absorb their splendor.  The waves splashed underneath from the open water of Lake Superior.  Oh, she was shining like a queen!

Below is the first arch I came across.  The icicles inside hung like the jagged teeth of a beast.  Doesn't it look like it could eat you?

Here is the second arch.  I particularly liked the aqua color reflecting underneath.

Can I get a closeup of those icicles and the green, please?  Oh, yeah.

And how about the texture of the other ice domes along the shore?  Look real close, it's all rippley.  Try climbing up that!

Below is an image of the ice balls that I trekked through to get to these places.  Slick, I say!  But also splendid like gems.

And from afar, you never would know the majesty that lies among the snow if you didn't venture down. I'm glad I did!
And on my bike ride back home, I tipped over three times!  Ha!  Good thing I don't have pictures of that!

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 2008

Since it is still February, I think you might enjoy a look at the wildest, snowiest February I have experienced since I moved to da Harbor in 2005.

This video shows the aftermath of the drifts in February 2008, and yes, that's my beautiful voice commentating.  The picture below shows how high the drifts were while they were still building!

On a side note for the present, over half of that wonderful skating ice on the Harbor has been washed out to sea.  And the half that's left, well, that is broken into large pieces that are gently undulating against shore.  I love the swish swash, creek creek, blub blub sounds they makes as they bob amongst each other.  It is one of the most soothing sounds I know of.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Riding on the Wind

Holy buckets! When warm air turns to cold air in da Keweenaw, it really spins!

We lost power twice yesterday. Branches and trees were down everywhere. Drivers on the road said that those were some of the worst conditions they've faced -- and those were the locals!

My house, being at the southeast end of the Harbor, got the brunt of the wind. The walls and windows were just shaking. The foundation sounded like it wanted to uproot and move somewhere a little tamer.

But the fact that school got cancelled gave me the opportunity for an adventure. Since the winds were topping out at 60 mph, I decided to go to the closest windy place: the Lighthouse.

Somewhat disappointed when I got there, I noticed that the pack ice still lined the shore for quite a ways out. Therefore, the busting whitecaps I saw in the distance were stifled by the heavy floats before it reached the shore. It was neat enough for me to watch, but not worth a video.
So my next exciting part of the trek was going to be crossing the frozen harbor (for my first time this year!) to my house. The treacherous winds caused much of Wednesday's ice to break up. I thought of how you are concerned for my safety and didn't cross as close to the dock as I wanted -- too much open water. Yes, your concern may have saved my life!

The most dangerous part, however, was how the wind was pushing me like the school bully the whole time -- trying to knock me over just when I thought I had my footing. I literally had to run over huge ice boulders and gaps because stopping was impossible unless I dove onto my belly where the wind couldn't get such a grip. What an adrenaline rush!

My favorite part of this trip is in this video. I was on my way crossing the Harbor, but was having so much fun that I had to show you why.

Once you hit play, you may not be able to hear me talk over the wind. I'm saying, "I'm on the ground right now because, if I stand up, I won't stop until I reach the other end of the Harbor . I'm wearing my snowshoes and am on my way to cross to my house. Here I go!" or something similar. Then you will hear my hooting and hollering. It was intense!

I hope you enjoy! I've never experience anything like that before.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wildlife and a Wild Ride

A couple cool quick things:

This morning, right before 8 o'clock, Aaron spotted a coyote trotting across the Harbor. We looked out the window marveling at it. Duce knew something was out there, so he stood poised at a doggie-eye-level window and waited for his chance for a glance.

I grabbed my camera so I could take this picture for you.

What a handsome beast.

By this time, Duce had spotted our topic of conversation and started barking his fierce yet antsy bark. As I was taking pictures, I noticed the coyote moved surprisingly fast from my lens. Duce was chasing him down the ice!

He raced after the coyote westward until it refuged on land. I was worried I wouldn't see my Buttery Boy again, since coyotes can trick dogs to follow them to their whole pack! But soon he returned home safely, full of pep and pride.

Then I hopped on my bike for an icy commute to school. Yes, my first bike ride of 2011! The weather was so mild that I couldn't resist -- even at 8 in the morning!

The way into town was nice with grippy ice. I felt great inhaling the frigid freshness so early in the day. Ah, an energizing peace.

The way home at 2 pm was a different story, of course. The porous ice thawed into an unstable slush. I had to struggle at one point on the highway to stay on two wheels. And talk about a facewash -- mainlined right from my front tire!

But I made it to Woodland Rd. Ooh, and that was even worse! It was as if each bead of slush was a little hand trying to grab my tire. I had to come to a complete stop once because it was too thick. But I geared it down and pedaled hard the rest of the way home. Only two miles each way.

Though my jacket and snowpants were dripping when I got home, it was so worth it. I can't wait to do it again!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Skate on the Harbor

I just got in from my first ever skate on the Harbor. Ice skate, that is. This morning (while I was in da big town) Aaron went out all the way to the lighthouse and told me the ice was a perfect rink.

This afternoon we went out to give it a try. Well, the afternoon sun and 40 degree temps turned the rink a little soft and slushy. But I didn't care. I was going to skate on the Harbor! So I did.

The ice was a little slow, but the day was so glorious, and a hard-earned sweat felt marvelous.

Above is a view of the crisp, clear ice -- the kind most people think thrice about stepping foot on. You can see right through it! Duce, Allan and Aaron are the creatures in the background. In the valley in the center of the picture stands East Bluff.

Just for fun, here's an action shot of Aaron and Duce on the ice. I tried to get that brut of a dog to drag me around on my skates, but he was having none of it. I'll have to get a harness!

Of course, I had to travel further West toward the center of the Harbor. Here is my perspective from way out there facing East. See my skate tracks through the slush?

I hope to get out again, if conditions permit. I forgot how fun skating was!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thawing Out

The groundhog was right. Spring is in da Keweenaw. Of course, at any moment it could dump 10 inches a day for five days in a row. That will most likely happen when all the snow melts and we feel in our hearts that Spring is actually here. Psych!

That's what happened in April, 2007. Don't believe me? Check out more "Historical Weather" facts at John Dee's website. He's got the stats for everyday for many winters back. Now that's dedication!

But here the sun is shining. I even got to hang out with my shadow today! The main roads are dry and asphalty, and slush fills the edges. The ever-melting snow is heavy and dense. We could have a killer snowball fight, or build a fort.

Want to see what those college kids at Michigan Tech have done with the snow? Check out their statues from the Winter Carnival this weekend. The whole Keweenaw area and South was just a rockin. Where did all these people come from? I wondered as I ran my butt off at work.

But good news for the ice fishermen! The ice is thick and the fish are biting. I couldn't even buy minnows at the minnow shop today because they were cleaned right out! The fishermen have been all over the Harbor drilling holes and looking down them intently.

By the way, let me take this moment to point out a distinction that may have been taken as an inconsistency. When I say "da Harbor" I am referring to da town of Copper Harbor and da surrounding area. When I say "the Harbor" I mean the actual body of water -- the bay of Copper Harbor, where boats sail and fish swim.

So how about you check out the Harbor, if you haven't already today. It's frozen from one end to the other with the exception of the middle where Fanny Hooe Creek enters. View the solidity for yourself from my neighbor's camera!

I will have to traverse that frozen tundra as soon as I have time. I've been working and driving to town too much lately to have an adventure. I know, it's winter! But soon, my friend, soon my time will come.

Now get back to work. Chances are, if you clicked on all these links, you spent more time at your computer than you planned. That's okay though, it's da Harbor.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Accidental Adventure

Sunday promised to be a great adventure. Aaron and I loaded the four-wheeler with a thermos of raspberry tea, a ziploc bag full of Mexican eggrolls, water, pocket warmers and snowshoes. We were ready for a tour of the tip of da Peninsula.

Our first stop was Horseshoe Harbor. Man, I love that place. The old rock of a shore was now an icy, sleeping beast wrapped in snow. We managed to climb to the top and watch the waves roll the pack ice over and over again. I stared out toward her majesty to relish the sight I'm so fond of, but the brisk winds against my cheeks wouldn't let me stay for long.

We slid back down the south part of the ridge on our snowshoes and hiked the trail back up to the machine. I originally wanted to snowshoe up the snowmobile trail to Horseshoe, but Aaron said he'd take me on the four-wheeler whose wheels are like tanker tracks in the winter. On our drive out I thought, wow, this sure is way easier than snowshoeing the mile up that hill! I felt a bit guilty for traveling the easy way, but snowmobilers do it. Why couldn't I?

I jinxed us. On our way East out to Schlatter Lake, the machine got a little wobbly. Aaron got off to check things out. "We might be walking home," he confirmed. Ha ha. Ha. I thought. No way. I bet we can just turn around. We did turn around, and limped that thing about 200 yards before the front wheel was truly detached.

Now I would get to hike that mile, and the five others from here to home. Luckily we had plenty of sustenance for the trek. Plus we were in the midst of the trees to protect us from the wind.

We identified trees and barren bushes along the way. Making a new adventure out of our adversity. We made it home safely, knowing that tomorrow, we'd have to fix and retrieve the stalled ATV.

Last night we hopped on the trail grooming snowmobile with all the necessary tools for reattaching a wheel. Standing in the cold, I aimed the brightest flashlight at Aaron's targeted area while he worked quickly and diligently. Good thing he had put these tracks on earlier this year, so he knew what he was doing. After an hour, the job was complete.

Then for the fun part. Amanda got to drive that beast home! I have never driven an ATV or a snowmobile in my life. Aaron gave me a quick lesson. That four-wheeler was a bit hard to handle, but I figured it out after a mile or two -- going about 14 mph, so we didn't have to dig it out of the snow on a wily turn.

One frozen thumb and an intense arm workout later I was back home unscathed. Ahh. We'll have to try that trip again, after I make Aaron double check all the parts!

As for a note on the present moment, the wind is whipping something fierce! Our windows are shaking here at the East end, and I can only imagine that drifts that will need to be busted through tomorrow. Stay warm tonight, wherever you are!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Silver Lining Recess

I thought the rain was a curse. Yes, rain. Rain in the Keweenaw last night. Rain that turned car windows into blurry shower doors. Rain that turned Mt. Bohemia into a plunge of death (don't worry, I won't go there in those conditions). Rain that turned the roads so slick, I wouldn't take my car out of third gear (except for second) on my way home from Lac La Belle last night. Rain that turned the snowmobiles into a dangerous snow highway.

What good is the rain in the winter? Nothing, I thought. Until I went out with the kids at recess today.

"Oh, cool! Look at this, guys! I'm walking on the snow!"

"Listen to the cool sound it makes when I break it! It sounds like glass!"

"How did the snow get covered in ice?"

Yes, the students were quite mystified and enchanted by the 3 mm of ice atop the snow.

The slide made for a way faster ride down. A couple kids and I turned ourselves into "Ice breakers," barreling through that top layer on our hands and knees. Others tried to see how big of a piece of ice they could scoop off the top without breaking it. We even stood with our arms out at our sides and fell straight back into the snow to bust through it with our whole bodies at once. Yeah, it hurt a little, but when else can you do that?

Needless to say, I became as enraptured in the icy layer of snow as they did. I was bumming about it before I went out with them, but they were having so much fun that I never mentioned my take on it. I'm usually one to find a silver lining in dismay, but today the kids found it for me. Thank goodness for them.

And now it is snowing -- almost two inches since recess. We may possibly get freezing drizzle again tonight, which will make for an interesting combination of layers on the banks. But I'm sure I'll find the best in it if I get to go out for recess.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Icicle Cave Images

I'll keep this short since it includes some heavy duty images. I took a couple pictures and a video inside the icicle cave that I mentioned in the previous post.
This is me inside the opening (for contrast and sizing perspective). The temperature really did seem a little warmer inside. Probably because wind could not penetrate, and our breath started warming it up.

This is a view of the world from underneath the bottom toward the lake. The ice (top blue line above the white) hung about 6 inches from the water at its base, so it wasn't attached to anything except the top of the rocks! I bet at least a ton of ice was hanging!

Here is the video tour narrated by yours truly. I hope it works, and I hope you enjoy!