Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Break

You guessed it!  This teacher's aid is on Spring Break.  I don't have to work for 12 days in a row!  I love the Springtime!

That also means I have places to go.  For the next 5 days I will be in Northern Wisconsin turning sparkling maple sap into delicious, sticky syrup.  Ooh, that is such a treat!  Nothing like sitting around a 30 gallon steel box full of boiling sap next to friends and family in the sunshine.  

Since I will not have internet access there, I will return to you in a few days with more stories about Not da Harbor!  Enjoy the blue skies!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back UP!

Hey, I'm back!  Did you miss me?  Okay, you don't have to answer that.

Downstate Michigan was full of sunshine and blue skies.  Only on the drive down did we (Rachel and I) encounter snow.  We laughed as it snowed on our way through Christmas, MI.  How appropriate!  By the way, if you have ever driven through that town, you will notice a larger-than-any-building-size Santa Claus cut out with his fingers pointing in the air like he's doing the Hokey Pokey and turning himself around.  Maybe that's what it's all about.

On my solo drive back up from Mio, MI, where I visited some friends and made some new ones, I drove all day in the sunlight.  The real beauty started as I was about to cross back over the Mackinac Bridge to da U.P.  Da U.P.!  I squealed as its honorable earth came into my view.

I kinda had a moment crossing the bridge that time.  Have you ever been on that thing?  It's one of the longest suspension bridges in the world!  I'm usually not gaga over man-made structures, but when it holds my life in its hands and allows me to return to my precious land, I will definitely give it some credit.

As I turned west on Hwy. 2 on the southern border of da U.P., I was mesmerized by Lake Michigan.  The sun was making it sparkle, I noticed a group of islands to the south, I saw my first freighter of the spring, I watched the sand beaches blow by -- I know, I shouldn't have been driving!  But it was quite exquisite for part of an eight hour drive.  I relished in it.

On how many drives can I see three of the Great Lakes, anyway?  What a treat!  I got my first glimpse of Lake Superior in Munising.  Oh!  I squealed again!  She is just such a beauty, I must pay my respects in her presence.

I made the trip home by myself (I had to stop and buy a map, however) with only a couple roundabout turns.  I was proud of myself.  I have never driven that distance in such a short time by myself from a place I have never been before.  But my motivation to get back to my sleepy little town was what helped me drive most of the way.

Today I ventured along the shoreline and saw a 1/2" thick layer of ice piled at the end.  I have never seen that before!  Check it out!

Enjoy your day!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Don't Give Up

Don't give up on me yet!  I miss you terribly.  Trust me, I rattle off all the things I want to write to you while I'm out and about or the sun is sparkling on the lake.

I just wanted you to know that I'm going down to the mitten of Michigan this weekend, so I won't get to talk to you until after that.  Sorry.

But I'll brew up something worthwhile when I get back.  Happy Spring!  (Maybe for real this time....)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eagle Convention

Although wet flurries flutter from the sky as I type, I'm going to make it official:  Winter is over.  Done.  Let's move on, right, Spring?

As I drove through da Harbor last Friday night I saw not one outsider's vehicle at the any of the businesses in town.  When I went down to catch my last chicken wrap at the Bear Belly, Dave informed me that that was their last night.  Only one family of locals came in while we were there.

It is nearly impossible to go down any run at Mt. Bohemia without hitting a rock or stick.  Good thing I got there two more times before this!

Yesterday Rachel, Duce and I walked up Brockway Mountain, and the only snowmobilers we saw were the people who live up there... and that was a Saturday!

So whether I jinx us or not, I'll say it again.  Winter is over.

Want to know how else I can tell?  I have seen or heard an eagle nearly every day for the last two weeks.  That means spring is on its way.

Today I had an especially exciting eagle sighting.  When Aaron and I got home from our run (ugh, first run of the year), we saw an eagle flying over the bay.  We shouted, "Eagle!" to inform the other.  It circled and glided around gracefully.

Then a huge eagle stormed out of the trees by the lighthouse and yelled, "Get over here!  Don't you see the humans?"  The first eagle obeyed and a third came out of thin air to follow.  They chirped their sweet eagle chirps back into the trees.  To safety, I suppose.

A couple minutes later we watched them fly across the opening to Lake Superior to Porter's Island, just a soaring and a gliding.  They are so big that the naked eye can see them almost half a mile away!  Hello eagles!

And goodbye winter!  See you next time!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Around Lake Fanny Hooe

Have you ever been in the middle of Lake Fanny Hooe?  Here is what it's like!

Frozen in Time

A couple inches of heavy snow on Saturday was enough to propel me to go to Mt. Bohemia.  It had been so long since I strapped on my board that I didn't care how the hill was.  And it actually wasn't too bad.  

Sure, there were quite a few rock faces exposed, but I just had to go around them (except for one that snuck up on me!).  Otherwise, the snow was soft in most places.  It was so worth it... who knows if I'll get to go again this winter!

Yesterday's open water on the Harbor, and I mean all open, lifted my spirits right up.  Oh, to see Her Majesty's waves sparkle in the sunshine again!  That's definitely one of signs of spring that make me feel alive.

But overnight, those last few drifting pieces of ice became stopped in place by the thinnest layer of ice.  It's like they were frozen in time!  Here is a picture to illustrate.

The top layer started to break close to the shore, but the floaters further out were still stuck this afternoon.  As the day went on, I could hear the tinkly tinkling sound of this delicate ice rubbing other pieces grow louder.  It was pretty enchanting to hear.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lake Superior Gurgle

Tuesday brought a beautiful sunrise and a warm morning.  I had enough time to journey to the lake shore to check on the ice arches.  The only remaining arch (the one that could eat you) had cracked across the jawline.  Any day now, it too will plunge into the big lake from where it came.

As I ventured on, I had to stop to check my ears.  I couldn't believe it when I heard this gurgling sound coming from under the ice.  I was 25 feet from where the water splashes to the shore.  That could only mean that the whole ice shore was hollow underneath.  And it sounded hungry.  Listen here!  (The bigger your speakers, the cooler it sounds.)

 And curious as I am, I had to check out the ice caves.  Below is a picture of the party-sized one.  The colors of this beautiful ice are enhanced solely by nature itself.

Other than that, it's another sunny day in da Harbor.  And the snow sports are still in full swing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Shores of Red Ridge

When I got the chance to hike Lake Superior's shore in Red Ridge, I couldn't resist.  Another view of Her Majesty?  Let me have it!  I even convinced a couple other friends and my pup to venture out with the trekkers group on this journey.

Here are some pictures of the artwork along the shore.

I was glad to have all the people in this shot, so you could really see how huge these ice drips were.  Ooh, look at all the different colors!

And here is a whole icicle cave!  Your room is around the corner.

I suppose this is why it's called "Red Ridge."  The ridge is red!  What beautiful cliff bands.

And let's get a closer look at the frozen waterfall, shall we?  Oh yes.  That's what I'm talking about.

This crystal clear chunk of ice was about the size of a bowling ball!  The shore was littered with these gems.

Here's a view to the southwest as people (and dogs) marched along the shore into the sunset.

Not too shabby for not da Harbor!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weather Wonder

As I sit by the window of the half snow/half sun, I can't help but smile and shrug.  That is just how this point in time feels.  Is winter over, or will we get another big dump of snow?  Our last big event in da Keweenaw, the CopperDog 150, is over, so winter can melt if it chooses.

At first I had my heart set on spring.  I want to be done serving drinks and burgers to skiers and snowmobilers.  I want to spend my nights at home writing, making wine, cooking, playing my keyboard, reading and fixing my summer work clothes.  I want to spend my days in the sunshine, hiking or biking along Lake Superior's shore, watching little green things creep up through the ground.

But I really think that we're going to get another blizzard... or two.  We are still over 100" under average snowfall, so anything can happen.  And I will be ready for it.  I will grab my snowboard and hit Mt. Bohemia.  I will snowshoe up the ridge, so I can slide down on my bum.  I will serve those snowmobilers and skiers with a smile so big that they won't be able to resist tipping me extra.

See?  More winter wouldn't be so bad.  I know I will jinx myself if I pick one anyway.  You hear that, Weather?  Do what you will!  I am ready!

By the way, thanks for voting in the Season poll.  I was wondering what your favorite was!  Fall was the winner!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Few Cool Things

A few cool things happened the last week:

The Copper Harbor Trails Club's Backcountry Snow Race took place on Saturday and Sunday.  Aaron and I were in charge of this event.  And though we and all the racers and volunteers had a wonderful time, I'm glad it's done with.  Planning a two day event takes a lot of time and effort!  I fell asleep on the john when it was over with.  Oy!

Sunday night I was sitting in the Community Building parking lot in the truck with Duce.  He was sweetly resting his head on my shoulder when something caught his attention.  He stared out the window intently.  There it went!  A dog?  No, the tail was fluffy like a coyote, but it was too big to be a coyote.  Then we watched another dog chase after the mystery animal.  The latter was Boozer, a town dog who always follows his nose... sometimes for miles and hours on end!

I told the owner of this dog about what I saw, and he said that another predator-savvy man in town thinks it's a mix of wolf and coyote.  Can you imagine?  It was so invigorating to see this what I thought was a wolf that Duce and I got out of the truck to sniff it out.  He darted around sniffing each step of the wolfote.  What a fun little adventure!

Monday I went out to the same shore where I took all those pictures of the ice arches.  Forgetting what to expect (though I know better than to have any expectations from Lake Superior) I was surprised to see them gone!  The man-eating beast arch was still there, but the rest had washed away in the pummeling waves.

What interested me the most about this phenomenon was that I could see how the waves affected these sculptures.  Big chunks of ice had broken off and floated away with the tide.  On the pieces that remained connected to the icy shore, the bottoms washed out, making the top wider.  And to top that off, the splashing waves would then freeze to the top and sides, creating more mass on top, but it also dripped before it froze, creating a saggy effect.  

Some of these sculptures looked like mushrooms or cauliflower.  Below is an example.  

And see that wave crashing to the shore?  I was getting wet out there!  Droplets from the wavetops were freezing to my glasses.  Boy, did I pick the wrong day not to wear my snowpants.  You'd think I would know better by now.  But nope, I'm still learning!