Sunday, July 29, 2012

Scatter Brained

There is no shortage of excitement here in da Harbor.  We have events every weekend.  This weekend it's been Thunder in the Harbor (a festival of motorcycles) and Battery D (reenactments at Fort Wilkins).  Next weekend is the Copper Man Triathlon, the weekend after that is the Art Show in Eagle Harbor, and the weekend after that is Copper Harbor's Art in the Park.  That's as far ahead as I can think right now, but you get the jist.  You can get it all at the "Copper Harbor" link to the left.

I have a fun berry picking story for you.  My friend Hannah and I went out to pick thimbleberries early in the morning one day after it rained.  I wore my quick-dry pants, thankfully, but they sure don't dry when they keep getting wet!

With bilberries, I kneel or bend over to pick them.  Where we were picking thimbles, however, the plants were over our heads.  It's like a jungle of green thimbleberry leaves!  And this particular morning they were all wet.  We started getting damp from meandering between the huge, fuzzy leaves.  But soon enough, our pants were completely soaked from hip to ankle and our shoes made squishy noises when we walked!  We laughed.

This did not deter us from our magnificent magenta berries.  Neither did the mosquitoes which I have become quite accustomed to.  One other thing that actually kept me going was all the raspberries mixed amongst the thimbles.  I could pick them in the same handful!

And guess what.  I ate the absolute biggest thimble I have ever seen.  Hannah found a bush of ginormous ones, and a couple were ready.  I mean if it was a cup, it could have held an ounce of liquid.  Like a thimbleberry shot glass!  It was cosmically delicious.

Please pardon the scatteredness of the rest of this post.  I'm just cramming lots all into one

The people are here.  Every day of the week is busy.  At the Harbor Haus, we have a wait for dinner every night -- lots of families and big groups.  I think we have about 5 more weeks of constant craziness before things slow down a bit.  My coffee tolerance is quite high already, however, and I still have to make it through August!

Last Sunday Hannah and I went to Keystone Bay.  Oh, I haven't been there in two summers.  Man, it is just beautiful there, and we were pretty much the only two people we saw the whole time.  The air temp had to be about 90 and Lake Superior must have been in the 50's.  We shocked our systems a couple times going in and out of the water, but it was certainly a beautiful day off!

Every Sunday morning until October, the Harbor Haus is putting on Sunrise Breakfast on The Flow.  The Copper Harbor Trails Club built picnic tables and a chef's table on a serene outlook about 3/4 of a mile from the top of The Flow trail.  Then the crew from the Harbor Haus brings all the ingredients, and mixes up breakfast right there on the trail!  The first week we had Keweenaw raspberry crepes.  This morning we had a choice of asparagus and cheddar or chorizo and cheddar omelets with tabouli salad and fresh fruit.  Everyone who came up was delighted and impressed.  This breakfast goes on each Sunday from 8-9am.  We take donations to benefit the CHTC.  Hope to see you there!  Stay updated at this link.

Gosh, that's probably enough for now, though I have found out what they are doing on Brockway's Nose, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Battle Wounds

I was back in the bilberry patch this morning.  This time up by the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.  It's my favorite spot to pick up there, so I was pretty pumped the day had come.  

So there I was, bucket around my waist, looking for little purple globes of glory.  I found some right away, and then the mosquitoes found me.  Grr, I thought.  But I picked last time in the skeeters.  I knew I just had to ignore them and smack them when I felt them land.

Soon I found some glorious patches.  I knelt right down in them to pick away.  Before I knew it, I had blackflies up my nose and in my eyes.  Just swarming me.  Okay, I can do mosquitoes for the berry trade, but blackflies too???  It's almost August!!!  I wanted a bugnet.  But even more so, I wanted to get the hell out of the woods.  Whimper whimper.  My neck was swelling up from all the bites.  I could feel bumps forming around the edge of my bandana.  Are the berries really worth all this???

Yes.  Yes they are.  I stayed and picked and blew those nasty little flies out of my nose and picked them out of my eyes and smeared berry juice on my face as I tried to swat them away.  But berry picking is a two handed job, so free hands were hard to come by.  My gosh.  I picked about two quarts of bils and some thimbleberries on the side.  

Since my allotted picking time was dwindling, I made my way toward the bottom of the Keweenaw Ridge.  I kid you not, as soon as I stepped down 12 feet in elevation, the bugs were gone.  All of them.  The sun was out and the bugs were completely gone.  Thank goodness.  I even ran into the trail-working crew, and they said they hadn't seen any bugs at all.  I showed them my bumps and continued down the trail.

Ah, home safe and sound with berries in the freezer.  The swelling will go down soon enough.

By the way, it's really nice and cool here now.  Lots of visitors are coming up to escape the heat, and they are finding much relief.  It's only been in the 70's lately.  We sure are lucky!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Berry Season on the Climb

Berry season is here!!!  This morning I ate at least one of each of the following berries: thimbleberries, sugarplums, raspberries, blueberries and bilberries.  And on my way to work, I can eat a couple cherries.

What blows my mind the most is the thimbleberries.  Now, they are really not ready for the most part, but I have seen a couple here and there.  So I eat them.  I pop one in my mouth and press my tongue up to the roof to squish out all the goodness.  They don’t need chewing.  Oh, so juicy.

And this morning, while I ate all those miraculous flavors, I was armed with two buckets tied around my waist and a backpack full of ziploc bags.  I picked darn near a gallon of bilberries in about an hour -- just along the path to Fort Wilkins!  I have never picked industrially there before.  I like to save those for the tourists, but when I pedaled by so many times, they were just screaming “Pick me!  Pick me!”  So I did.

An attempt to capture my purple-stained fingers

Another reason I picked there is because my other spots, higher up on the ridges, still looked a little sparse.  How do I know this?  Because I took a mountain bike ride yesterday up past my favorite patches.  A mountain bike ride!  It’s been a month since I’ve been on the singletrack trails.  Oh, my.  That was a healing experience for my mind, metabolism and confidence.  I am so grateful to be back in the saddle.

We survived the Fourth of July, but I think the rest of the summer is going to be just as busy.  There are no slow nights for me at the Harbor Haus in the foreseeable future until October.  Luckily, though, I feel ready for the season!

Life is good up here in da Harbor.  Make sure you say hello if you are up for a visit!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Brockway's Nose Job -- A Makeover!

I owe you some pictures.  Not of anything particular, but of anything at all!

Mr. Butters and I walked up to the first lookout on Brockway -- the nose.  Remember the County was doing some work up there?  Well, I was wondering why they weren't done yet.  It's because they are rebuilding the Colosseum!  Okay, not really, but there is a lot more concrete up there than I expected to see.  

My first sighting.  Hi Lake Fanny Hooe!

From another view.  Hi Lake Superior!

A view of the front.

Off to the side.  It looks like a little stairway in the background.

I thought the cement-covered wheel barrow was cute.

A view from the scaffolding (shot at my own risk, of course).

I guess that project is coming along.  It will be interesting to see it when it's done.  I wonder if they will hold events up there.  Tee hee.

On my way back I saw some ripe bilberry bushes.  Just so you believe me,
Bilberries July 1st, 2012

I hope that will tide you over until I get out for a real adventure.  Though today I went for my first jog in three weeks along Lake Fanny Hooe.  I jumped in to swim a couple times, and, man, was that water perfect!  I think I'll go in again today!