Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Moisture of Sorts

I've been sneaking around on you again.  I left Duluth last Tuesday in the pouring rain.  I didn't die.  Whew.  My knuckles were white for a while, though!

Back in da Harbor was more rain and chilliness.  So much rain, in fact, that Clyde's pond is back to a pond!  Water is rushing under the bridges.  Manganese and Fanny Hooe Creek are flowing.  It's a fall refresher, all right!

Then there's the snow.  Yes, it's been snowing on and off throughout the Keweenaw.  No accumulation here yet, but up the hill past the Mountain Lodge is another story, I hear.  They usually get more snow south of us anyway.  

Last weekend I went to Marquette for a friend's birthday.  Luckily, I didn't have to drive or navigate, thanks to the carpooling effect.  Guess I don't have too much to say about Marquette.  It's another city on a hill next to Lake Superior!  That's always nice.  However, the crazies were out dressed up in costumes.  Ah, yes.  It's Halloween.

Here are a couple pictures of the frost from Monday morning.

Everything was glistening white on top

The bearberry and oaks look fuzzy

Kinda cheesy, but I wanted to share.

As I look around and only see familiar faces, it is safe to say WE HAVE OUR TOWN BACK!  Other people have said it as well, so I know it's true.  Whew, another break to enjoy life.

So, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!  This is a big holiday for us.  People take pride in their costumes, the kids go trick-or-treating and we are celebrating with a big party.  If you are lucky, I will show you some pictures of the festivities, but, chances are, nobody will want the madness to travel any further.  That's the beauty of living at the end of the earth!

Monday, October 22, 2012

On Another Shore

I snuck out on you.  I'm in Duluth, MN.  Though I am not much of a driver/navigator, I drove there on my own for the first time and made it safely.  Yay, me!

Aaron has been working out of town, often in Duluth, four of the past five weeks.  Since we miss each other, and I don't have to punch a clock, I came out to see him for a few days.  

I have only been here one other time -- years ago -- at night.  All I remember was a city on a big hill with lots of industry in beautiful Lake Superior.  That is still the same.  But this time, as I am on my own during the day, I venture out to the woods in the middle of town.  I have been surprised by what I've encountered so far.

Before I moved to da U.P., I was more afraid of the woods than the city.  The woods were scary and unknown, and the city was full of places to shop and exciting things to do.  Now, when I go to a city, I look for the woods.  And there, I am at home.  This change in perspective amazes me.

Yesterday I found the trails along Chester Creek.  Trails wind along each side of this creek.  It was fun for me to hike up and down the trails to the creek and back up along the way.  I noticed that improvements had recently been made on the paths and sidewalls.  That's right, I reminded myself, this area flooded this summer, and they had to rebuild.  It looks like they made quick work of it.  Way to go, Duluth!

I was so glad to be among the canyon walls, trickling streams and rocky paths, that I really didn't want to come out.  But I got thirsty and hungry, so I found my way back to the house I was staying at.

This morning, as I was looking for a place to go mountain biking, I saw a little snippet on a map that mentioned a canyon trail.  Yeah, baby!  I'm hiking there first!  I walked the streets until I found Congdon Park.  This was really awesome too with 30 foot canyon walls and multiple waterfalls.  This one had lots of bridges crossing the water many times, but I tried jumping rocks when I could.  I only got one slightly wet foot, but it was worth it.

I noticed many ways that Duluth is like Copper Harbor.  For one, if I'm going to the woods, I'm either climbing or descending in elevation.  It's fun to go up and get all sweaty, then come back down like the breeze.  Also, lots of the local flora is the same.  Here I found tansy, aster, wild rose, snowberry, yarrow, norther bush honeysuckle and even thimbleberry!  Something about all the cars cruising on bridges over my head wasn't quite the same, though.

My favorite likeness is Lake Superior.  I get a view of her right outside my hotel room.  And, though I take a bridge over the highway to get there, she is right across the street!  I went to her shore this morning to relish in her waves and vastness.  The shoreline here is quite similar with the red swirled boulders and smooth beach rocks.

I'm slowly adjusting to the traffic, and I'm not as nervous as I was when I first arrived.  I'm always surprised what a shock cities are to me.  Especially if I have to navigate and drive myself.  But once I cross that bridge to Wisconsin, the ride is easy going.  Thank goodness!

By the way, if you want to read more about how it is for us Harborites to go to town, check out my article "Going to Town" in the virtual Copper UP.  It's on pages 6 and 7.  But don't skip right to it because my article about the Astor House Museum made the front page!  Happy reading!

Friday, October 19, 2012

5th Annual Brockway Climb

Another fall, another pedal over da mountain on my road bike.  It's a little later in the month than I usually go.  I thought I might miss it this year, but last night I primed myself up, and this morning was mostly cloudy with a slight breeze at 45 degrees, so I went for it.

I'm not going to lie.  I almost didn't make it.  The first two miles up that beast are so brutal.  I kept thinking maybe I'll just go to the top and come back down this way.  Or if I go down the other way, maybe I'll just take the lakeshore drive back.  Maybe I should just turn around now because this is hell.

But I kept going.  The word sisu danced through my head, and pushed me forward.  Goodness gracious, was it horrible.  But I did it.  I finished the first 4 mile climb in 34 minutes, just like the last couple years.  At least I'm not getting slower!

At the top I put my jacket back on and coasted down to the bottom of the west end.  17 minutes down and 38 minutes up.  The latter was faster than last year, but I felt really strong on that climb, and I gave it some oomf.  I tried to stay in my highest gear as much as I could.  At the top I took some pictures for you.

West toward Eagle Harbor and Lake Superior

What's left of the leaves in the valley.  Not bad!

Toward Lake Medora

Toward Lake Fanny Hooe

And just when I thought (though I know better) that I got to go down the mountain, I was faced with giant reminders of why it is not so down at all.  I would be cruising so fast that I had to brake a little or die.  I'd keep all my speed and pedal hard on the flat section to get me up the next hill.  Then, wham!  It would be so steep that I had to shift quickly from 27th gear to 2nd, or I'd tip over.  Man, oh man.  Three hills were that dramatic on the way down.   I shook my head and smirked at the top of every one because I made it.  I wish I could have recorded an example of that for you.

I only saw four vehicles during the whole ride, and they were all on the west side.  Nobody was at the top either -- a first.

And now that I know I can still do it, I look forward to next year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Copper Harbor Cemetery

Last Thursday I served a lady chardonnay, and she proceeded to tell me what she did with her day.  The event that stuck out most in my mind was her visit to the Copper Harbor cemetery.  She said it was beautiful with the falling leaves.  I went there today to show you.  Come on!

The official sign

The gates were open, and Duce was waiting

The first marker to stick out, decked with a copper nugget!

This cemetery ascends in elevation
A cliff from Brockway is right behind it

Lots of empty fences

Dr. John Livermore died October 14, 1861
(I don't know who he was, but that was a long time ago!)

The last line stuck out to me:
"At peace with God, beloved by all.
And ready at his Savior's call.
Be ye also ready"

"AMANDA" That's really all it said.  Yikes!

A view from the back toward the bottom

The leaves fell upon her leaves

I noticed the "NO HUNTING" sign on my way out the gate

I am not (well, at least I try not to be) an overly sentimental person.  I try to view life's events as lessons and journeys.  I'd rather learn than cry.  So it was interesting walking through these stones.  Some people I knew.  Some I had heard of before.  Some are still alive, just marking their resting place.

It was a little different for me to be in there, since I don't wish to be buried in that fashion.  Throw my ashes off the top of Brockway in the wind, and I'll end up everywhere I want to be.  Maybe I'll even wash up on Isle Royale someday!  But I'm getting a little too personal for this blog's purpose.  

As you can see from these pictures, the leaves are still really colorful up here.  It's been a beautiful fall, and now that I am done working  six days a week, I'm going to take full advantage.  Hello Life!  Here we go!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Clyde's Field

If you have ventured off the streets of Copper Harbor, chances are, you have been through Clyde's field.  Clyde's field is the large, flat area behind the one room schoolhouse and the park.  It is most easily accessed at the trail head by the welcome center.

This is the place that often starts my journeys, be it a hike, bike or snowshoe.  It provides the gateway to the trails!  The last few times I have been back there, I found some things you might like to see as well.  Come along!

Looking over the first pond, west into the Garden Brook Valley

Over the pond toward Brockway's nose

The second pond is all dried up.
Can you see who's at the other end?

The great blue heron!

I can now take this pond as a shortcut to the south trail

No shortage of mushrooms this fall

This puffball is as big as my mitten!

The maples litter the trails...

... with brilliance!

One thing I didn't get a picture of is the pigeon I saw a few days ago.  A pigeon?  I had to inspect it to make sure.  I don't know how a pigeon got up here, but I hope it survives!

As for the heron, I have seen it every morning for the past few days.  And at least once a week before that.  It flies so quietly when Duce startles it, but it always lands back in the area.  Such a majestic bird.

I have been seeing mushrooms of all shapes and sizes this fall.  More than I have ever seen.  I doubt that most of them are edible, and I don't have the knowledge to safely try them.  But I must have seen at least six varieties.  Some of them are so big, the conditions must be just right.  It's been fun discovering those!

Another thing I find myself instinctively enjoying this time of year are the deer trails.  Maybe it's because I'm not so overwhelmed with tourists that I get more adventurous, but I find myself following an animal path through the woods almost every time I go out.  I love to see new places, and how the landscape varies.  Sometimes Duce leads me into some tight spaces, but we always find our way out.  They say curiosity killed the cat, but hopefully we'll survive.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Luscious Leaves

Color Report
The leaves that are still on the trees are quite beautiful.  However, the winds have really picked up from the west, and the power was already out for 2 1/2 hours this morning.  We survived.

But Aaron, Duce and I went up to Aetna Ridge on Tuesday, and here is what we saw, in the order we saw it.  (Note: I did not enhance these photos digitally, and some were taken out the window of a moving truck, so bear with me.)

Man, was that luscious.  And here are a couple from out my back door today!

I would say this is the end of my color reporting for the year because these winds are going to blow the leaves to Canada.  My break is soon to come....