Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's Popping Up?

We survived the first "big" weekend of the summer season.  Nothing too crazy, but lots of fun.  I even got to hang out with my mountain biker buddies for the Ride the Keweenaw.  Woo hoo!

Yesterday I noticed some of my little petaled friends popping out of the brown leaves.  Here are some shots of the wildflower progression taken around my house  (because I am a wildflower geek!).  As always, nothing spectacular, just informational.  Also, if you are looking for flowers, not all of them have blossomed yet -- just leafing out.

Serviceberry tree

Thimbleberry leaves

The red stem is a wild rose

Fly honeysuckle blossoms

Forget-me-not just popped out!

My first daffodil (not wild) and a poppy (not real)

Time for the real treat.  Remember a couple weeks when I was looking for arbutus?  Well, I found some!  It was so special that I took a video for you.

And just for fun, here is a picture of me and Duce.  So far, it seems he is recovering nicely from his surgery.

Me and my sweet, handsome prince

And guess what else.  No blackflies yet....

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oh, Canada

I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I booked my writer’s conference trip to Ontario’s Algoma Country.  I had no expectations, and they were all exceeded.

First off, the members of the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association are an amazing bunch: down-to-earth, high-spirited and fun-loving.  I fit right in. 

Second, the crew at Ontario’s Algoma Country, who put this trip together for us, did an outstanding job.  They made sure we were uber-organized, visited their finest sites and ate until we turned into marshmallows.  Plus, they, and all the other Canadian folks I talked to while I was lost on the way to my hotel, were so sweet they made my teeth hurt.  I am writing an article about that.

So what did I do there?

At 9am-ish, we took the Algoma Central Railway 206 miles north of the Soo to Lake Wabatong, where we would spend three nights at Errington’s Wilderness Island Resort.  Kind of like being on Isle Royale except we had motor boats to cart us, a cabin with a fireplace to sleep in and a lodge with an exquisite chef to feed us.  We were spoiled, I tell you.

Though my camera ran out of battery power a few too many times, I did manage to get some footage.  It is all compiled in the video below.  Please, as an avid reader of this blog, let me know if you prefer pictures and video separate like in the past, or if you like the presentation style I’ve been dabbling in.  Your opinion matters!

A couple other guys saw a moose, but I did not.  We also saw lots of eagles, caught lots of walleye and pike, heard lots of loons, saw a couple sand hill cranes, saw a great blue heron and floated around many other waterfowl.  The wilderness was deep and rich.  My soul was at peace.  And, you know, it kinda reminded me of the Keweenaw!

Speaking of my homeland, all is well here!  Memorial weekend kicks off our busy season, so here we go!  Now if you'll excuse me, I better get ready for work!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Bike Ride, a Nutshell and Canada

I guess the biggest thing was the Keweenaw Path fundraiser.  30 mph gusts from the northwest held my biker buddy, Marlin, and I back until 1 pm.  Instead of leaving from Chassell at 9 am, we rode from Calumet to Copper Harbor, a total of 36 miles.

Here is a quick documentation of that journey.  Keweenaw Path 2013 video.

What you can only sort of tell was that I got hungry.  But I was more than that.  Just like when we walked that distance, Delaware couldn't come soon enough.  I was giddy at Delaware, and even more so to see my walking friends.  

Shortly after, however, I thought I might tip over!  I was barely able to pedal up that hill to the Mountain Lodge.  But I did it.  Then it was all downhill from there.  I could hardly believe when I coasted through my little town.

So now the bar is raised.  36 is the most miles I've ever ridden at once, and I am eager to boost that up.  What a great way to travel.  Now I need a road bike of my own!

The hiking and biking trails are getting cleared more and more each day.  However, many bridges washed out and snow is still deep in some spots.  The trails are still wet and soft in many spots as well, but I keep seeing people going out to ride.  I hope they bring a chainsaw and a shovel with them!

Dandelions are out.  I still haven't seen any arbutus yet.  A friend reported that Lake Medora is open, but some ice still remains near the shore.  Creeks, rivers and falls are still a rush to watch.  The sun has shone some each day, and it's been windy!  There you have it in a nutshell, I guess.  

If I get a chance, I will report from Errington's Wilderness Island in Algoma, Ontario while I am there.  Otherwise, I'll put something together when I get back.  Really looking forward to that trip.  I leave tomorrow!  I promise to take lots of pictures and videos.  I bet there will be lots of great material!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spring is Creeping In

Back in da Harbor, a shift has taken place.

The Isle Royale Queen IV is parked at her dock.  I can only gaze longingly at her because I will not make it out to the Rock this spring.  Can't win them all!

Another old friend is bobbing in the lake.  The bell buoy!  I missed his arrival by a day.  In the evenings, I hear only three sounds: the wind, the buoy and guess who else?  The peepers!

Yes, the sounds of spring are back, and I can feel that buzz in the air.  People are already  driving the Mandan and Brockway Mountain Drive.  Tiny buds are speckling the trees, turning the landscape hues of red, green and gold.  I even saw the first hepatica wildflowers in my yard!  All sorts of birds are swimming, flying, nesting and singing us songs.  Cheery indeed.

I was longing for some waterfall action.  Lots of my friends said they got out for waterfall tours.  Three days ago, I hiked up Manganese Falls and made you this video.  For some reason, Blogger would not let me pull it from youtube, so don't be afraid to click the link below!

From there I hiked up the Mango Trail to Lake Manganese where I found the only bridge uprooted, flipped and flushing with water.  

West side of the broken planked bridge...

Call me stubborn (or crazy), but I was crossing that bridge.  Otherwise, I would have to go down the way I came up.   I pulled off my boots and socks, tied the laces together, slung my boots over my shoulder and rolled up my pant legs.  With a deep breath and a test of the chilly water, I slowly shimmied across the planks.  I knew I couldn't take either foot off for too long, or the force of the water would take me with it.  But I also couldn't tarry because that water was cold!

I found a happy medium and made is safely to the other side.  

East side of the broken planked bridge!

Never a dull moment, I tell you.

Yesterday, on a bike ride to practice for the Keweenaw Path, I pulled in to my trusty arbutus site to see if those fragrant little crawlers were blooming yet.  No such luck.  I'll try back next week.

Well, how 'bout them lakes?  Manganese is slightly frozen on the south side, Fanny Hooe is pretty much open and people throw their arms up in wonder when Medora will thaw.

Things are coming to life, despite today and tomorrow's light snow.  That Mother Nature, she's keeping us on our toes!

Oh, I almost forgot!  Here is the link to that kiting video.  I still laugh every time I watch it.

Snow Kiting on Lake Medora

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Wisconsin in May

You cheated, didn't you?  You already scrolled down to see what pictures or videos I posted.  If you didn't, thanks for your patience.  If you did, I know.  I do that too.  Ha!

I made a fun video from our kiting adventures, but I cannot access the internet on the computer it is on.  Guess you'll have to wait one more post!

Here in northwest Wisconsin, things have been interesting.  I spent the first three days wearing a tank top in the warm sunshine boiling sap and drinking homemade wine. 

But by Wednesday, we got 15 inches of snow in one day.  "I'll believe it when I see it," is always my reaction to an abundant snowfall prediction.  I went to sleep with a dusting on the ground, and I woke up to 14 inches balanced on all the railings, birdfeeders, chairs... everything.  Aaron's dad snowblowed a path around the yard, so Duce could hobble around to do his duties.  That was nice of him because I sure didn't want to shovel all that snow!

Duce is doing well, by the way.  By now he thinks he's SuperDog and he can bound after robins in the snow.  Nope.  Not even close.  He needs to spend most of the day lying on his bed.  He hates it, but he will enjoy the rest of his life if he takes it easy these next few weeks.

As for the Keweenaw, the snow started melting so fast that some of the roads were flooding and the waterfalls were rushing.  I knew I would miss it.  I don't know how much snow they got this last storm, or how much snow is left on the ground now, but I'm sure it will all be different by the time I get there in three days.  I'll let you know.

I'm starting to get that uneasiness in the pit of my stomach every time I think about going home now.  Life is going to get hectic in a hurry.

March 12th is the Keweenaw Path fundraiser for the Gundlach Shelter.  I'll be biking from Chassell to Phoenix: 34 miles.  Would you like to sponsor me?  If you'd like to donate to this worthy cause, you can send a check made out to Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home and mail it to:
Keweenaw Path
P.O. Box 65
Copper Harbor, MI 49918
I thank you in advance for your support!

Then I need to get into the woods to gather some final information for my book, so I can finish and publish it before the summer gets too deep.

I've got 9 gallons of wine to bottle when I get home too.

May 17th - May 21st I will be in Ontario for my first Michigan Outdoor Writers Conference.  I'm looking forward to that.

Somewhere inbetween, I need to clean, set up and stock the Harbor Haus bar because I return to work May 25th.  Then, life as I know it is dedicated to the whir of the summer.

Deep breaths.  I can do it.  You will be with me through it all, and somehow you help keep me sane.  I thank you for that.

So for now, I will simply enjoy the freshly peeking sun and the company of one of my bestest buddies: my mother-in-law.