Saturday, November 30, 2013

Snow Makeover

Did you already hear what happened in da Harbor on Thursday?  We got over a foot of snow!  It's still settling and compacting, but it sure was beautiful!  Aaron had to plow twice that day.

Aaron plowing the first time... in one day

Hikes area getting a little tougher in all this snow, but I've been too lazy to actually bust out the snowshoes.  If I wanted to venture into the woods, I would need them.

So where else can I go?  Up to Brockway's Nose!  However, I switched from walking the snowmobile path to riding the Cruiser Bike to the bottom of the hill.  Pedaling a slick road is way more efficient than tromping through 10 inches of snow in my boots.

The actual hike up the hill is increasingly more overtaken by gravity.  A couple boot slides up to half a boot slide back down.  Oh crap.  You know what wouldn't make my boots slide back down?  Snowshoes!  But then if I strap those babies on, I'll just want to rocket a short cut straight up the nose.  Then you'll worry about my safety and send me concerned messages.  Oh boy, what to do???

How about I just show you the cool comparison picture I got for now.  I think I might keep this shot up throughout the winter.  Then I'll definitely trek up there in snowshoes... straight up the ridge.

View of Copper Harbor November 22, 2013

View of Copper Harbor November 30, 2013

Lake Fanny Hooe is almost frozen over!  Shall we take a closer look?

Fanny and Clyde's Ponds in deep freeze mode

It's kind of an odd feeling to climb all the way up to the nose of Brockway, take a couple pictures and then slide back down.  So today I perched for a few moments.

Hardly a leaf twitched on a branch.  The only sound was Lake Superior waaaaay in the distance as she was so calm today.  Below me, a lone pickup cruised through town.  A fresh feeling of peace wrapped me in a warm blanket.  Yes.  This is why I live here.

And on my way down, my handsome black beast looked so sweet.

Duce waiting for me down the hill

The way down is heavily influenced by gravity as well.  Sometimes my feet just can't stop, and I have to angle my out-of-control legs off the road in case I biff it.  So far the landings have been soft enough.

In case you can't access facebook or twitter, here is my snow angel from earlier this week -- before we got all that snow!

Snow Angel at the Fort Wilkins Boat Launch lot

We actually had a spot of sunshine that day, as you can tell in the shadows.  Man, what a difference a burst of sunshine makes!  It makes me feel all exotic!

December starts tomorrow.  I have a feeling it will be an exciting one!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Yarg, Me Dinger is Gone!

Back from Wisconi.  I mean, really.  If you were a female (maybe you are), would you want to spend  eight days at home while your husband hosts Deer Camp?  Come on!  I can only hear the same buck story so many times!  But bless their hearts.  We got our meat for the year.  I will spare you any images of our nine hour butchering session yesterday... in the kitchen.

And the CH trails are still closed for hunting, so guess where I went today.  Up to Brockway's Nose!  It takes some ambition (or caffeine) to want to climb that steeply graded  hill.  Today I had both, so Duce and I went.

A pan of the town with a fresh dusting of snow

What a great walk.  I actually want to do that again soon!  And Duce posed nicely on our way back home.  Can you tell where we are?

My good boy sits so nice

Now let's rewind.  Wednesday, as I pedaled around town looking for my dog, I saw an interesting boat past the gap on Superior.  The drop in my gut told me what was going on.  I pedaled down to the Queen's dock, and looked for my bell buoy.

It was gone.

Sunofagun, I just went out the day before to make sure it was still there!  You took my buoy!  I screamed at the ship, nearly in tears.  In my eight years of living here, I have never seen the buoy drop in or get yanked out of its spot.  But the ship was heading west, and I knew what to do.

I flew home and checked the Marine Traffic site to make sure what I saw was real.  Yup, she was a Coast Guard boat labeled as a tender... going 6.6 knots.  I had time to spare, but I packed up for a trip to Eagle Harbor.  I was going to see what those buoy tenders do.

At the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse, I found a nice front row seat on a cold, wet, unyieldingly hard rock.  Anticipation rose as I watched the ship close in on the buoy.  I had my camera ready for you.

So I sat and waited and watched.  Oh, my.  I sat and shivered for an hour waiting for that tender to whisk that melodic three-toned buoy out of the Big Lake.  

And then it happened.

The buoy, lifted by ropes from a large crane, rose out of the water and timbered into the ship.  I tell you what.  I watched that crane the whole time, waiting for any movement.  The only thing that actually moved (from where I could see) was the cable connected to it.

I seriously sat there and recorded most of this process with my numb fingers holding the shaking camera as I shivered on an off-camber bolder of shore rock.  I didn't mind any of that.  But the lifting of the buoy was so anticlimactic from the camera's point of view that I rather not even waste the bandwidth uploading it.  You get my description and a picture instead.

The C.G. Alder full of local buoys

But hey, now I have officially witnessed the removal of a bell buoy.  One more item to cross off my bucket list!

Here is a picture of one of the older buoys displayed at the museum by the lighthouse.  Those things are way bigger than they look in the water.

Historic buoy at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Museum

Okay, now the sun came out.  After hearing about tomorrow's potential storm, I better get some vitamin D before it disappears for the winter.  I'm not joking, you know.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Keystone Bay... Once Forgotten

Oh, man.  Now I feel like a jerk.  You know what I did?  I totally forgot that I went to Keystone Bay last week and that I took pictures and video for you.  Then I teased you about not liking to read in my last post because I didn't have any pictures and videos to show you.  Well, another point for you.  At least I wrote a sweet poem.

So, uh, a couple weeks ago, I went to Keystone Bay with a couple crazy boys who still like to kiteboard in Lake Superior even though it's stinkin' cold in the lake AND the air.  Then, like the dutiful little blogger I am I took some pictures of the highlights.  So without further ado, here they are!

I always thought bikers looked goofy in their outfit, but this beats it!

Woo!  And this is on his way back down!

Then I took a walk along the beach.  You know, it certainly isn't boring out there!

A beaver dam at the mouth of Union Creek

A pan of the fire-ravaged Keweenaw Point

The wasteland at Keweenaw Point

At least the orange fungus is seeping!

That fire happened in August of 2006.  I did see evidence of thimbleberry bushes, grasses and some other things that had already withered from the fall.  Lots of burned tree trunks and roots, though.  Walking through there was like walking on a trunk trapeze! 

Since you deserve it, here is a picture from our first sticking snow.

November snow in the sunshine

It wasn't much, and it's already gone, but it was majestic while it lasted.

Today is the opener for gun hunting season for deer.  Right now it's way too beautiful out for this girl and her black dog to stay inside, but we're sort of trapped in town because the trails are closed.  Maybe we'll have to go to Wisconsin! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Snow and the Gay Stack

As I look out the window
snowflakes fly by 
like swarms of bees searching for pollen
from bobbing anthers.
That season is past
as today the first snow sticks
to my ribs
and the grass
and the pavement
and the cars
and the ice 
so I can skate down Main Street
in my unlaced boots.

I figure I owe you something a little different.  I hope that poem did the trick cuz I sure don't have any pictures today.

"Dag nabit, Amanda!  No pictures again???  How am I supposed to stay connected to da Harbor without pictures and videos?"

"Simmer down, dear Reader.  I am a writer.  I paint pictures with my words."

"Ugh, but that is so much work to read all of your words!  Don't you know this day and age is full of constant stimulation and bright flashing colors?  How am I supposed to stay entertained if I have to read???"

"Well, dear Reader, reading is a skill that will soon be lost by our youth as they only text in sentences made up of the first letter of each word."

"All right, all right.  I'll read on.  But it better be good.  I'm a busy person."

There.  Dialogue.  That's different too.  And you read it, didn't you?  Good job.

As you may have picked up from the opening poem, it's snowing right now.  But this time, it is actually sticking to the ground!  That means it's pretty stinkin' cold out there.  Windy too.  And gray.  It has that wintery feeling.  Though I know it won't continue without a warm up, I embrace it fully.  Another season of change.

I've been pretty busy, trying to keep up with writing projects, teaching a few friends how to make wine, trying to get to the great outdoors and hanging out with the family.  Both sides of the fam!  I am glad they all love it here too.

Want to know the coolest thing we did?

We drove the Gay/Lac La Belle Road along Lake Superior's shore.  We got out at Brunette Park to marvel at the sandstone beach and the glistening waves in the distance.  That lake, she's a beaut.

When we got to Gay, curiosity pulled my family to the huge stack right on Main Street.  "What could that have been used for?" we asked ourselves.  "There's nothing under it."

But we were wrong.

Just behind it was concrete foundation after concrete foundation.  Such a different style of construction taking up a vast amount of space.

Now I was out there with family members 58 years old and beyond.  

They were like little kids!

Sticking their heads through openings, yanking on stakes, crawling through arched doorways, hopping over rocks to get a better view, bushwhacking to explore farther down and exclaiming:

"Oh, wow!"
"Look at this, guys!"
"What do you think this was used for?"
"This is so neat!"
"What a huge place!"
"We're on an adventure!"

Personally, I felt a bit like I was in The Goonies movie myself, crawling in and out of gaping concrete holes and exploring a new place with my goony family.  Just kidding, guys.  You know I love you.

After we came out, we checked out the old school, and then saw the historic sign that told about where we were: The Wolverine and Mohawk Stamp Mills from the early 1900's.  I even bought The Gay, Michigan Story book, part of a series by Clarence J. Monette from Copper World because we all found the place and history fascinating.

But it's just fascinating in the Keweenaw!  Past, present, and, if we are all lucky, future!

Well, thanks for sticking with me this long, but I better get on with it.  Hopefully this week I will remember to take a camera out with me!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Over the Mountain and to the End of a New Road

Did you forget about my annual ride over Brockway Mountain Drive?  I did!

I remembered in October and have been watching for a nice-ish day when I could spare the energy.

My 6th Annual Pedal over Brockway was Wednesday, October 30th.  The wind was mostly calm.  The temp was in the high 40's.  The air was dry.  The sky was gray.  A pretty nice day for October in the Keweenaw.

But this time I took a different route.  I hadn't been on the Lakeshore Drive of M-26 in quite a few weeks, so I figured I'd take that west, then climb up the Brock from the Silver River side.  I saw this little guy on the way up.  This is not my picture, however.  I googled it when I got home.

A Spotted Salamander

Cute, hey?  He gave me a little more ambition on that long climb.

Closer to the top, I couldn't wait to be done climbing.  Keep in mind that I didn't get to coast down this west side like I usually do.  "It's okay," I told myself.  "I'll be coasting down soon."

The view was lovely and windy at the top, as usual.  I noticed some new interactive signs up there.  I read them all on the way down.  Nicely done.

But the way "down" is not typical, as I'm sure you know.  Even on that "down" side I had to pedal soooooo much up those steep ascents -- and I didn't get to go down any of them on the way up!  I knew it was karma.  See, not going up the steep east side, I thought it would be a little easier of a route.  Not at all.  I felt like that whole ride was uphill.

I will never go that way again.

So next time, I'll go up the steep east side and get all the hard stuff out of the way.  Phew.  Sounds like a plan.  Want to come with?

Then on Friday I made an impromptu run to town to check out a few spots for my Copper Harbor Adventure Guide.  It was all fine, but I did something quite surreal on my way home.  I took Bumbletown Road out of Allouez.  Through Bumbletown was nice -- more houses than I would have thought.

Further down it turned into a dirt road, which I had expected.  My plan was to get to the end of Bumbletown Road in Gratiot Park.

I thought Gratiot Park was a park at first.  Driving along, I saw towers in the distance -- a sure sign of a town.  Finally dirt roads turned back into paved roads with legitimate green street signs.  Houses and people out in their yards.  I drove around a bit to look for any sign of Lake Superior, but I must not have gone the right direction for that.  "Okay, so this must be Gratiot Park," I confirmed to myself.  "Guess I can go home!"

On my way out, a sign read "Entering Keweenaw County.  Zoning Enforced."  What?!  When did I leave Keweenaw County?

I looked at my map, and Gratiot Park was in Keweenaw County.  At home, I googled it, mapquested it and scoured all my maps.  I found none of the road names ANYWHERE that I saw on those green signs in Gratiot Park.  "This place isn't even on the map!"

I seriously doubted where I had been.  I still don't know for sure.  But one thing I thought was that the people who live their must feel even more at the end of the road than we do.