Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holidays and Tree Bombs

Now that Christmas has passed, Copper Harbor business is in full swing.  All the winter restaurants are open full-time.  The snow is amazing (despite the little drizzle yesterday), and the air is fresh and crisp.  Come on up!

And here is a little holiday cheer for you, if you haven't seen it already.

A pan of the lights in the park

I like how the deer are swimming in the snow.  Nice job, Donny and crew!

Possibly by you as well, the temperature has dropped about 20 degrees, and the wind has picked up.  I would't want to be riding a chairlift today, but a snowshoe in the woods is nice!

So is the sunshine.  Though we don't see it often (because it's always snowing) I did capture some shots from Christmas Eve day. 

The sun behind some icicle trees

Icicle trees beside the blue sky harbor

Beautiful, isn't it?  It's so nice that this post can have a little color!  So treasure that while I take you to the dark side.

We don't have a tornado season.  We don't have hurricane season.  Or monsoons or earthquakes.  Knock on wood for all of that.  Right now, the conditions are perfect for tree bomb season.

Yes, tree bombs.

You can find them all over the woods, but they are mostly harmless there.  Know where they are deadly?  The Covered Stretch of Highway 41.

Those scenic branches creating the tunnel of trees have been collecting snow for weeks.  Oh yes, they are so nice to look at.  Picture perfect even.  Then the temperature warmed up just after Christmas, so the snow in the trees got denser.  Then we got a little drizzle, making those branches even heavier.  

This is what it's like driving that stretch with tree bombs.

The road is well-plowed, so you have traction for the most part.  Then boom, boom!  You just ran over bowling ball size gobs of snow that you couldn't avoid because it laid across the whole road like the branch it fell from minutes earlier.  Whew, at least it didn't fall on your car.  But, boomf, boomf!  There's another!  Lucky there was no tree branch in that one.  Oh!  Slow down!  Huge branch across the road!  Good thing a car wasn't coming in the other lane!  Oh, no.  See that snow falling on the right side up there???  That branch is about to let loose.  Go around!  Got around!  Smash!  Oh, boy.  That was the windshield.  Pull over.

So far I have escaped this war zone unscathed, but I have friends who haven't been so lucky.  I hope they all have good auto insurance.  Bless their hearts.

Lesson?  If you come up in the next few days, take M-26 to avoid this gauntlet.  Unless, of course you like to drive in a real life video game.  It reminds me of Super Mario Brothers.  Creatures pop out of nowhere to get you.  I hope you make it to the next level.

Other than that, life is simply marvelous.  I will see you next year.  You make it your best year yet, and I'll make it mine!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's Officially Winter!!!

Happy Solstice!  Let the days grow longer!

It has still snowed everyday since I saw you last.  It's funny, I noticed that when it's not snowing, someone always makes the comment, "Oh, it isn't snowing right now."  That doesn't happen very often.

But that means the winter sports are amazing.  Here are some examples.

Cross Country Skiing
Did you know that I didn't even take my XC skis out once last year?  Not once!  But this year I've been out on groomed and ungroomed trails.  I don't care.  Just get me out!

The CH trails are pristine

Yup.  I've already scaled Brockway's Nose -- more than once.  I can't help it, really.  That ridge just whispers in my ear, "Come on, Amanda.  You know I'm an exotic challenge on the way up and down."  And I fall for it every time.  However, every time, I also find myself saying, Oh crap.  How did I end up here?  How are we going to get up/down this, Duce?

For instance, last time it was too steep for my dog to climb, so he whined like a pansy, and I had to slide all the way back down to make sure he was okay and rescue him from his feelings of inadequacy. I did find this interesting specimen on the way up, though.

Pinedrops - a parasitic species

I didn't know what it was at the time, but my wildflower guru friend Harvey did!  Good thing I took a picture.

To finish the journey, Duce and I trudged up the snowmobile trail.  Not at all as exciting as the ridge, but I did get this picture for you.

View from Brockway's Nose 12/16/13

On the way down we took the ridge.  And remembering the time I went down and took that life-threatening video, I stayed farther west of that spot.  Unfortunately, there is still a dropoff there.  

Okay, this next part would have been a good opportunity for a helmet cam.

I sort of hopped to a spot where I could wedge myself between a tree trunk and the side of the cliff, so I could hopefully catch my scardy cat of a dog.  Before I actually got him to take the plunge, I saw this nice little scene.

Mossicles on the side of Brockway

Then after five times of calling my big galoot, he finally lept off the overhang and into my arms.  Squealing the whole way.  What a goof.  But we made it down safely, and that's what mattered.

I actually got to do this today on a trainer kite.  We were, once again, at Lake Medora.  But this time was different: I got to strap on a snowboard and get pulled by the kite in the wind!  I didn't go any significant distance or do any cool tricks, but I got to ride with the wind.  

I even got to try a big boy kite: 12 square meters of nylon blowing in the wind, tugging on my harness.  It wasn't too windy today, though, so I didn't fear for my life.

And soon I'll get to Mount Bohemia again.  I just got my own skis, and I am pumped to try them!  

Well, I hope life is good for you too.  Take care!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's Snowing Again (We Say Everyday)

It's officially been eight years since Aaron and I moved to Copper Harbor.  Only eight?  It seems like longer to me.  And you know what?  In all those eight years, not one moment has gone by when I regretted that impulsive move.  Did you know I had only been to Copper Harbor two or three times in the winter before I moved here?  I hadn't even seen it in the summer!

Speaking of summer, I can hardly fathom that time right now.  The calendar does not say it's winter yet, but everywhere a person can look, it is winter.  Here is just a little comparison for you. 

The back porch on Thanksgiving Day

The back porch this morning...
that table is in there somewhere!

Yeah, so it's winter.  Sorry calendar.  

But it's winter like it's supposed to be winter!  Mount Bohemia opened yesterday, and I got to go snowboarding in some thick snow on mogul-less terrain.  Lots of other people came for the event as well, but I found some freshies to glide through.

I was so excited to carve the hill up that I didn't bring my camera.  No time for frozen fingers pushing buttons on a powder day.  That's just a rule.  But I do have other pictures from throughout the week! 

This is how I knew it was time to put the cruiser bike away.

The shivering Swhinn

And see what's leaning up against that tree?  My snowshoes!  That was the day of my first snowshoe.  It was grand.  And here are some shots from my second snowshoe.  Aaron and Johnny went out to Lake Medora to do some kiteboarding, so I went with.  I always wanted to venture to those islands out there anyway.

Snowy trees on a Medora Island

Icicles on a Medora Island

They kites in action on Lake Medora

Though the wind was really whipping, it was awesome being out there.  And though I have never been to Isle Royale in the winter, exploring those islands reminded me of exploring Isle Royale.  Probably because it was some place new, it was gorgeous and I knew I wasn't going to meet another soul.  

So Aaron and Allan have already been ice fishing at the west end of the harbor.  No catching, but the ice was thick enough to stand on and fish.  Here are some shots of ice on other parts of the harbor that day... Friday.

Looking west from the Isle Royale Queen IV dock

Looking east next to the Harbor Haus dock

And when I looked down at the lake from my house today, I didn't see any ice in the middle of the harbor.  The current 40 mph gusts probably had something to do with that.  But those gusts also make me want to get out to Hunter's Point to check out the waves.  

But before I do that, I wanted to point out one thing.  Scroll through those pictures again.    What colors do you see a lot of?  White, gray, some wood colors... oh, the kites have colors!  Thanks goodness!  What do you not see?  Shadows.  Okay, maybe under that little table on my back porch.

So imagine.  A week without shadows.  A week without a sparkle in the snow.  A week seeing white and gray for color in the natural landscape.  It makes for an interesting perspective on life.  Thanks goodness for Vitamin D supplements and snow sports!  See you next week!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Let It Snow!

Whew, it's been a fun-filled week in da Harbor!

I got to go for my first ski just a couple days ago.  See?

Duce and me on a ski to Horseshoe!

Now I'm not going to get into the details, but I didn't make it all the way to Horseshoe Harbor.  I wanted to, but I actually made it farther than I thought I would for my first ski of the winter!

And here is the view at the top of the hill at the intersection where you turn to go down to Horseshoe.

Looking west toward Brockway Mountain!

I tell you, it was a magnificent day.  I couldn't believe the sun was out about half the time I was.  That's a spirit booster, all right!

We have a lot of snow right now.  A day or two before my ski (sorry, I don't keep track of the days that well), I hiked up Paul's Plunge without snowshoes.  I think that if I would do any hike in the woods today, I would need snowshoes.  And you would too.  Unless you have skis.

However, there is that layer of crust under about five inches of snow in the woods.  Sometimes you stay on top, sometimes you punch right through!  But under that crust, you'll find about ten inches.  Depends where you are.  I think it's fabulous!

Last Sunday (I actually remember that day's name) I had to help Aaron move the Copper Harbor Trails Club's mini-excavators to storage for the winter.  I got to drive one for my first time.  Now I remember laughing at Aaron driving down the road in those things because a toddler learning to walk could travel faster than he was driving.  Well, I was about to go that slow for three blocks, so I got some footage for you.

Kinda fun, hey?  

You know who has been here already?  Snowmobilers!  Not lots, but enough to make me realize that the peaceful time of year is over already.  It seemed pretty short this year.  But that's the rotation of the seasons!

Speaking of seasons, Copper Harbor is hosting its annual Winter Wonderfest this Saturday, December 14th.  I think it starts around 11am or noon in the Community Building.  People will be selling their art. Also, Santa visits at 4pm, and the lights get plugged in for the first grand showing at dark. 

Well, then after that at the Mariner North, there is a fundraiser for the Friends of Brockway Mountain.  $25 at the door for all you can eat pizza plus music by Steve Brimm, Erika Vye and Gail English!  I know where I'll be Saturday.

Ooh, and Lake Medora, Fanny Hooe and Manganese are all frozen over.  Can't wait to get out on 'em soon!  But not too soon!

I think that encompasses all the fun I can share in public without you thinking I am a total weirdo.  I mean, I have to keep some things as a surprise, you know?  Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful week!