Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Winter Lull

Well, I just left you hanging like an icicle on a roof gutter.  I guess time flies when you feed and change and kiss a baby all day.

It's still winter here.  We don't really have a lot of snow on the ground.  Today I went for a walk in my hiking boots and jeans around the Ft. Wilkins trail, and that was all I really needed to ward off the snow.

The snowmobilers are up, though.  Especially on the weekends.  I think I saw almost 30 sledders walk into the Mariner on Saturday.  That's a lot of testosterone!  So the snowmobile trails started getting groomed December 1st, I believe.  The cross country ski trails are not groomed in da Harbor yet, but I bet they are at Swedetown and Michigan Tech trails.  They are so on top of things in the big city.

I really don't get out a lot for exciting excursions.  When Wee Man is able to enjoy the winter outside of my down jacket, I will take more liberties.  For now, we stick mostly around town.

But there are still interesting things in that close proximity.  Just a couple days ago I went down to the shore of Her Majesty.  I noticed the bell buoy was gone.  Well, I sure missed that brigade.  And I realized that I really missed staring out at that enchanting lake.

So I took a few moments and stared.  Just stared.  That feeling of peace came over me again.  Oh, that lake, she gets me every time.  I just need to get her in my sites!

I brought Braeden down to the lake several times, but he is always asleep by the time we get there, so I don't even think he's really gotten to see it yet.  When he's older, he'll be able to appreciate it more anyway.

Enough chit chat, I suppose.  I have taken a few photos of the world around me lately.  Here they are in no particular order.

Brockway's nose full of snow

Frozen waterfalls line the Harbor Haus dock

Duce and I ventured onto frozen Fanny Hooe

Reminiscence of big Superior waves

Tracks from the "civilized world"

This is definitely the time of year when a person needs friends or a partner up here.  Sometimes by 8 pm there's not an open sign facing the road.  If you want to be social, you have to call up your buddy and hang out.  Otherwise you're left with your dog or cat or Candy Crush game if the internet is working.  My point is that this is quite a realization if you get a wild hair.  You have no where to go besides out into the cold.  This, my friend, is one of the reasons we go crazy.

And just another reason I make my own wine.

But life is good here in da Harbor.  I'm participating in the town-wide Secret Santa game.  Though I really don't give much of a hoot about Christmas, I like this activity and how the locals get to interact.

Speaking of Christmas, the Winter Wonderfest is Saturday December 13th from 10-6 pm.  Lighting of the park, local crafts and artists, decoration station for the kiddies and a bake sale!  It's all right here in the township park.  Maybe we'll see you there!

Okay, the baby is waking up again, so I'll see you... um... maybe next year!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What's that number again?

29.5 inches.

That’s the official snow report from Keweenaw County for the last few days.  I couldn’t really guess how much it was when it was blowing around here because some areas drifted three feet and some were blown clean to the grass. 

29.5 inches is a lot.

29.5 inches on its way

So happy winter!  People are frantically trying to dig out of their houses.  They are slightly worried because they didn’t get their winter tires put on yet (we still need to order ours!).  I don’t think many people were ready for this.  Luckily, fingers crossed, we have all our firewood for the winter. 

If we don’t, we are going somewhere tropical.  Last night Aaron came in the door from the blizzard and said, “That’s it!  We’re buying our tickets to Hawaii right now!”

Luckily he got his plow put together yesterday, so he can push that mass of snow around in the driveway.  Last year winter started on Thanksgiving Day when we got that 12 inches.  We’ll see how all of us yoopers fair this year!

Luckily little Braeden doesn’t even realize what’s going on out there.  Babies can’t see that far out the window, let alone understand the change of seasons.  Well, maybe he does.  He did choose to live in Copper Harbor with us....

Today I got out for a snowshoe.  Oh, man was that amazing!  I even made a snow angel and watched the snow fall as I laid there enjoying the peace and wondering how I was going to get back up. 

Here are some wintery shots of the scenery.  Ehem.  The winter scenery since it really is winter now.

A nearly frozen bog

Bareberries with a new layer

Looking southwest across Lake Fanny Hooe

A handsome beast in the wonderland

Speaking of beasts, I saw lots of deer tracks on my shoe and also a couple otter slides!  The otters must have transferred from Lake Superior to Fanny Hooe.  Smart little buggers.

I guess I don't have any events to report at the moment.  They could possibly be going on, but I am out of the loop!

I guess it's time to dig out all my winter wear from the basement.  Take care!

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Whole New Slice

Thank you for your patience while I took a maternity leave.

The town is quiet again.  So peaceful -- just how I like to flourish in it.  The leaves are mostly off the trees.  The wind whips on occasion, but the sun is shining today.

I love this time of year.

Yesterday I took a walk.  My first walk in three weeks!  My little man, Braeden, and I took the Fanny Hooe trail around the fort area.  This is usually one of my favorite, easy, close walks.  Yesterday it was liberating.  And so different than the last time.

Here are a couple shots of how things are looking these days.

Naked trees surround Lake Fanny Hooe

Brown leaves cover the trails

Bittersweet, I tell you.  Because this is how bare the trees will be until May.  The only thing that will fill them before then will be snow.

We did get our first snow on, um, October 31st?  Nothing that stuck up here, but further south the roads and ditches were messy.  And the snow in the trees was stunning.  I wish I had some pictures of that, but well, I probably do from years past!

So the Queen IV is in the Portage Canal.  Most of the seasonal businesses are shut down.  People drive home with truckloads of wood to prepare for another who-knows-what-kind-of-winter.  It's like the summer never happened.

A couple days before I started having contractions, I went out to shoot the moon.  It was supposed to rise full and big over the lake.  But alas, the clouds blocked its glory completely.

When I turned around to go home, I had this view of the Harbor Haus.  It must have been their last weekend in this shot.  From their dock, looking inward seems like looking into a child's doll house.

The Harbor Haus in action

It's really charming when you can see people moving inside with the lights on like that.  You should try it sometime.

In the midst of some of my last contractions, I heard the squeal of my little man.  Our baby boy was born October 15th.  He is truly a blessing.  I am so excited to share this world with him.

So was the town.  Here is what was on the Mariner's marquee when I entered back into da Harbor.

Braeden's homecoming sign

What a supportive community I live in.  That was one of the first things I noticed when I moved here 9 years ago, and the feeling only gets stronger.  For that I am truly grateful.

So my little feather-weight champion seems to like it here so far.  He keeps me busy, as you can imagine, but I know he is a gift to this world.  Here is a shot of my little peanut, so you know he's real.

Ready for a car ride

Luckily, he handles the Covered Stretch better than I do with Aaron driving.

While I try to get myself back together, pardon the spotty posts.  They may be short.  They may be far apart.  They may not always make sense.  Though there's not a whole lot going on in da Harbor, my little slice is overflowing.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Autumn Rants

I am actually sitting inside on this lovely, sunny day, so I can type to you.  Aren't I a sweetheart?  He he.

What's going on these days in da Harbor?  Well, last weekend was crazy busy again.  All the motels rooms were booked.  Restaurants were slammin'.  Visitors were driving like (excuse this rant) total morons that don't look before they pull out into traffic.  They even (bless their across-the-globe hearts) parked all along the Covered Stretch and walked around as if they were about to watch a parade while they took pictures of the leaves in the rain.

This time of year is beautiful here.  Yes.  Refreshing and cool.  Uh huh.  And it also brings the worst drivers in the world to our narrow, winding, sidewalkless roads.  I feel safer in the winter behind a car with bald tires breaking at every curve because though they may slide into the ditch, they most likely won't just pull to the side of the road and open their car door in front of the vehicle behind them.

Whew.  Thanks for letting me say all that.  Fortunately for me, I don't have to drive any of those roads on a daily basis.  And this really only happens two weeks out of the year.

But autumn has brought me some new friends!  Well, they're not really my friends.  They just use me for the seed I keep out on the front porch, so I can watch them flit around and hear their lovely sparrow songs.  I almost think these could be some of the same little birdies that hung out in my back yard in the spring.  Welcome back, you sweet little sparrows!

So, you may or may not be into this, but has an official petition to sign for those who oppose the cell tower going up on Brockway Mountain.  It encourages the FCC to look for a different, less obtrusive placement for a tower.  I did my part.  Feel free to do yours.


What else is happening?  Well, my hubby and his trail crew just got back from Duluth, MN where they built trails all summer.  (You can imagine my relief for that moment when "I think it's time!!!)  And they are continuing progress on the Keweenaw Point Trail.  

This path, if I haven't mentioned it already, will allow hikers and bikers to travel legally, easily and safely around the tip of, you guessed it, the Keweenaw Peninsula.  If I am not mistaken, it will pass points of interest such at Montreal Falls, Schlatter Lake, High Rock Bay and others.  

This nearly 30-mile trail will be epic for the Keweenaw.  We might even have to get a Starbucks to accommodate the traffic.  Ha!  I am just kidding.  That's just crazy talk.  But anyway, I can keep you updated as this big project progresses.  Phase I is in the works.

So this is what we call the end of the season, you know.  The Harbor Haus closes Saturday the 11th.  Jamsen's Fish Market and Bakery closes Monday the 13th.  I would imagine the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge closes later this month.  Motels will drain pipes and board up windows soon, I'm sure.

And then, you know what happens.  6 months of cold and snow that will drag on like last year.  I am already starting to praise our occasional moments of sunshine.  I, I really don't know what else to say about this right now.  I think I scared myself a bit.

Color Report
The Covered Stretch was still a beauty two days ago.  Lovely, in fact (ask all the visitors parked on the side of the road in the rain!).  I bet Brockway is still nice.  Though many of the trees are wind-blown, the oaks, birch and popples are taking their turn now, spewing burgundy and yellow.

Maybe next time I'll have some pictures for you.  I felt a bit inadequate today when I sat down and looked for something visual to share and realized I had nothing.  So hopefully you have enjoyed my sarcastic rants and blunt opinions.  I'm not a sugar-coater, you know.  Especially with these hormone fluxes.  Yes.  I'll blame it on that.  Two weeks until my due date!

Be well.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall Festivities

Today I was even too lazy to take a nap.  And the thought of creating a post seemed like a lost cause.

Well, you lucked out because I finally got revved up to go on this Queen cruise to the Gull Rock Lighthouse as a fundraiser for the Christmas lights.  But when I got to the dock, a sign said it was cancelled due to high winds.  By the time I pedaled home and teased my dog (who was howling toward the front door like a big baby), I had some wind put back in my own sails.

Let me start with what you are probably most curious about: the colors.

Color Report
Last weekend (when I told you to get up here) some of Aaron's family and I went to Lac La Belle.  We paid our $8 a person to ride up the Mount Bohemia chair lift to see some spectacular colors in the trees.  Here are some pics from that trip.  It was a little hazy in the distance, and I only had a phone for pictures, but you'll get the idea.  The colors in these photos have not been modified, by the way.

From the top looking toward Gratiot Lake

Flora on "The Money Line" when it's not a ski run

Mount Houghton in the back

... And the dreaded line to get back down the hill

The place was packed.  The downward line was insane.  There were almost as many cars in the parking lot as there would be on a powder day.  People wore shorts and tank tops.  Really now, when will that ever happen again?

If you've never been on Bohemia, or even if you have, you may be wondering, "why didn't people just walk down the mountain?"  I tell you, if I wasn't 8 months pregnant, wasn't with an 82-year-old great grandma and was wearing long pants through all that tall, dry, buggy grass, I would have walked down.  Most people opted for the ride, but I think the former would have been way faster.

So Mount Bohemia is running their chairlift again this weekend.  Totally worth it, if you are debating going.

If you ask me, I would say last weekend was peak color, but the peak areas are just shifting.  It's Brockway Valley's turn.  That is a beauty right now.  I've only seen pictures, but I may have to make the drive myself.  So much for my annual bike ride over the mountain.  That will continue next fall, I hope!

What else do I have to say about the colors?  Not a whole lot.  They are still changing.  I even have a green maple in my back yard right now.  Do what you want, I suppose.

Moving on.

May as well "move on" with "Your Move," a Yes song that our band covers.  Here's a video of us performing that last Friday during the Art Crawl at North One Gallery.

Kinda fun, hey?  Definitely some background noise, but that's what you get during those!  And I believe that will be our last performance with this baby in my belly.  Then the poor thing won't have to keep bonking into my drum!

It looks like the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is resurrecting Oktoberfest!  Festivities are October 11th starting at 3:00 pm.  Here are the details I could find:
  • Buffet is served from 4-8 pm (reservations required)
  • 10 German beers
  • German food
  • Music by Jeff & A.J. Walker Polka Band
  • Best dressed couple contest
  • Family with the most generations contest
Sounds fun to me, ja!  But maybe that's because I'm German (mostly) and I like parties.  Especially parties the revolve around food and beer.  Good thing I have a good nose to sniff, so I won't have to drink any of the bubbly.  Unless my baby is born by then...

I know I had something else cool for you, but I can't remember at all.  Maybe someday I will.  If not, I know it was a good thought.  So ta ta til next time!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Color Report!!!

Okay, so when I was younger, I used to never want to admit that I was wrong.  Well, I learned that honesty out-weighs pride, so let me admit this:


Whew.  That felt good.

Here are a couple teasers for you if you can't make it, or to light a fire under your bum to make the drive.

Colors at Lake Manganese

More of the above

So I drove to Houghton yesterday.  I was unsuspecting of the color change as I endured the tunnel of trees.  Holy eye orgasm, Batman.  It was like a time warp back through the 80's.  The hot pink, electric tangerine, neon yellow and florescent magenta were about all I could handle without a sensory overload.

Plus, these colors just surround you.  It's not like a spot here or there.

Now you're going to drive through Houghton and up most of the Covered Stretch and be all, "Amanda.  We didn't see any neon explosions like you said."  Well, it's all in that last 10 miles, friend.  So worth it.

The Houghton area is more of a royal theme.  Gold, crimson, plum, ruby and copper.  Still beautimous in its own right.  

But here's one thing you are lucky about.  I brought a recording device with me on the drive just in case.  So I even have a video for you.

Okay, that's my good deed for the day.  What will yours be?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bean, Beans

Happy Fall!

However, this week is supposed to bring some pleasant weather.  Like 60's and sunny until Monday.  We'll take it.  Perhaps I should say Happy Summer!

I thought the weekdays would be quieter than they are.  I thought Duce and I could just roam around town without a leash or a care crossing the road.  Nope.  Not quite yet.  People are here chasing colors, mountain biking, living in RVs and doing whatever else they came to do.

And the past weekend was well attended.  I told you about the Chili Cook-off, and some of you actually came!  Thanks for introducing yourself.  How cool.

The event itself had a record number of people show up for the festivities and a record number of chili entrants.  Gosh, I think there were 26 chilies.  I'm glad I was not a judge because there's no way I could fit all those samples plus cornbread and pie in my compromised stomach space.   Judging looks like tough business anyway.  See?

The judges: sniffing, tasting and scoring chili

One of my favorite bands, Frank an da Beans are in the back there jamming out.  The event also pressed fresh cider, and offered Brickside beer.  There were two amazing cheese trays fresh from Wisconsin and 9 gallons of chili from the Gay Bar, so no one would hunger.  And just look at all those entrants ready to scoop samples of their concoction!

Most of the chili entrants

See that in the background?  That's sunshine.  It was a beautiful day.  And see that guy stirring in the red sweatshirt?  That's Jay.  He won first place in the traditional competition.  Way to go, Jay!  He also brought the cheese from Wisconsin.  Now that's good karma.

After the winners were announced, Powers of Air took the stage.  Here's a photo of I-don't-know-what-song, but our bassist's wife took it.

Our band -- Powers of Air

Gosh, it was almost 9pm before we were done performing.  It was a good experience for us... we learned a lot from our mistakes!  And if anyone ever fesses up to shooting some video, I'll post it for you.  They say we sounded good.

This was really an awesome event.  Make plans to come next year.  Third Saturday in September.

Moving on.

So there's this fall trail running fest at Mount Bohemia in early October.  I think it's the first year they are doing it.  Info is below.  I bet the leaves will be beautiful for that!

Mount Bohemia's Trail Runs

Color Report
So let me get a couple fall pics up for you.  Pipe down.  I know you've been waiting.  Yes, I'm psychic.  Please be careful what else you think around me.

Looking southwest from partway up Brockway Mountain

That one was taken the 19th.  I can't say it's too exciting there yet, but check out this one from Lake Manganese, compliments of my friend Bruce L.

Fall at Lake Manganese

Now that's getting pretty stunning.  I'll have to get up there myself!  

Here's a handy dandy chart I found from Lake Superior Magazine.  I would put stock in this.  Now you can plan your vacation.  Happy now?

Lake Superior Fall Color Chart

So, 4 more weeks until my baby is predicted to arrive.  After the people and before the snow, I like to say (fingers crossed).  I know sometimes I post late, but if I post really late, you can assume I am on suckling, diaper and no-sleep duty.  Give me some time, and I'll be with you as soon as I can.  Trust me.  If I am crabby, you really don't want me to write a blog anyway.  Then I'll tell you what I really think.  Ha!

So wish me luck with that!  Even though I tease myself about it sometimes, just know that I am really looking forward to becoming a mother and learning about life all over again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Spooks and a Moose!

Saturday was... wow.  As I walked around to do my normal Harbor life business, I marveled at all the cars and people and bikes and such.  Is there an event going on in town?  I wondered as vehicles lined the main street and all possible parking areas.

What was odd was that it wasn't even a very nice day.  It was gray and chilly.  But it wasn't raining.  What else is odd is that I'm telling you about this and I still have no idea if there really was an event.  Perhaps a small one, but I just chalk it up to a Saturday in September.  I forgot how busy they can be.  That's a good thing for now.

Speaking of Saturdays in September, I may as well add on to the Chili Cook-off event with the Fort Wilkins Spoo-tacular.  They are decking out the Fort in a haunting fashion, and their annual geocaching event is going on as well.  Schedule follows below.

Spoo-tacular events

Ah yes, another one of my pictures with reflections off someone's glass door.  This one happens to be the general store.  They always have the most posters.

And as we approach this cooling weather and fall-like atmosphere, the wild edibles are changing.  

When I wander through Clyde's field, I try all the different apples that have dropped to the ground.  I try to memorize which ones are my favorite, and which ones the deer can have.  I'm not harvesting, just grabbing a snack as I meander.

The choke cherries are out too.  Man it's a great year for them.  If I wasn't so darn lazy right now, I would pick and pick those suckers.  But nope.  Sure seems like a lot of work.  I don't feel too guilty though.  I have lots of choke cherry wine aging in my cellar.  I think it will be ready to sample sometime after this little one comes out of my belly.

Plums too.  The plums are ripening.

We are lucky to have escaped the chances of frost so far.  The community garden is still producing, though some plants are a bit shocked, I'm sure.  It's interesting to hear that Houghton may get a frost overnight, but "along the shore" we are still 5-10 degrees warmer.  Oh, that lake.  She certainly has her perks.

So get this.  There is a moose in Copper Harbor.

A what???

A moose!  Yes!  It's been sighted at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge trying to play golf without a cart.  Here is a picture I found on the KML's facebook page.

The KML moose

That is definitely a moose, and definitely the lodge's golf course.  What a beauty.  If I get ambitious, maybe I'll sit up there and wait for it to come.  I'm kind of a jinx for moose though.  I would probably just end up getting eaten by squirrels.

But, it looks like a good fall tourist attraction!

Color Report
On my drive to town Friday, I would say that the Covered Stretch is less than 10% changed. The maples that have transitioned sure are beautiful, but it's still mostly green.  The lakeshore M-26 is green too.  Even closer to Houghton, I would say there is no significant change.  And just a handful of trees are actually brown.

Okay, okay.  Enough for now.  I'll see you next week on whichever day I have the energy!  Thanks for your patience with me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Luckily I Took Pictures...

Power went out a couple times today.  Then it was on a couple times, and who knows what will happen anytime soon?

Come on, Brain.  Come on.  The people want a post here.

So, yeah.  Today is one of those days they write songs about.  I even hope to write a poem about it (once my brain is capable of going beyond everyday tasks).  

In an effort to celebrate the high winds, big waves, bone-chilling rain and lack of electricity, my little bun and I went out to Hunter's Point.  

It was definitely windy and cold and wet.  The video I took proved my timing to be a bit anti-climactic.  Not even worth the bandwidth to upload.  But I thoroughly enjoyed the lush hike to the tip of the Point.  Here is the best wave picture I got.

Waves at Hunter's Point 9/10/14

The lake was (and still is) really agitated.  She can be such a beast at times.  It's a good thing the Queen IV wasn't scheduled for Isle Royale today.

On the way back, I found some little friends.  I've been seeing mushrooms everywhere lately because it's been so wet and cool.  If I had my normal level of curiosity, I would start learning mushrooms this fall.  They have been quite spectacular.

Fungi in the woods

On Monday, I sought out to capture the full moonrise because I knew it would come up near the lighthouse if I sat on the Harbor Haus dock.  While the sun sank and I got chilly, the geese came around.

Geese and The Gap

I also got swarmed by a flock of seagulls.  It was really something as they came around from all directions.  I didn't have any food, and I'm not really sure what stirred them up.  Neat experience, though.

Then I got chillier and chillier as I waited for the moon.  I didn't think the clouds would hide it because the horizon was somewhat clear.  Just at the moment when I thought, I bet it's gonna be really cool, I saw a glow ascend from a low strip of clouds.  The moon!  I watched in awe as it crowned.

And then it hid behind a cloud in the layer just above.

So here's a picture of the middle of the full moon.

Moonrise 9/8/14

That's East Bluff in the far background on the right side of the shot.  It was a beautiful night.  And the clouds looked all purdy too, so here's one more of the evening.

Facing north during the sunset

Earlier in the week, I took some other pictures from around town.  Boy, am I glad I took pictures.  I don't know if my words can create them as well right now!

Gladiolas in front of the Gas Lite

Though they don't have a scent, I LOVE gladiolas.  I remember, growing up, that my parents always had a rainbow of these beauties around their garden.  This is one of the few domestic flowers I would actually go through the effort of planting.  It could be a nice project for the little one and I in the spring!  Remind me I said that, will you?

And at the Brickside Brewery, Project 49918 is exhibiting the Beginning of the Road collection.  It gets some cool comments when visitors realize that they have met some of those people on the wall.  I am just glad that snow is gone now....

"Beginning of the Road" Exhibit

Yes, I know it's a bit blurry, but that's how things usually look in the Brickside.  Ha!  Unless you can't drink beer!

I also wanted to show you this because I am proud.  This is my first professional book review done by Charlie Eshbach.  He is a long-time Keweenaw resident, naturalist and author himself, so his opinion holds some weight around here!  Thank you, Charlie and the Keweenaw Traveler!

Book review by the Keweenaw Traveler

Having trouble reading it?  Try clicking on the image.  Still having trouble?  Pick up your printed copy of the publication around the UP for free!  It's great for visitors and locals alike.

Wait.  I have to put a different hat on.

Our band, Powers of Air, is scheduled to play the outdoor gig at the Chili Cookoff September 20th!  We are sharing the stage with Frank an' da Beans -- one of my favorite funky dance bands in the area.  Music starts around 4pm, and I think we're on around 5:30pm.  Please view the poster below for more details.  

And for heaven's sake, make some chili to bring!

Chili Cook-off time again, baby!

Color Report
Well, I haven't been down the Covered Stretch lately, but I'll go on Friday.  Whatever leaves are still hanging on the branches that haven't blown off the trees are mostly green, I would imagine.  But this cold snap could change things.  Stay tuned!