Monday, March 31, 2014

A Slow Transition

Hey there!  I didn't mean to leave you hanging for a week.  In fact, I wrote a blog last Monday, but it did not publish for some reason.  My sincerest apologies.  If you like to read these posts in order, please read that one first.  It under this one.

Otherwise, it's still winter.

Roofs are dripping (it's really "roofs" and not "rooves"???) and puddles have formed in the streets for a few days now.  Yeah, yeah.  That's what I said three weeks ago when I was getting the fever.  Spring Fever!!!

This weekend, a couple of my besties and I snowshoed to Manganese Falls, just to see if it was starting to flow.  It's not.  But the sun was warm and the snow was soft.  Here are a couple pictures.

The bottom of Manganese Falls -- usually dramatic

A wannabe artsy shot of the snowy bridge at the bottom

We did hear some running water, but it was all under the snow.  Give me a few weeks, and I'll be out there again!

Today I snowshoed to Porter's Island with the crew from the Ore Dock Brewery in Marquette.  They all came up to sample beer at the Brickside Brewery the night before.  Beer-lovers seek out good beer.  What else can I say?

I must say, for as many times as I have been to Porter's Island (especially this winter) this time was so different because I went with eight people and six dogs.  Instead of just seeing snow and ice and trees, I saw this:

The crew heading north to Porter's

And though I have taken many pictures of this ice shelf, none of them put it into perspective like this one does. 

North of Porter's along the ice

The wind was whipping from the east, but when we were sheltered, the temperature seemed mild and almost enjoyable.  All the dogs were well-behaved and nobody fell through.  

To the north, we could see vast open water!  Pictures of a greyish-blue strip don't do it justice, so I'll spare you that this time.  But the water is closer than it's been for weeks!  Hooray!

A few places in town are now on seasonal hours.  I know The Pines is closed until some time in May (though they are open on Wednesday nights for the trivia team).  I believe The Tamarack will be closed for most of April as well, so bring your own breakfast to town!  The Mariner opens at 11:00 am each day for lunch and dinner until 8:00 pm at least.  And the General Store is open daily.  So is the Laughing Loon Gift Shop!

So now we just sit and wait for the snow to melt.  On sunny days we chisel tributaries in the ice so the water runs where we want it to go.  On sunny weekends Keweenaw locals drive up on a "cruise."  On warmish days locals hang out in t-shirts trimming up the snow and ice in the yard.  It's a transitional time of year.  Just a slow transition.

Spring will just be that much more precious.  Cheers to that!

Still Making the Best of Winter

*This was supposed to post Monday, March 24th

So, yeah.  It's still really wintery outside.  So cold.  Such high snow banks.  Happy Spring.

Today I walked outside to go to the post office and, I tell ya, if I wasn't able to control my emotions, I probably would have cursed this blasted winter.  But I know better.  It is what it is, and it can stay as long as it, gulp, has to.

I made my peace.

But here's a picture honoring of the first day of Spring!

The Rogers residence under all that white stuff

I did get to have some fun adventures this week.

One day Duce and I snowshoed up Stairway to Heaven to the top of that ridge.  Then we slid down the two ridges on our way back.  Now that's what winter is for: sliding through the snow.  Do it on a sled, skis, snowboard, snowshoes, buttocks, whatever.  Just do it, and winter won't be so spiteful.

Another thing I got to do, that I can only do in the polar vortex of winter is snowshoe to Porter's Island with my buddies!  We had a great time checking out the huge ice formations.  We couldn't see any open water that day, but it has been pretty chilly.  Sorry, but I didn't bring a camera.  I've shown you lots of pictures of that stuff anyway.

For the weekend, my ambitious husband hosted "Superior Gales," a snowkiting event.  Fifteen people came up to ski and snowboard through the harbor itself and Lake Medora.  They had a blast.  I at least got some shots of that!

Resting kites, the shanty and a kiter on the Harbor

Kiter by the lighthouse!  See him?

Grillin' out.  Those boys godda eat!

Though I didn't kite myself (I was way too cold out there), I still got a cheeseburger.  Those boys stayed out until dark and had a bonfire on the ice.  If the ice wasn't at least three feet thick, I would think they were crazy.  Fire melts ice, you know.

It sounds like they all had a good time, and the wind cooperated for the most part, so that helps.  You can't kite without the wind!

What else can I really tell you about?  What are YOU wondering?  Am I missing something here?  Feel free to comment with your inquisitions and suggestions.  I can certainly explore this time of year better than others.

You stay warm now.  Or stay hot, if you live in a tropical climate.  Lucky.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rock Ice

"Spring is coming!" I announced like Peter crying wolf.  No wolf.  No spring.

In fact, the day after my proclamation, all the slush and puddles froze up solid and jagged like the shores of High Rock Bay.  Unshovelable ice.  I think it did that just to spite me.

I knew winter wasn't over, but that was a quick shift.  And now we're in the middle of our second "winter storm" since then.  More snow is predicted than is actually falling, but that often happens with a south wind.

Did I do anything fun and exciting outside lately?  Not really.  Sorry.  But Aaron and his fishing buddies did.  They've been catching some beasts out of the Harbor.  Here is a picture of one that nearly went viral on facebook.

Aaron and the big pike

This bugger was 44 inches long and weighed 24 pounds.  Photo credit goes to Allan.  Guess they had fun on the ice that day!

I'm kind of, um, waiting for spring now.  Darn it.  I should never do that.  For your benefit, I will make it a point to get out more and embrace what is left of winter.  You deserve that at least.  And so do I.  And so does Duce, but he's ready for spring too.  I can tell.  He likes to lay out in the sunshine and absorb it into his black fur.

Business has slowed way down.  Especially during the week.  There are still some die hard snowmobilers, skiers and ice fishermen, but they don't come up in droves anymore.  We've got two weeks left of operation at the Bear Belly, so if you want a cup of award winning chili or the best reuben around, you better get there quick!  Tell them Amanda sent you!

What else can I say without boring you with life's insignificant details?  My writing is going well.  If you want to check out some of my latest work, you can find it at  Just search "Amanda Wais" in the top right search box to see my articles listed.  And hey, if you do that, it gives them more traffic, and my editor is more likely to hire me again.  Win win!

Also, my article about professional mountain bike coach (and awesome person), Lindsey Voreis is in Mountain Flyer Magazine right now.  I guess you have to find a copy of Issue 35 to read it.  I should have my copy soon!

Okay.  You probably don't really care about my writing stuff.  You care about da Harbor.  So do I.  The ice on the big lake is still seiching.  Now you see it.  Now you don't.  Everyday is a surprise.  Just another thing I love about this place!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Think Spring

You won't believe what's happening out there right now.  The snow is leaving.  Quickly.

Some is melting and turning the roads and driveways into puddles.  Some is getting cut by big trucks and hauled away by other trucks.  I can see things on my front porch that I realized I forgot to put away last fall.  Perhaps we can grill out soon!

Breathing this fresh air when my nostrils don't stick together is rejuvenating my soul.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.  A tunnel that I forgot had an end.  Yeah, it was more like a cave.

Spring is coming.  

Guess what that will bring!  Waterfalls!  Ooh, I've got a couple in mind to get to during prime season.  I'll get some videos for you.  But if you can, come on up yourself.  They're always more dramatic in person.  And besides, this town won't be overrun with tourists by then.

Gulp.  I forgot about the tourists.

It's only March.  And this summer will be different.  I can focus on experiencing the splendor around me and writing about it.  Dreams come true.  Fingers crossed.  No, really, can I get a little "good luck" thought here?  Thanks.

So no trips for me this week.  Just out to Porter's Island to watch the ever-opening lake.  Oh, the way she sparkles makes my heart skip a beat.  I saw snowmobiler tracks out there the other day when I walked my Cwyfan friend.

Cwyfan sniffin' snowmobiler tracks on Porter's Island

Yesterday we went to Clyde's field because, oddly enough, we haven't been there in a while.  The snow was heavy like mashed potatoes.  Get me some melted butter and a spoon and I could have eaten my way through the field.  Here's a panoramic shot of the field.  You'll want to click it, so you can see it better.

From Brockway to Stairway in Clyde's Field

And here are the poor cattails in the "pond."

Cattails up to their necks in snow

I bet they are ready for spring too.  With so much snow left to melt, and warmer temps, this could be a messy spring.  Knock on wood, but I'll take it.  I'd like to see some green and rocks.  Here's a somewhat artsy attempt at what Highway 41 looks like going through our town.

Slush on the streets of CH

Yeah, that was a little rocky this morning when it refroze.  But, trials and tribulations of spring.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't think this is the end.  Oh, no.  We'll get another blizzard or two.  Some sloppy rain.  Floods.  Maybe even another ice rink!  Anything can happen here.

I'll keep you posted.  Until then, think spring!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sunshine and Big Bay

Today continues another streak of sunny days.  Just like the week before last.  And if you don't count the wind chill, the temperature is in the double digits.  Last I checked it was 12 degrees F.  We should see a couple days in the 20's this week.  It will surely feel like a heat wave.  Can't wait.

Yesterday I trekked out to ye old site of Fort Juniper.  Up on that ridge, I realized that if I still wanted to built a fort up there, I would just dig one out instead of building one up.  I didn't get to check the actual depth, but I didn't see any juniper bushes there.  Just the tip of a little spruce tree.

Though it was nostalgic to be back there in the winter, the wind was blowing through me, and the single digit temps would not let me linger.  Duce decided to head down the ridges toward the frozen harbor.  We walked back home from there.  

This last weekend I got to go somewhere new: Big Bay, Michigan.  Have you ever been there?

Big Bay is at the red "A"

While first glancing at this map, I thought, Great!  It's even before Marquette!  But I was wrong.  Turns out, a person has to drive to Marquette, then head back northwest on 550 to get to Big Bay.  Well, at least there was no city driving involved.

It's a very small town on Lake Superior.  While there, I resided at Bay Cliff Health Camp.  A really neat place for being so far out.  Big porches, hardwood floors, fireplaces and other cool amenities.  And guess why I got to go.  I was sent on an assignment from Traverse Magazine to report on the DNR's Becoming an Outdoors-Woman event!

73 woman from as far as Alabama came out for this chilly weekend.  They each got to take three classes of their choice ranging from indoor activities (power tools, fly tying, self confidence, wilderness first aid) to outdoor activities (snowmobiling, ice fishing, dog sledding, winter camping, backcountry skiing).  It was a great event all around.  Here are a few shots I got while I was there.  Remember, I take terrible pictures.

Inside the four-woman dorm room

Women hang out in the auditorium before introductions

The dining room set for our first dinner

A woman posing in a class-made quinzhee (winter shelter)

I could go into all the details, but I am currently writing the article about this, and I feel like that would create more work than I need to do.  When that article comes out next winter, I'll let you know.  Maybe you'll even want to take the class (if you are a woman, of course).  I would highly recommend it.  What a great opportunity.  I'm grateful I got to be a part of it because I didn't even know about it before!

The Copper Dog 150 was held this weekend, but I was gone, so I can't really tell you how it went.  I heard it was cold, but enjoyable.  That weekend always seems to fill up like the 4th of July -- just like that.  All the sudden there's cars everywhere, and motels and people's houses are bursting at the seams.

People are getting a bit ornery about winter, however.  These cold temps are quite out of the norm.  People are going through their wood piles and propane faster then ever.  We are darn lucky the sun is shining.  That keeps spirits up just enough....