Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Love Note

Hello.  How about a love note?

It has been two months since your eyes feasted upon my words.  Two months since I have tickled the keys for your pleasure.  Has your heart grown fonder?  Or has it turned away, feeling neglected and hurt?

My love for you has not dwindled.  It is always there, whether I reach out or not.  May this unconditional love set you free from expectations.  Free from feeling fault.  It's not you.  It's me.

Well, that was kind of corny, but I like to spice it up, you know?

As I look out my window or walk through the woods, I see the green and brown of the ground.  Yes, green and brown.  Maybe some red and gray, but you get the drift.  No snow yet.

I hear there's a storm a-coming, so perhaps things will look a little brighter soon.  Until then, I'll just enjoy the days where I can push a stroller on the damp pavement with ease.

Maybe we will have snow for Winter Wonderfest this weekend.  That event is Saturday, December 10th in the Grant Township (Copper Harbor) park and community building.  It starts at 10 am with crafts and a bake sale.  Santa comes with presents at 4 pm and the park lights up at 6 pm.  Who knows what will follow after that? 

Snow or not, it is always a fun time.  Maybe I will see you there.

Then guess where I am going after Christmas.  Arkansas.  Yup, going to try it for a month with Aaron and the Rock Solid crew.  They are building trail in the middle of the Ozarks.  It sounds like a beautiful spot.  We'll see how long Brady P. and I last; it will be an adventure.  I'll take pictures for you!

My memoir is coming along very well, thanks for asking.  And yes, that's still why you've been neglected.  Brady P. only takes one nap a day, and I want to get that baby ready to be published.  I'll let you know when it's ready.  Probably a few months yet.  But, boy, I am addicted to it right now.

That's kind of it.  The bell buoy is gone.  The garden is pulled.  The house and yard are ready for winter.  Brady P. and I are just enjoying each day together.  Good thing he likes me!

So, I'll probably catch you down south next time.  Remember you are in my thoughts.  Be well.



Saturday, October 8, 2016

A "Fall" Adventure

Well, the Switch-keeper just flipped it to fall.  It turned to fall two nights ago.  Three days ago Brady P. and I were out in t-shirts.  Now we have to wear winter coats and hats!  Happy fall!

So you might be thinking, "Well, that's great, Amanda.  Why didn't you tell me sooner?  I mean, where was your nice Color Report that you did the last few years?"

I've been busy, sorry.  And actually, that's why I took the time to write today.  To a) tell you that the leaves are AWESOME if they didn't all blow off already.  And tell you that the fungus is amazing too.  Dozens of species up here for you shroom lovers.

And b) I wanted to tell you what I have been writing in my spare time.  Usually I don't like to leak things too far in advance just in case something tragic happens, and I don't finish.  But I am really excited about it.

I am writing a memoir.

Oh, geez.  Now you are probably thinking, "A memoir?  But you are like 12 years old!"

Yes, I say to you.  A memoir.  You don't have to be old to write one.  You just need a mighty experience that you want to share with the world because you believe it's worthwhile.  And it helps if you actually like writing... and you don't mind sharing your personal details with whomever reads it... or risking people getting mad at you because you wrote something that offended them.

Yeah.  I can do all that.

Besides, I am about 80% finished with the first draft.  "What?!?"  You sound surprised.  Well, why do you think you didn't get a color report?  I got stuff to type before I forget it all, man!  And don't get too excited yet.  The first draft is like the framework of a building.

I am really stoked about this story.  Can I tell you what it's about?  I know, I made you read this far, so I may as well.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my little boy and I had a rough first year of his life.  I mean, medical stuff that I never, ever fathomed happening to anyone's child, happened to my little boy.  He survived open-heart surgery, urethra surgery and several emergency room visits.  That's the jist of the hard part.

He was also, unbeknownst to us until after his birth, born with Down syndrome.  Now, if I would have visited a gypsy with a crystal ball ten years ago, and she told me, "Amanda, you will be kissing and hugging and loving the snot out of a person with Down syndrome in a few years," I would have said patooey.

I know, right?  I was a jerk.  

So it is more than perfect that he came into my life.  I have never been sad about it, by the way.  It is part of this journey of life.  My community, my family and I are all better because of that precious little boy.

I know.  Tears.  Well, through my wit, rawness and charm, that's what my next book is about.  How hardship and stress and the unexpected can turn out to enrich our lives beyond what we ever thought possible.  Going with the flow, and being grateful for each new lesson.  I mean, why else are we here?

It doesn't have a title yet, but you can be sure that I have a whole list of them written down, and sometimes possible titles come into my head and keep me up at night until I write them down.  I also don't know when it will be ready.  How can I predict that?  Just give me time, and hope nothing tragic happens... even though it's part of the journey.  Wink.

Anyway, you've been so patient while I spew about my personal life.  Here are some pictures from the U.P.  Luckily, I went to the Michigan Outdoor Writers Association (MOWA) conference in September, so I took my camera on some cool adventures... mostly waterfalls!

The conference was based in Bergland, Michigan surrounding Lake Gogebic.  I was excited to explore this territory just over one hundred miles from my own house.  The following pictures were taken in the Black River Parkway Falls area just north of Bessemer.  So worth a trip.  I mean, there were 5 cool falls within less than eight miles of each other.  My friend and I didn't realize that the North Country Trail connected them all, so we drove to each one separately.

The first was Great Conglomerate Falls.  We saw so many mushrooms along the way, we were like little kids!

Great Conglomerate Falls

Way cool red mushrooms

Then we drove to the next spot where we could walk to two falls: Gorge and Potawatomi.  These were awesome as well, with their own set of mushrooms.

Gorge Falls

Potawatomi Falls

A little yellow guy between the rails of the overlook

Haha.  I really need to get a mushroom book.  "Little yellow guy?"  That wouldn't pass in my wildflower world.

Past these were Sandstone Falls and Rainbow Falls.  Both awesome as well.  Rainbow was too big to capture on my camera to do it justice, so you will have to take my word for it.  We lucked out, though because it rained in the evenings, so the falls were much more voluminous than they would be during a dry spell.  Falls in the fall?  I highly recommend it.

Sign before Rainbow Falls
I love the warning on it

The next day two friends and I visited O kun-de-kun Falls.  It was totally worth the mile hike, but let me tell you that you might want to wait until someone redoes that trail because it was a muddy slip-and-slide.  If you are agile and don't mind the mud, go for it.  That one is just off of Highway 45 between Bruce Crossing and Watersmeet.

And there are so many other falls in that area that I just didn't have time to get to them all.  If you ever need a waterfall fix, check it out.  Any area visitor center should have a map of all these falls and more.

Can I brag about one thing?  I entered an article into the MOWA craft awards, and it won first place in the "Best Feature" category.  It was about the "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" event held each winter in Big Bay, Michigan.  If you are a woman, I recommend attending it.  If you want to read it, the link is here.

Wow.  You made it all the way to the bottom of this post.  Thanks for your eyeball endurance.  Not many people will read this many paragraphs in a row these days.  Kudos to you.

Now I better see what else I can get done while my little boy naps.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Going Out More Often"

Hellooooo!  Guess what.  I'm actually beaming to you from da Harbor this time!  As I sit in my comfy rocking chair, the cross-breeze blows past my face, and I hear the rustling of the leaves on the trees.  I hear some birdies and squirrels by my back porch.  I also hear all the motor vehicles whizzing by because, well, it's August.

Can you believe it?  August.  

If you have been with me for a few Augusts, you know what that means.  So I will spare you the rant, and show you this cool picture of a cloud from a couple weeks ago.  I've never seen anything like it.  The sun shined up from below, hit the bottom of the overhang, then extended its rays beyond.  Pretty cool.

Setting sun through a cloud shelf

The other evening, at sunset, the sky was illuminated with a copper color.  A friend said that it was going to rain copper from that cloud.  Well, it didn't, but lots of people took pictures of that sky too.  I wasn't one of them, though.  Sorry.

So how does a person get to see cool sunsets and clouds?  How does a person get to experience the wonders of this land?

Go outside.  More often.

With technology making it so easy to stay indoors these days, it can be easy to get stuck in front of a screen.  Here are some ways that I make sure to get out.  Eventbrite has a whole project dedicated to going out more often (GOMO) as well.  Check it out, and maybe you will get some of your own GOMO ideas!

First of all, I just plain love to be outside.  People and machines made all the things in my house, so they are not really all that intriguing to me.  Except my cast iron pans.  I love to cook with those.  And my fridge too.  Yeah, cuz sometimes I have leftovers, and it's 80 degrees outside.  This chair is really comfy too, actually.  I'm grateful for that.

But I digress.  Do you want to know something that I don't have in my house?  I have't owned one of these for years.  A television.  That's right.  No 42 inches of HD for this girl.  Not even a 13-incher in black and white with the little turny knobs.  Nothing.  Well, except for this computer screen that gives me a headache after a while.

Not liking to watch stuff on screens also really helps me go outside more.  The great outdoors presents a screen that I can feel, smell, touch and taste (if I know -- or hope -- it's not poisonous).  The wonders out there were NOT made by people or machines, and I marvel in their perfect existence.  Everything has its place, and I love to explore that.

Secondly, (or am I on my third now?) I love to make sure I have gear.  Living up here, conditions can change, and I want to make sure I don't always have to change my plans.  So I have rain gear, snow gear, biking gear, ski gear, camping gear and half a dozen different ways to tote Braeden around, so he can accompany me.  

Okay, time for something cute.  Here's a picture of Brady P. in his new wagon.  The wagon is great because he really doesn't like to be strapped into a stroller or backpack all the time.  Plus, the wagon provides cargo room for our garden harvests.

Brady P. in his wagon

The garden itself is a great way to get out more often.  It's a wonderful place to sit, pull weeds, talk to the person in the plot next to you, ponder the universe, get a suntan, eat vegetables and simply marvel at those perfect creations.  It brings a person to a new level of gratitude and accomplishment.

So, heck.  Here is a picture of the garden from a couple weeks ago.  It contains about a dozen plots from different people in da Harbor.

Copper Harbor Community Garden 2016

Ain't she a beaut?  Delicious too.

I suppose I am a part of events as well.  For instance, I was in charge of the bake sale at last weekend's Art in the Park.  Over Labor Day weekend, I'll probably volunteer for the Bell's Beer Copper Harbor Trails Fest.  When other events come up in town, I often volunteer or meander through them if I am available.

So, you've seen my adventures in the past.  You know where my curiosity and lack of marbles takes me sometimes.  I always love to share them with you.  Thanks for being a part of them so far.  But sharing them with you through a computer screen is hopefully more than just screen time for you.  I hope it inspires you to try some things on your own.

Now, if you live in a crowded city in a little apartment with your tiny dog, you might think that it's not fair because I live in the most majestic place in the world.  Well, I have two thoughts for you right away.  One, your tiny dog needs to get outside to run around and carry out its duties.  Unless you have it potty trained in a little box by your shower.  If so, you might actually have a cat.  Not sure.  And two, go on a vacation!  Take a trip!

Where is somewhere you've always wanted to go?  What events are going on in your city that you might want to experience?  What part of your own town are you curious about?  Take a walk.  Take a drive.  Sniff some flowers (please, always look for bees first).  Sit under a tree and watch people go by.  Identify a new flower.  Find a new restaurant.  Do a pub crawl with a friend.  

You have options.  See that?  Wow.  This world is pretty amazing, isn't it?  Maybe tonight you can go out for an evening stroll just before the sun sets.  You might get to see copper clouds yourself.

Be well, my friend.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Summer to the Max

Haha.  I guess the only time I take to write a blog is when I'm at my in-laws' house in the Wisconsin Northwoods because here I sit again on their couch.  Always too much to do at home, you know?  Hopefully my little man will sleep until I finish this.

Oh, my little man.  Can I tell you how he is?  He is amazing.  I mean really.  He is so stinkin' cute.  He steals the hearts of all the ladies (and even some men) at the grocery stores when he smiles.  He makes us laugh til our faces hurt.  He is so healthy after his heart surgery.  He tries so hard to do the things that other kids do.  He can walk about 4 steps and stand up on his own.  He is on Braeden time, but that is just perfect for everyone because he will teach us so much more than milestones in this life.  He is a gift to the world, and we are grateful.

He loves practically anything with a motor, so here is a picture of him with Dad in the CAT.  Aaron is working on a new campground in Copper Harbor.  It's called Trails End Campground, and they should have sites up and running by August!  That Aaron.  He never has enough to do, but at least he loves to spend time with his little boy.

Brady P. and Aaron digging big holes

So life is just wonderful right now.  I actually have time to go mountain biking!!!  Hooray!  I can slowly introduce death-defying sports into my life again.  I feel so ALIVE!  I even got my season shuttle pass from the Keweenaw Adventure Company, so they can take me to the top of the mountains, and I can ride down and practice my skills.

What else is great?  The berries are starting to come!  I ate a couple blueberries and bilberries before I left, so those should be raring when I get back.  Thimbles are not far off and I bet razzies are about ready too.

The wildflowers are beautimous as usual.  I found a couple new species this summer when I visited a new spot.  Bog rosemary and buckbean, which is a protected wildflower.  Oh, I was so excited when I saw the buckbean because I knew what it was from the  pictures in my books.  I also found a couple new ones here in WI.  I am a junkie when it comes to identifying flowers.  I just HAVE to know what it is, or I get all itchy and can't sleep.

Another amazing thing is the Copper Harbor community garden.  I meant to take a picture of it for you, but who brings a camera to the garden?  Perhaps when I have tomatoes and peppers hanging I'll snap a shot for you.  It's encouraging to see all the plots in the garden.  Quite a few people really take the time to work their spot.  It's something to be proud of, and it's nice to share good food with others.

I have jumped in Lake Superior twice so far this summer.  She's starting to warm up -- especially since my first dip in April!  Talk about invigorating!

And guess what else I haven't been able to do since I had a baby in my belly.  Go kayaking.  But in June, Tim the hawk-counter and I paddled the sloughs at Bete Gris.  Oh, man, it was a picture perfect paddling day.  Luckily I took some photos!

A view of Mt. Bohemia from Lac La Belle

A lone trumpeter swan on the lake

The opening of the Mendota Canal in the distance

We parked at the end of the road in the slough zone and paddled to most of the dead ends, turned around and paddled to the next one.  It was great exploration.  Our plan was to paddle to the Bear Belly Bar and Grill for lunch.  What we didn't realize was how far it was from the channel.  

Luckily we are both positive, go-with-the-flow kind of people because we were huuuuungry way before we were even close.  We almost clubbed the swan to eat for lunch.  (Okay, some of my jokes are terrible.)  But just before we gave up hope, I smelled french fries!!!  Suddenly we were renewed, and my blistering hands paddled a little faster to the shore.  Mmm, french fries.

Other than that, we all survived the Independence Day festivities.  And now it's July, so all my friends are busy working.  Well, at least they got a break!  Mama don't get a break!  But I don't mind.  I think I'd rather hang out with B than make fancy cocktails at the speed of light.  Everything has its season, you know.  

And now that I'm not serving tourists, I like them much more.  I even go out of my way to help them when they look confused.  I take interest in where they came from and what brought them here.  I wonder what they like to do while they are here.  Yes, Brady P. has taught me that we are ALL people, and we all deserve respect.  There is some good in everyone, and that is what I look for.  Life is a struggle enough without having to feel judged by others who have no idea what you're going through.  Maybe he will be president someday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New Favorite Season

I sit in the same room as I did when I wrote my last post.  Somewhere lost in the woods of northwest Wisconsin.

Since then, I have been to Copper Harbor, Central Wisconsin, Portland Oregon, Bend Oregon, Eastern Wisconsin, Marquette Michigan, Copper Harbor and back to these woods at Grammy and Grampy Rogers' house.  All those adventures with a one-and-a-half year old.  All while trying to enjoy our time to the fullest wherever we were.  And, well, getting sick a few times. 

So, yes.  I miss you.  There you are, in all your glory.  Here is mine.

This spring in Copper Harbor was amazing.  People often ask me what my favorite time of year is, and I always tell them that it's whichever time it is at the moment or whichever time the weather is reeling in next.  But now I have a new answer, and this one might hold true for some time.

It's those moments I can spend with my little guy, my husband and my friends outside.  Out in the sunshine with no jacket.  Out in the woods with no bugs.  Out on my front porch with no tourists (no offense).  It's that time when we crawl out of our long winter cocoon and stretch our butterfly wings, noticing how our new colors sparkle in the seemingly brighter sun (that's a fancy way to say "get sunburned").

But really, it's the best time!  It's short -- four weeks at most -- but we enjoyed it thoroughly.  Let me show you how!

An ice alligator head on Hunter's Point in early April!

A fresh baby turtle by Lake Manganese

My friend Annele and I watch this turtle in awe for, geez, an hour or so.  We speculated its origin, watched it get from here to there and wondered where it would end up.  We even got a video of this little munchkin going for what may have been its first swim.

Manitou Island on the horizon during our anniversary ride to High Rock

Lots of fishermen at the mouth of Fanny Hooe Creek

I do have to apologize because there was lots more worthwhile stuff that my brain fails to recall at the moment.  I remember the thought often going through my brain, I should tell all my readers to come up here right now because it's so heavenly.

But, of course, I didn't, and now the blackflies and mosquitoes are out.  Oh, no!  I mean, no they're not!  It's still heavenly.  Come anytime.  Wink.  What?  It's probably more peaceful than most places in the country.

I do have a few pictures to show from Oregon also.  

B and me out at the Pacific Ocean!

Then on our family drive to Bend, we went through a couple mountain passes.  The scenery was gorgeous.  At one time we had big desert rock to the left and a mountain range to the right.  However, I was not a very good tourist, and I couldn't figure out what those formations were called.  Anyone?

Rock up high to the left

Mountain to the right

That snowy mountain is smack dab in the middle of the shot.  Can you see it?  I can't say pictures through moving car windows are that great, but it's better then nothing!

Oregon was beautiful.  I'm a sucker for the green lushness of the world.  And water.  And huge blooming flowers.  Well, it was full of that, so I was giddy.

Now here's one thing in Copper Harbor that made me giddy.  Well, one that I actually remember.  I got to mountain bike the start of the Keweenaw Point Trail.  I don't get out on my mountain bike much.  I have to coordinate with a babysitter, and that's more work than putting all that bike gear on.  But I finally rode the KPT.  It was so fun, and now I'm addicted.  But having withdrawls of course.  Oh, that reminds me.  I have some news for you.

Starting mid-June our little family will get to be together in Copper Harbor for most of the summer.  Plus we will have Gramma Rogers with us.  WHAT?!?!  A live-in nanny?  I think this just might be the best summer ever!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

An Arkansas Spring

Well, of course winter wasn't really over in da U.P. -- no matter what the groundhog said.  Even as I sit here in WI, winter came back.  But I'll get to see my beloved little town tomorrow.  It's been weeks...

I remember driving out of da Harbor last month.  I had a tear in my eye.  A real dripping tear!  I said, Heart, it's okay to be sad right now.  That just means you really love it here.  But think about how happy you will be when we come back!  Heart settled a little, so I could see while driving.

We spent a few days in Wisconsin on each side of our Arkansas trip, but Arkansas was the highlight, so we'll go right there.

One different thing I noticed right away as our plane swooped down, was white trees.  White trees?!?!?  The flora nerd in me was giddy.  I couldn't wait to see what they were made of.  Yooper me thought they were cotton trees.  Haha.  Nope.  They looked more like saskatoon trees in full floral bloom.  We have those here, but they did look a bit different, and I didn't get to find out their exact species.  They just lit the landscape up with a soft whiteness.

There were purple trees too!  Here is what they look like from afar.

The purple flower tree

Lovely, aren't they?  By the end of my trip, the tiny green shoots were starting to pop out of the ends.  Here is what those flowers look like up close.

Flowers on the purple trees

I don't know what kind of trees these were either.  They didn't have much of a scent that I could decipher.  I wonder what they look like in the summer.  Some of the flowers were starting to fall by the end of my two weeks.  No leaves came out while I was there.  Next time I'll have to bring a flower book for the area.  Sheesh!

I also saw a few unidentified flowers.  Unidentified to me, that is.  One I thought was wild basil, but it didn't taste like I'm used to.  And I think it was too early for those.  Dandelions were out.  Violets too.  And white trout lilies!  I've never seen those before, and I assumed that's what they were by the mottled leaf and structure of the plant.

This is not a good picture, but this plant just boggled me.  I've never seen leaves grow like this before.  It's almost as though they were hiding the flowers.  Do you know what this one is?  The leaves stand almost perfectly vertical either when they first grow or when it's dark out.  The stem is square and the flowers themselves remind me of a nettle.   Just a few inches high, and I think they were done growing.  I'll have to check Peterson's.  

The mystery plant

So it was certainly springtime there.  I thought there would be more moisture in the creeks and such, but again, that is my Yooper brain expecting runoff.  No snow means no runoff.  Luckily we missed the tornados and floods!

While there, I got out for a couple hikes and one bike ride.  Let me start this out by saying that the landscape reminded me of Wisconsin with it's rolling hills, big oak trees and cattle pastures.  It seemed like a nice place to be, and the people were nice.

I mean, really nice.

They would look you in the eye, smile and say hello or hi or hey there.  And mean it!  Now I am someone who usually extends the first greeting, but down there, I was often second because it is just so engrained in people.  I guess that's what they call "Southern Hospitality."  I like it.

But back to the trails.  I got to hike at Bella Vista, where one of Aaron's crews were just finishing up.  It was a nice valley-side trail through some cool horizontal slate rocks and unusual flora.  I saw cacti and moss in the same space!  Didn't know that was possible.  

I also hiked at Hobb's State Park.  It was a busy Saturday morning down at the park.  I forget how busy recreational places can get, but it's just nice to see people out enjoying the sunshine.  This was a nice hike in the early spring.  It was a bit dry with only an "elbow" view of Beaver Lake available, but I was just glad to get out.  It made me realize how amazing the Keweenaw scenery is, if that was popular in Arkansas.  I know, I'm such a critic, hey?

Our bike ride was the best part.  Mostly because I love riding a bike, but also because I thought the trails were awesome!  We rode at Slaughter Pen.  Just when a climb was becoming a bit too much to bear, we got to go downhill.  There were lots of creeks and rivers flowing through.  They had some fun, big berm and jump lines to rip.  One section of which Aaron's crew built, and one section the home team built.  Some of the trails themselves were old school and rocky, but I really had a blast.  I could tell that people there are proud of their recreation.  I would recommend riding there.  In fact, IMBA's World Mountain Bike Summit is going to be held in northwest Arkansas, so many of the mentioned trails will be showcased as well as some they are still building.  After all, that's why Aaron is there.

And do you want to know something else I saw that I didn't realize actually existed?  The first ever Wal-Mart.  There, in downtown Bentonville, on the side of a tall brick storefront, was a Wal-Mart sign.  I wish I would have taken a picture.

I also wish I would have gotten a picture of our little family in front of the "Rogers, Arkansas" sign.  I mean, the Rogers family was living in Rogers!  Maybe only I think that is neat-o, but I don't mind.

What did I take pictures of?  Stuff that grows.  So here are a few more of some trees that were all over that I liked.

The red cedar smelled incredible

Perhaps an apple tree
It blossomed just before I left

Some kind of a holly tree?

Some cool, paper-thin fungus

The only other wildlife I noted was a red fox by the guys' apartment.  I watched it saunter through the leaves and brush.  Then it did something I never saw a fox do before: pee.  Yup.  It stood there and peed just like a female dog.  I don't think it would have done that if it saw me.  Also by the apartments, there was a pond.  A decent sized pond, but the fish I saw swimming in there were at least two feet long!  When I scared them, they dove into the mud, so I bet they were bottom feeders of some sort, but I didn't get a good enough look at their heads to tell what kind.

Oh, I did go for one more hike.  That was the spot Aaron was working on when I was there.  I wanted to see it because he was surprised and slightly frustrated with all the rock they had to work with and around.  Though this picture doesn't depict the rocky sections, it sure depicts my handsome boys.

My boys on a hike

I'm surprised I got to compose this post before my next trip to Portland, OR.  Guess I just like you that much.  Be well, and we will meet again soon!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Winter in a Nutshell

Wow.  I think I picked the right winter to be a single mom.  With Aaron in Arkansas, and me taking care of B-man 24/7 (well, some hours I get a break!), taking care of the winter too sounded a bit daunting.  Luckily, when the snow was pummeling us for days in a row, Grammy and Grampy had my little guy in Wisconsin, so I could shovel every day and go to Mount Bohemia to shred some fresh pow.  Ow ow!

And bring in wood.  

I really should have put on my helmet cam this one time I had to bring in wood.  I mean, no time is easy, but some days are horrendous.  Like the one time I had to shovel off a three foot drift on my back porch just so I could get the wood-hauling sled off the porch.  But then, I had to pull it approximately 40 yards over undulating drifts (one as high as the top of the wood pile!) with my legs post-holing up to my thigh in spots and me swearing like a drunken sailor.  Then to dig out the flapping tarp and secure it up, so I could get to the wood, fill up that otter sled and haul the loaded sled like a scorn donkey back over the humps and finally up the steps to the porch where I could fill up my wood rack next to the wood stove.  Three times in a row to fill up the rack.

Yeah, that would have made a funny video.  Perhaps my neighbor John took one.  Hopefully he at least noticed my efforts.  Anyway, we stayed warm!

But back to my first point that this was a good winter to do all these burly chores myself.  This was certainly the mildest winter I can remember in my ten years here.  The harbor never even froze over!  Maybe a little sheet, but not for the walking!  Here are several pans of the Harbor with different ice statuses that I took throughout February.

Looking through "The Gap" early February

On the shore by the Fanny Hooe Creek exit mid February

Near the Harbor Haus later in February

So many times this winter I would look out and think, This it is!  She's gonna freeze for good this time!  But, nope.  Ain't gonna happen this winter, folks.  

And that is fine, I guess.  It's already March, so bring on the spring!

As the sun shines on my chair as I type now, I think spring is on the way.  Yes, it was a short, mild winter indeed.  But B and I made the best of it.  We got out for XC skiing, snowshoeing, pulling in the sled, shoveling, and walks along the ever-changing shore.  Oh, and here is a super fun one: ice volcanoes!

Me celebrating climbing the biggest one!

B erupting from one just his size!

I pan of the shore that day -- see which ones we were in?

No ice skating this year.  And no death-defying descents down Brockway Mountain.  Not this year.  Wink.

Nope.  B and I are headed to Arkansas to visit our hard-working man in some snowless weather.  For two weeks!  So we'll be gone for most of March and then lots of April to Portland, OR.  Spring is a good time to get out of here because there's often not a lot of do-fun-stuff opportunities while everything is melting, mushy and muddy.  Except see waterfalls...

So who knows where I'll be when I see you next?  Enjoy your life til then!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Transition for the Shore and a Spirit

It's winter now!

Today I was getting ready for an adventure, and I asked myself, How should I turn the cuffs on my jeans so they don't get full of snow?  Then I laughed because it's time to wear snow pants!  And even snow shoes in some spots.  So yes, it's winter.  Smiley face.

So get a tissue ready because I'm about to tell you who didn't come with me on my adventure today.  Got your tissue?  Duce.  My handsome, sweet, goofy buttery boy has been released from his pain on this earth.  A tumor grew aggressively up his paw making walking and life in general very painful.  On Friday he stopped eating.  I took him to the vet yesterday, so he could be free.  He has all the rocks he cares to chase now.

Duce overlooking the lake at Great Sand Bay

Now he can overlook us anytime!  And work on the trails with Aaron -- something he surely missed when the pain arrived.  I have only great memories of that puppy.  A true adventure buddy indeed.

In fact, he led me to what is now one of my new favorite spots!  Can you believe I found another new spot around here?  And it's so close to my house, that I'm not worn out by the time I get there.

It started as a nice flat area overlooking the lake: the perfect spot to build a snow fort when Brady boy can help me.  But I realized that there were too many trees in the way for a great view, so we ventured further through the forest until we found a cool, flat spot with a clear view.  Well I'm not the only one who liked that spot because I saw the indentations of 4 deer in what little snow we had at the time.

Excited at this point, we went all the way to the shore, and Oh. My. Good-golly-miss-Molly. was it beautiful.  Check it out. 

The ice-covered shore in the sunshine

Okay, maybe you are thinking, "Come on, Amanda, that's not that spectacular."  Well, it was when I was there!  Here's another shot from (I think) the same day.  I love it when the sun shines exclusively on Porter's Island.

Sunny Porter's Island in the background

That was on another part of the shore.  I have gone out there day after day, and it's always different!  Thanks, Ducer, for showing me the way.

Another cool thing from out there is the ice couch.  I can just sit on the ice couch and watch the world go by.  Maybe I'll have to melt a cup holder in there to bring some tea!  In the picture below, my beautiful friend Annele is modeling the ice couch for us.

Annele on the ice couch!

I sit on it each day I go out there.  And now it's covered in snow, so it's a little more comfortable.  Snow cushions!  I bet it sits about 5 people if you ever want to bring a party out there...

Now let's take our ice adventure to Hunter's Point.  I went out there with my parents and little Brady boy.  Since it was almost 40 degrees with no wind that day, the little man was happy to join us.  My dad even commented that he had never seen the lake so calm as that day.

My parents were like little kids out there.  "Woah, look at this!" my mother would exclaim like a 4-year-old.  "Ooh, these rocks are dropping from their ice shelf," my dad noticed.  "Phil!  Take a picture of this!"  My mom would shout.  Just like kids, I tell ya.  That's one of the coolest parts of adventuring -- turning serious adults into curious children.  Let me know if you need a turn!

The ice was stunning that day, so they weren't being dramatic by any means.  Here is the ice parrot we found.

The perched ice parrot

And the lighting was so cool when I saw this ice-covered mass.  It reminds me of oozing lava, except the opposite temperature!

Hunter's Point ice formations

Today the journey was pretty amazing too.  I sat on that ice couch almost long enough for my buns to indent it.  But there was so much going on along the shore that I just couldn't sit still for long!

So remember that first picture I showed you of this shore that I made sound like it was unbelievable?  Well, now it's covered in snow, and the ice is growing out over the Big lake.  I saw several instances of ice volcanoes starting to form, only to be overgrown by other ones starting to form. 

That got my wheels spinning.  I remembered that I couldn't walk along the whole shore before because the ice was too slick, and the drop on the edge was too steep.  But today, ho ho, today that ice extended the walkable area and widened my margin of error.  However, I knew that not all that ice meant that there was solid ground underneath.

I am getting smart in my increasing-responsibility age.

Instead of walking along the edge of the icy shore that was constantly bombarded by frigidly swirling waves, I walked closer to the earth.  And I used icicled branches as holds along the slick spots.  I recognized that a false move would mean death, so I was extra cautious.  Oops, except that one time I slipped a bit down the ice mound.  Shoot, that woke me up!

Enough babbling.  Here is what it looks like now!

Waves changing the icy shore

At one point, I found a nice spot to sit and rest, and the sun was just right to light up these pieces of ice.  It looks like they're glowing!  At least one of my pictures turned out for you.  Pictures just did not do today's vistas justice.

Can you see that ice glowing?

In that picture you can also see that ice is starting to form on the lake.  Today it got broken up by the waves, but it started yesterday in the calm of the afternoon.

As far as inland lakes go, I think they are pretty well iced over.  I haven't ventured out on them myself because the last times I was out, I didn't think it was safe.  And especially when there is a baby on my back, I'm not going to risk it to check!

I always had the rule of thumb that if Duce wouldn't go on the ice, then I wouldn't go.  He had good intuition about that.  However, I would go out sometimes anyway because that's just how I am.  So today I asked him to be my ice guide from above.  I know he won't let me down.