Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Winter's Worth of Cross Country Skiing

The snow has only been gone for a few weeks, but I already miss it. I always get this feeling; Spring's coming doesn't fill me with the same sense of rebirth that others get. The ability to move around more easily is appreciated, however I don't long for the death of snow, never have.

This year Winter was much more pleasant than the past 4. Over the past few years I got into riding my commuter and cyclocross bike as much as possible. The weather patterns in South Eastern Michigan make it fairly easy to run semi-skinny tires year round. Our first week in Marquette I quickly found out that my semi-skinny tires wouldn't cut it up here. It works just fine to run down to the co-op for groceries but taking it anywhere that's not plowed or well-traversed is a poor idea. Next Winter I will have a fat bike and things will be a little different.

Luckily, Marquette has so many snowy-weather activities to make up for my lack of winter biking. In the late Fall I got Chelsea into cross-country skiing.



She isn't interested in going downhill and I am fine with that. We like to be able to get out away from people and quietly enjoy nature so xc skiing works really well for both of us. We picked up some wider touring-style models. The extra width is no bueno on groomed trails and track which is totally fine because we usually go places where we have to break the first tracks. 

So much solitude: miles of trails along the southern shore of Superior in Marquette County. So many areas that are difficult to access when the ground is bare open wide up when the snow comes. The woods are a blank canvass for you to write your story. Get out of your chair and do it.

Nice use of the ski pole bipod.


She's all smiles at Presque Isle. (Her first day on her new skis)



Chelsea loves breaking trail. I took her on one semi-groomed trail one time and she quickly determined that it was not her cup of tea.

My little fatties. The Marquette Backcountry skis are hybrid snowshoe-like contraptions that really allowed me to go almost anywhere this winter. Next year they are going to get some serious use! (They will also be getting a binding upgrade. More on that later)


Skiing during a blizzard.


More Marquette Backcountry skiing on a bluebird February afternoon. We were blessed with quite a few of these days.



When you live in an area that has so many months of Winter you need to either be super stoic and not say anything or get outside and enjoy each and every flake. We choose to do the latter. Next Winter I will be much more diligent posting daily trip reports complete with stories. This year we were all about getting out there and exploring.

If you are a Marquette or UP native and you have some secret spots that you would be willing to share please get a hold of me, I am always looking for new places.

-J



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Higgledepiggedly

Thursday brought 6-9" to the marquette area. Friday we had a high of 38; the weekend's prospects of pleasant adventure looked grim. Then came Saturday: 55 and sunny with a slight shore breeze. 

I started the morning off searching for some steelhead. I got skunked but it was great being knee deep in the river. 

After splitting a muffin and draining Bany Cakes' coffee urn we headed north on 550 and pulled off into the Harlow Lake parking lot. 

The last time I was here we had several feet of snow on the ground and the the going was kinda slow. 


The sun did a number on the newly fallen snow and turned most of the trail into a creek. We walked on the built up snow berms along the trail. The view from the top was totally worth it though. 


This could be one of my favorite places. I know that it's way too early in my transformation into becoming a Yooper, but it's true. Beautiful views without people.


Very glad to have been able to share such a lovely place with a wonderful person. I drag her all over the place doing silly things that leave us with soggy wet feet and windburned cheeks. If you don't have someone like this then you should keep looking. 


Great weekend outside. 

-j

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sunday Steel

The sun is out; it looks unseasonably warm but you put on extra insulation just in case. 

Public Radio pundits provide a thoughtful soundtrack for the trip. But you are somewhere else in your head. 

The parking lot has a few other vehicles; don't worry there's enough to go around. You pop the rear hatch and begin the ritual of putting on your waders and boots, rigging up the rod and taking an educated guess at the fly de jour should be.

The crusty snow crunches underfoot at you take the goat trail away from the cars. 

Bend one: two spawn dunkers. 

Bend two: fruitless after working a yarn egg and a nymph. 

Change it up: maybe there's a hungry, active fish in this place. Guides start to ice up: no one said that spring fishing was easy. 



Bend three: strip, breathe, strip, breath, strip, breathe. Chuck it back out. Strip, breathe, strip, breathe, stri-........ Give him some room to run........ Take you time..... Enjoy the fight; this is why you put the time in. 


Take pleasure knowing that you tricked the beautiful beast and honor him by letting him go. 

-john

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sugarloaf Mountain and some big news



Last weekend I found myself in Marquette; a delightful town on the southern shore of Lake Superior. 

I had the morning off so I took to the Subaru to roam about the area. I haven't been to the area in 12 or 13 years. While the town had changed a considerable amount, the natural surroundings remained exactly as I remembered them: beautiful, raw, and clean. 


Hogback Mountain sits in the distance just waiting to be explored and I can't wait. I figure that is a nice way of telling you all that I am moving to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It's not everyday that a dream job comes up in the perfect location but I guess it did for me. I cannot wait to be able work with a great group of people during the weekdays and then spend the whole weekend communing with nature and enjoying life finally. 

Outdoor Research's latest catalog had a section on living a Complete Life that talked about being able to spin your adventures alongside your everyday happenings. That advertisement really stuck with me, and that's how I am going to start living. 

Here's to our move up north and a new chapter in our lives. 

-J

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pot roast in stout with herb dumplings

Although it is unseasonably warm in Michigan at the moment it was a blustery weekend around here. Dare I say I thought the gales of November had come early. 

Spurred on by the dropping Mercury I prepared a hearty one pot Irish supper. 


It wasn't the healthiest choice but sometimeseals like this soothe the soul. 

I cannot claim the base recipe but I definitely made this my own. The recipe suggested Guiness as the base for the stew/gravy, but I'm not a fan of the "legendary" Irish stout. I opted for a much richer, full-flavored milkshake stout from Rochester Mills Brewery. The beer complemented the carrots and infused both the meat and dumplings with an umami quality that is near impossible to describe.

Needless to say, that page in the recipe book is now dogeared for a snowy winter Sunday. I can almost see the flakes falling  while the pot gurgles and the house fills with the thick aroma. 

-J


Dryfly Art

I've never ever considered myself to have any artistic talent. Most of my "drawings" feature stick figures. I do enjoy art. One of my favorite art forms is block printing. My favorite block prints come from Greg Jaris at Trick Dog in Elberta, MI, and Bad Axe designs. 

After wrapping up a tie session the other night I looked up at a Jaris print that I picked up last summer. It's a flamboyant trout-like fish flailing in the air. Knowing that Chelsea had some printing materials in her art pile for www.thebiglake.etsy.com I asked her for them. 

With speedball carver in hand I sat down and created the first of hopefully many stamps that represent the things that I do. It's far from being a piece of art, but I think it's very cool in a raw way. That's what I appreciate about block printing; it can be extremely detailed and clean or a little more emotive and raw. Tell me what you think:


It's the silhouette of a wingless Adams fly, or as I call them: gnats. 

More will follow. I just need to get outside and get some inspiration. 

Big news coming down the pipeline soon. Don't want to say anything until we are 100% ready. 

- J





Friday, October 17, 2014

Revival

To anyone who should stumble upon this:

I have neglected this blog because I have been very busy. Work has come before fun and honestly when I have time for fun I rarely have time to blog about it. It's time for this to change. I miss interacting with the types of people who choose to follow blogs; they're good people. Those who take time to read blogs are not as fickle as Facebook users; they play an active role in the blogosphere and largely shape that landscape with their comments. 



No more radio silence on my end. As part my personal resolutions following my birthday I am going to post more frequently, daily perhaps. 



Expect more content. Hold me accountable. 

J. 

ps the direction of the blog is changing for the better.