Archive for November, 2008

Cabelas on a Cloudy Day in Wisconsin, photo by Kim Nixon

The quality of this photo is simply awful, taken through the dirtiest windshield my car has ever had on one of the grayest days in November. Mike and I traveledto Naval Station Great Lakes for his son’s graduation from Recruit Training this past week. Many times traveling thru Wisconsin I have past the Cabela’s superstore and this time we stopped to visit.

I was mighty impressed with the large aquarium displays of bass, crappie, trout and sturgeon. My favorite was a fish I had never seen before a Golden Trout which is in the same family as Rainbow Trout. I cared less for the taxidermy displays as I always find them morbid and sad. But the racks on the elk, and deer where amazing. I got the smallest piece of fudge and Mike purchased those yummy pecans and almonds that you find warm and delicious at craft shows. The whole superstore was full of the aroma–it could not be avoided.

I was looking for two essential items for winter survival. The idea is for me to get out more this year–brave the elements. I looked at the gators, gear that goes over your boots to keep the snow out, especially while snowshoeing. I ended up skipping that purchase as they wee pricey but I did get silk long underwear bottoms for nearly half price.

We departed the Upper Peninsula on Thursday last week in a snow squall and a predicted 12-18 inches. As we passed Escanaba we found no snow. The trip was cold and windy but snow-less until our return to the Upper Peninsula. Luckily someone moved a bit of snow and we could pull into the drive on our return. And the answer to have I used those silk long johns to get out and about–NO!

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Winter Beyond Window, photo copyright Kim Nixon

Winter is beyond my second floor studio window, but I do not have to go out into it until 2p.m. so for now I can edit and be warm.

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Mike and I are headed out on a road trip this Thursday and we will return on Saturday (late). How I wish this trip would take us to warmth and sun–but the weather is pointing to snow and cold. We are not going too far, destination Naval Station Great Lakes for Terry’s graduation from Navy Basic Training. This trip will take us out of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and down into Wisconsin and end in Waukegan, Illinois, approximately a 6.5 hour trip or 350 miles.

The task of readying the car will fall to me as I have the morning off today. I keep some of the usual items in my car, but I am not well-prepared. I do have a blanket, jumper cables, and an ice-scraper. But this is not enough to help me in an emergency. The American Red Cross suggests the following for winter readiness.

  • Battery-powered NOAA radio with extra batteries
  • Blanket and/or sleeping bags
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
  • Battery booster cables and flares
  • Tire repair kit (Fix-a-Flat) and pump
  • Compass, road map and knife
  • Heavy sack of sand or cat litter (for tire traction) and tow rope
  • Bottled water and non-perishable, high-energy foods such as peanut butter and granola bars
  • Extra clothing to keep dry
  • Windshield scraper and brush

(Source: American Red Cross).

I hope to return with many photos that can be posted here, showing winter travel, and snowy sites.

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For the Birds, photo copyright Kim Nixon

For more on today’s wintery experience visit The Dailies.

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Driving home last night mean curving round Teal Lake in the dark. The road was wet under the snow, I felt I was hydroplaning even though I was driving on snow pack with ruts. The day started with me leaving Marquette at 7:15 a.m. and heading to Aspen Ridge to substitute teach. Looking at the roof of my car, with snow taller than the palm of my hand, I felt that the highlands of Marquette County would be worse off. But as I drove, the opposite was true, they had not yet recieved the Lake Effect snows that hit the shoreline of Marquette.

It was after lunch hour that the snows started coming down. I was teaching in Mr. LeRoy’s room which has an arboretum type enclove that lets in wonderful natural light. I watched heavy lake effect come down, contrasted against two tall tropical plants.

3:12 I brused off my car, not too bad. And headed to job two, arriving at 3:30. Do to the nature of my job (privacy) all I can say is I was still in the highlands. Snow came down in balnkets, then sun would break through. You could see dark dark grey clouds in the distance that would blow in closer and then let loose. Then sun again.

9:00 p.m. what I fear, snow, hard, illuminated by headlights to the extent you wish you could drive with no lights, slowed my speed to 30mph. A big Jilberts Milk truck blew past me on the left and blinded me worse. My knuckles tight and white on the steering wheel. I dread getting to work in the dark, coming home in the dark. But driving home after such a long day, slow, on roads where the snowy ruts can divert you swiftly into a ditch or across the median into on coming traffic, not priceless. Eh?

I pulled in the driveway after 9:30p.m. my mood aggressive and gritty. I tried to go to sleep at 11:00 and found myself so wound up I could not sleep until 2a.m. There is another several inches on my car this morning.

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It was with deep regret that I realized yet another good excuse to NOT get out of the car and take photos when it is cold. I had no hunter’s orange to wear. No red. Sure the snow was coming down on a bit of an angle and the railroad tracks look to lead into the storm–great shot–no orange. Sure the lights of the mine illuminated the tiniest bit of a rock pile 2 miles away (8:25 a.m. on the way to work), but the sky wasn’t that dramatic–and I had no orange.

So I am warm and dry.

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Eben Ice Caves, photo copyright Kim Nixon

Eben Ice Caves, Janaury 2008.

More photos of the Eben Ice Caves can be found at the following links:

Directions to the Eben Ice Caves from Marquette can be found here.

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Flocking Birds, photo copyright Kim Nixon

Before the rains turned to snow a flock of 50-60 birds swooped from yard to yard, quickly, synchronized. You could hear them take flight. This shot was taken through our bay window that has screens with a Canon s5, zoomed. Photo captured November 8, 2008.

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You can hope that winter will hold off, because in the Upper Peninsula you know just how long winter can last. Friday, I found myself singing Christmas Carols while wandering Target. And it is easy to be excited at the first few snow flakes when you think of a White Christmas. But my yard is a mess as I still have summer flower pots out. The Dahlias never did get pulled from the ground. The snow shovel is worse for wear, cracked, and useless. So, I delayed the start of this journal, as I wanted a sure sign that winter had arrived.

Clear Signs of Winter’s Arrival

  • Snow on my neighbors’ roof two mornings in a row.
  • Windchill temps being reported (feels like 17).
  • School closings in the Upper Peninsula.
  • The dogs come quickly to the door and the little one shivers.
  • Mike caulks the windows.
  • I have to use the scrapper on my windshield.

I promised myself this morning I would put on my new Keen snow boots and Columbia Jacket and go for a walk. But here I sit with my bowl of Oatmeal under a heavy blanket at the keyboard. I am cheating. I should get out there and report on the scene. But eyewitness reporting is not attractive when it is grey and cloudy.

In fact, I purchased my new snow boots and coat to keep myself motivated and active during the winter months to avoid the usual winter weight gain. Maybe another cup of coffee will get me moving.

WLUCTV6 Weather Report:

  • Temp 28 Fahrenheit
  • Feels like 17 Fahrenheit
  • Wind NW 12 mph
  • Humidity 74%
  • Dewpoint 21
  • Sunrise 7:45 AM
  • Sunset 5:21 PM

“Expect lake effect snow showers and flurries across the western and eastern U.P., heaviest east of Marquette where several more inches will fall through Tuesday morning.” For more visit WLUCTV6.

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A Winter Journal, Notes from the Upper Peninsula will be a nature journal, a place to practice my craft, but more-so a place to cope with winter of which I am not fond. My hopes are to better my writing, photography and get through the season with less symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

Winter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, some may argue, is here today. But this journey will begin on November 15th, the opening day of deer season. This may change if we receive measurable snow beforehand. The path we take together will end sometime after Easter. We have a long winter here, and where I may do some travel, I think I will for the most part be enduring with the rest of the Yoopers (a term for Upper Peninsula inhabitants).

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