Gale Warning Flags

The Soo set their gale warning flags for the St. Mary’s River, from Point Iroquois down to Drummond Island. We’ve got wind, we’ve got waves, we’ve got a lake boat hove to in the parking lot, but we don’t have any beach left. So, not a beach day, but we have a nice fire to keep us comfy and warm. Last night, thunderstorms swept out across the lake, serving as our electrifying substitute for the normal evening sunset display.

While the waves on the beach don’t look all that much higher than after a normal blow, they must be though, because the waves are reaching all of the way up to the beach grass. I got the kitchen porch stove going well enough that I could continue to feed it the wood from the downed birch branch. We were all huddled around the kitchen table, heads down into our various devices. It was toasty warm there, especially after I heated up a batch of tater-tots for snacking on.

With the ongoing gale, Anne convinced me that it was safe to walk the road and then into the swamp. We walked to the end of the beach, past the old lighthouse keeper’s place and then onto Cedar Point Row. We walked that road up to what would become 5 Mile. We headed west and found the Jim Finlayson Trail. We walked the short part that ran along a bluff. On the Winding Ridge end of the trail we ran into Mr. Bill, who accompanied us over to Birch Point Loop and then back to the cabin. It was a long walk and the kids were a little worried for us. We did see what could be bear footprints, but didn’t see any bears.

We re-watched the movie that Dan worked on, Blow the Man Down, which seemed somehow fitting considering the weather. With his running patter, it felt a little like inside Hollywood. I hooked up Rey’s wedding speaker to give the movie’s soundtrack a fighting chance. With pauses, the show ran an extra hour. It was fun, part Hollywood, part home movies. Afterwards, I asked him my big question, who was sleeping with whom? And… 

Working Vacation

How Much Wood Can a Woodchuck Chuck?

Yesterday, was a work day. In addition to the everyday cabin living household chores, we did a grocery run, followed by recycling and laundry. The main event though was the woodpile. Our man phoned to tell us that he would be by after two. We moved the cord of wood that was still on the woodpile, in order to place the new stuff underneath it. Our wood guy with practiced movement seemingly dropped off two cords of wood from the back of his pickup with ease. Then Anne and I began stacking the new wood. Dan and Britt returned from their escapades in time to help restack the old wood on top. Now we have three cords of firewood. More than enough to last us through this week’s cold snap.

The Finished Product

So, yesterday was a workday that makes today a play day. Right? Well, Mother Nature had other ideas. It is both cold and rainy out, but we are warm and snug inside. Moving from one fire to the next. Doesn’t look like it will be a drone flying day, because after the rain ends, the wind is supposed to begin. There is currently a marine warning stretching from Whitefish Point, pass the cabin, down the St. Mary’s River and emptying out into lakes Huron and Michigan. Basically, it looks like not a good day to be out on the water. Although, it doesn’t look that rough out the window now, on the marine app almost every boat about is hove to. We had two salty’s in the parking lot, the Federal Seto that has been there all night and the Federal Leda that had only just arrived before the pilot’s boat came out for a two-for-one special. Or so I thought, he jumped on the Leda and left the Seto there. Maybe I’m misreading the situation and the Seto’s captain has gotten lucky at the casino. Anyway, the rain passed and the wind began coming up. Looks like we are all set for a bit of a blow tonight.

It seemed too windy and wavy to walk the beach today. So, we walked the road instead. We went to the Birch Point range lights and walked out onto the point, to the front range light. It was very windy there. The Federal government may have an erosion problem on their hands. Along the way, we saw a deer and several kinds of fungi. The wind seems even stronger now that we’re back.

Blow the Man Down

Rainbow on the Horizon

We survived yesterday’s storm intact. Wind and waves couldn’t beat us back. Usually, rainbows appear after the storm has passed, but this time it preceded it. In the morning the weather wasn’t too rough, but as the afternoon wore on, the wind kept rising. It eventually reached such a fever pitch that the cabin seemed to shake. Certainly, not a good day to fly a drone. The center of the low was north of us, near Wawa and it radiated thin pinwheel spokes of squall lines that rotated around the low and kept sweeping over us all day long. We once headed out to walk the beach when the sun came out, but got caught by one of these squall lines and had to cut our walk short. Later, we ventured out again, but kept a weather eye out for the next one and were able to get back before it struck that time. Eventually, the pictured placid scene was transformed into a roiling sea. Waves crashed across the width of the beach. The little boat shown above was washed off of its rollers. So, not a very good beach day, but since we made it to the beach, still a beach day.

Winds Up!

NASA employee: Oh hey, you guys are back early.
Astronaut: Moon’s haunted
NASA employee: What?
Astronaut: (Loading pistol and getting back on the rocket-ship) Moon’s haunted
—Dustin Couch (As seen on Dan’s t-shirt.)

Below, is a short video clip that Dan and Britt have created. This is the first one that they’ve published. They had shot it the day before, when it was still calm. It then took them most of the day to figure out how to do the processing of the film using Adobe Premier. It shows a flyby of the 19th-century lighthouse keepers place, which is still standing down the beach. Today, they went to Raco, an old Cold war era military airfield nearby. They were practicing maneuvering the drone across the open tarmac.

Super Seiche

The Shipt order that I had first placed yesterday was finally available for pickup this morning. I had called them and the operator placed a bonus on the order, to help attract a shopper and also promised me a $15 discount for my trouble. Today, we got to Meijer’s and then back to the cabin again even before my window was supposed to begin. More importantly, we got back well before the rain set-in. It was an all-day rain and it soon turned colder too, so definitely not a beach day. We sat around surfing the web, until that got too old. Besides most of the news was way too depressing. The tweet of the day went something like this, “The RNC is really hard to listen to, because my mother is keeps dropping F-bombs constantly.” Anne turned to knitting and I busied myself in the kitchen. I baked Key Lime Pie bars, which also helped to warm-up the cabin a bit.

After I finished baking, I checked radar to see how much longer the rain was going to continue and was surprised to see that the portion of the St. Mary’s River that is just outside the cabin window was under a special marine warning box. Normally, these orange boxes indicate rough water and are for small craft warnings, but looking out the window I didn’t see any waves or much wind to speak of. Reading the details on the warning indicated that the water levels on the St Mary’s River upstream of the Soo Locks had been fluctuating up-and-down about two feet since noon. Water levels had first gone up and by the time that I became aware of all of this they were dropping again. Anne and I headed down to the beach and instead of big waves, we found a seiche. I’ve included photos of the extra-wide beach, which probably was not at its maximum extent.

We’ve had plenty of seiches in the past, but this is the first one that I am aware of that was accompanied by a marine warning. This warning was not issued for small craft, but for the big ore boats that ply these waters. Shipping was halted from going through the locks. It turns out that a seiche is a wave of sorts. It is a standing wave or a wave which oscillates in time, but whose amplitude does not move in space. This means that the water level can go up-and-down and still look calm, unlike with regular waves that come rolling in to crash on the beach. 


Storm Front from Last Year, But You Get the Idea

The weather was just awful. The mercury read 95 °F, but with the humidity it felt like 110 °F. I got up at dawn to mow the lawn. It hadn’t been touched in almost a month and was nearing jungle state. As soon as I was done, Anne and I walked. Come dinnertime, the storm arrived. I kept wondering if the new gas stove would continue to run, if it lost power. This wasn’t a problem with the old stove, but the new one is so high-tech who knows what would happen…

Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain,
And the waving wheat can sure smell sweet,
When the wind comes right behind the rain.

We only got about 50 MPH winds. The bowed squall line that hit Chicago head-on, extended from south of here in Saint Louis, all the way up to Milwaukee. We never lost power, but the block across the street did. There were lots of little branches down in the yard, but no big ones. Part of the reason that we lucked out was that we had asked the city to remove the Silver maple on the parking strip. It had lots of dead branches. They took it down while we were at the cabin.

I’m Just a Little Black Wall-Cloud, Pay No Attention to Me.

When we walked the next day, we saw a lot more debris. The storm sewers were roaring like I’ve never heard them before. The product of all that sewer work that we had to endure. Still, the damage wasn’t as bad as I had expected it to be.

One casualty though has been the area’s weather radar. Since the storm it has been down repeatedly. This morning, we went for another walk and it being cloudy out I checked the radar. Everything looked A-OK. Anne noted as we continued to walk that it appeared to be getting darker. I checked again and everything was still clear. Then we heard the first peal of thunder. This time when I checked the radar, I noticed that the reading was two-hours out-of-date. The radar was down again. We beat feet home, as the sky turned darker and the thunder more ominous, but made it to the house before the heavens opened up on us. By the time we made it home, we were only a wee bit fresh and not soaked like drowned cats. Now we’re under another flood warning. I bet the storm sewers are working overtime again.

Rest Day

The Ojibway in the Mist

Yesterday, the Weather channel announced that a derecho (pronounced “deh-REY-cho) was sweeping across the upper Midwest and headed straight towards us. Where do they come up with these new and frightening weather terms? I don’t know, but by late morning the thunderstorms rolled in. There was no violent weather here, but it did look like down state (the upper LP) got pasted. There was a brief moment of worry, when a siren briefly went off, but no idea why.

So, it rained here, which is just what the doctor ordered. We slept in a little and then once awake waited for the rain. It came and made for a noontime floor show. Much to do about nothing, but at least enough of a to do to excuse our doing nothing.

We walked the beach after lunch and saw an impressive amount of wildlife. Mainly birds, although there was this one Monarch and a Snowshoe. We saw a Bald Eagle being chased by gulls and a kingfisher swimming, who’s jittering is so similar to that of the red squirrels that I wonder if we’ve mistaken them for one of these before. There was a single sandpiper, a mother merganser, with her flock in tow and some Canada geese who had swum across to poop on our beach. I think that the storm had shook-up all of the wildlife and got them out for us to see.

Before we arrived here the news had been reporting that This year, the Great Lakes were at record high water levels and that the water temperatures were also near record high levels. However, the beach is surprisingly wide this year. Wider than last year and about the water temperature, all I can say is that I’m not feeling the heat.