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Snowmobile Report

If you step out to shovel in the morning, you might hear a distant hum echoing through the ridges.  Ah, yes.  The snowmobilers are up and at ’em!

And not too long after that, you’ll watch them come into the town of Copper Harbor either from Trail 134 or fresh off of Brockway Mountain on Trail 3.

Whether it’s first thing in the morning because they slept in town or they’ve already put in half a day of riding north, they’ll find a restaurant and park their sleds in the neatest of rows.  You might have a couple guys go for the King of the Mountain spot on a snow bank, but for the most part, they have the best parking strategy of all the sports that visit here.

Perfect front row parking at the Mariner North!

This picture was taken Thursday, January 9th.  And when I walked by later that afternoon, I counted 25 sleds in the lot. They’re here!  All in neat little rows.

So, how are the trails?

“Best they’ve ever been!” said a crew who took the trails all the way up from Twin Lakes this week.  I got this report from Forrest at the Fuel Stop.

There goes the groomer now!  Quite the beast of a machine.  The groomers do nice work keeping the trails smooth for the riders.  Day and night!

“The newer machines have really much better shocks these days, too,” says Tammy.  She does massages at the Mariner in the winter.  She hears all about the latest in sled technology and how the trails are.  “People seem happy so far!” she confirmed.

The Pines Resort is doing their best to help winter lovers of all types stay the night on Saturday with live music each Saturday evening.  They also like to entertain with their sandwich board sign.  I found this one too irresistible not to capture.

So there you have it!

The trails are in great shape.  The groomers are out.  People are happy.  Live music on Saturdays.  The fuel is flowing at the pumps.  And the parking, well, it’s just impeccable.

See you in the snow!




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Women Who Pull-Start

If you drive down the main drag of Copper Harbor after a snow storm, you might see an unusual sight.

Women running snowblowers.

That’s right.

On the east end of town, you’ll watch Staci’s arc of snow flowing and swirling around the parking lot of the Gas Lite General Store.  Amanda aims her arc toward a future tunnel luge as the tailing powder poofs about while she clears the lot for the Brickside Brewery.  And as you witness those two in one scope, look down the hill toward the Laughing Loon, and you’ll probably see Miss Hannah whirring her machine in front of her family’s gift shop.

It’s charming.  It’s unusual.  And it’s, well, pretty inspiring!

At the west end, Margaret blows snow in front of her business at North One Gallery.  Not only does she work a snowblower and shovel with her silver hair shining under her hood, she often skis or snowshoes nearly a mile from her house just to get there!

Now THAT is inspiring!

Let’s learn a little bit more about what motivates these women to do the grunt work on their property.

To Blow?`

“It’s necessary,” says Hannah from the Laughing Loon.  “I could hire somebody to plow, but I can do it myself.”

Hannah purchased her snowblower last spring.  When I asked her if she feels less daunted when she has to clear the lot with a snowblower instead of a scoop, she said, “Oh, yeah.  It’s definitely necessary.  I think we had a lull in snow for a few years, but we’re getting more snow now!”

Watching Hannah clear snow is pretty spectacular.  She moves it so meticulously.  She even shovels the steps with a precision that is unrivaled.  I can’t find a flake on the steps after she is through with them!

“I feel really capable,” says Staci at the Gas Lite when asked about how she feels being the female snow mover at her place of business.  “It feels really good to know that I can take care of this myself.  I like that independence.”

Here’s a shot of Staci hard at work.

If you look really close, you can see her apron hanging around the front of her hips.

“I get my soup going, and then I try to clear the lot before anybody comes!” we laugh at her ability to mesh Susie Homemaker and Joe Blow in a matter of minutes.  What a woman!

Amanda clears for the Brickside Brewery and Copper Harbor Vitality.  “When Jeff owned the General Store, he pretty much plowed out half the town, and this property was included.  Now it’s my turn, as the landlord.” she states.  “Good thing I have my she-beast to move all the snow!  I take good care of her,” she winks.

People have heard Amanda singing OVER the motor of her snowblower.  As the lead singer for Powers of Air, Copper Harbor’s classic rock band, perhaps that’s not too surprising…

…Or Not to Blow?

“We’re considering getting a plow,” says Hannah.  “When it comes to the heavy wet stuff, there’s no way to move it with the blower, and I have to move all that by hand.”

Nobody likes to do that.

Amanda’s commented that herself, “Man, if I just had a plow… this would be way quicker and easier.”

As for Staci, well, we’ll let this picture speak for itself!

I think that smile says it all.  “I just need some lessons!” she grinned.

Either Way, Show Some Respect!

Whether you are a man or a woman, moving snow in the Keweenaw is a constant chore.  With a shovel, a scoop, a snowblower or a plow, you can be out there for hours.  Hours!  There goes your day!  And guess what you get to do tomorrow.

Yup, move some more.

So when you visit the Keweenaw, make sure to treat your hosts with respect.  They might have gotten up extra early to make sure you could park your car and be able to back it out with ease.

And, please note that the Keweenaw County Road Commission does a remarkable job keeping the main roads clear everyday.  If they are not moving fresh snow, they are trimming banks.  If you ever thought you won’t make it to Copper Harbor in the winter, think again.  The roads to the Harbor are clear (unless it’s a winter storm blizzard with a first name… then don’t go anywhere!).

There you have it.

Here’s to a joyous new year!


This blog is written by resident author Amanda Wais




Posted in: Local News, Uncategorized, Winter

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How to Light the Park

If you walk into the Copper Harbor Visitor Center today, it would look nothing like it did during the summertime.  Whether you stop in to seek information or to mail a package, you just might forget why you came at all once you feast your eyes on…

the explosion.

Don’t worry, the building didn’t blow up.  Nobody has been harmed.

But all the Christmas lights that were rolled up and stuffed into boxes last spring have now sprung all over the entire post office/Welcome Center.

I will spare you the Full Nelson view of the room and just give you an idea of the chaos — I mean — progress with a couple pretend artistic shots.

Fake tree.  Real lights.  You know that wall!

 

Bulbs line the entire walkway.

 

Now, I wasn’t kidding when I said that this is progress.  Two weeks from now most of these bulbs will be bursting with life out in the park.  After all, that is their final destination.

Who does all this?  Is there a Copper Harbor Christmas light committee?  Do Santa’s elves fly down to drink eggnog and decorate the northern most town in Michigan?

No and no.

We have to give this guy credit: Donny Kilpela Jr.

A few years ago Don decided to put up lights in the park to spruce it up a bit.  I mean, it’s so dark this time of year.  He started getting donations and doing it mostly himself.  People would come by to help here and there, and each year his main helpers are different.

Here’s Donny dictating the next move.

 

After a few years, he started using the community building to decorate the trees indoors where it’s warm and (when I stopped by today) Siberian orchestra music played energetically from an iPad.

It looks a little chaotic in there, I know.  But that’s where the magic happens!

He even dimmed the lights and turned on one of his favorite trees, so you could have a sneak peek.

Kind of looks like the grand finale at the Copper Harbor fireworks show, doesn’t it?

 

Don articulated how he was going to get this tree through the door.  So don’t you worry.  He already knows where it’s going to go.

He also mentioned that you can be a part of this project!

What are you doing next Saturday, December 7th?  Decorating trees at the Copper Harbor Community Building?  Sweet!  Come on by any time from 3-6pm.  One of our lovely local ladies is making her famous chili.  Don says you can dress for inside jobs or outside jobs.  Whatever you prefer, he’ll have plenty of jobs for you!

And if you can’t make it in a week, make it here in two weeks.  That’s the countdown to the big moment where all this hard work gets showcased: the lighting in the park!

It’s always worth it.

The big lighting happens during Winter Wonderfest on December 14th at 6pm sharp.

Tis the season.  Let’s get jolly!


*This blog is written by resident author and writer, Amanda Wais




Posted in: Events, Winter

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Winter

Yoopers of the Keweenaw are looking around at all this snow and saying, “What the heck?  It’s only November!”

Of course, many people in the Midwest are saying the same thing.  “It’s only November!  What’s with all this snow… every single day for the last two weeks?”

The Keweenaw County Snowfall Report tells us that we’ve gotten 27 inches of snowfall since October, 2019.  Approximately 9 inches have settled on the ground.  In the harbor, it’s shaken out and condensed to a bit less than that, depending what bush you’re standing in.

Want to know the funny part?  We had 27 inches fall by this time last year too!  How did we all forget that?  I don’t know.

Some people refuse to shovel because it might start to melt next week, if the weather report is correct.

Regardless of what might happen, the Keweenaw Country Road Commission has already been keeping the roads safe.  One of their plows makes it all the way up to Copper Harbor before 7am every single morning that it snows.

There you have it.

We are not stranded here in the winter (except maybe an occasional day in the thick of it).  The county plows know we’re here, and we are part of their routine.  Thank you Keweenaw County Road Commission!

As for the 100 or so local residents who are still here for the winter, well, we are still here.

For the most part.

Many locals travel this time of year.  To someplace warm, to see family, to take care of business in their hometown city — wherever.  Just to somewhere because, as you know, there isn’t a whole lot going on.

People who live up here are often talented with hobbies and side hustles just for this reason… and this season.  Yes, there’s enough to live and entertain yourself if you are creative and low-maintenance, but don’t expect a ton of external stimulation.

Unless you like to watch the morning light illuminate the horizon.

Or hear the wind in the trees.

Or look at driftwood ice sculptures.

Or shovel.

Here you go.  Here’s a shovel.  Get to work.  It hasn’t melted yet!




Posted in: Lake Superior, Winter

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Winter Wonderfest & Park Lighting 2018

This years Winter Wonderfest will be held on Saturday, December 15th from 10 am to 6 pm.

A Holiday Marketplace featuring local artists work (great for gifts) and a scrumptious bake sale. (10 am to 6 pm)
At 4:00 there will be ornament making for kids and a visit from Santa!
6:00 will kick off the Tree Lighting in the Town Park for the season. (Across the street from the Mariner North)
All proceeds go to “No Child Without a Christmas Fund” Come join the fun! Get some Christmas presents and support a great cause!

**If you’re interesting in being a vendor, download form here

 




Posted in: Activities, Events, Winter

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Winter Wonderfest

A Holiday Marketplace featuring local artists work (great for gifts) and a scrumptious bake sale. After 4:00 there will be ornament making for kids and a visit from Santa! 6:00 will kick off the Tree Lighting in the Town Park for the season. All proceeds go to “No Child without a Christmas fund” Come join the fun! Get some Christmas presents and support a great cause!

Here’s some footage from last year….




Posted in: Events, Winter

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