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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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Copper Harbor Wants You in November

Do you know what Copper Harbor is like in November?

Chances are, you don’t.  Unless you live here.

How do I know that?  Because the locals recognize pretty much every person and vehicle that passes through or stops in.  Besides the 100-ish residents, a few fishermen and even less than a few hunters, this town becomes remarkably quiet and peaceful during this month.

That’s exactly why you should come.

When were you here last?  February to snowmobile?  August with the family?  September for the colors?

Those are busy months, my friend.  You may think you’re coming to the end of the earth to get away from it all, but you’re doing it just when everybody else is.

Pay attention now.  This is the local scoop.  These are the reasons you should come to Copper Harbor in November:

You Can See Everything

Once those leaves fall off the trees, you get views you never knew existed.  Lake Superior is visible from the trails on the north side of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.  You can see all the logging paths in the valleys right off of the Covered Stretch.  New rock formations suddenly become visible as you hike through the woods.

It’s like a whole new world!  Come and see it for yourself!

The Waves Get Massive

They don’t call ’em the gales of November for nothing!  As the temperatures change and pressure systems shift, Lake Superior can get rockin.’  You may have seen pictures or videos on the internet, but you haven’t seen or felt that power until you stood on the shore and watched it yourself.  That little pang of fear and awe always adds to the experience.

Here’s a video from a few years ago.  (Cheater note.  Yes, this video is from the spring, but spring and fall both stir the beast in her!)

Help Decorate the Park

For most of the month of November, Captain Donny and friends put up lights, trees and decorations in the park to prepare for lighting it up at Winter Wonderfest (mark your calendar for that on December 14th).  Wouldn’t you feel proud and honored if you could be there and say, “I decorated that tree!” or “I remember helping with those decorations!”

It’s a community effort, and anyone is welcome to help.

Here’s a video of what the fruits of your efforts can look like!

It’s You and the Locals

I know.  This can be a bit daunting.  Especially if you stop in to the General Store in the morning for a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich while the locals are having coffee talk.  Oh, boy.  You’ll learn things you never wanted to know about people!  And even if you don’t know the people, the stories can be pretty juicy.  For some reason, we just don’t hold back.

Maybe that’s why they say “we’re all here because we’re not all there!”

But you will also get more personal service.

Gilly at the Mariner with time for a trick!

Have you been to the Mariner North a dozen times in July?  Well, come visit in November, and you might get to know them a bit better.  Your server will have time to chat, and the owners might even be out enjoying a meal.  This is the time to come if you ever wanted to hobnob or get in with the crowd.

The Fishing is Good

Don’t tell anyone that I told you that.

The splake usually bite in the harbor once the big lake cools down.  I’ve seen plenty of boats trolling the harbor and solo or groups of people fishing right off the docks lately.  It’s a good time to try your luck!

But no promises.  I mean, that’s why they call it fishing and not catching.

You Can Truly “Get Away”

This picture was taken on Wednesday, October 30th.  Need I say more?

What a peaceful time to walk the streets of Copper Harbor and take in the solitude!

That doesn’t mean that there are no amenities, however.  You will get your needs met in the following ways for the month of November:

  • Gas Lite General Store – hot coffee, breakfast items, fishing licenses, groceries, snacks, clothing, all types of gear, a variety of adult beverages and, of course, the juicy local gossip.
  • The Mariner North – lunch and dinner daily with a full bar!  Cabins and motel rooms.
  • Copper Harbor Fuel Stop – open daily for fuel, snacks, local art, automotive items and fishing gear.
  • Minnetonka Resort and Thunderbird Gift Shop – warm motel rooms and a gift shop until the middle of November.
  • Brockway Inn Motel – cozy motel rooms open until the middle of November.
  • Spirit of the North Massage and Wellness – massage specials and energy work until November 25.
  • Brickside Brewery – local craft beer on the weekends.
  • The Post Office – buy stamps and get that package shipped 6 afternoons a week.  Access to local brochures and displays.

See?  You won’t be stranded!

You’ll be flexing your fortitude.  Yeah.  That’s it.  See you soon!

It is a little chilly up here, though.  Bundle up!

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Color Season Update #2

Ready to check out what’s turning?

Brockway Mountain

This hunk of a hill is all lit up.  I took pictures on Thursday, October 3 in the rain and fog, so the photos don’t do it justice.  As you gaze, remember: no sunlight and no filter on these pics.

West Bluff of Brockway looking south toward Lake Medora.  The mist takes the reds out of it.  It’s actually quite breathtaking!


From the west end looking southeast into that valley.  It’s a big change from last week!  


Somewhere in the middle looking south.  Those hues look so subdued here.  It’s actually stunning!  


At the Nose of Brockway looking east.  I got the token colored maple in there.  Otherwise, there’s not much happening on that end!

Any time from now until next weekend is going to be magical on top of the middle to the west end of Brockway Mountain drive and into the southern valley. Do you have your room booked yet?

The Covered Stretch

Here’s a treat for you!  I recorded this video on Thursday as well.  It was raining still, but I have never seen the leaves reflected in the fresh pavement quite like that before!  Enjoy the non-stop, vibrant colors with Mary LaPlant fiddling in the background!

Okay, so the whole stretch is fascinating.  You will oooh and ahhh around each corner.  My goodness, now is the time to get on that beautiful journey!  It should still be pretty nice for about a week.  Book that room!

Lake Manganese

I went up to Lake Manganese, but the sun cast shadows on most of the trees.  Blogger fail!  But let me tell you that they have put some serious time into changing!  Maybe around 50% color up there.  But the lake sure is peaceful as usual!

The Verdict

Get your buns up here!  No dilly dallying.  Anytime from now until next weekend should be spectacular.

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Winter Wonderfest 2018

This years annual Winter Wonderfest was fun for all! The Mariner North supplied a great venue all decorated for the season, local artists and crafters offered up great gifts for giving, children were thrilled with a visit from Santa and got to make their own ornaments, the bake sale featured deliciousness of all kinds and the pièce de résistance, lighting of the park and fireworks!
Thank you for the video Cherri Allen!

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Copper Harbor is 100% open and accessible!

Hey folks, all of the reasons you come to Copper Harbor are still here and fully functional. All hotels, restaurants and services are 100%. The Isle Royale Queen and bike trails are fully operational. We did NOT receive any damage due to flooding. All major highways are open with no impediments through affected areas to the south of us. We’ll leave the lights on for you

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14th Annual Chili Cookoff

Hey there Chili fans!!! This years Cookoff is coming up on the 24th!!! Best Chili, Cornbread and Wild Berry Pie categories are up for grabs again this year so make your best and get up here and enter!!! Live music in the Township Park, and the usual Shenanigans!!! Don’t forget we will again be awarding the Ladle of Shame to the “Most Culinary Challenged” COME GET YOUR CHILI ON!!!

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