Rambling travelogs from a world traveler

Thursday, December 6, 2012


     "The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation  between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its  fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."  ~ Sir William Francis Butler

Gentle Readers and Loved Ones, 

This blog has - for the most part - been a place where I write about the things I see while doing my job.  I try for a lighthearted and flippant attitude, occasionally succeeding.  Last week, Ann and I traveled to Colorado Springs to attend my 35th year Air Force Academy Reunion.  We did some things that have a have a 'Gaddaboutish' nature to them and I may well write about them in a few days.  But this reunion was different and I want to share it with you.

Normally, reunions - especially military academy reunions where the vast majority of us have completed our military careers and either started new ones or are retired - are friendly and nostalgic affairs.  This one was different. We usually have limited contact with the individual cadets, but this time we got to spend time with them and I really enjoyed it.

The USAFA Cadet Wing is divided into four Groups and each Group into ten Cadet Squadrons.  A cadet spends the fourth class year in one squadron and then is moved into another squadron for the three remaining upper class years.  I suppose in many ways a squadron is like a fraternity or sorority - but it is also very different. You grow close to your fellows in the squadron in the long years that the institution molds and changes you.  I spent my upper class years in CS-25 Redeyes and remain close to many of my classmates. 

Saturday mornings at USAFA are often reserved for the cadets to receive military training.  This can be anything thing from briefings to inspections and testing.  This time CS-25 invited us to come visit with the cadets in the squadron area and then they took us to lunch – the idea being for us to share some of the ‘experience and wisdom’ we supposedly have gained from surviving to the point where we are able to attend a 35 year reunion.  It was my privilege to talk with the youngsters who will start pilot training next year.  They were full of questions and I tried to answer them.  But I found myself often asking questions of them in return.  The Institution has changed in detail but I think not in the main from the academy I graduated from.  I was warmed and impressed with the intelligence, enthusiasm and good sense of the young people I met.  It was about the best time I’ve had over a meal in a long time. 

I’ve saved what I think is the best for last here.  I had two long term roommates at the ‘Zoo’.  I choose not to post names on the blog anymore because of its’ public and ‘googleable’ nature.  Those who know me know who my roomies were.  They are impressive, intelligent and accomplished individuals and it is my privilege to be their friend.

The daughter of one is a 'Firsty' and will graduate next summer.  She hopes to go to pilot training and was one of the cadets I spent the most time with. She is intelligent and my observation was that she is a leader in the squadron and comfortable with accepting the responsibility of command. 

The mission of the Air Force Academy is to produce young officers who know how to be followers when obedience is required and know how to lead when leadership is required.  Even more importantly, they have the foundation of education and training to accept increasing responsibility in the defense of our nation as they progress through life. While this concept does not apply so well in my humble case, this weekend I think I saw a generation of young people that have taken this ethos to heart and immersed themselves in it.   

Gentle Readers, I think you should be very proud of the young folks I saw.

On that note, I remain,

Dad / Geoff

 "However much you may wish for peace, never forget military skill if
you do not wish to suffer the same fate as the Byzantine Monarchy."Peter The Great

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Autumn at Wisconsin Cabin

Gentle Readers and Loved Ones,

Just a short note to share some pictures.  Ann and I went up to the cabin last weekend and just goofed off.  We took some pictures to share.  I'm not going to tell a story.  Just enjoy the pictures.

Nelson's Landing St Croix River

Cabin Beach Sunset

Cabin in the Trees

Living Room Windows

Living Room

Velvet Sunset Fetch

Velvet Sunset Shake

On that note, I remain,

Dad / Geoff

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Favorite Scenery

     That's why the Good Lord made your eyes
     Let no one's work evade your eyes
     So plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize.
     ...(But always call it research). ~  Tom Lehrer

Gentle Readers and Loved Ones All,

No, this is not me jumping on the bandwagon to make fun of Joe Biden.  A friend just sent me a nice link to a Wall Street Journal article.  It's a wonderful description of things you can see from airplanes.  I highly recommend you read it!

Click This to read it.

On that note, I remain,

Dad / Geoff

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yesterday's Solar Transit of Venus

 "It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers." ~ James Thurber

Gentle Readers and Loved Ones,

As I've said before, I like amateur astronomy.  Yesterday's solar transit of Venus gave me an opportunity to exercise my inner geek. My 8" Orion Dobsonian Reflector has sat gathering dust for years now.  Yesterday, we resurrected it.  Katie helped me dust it off, clean the primary mirror and wipe the cobwebs out of the tube. Then we took it outside and started testing the solar projection method to view the transit.


Gentle readers, I am about to describe a process that is a very safe way to observe the sun.  However, if you don't know what you are doing, you can permanently blind yourself.  If you look at the sun through a pair of binoculars or a telescope directly, it will burn through your eye, out the back of your head and kill your neighbors.  Don't do this.

My telescope is a Newtonian reflecting telescope. It has an 8" diameter mirror at the base of the tube.  The surface of the mirror has been precisely ground to focus the light it collects into an image. There is a point in the tube where all that light is focused down into a point.  If you think a little magnifying glass will start a fire, you ain't seen nothing like an 8" disk focusing the sun. However, you can safely point the scope at the sun and hold a screen a good distance away from the eyepiece and it will project an easily viewed image that you can see even in bright sunlight.  In fact, I quickly learned I needed to go get my sunglasses to cut down on the dazzle. I checked frequently and the scope never got much more than warm.  The secondary mirror was the warmest part.

We started setting up about an hour before the transit started.  Our slashed together viewing screen using a cardboard box and some paper was a dismal failure as you can see here.

Then I remembered that I have a 30 year old movie projector screen rusting away out in the garage.  So I got it out and it worked great for people to look at visually.  However, I discovered the weave of the screen really makes for bad photos.  You'll just have to trust me that it looked really good in the bright sunlight to people.  I got it setup just in time to capture the beginning of the transit.  The little cut out at left center is Venus just moving in front of the sun.

This picture above is a close up of the first picture in this post. 

It was about this time that neighbors started noticing what I was doing and came over and asked to see.  This would continue until sundown. After about 20 minutes, Venus moved fully into view and we saw this.  Note the sunspots at the right edge of this picture. There are six of them.

Here is a closeup.  I'd love to tell you that the colors around Venus are an artifact of the sun shining through Venus' atmosphere but it really is just that my telescope mirror is old, oxidized and not collimated correctly.

The transit progressed and Venus moved across the sun.  I took some more pictures.

In this next picture, some clouds moved in front of the sun.

Once the sun moved behind the trees on the west side of the house, I had to move the scope out near the street.  By this time, we had called friends and family and we had a fun group watching the screen.  It is my sad fault that I did not think to get any pictures of the group.  We even had various joggers and dog walkers stop to look.

This is a closeup of the above shot.  Note the sunspots.

As the sun sank lower, the scope began pointing at the airplanes taking off and landing at MSP International.  Twice the crowd oooohed as a jet went directly in front of the sun and for a fleeting moment you could see it silhouetted.  None of use were quick enough or lucky enough to get a picture.

Later, just before sunset, the sun's image began to take on a sunset glow and Katie got this nice picture.  Soon after, the sun sank below the clouds you see and we were done for the night.

Prepare yourself for this next picture.  Katie says I look like a High School Science Fair geek posing uncomfortably for his parents.

On that happy note, I remain,

Dad / Geoff

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Northern Lights

 "I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look into the heaven and say there is no God."  ~  Abraham Lincoln

Gentle Readers and Loved Ones,

Back in January and Feb, I wrote about our sledding trip up into Yooper land here and here

I just found this photo of star trails and the Northern Lights taken near us at the same time we up there.

I found the photo here.  It is a 17 minute long timed exposure taken in  9°F clear, calm conditions on the shore of Lake Superior near Marquette, Michigan on Feb 18 2012 by astrophotographer Shawn Malone.  Click that link to read more.

There are more here.
On that note, I remain,

Dad / Geoff

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Singapore Architecture for Katester

A man of eighty has outlived probably three new schools of painting, 
two of architecture and poetry and a hundred in dress.   ~  Lord Byron

Gentle Readers and Loved Ones,  

I recently had a very short layover in Singapore.  As we crossed over they bay on into downtown, I saw this scene.  (Poorly captured with my phone camera, sorry)

Singapore has really different and attractive skyline and I immediately thought of my daughter.  She's about halfway through getting her degree in architecture from Iowa State University and I don't think I've bragged on her nearly enough.  She is dyslexic and has to work much harder than most do.  I couldn't be prouder of her.

But back to the travelog. I think Katester will find this fun. On the right side is downtown Singapore proper.  In roughly the center are two different structures, superimposed on each other.  Both are very fascinating.  

In the foreground is the Singapore Flyer - Wikipedia calls it the tallest Ferris Wheel in the world.  It stands 541' tall.  I found this photo on the net that shows the view from the opposite direction.  The bridge you see looking through the wheel is exactly where I was in the limo as I stuck the camera out the window.

 This picture above must be taken from the Singapore SkyPark, the structure you vaguely see through the wheel in the original picture.

This complex dominates the skyline of Singapore.  I think it may be the coolest building I've ever seen. 

There are more pictures at this siteHere too.

Gentle Reader, I'd love to tell you that I hit the hotel, changed clothes and went out to explore Singapore.  I didn't.  I was tired and went to bed and slept until I got alerted to leave again.  Maybe one day....

On that note, I remain,

Dad / Geoff

Japanese Earthquake "Audification"

"We don't know one millionth of one percent about anything.  ~  Thomas A. Edison

Gentle Readers and Loved Ones All,

I've talked about the Japanese Super Quake here before.  I wasn't there and I'm glad I wasn't, but I could have been.  This video is making the rounds and I find it fascinating.  It takes the vibrations from a seismometer 'near' the hotel where we stay and speeds them up to a frequency we can hear.  

There is more and a better explanation at this link.   Please click it and give it a read.  

Dad / Geoff

Monday, February 27, 2012


Rikki Tikki Tavi

At the hole where he went in
Red-Eye called to Wrinkle-Skin.
Hear what little Red-Eye saith:
'Nag, come up and dance with death!'
Eye to eye and head to head,
(Keep the measure, Nag.)
This shall end when one is dead:
(At thy pleasure, Nag.)
Turn for turn and twist for twist
(Run and hide thee, Nag.)
Hah ! The hooded Deah has missed !
(Woe betide thee, Nag.) 

~ Rudyard Kipling

Gentle Readers and Loved Ones All,

Palau Penang is one of our nicest layovers.  It’s an island in Malaysia and the hotel sits directly on beach on the island’s northern shore.  It’s a lovely hotel with all the palm trees, swimming pools and other distractions one expects at a high end flesh pot establishment. Alerted to leave to fly back to Tokyo, I left the room in uniform, leather jacket draped over the handle of my PurdyNeat Roller Bag because it was much too warm to wear.  Down the lift, I turned the corner to enter the wonderful breezeway lobby that opens onto the pool and the beach.  I was mentally reviewing my ‘incidental expenses’ as I turned towards the checkout desk and…..


In the tiled and beautifully decorated lobby there was large crowd of hotel guests clearing an open ring in the middle of the tiled floor.  On the floor, crawling towards a particularly cute, blued eyed, blond haired eight year old Australian lass was a large cobra, hood expanded.  We are not talking about your ho-hum run of the mill lobby cobra here.  This was a Harry Potterian nightmare Nagini of a Basilisk of a cobra complete with flicking tongue.   It filled the room and commanded the totality of my attention.

Nature has fitted us with an involuntary ‘fight or flight’ response to the perception of danger.  In much less time that it will take my meager skills to relate, my reptilian hind-brain ran through the menu of possible responses.  Since I was not in possession of a large bore shotgun; nor even a large bladed weapon, preferable a long handled, sharpened, garden hoe; nor even a mere bludgeon; the check-mark went next to the ‘flight’ option.  As various sphincter muscles began to loosen in my nether regions, I turned to effect my escape. 

Gentle Reader, I am trained in how to respond to airborne emergencies.  Worse, once upon a time, I was responsible for training young budding airmen in those same skills.  It causes me great embarrassment to tell you that those skills totally abandoned me in my initial response to this situation.  I gave no thought to rescuing the young lady.

In any case, as I turned to run like a screaming moron, my upper level brain functions began to return.  I reflected that no one in the crowd of people looking at the snake bearing down on the young lady seemed to be displaying concern.  Further, there was a fellow reaching out with studied and casual abandon to grab the snake by the tail. 

I halted my flight and turned back to look.  Yup.  A Malaysian fellow had the now somewhat diminished appearing cobra by the tail and was pulling it back.  My heart still pounding, I watched as the fellow established the total attention of the snake. As I stood dumbfounded the fellow slowly reached out and smooched the serpent on the lips.  The crowd applauded.

As I regained control of the involuntary functions of my body, it struck me that I was watching a hotel sponsored snake show.  Looking around, there was another fellow behind the snake charmer charged with guarding the basket that contained the Boa Constrictor.  As the show proceeded, the young blonde previously mentioned was recruited to come up to stage center.  The snake charmer draped the ‘Bone Constrictor’ - as my daughter used to call them in her youth – around her slender shoulders to the delight of the crowd. 

This was the climax of the show, the tip jar was circulated and the crowd broke up. I paid my bill and checked out.

Since then I have found this video.  It appears to be same fellow.  Those of you bothered by snakes may wish to avoid viewing this video.

I also discovered that I took these photos.

The quality of the photography reflects my mental state.

On that note, I remain,

Dad / Geoff

* Gentle readers who know me well - such as my beloved wife - will know that my exclamation was much more scatological and deifically anathematic.  Please allow me my fiction. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Yoopers Yet Again

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings,
in the rooms of her ice-water mansion.
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams;
the islands and bays are for sportsmen.  

Gordon Lightfoot, 

Gentle Readers and Loved Ones,

This week, Ann, Jaybo and I returned to the UP on another Yooper snowmobile trip.

Like the glaciers 10,000 years ago, the snow is receding from our frozen tundra. The days get longer, the sun gets higher and the thin snow is either melting or gone.  Drought conditions remain and if you want to ride your sled, "ya gotta go where da snow is". So like thousands of other sledders, we loaded up the truck, trailered up the the sleds and returned to the Keweenaw Peninsula.  Like Jack Kerouac On the Road, we left with no specific destination in mind.

We drove until it looked like the snow was good enough to ride.  We found that happy condition just inside the Michigan state line in Ironwood, MI, just after dark.  Finding an AmericInn that let Velvet stay and directly connecting to the snowmobile trail just behind it was a happy thing.  The 'free' breakfast was a bonus. 

After breakfast, Jaybo and I rode east through Bessemer and Wakefield to the Lake Gogebic Lodge, the designated rendezvous point with Ann, Velvet and the truck.  Ann beat us there and had a good time throwing a tennis ball out on the frozen lake for Velvet to exercise.  We had a nice lunch and asked the friendly wait-staff about snow conditions and "The Lake Gogebic Radar Run" posters on the wall.  The run is held on the lake just offshore from the lodge.  This year's winner set a respectable 118.7 mph pace on the 1000' plowed ice track on the surface of the lake.

After lunch we decided the next join up point would be Agate Falls.  We ran across Lake Gogebic and east on the straightest snowmobile trail in the world.  It is a retired railroad grade and runs straight as the cliched arrow for about 20 miles to the southeast.  This took us out of the snow band and the trails were getting worn, spotty and in some stretches snow free.  

Ann was waiting at Agate Falls.  The old railroad trestle bridge is now a snowmobile / bike bridge and is almost directly over the falls.  Very pretty view.  We parked the sleds and walked down the snow covered board walk to the overlook where we took these lousy pictures with our phones.

While researching Agate Falls, I learned that it is the FoxUP TV station WLUC's  "Seventh Wonder of the UP".  Intrigued at the notion of Seven Yooper Wonders, I searched more deeply.  The original article appears to have scrolled off of the intertubes - I found no complete canonical list of wonders....but on our last trip it appears we visited one of the others:  The Lake of the Clouds.  Later in this post I will tell you about another.

We continued east from Agate Falls hoping to find gas in Sidnaw.  Alas - no gas.  So we trailered up the sleds again and took off for the Twin Cities of Houghton and Hancock - a really pretty community with the Portage Lake Lift Bridge as the center piece.

Keweenaw Peninsula is very interesting geological feature.  It is cut in two by the Keweenaw Waterway.  Hancock - where we stayed - sits on the south shore of Copper Island while directly across the waterway is Houghton. We found the Bridgeview Cabins to stay in.  They are not fraudulently named...this was our view.

If you click the cabin link you see the main snowmobile trail right below our deck.  You could go anywhere on the island on that trail - and we did.

The next day Jaybo and took off to rendezvous with Ann and Velvet at Copper Harbor.  

We stopped at an intersection to let the groomer go by.  Groomers have the right of way....and they are big too.

The last 5 miles of this run was special. The trail runs right down the spine of Brockway Mountain - another Yooper Wonder.  The mountain is a hard ridge of volcanic rock that runs down the northern edge of Copper Island.  The geological link just above my bridge picture explains this.  Brockway Mountain Drive is a seasonal road that runs the ridge. This representation is from Google Earth.  You are looking west.

Google does not do the overlook justice.  The drop off is an imposing cliff.  Running off it on the ice and snow would be final.  Here is a picture of Jaybo from that overlook in the same direction.

Just past this overlook, the ridge road runs downhill to a hard hair pin turn that overlooks Copper Harbor.

We met Ann and Velvet in Copper Harbor and had a late lunch. 

I took Velvet out for exercise while Ann and Jaybo ran the sleds back up to the overlook so she could see the Ridge Road.  Then it was time for a return trip.  

We agreed to meet in Eagle Harbor to see the Eagle Harbor Light.  It was another nice place to give Velvet a walk.

Then we warmed up at the Eagle Harbor Inn.  The sun set during the ride home and we cruised along the trails lit by our headlights for the 30 mile run back to Hancock.

On that note, I remain,

Dad / Geoff

Monday, January 30, 2012


  "Old boys have their playthings, as well as young ones, the difference is only the price."  
~ Benjamin Franklin

Gentle Reader and Love Ones,

            As I’ve mentioned before, in Minnesota in winter, if you don’t get out you will go bat-hanging crazy. Droughts make this worse – there is no snow. Generally one thinks of drought as involving a lack of rain – not so here in the frozen north-land.  Now… most normal people who have a real life consider this a good thing.  Lack of snow means generally safer driving, less shoveling, lower road maintenance costs and other such benefits.
            I understand this mindset and in a small way agree with it.  But in a larger sense, I don’t agree at all.  Snow is what makes winter fun. (Yes, I know.  Those of you who know my old southron self are chuckling. One adapts to one’s situation….) No snow results in living in a bleak, wind-blown tundra. Snow can be slidden upon in multitudinous ways.
            I have been looking forward to firing up the sleds and going riding for months.  As the dreary December rolled over into an even bleaker January, something had to be done.  So, we decided to drive up to Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Yoopers always get good lake effect snow.
            Further, they’ve built a winter economy around the phenomena.  They have lots of active snowmobile clubs and they groom their numerous trails frequently.  Copious bars and restaurants that cater to sledders line the trails.
            So after a moderately detailed internet search Jaybo, Ann and I settled on the West Shore Resort on the western shore of Lake Gogebic, slapped plastic to hold a cabin and took off.
            First we had to drive up to the cabin in Wisconsin and load the sleds on the trailer.  We decided to take Velvet along.  She loved every second of being in the back seat of the truck with us – shedding dog hair continuously and barking happily.
            Lake Gogebic appears to be a natural lake.  It is the largest lake in the UP, running north south and is maybe 1-2 miles wide and almost 15 miles long.  Frozen completely over, the ice was roughly a foot thick.  We had no concerns about riding or walking out on the ice.  In fact, many people drive their trucks out to their ice house to fish.

            Once we arrived at the cabin, we unloaded, set up the room, made sure Ann was comfortable with a good book then Jaybo and I took off to ride around the lake.  There was well groomed trail system ringing the lake and we mostly rode on it.  We did cruise for more than few miles on the lake itself.  Because the UP was the only place in the Midwest with snow there were riders everywhere.
            When we got to the eastern shore Mother Nature familiarized us with yet another northern concept – Ice Fog.  The wind was generally blowing from the west.  Snowmobiles throw up a rooster tail of ice and snow particles.  Usually these dissipate but we discovered that these rooster tails seeded a low hanging fog that was blowing up against the eastern shore.  We lost track of each other in the fog and had some problem finding each other.  Once rendezvoused, we decided to slow down and get off the lake at the first opportunity.
           We found the trail on the eastern side.  Where the trail forked west, we encountered a sad tableau.  A group of four sledders – two married couples - were clustered around a stricken sled.  They had stopped to look at the map and during start broke the start rope.  Jaybo saved the day.


He grabbed the spare starter rope out of our sparse tool kit and wrapped it around the drive clutch of and started it up.  We felt all proud and civic minded and helpful as we drove the last 10 miles back to the cabin. 
            One of the things one simply has to do while sledding is to visit the bars servicing the trails.  After a little research we went down the road to the Gogebic Lodge.  There we discovered Keeweenaw Widow Maker Black Ale.  Good stuff.
            The next morning the plan was for Jaybo and I to ride up through Bergland and further north to Lake Superior and the Porcupine Mountain area.  When Ann was a kid she used to ski there and it looked like a trail went up to the Lake of the Clouds overlook.   Ann and Velvet would follow us up and I would trade with her after lunch so she could ride.
             So we layered up and started up.   

An expensive day-long tragi-farce ensued.  Snowmobiles do not have a key.  They have a lanyard with a encoded plug that the sled recognizes.  Wrong code, the sled will not start.  You clip the lanyard to your person so that if you fall off, the lanyard pulls the plug and the engine shuts down.  Unnoticed, the plug had somehow gotten crushed out of shape – probably stepped on - since the previous ride and was not making a good contact with the sled.  It would start but all the electronic indications were bad and the sled ran very badly and backfired. 
            This resulted in a scene I’m sure was hilarious were I not personally involved in it.  Strong language and a haphazard trouble-shooting ‘process’ resulted finally in discovering the out of round bent plug.  Luckily, we had a spare.  Spare in place, the sled ran like a top.
            We hadn’t gone 3 miles when disaster truly struck.  Cruising north on Lake Gogebic Jaybo’s sled just stopped.  This is not good.  We took off the engine panel and discovered that the engine was jammed and would not turn over by hand.  This is really not good.  So we towed the stricken sled back to cabin and loaded it by hand onto the trailer to haul it up to Timberline Sports. 
            That’s when we broke off the plug that connects the trailer’s brake lights and turn signals to the truck.
            We forlornly hoped the dealer would tell us the lanyard was the problem.  It wasn’t and the fix would take days and cost a lot.  Crushed and angry, we bought a replacement trailer plug and turned to leave the shop.
            Then I noticed that the dealer’s wall advertised rental sleds.  I asked some questions and the nice dealer said he would pro-rate the rental to an hourly rate as long as we had the sled back by 8pm.  So we drove back down to the cabin, disconnected the trailer and collected our riding gear.  Jaybo drove the remaining sled back up to the dealer while Ann and I returned in the truck.  
            We rented a nice little 4 stroke Ski Doo sled that was a lot of fun.     


Setting a rendezvous point at the Superior Pub on the shores of Lake Superior, Ann took off with Velvet in the truck while Jaybo and I took off up Snowmobile Route 1 to meet her.  It was roughly a 35 mile ride up.  The first half was just gorgeous – the trails well groomed and thick with snow.  When we came over the rise and looked down the 15 miles to Lake Superior it was a wonderful vista.

            Then we hit the moguls.  I have since researched what causes snowmobile moguls.  Evidently when lots of sleds repeatedly hit a low spot the track digs in and throws snow back.  Repeat this over time and you get a non-periodic sinusoid that can be feet deep. The only way to fix this is with expensive groomers and the club that was responsible for the route had fallen on hard times.  The last 10-15 miles up to Lake Superior was bone jarring and miserable.
            Lake Superior is fascinating in winter.  Only in the most extremely cold winters does it ever freeze over.  Which is not the same thing as saying it doesn’t have ice.  The shores are lined with drift ice, piled ice and ice balls.  These make the shore line an interesting and dangerous place to walk.  Ann got up to the lake before we did and took Velvet out to explore the edges and collect driftwood.   We met her out next to the lake and took some nice photos.

            Then we went into the Superior Pub and had a nice lunch. 

            After lunch, Ann put on her snowmobile outfit and Velvet and I followed along the shore in the truck headed up towards Lake of the Clouds overlook.  The last 7 miles of the run are closed to autos - snowmobile only.  So while Jaybo and Ann ran up to the overlook Velvet and I had a nice walk in the snow around the closed Porcupine Mountain Ski Area.
            Ann and Jaybo came back down with a glowing review and that I had to go up.  So I swapped with Ann and she walked the dog.  Lake of the Clouds is a natural lake between two very high, steep cliffs.  It is beautiful in the summer and quite lovely in the winter.  The trail up is really the two lane asphalt road that cars drive in the summer.  It is a very nice snowmobile run.

            At this point, it was about an hour to sunset and I really didn’t want to pay rental fees for riding after dark.  So we set off back to Bergland to return the rental.  I was not really looking forward to the moguls.  I was very pleasantly surprised - Jaybo and I had the best 25 mile ride of our lives because we took a different trail.  The trail was like the ride up to the overlook - a closed two lane road.  We never got slower than 50 miles / hour and just skimmed along the wooded route.  It was pretty and smooth and really quite wonderful.  The early disasters seemed insignificant and I’m glad we did it.
            After we turned the rental in, we decided to see what the Hoop N Holler Bar was all about.  I took the sled back down to the lake and over to the bar.  It was easy to find as it was well it up on the lake side with a big fluorescent “Hoop N Holler” sign.  We had more Widow Maker and corn critters and a pleasant time discussing the day. 
            Then I got to navigate the inky black lake back to the cabin.  It was a really interesting feeling.  Gentle Reader, I have crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean many times, at night, in the weather.  But the MD11 has modern GPS and INS systems.  Being out on Lake Gogebic at night, by myself, with no navigational equipment was a totally different story – it was totally Ded Reckoning.  I felt my way along looking at the lights of the cabins on the shore line and trying to remember what the lights of the West Shore Resort looked like.  In the back of my mind, I realized that if this sled quit, I’d be out on the snow covered ice, a long way from the shore in the dark.  I didn’t like it.
            About the time I thought that I might be seeing the resort lights, Jaybo drove down the ramp and flashed his high beams at me.  It was a comforting feeling.   
Ann cooked a nice meal and we went to bed.  The next morning I got up first and took Velvet out into the morning for her walk.

            We packed up and started to repair the trailer brake light plug.  That’s when we discovered that we had bought the wrong plug.  So, we drove back west with the brake lights out, broken plug in my pocket next to the receipt from the dealer, hoping that if we got stopped the Highway Patrol would believe our story.  Finally we found a NAPA parts store in Ironwood and fixed the plug. 
            We had a very nice meal in the very nice South Shore Brewery in Ashland, WI, just south of the Apostle Islands.  I only mention this because there was a painting of the Edmund Fitzgerald breaking in half on the wall behind our table.  It fit the mood.

            We went back to the cabin and cleaned up.  On the way out of Wisconsin we got these nice photos.

We called our snowmobile dealer back home on the way back and he stayed open for us to drop off the broken sled. 
            Gentle Reader, replacing a two cylinder two stroke snowmobile engine is not cheap. 

            On that happy note, I remain,

            Dad / Geoff