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The gales of November came early, eh?/Woods, water & worse

October 29, 2010
By Jim Junttila

"Put that girl down, she's a married woman!" WW&W bar etiquette correspondent Mario Maronen shouted authoritatively as an enthusiastic dancer swung his partner daringly high at Jayne's L&L, executing a perfect mid-air spread-eagle sky dip just like on "Dancing with the Stars."

Mario's moral compass doesn't mind when married women kick up their heels once in a while, but he doesn't go for that dirty dancing unless it's with their husbands or the generic equivalent.

"That's what you call sweeping a girl off her feet," said WW&W wildlife correspondent Paris Hiltunen, "If you like Dancing with the Stars, you already know why fundamentalists don't," she added. "I say let the tango begin."

An alert observer so close to the action he hadda duck said he thought she mighta been blown off her feet when the door opened and her partner saved her life by holding on so tight. It was deliciously ironic that Bob Seger was belting out "Grabba holda something, hold on tight, Betty Lou's gettin' out tonight" on the jukebox while it was all going down, or up as the case may be.

Like most Keweenaw bars, a lotta fish get caught and a lotta deer get shot in the L&L. That's what makes it such a valuable research venue. It's a neighborhood kinda place with a guy's kinda restroom. When you're standing at the urinal facing north, look to your left and there's a heart-throbbing monster swamp buck, thick-necked with the rut, with a Boone & Crockett trophy rack draped in moss and vines. Count the points for yourself. A colorful fishy border wraps around the sky blue room.

There was more than a playful breeze whipping through the place, this was Yooper air conditioning at its finest; the kinda window-rattling, pants-flapping wind that flickered the neon, ruffled the lace curtains, sent skirts flying and turned umbrellas inside out indoors.

Outside, sustained winds of 35 mph gusting to 50 outa the southeast blew up 5th Street, howling through downtown Calumet like the Werewolves of Laurium. Waves on Calumet Lake turned Centennial Heights into waterfront property, giving new meaning to the metaphoric submerged homeowners.

"What meteorologists call heavy wind advisories and gale warnings, Yoopers call breezy," said Sue Nammi, WW&W oceanic correspondent, noting that she issued no tsunami warnings. "Weather like this reminds people of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. When the gales of November come calling, the Gordon Lightfoot ballad gets a lotta play on the jukebox and local bands play it by popular request," Nammi added. "You might hear the Wingnuts do it out at the Drift tonight."

There was no widespread devastation of coastal resort villages like Copper Harbor and Eagle River, nor was Ontonagon wiped out by a tsunami. No undersea earthquakes developed on the floor of Lake Superior causing it to separate like the Red Sea of biblical mythology. No volcanic eruptions were recorded, but minor tremors shook the backbars at the Mariner North and Zik's, and "rattled them pots and pans" at the Michigan House. There was limited alcohol abuse inland as only random beers were spilled at Randy's, Luigi's and Club Shute.

"There's no sense crying over spilled Old Mil," Nammi added.

Meanwhile, out on Lake Superior, the Ranger III was tied up at Isle Royale while mountainous waves lapped at Passage Island Lighthouse and threatened to swamp the island. Thousand-foot lake freighters rode it out at anchor on Bete Gris and Keweenaw Bay, 600-footers ducked into the Keweenaw Waterway seeking shelter from the storm. Stannard Rock recorded winds of 75 mph with 30-foot waves.

"On a line from Manitou Island to Marquette, waves were subsiding from 25-17 feet as the storm pounded the UP's north coast, then blew itself out, wreaking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of improvements to coastal communities from Duluth to Drummond Island," said WW&W border reporter Sue Sainte-Marie.

In other outdoor news, lakes continue to turn over and anglers who go out on a limn tend to limit out. As things settle down after the blow, with water and air temps in the 40s, the fishing oughta be pretty hot on inland lakes, Copper Harbor, Eagle Harbor, Bete Gris, Keweenaw Bay and Big Traverse, from now through deer season until first ice. The Oikarinen boys and other late-season Buffalo Reefers report spotty catches with redfins ostensibly still staging offshore.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at jjunttila@



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