Wednesday, December 30, 2009

When Toby Met Baby

Before I get to the meeting of Toby and Baby, I feel I should introduce Baby.

Because this isn't just any baby, it's my nephew.

On December 10, 2009 at 4:49, Jackson Elliot was born unto the world to my brother and sister in law.


This means it was the first Christmas for the baby, and our first time having a baby at the Jakel Family Christmas. Grandma and Grandpa J were very proud and happy to hang with their first grandchild.



And Toby was very curious about this new little bundle was getting all of the attention. So, we introduced them.


I think I've seen Toby have that look in his eye before. Like when he saw a pork chop resting on the counter and attempted to swallow it whole.

Thankfully, Toby deemed Jack inedible and did not try to eat him.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snow Dog

We finally got our first heavy snow of the winter last night. From the looks of it, I'd say we have about 4 inches on the ground at our house.

I love the snow, but the only problem is - so does Toby. Which means, he goes outside and doesn't want to come back inside. And then the house feels kind of lonely without the little big guy here.


So, if you happen to come driving by our house you'll most likely see this snowy face looking back at you.


And you should tell him to come inside because his owner misses him.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Not So Black Friday

Why do they call it "Black" Friday?

Black is so sad. The color of mourning. Darkness. Evil.

My experience with Black Friday shopping was none of those things.

I have never gone Black Friday shopping before, but there was a great deal going on these puppies:


A Dyson Animal Vacuum.

Between our 3 animals, we've got our share of animal hair floating around this house and saturating our carpet. Our old vacuum never did a great job, and about 2 weeks ago it lost virtually all of it's suction power. So we were in the market for a new one, and the Dyson was marked off $200 at Target. I decided I would just wake up whenever, and see how I felt in the morning.

So, this morning I rolled over and saw 5:45 on the clock. I contemplated with Andy for a bit whether I should go or not. I figured since I was awake, I might as well give it a shot. I threw on some clothes and was out the door by 5:55.

Around 6:05 I rolled into the Target parking lot. As I'm driving toward the front, a van leaves its parking spot so I pull right into a spot near the entrance. This was my first stroke of good luck.

I weaved my way through the crowds people to the vacuum aisle, and alas, there were no Dyson Animals there. I double checked all the vacuums to make sure, and then started to walk back out. Then I realized maybe the specials were on the ends of the aisle, so I walked back to the end cap of the vacuum aisle. And there before me, was ONE left on the shelf. I grabbed it, and headed for the line.

Now, the line looked to be my biggest obstacle. It wrapped all around the store, up and down all the aisles, I couldn't even estimate how many people were in it. 200? 300? I found the back of the line and stepped in. 10 seconds later, I was approached by a manager.

"Ma'am, are you just buying the one item?"

"Yup, this is it."

"Ok, why don't you just go up to the pharmacy counter. They'll take care of you."

So I strolled over to the pharmacy counter, where 2 people were in line in front of me. TWO. I waited about 5 minutes, checked out and headed back to the car.

I pulled back into the garage at 6:30 and went up to the bedroom. Andy called from bed:

"No luck, huh?"

And I crawled right back under the covers and told him the story.

My Friday, so far, is not so black.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Andy left for Deer Camp this morning. Of course, Andy doesn't hunt, but he doesn't want to miss out on drinking with the boys. Beer Camp is a more accurate description.

Toby, doesn't understand that Dad isn't coming home from work tonight.


He's been laying in the loveseat.

Staring at the door.

For at least the past half hour.

Waiting for Dad.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Belated Brewery Reviews

This summer, we were busy with many things and one of those things included visiting new breweries.

As I may have mentioned, we are attempting to visit all the breweries in Michigan. We are using this list, which is ever changing:

Michigan Beer Guide

By that count, we're at 77 total in Michigan that are still open and brewing beer. Andy and I have visited 33 of these, so we're just about half way there. For a birthday trip we visited a few around the Traverse City area, and along the way I may have met my favorite beer.

We started at North Peak Brewing Company.

We had already eaten, but couldn't resist ordering the Gorgonzola Ale Dip and it did not disappoint. We ordered a couple of pints and a sampler.


None of the beers were really anything to write home about, but they weren't bad either. The place itself was lovely and they did do an excellent job in naming one beer in particular.


It felt awesome to say "I'll have More Cow Bell, please."

Next we ventured to Right Brain Brewery

This place was great - if I lived here this would be the brewery I would become a regular at. They don't serve food, so you know everyone is there for the right reason - beer. They also brew some very unique beers - I think one of ours was an herb beer flavored with basil and other assorted herbs. They do a very good job of flavoring their beers in new and inventive ways but not overpowering you. We enjoyed a sampler.


Beer makes for a happy husband.

The next morning, we went to the Mackinac Brewing Company for an early lunch.

Again, these beers were nothing special. The bartender was friendly and food was good so we enjoyed ourselves enough, but I wouldn't return for the beer.

We took a nice scenic drive out to the Jolly Pumpkin's Old Mission location. Jolly Pumpkin is actually located in Dexter, MI, but Ann Arbor. They had just recently opened up this location.

I loved the atmosphere of the place and we had a tasy BLT pizza. The beers featured were mostly sours and I LOVED them. A lot of breweries don't even attempt sour beers and they had quite a few tasty options. I think I got turned on to sour beers the day I sipped Schomohz's Pickle Tink and I've been in love ever since.

Finally, we ventured quite a bit out of our way to Bellaire so we could visit Shorts Brewing Company.


This may be my favorite brewery yet.

The food was fantastic. The waitstaff was friendly. The atmosphere was laid back and inviting.

And the beer.

The beer was amazing.


Every single one I tried, I loved. And the one I loved the most was the Soft Parade. I want to declare it my favorite beer, but that's too big of a commitment to make. This beauty of a beer definitely falls in my top 3 though.

So our 2 day Traverse City Tour knocked 5 more breweries off the list and introduced me to the new beer love of my life. All in all, a darn good birthday getaway.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hot Dog

In the summer, Toby loves to lay on the air conditioning vents.


There's a vent under there, I swear.

All summer long, when he would hear the air pop on, he'd trot over and plop himself on the grate and enjoy the cool air on his belly.

That all changed yesterday.

Because yesterday, I finally turned on the heat.

Toby heard the heat go on, and just as he had done for the past few months, he trotted excitedly over to the vent.

And then, well, I have trouble describing the expression on his face.

It was a mix of: surprise, sadness, fear and confusion.

Poor pup.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Copper Country Cruisin'

Forest hiking.

Two tracking.

Beer drinking.

Lakeshore driving.

Off roading.

That was our weekend.

Andy had to recruit up at MTU, so I got the okay to work remotely from the hotel for a few days. This meant we took full advantage of a weekend exploring the Keweenaw Penninsula.

Our drive up was peaceful and slow. We took our time and stopped to let the dog get some exercise.


We stopped at The Vierling, a brewery restaurant in Marquette. The food and beer were both pretty tasty.

Finally, we arrived in Houghton.


Andy took me to Breakers - a black beach that was created by the miners dumping the copper mining waste. We tired the Head out to further ensure he didn't destroy the hotel room.


Then Sunday we cruised along the lakeshore all the way around the Keweenaw Penninsula. We did a small hike to the top of a cliff. We even had to fjord a stream to get there. We successfully fjorded the river and no oxen were lost.



Next we drove up Brockway Mountain, it was gorgeous! I just wished the colors had changed, but apparently because September was so warm the colors were a few weeks behind. Still lovely - even with the storm clouds rolling in.




We did some serious two tracking on what began as dirt roads but slowly turned into rocky paths. We passed some desserted homes and finally got to see a few bursts of color along the way. We followed that up with another beach play stop for Tobias.





We stopped at a bar in Gay, MI to have a Stroh's and watch the last quarter of the Lions WIN. Da Yoopers were more insteasted in da Packers though.


Finally, we ended our tour of the Copper Country in Calumet at the most historic brewery we've visted to date. Red Jacket Brewing, which used to be Bosch Brewing Company.


The food was great, the beer . . . not so much. I think they gave up the brewery focus long ago, but the building was beautiful. Much of the original bar was preserved, so the setting made up for the bad beer.

We also visited The Library in Houghton - a brewery that had a few decent beers and a lot of decent food. And with these breweries checked off, we've visited all of the Upper Penninsula breweries!

I officially fell in love with Copper Country this weekend and am counting down the days until Andy and I can retire up there.

14,589 days left.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

28 going on 88

Further evidence that I will soon be buying Depends.

Around the fire, Saturday night.

Nick: "Has anyone noticed that people are using the word "swagger" a lot more?"

Me: "I think it's a hip-hop term. Like, hip-hop people use it in their songs now."


Me: "Wow. Did that sound as old as I think it did?"

Time to go watch my stories and sip my Ovaltine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hitting the Old Dusty Trail

We awoke on the 6th day and were ready to hit the old dusty trail back to civilization.

This was a somewhat steep 5 mile hike down the Mist Trail. This means we passed many a waterfall.



And, once arriving to civilization, we did the first thing anyone who had been deprived of modern conveniences would do.


We drank beer and ate chips.

They were both delicious.

Upon arriving to our vehicle, we found the "Jeep Commander or similar" had acquired a thick layer of dust from sitting in the parking lot for a week. So we emblazened it with our tour name.


The name Sparse Facial Hair Tour was developed during a weeklong hiking trip on Isle Royale with Dennis, Terp, Andy and I in 2006. Why sparse? Because none of us can grow a proper beard. If you put the boys facial hair together - I think it would almost make one though. Dennis can grow hair on his chin and sideburn area, Terp can grow a beard on his neck and side face, and Andy can kind of grow some around his mouth.

Kind of.


That's Andy after not shaving for 9 days.

Even though Dave can grow a full beard about 7 minutes after shaving, we kept the tour name.

Before venturing out to the hotel and showering off a week's worth of filth and sweat, we checked out the Giant Sequoias.



And with that, we said good bye to Yosemite and thanked her for a wonderful time.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Me vs. The Mountain

We rose with the sun on Day 5, because we had a 5 mile hike to the next campsite followed by an 8 mile round trip to the top of Half Dome.

Thankfully, I got a good night's sleep because the boys withheld some information from me. Apparently they found bear scat and fresh bear tracks ALL OVER the area around our camp. They didn't tell me this until the next morning, and ignorance truly is bliss. Otherwise, I can guarantee I would have woken up everytime I heard a sound and convinced myself it was a bear that was coming to eat me and I'm going to die.

The 5 mile hike to Little Yosemite was a nice little trek over some rocks and then through the woods.




We had to step aside for some mules.


Once we reached camp, we took a little rest, dropped our packs so we only had to carry water, and began to conquer the mountain.

About a quarter of the way into the climb, Andy points out where we're going:


Halfway there:


The Welcoming Committee put up a sign:


It's not lying. Someone died on Half Dome in June.

More than 60 people have died attempting to reach the top.

Now, this was no easy climb. About 4 miles up and 3000 feet elevation gain, but luckily, my body seemed to be holding up physically. I fairly easily made it to the cables, which is where the real battle began. The mental battle.


A photo from the top of the cables, to give you some perspective on how steep this part is.


Basically, you hold on to the cables and pull yourself up the 60 degree incline. A pile of gloves lays at the start of the cables so the wire cables don't tear up your hands. I put on the gloves, without a second thought and latched onto the cables. I took about 2 steps.

I felt the sensation of my body falling backwards, the only thing preventing me from falling to my death were my hands gripping the cables. Around this time, a mixed tape of my voice began repeating in my head "YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. THIS IS IT. YOU'RE DEAD. YOU'RE FALLING. YOU'RE GOING TO DIE NOW. HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR LIFE BECAUSE NOW YOU'RE GOING TO DIE. DEATH. DEATH. DEATH. DIE. DIE. DIE."

That is when I turned around, curled into the fetal position, began crying and scooted my butt down to the start of the cables.

You win, mountain.

I don't regret my decision in the least and I was happy I was able to physically best the mountain. The boys made it up the cables and I happily watched from below. Well, semi-happily and semi-nervously as I watched for a body to plummet over the edge. Andy snapped photos above.




When they came back down, Dave appeared a bit shaken, and insisted that we "Get the *&#% off of this rock." I couldn't agree more.

As it turns out, the mountain beat 2 people that day, because as we were making our descent, this popped over our heads:


And then landed on Half Dome to rescue a freaked out hiker.


So, to end the day on a positive note, at least I didn't have to be rescued by a helicopter.