I hit the pavement last week on a mission to find five lucky candidates who would agree to answer (and let me take their mug shot) for my Copper Country Speaks question: What are you doing to keep cool in the heat?
I figured it was an appropriate question as heat waves blazed from the beach sand beneath my toes that Tuesday at Chutes and Ladders in Houghton. This time of year it's hard not to snare an out-of-towner who graciously agrees to participate despite the fact they're "just visiting" the Copper Country.
From "keeping the blinds closed" and "drinking plenty of fluids," I received all sorts of responses.
For this month's column, I thought I'd share with readers the kinds of things I enjoy when the thermometer needle tips above the 85 degree mark.
Naturally, my initial response would involve parking my keister in the sand anywhere along Lake Superior, which I did back to back this week.
With temps well into the 80s Wednesday, I and a friend joined my sister's family for an after work barbecue in Eagle River. Aside from the wind gusts blasting off the lake, stirring up sand in our faces and burying our beach towels, it was the perfect evening for rounds of bean bag toss, sand castle building and swimming.
It was girls against guys in bean bag toss - a game during which bean bags are thrown a distance of about 20 feet onto elevated wooden platforms that have one hole each - and my sister and I had a strong lead for the better part of the game. Players score points by landing their bean bag onto the wooden platform or sinking it in the hole.
Like salt in a wound, we rubbed our lead in our opponents' faces, which I'd say ultimately cost us the win. I guess we jumped the gun on that one.
Meanwhile, my little nieces and nephews had their plastic pails and shovels strewn about. The youngest of the bunch got a kick out of the seagulls hovering close by. Pointing with his teeny tiny pinky then shuffling as fast as he could in the bird's direction, he'd giggle as it took flight, only to land a short distance away.
With temps even toastier on Thursday, I packed up once again and headed back to the beach in Eagle River for round two.
When I pulled in next to the changing room building along the roadside, I could hear club-like music kicking from a set of speakers near the water.
"Beach party," I thought to myself while sitting in the driver's seat, scanning the sand for my friends.
Bundling up my towel and snagging an iced tea from the cooler, I made my way down the beach. My flip flops slapped the bottoms of my feet almost with the beat.
I noticed girls carrying slabs of particle board and situating them in the sand near the speakers. Next to the speakers I saw what appeared to be clothing racks and girls were decked out in neon gear.
"Maybe there's some kind of scuba diving lessons going on," I wondered.
At least it seemed to be some sort of organized function. Since I'm not a Thursday regular in Eagle River, I?wasn't too keen on the goings-on.
Needless to say, I kept trucking through the sand as the sun's rays scorched my back.
No sooner do I spot my group that I find out what the heck was going down along the water - beach night Zumba class.
While I've tried it a few times, and it is fun without a doubt, I knew it was a little too hot for outdoor fitness.
In that case, I took a seat in the sand and enjoyed the music instead.
Kelly Fosness can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.