Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Sunday, May 03, 2020

May Day(s)

Posted by: Rick

It has been a couple of weeks, so let me catch you up. No news from home. Boring...

But, we are now truly "Off the Grid" at the cabin, and loving it. We came up on Thursday, the last day of April. When we got here, we were astonished at how much snow had melted! With about 10 minutes with the snow blower, we had full access to the cabin with the truck.

Here is a photo of the driveway taken one month earlier, on 30 March. I can't even get the snow blower out of the wood shed.

And, here is a shot of the driveway on 30 April. I took a short break to take the photo. The snow was about 20 inches at the deepest point, but I was able to clear it enough to get the truck to the cabin in about 10 minutes.

We have lots to cover to bring you up-to-date, so here we go.

April always teases us with Spring. Sunny days, snow starts to melt, and we can get reasonable access to the land and cabin. But, of course, also fights back with a few Spring snow storms that can dump feet of snow. May is equally as spiteful, bringing a see-saw of weather, from sunny, warm days to cold and snow. But, it is a sure sign of spring when: 1) you can see the ground (check); 2) the creek is running loudly (check); 3) the early wildflowers start to appear (check)!

Here are photos of the earliest four flowers in Spring:

A field of Buttercups.

Buttercups, up close.

Of course, Pasque Flowers, the crocus of the high country.

Phlox. This will come in many colors.

Bluebells.

Another sure sign of Spring are the baby animals. We haven't seen any yet. In fact, the wildlife and even birds have been sparse, so far. We did get a few hummingbirds on 1 May. I hung out a feeder "just in case", and am glad I did. And, we've seen a moose at one of the salt licks. But, not much else.

I did hike to all the game cameras and retrieved the memory cards that had been in them all winter. After sorting through over 3000 photos, I selected 8 to keep. Here is a sampling:

A very healthy-looking coyote, near the cabin.

A buck deer. This is from near the pond.

And, also from near the pond, the back end of our mountain lion.

It has been in the 80s back home, and we've had a couple of nice days here, too. But, it has also been rainy and cool. It might even snow tonight!

Here is a photo of Destin, sitting on Lynne's lap, as we enjoy a fire.

There is little in life more cozy than an open-hearth fire!

In addition to just sitting around, we have accomplished some chores. The cabin got thoroughly dusted and the floors are clean. The indoor windows are all washed.

We've taken the dogs for long walks each day. Destin found something foul to roll in, so a dog bath may be in our plans when it warms up a bit.

We've been eating well too! We had what we call "Trailer Spaghetti" on the first night--we almost always do because it is so easy. We just brown some hamburger, pour in a bottle marinara sauce, boil some spaghetti and serve it all with Parmesan cheese on top. Easy, but comforting and good. We named it "Trailer Spaghetti" because it is also what we almost always cook for dinner on our first night out with the travel trailer. We had Spicy Sausages with Onions on Friday. It is a Lee Drummond recipe that we like. That gave me a chance to fire up the grill for the sausages and onions. Yesterday, we did a slow-cooker recipe that Lynne got from a friend on Facebook. It was a beef roast slow cooked in some Mexican-style herbs and spices and broth. We shredded it and made a double layer of nachos with tortilla chips, shredded barbacoa beef, refried beans and cheese. I pickled some onions, too. No photos of any of that. I guess we were too hungry to think about taking pictures.

I guess that is it for now. Not sure when we will go home, there is no compelling reason to do so except to mow the lawn (and I could have a neighborhood kid do it!) I guess we'll head back when we run out of food, wine or whiskey.

Monday, April 20, 2020

More Monday Musings

Posted by: Rick

It is Monday again. If you've been reading this blog, you know what the normal routine is, so I won't go into that again. No, this Monday I want to share some thoughts about how people are reacting to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, a quick summary of the past week. We went shopping once. That is now an average of going out for shopping about every 9-10 days. Pretty good, I think. And, we did take the dogs for a walk somewhere other than the neighborhood. That was yesterday, and it was crazy! A trail along the Poudre river that is usually very sparsely used was crowded with bikers, dog walkers, kids on bikes, skates and skateboards! It was not fun nor easy to walk the dogs, so we gave up after a while. We've been eating well out of the freezer and pantry. And, I've tried a couple of new bread making techniques, which have had mixed success.

From being out a few times over the past few weeks, from listening to the news from a variety of sources, and from reading some interesting social media posts, I've come to the conclusion that there is an interesting spectrum of people and their behaviors. There are compliers, deniers, and haters.

And, there is a spectrum within these categories, probably at a much finer level than I've thought about.

For example, there are the compliers that believe the science and the credible people who represent and communicate the science. They willingly comply with CDC guidelines and governmental orders. These also tend to be the people who are most compassionate, helping others out as much as possible and being optimistic and respectful in their communications.

I think there is another set of compliers that I'd call the skeptical compliers. They have a healthy skepticism of what they hear and read and take the time to really try and understand the truth. They interpret guidelines and orders in a pragmatic way and adapt them to their own situation. Still, for the most part they comply. A certain amount of skepticism is healthy and needed in our society, as long as it does not decay into less productive levels of behavior. These folks are also compassionate and helpful. They are open-minded and engage in healthy conversation and debate.

Next, we move into the deniers. I think there are a couple of kinds of deniers, too. There are the respectful deniers who, while they don't necessarily believe in the science and don't feel a need to comply with guidelines and orders, they are respectful to the compliers that do. And, they may even concede on a few points like social distancing. These are the people who are protesting the government's orders to close non-essential businesses, but doing it 6 feet from other protesters while wearing a mask. This is a quiet group of people who mostly express their beliefs through their actions.

A bit further along the spectrum are the outright deniers. These people do not trust nor believe in the science and scientists. They are the people who express their disdain through both actions and words. Because of their lack of understanding of the science, they don't really understand the implications of the pandemic and often compare it to the seasonal flu. They are highly independent, valuing their individual liberties over the good of the community. They seem to be willing to get sick, even die, rather than give in to restrictive guidelines and orders, not understand the implications on others as they overwhelm the health care system and put others at risk.

Another nudge further along the spectrum and we find the haters. These are the people who take their denial to the conspiracy theory level. They have no respect for or compassion towards others. They are mean-spirited and hateful in their communications and actions with others. These are the people who spit on produce in the grocery store. That attack people on social media. Who spout unsupported propoganda. That burn down G5 cell towers. That believe the whole pandemic is a far left-wing conspiracy to take down Donald Trump because the left failed at his impeachment conviction. Come on? Really?

Me? I'm somewhere between a complier and a skeptical complier. I sometimes think maybe we've gone a bit too far with the restrictions in place. On the other hand, I'd rather give up some liberties than put myself and others at risk. I'm willing to trust the science and believe that the restrictions are making a difference and that it would be far, far worse without them in place. But, I'm not going to wear a mask walking the dogs outdoors.

I guess we will never really know how well the current restrictions worked. You can't prove a negative. So, there is no way to know how bad it could have been. Only how bad it was. And, if it is not as bad as originally feared and modelled (which drove the restrictions and mitigated the worst case scenarios), that will feed the deniers and haters who will say "told you so" even though they did not contribute to the success.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Friday’s Musings

Posted by: Rick

I feel like we are really living our "off the grid" lifestyle again. Today, we went shopping. It was the first time we've been out of the house in 10 days. Wore our masks.

The truck is fixed. That was what got us out of the house today. Actually, it was ready yesterday, but since we got about 6" of snow, we chose to stay home. I am sure glad we bought that extended warranty that covers us to 120,000 miles or 10 years of ownership! We paid a $100 deductable toward a bill that would have been over $1000. And, the problem was one of the weirdest they've ever seen. The environmental control module was coming on and sucking battery, even when the truck was turned off. This caused a low battery condition that forced the whole dashboard to "reboot" every 20 seconds or so. I sure hope it is fixed for good. We are about breaking even on the extended warranty already. Don't buy a Ford.

We are used to shopping for the long run. And, we have a pantry and freezer that is well stocked. We probably have enough food to last 3 weeks or more. Our problem are the ingredients that are around the edges of a great dish--herbs, a fresh vegetable, butter, a squeeze of lemon, etc. We've decided to not try and anticipate and shop for all these little things any more. We either don't have them or they get old and we throw them away. Instead, we've decided to don our masks and go get what we need to complete a great meal based on what we have on hand already.

Tomorrow, that is cilantro. We need cilantro to complete a salmon dish that we love. Usually, it is a mid-summer dish when we can get fresh corn. But, we found some corn in the market today, and we are going to give it a try. Simple recipe. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Mix corn kernels  and halved cherry tomatoes with some olive oil, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Pour all this with the salmon on a sheet pan and roast at very high heat until done. Meantime, mix up some honey, lime zest and lime juice. Remove the salmon (only), and brush on the lime/honey glaze. Add some chopped red onion to the roasted corn and tomatoes and stir around. Spoon the veggies over the salmon and serve with chopped cilantro (very important!). Yum. Looking forward to it.

We got a huge slab of salmon at Costco today. We portioned it into 3 pieces and froze two of them. We love salmon dishes. There are so many ways to cook it that are super easy and delicious. Broil it, seasoned with salt and pepper, and top with a compound butter of capers and achovies. Spread the top of it with mayonnaise mixed with some garlic salt and broil until done....

We got some fresh veg, too. Arichockes, asparagus. We have a friend who won't eat vegetables that start with "A". So, we are taking advantage of social distancing to eat those.

We got most of the rest of what we need from Safeway. Except all-purpose flour. And, yeast seems to be short, still. But, we are okay for baking bread and pizza dough. I have a feeling that from this crisis there is going to emerge a whole new generation of bakers. And toilet paper users.

The snow was a pain in the ass. It was heavy and wet. Did my back no good to shovel the driveway. But, the good news is that it will melt within a few days and provide great moisure for the yard and bushes. At least it did not wait until the trees were leaved out and the flowers in bloom. No the coming hail will take care of that, I'm sure.

One of the cameras is out at the cabin. Bummer. We can't really see how much snow we got there, but it looks like maybe a foot or more. Again, it will melt fast and create a fantastic mud season. Maybe we'lll get up there in a week or so. Hope so.

The dogs are good. We are fine. Hope you are all well, too. Give us a shout out via email or phone or text to check in!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Happy Easter

Posted by: Rick

Well, it is another Monday. As usual, our day to shower, change underwear and shave. All done already. 

Not much has happened since I checked in a week ago. Wow, has it really been a week? How time flies when you are sitting at home with little to do.

We did our shopping last Tuesday. Costco then the big King Soopers in Greeley. We got everything we needed for 8-10 days of meals. We even found yeast, so that meant that pizza was on the menu again.

The truck is still at the dealer. They think they know the problem now, and are waiting on parts. It is not really a problem not having the truck as we have nowhere to go with it except the cabin, and it is snowing up there. Seems that Spring is having a hard timing fighting off Winter! I did mow the lawn once. And, it was even nice enough to wash the dogs mid-week.

I pulled out the sewing machine that Mom gave me and sewed a couple of face masks using bandanas as raw material. I broke three needles in the process, but luckily had plenty of spares. Now we have these sexy masks to wear when we go out. And, I now know how to wind a bobbin as well as change needles on the sewing machine. Look at the precision of that top stitching!

We cooked a spiral-cut ham we got at Costco, along with some potatoes and green beans for Easter. It was a super yummy meal and I ate way too much. Baked a loaf of rustic Italian bread, too. Now we have plenty of leftovers to munch on for lunches and dinners. We could probably go another week using the pantry and freezer for food, but we do have a few necessaries to buy the next time we go out. An excuse to use the masks. I hope it will be a trip to pick up the truck.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Monday Goin’s On

Posted by: Rick

It is a Monday! A very special day of the week, but I'll get to that later.

First, I want to point out that the last time we went shopping and exposed ourselves to other people was a week ago on Saturday. That's 9 days of isolation with the exception that I had to drop the truck off at the Ford dealership because of a problem we encountered on our last trip to the cabin. But, that also is a story for later.

We still have a pretty decently stocked freezer, but we are running out of other items. So, one of our Monday chores will be to build a meal plan for the next week to ten days and make a shopping list from that. Then, tomorrow, when we pick up the truck (we hope), we will go shopping/foraging. And, we'll try to refrain from exposing ourselves.

This is not really all that new to us. When we lived at the cabin, we really tried to go to town only once a week (or less often in the winter). So, we are pretty good at planning and shopping to the plan. But, after 10 days, we are craving some fresh vegetables and have a few staples we need to stock up on.

Monday is also the day of the week we've set aside to shower, shave, and change our underwear. So, we have that to look forward to. My jeans and flannel shirt should last another week, but the flannel is starting to get a bit warm during the day and has a funny odor.

Natalie is pretty stressed out:

The truck: driving to the cabin last week, the truck's electronics went haywire. It has done this before, about 15 months ago, and was "fixed" by getting a new battery. This time, I'm pretty sure it is not the battery. The truck's display and control systems (radio, navigation, environment) all reboot in a cycle about every 30 seconds. The fan comes on high, at the highest heat setting and blows out the defroster vents. There is no radio control nor any environmental control using the various knobs and buttons. Needless to say, it get very, very hot in the truck very quickly. We have to roll down windows to stay comfortable. Each time the electronics reboots, the truck makes an alert sound "ding". Man, does that get annoying. The good news is that the truck still runs fine. And, if I turn it off and then restart it, the constant cycle of rebooting goes away for a while, but still the controls don't work.

We took the truck to the Ford dealer in Fort Collins last Thursday. They've worked on it for 2 whole days so far with no idea of what is going on. Today, Monday, they are going to bring a Ford engineer into the process, so we'll see what happens. It is not like we are going anywhere. (Although, another few days at the cabin does sound nice. Especially since the weather is so beautiful.)

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