“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Prepping for a Big One

We are supposed to get between 1 and 2 feet of snow starting tomorrow (Monday) afternoon through Tuesday. So, we (along with a few thousands of other people) are prepping for "the big one".

  • Groceries for a week? Check.
  • Gasoline for the tractor, snow blower and generator? Check.
  • Enough wood chopped and stored in the basement for a week? Check.
  • Wine? Check. (Lots in the cellar.)
  • Whiskey? Damn. No whiskey. Okay, that is on the list for tomorrow.

It will be nice living at the cabin where we don't have to do all this preparation for a snow storm.

Making a lemon tart for dessert for the next few nights. Yum!

Tags:  at-homeweather
Posted under: Food and Cooking • by Rick on 01/25/2015 at 10:32 AM
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Monday, December 01, 2014

Desert Forest

When visiting Las Cruces, New Mexico recently to celebrate my Dad's 89th birthday, Lynne and I were given a tour of a nearby park which features the natural fauna of the surrounding desert. Las Cruces, is at an altitude of 3900 feet and sits at the base of the Organ Mountains and is considered "high desert" country.

Photo of the park with the Organ Mountains in the background.

Perhaps the most common type of cactus in the area is the Prickly Pear cactus, which comes in many varieties:

One variety is the Mule's Ear cactus:

Here is a dead Cholla cactus:

I think this is a live one:

Of course, there is the Barrel Cactus, also with many varieties:

Plenty of Creosote Bushes and Mesquite, too!


And Century Plant:

The most interesting part of our tour, hosted by a good friend of my parents' -- Delton Estes -- was finding some Chochilla (Cochineal, in English) bugs on some cacti. These bugs live in a cacoon-like web and feed off the moisture and nutrients in the cactus. The Spanish began the practice of farming these bugs and harvesting them for the deep red dye they can produce -- a color that later became popular in the Roman Catholic Church. A Wikipedia reference is found here.

Note the white on the cactus below? Pull it off and squeeze it to get the dye.

Many thanks to Delton for the informative tour!

Tags:  naturetravelphotos
Posted under: Travel • by Rick on 12/01/2014 at 08:59 AM
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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Cabin Trip 2014 - Last Days

It is now Thursday, just after noon. This will likely be my last entry for this trip.

Monday night we had leftover lasagne for dinner. It is a great recipe and warms up well. 

Tuesday was an exciting day for a couple of reasons, but let's tackle food first (one of the reasons). We actually went out to dinner! We and some neighbors drove to Woods Landing for dinner. Woods landing consists of a gas station with store, a bar and a restaurant. Although the restaurant started out as, and now doubles as a dance hall with occasional live entertainment. It was a slow night for the restaurant, but we enjoyed both the idea of "going out" and the food. Lynne had a burger, I had a steak. We started with an appetizer of Rocky Mountain Oysters. All was delicious. It is about a half-hour drive over dirt (and often muddy roads). Now the truck looks like it belongs in Colorado.

The other exciting news from Tuesday is the herd of elk that came through the meadow. It was early morning, with the sun just creeping into the meadow when Lynne spotted a couple of elk entering the meadow. Soon it was four, then eight, and then obvious a whole herd! Of course, at this time of year a herd of elk cows probably means a bull is close by. And, sure enough, he showed up, too! Altogether there were probably 35 to 40 elk in the herd.

The bull was what is called a Royal Crown elk because he had at least 7 points on each side of his antler rack.

Lynne has more photos, including some stunning photos after they left the meadow, on her site. Just click here to see her thorough post.

Wednesday morning early we headed into Laramie to do laundry and pick up a few items at the grocery and K-Mart. Lynne also got a pair of awesome dressy cowgirl boots. You can see a photo on her site. It was nice to get all the laundry done. That way we have clean clothes, towels, sheets, etc. the next time we come. We had a burger at MacDonalds, then headed home around noon. We drove through drizzle, then rain, the full-out snow. By the time we got to the cabin the snow was sticking to the ground. We got about 3" total. That was a good excuse to build fires and just be lazy in our cozy cabin.

Today is prep day. It is cold and windy outside, so we are not inclined to do much outdoors. Target practice and some additional trail clearing will need to wait till next year. Instead, we've started working down the list of things that need to be done so we can leave early tomorrow morning.

We have: collected all perishable food (beyond the "pigs in a blanket" dinner we expect to have tonight) and delivered that to the neighbors; replaced the air filter in the heater; put Stabil in all the fresh gas we have stored in the shed; replaced the batteries in the weather station (outside and in); separated what we need for the trip home from what we can pack and forget until we get there. There is still more we can do today, including loading some things in the truck. Then, there is a checklist for tomorrow before we leave:

Close fireplace flues; unplug all electrical devices; turn the thermostat down to 45°; turn the hot water heater to its pilot light setting; turn off the water, drain all pipes, pour in some RV anti-freeze; pull out the stove and refrigerator and turn off their propane; clean out the fridge and leave the doors open; bring the huge, heavy box with the wind turbine in it back inside from the front porch; close and lock all window, put up the shutters; stop the clocks; make sure everything is loaded in the truck, including Bella, Hailey and eBay; lock the doors; head home...

Tags:  cabinnaturefoodphotosother-wildlife
Posted under: Cabin News • by Rick on 10/02/2014 at 12:41 PM
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Cabin Trip 2014 - I Think it is Day 15

In any case, it is Monday. The start of our last week here.

Last night a train drove through the cabin. Or, that was what it sounded like. Just before 1:00 a.m. we both sat up in bed in response to a loud, low pitched, rush of sound. At first I thought it was heavy rain. But, soon it was clear I was hearing hail on the metal roof. It was loud and "dense" if that is a word that can be used to describe a sound. In the background sound of the hail was thunder and we saw occasional flashes of lightning.

It only lasted a few minutes, but there was enough to accumulate about 1/4" of hail on the ground as well as mounds of deeper hail where it slid off the roof.

The weekend has been cooler and wetter. Here is a nice shot of a rainbow late in the afternoon. Note the pot of gold at the end?

We had chiliquillas for dinner on Saturday. Pretty easy recipe. Made a sauce of tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic. Sauteèd some onions. Added it all together with corn chips. Then, cracked eggs on top and covered the pan to let them poach. Topped with sour cream and avocado. Yum. Last night, Lynne made stew and I made biscuits. So, we are set for meals for a while with leftover lasagne and stew. Our final new meal will likely be beef barley soup.

Because of the cloudier conditions we aren't getting a full charge on the batteries from the PV system. So, I run the generator in the morning just long enough for us to take our showers (the water pump is our largest consumer of electricity) and to run the vacuum to clean up a bit. We are holding at about 80% charge during the day, going down to 60% overnight. The generator can usually pull that back up to 80% by running an hour or two. I think with wind we'd be okay. Might still need to run the generator for showers, but we'd have that bit of extra charge to help us out -- especially when the wind blows.

Tags:  cabinfoodphotosweatherrecipe
Posted under: Cabin News • by Lynne on 09/29/2014 at 11:50 AM
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cabin Trip 2014 - Day (Wow, this is like day) 13

Stars. Billions and billions of stars. 

That is what we see when we go out after dark and peer up into the sky. The Milky Way forms a stripe across the sky from south to north that can only be described as "milky". All the familiar constellations are there, and some I don't know. 

The planets appear first, even during twilight. Soon the brighter stars. And, when all twilight is gone, billions of stars appear. Oh, and some airplanes.

The skies have been moonless this week. The moon is just a sliver anyway, and it sets not long after the sun. And, the nights have been clear of clouds. So, the conditions have been perfect for star gazing.

Last night, we build a small fire in the campfire ring and sat there with our whiskey and watched the sun go down over Bull Mountain, luxuriated through a long twilight, and finally saw the stars emerge. Oh, and I saw a falling star. (It's okay, there are billions more.)

I usually start with food. Sorry. Thursday was Bob's Oven Fried Chicken, which is always good. We did a mashed potato and some frozen buttered peas to accompany the crispy skinned chicken. I took another stab at the peach cobbler, this time using self-rising flour, and it worked. It should have cooked longer and doesn't look very appetizing any more, but I think a few minutes in the oven will perk it up. Friday night, Lynne made her famous lasagne and it was, as usual, delicious. That pretty much catches you up on food.

Here is a preview of what is about to come next:

Yesterday, we took a road trip to view aspen trees. We went up and over Sand Creek Pass, down to the Laramie River, turned left and drove all the way to Chambers Lake. We parked at a small lake called Lost Lake to take a short walk and have lunch. I am not sure why it is called Lost Lake because we were able to find it easily, even though it had been probably 15 years since being there. Maybe because you can drive right by it and not see it without a short walk down the hill. There is a road that goes from the parking lot to the head of the lake, but it is usually impassible. And, sure enough, a ranger was there doing a road survey and she warned us (as she was repairing a flat tire on her truck). We told her we knew it well, so she started asking questions about the road. How far does it go? Does it go all the way to some other lakes? Etc. 

The road is actually a jeep trail known as the Greenridge Trail and has been in existence for a long time. I took it part way once, back in 1981 or 1982. It connects somewhere to the north, but I don't remember where.  Yes, it does go by those two other lakes. One is a dead lake (no fish), but the upper lake has fresh water shrimp that feed native cutthroat trout. I told her all this and I think she thought I was crazy. Here I am sitting there in a truck with New Jersey plates.

Looking up Sand Creek Pass:

Aspens with the Rawah Mountains in the background:

We took a picnic lunch of leftover chicken down to the lake and girls followed. Well, Bella followed until she saw there was a lake. The next thing we knew, there was a spash. Bella found the lake. The water gets deep quick, and I guess she discovered this. It is darned cold, too at about 10,000 feet. She went in again and again, having the time of her life. Poor Hailey had to maneuver the trail which was criss-crossed with downed trees. She is getting smart though, and goes under when she can't go over. They had a blast.

Bella in Lost Lake:

One happy (wet) dog:

We came home the same way we went, with a detour around by Glendevey Ranch.

Tags:  cabinnaturefoodactivitiesbellaphotos
Posted under: Cabin News • by Rick on 09/27/2014 at 11:07 AM
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