Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Memorial Day Warning

Posted by: Rick

First, let me say there is nothing quite as satisfying as sitting by a camp fire, eating 'smores and sipping peanut butter whiskey. Those flavors blend nicely and with the smoke in the air, it is heaven. That is what we did last night. Today, we did laundry to get rid of the smokey smell in our clothes.

I was born in Colorado, but don't remember much of my childhood. So, leaving those years out, I've been in Colorado for memorial day for 25 of the past 40 years (or so). And, in every single one of those years, we have crappy Memorial Day weather. Usually, some combination of cold temperatures, rain and/or snow, and wind. So, let that be a warning to those of you who are choosing to adventure out this weekend, getting away from the comforts of home or distance yourself in nature. Winter has not yet let go, if history repeats.

We've got some flower photos to catch you up on. And, we are considering a "bird" post and maybe even a "food" post. But, that is for a rainy day.

For now, we just wish you a very happy Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Quick Update to Yesterday’s Post

Posted by: Rick

Glenn L gets the "win" for identifying one of the wildflowers from yesterday's post. We believe he is right in thinking the daisy-like flower is a Hooker's Townsend Daisy, aka Townsendia Hookeri. It is a member of the aster family, so at least I got that right.

There was more struggle with the yellow flower, but Lynne finally recalled it is Golden Smoke or Corydalis Aurea. The photo on the linked website is not great, but be careful if you decide to Google "Golden Smoke". You will end up with a lot of smoke shops in Colorado! Try adding "wildflower" to the search.

We had a nice long walk "around" this morning, after a breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes. The dog's should sleep well all day.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Just Another Pandemic Monday

Posted by: Rick

We have been exercising our "extreme social distancing" at the cabin for a few days now. Spring is definitely starting to spring. The birds are getting more plentiful and there is more variety. The aspen trees are just starting to leaf out--we can see the difference each day. Bart's Creek is running pretty good from the snow melt. We still can't drive down Hidden Meadows Lane, but there has been significant melting. I think one could probably drive it in another couple of weeks.

One thing we are seeing is the wildlife. I gathered the memory cards from the three game cameras closest to the cabin. And, while there were some image of a moose and some elk, there has not been much activity. We sit on the porch at sunset each evening listing for the Great Horned Owl, but no hoots heard yet. I'll go gather the memory cards from the three other cameras later today, and post photos of anything really interesting. We have heard some loud crashing noises in the bottom of the valley a couple of times and assume it is a moose or maybe an elk crashing around as they walk along the creek.

Some chores are getting done, too. I've cleaned up the "shop" side of the barn, even vacuuming the floor! The porch swing and also the swing in the yard have had their wood treated. Bird houses have been repaired and moved as necessary.

After we returned from the cabin a few weeks ago, we groomed the dogs. They were so clean and fluffy and smelled so good. They are now a little dirty again. At least Destin has not rubbed in anything foul yet, so they smell okay. They sure love it here--especially when they find a remaining snow bank on our walks.

We take a long walk almost every day, weather and wind permitting. And, we are keeping track of the wildflowers we find on our property. So, here is the latest installment:

We are not really sure what this is. It grows in the disturbed areas of decomposed granite and is very prolific. It looks like something in the pea family. We will continue to work on identification, but if you know what it is, let us know, please!

Of course, this is the common dandelion--a really very pretty flower. Destin's nickname is Dandelion Boy because his identifying ribbon color as a puppy was Dandelion Yellow.

This is some kind of daisy or aster. There are so many varieties that I've not tried to ID it yet.

Finally, a flower genericly called a Snowball. It is the Western Saxifrage variety (there are 6 different varieties). You can tell because of the red stem

Some of the barrel cacti in the area are just strarting to bloom, so we'll get photos of those later.

We think we have a ghost. The other day, one of the rain barrels was knocked over. It has some water in it and so was quite heavy. There had been no big wind. But, there it was on its side spilling water. Then, this morning we heard a weird noise. It was pretty loud and, to me, sounded just like when an avalanche of snow slides off the metal roof. But, there is no snow. We ran outside and inspected the entire outside of the cabin and the grounds around it, but saw nothing that might cause the sound. We've also looked around everywhere inside for something that fell or slid from its normal place, but nothing is obvious. Very, very weird.

Okay, time for my COVID-19 rant of the week. Things are starting to open up some. There have been some businesses that have taken advantage of the minimal loosening of stay-at-home orders, as well as taking advantage of people's frustration with being shut in, and have opened their doors to customers without requiring masks, social distancing or limiting the number of people in the business.

We hear a lot about "rights" from the people to who take advantage of this. And, I get it. We do have rights, but they are not unlimited. And, when an action can harm someone or, even more importantly, lead to the harm of another, our rights have always been restricted. Speed limits on highways, for example. Still, I get it, people are frustrated and want things to go back to normal. They say "it is my life, if I want to take the risk of exposure and get sick, it is my decision." And, they use that logic to justify not wearing masks or observing social distancing. But, what they don't seem to understand is that those practices are not really in place to keep them from getting sick. They are in place to keep them from making others sick. So, I see it as a blatant disregard for other people's lives, especially those in the vulnerabe population. It is selfish behavior. Thinking only of oneself and not of others.

People who do expose themselves by flaunting the orders and recommendations related to masks and social distancing, could get infected and, if so, will likely be symptom free for at least 5 days, maybe longer, and they may even go forward symptom free. But, that is no justification for their behavior since they can then easily infect another person once they become contagious. So, it is not about our rights to make ourselves sick if we choose to do so, it is about how wrong it is to make others sick, maybe deadly so. Downright selfish.

Rant over.

By the way, I've turned commenting back on for this blog site. So, feel free to comment if you choose.

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.

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