“It is necessary to try to surpass oneself always; this occupation ought to last as long as life.” – Queen Christina, of Sweden, 1629-1689

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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Whatever Happened To…? Strike Anywhere Matches

We like to use strike anywhere matches at the cabin. That way, you don't have to keep track of the box and you can light fires one-handed. You can strike on a rock (like on the fireplace), or the limestone hearth. You can strike on rough metal (like the antique matchstick holder we have). If you are a true cowboy you can strike on your jeans, or if you are a show-off, on you fly zipper. 

We just can't find matches any more that don't require the companion box.

Over time, the box gets used up. The rough strike zone gets worn down and it takes 5 or 6 tries to get a match to light. 

There are lots of reasons why strike anywhere matches are preferred. 

Maybe they don't make them any more? I could understand that they might be dangerous to transport. After all, if they "strike anywhere", I guess they could strike against themselves. I can picture the semi-truck going down a bumpy highway with a load of strike anywhere matches and going up in smoke.

I guess we are just going to have to get used to two-handed match striking.

Tags:  cabinthoughts
Posted under: Cabin NewsStuff You Gotta Know! • by Rick on 09/27/2014 at 11:00 AM
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cabin Trip 2014 - Is it Thursday Already?

Yup. Thursday. I haven't blogged since Monday. Time is starting to fly!

Let's start with food. Monday dinner was at a neighbor's. A "cowboy cookout" made over a campfire in cast iron pots. Very fun. Good food, good company and good cowboy stories. A couple of the people there have worked as wranglers and guides for a dude ranch in the area, and we were lucky to meet Dave Lockman and his wife. Dave is noted for work in revitalizing the Trumpeter Swan in North America. 

Here is Lynne at the Cowboy Cookout (petting Fluffy Fuzzy the barn cat):

Tuesday, I made the Italian Meatloaf with Wild Mushroom Ragu recipe and some polenta on the side. Last night was creamy Three Cheese Mac & Cheese.

Early Tuesday morning as the sun came up, we experienced a beautiful, full, double rainbow.

I couldn't get the whole rainbow with my lens, so here are two shots. Lynne put on her fisheye lens and got the whole thing. See her "Stormy Weather" blog to see it.

Tuesday also saw a huge transformation in the look of our "meadow". This is an area where we had a couple of hundred trees, killed by beatles, cut and removed. We did that to mitigate the wild fire danger around the cabin and to improve the survivability of the cabin in case of a fire. The cut area is to the west and southwest of the cabin, the direction of the prevailing winds. However, the logger who did the work did it in several feet of snow. So, the stumps were not cut near the ground, not all slash was cleaned up and the slash that he did try to burn did not complete the burning since he did not actively manage it. It was an ugly mess. A new company came in with four crew on Tuesday and did a great job cleaning up. They cut all the stumps near the ground, limbed and sectioned any blown-down trees (providing us with a good amount of firewood), and they collected all the slash into a few slash piles ready to burn when the snow flies this winter.

Slash pile, ready to burn this winter:

And, nice wood for later use:

The weather was damp, cool and breezy, which was probably nice for those working outside (rather than the hot, dry weather we've had before and since). I set up a couple of cameras hoping to get a great time-lapse movie of the whole thing. But, I set them up very early in the morning, in the dark, and neglected to push a button twice to start the recording (I pushed it only once). So, I did not get a movie of what would have been a dawn to dusk recording of the cleanup. Bummer.

Wednesday, we did a quick run into town in the morning. We needed a couple of essentials including dog food. Not good planning on our part, I guess. We took advantage of the trip to take in our trash (thanks, Terry!), and pick up other items to get us through another week. In the afternoon, we started the process of repairing our fencing and creating some kind of "gate" at the cabin driveway. It got too hot and I got too tired to finish it, but when working with 6" spikes, a sledgehammer and a chain saw, it is best to stop when tired.

We had a great dinner of Mac & Cheese and watched the season's first episode of Survivor. 

This morning, Lynne got up and turned on the heater. It did not kick on as it should. After more than two minutes, still no "whoosh". Damn.

Tags:  cabinnaturefoodphotos
Posted under: Cabin News • by Rick on 09/25/2014 at 07:22 AM
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Cabin Trip 2014 - One Week In

Let's get food out of the way first. Steak and baked potatoes for dinner on Saturday, Lynne's chili with homemade cornbread on Sunday. Yum to both! I also baked a loaf of bread on Sunday because I need bread and bread crumbs for the Italian meatloaf later in the week. We'll eat it up for breakfasts, I'm sure. Lynne made a peach cobbler recipe that called for self-rising flour. We learned that Bisquick is probably not the same thing -- at least at this altitude. Leftover sliced steak on salad with home made blue cheese dressing for lunch on Monday.

Here is the bread:

I'm writing this early afternoon on Monday. We arrived exactly one week ago. 

Yesterday (Sunday) was a cool and rainy afternoon. Not typical of Colorado, we had a full day of clouds and light rain. According to my little weather station, we got about 1/2" of rain. It was wonderful. Everything smells so good and the moisture is very welcome. It will help the trees get stronger and better fight off disease and critters. In fact, in the morning we walked down to the beaver pond to give Bella a chance to swim, and I have never seen the pond so full this time of year. 

The lumber jacks were supposed to come today and do the "clean up" of the meadow. However, they were short a person and for safety reasons, did not come. Probably best anyway because of the heavy downpour we had mid-day. It really came down for a few minutes -- cold, wind and wet. We even fired up the stove for a while to stave off the cold and humidity. But, it was a more typical Colorado rainstorm and passed quickly and the sun is now out. The loggers will try again tomorrow.

I got a couple of chores done today. I changed the oil in the generator. For the record, it has 77.6 hours on the meter, now. I also took down some "shelves" that I had put up on the porch years ago. They were staggered in a way that made them a great cat tree -- and they were for the cats. But eBay doesn't care, so I took them down.

I'll leave you with a photo of aspens that Lynne took:

Tags:  cabinnaturefoodbellaweather
Posted under: Cabin NewsDog StuffCat StuffFood and Cooking • by Rick on 09/22/2014 at 01:47 PM
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cabin Trip 2014 - Day Seven? - Cabin Transformation

It is Sunday. We arrived a week ago tomorrow. So, I guess that makes this day seven! Time is flying.

Let me catch you up on a few things, then we'll switch to the main topic for this post.

Friday night, after dinner, we built a fire in our outdoor fire pit. It used to be at the back of the cabin and in a place that was not very "comfortable" to just sit and warm ourselves by the fire. So, I moved it to the front of the cabin, on a nice flat space near the picnic table, and I think that will work much better. We enjoyed a shot of whiskey (Buffalo Trace is our current favorite), and watched the sun set and the stars come out. It was very nice. The dogs just laid there quietly by the fire.

Saturday was busy.

First, I figured out that the furnace probably is working fine with the new pressure switch. It just takes about 45 seconds before the "whoosh", which seems like a very long time when you are standing there waiting. It worked yesterday morning and again this morning. I'll test it another few times before calling Grant and declaring victory.

We decided to buy a couple of pieces of furniture that we saw at Bart's on Friday. So, after checking the game camera (we got a photo of a moose!), we took off for Laramie. We arrived a bit early, so went into town to get gas (I took a couple of empty 5-gallon gas cans in), and to wander the Hastings store. I'm sure Lynne will blog about Hastings in Laramie, but I can tell you it is a fun and fascinating store. We bought a couple of books and a USB charging center for all our mobile appliances.

At Bart's we picked out two book cabinets (although one was no-doubt originally a CD cabinet). We rejected our other furniture choices (clothes dressers, mostly). Upon getting the book cases home, we decided to go ahead and finish our re-arranging of the cabin so we could place them where we wanted them. That meant moving the sofa, coffee table, chairs, rugs, and other stuff we had in our "living room". 

The cabin, which is essentially one big room, is now divided into smaller distinct rooms, mostly by the placement of furniture. And, we really like it.

Here is a photo of the antique hoosier that we moved into the open space of the kitchen. It may seem weird to have a piece of furniture stuck in the middle of a room like this, but it works great. It provides us with additional storage and a work surface that we never used before. The piece of amazing and beautiful furniture was being wasted in its previous location. (You can see Hailey laying on the floor partially hidden.)

Here is one of the new pieces of furniture, placed against the back of the hoosier. This is a shallow set of glass-fronted shelves which we will use for CDs, DVDs, shallow books and also spices and other pantry items. (You can see part of Bella laying on the floor to the right.)

This small dresser/desk used to sit by my side of the bed. I used it for computer work, the printer is on top, and the drawers held some of my clothes. It is now moved out where the hoosier used to be and has become the place where all the "office" work is done. Lynne is busy working on a blog post. (And, there is Hailey again.)

This is the re-arranged living room. The furniture in the room has been rotated 90°. The sofa used to face the fireplace. This arrangement better separates the living space from the bedroom, and also allows us to make better use of the chairs in the room. The TV is in the cabinet to the left of the fireplace.

And, now a couple of bedroom shots. The first is looking from the living area into the bedroom. The second is looking from the bedroom into the living area. Notice that we've turned the dressers so that instead of being against a wall, they form a wall? This provides a more efficient use of space and creates more separation between rooms. We now have plenty of room for some additional furniture such as dressers or book shelves. Also, the bed used to be against the log wall and facing the living area. It is now rotated to our one interior wall and faces the east windows.

Finally, here is a shot of our new book case which sits against the back of Lynne's dresser. Looks nice, huh? Quarter-sawn oak in pretty good shape. And, we got a good price on it.

Tags:  cabinphotos
Posted under: Cabin News • by Rick on 09/21/2014 at 07:45 AM
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