Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Game Camera Photos

Posted by: Rick

It is our second day at the cabin, having arrived yesterday. It is very windy. The dogs got a short walk earlier, otherwise we've just been hanging out in the cabin, stoking the fire, reading, playing some games and otherwise entertaining ourselves.

I did struggle through hip-deep snow to retrieve the memory cards from the three game cameras closest to the cabin. So, today's blog will feature four photos. The game cameras are triggered by either motion or heat. And, with the way the wind blows up here, I get lots of false triggers. These four shots were culled from over 3000 photos--mostly of blowing snow, but also some of elk or moose that were just not interesting enough to keep.

This first photo was taken on a snowy and windy day. You can see the mother moose and her "baby" have faces covered with snow. They are looking for what's left of a salt lick that has been knocked off the stump of a tree. It was taken on the morning of October 29, 2019. Note that the temperature was -5°F.

This next photo is only one of several hundred shots of this herd of cow elk. They spent quite a bit of time in the meadow. I kept this shot out because it is clear that a couple of them are having some kind of argument and sparing with each other.

This next photo is of a bull moose that has had part of the paddle of his rack broken off. Am including this because I feel sorry for the guy. However, he will lose both sides within a couple of months and they will grow back bigger and better than ever before! The rack of a moose will grow for about 5 months starting in late winter or early spring. At maturity, a rack can span 50 to 60 inches, making the antlers of a moose one of the fastest growing organs of any mammal.

Finally, the coup de gras, a bobcat. This photo was taken pretty early in the morning and was quite dark. So, I've boosted the exposure to get a better shot of the cat, but it makes some of the other colors a bit exaggerated. What a beauty. And, this was taken in early March, just over 3 weeks ago.

We have three more game cameras that are spread out over the property. But, without snowshoes it would be very difficult to get to them. And, the snowshoes are in the barn which is blocked by massive drifts of snow that I am too lazy to move. Besides, it is pretty windy and I don't like going into that part of the forest, where there are a lot of standing but dead trees, when it is windy. So, we'll save those for another time.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Some Serious Social Distancing

Posted by: Rick

Sunday was a day for cleaning. Lynne cleaned the cabinets, countertops and appliances. Rick dusted, vacuumed and mopped the floors. Some areas got neglected--like the guest room.

We had a nice cheese fondue for dinner with a side salad and watched TV. Another "normal" day.

But, we did decide to go to the cabin on Monday and stay a night or two. I've been pretty concerned about the batteries needing water. And, after a camera failure (and recovery) the other day, I was anxious to see how the cabin was doing. We could also use the trip as a way to ready the cabin for longer stays later in the spring.

We packed provisions we already had at home, and took off about 8:30. The roads are strange. There is some truck traffic, but very little car traffic. We drive up I25, cut over to 287 at Owl Canyon, then up to Laramie, WY where we then cut south on a dirt road. Twenty miles later we enter Colorado again, and 5 miles further is the cabin. We did have to drive off the road and across the prairie in one place close to the cabin to avoid a much-too-deep snow drift. But, we got within a couple of hundred yards of the cabin. We were stopped by a big drift caused by a tree next to the road that makes an excellent snow fence.

End of the road

We carried a cooler and a bag to the cabin. It was somewhat shocking to see how much snow is on our driveway and how high some of the drifts are. There must be drifts that are 4 feet deep.

The driveway close to the cabin

Looks like we won't be getting into the barn this trip

And, we'll have to dig through snow to get to the wood. This is looking back up the driveway toward the gate.

This is the top of our driveay, looking east down HIdden Meadows Lane. This "road" accesses 5 or 6 other properties. 

And, this is HIdden Meadows Lane. At the deepest it is probablyl fifty feet deep along this "road".

The cabin was in fine shape. We keep it heated to 45° during the winter. We just turned up the heat and built a fire in the wood stove and after a few hours were up to 65°, which is quite comfortable.

I watered the batteries. They needed it, and I did not have a lot of distilled water, but every cell got a drink.

We also took the dogs for a short walk (when these photos were taken) and they loved running in the snow.

Lynne is inventing something for dinner that involves ground beef, onion, barbeque sauce. cheese and crescent rolls. Sounds interesting. We'll let you know.

We don't have TV, so will just enjoy the open-hearth fire tonight. With wine. And, whiskey.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Recovering on Sunday

Posted by: Rick

I am recovering well from my fall. I now have a somewhat "black eye" on my right eye where my glasses cut into my eye socket when I fell. Lynne say's I look like I've been in a street fight. Ha. Funny.

Yesterday, we went to Safeway to pick up an online order. They had everything we needed but ketchup and yeast. What is it with yeast? That seems to be the latest thing to horde. Well, people are also clearing the shelves of a lot of bakery items like cake mixes, flour, sugar, etc. I am down to about 1 tablespoon of yeast. I can stretch that a long way. My home made bread only requires 1/4 teaspoon for a whole loaf. Pizza dough needs more, but I think I'd try using an unfiltered yeasty beer (like Odell's Easy Street Wheat) as the liquid and that might turn out great.

Anyway, after Safeway we decided to go to a relatively new King Soopers in Greeley. We'd never been there. It is only about 10-12 minutes from the house (the store in town here is 7-8 minutes). Wow. What a store. It is a superstore! It was well stocked and loosely populated, so may be a good destination in the future. They had eggs, milk and even toilet paper. But no yeast...

Speaking of pizza. We used our last frozen pizza dough to put together a really great pizza for dinner.

How does that look?

The photo of the chicken dish yesterday is terrible. It does not look very appetizing does it? The stove hood lights have a weird color temperture and really screwed up the colors in the photo. You'll just have to trust me that it tastes much better than it looks in that photo.

Today, we are taking it easy. Might try walking the dogs when it warms up. And, we are starting to get antsy about the cabin. The weather over the next 10 days does not look great. Among the two or three nice days there is snow, rain and wind predicted. Still, we may try to get up there in the next day or two, perhaps only overnight, just to check everything out. We could water the batteries (which I am sure very much need it), turn on the refrigerator, and otherwise get the cabin ready for a longer stay.

Stay safe!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Forensics of a Fall

Posted by: Rick

I've gone over it in my head a few times and between my recollection, Lynne's description, and the scrapes and bruises on my body, I think I have a pretty good idea of what happened yesterday.

But first, the promised description of dinner. We had a dish from the Union Square Cafe. You might find it interesting that this restaurant is on Union Square in New York City! We've eaten there a time or two and really enjoyed it. And, they published a cookbook many years ago from which we got this recipe. It is called Momma Romano's Baked Lemon Chicken. Follow the link to the recipe. We paired it with some homemade bread and some roasted baby potatoes. 

It was delicious. Maybe the best ever. I've come to realize that our best dishes are usually the ones where we take a lot of care and time in preparation and cooking, using the best ingredients we can find or afford, and cooking with "love". All the cooking competitions on TV are timed. I think this makes us think we can prepare a delicious meal in 30 minutes. And, maybe a pro chef can. But, taking over 2 hours to make this lemon chicken dish really paid off in flavor. So, since you may have plenty of time on your hands nowadays, I recommend taking your time with the next meal you prepare. Prepare all the ingredients with care ahead of time. Take time and care in the cooking process And, pour a bit of love in on top!

Home made bread

Mama Romano's chicken, still in the pot

Okay, back to the forensics of the fall. I had Natalie on a flexi-lead in my right hand, so she was fully extended out in front of me, about 15 feet. She was squeeking a bit at the dog across the street, but was still walking forward and I was so proud of her I let her have the full length of the lead. Within a second, she decided to reverse course, running at an angle across the street, covering about 30 feet in a second or two. She is over 100 pounds, and that is a lot of mass moving very quickly.

Before I knew what was happening, she hit the end of the lead and pulled me across my body and out into the street. The next second or two happened in slow motion. Based on the scrapes on my knees, hands, shoulder and face, here is what we think happened. I fell, twisting my body to the left. I hit the ground with my knees first, probably letting go of the lead at that time. I put out my left hand to brace the fall, and crashed into the ground with my right shoulder followed a millisecond later by the right side of my head. My glasses frame shattered, cutting into my skin some. I think I bounced a time or two.

Anyway, I am sore, but okay today. My left wrist is particularly sore. But, a couple of aspirin and I'm good to go.

The plan for today is to pick up a grocery order at Safeway, hoping they had everything we needed. It wasn't much, but just a few small staples that one usually doesn't think about planning ahead for--yeast, for example. We've added a few things to the list based on meal plans for the next few days, so we may (or may not) forage for those things.

Be safe!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dog Walking - Try 1

Posted by: Rick

We are really lucky that we have a great place to walk the dogs, even among social distancing. We have a loop we walk, out the front door, turn right, to the end of a long block walking through the neighborhood. Then a right turn, cross the canal, another right turn onto a walking/biking path. We follow that along the canal to a main street where we turn right again, walk to the mailboxes where we check the mail, then on home. It is exactly a 1-mile loop. It gives us and the dogs a bit of exercise almost every day. And, we rarely see anyone else. If we do, it is certainly easy to maintain our distance. Of course, a lot of people are doing the same thing nowadays.

Today, after our walk, I was going to blog about how nice it was to get out and walk the dogs before it starts to rain or snow later.

However, a few hundred yards into the walk, we passed another couple walking their dog on the other side of the road. I was walking Natalie on a flexi-lead. She was being good and I let her all the way out on the lead. Then, she decided to go meet the dog and took off at a full run. This is over 100 pounds of dog at a full run. Lots of momentum there. I did not let go of the leash in time and she pulled me horizontal in the air, and I soon it the ground on my right side--shoulder and head hitting with full force. I must have tried to break the fall with my left hand because that wrist is a bit sprained now.

Where I hit my head

My glasses got completely mauled in the fall.

This is even after Lynne tried to straighten them up some

The man with the other dog ran over to help me up, but, holding firm to social distancing, I told him I did not need help. Instead, I just rolled around on the ground for a while. I really appreciate his offer of help and his concern and I am afraid I might have been somewhat rude to him. Sorry!

I did get up, collected the bits and pieces of my glasses and we decide to walk back home.

I don't really blame Natalie. I knew she was likely to want to go meet the dog. But, she was being so good, I thought we'd just walk on by. 

After cleaning up at home, I called Costco--where I got the glasses--to see if I could order replacements. They are working with a reduced staff and are offering no in-store services, but I was able to order a new pair. They will take about a week to come in. Luckily, I have a set of contact lenses (that I had decided not to wear). Lynne found them buried in the closet and I can get by with those for a week.

Meantime, my head, my right knee and my left wrist are pretty sore. Time for a soak in the tub?

I'm planning to make bread later this afternoon. We'll then have bread for fondue some time this weekend. We are going to have chicken thighs braised in a lemony sauce with caramelized onions and garlic tonight. I'll try to remember to post photos and a link to the recipe tomorrow.

Meantime, I'm trying to get used to having to use "readers" to see the computer screen. But, that is a whole different story.

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