Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Sunday, April 09, 2017

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

Posted by: Lynne

Sigh.

Two weeks ago while on a drive we came across these beautiful harbingers of spring: pasque flowers blooming a tad bit early. How exciting! However since then Spring has been playing a game of hide and seek with us. After we saw the pasque flowers, this came along.

A sticky, wet Spring snow that coated everything in white cotton candy. It was only about three inches or so.

That melted, then along came this slighlty more significant storm that dropped somewhere between 8-10 inches on us.

In between the snow melted and we could see patches of ground again in spots. And lo and behold on our very own land, we saw lots of pasque flowers struggling to bloom and also buttercups.

And just when we were getting used to walking around without putting on boots, a storm predicted to bring 1-3 inches of snow instead dropped a foot on us.

But the good thing about spring snows like this — they don't stick around for very long.. They pack a lot of moisture too. This snow did pretty much close up the roads for a couple of days and we had to take the Ranger down to H's house to pick up Lex when we FINALLY went to pick up our new travel trailer. While we were gone the logging company that is bringing out logs from further up the county road plowed the road, so coming home we certainly did not need the Ranger.

Here we are at the dealership ready to roll on home!

The trip home was uneventful and we both really liked the way it felt while towing, very solid. We picked a wonderful day with no wind (thank goodness). Lex handled the load extremely well considering the drive home is all uphill! Our lovely little home on wheels is now at its new home at the storage facility in Laramie. We've spent the last two days in town outfitting her for our upcoming trip. We still have a few things on our list that are needed, but we made great progress getting things put away. We are excited for the maiden voyage! It still does not have a name. Rocky and Woody have been thrown out there (because it's a RockWood model) but RIck did not like the connotation of Woody and I didn't care for Rocky. Maybe Roxie? We're hoping that spending more time in and around it will lead us to the right name.

In our weaving endeavors, I have finished my second scarf:

and Rick has mug rugs (aka coasters) on the loom. When finished they will be cut apart and the yarn intbetween each coaster will become fringe. So far he has five completed and he will just keep on until the warp gives out. We are loving the pattern this yarn is making! Can't wait to start using them.

So, I think that about catches you up on the month of April so far. So many fun and exciting things coming this Spring! Our trip to Albuquerque to see the family, Destin's debut in the show ring, the renovation of the outside of the cabin, Rick's Mom's visit in June .... all that is ahead of us in the coming months.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Not ALL the Snow is Gone ...

Posted by: Lynne

Yesterday we donned our snowshoes and went to check out the status of the big drift on Avalanche Slope. There was so much snow we could not snowhshoe around the drift safely, so we went through the woods below instead.

In the photo above, there IS a road underneath all that snow, level with the aspen trees sticking out of the snow on the left side. I think it will be awhile before anyone can drive on Hidden Meadows Lane! We've had a lot of melting going on and in places the snow is down by several feet but it hasn't seemed to affect this drift very much.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Looks Like We Made it!

Posted by: Lynne

"X" marks the spot over our land. The cabin is in the trees to the left.

I am being a bit premature here folks, but as Rick's last post indictated, we have made it through our first winter and spring is imminent. We will have a few backsliding moments and snowfalls, which at this time of year can be in feet instead of inches, but it won't last.

I liken getting through winter to a woman's labor to give birth. Now mind you, I've never had a child being that Rick and I chose not have children, but I've had enough friends that have given birth to know something about the subject. At the moment all you can think of is the pain it's causing and in the throes of labor you say I'm never doing this again. But then, finally, your baby arrives and is put into your arms and you forget what you've just been through. Given a little time you will have forgotten all about it and you're ready to do it all over again.

That's about the way I feel regarding this past winter. It wasn't all that bad and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or shall I say, the actual ground where the snow is completely gone. Spring will be just as sweet and welcome as a newborn baby when it arrives (it won't be long!) and we'll forget about the not-so-fun aspects of the winter we've just gone through. By summer it will be only a fleeting memory.

So, yes of course, we are staying on for the next winter. 

Even though it looks as though we have a snowstorm bearing down on us today and snow on and off next week, I can't really complain too much. Like I said, it won't stay around for long. This past week we've had such glorious weather. It gives one hope for more to come. I've been doing laundry at a frenetic pace (two load per day is a lot for us) and hanging it all out on the line. With the brisk breeze, the sun, and temps above 50 it doesn't take them long to dry. When I bring them in they smell so sweet and fresh. I'm almost caught up with the backlog except for sheets and a duvet cover.

We've sat outside on the porch. We've taken walks after dinner. All things that we could not have done even a few weeks ago. Yesterday I even sat on the front porch to weave. It was a bit chilly but not bad at all.

Here is proof of our progress:

Rick standing on propane tank, March 2nd.

Propane tank March 8th

Propane tank a few days ago. wowza.

Snow fence March 4th

Snow fence a few days ago.

Bench in the aspens March 13th.

Bench in the aspens this morning.

BUT ... now that the snow is gone in places we are left with ugly beaten-down vegetation that hasn't seen the light of day since December! It's not pretty. And what snow that is left is dirty and not very pretty either. It's kind of challenge to walk because there are spots without any snow mixed with some pretty deep drifts that are now slushy and we're not able to walk on top of it anymore. So, snowshoes aren't very useful either unless you want to take them on and off. The dogs can't figure out why they are suddenly sinking in places that before there were able to walk on top of. We tend to stick to the roads on our family jaunts.

All in all, it's a pretty good outlook from here on out, even if we get a big snow (which of course we will, always do).

Bald Eagle on Brubaker Lane

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sure Signs of Spring

Posted by: Rick

It is the first day of Spring, and while we will still likely see lots of snow, there are some sure signs that Spring is arriving.

Other than the tremendous amount of snow melting which Lynne posted about recently, there are other signs:

  • There is now more than 12 hours of official sunlight each day. The batteries are getting a full charge by early afternoon.
  • Instead of snow, we have mud. You can tell it is Spring by the amount of dirt on the entry rug.
  • There is the slightest hint of a green hue in the prairie grasses.
  • Prairie dogs are out of hibernation and active. The hawks and eagles love this!
  • Lots of "new" birds are around: Colorado Mountain Bluebirds, Evening Grosbeaks, Robins, Pine Siskens.
  • The owl is starting his evening ritual of hoo-hoo-hooing.
  • People are starting to venture into the area, driving around to see which roads are open. Landowners are assessing access to their cabins.
  • The heater has not run overnight in almost a week. Overnight temperatures are staying well above freezing. (That can change!) It is warm enough for us to sit on the porch for lunch or for an evening glass of wine.

We are watching for other signs, too. More active wild animals; the first pasque flowers (a wild crocus); buds on the trees promising leaves soon.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

FedEx (and a Senior Moment) Ruined the Day

Posted by: Rick

Today was to be a fun, dog-free day. We decided to leave the dogs at home (after some early morning exercise) and drive to the Ames Monument and surrounding area. It was to be a sunny, warm, stress-free day. 

The Ames Monument is a pyramid like structure built at the highest point of the transcontinental railroad shortly after its completion. It has a rich history linked to the railroad, as does most of this country around Laramie, WY. I'll not get into details in this post, and give a more complete explanation and history in the future (once we actually get there).

After 4-1/2 hours and about 185 miles, we got back home tired and cranky.

The day went something like this:

We left the cabin at about 10:15 in the morning after walking the dogs for a long while, giving them exercise and a good mid-morning bathroom break. We planned to leave them in the cabin for 4 or 5 hours, so this seemed a good precaution. Especially for Hailey who has developed a problem with her bladder and can't hold pee too terribly long.

We had two objectives: see the Ames Monument and eat lunch at the Bunkhouse Bar on Happy Jack Road just west of Cheyenne. Happy Jack Road is an alternate to I80 when traveling between Laramie and Cheyenne. It is more scenic and less stressful than fighting with the truck traffic on the interstate. Ames Monument is off I80 however, and there is no easy way to get from one road to the other except in Cheyenne or at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Monument at the top of the Laramie Range a few miles outside of Laramie.

So, given the time, we decided to eat first--driving Happy Jack Road to the restaurant--then, pop over to I80 and stop at the Ames Monument on the way back.

We found the restaurant around 11:30 and ordered a couple of sandwiches and had a good, but not spectacular lunch. While there I got a notification from Amazon that a package we'd ordered (something to make Hailey more comfortable and less likely to pee on the rug) could not be delivered. I immediately knew we were dealing with FedEx again.

I was pretty angry because I'd paid extra shipping to get the package on Saturday, and I was worried about Hailey.

If you've followed this blog for very long, you know the issues we've had with deliveries from FedEx. (Just search for FedEx and you'll see links to several posts on the subject.) They don't show our address in their master database and for some reason--rather than simply calling us--they will try to guess at our address, usually by changing the zip code. Packages then make their way bouncing around Colorado for a while before someone calls to figure it out. We've actually had some luck with a couple of recent packages. My former company sent me a theme calendar by FedEx last week and when the delivery driver could not find my address he simply called me and I told him to deliver the package to the FedEx office in Laramie where I'd pick it up. But, we've had some pretty amazing disasters too. Like the time we ordered two entry rugs on separate orders. One came just fine (I don't recall who was the carrier for that one), however the other one, once we finally tracked it down, had been delivered by FedEx to someone in Georgia! (We got our money back.)

I'll make a long story short and just say that after almost 45 minutes on the phone with Amazon and two different people at FedEx, I lost the cell signal and gave up. I was frustrated and took my anger out on all of them. Lynne say's I was "over the top". This sort of ruined the happy mood of the day.

Finally, after spending all that time standing in the parking lot of the restaurant, we got back on the road. We drove east toward Cheyenne about 10 miles or so, then cut over to I80 and headed back west toward Laramie. Destination: Ames Monument. But, after 15 minutes or so I turned to Lynne and said "are both my jackets in the back"? No. Only my parka.

Damn, I'd left my nice denim vest at the restaurant. As Lynne pointed out, I had on my green vest, but I had worn the heavier denim vest over this lightweight vest. Layering, you know?

So, we turned around at the next opportunity and drove back to the restaurant, which took us a good 20 minutes or more. But, the vest was not there. It was not over the back of the chair where I was sure I had put it. And, no one had seen it or turned it in. I left a card for them in case they found it.

By this time, I was upset still over the FedEx "discussions", we were both frustrated and tired, so we took Happy Jack Road back to Laramie and then on to home.

We'll just try to do Ames Monument some other time soon. And, not take a long detour to eat lunch.

By the way, the green denim vest was hanging on the coat hook here at the cabin.

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  • I can help paint the trim while I’m there!

    Posted to: ‘Before and After (and In-Between)’ by Carolyn Clarke on 06/25/2017

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