Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Here for a 2-Week Visit

Posted by: Rick

Over the past three days we've trekked across half of America to spend a couple of weeks at the cabin. It is three days here, and three days home. So, a two week visit to the cabin is really three weeks away from New Jersey.

We drove Lex, the new Ford Expedition. Wow, what a nice vehicle to travel 1800 miles in. The ride was smooth. The V6 engine does a great job. The turbo kicks in if you need power, but mostly it hums along giving us around 17.5 mpg the whole way. That is a good 2 mpg better than the Suburban ever did. And, the conveniences in the truck are great. Sure, there are adjustable seats and steering wheel, dual climate controls, etc. But, the "gadgets" are the best. The ability to hook up the iPod and listen to music or podcasts, is great. (Although, for music we usually listen to SiriusXM satellite radio.) But, Lynne really likes the ability to view a weather map on the touchscreen display!

It has been raining. A lot. But, we found mostly dry roads on the way in and arrived with a mostly clean truck. Not what I was expecting.

Our chores upon arrival, more-or-less in order, are:

  • Close the water drain taps in the crawlspace and turn on the water
  • Turn up the water heater
  • Sweep up the thousands of dead cluster flies in the cabin
  • Turn on the propane to the oven/stove and light the pilot lights
  • Turn on the propane to the refrigerator and spend 20 minutes trying to get it to light
  • Build a fire in the wood stove to heat the cabin up
  • Power up the satellite Internet (it worked!), and reauthorize the satellite TV
  • Unload the truck and put everything away
  • Walk the dogs

Those are the big ones anyway.

Dinner on the first night is almost always "trailer spaghetti". We call it that because it has been our "first night out" dinner any time we travelled somewhere with our travel trailer, (and later motor home and now T@B trailer again). Fry up some hamburger while you boil water. Pour a store-bought jar of pasta sauce in with the meat and simmer. Cook spaghetti. Combine, scoop onto a plate, top with grated Parmesan and eat.

It rained and hailed. It is not unusual this time of year to get afternoon thunderstorms. We got rain, thunder, hail--and for most of the afternoon. Still, it is wonderful to see the green countryside and to know that the trees and grasses are getting a good soaking this year.

Today, our first full day here was spent doing a few small chores and mostly getting rest from the long trip and starting the altitude adjustment process. (Yes, "altitude" not "attitude".) We are about 8650 feet up. That's about 8000 feet higher than the house in NJ. The air here is thin. Water boils at 180°F.

I'll write about two events of note, and then close for the day.

We saw a beautiful young doe in the meadow this morning. She actually circled around the meadow three times, each time checking out a stump on which we usually leave a salt lick or mineral block.

And, I baked some bread.

When I told Lynne I was posting a photo of the "doe", she thought I meant "dough". Doh! Anyway, here it is:

Arrival at the Cabin

Posted by: Lynne

On the way in along Brubaker Lane.

Hello from 8,600 feet above sea level! We arrived at the cabin yesterday around 1:30 p.m. after a brief shopping trip at Safeway in Laramie. The roads were not as bad coming in as we had feared they would be after all the rain they've had. Lex did not get too muddy -- darn. 

Once we arrived we set to work sweeping up dead flies by the dustpanfull and Rick worked on getting the cabin working again: turning on the water, checking the batteries, starting the propane fridge (which is a pain!) and turning on the internet and TV (which used to be a pain but is now a breeze) before bringing in all our stuff from the truck in.

While unloading the truck hummingbirds kept zipping by us. Get the feeder ready they seemed to be saying. The stellar jays showed up as soon as I put their food out too. Home Sweet Home.

It also rained on us, and then proceeded to hail on us. The hail was small so it wasn't a big deal, but it did hail enough to have large chunks of ice falling off the roof. Our resident snowdrift that forms every winter is still pretty large. Bart's creek is running like crazy with runoff from the snow melt. The girls enjoy the leftover snow,

The aspens have started to unfurl their leaves but not by a lot. We are due for some warmer weather next week so that might make them really pop. We have some wildflowers, mostly the alpine kind (I'll explain in my next post), and we are hoping that all the normal ones will bloom before we have to leave. We have pasque flowers wherever the snow has recently melted.

Much more to come!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Countdown

Posted by: Lynne

We are counting the days until our departure. Count 'em: two to go!

In case I didn't mention it before, we have decided that it's time for Lex to stretch his legs and see how he performs on the open road and also on the (probably) muddy dirt roads that lead to the cabin. Most of our drive from the cabin into Laramie is over dirt roads scattered with open range cows and antelope. Lex has a very cool feature that adjusts the suspension for different rides. Our roads can become very washboarded and rough, so it will be interesting to see if that feature makes a difference. It's just not a good vehicle for up there until it gets coated with red mud!

Our grass seed arrived safe and sound here in New Jersey. Now we just need to carry it back to Colorado and spread it around our meadow so the moose, deer and elk will come more often. 

I am looking forward to blogging from my own computer this year. In years past I've only had my iPad or share Rick's laptap. Now I have my own since we replaced my outdated desktop computer. Have computer, will travel! Woohoo! I am loving the laptop. Now I won't have to transfer all my photos off Rick's when I get home. I am hoping to feel inspired this year to take really interesting photos. We shall see.

We pack up the truck tomorrow!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Making Lists and Checking Them Twice

Posted by: Lynne

"Don't Fence Me In"

One week from today we'll be on the road west, somewhere in Ohio. I'm starting to make lists upon lists. Lists of things to take. Lists of things we need to buy and take with us. Lists of things I need to do to the house to get ready to leave it for three weeks in case someone comes to look at it. Stop the mail. Buy paint so Ray the Painter can paint our outside walkways while we're gone. Leave a check for the cleaning ladies and the plant watering lady. Don't forget the cowboy hat! And so it goes ...

I don't know what kind of weather we'll find up there since they've had lots of variety in the snow and rain categories. But we'll take whatever it gives us and enjoy each day. 

Our new furnace was hopefully installed this week so that is one less thing we'll have to deal with when we get there. We'll be planting our grass seed that instead of being delivered to our neighbors up there, is now making its way from Cheyenne, Wyoming to our address here in New Jersey. The FedX guy could not find the address for the life of him. The seed will be well traveled.

Here is a look at the mess our meadow was in after having it logged back in 2010.

Here is how it looked last year after having it cleaned up.

The slash piles you see have been burned over the winter and are no longer there. Here is where the grass and wildflower mix will be planted.

We have plenty of other things going on while we are there such as a refurbished propane generator to replace our tiny little gasoline one. Much better than lugging fuel cans full of gas from town, this will be hooked directly in to our propane tank for the cabin.

And of course, there are jigsaw puzzles to be done, books to be read, walks to be taken. Hopefully we'll see some moose while we're there since this is "baby" time for them.

And maybe a herd or two of elk.

We're counting the days!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Fast Does a Pine Tree Grow?

Posted by: Lynne

This little pine tree in our "front yard" started itself as a seedling. We've been keeping track of its growth.

Here is the first pic we took in 2010:

I thought we had taken once per year but I can't for the life of me find one from either 2011 0r 2012.

 

Here is 2013:

And last year, 2014:

It's coming along nicely!

NOTE: for clarification, Rick is 6"2" to give you an idea of scale.

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