Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Friday, February 03, 2017

Frustrated, but Through Segment #1

Posted by: Rick

I am starting to get a bit frustrated with snow management.

As I think everyone knows, we were lucky to get our Suburban parked at Mr. H's place at the state line. And, we can get to it via the Ranger with about a 45 minute trek, no matter what the weather conditions are or how much snow we have. So, we are not technically, "snowed in", and do have the ability to get off the mountain.

Still, I'd love to swap the Suburban with the Expedition, using the Expedition to get into town, and keeping the Suburban (with chains on) at our neighbor's place next to us. That way, if the roads are passable from here, we can take the Suburban to the state line. That means a faster trip and a lot more cargo space.

To get the Expedition out of here, we have several "segments" to complete. Segment #1 is just getting it out of the driveway. Our driveway is narrow, has a tricky curve in it, and also has an uphill grade to get to Hidden Meadows Lane.

Segment #2 is Hidden Meadows Lane from our driveway to Wapiti Way. That is tricky because there is a tree that creates a snow fence causing 3 foot drifts to accumulate on the road. It isn't a very long stretch, but we need to get past that.

This is the short segment of Hidden Meadows Ln that we need to cross to get to Wapiti Way. It was clear a few days ago, but has since blown in.

Segment #3 is from the Hidden Meadows / Wapiti intersection to the "top of the hill" where we meet up with our neighbor's efforts to get out. Getting to this point is nice because we now have two households working to get out.

This is segment #3, obviously taken on a different day. This is from Wapiti Way and Hidden Meadows Ln, looking up across the prairie to the "top of the hill".

Segment #4 is all of Wapiti Way to the County Road (89), and down the county road to where a ranch fence and gate causes two significant drifts in the road. Known locally as the "gate" and the "trap", these can be real problems because there is no way around them. Segment #4 can be "cheated" some, because we can drive off the road and on high points of the prairie where the wind has blown the snow clear. In other words, we can usually drive around any problem areas.

This photo is of most of segment 4, along Wapiti Way to the county road, where I'm standing to take this photo. So, this is looking back toward the cabin site rather than along the road toward the state line. You can see the road in the upper right third of the shot.

But, this is not true once you get to segment #5: the gate and the trap. These have no path around them and so must be cleared by hand.

The trap, segment #5, above.

The gate in segment #5.

Segment #6 is another relatively easy segment because it typically blows clear. It stretches from the "gate" to where Coyote Xing (sic) intersects with County Rd 89. 

The above photo shows much of segment #6. You can get through most of this with chains on a 4WD truck.

The above is the end of segment #6 and the beginning of segment #7. While it is a bit clogged up this year at the intersection, once you are on Coyote Xing, it is pretty smooth sailing. I don't have photos of this segment of the trip because we don't go that way with the Ranger. We go over the snow on the road.

Segment #7 is Coyote Xing to Buffalo Run to Ferret Circle to Snow Pass which then joins County Rd 89 very close to the state line. Again, while complicated, this segment usually blows clear and is no problem to navigate. It is a necessary "long cut" around a stretch of County Rd 89 at the Wurl Homestead that is always deep in snow.

This shows where Snow Pass rejoins the Co Rd 89 (at the bottom of this hill) and the state line is at Chimney Rock. This is usually so passable, I don't even count it as a sement of the journey!

Back to my frustration. Two days ago, I had segment #1 and segment #2 open -- largely due to my neighbor clearing them with a tractor. However, we discovered we could not transit segment #3, so parked the Expedition back at the cabin. We've had a lot of wind the past few days, and sure enough, segment #1 and segment #2 blew full of snow. Very frustrating.

So, I spent half the day today, along with much help from Lynne, opening the driveway back up. It requires wresting the snow blower through dense, packed snow, often only possible by having shoveled the snow into chunks, to the top of the driveway. Once at the top, the snow blower does a pretty good job of cutting slices out of the remaining snow going downhill. When wide enough, I can then scrape it with the snow plow on the Ranger and create hedgerows of snow that the blower can handle with no problem.

Since that is such a chore, we've decided we may just not do it any more. Maybe we'll just let the driveway drift in and just drive over the top of the snow with the Ranger. And, we could get away with that because we moved the Expedition to the top of the driveway. Instead of waiting for all segments of the journey out to be open at the same time, we'll just tackle them one at a time. Like game pieces on a board game, we've moved the Expedition to the next space.

The Expedition, parked at the top of segment #1. About 300' of the journey is done. About 6 miles to go!

Of course, by not keeping the driveway clear (or any segment that we successfull, eventually transit with the truck), we won't have vehicle access to the cabin until May or June. But, we can probably get someone with a skid-steer equipped with an industrial snow blower to open it one final time in early May.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Avalanche Slope

Posted by: Lynne

Yesterday we donned snow shoes and took Bella and Destin to the bottom (which is what we call Hidden Meadows Lane where it winds between our two pieces of property). This area is also dubbed "Avalance Slope" for reasons that will become obvious as our pictorial goes along.

Above is the way it looks now, and below are two photos of the "before". You can see the same tree in all photos. The first before shot is in November, the second in mid-December before we had those big snows around Christmas and New Year's. 

All is buried except for the tallest tree. You can look at the snow level in the first photo and draw a line in the first "before" photo to get an idea of the total snow depth. Pretty amazing, is it not?

Here we are making our way around the huge drift. There's a road in there somewhere!

Here you can see the drift at the top. It looks like a huge wave cresting — look out below if it breaks! This is why Destin is on a leash. With his propensitiy for taking off up sheer cliffs we didn't want him anywhere near that unstable snow.

We expect what happens when that big wave of snow does come loose will look like these "jelly rolls" of snow we found one year in Februrary in one of our trips up to the cabin. I think it might have been 2004 or 2005. 

Here is another example of before and after:

So, yes, we have a little bit of snow!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Keepin’ On

Posted by: Lynne

Chimney Rock

Yes, we're still here. We've had several people (mostly neighbors up here) get a little nervous about our recent purchase of a new RV. They seem to think we are abandoning ship and heading south for the rest of the winter. Ye of little faith, we are not going anywhere until perhaps May. I know my post about "if we ever get outta here" might have sounded a bit bleak, but hey, winter will do that to you once in a while. This is only our first winter and I want to experience it -- fully -- as promised. It's just a matter of not setting expectations of what it's going to be like and go with the flow. 

Our weather is finally cooperating and we are having our January thaw in late January. The past couple of days have been almost balmy (well, above freezing) with a stiff wind. We can see the snow levels going down down down here around the cabin, and even Wapiti is showing the road surface (gasp!) in a spots. Too bad the wind is not a Chinook, that would really melt this stuff in a hurry. But we have to be thankful for what Ma Nature is dishing out right now. She's capricious, so not to be meddled with. We'll take it Ma! Ma, we need a bit more in order to get Lex (our Expedition) out, please? Just sayin'.

We will go next Monday (weather permitting naturally) to have our 2 hour walk-through, pay for the RV, etc. Then they will store it for us for six weeks or so until we can get Lex the Pussy out to have the weight distribution hitch and sway bars installed. The nice thing is that we don't have to pay for storage until then, and the registration for temporary plates (60 days worth) won't kick in until we actually take possession. Another nice price break.

Having a blog and posting about our life here is a little like having a reality TV show that people watch. We don't really have any idea who out there is reading unless you leave a comment or somehow let us know. We got the nicest email from a reader the other day, a really heartfelt, long email saying how much they enjoyed reading the posts, telling us a bit about their lives and also some tips we might use for keeping the storage shed warmer. Thank you, it touched us.

I did manage a load of laundry yesterday and hung it on the line. I think the temp got to around 38 degrees or so, so they mostly dried and just needed a little warm up by the wood stove. Today is supposed to be yet another warm day, so more laundry and even maybe the featherbed cover. Ah, the little things in life.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Meet the New Member of our Family

Posted by: Lynne

 He/she does not have a proper name as yet but OH MY GOSH. We've gone and done it. We are the proud owners of a new RV. It's a Rockwood Ultra Lite (2304DS), 23 feet long, two slides.

From the moment I first stepped inside I had a Lucy and Desi moment. I'm referring to the movie The Long, Long Trailer with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. They go to an RV show where Lucy spies a very large trailer (unlike the tiny one they had come to see) and when she opens the door to the trailer and the doorbell plays a cute little song, she looks at Desi and just grins. At that moment Desi knows it's all over. That is kind of how I felt when I opened the door (no cute little doorbell song though) and stepped inside this beautiful roomy little trailer. Thank goodness it is nowhere near the size of theirs, nor did we have to buy a new vechile to tow it with it. Perfection on wheels!

We had originally gone down to see another trailer altogether but ended up not liking the floorplan as much as we thought we would. We also looked at the same model that we had originally seen in NJ at an RV show, which was just as nice as we had remembered it being, but it lacked some of the add-ons and certainly lacked in storage. It was like comparing a Cadillac with a Chevy. 

Let me take you inside ...

The dinette is on a slide ... and so is the kitchen!

It has the wonderful Murphy bed option which we love because when the bed is up we have a great couch and ottoman.

A closer look at the kitchen. I think the fridge is nearly the same size as the one we have here at the cabin. (The fridge is to the side of the range, see photo above.)  I also like the placement of the kitchen sink because it gives us more counterspace next to the range to work with.

And the bathroom.

There is one teensy little problem with picking it up at the dealer. We had hoped to tow it with our Expedition but as you know, it isn't going anywhere until spring since we can't get it out to the state line. So we'll have to take the Suburban down to pick it up and later on bring both the trailer and the Expedition down to be fitted for the sway bars and etc. Not a big deal, just a tiny glitch. 

We are keeping our little Tab for a while longer to serve as our extra bedroom here at the cabin, but she is just too small for three dogs and a cat.

If we ever get out of here, we are planning our maiden voyage down to Albuquerque to see family. After that? Well, the world is our oyster! 2018 Alaska, we're ready!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Winter So Far

Posted by: Lynne

Haha, right? But seriously folks, it's kind of restricting with as much snow as we have on the ground. We DID however get out Tuesday and took a very quick trip down to an RV dealer in Loveland, only to find that they really didn't have what we were looking for. At least we know that now. 

With all the snow that we have it's hard to go out with the dogs to take a walk. We have to put on snowshoes to go anywhere other than the driveway because otherwise we'd sink up to our hips in snow.

A "going-to-get-the-game-camera" game camera catch!

Hailey can't maneouver anymore in deep snow—her legs get all tangled up trying to lift her feet enough so she sticks mainly to the driveway. Bella plows her way through but it's not easy, and Destin ... well, Destin had no problems but I do worry about him pulling ligaments if he gets in too deep. In places the dogs can walk on top, but inevitably they fall through and have to pull themselves out.

The wonderful plowing job that was done for us to enable us to get the Suburban parked at a "neighbor H's" house at the border has since blown in and is inaccessible by any vehicle except our Ranger. Trips to town are limited due to this because a) it takes a long time: about a half hour to get to H's house, then another 45 minutes into town. b) we don't want to bother H by coming and going all the time and making ourselves unwelcome — he's our lifeline! Considering that the trip to town would normally take us 45 mintues all total, it's wearying.

And, when we do get to town all our time is taken up with things that need to get done and there isn't any time left for just browsing around and taking our time. You don't want to get back as late as we did Tuesday, i.e. as the sun is going down. Well, actually we couldn't see the sun because it was snowing on our way home and it was really hard to see our previous tracks in the road bed and where the deep ruts were where (other) people had gotten stuck and tried to dig out. 

In all honesty, it's not exactly what I had expected, but then again the people who have wintered up here for nine years or so are saying that this is not normal. I am not at the point of Jack Nicholson in The Shining quite yet and it's looking like we will have a break in the weather for at least a week where we don't get any more snow. I don't think it will help the roads any, nor will it help us to get our pussy of a truck out where we could use it instead of the Ranger to go back and forth with, but it will be welcome just the same. Thank goodness for the Ranger!

Hidden Meadows Lane

I keep happy thoughts of how wonderful the wildflower season is going to be when it finally gets here!

We have a new buddy around the cabin, Mr. Red Fox.

He's bold, brazen & beautiful but he's kind of a nuisance. Destin (who has a fabulous nose and tracking sense) likes to follow the fox's trail and wanders off on our walks, right under our noses. One mintue he's with us, the next he's nowhere in sight. Mr. Fox has gotten in our garbage too and strewn stuff throught the forest, which Destin finds. One day he had a cat food can in the meadow and he was having a blast throwing it up in the air and catching it again. Then he had a crumpled-in-half Coke can and had it in his mouth playing it like a castanet. Silly dog, but maddening when he runs off. He is now restrained to leash walks after several long hikes in the deep snow to retrieve him. (By the way, he does come back home, but only when he's ready. I can't bear to leave him that long without knowing where he is.)

We had a visit to the game camera of Big Boy Moose. It only caught his head and front leg this time, but the interesting thing was that it was pretty clear he had shed his paddles — and recently too. Kind of creepy to see where they were! We are hoping, of course, that he shed those big bad boys somewhere in the draw on our property. Next week when we warm up we'll have a paddle hunt mission.

Another side of winter is that it sure would be nice to have a clothes dryer. We thought we could get by without one and we are doing okay, but we were figuring on more sunny days above freezing than what we have had so far. When we got the Suburban out for our day in town a week ago, we had contemplated taking all the stored up dirty laundry into the laundromat, but we just didn't have the time to spare. We ended up with a barely-above-freezing day right after that so I did three or four loads of laundry (including sheets) and was able to hang them on the line, then ended up bringing them in to finalize the dry cycle by the wood stove. I think next year we might install a dryer in the barn. There is room for it and the propane is already right there to hook up to. It would make life just that little bit easier.

Rick and I both have projects going, but that is a topic for another blog post. I think this one has run on long enough.

So, winter continues and if the locals have anything to say about it: the worst is yet to come. Meaning that February through April have been typically the snowiest and stormiest months. We're putting up our dukes for Round 2!

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Recent Comments

  • Sounds like you’re managing well, all things considered! Hopefully the next snowfall won’t be as…

    Posted to: ‘Road Closure and Updates’ by Steve on 02/21/2017

  • Bigsis, it’s just a little tractor! smile It does…

    Posted to: ‘Ironic, Right?’ by Lynne on 02/17/2017

  • BTW, I love your jacket.  Looks cute and WARM.

    Posted to: ‘Ironic, Right?’ by Bigsis on 02/17/2017

  • Wow, you really can drive a big Cat or whatever you call it.  That really…

    Posted to: ‘Ironic, Right?’ by Bigsis on 02/17/2017

  • Glen, I felt right at home up there, you bethcha!

    Posted to: ‘Ironic, Right?’ by Lynne on 02/17/2017

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