Hidden Meadows Lane is still closed and it looks like it will be for a while. Some progress has been made however, because a week ago the post on the right was barely sticking up above the snow. There are two other big reasons why the road will remain impassable for a long time. BIG reasons.
These poor beetle-killed pines have fallen across the road and will need to be removed. The big drift on Avalanche Slope will have to melt first though since we can't get the Ranger down there to do anything about them. No hurry, no one is going to be using the road until June anyway. Maybe some time in May, it just depends. They will make a couple of cords of firewood, at least. Easy pickings too.
The weather has been rather glorious if I say so myself. It's teasing us with that hint of spring, and the other day along the road to town we even spotted a bluebird! Other birds are on the move too as we've seen Pine Siskins, Juncos, and a White-Breasted Nuthatch (which were a dime a dozen in New Jersey but less seen here). The usual crowd of Steller Jays, Camp Robbers, Magpies and Chickadees are still here and busy.
We took advantage of the melting snow and the nice weather to take several long walks with the dogs. Hailey amazes us at her ability to keep up with us and even get in some runs at the old age of 13. Go Hailey!!
I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have Lex in our driveway. Any time we want we can go out and get in him and drive to town —right from our driveway! We were so giddy the other day we loaded up Hailey and Destin and drove to get the mail. (Bella hates riding in the truck, go figure.) We've also made several (pretty much unnecessary) trips into town, just because we could. We took Destin in with us on Saturday and although he had to wait in the truck while we shopped in several places he did go into Ace Hardware to see his buddies that have coo-cooed him since he was a pup. He also got to walk around Laramie a bit and sit with Rick on a bench outside the yarn shop (where I was) and even licked a little baby's face (the parents wanted to introduce their baby to him!). Oh, and he also got to lick Rick's ice cream cone. It was so nice! The sun was shining, it was warm, and just a beautiful day.
On Friday we actually went out to dinner to Wood's Landing. Woohoo, aren't we the jet setters!
It's a good thing we did what we could while we could because this week there is "the potential for a major snowstorm." Bummer. Just when all the piles around the cabin are melting and the roads are clear. It sounds like we could get close to a foot of snow. So, no more last-minute jaunts to get the mail, etc. We will have to trade out trucks at H's house and leave Lex there and pick up the Suburban which we have chains for, and leave the Suburban at the top of the hill at our neighbor's.
We'll make one more trip in to town before that arrives to get whatever we think we may need for the next week and then we'll be housebound again for a while. Maybe it won't be as bad as predicted, we'll just have to wait and see.
The past few days have led to a LOT of snow melting. The days have been sunny, the temperatures well above freezing (even overnight), and the wind has blown--hard. Right now, it is 7:30 AM and the temperature is 46°! The winds contribute a lot to the melting, but are starting to get to us. It is just too windy, even on a "warm" day, to go outside and do anything. We can't take a walk in the open, because gusts are upwards of 50 to 60 mph. We can't walk in the sheltered woods for fear of a dead tree coming down. Plus, the melting snow is now we and slushy and even with snowshoes on, we sink a couple of feet into the snow. Can you say "cabin fever"?
It seems the jet stream has dropped down so that it is clipping the mountains at elevations of 8500 feet or more. Estes Park and Berthoud Pass have both registered 100 mph gusts overnight.
It is nice to see the snow levels drop. I cleared the driveway of drifts yesterday and now it is melted all the way down to the dirt in many places. We can see our Adirondack chairs at the camp fire site again. Old frozen dog poop is being slowly revealed. However, with the melting comes mud.
We still don't have the Expedition "out" where we can drive it, but I really don't like taking the Ranger to the Suburban since we end up driving mostly on dirt (mud) roads. There is some snow here and there, but the trip is not much fun without the snow to cushion the ride.
I bought 50' of snow fence the other day. It is laying in rolls at the top of the driveway. Sometime next week (when it is supposed to be warm and sunny but with no wind), I'll string it up in the woods west of the driveway to try to keep it from drifting in there. That would be nice. Although, I must admit that the Husqvarna snow blower with tracks on it does a phenomenal job of clearing the drifts (as long as I have not driven on them with the Ranger).
One other quick note. The other evening, after dark, we took the dogs out for their final opportunity to pee before going to bed. We call it "finals", and the dogs definitely know that word. Anyway, we walked to the top of the driveway and were walking back, admiring the almost-full moon, when I saw something on the small porch at the door. I alerted Lynne and we both saw that it was the fox. It saw us, and luckily the only dog that saw it was Destin who was on lead. It just stood there looking at us. It was not afraid at all as we continued to approach the porch. It even stretched out and pawed at the logs next to the door as if asking to come in! After a bit, it took off. But, not far. It just went onto the snow bank about 50' away and sat there looking at us as we got the dogs back into the cabin. I think we have a pet fox now.
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!
My first attempt at this post did not show the video. Here it is again.
The other day there was a huge herd of elk in our meadow. Most were behind the game camera we have set up to take video. But, three cow elk wandered into the middle of the meadow where we have a bale of hay for an early morning snack. The video camera caught them gnawing away. You can see the light on in the kitchen. You can even see me walk by the window early in the video. When I opened the curtains in our dining area, it spooked these elk and they ran. That spooked the entire herd and they all ran up to the road and along the road to the south. We wonder if this is the same herd with the "big boy"? (Photo at the bottom of this post.)
It's been a good couple of days for viewing wildlife. I think we are all glad that hunting season in the high country has come to an end. Yay, no more orange!
The pronghorn antelope herd that has been living just over the hill from us is pictured above, obviously before our last snowfall. We never know when we are going to come across them. There are about 30 of them as near as we can count.
On Thursday when we got up it was still snowing with about three inches on the ground already. When I pulled open the curtains and looked outside, there was a big black moose standing just inside of the Ewok Forest at the edge of the meadow. At first I thought it was the big black cow that was hanging around so much throughout the summer. Then it started to walk into the meadow and HELLO — it was Big Boy honoring us with a visit, not the cow moose I had orignally thought. It was truly hard to photograph him because the camera kept focusing on the snow coming down! Look at those paddles! We keep hoping he sheds them somewhere where we can find them. In fact, we are thinking of buying a kit that teaches a dog how to find and bring back antlers. Destin has such a great nose that we think it would be fun for him. Good luck and haha, right?
We were glad the dogs had already had their out pretty early on because Big Boy decided our meadow was a good place for an early morning nap. Photos just don't do him jusctice. He is HUGE.
Here he is when he first laid down and then a little later on. Funny how the snow seems to fall in a blanket on his back instead of covering him all over.
Big Boy you are welcome any time!
As far as our feathered friends are concerned, we've had some sightings there as well. Going in to town we sometimes see eagles, both bald and golden and lots of different hawks. We have missed several great photo opportunities lately, one being two mature bald eagles sitting together on a rise. No cameras! So now every time we go into town we both have our cameras with telephotos lenses at the ready. We went one week without seeing any big birds at all, which we chalked up to having our cameras with us every time.
Wednesday we had to go in to get eBay's food from the vet and we got lucky a few times.
We are pretty sure this is an immature bald eagle because of the mottling of the underside of the wings.
A little further on we came across this golden eagle sitting on the post of a cattle guard. Pretty head!
On the way back from town we took a different route since we had also gone to the feed store to get a couple of bales of hay to put out for the deer and elk. There is an eagle's nest in a big cottonwood tree and we see the pair of golden eagles that live there once in a while.
This time instead of seeing the eagles by the tree we found this hawk (unsure of identification) sitting in the cottonwood. Hawks came be so hard to identify. My best guess is a ferruginous hawk. He blends in well!
And finally, a golden eagle just down the road.
Stupid pole, but you can see the huge wingspan.
We never know what we are going to see either here at home or on the road!