Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Monday, October 22, 2018

Webcam Photos

Posted by: Rick

Here is a webcam photo, updated every 5 minutes or so, that shows the current weather conditions the cabin:

Looking west toward Bull Mountain: 

Looking SE

This photo is looking east toward the solar panels.

Looking East

Monday, April 06, 2020

Monday Goin’s On

Posted by: Rick

It is a Monday! A very special day of the week, but I'll get to that later.

First, I want to point out that the last time we went shopping and exposed ourselves to other people was a week ago on Saturday. That's 9 days of isolation with the exception that I had to drop the truck off at the Ford dealership because of a problem we encountered on our last trip to the cabin. But, that also is a story for later.

We still have a pretty decently stocked freezer, but we are running out of other items. So, one of our Monday chores will be to build a meal plan for the next week to ten days and make a shopping list from that. Then, tomorrow, when we pick up the truck (we hope), we will go shopping/foraging. And, we'll try to refrain from exposing ourselves.

This is not really all that new to us. When we lived at the cabin, we really tried to go to town only once a week (or less often in the winter). So, we are pretty good at planning and shopping to the plan. But, after 10 days, we are craving some fresh vegetables and have a few staples we need to stock up on.

Monday is also the day of the week we've set aside to shower, shave, and change our underwear. So, we have that to look forward to. My jeans and flannel shirt should last another week, but the flannel is starting to get a bit warm during the day and has a funny odor.

Natalie is pretty stressed out:

The truck: driving to the cabin last week, the truck's electronics went haywire. It has done this before, about 15 months ago, and was "fixed" by getting a new battery. This time, I'm pretty sure it is not the battery. The truck's display and control systems (radio, navigation, environment) all reboot in a cycle about every 30 seconds. The fan comes on high, at the highest heat setting and blows out the defroster vents. There is no radio control nor any environmental control using the various knobs and buttons. Needless to say, it get very, very hot in the truck very quickly. We have to roll down windows to stay comfortable. Each time the electronics reboots, the truck makes an alert sound "ding". Man, does that get annoying. The good news is that the truck still runs fine. And, if I turn it off and then restart it, the constant cycle of rebooting goes away for a while, but still the controls don't work.

We took the truck to the Ford dealer in Fort Collins last Thursday. They've worked on it for 2 whole days so far with no idea of what is going on. Today, Monday, they are going to bring a Ford engineer into the process, so we'll see what happens. It is not like we are going anywhere. (Although, another few days at the cabin does sound nice. Especially since the weather is so beautiful.)

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.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Before and After (and In-Between)

Posted by: Rick

Picture of the cabin exterior "before". Note the dark stain and how it covers the chinking?

About a month ago we started the process of doing some rennovations on the cabin. A few years ago we hired someone to apply a coat of stain to the exterior of the cabin. We were in New Jersey at the time, so he did the work unsupervised. Our hearts dropped when we first saw it. He had used a very dark non-transparent stain and applied it in a way that it covered the chinking. The beauty of a rustic log cabin was lost to this big brown blob.

The "back" of the cabin. Note the hail damage to some of the lower logs. We were able to get our insurance company to pay for part of the restoration because of the damage.

In addition to rejuvinating the cabin exterior, we also wanted to enlarge the entry deck on the "back" of the cabin and add a fenced-in area for the dogs.

Now when I say "back" of the cabin, that is somewhat ambiguous and others call it the "front". It is the side of the cabin where we have parking and access to the outbuildings, but it is also technically (according to the cabin plans) the back. The front--to me--is the north-facing side with the screened-in porch. Anyway, this ambiguity causes lots of communications problems.

A few years ago, our entry gate blew down. It was two large posts with a cross-piece at the top. The posts rotted at the bottom and the wind blew it over. So, while doing the fencing, we also wanted to create a new and appealing entry.

Here are the "after" photos. Read on for the "in-between" story:

The cabin restored to its original beauty.

Note the new larger deck as well as a fenced-in yard where the dogs can play unsupervised.

The cabin restoration was about a three week process. The crew arrived on May 12th and worked through the 17th. During that time they were able to sand-blast the exterior of the cabin, getting rid of the old stain and then sand the logs down in preparation for three new coats of stain.

You can see the contrast between the old and the new in this photo.

However, the weather forecast was for a huge snowstorm. And, while the crew is accustomed to working in harsh conditions, there would be no way for them to shuttle to town and back each day. And, we could not host a crew of five workers for several days. So, on Wednesday the 17th, they took off for their own homes (most live in the mountains of central Colorado). 

And, sure enough we got snow.

In total, we got about 3 feet of snow over two days.

The crew returned on Tuesday the 23rd and started back to work. There was still some snow on the ground, but they were able to work around that.

Ready for new stain and chinking.

On the same day the crew came back to work on the cabin, another crew showed up to build the deck, put up the fencing and gates, and also build a new entry feature for the driveway. While the snow had melted rapidly over the weekend, there was still some snow that had to be moved in order to do the entry and fencing. Luckily, the crew had a skid steer with a bucket as well as augers to make easy work of that.

A 24" auger was used to drill a huge hole for the two vertical posts at the entry.

Up go the entry gate posts.

An early morning shot of the fenced in yard. It is kind of hard to see in this light, but we'll post additional photos soon.

Since we had a crew of pro stainers on site, we had them stain the barn, too. Now we just need to paint the trim. It will be the same dark green color as trim elsewhere around the cabin.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spring Snowstorm

Posted by: Rick

Snow covered truck

As you will learn in an upcoming post, we took off in our new RV for a while to escape the transition from Winter to Spring. It seems that Mother Winter simply does not want to loosen her icy grip on the weather this year, and although we've had lots of signs of Spring (the aspens are leafing out, a few wildflowers, game on the roam getting ready to give birth to this year's babies, longer days and warmth in the sun), we still get hit with cold nights, snow showers and cloudy days.

Glad we had not taken the tracks off yet.

Soon after getting back from a trip "down South", the crew that is refubishing the exterior of the cabin showed up. They were able to get the entire outside sand-blasted and hand-sanded, and were ready to start the staining process. But, for a week we'd heard a consistent weather forecast: a "significant" snow event on Thursday and Friday. With as much as 30" of snow predicted, that crew bailed out and went home on Wednesday with a plan to return next week.

Cabin is ready for stain!

Not great working conditions.

Sure enough, the forecasters were right (this time) and it started snowing on Wednesday evening. It continued all day Thursday, and while we got huge accumulations, it was not the kind of snow we expected. We were expecting large lazy flakes coming down on a dark and dreary day accumulating wet, heavy snow. Instead, the layer of clouds was thin. It was relatively bright--so much so that we got some battery charging via the solar panels (which I kept clearing off). And, the flakes were small, but very dense.

Finally, some melting.

We probably got 15" to 16" in Thursday, but it also started melting quickly. On Friday, we got about 20" or so. It did not melt as fast. Altogether, I think we got about 3' of snow, with about 2' of that remaining on the ground when the storm passed.

Both trucks are at the cabin, so "snowed in". But, we still have tracks on the ranger. We even drove it over to check in with our neighbors, but it was very, very difficult to find the road. Everything was covered with a blanket of snow and we could not see the sage bushes or make out the path of the road. And, it was so blindingly white that we could not see for a few minutes after coming inside.

At least the snow makes it easier to see where animals have been walking. Here is the track of a large moose.

And, here is where he came from.

Today, Sunday, we are looking at possible rain showers. It melted a lot yesterday when we had bright sun and some wind. I plowed Wapiti Way to the county road, and it appears that there is much less snow at lower elevations and that if we wanted, we could drive out.

The driveway.

It was pretty tough trying to find the road.

Now comes the mud!

The crew will be back on Tuesday and we have a lot of work to do before we start to get Summer visitors in early June.

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    Posted to: ‘Off-the-Grid is Now Off-the-Air’ by Alica Humphryson on 03/06/2018

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