Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

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.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Springtime

Posted by: Rick

We haven't posted much lately. My excuse is that nothing very newsworthy has happened. It has been kind of boring lately. Still snow on the ground, so we can't start wood gathering. Cold, even freezing at night (it is 22°F as I write this), so we can't really do any decorative planting yet. There has been very little wildlife. For some reason we are not motivated to take long walks.

Blowing snow after one of our Spring storms.

It is a difficult time of the year for us. The weather teases us with Spring. We have had a few bright sunny days in the 60s. I want to get outside and start doing outdoor chores: building a planter box, cleaning up trees that came down in the winter, refurbishing the cabin exterior, sitting by the campfire in the evening, fishing! Then, the next day it snows. We are in that seam between Winter and Summer and the weather just can't make up its mind.

April is typically a very wet month. We get heavy wet snows often. But, the snows melt quickly leaving behind mud and the moisure needed for the wildflowers. I've started a Spring 2017 photo gallery that you should visit occasionally. I'll stick photos of the flora and fauna this Spring in that gallery to document our progress. You can access all our photo galleries using the link on the right-hand side of the web page under "Photo Galleries". Just scroll down a bit to find that link any time.

With the melting snow and the warmer weather we start to get sprigs of grass and the trees start to bud. This brings out some of the wildlife in the area. Over the past couple of weeks we've started to see elk--there was a herd of 10 hanging around for a couple of days--as well as some moose. The mule deer are more prevalent, too. Soon, we'll start to see the babies. While the bears will already have had their cubs, the elk, deer, moose and antelope will drop their babies in late May and June.

The fox, who we see all winter, is still visiting.

We've got the itch to take a trip in the new RV. It is pretty well outfitted now with what we think we'll need. We just need to add clothing and food and we are ready to go. The plan was to take off on 1 May for New Mexico to visit my (Rick's) family in Albuquerque. But, the weather is not looking great. I am writing this on the prior Friday morning and we just got a Winter Weather Warning for overnight and tomorrow with the possibility for lots of snow. We'll see. If it does snow a lot, we'll postpone our trip. If not, we will probaby try to go.

Just sitting there ready to go!

The long days are nice. It starts to get light about 5:30 in the morning with sunrise around 6:00, so the dogs begin to stir and Destin jumps up on the bed repeatedly trying to get us up. Then, once we are up, he goes back to bed. Often with eBay (the cat).

Destin and eBay.

The sun goes down around 8:00, but we have twilight long fter that. This means great conditions for a solar powered house. Even on somewhat cloudy days we have a long enough sun exposure to get a good charge most of the time.

With the longer days and the dream of Spring-like weather, comes the itch to grow something So, I've started some herbs indoors. Lynne got me an herb kit for Christmas and I was excited to get it going. But, nothing ever grew. Even after 3 tries. We'd see a bud or two of something green, then they would die. I finally threw away the soil they had provided and used some old potting soil I had in the barn. That seemed to do the trick and now we have starts on oregano, parsley, cilantro, chives, basil and thyme. I've started some mint, too, but it has not sprouted yet. And, we have rosemary and sage that we bought as more mature plants. Just need some tarragon and we are good to go for the summer...assuming they continue to grow.

 

Herbs.

We've been trying a lot of new recipes too, lately. Anything to break up the "same old thing" day after day. Some have been fantastic. Some, bombs. But, it is fun to try new things. Maybe we'll start posting more foodie stuff on the blog!

Sunday, April 09, 2017

April Fools

Posted by: Rick

It has been a while since I posted, so I just sat down to do a "catching up" post. And, I saw that Lynne is working on a post with most of the same info. So, I'll just bring you up to date quickly and she'll fill in the details.

Camel Rock Lost Its Head in High Winds

I usually do an April Fool's Day post to our blogs. In the past, the post was usually about our dogs and was targeted at the Bernese Mountain Dog community.

For example, I once did a post about how much Margaux, one of our female BMDs who is no longer with us, enjoyed our hot tub as long as it was set to 102.5°. And, that any temperature below or above that was not acceptable to her. You'd be amazed at the hostile replies I got telling me that putting our dog in the hot tub was not good for her (or the tub). We have actually never even owned a hot tub.

Another time I posted about how the rug we had in our living room, which was made from spun hair from our nine Bernese Mountain Dogs, always made the house smell like wet dog when we shampooed it. A few months later a BMD breeder visited us and ask to see the rug!

Anyway, this year I took a photo of a famous landmark at Sand Creek Park. The landmark has two names. When viewing it from the north or south, it is known as Chimney Rock. You've probably seen lots of photos of it on this blog. When viewed from the east or west, it is know as Camel Rock (see photo below). I used Affinity Photo on my Mac to edit the photo, moving the camel head down the hill as if it had been lopped off (see above photo). I then posted this to the Sand Creek Park Landowners Facebook page with a few short words about how the wind had blown the head off the famous landmark and that it would now need a new name. (At least when viewed from the east and west.) 

Some people got the joke right away. But, some were fooled I guess. The post was shared a couple of dozen times and viewed about 2200 times (last I checked). 

What Camel Rock Really Looks Like

The death threats are slowing down now, ten days later.

There is a lot more going on. We've had a couple of heavy, wet spring snows. One of about 8" and another with about 12". They seem to come on Tuesdays. Of course, this time of year the snow only lasts a couple of days due to the warm, sunny days and warm winds. We did have to take the Ranger out after the last storm because we had an appointment to pick up the travel trailer. So, we drove the tracked vehicle to our tow truck's location at Mr. H's house near the CO/WY border. When we got back, a logging company had plowed the county road, so we ended up driving 5 miles on dirt and mud instead of snow.

When it is bad outside, we work on our weaving. Lynne will show photos of the "mug rugs" I'm working on for the trailer.

We are not yet seeing wildlife: deer, elk, moose. However, we have seen the fox around lately and we've seen lots of hawks and eagles now that the prairie dogs are out and about.

That's about it for now. We are in that transistion between Winter and Spring, and can hardly wait for full-on Spring. (It is snowing as I write this.) I'll try to do a better job of keeping things up-to-date!

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.

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“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” – Georg Wilhelm, O Magazine, September 2003

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  • Thanks Lynne,

    Very nice pics.  In the high country, Crater Lake, Oregon, the Blues or…

    Posted to: ‘A Quick Trip to the Snowy Range’ by Tom on 08/13/2017

  • Larry & Helga, thanks so much for keeping up with our adventures. I know I…

    Posted to: ‘A Quick Trip to the Snowy Range’ by Lynne on 08/12/2017

  • We so enjoy your pictures - I sure am jealous. Many thanks.

    Posted to: ‘A Quick Trip to the Snowy Range’ by Larry and Helga Bogardus on 08/12/2017

  • Next time I come visit that will on the to do list!  Posted to: ‘A Quick Trip to the Snowy Range’ by Carolyn Clarke on 08/12/2017

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    Posted to: ‘Fire Season’ by Rick on 07/22/2017

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