Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Friday, July 01, 2016

Progress Reports, Updates and More Moose

I have been so bad about blogging! I've been pretty active posting photos and such on Facebook but I have neglected the blog. Somehow it's easier and faster to do the Facebook route, but when I do that the readers of the blog that are not on Facebook miss out on a lot. 

First of all, some progress reports:

We now have HD TV. The third try was the charm to finally get a person out to exchange our old Direct TV dish for the new HD one. That happened about three weeks ago and I'm so happy to have a DVR again where we can record our shows, pause shows and all that other good stuff. Our new TV is wonderful and best of all hardly takes any electricity to run at all which is very important in a battery-powered house.

We now have phone service inside the cabin! woohoo! We finally broke down and bought a signal booster and we now have four bars inside and our phone now rings! Amazing! I know this doesn't sound very exciting to most of you, but to us it's a big deal.

The barn delivery. Sigh. Today was the second scheduled day for the delivery of our barn and they cancelled because they were afraid of the rain that was predicted for us. It was put off from its original delivery date of June 17th because they could not get the barn down our driveway without a certain piece of equipment that they had on order. We had to wait for the "mule" to arrive at their facility and then wait for them to mount the "mule" on a flatbed trailer, or whatever. Maybe the third time will finally be the charm for the barn. We are now scheduled for a Wednesday July 6th delivery. Let's hope the roads in aren't muddy and there is not a big rain event happening. We really need that barn to arrive! 

The lupine is rampant in the meadows and along the roadsides right now. All you can see is a purple haze, it's just gorgeous. Now joining the lupine in bloom are the yellow Alpine Paintbrush and the magenta Loco. I need to get out there and take a photo of our "flower garden." 

The rose bushes are going crazy as well as the columbines. I have never seen so many columbines here before. They are spreading across our newly opened meadow.

And folks, none of these were planted, all the flowers are wild.

Now for the birdhouse updates. You'll remember I said we had a resident house wren. Well, that turned out to be a false alarm. He built the nest, sang his heart out for days and when he couldn't attract anyone to come and live with him, he abandoned the twiggy nest. The minute we put another bird house at the top of the driveway, yet another wren made a twiggy nest and then we saw nothing. We peeked in last week to see an egg but no bird around to hatch it. Next time we looked there were a few pieces of shell in the nest and nothing else, so we dumped the contents. Now there is yet another twiggy wren nest being built.

Success with one bird house, a pair of tree swallows are at home and hopefully raising a family. It's supposed to be a bluebird house, but so far no blue bird takers. At least we have a renter, even if it's not blue. We often see them poking their heads out when we go by.

On the moose front, we have seen so many different moose now. Sometimes we only catch them on the game camera, but we've been lucky enough to see a few in real time, like this cow moose and her young calf at our salt lick. The baby was very curious about our fire pit and we watched it as it sniffed our Adirondack chairs. He/she was so close to the cabin that I shot these two pics from the front porch through the screen. The photo of the two of them was taken from the game camera because I could not get a good shot of them. We've caught them on the game camera one other time -- and at the very same time of the day! I vow to look out now every day at approximately 2:30 p.m.

We also had this big bull moose visit us. In fact, on the morning I saw him I had looked out the windows first thing in the morning to be sure no animals were around in the meadow, opened the door to let Destin out and he just stood there looking at something and not getting off the step. When I looked up I saw this huge moose right there in our driveway! Yikes, he was big! I scooped Destin right up and came inside while the moose trotted off up our driveway. The game camera caught him visiting and he was here most of the night before. Here is a capture from the game camera and also a short video clip of him which you can see at the end of the post.

You can see the time stamp on the photos is 4:39 a.m. and I saw him not long after this at around 5:00 a.m. We've seen at least 8 different moose so far and I had started out naming them like I used to name the bears in our yard back in New Jersey. Now I decided that was not going to work -- too many! Love seeing them.

To finish up, we had our very first Rufous Hummingbird of the season this morning. Bossy pants that he is, he's gorgeous! I need to get a photo of him soon.

Well, I hope you've stuck with me through all this rambling on and tons of photos. If you have, bless your heart. I think that about catches you up for now. I'll try and do a better job of blogging so the posts don't get this long!

OH, BUT WAIT ... I left Destin out of this mix. He's growing like the weeds outside and last weight check was this past Monday when he turned 14 weeks old -- 35.2 lbs of puppy! Here he is:

He's had a growth spurt over the past few days and can't lay under the bed anymore. He has outgrown all his favorite spots to sleep and gets very cranky. He continues to be a joy. His adult coat is starting to come in a bit and he has what looks like a receding hairline on his forehead. Pretty soon he'll have a puppy "fro" going on which is always a funny stage of growth. He's growing up fast.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Sand Creek National Natural Landmark

A neighbor posted this link to Facebook a few days ago, and I thought I'd share it with you on the OtG site: Sand Creek National Natural Landmark.

Chimney Rock from the Wyoming side.

The cabin is about 5 miles further up this valley (or "park") and quite a bit higher.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Rufous Hummingbirds Are Here

Every year, in early July, the rufuous hummingbirds make an appearance. They are tiny next to their broadwing cousins. And, they are feisty. They like to guard the feeders, chasing away any competition. It is a wonder anyone gets anything to drink. But, the level of sugar water in the feeders slowly goes down.

This year, Lynne saw the first rufous on 1 July. Now, there are 4 or 5 patrolling our two feeders.

I set up the Phantom LC320S camera and shot this slow-motion footage the other afternoon. This took about 1.36 seconds of "real time" to record, and takes just over 1 minute to play back. The effective time dillution is about 62 times (you are seeing it 62 times slower than it really happened).

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Home Alone with Big Boy

Another misleading title for a blog post. Actually, I am home alone (not counting the three dogs and one cat) while Rick is in New Mexico attending the memorial for his father. I wish I could have gone too, but things worked against us and there was no way we could leave Destin or put elderly Hailey in a strange kennel,  so I stayed behind. 

This morning when I got up, my moose/deer/elk sensor was going off. Meaning eBay the kitty was peeking between the closed curtains with her tail switching back and forth. Always an indicator of something interesting in the meadow. The window was cranked open and Hailey was doing her usual greet-the-morning-barking ritual. I looked out and saw what I knew had to be Big Boy, the mythical moose that our neighbors kept telling us about but we had never seen. There he stood in all his glory. Big Boy. In our meadow. I was so excited I nearly peed my pajamas.

I immediately cranked the window closed and shushed Hailey. I was successful at closing the window but not so much getting Hailey to be quiet. He seemed rather nonplussed by the whole thing. I had to switch lenses on my camera really fast to the telephoto and ignored the dogs' wishes to be fed and snapped a few photos.

Munching on our baby aspens!

He was posing nicely but at 6:30 a.m., the sun was not quite fully into the meadow as yet. I did the best I could through the window.

Look at that rack, and it's only July! Imagine by the time they are in rut what they will look like.

Hello Big Boy, why don't you just look right at me? I know they are kind of funny looking, but how majestic is this animal, I ask you?

He left for a bit, then came strolling back into the meadow. I tried to sneak out on the front porch for some pics on this second visit but he was having none of it and turned tail for the neighbors where I understand he chased one of their aussies down the hill and onto their deck. I would run too if he started to chase me!

I hope he comes back!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Memorable Weekend

Last weekend was a memorable one. Mainly because I travelled to New Mexico to attend my father's memorial service. But, it was memorable for other reasons, too. So, let me walk you through the weekend.

I had a 3:30-ish flight from Denver to Albuquerque on Friday. It is about a 3 hour drive to the airport from the cabin if I take County Rd 80C. That road is 37 miles of dirt road, the first half of which is pretty bad with ruts and washboard. The latter half is well graded and even treated with something that makes it almost like a paved road. I took the Suburban and we bounced down the mountain, joined Highway 287, popped over to I-25 at Owl Canyon Rd, and then took I-25 and later E-470 to the airport. I drove into the economy parking lot on the east side and went up and down several aisles to find an open parking spot. Just as I spied one and aimed for it, the truck went "putt putter putt putt, wank, wank, poof", lost all power and died. I coasted into the parking spot. Clearly, something is terribly wrong and I suspected something fuel system related. But, I had a plane to catch so I took a photo of my location (to remind me where I parked), and headed to the airport.

I guess I should even go back to Thursday. Lynne and I drove into town so I could riffle through boxes of clothes. Turns out I had nothing at the cabin appropriate for a memorial service. Really all I have are jeans, most of which are pretty worn, t-shirts and work shirts. I found a pair of black slacks and a couple of nice shirts--casual, but okay for a memorial service in a town that will see 103 degrees during the day. I forgot to grab a small suitcase, but luckily, I was able to cram those clothes along with several changes of underwear into my backpack.

The only semi-appropriate shoes I have are some black leather Sketcher slip-ons. They were really dirty with dust and mud, so I had them polished at the airport. They came out looking pretty good, so I felt prepared for the weekend. Well, I still needed to decide what to say at the service as I was to give the "Family Memories" speech.

I arrived in Albuquerque (do you mind if I just write ABQ from now on?) and my cousin Debra picked me up at the airport. We immediately headed for Las Cruces, which is about 210 miles south and the city where the memorial was to be held. We got into Las Cruces about 9:00. I grabbed a bite to eat and headed to bed.

The memorial was the next day at a Baptist church in Las Cruces. There was a nice group of family there, and a lot of people from the community and parents' church attended. 

A nice photo of family. Notice I don't have any glasses on. Yup, lost them a few days earlier.

My brother made up a nice memorial board for the service.

When I got a chance to talk, I addressed five topics.

1. Dad as a provider. He adopted us kids and took great care of us. We had a lot of fun growing up. Weekends at the lake, vacations at a beach somewhere, often in Mexico. Hunting, fishing. He worked hard to provide us with a carefree childhood.

2. Dad as a teacher. He taught me how to drive a boat, run a trot line, waterski; how to work on my car; keep my tools clean and organized; how to assemble a fishing rod by wiping a bit of sweat of the side of my nose and using it to lubricate the joints; "righty tighty, lefty loosey"; even some old Navy ditties like the one that starts "She has freckles on her but(t) she's nice".

3. Dad as a learner. He had an intense curiosity. I remember driving through the Black Forest of Germany one time when he visited us there. As we drove along taking in the beautiful views, he asked the question: "Son, where do you recon they got those mud flaps?" referring to same on a truck that just passed us. He noticed and questioned things that passed the rest of us by. And, later in life, even as he was losing his sight and hearing, he took up guitar lessons and learned to play Native American flutes.

4. Dad as a people person. He could strike up a conversation with anyone. And, he had this uncanny ability to discover relationships with everyone. Throughout out life, he'd meet and start a conversation with total strangers, and then find some linkage back to a family member or friend. I remember one time, again when visiting us in Europe, we were driving over a pass in the Swiss Alps. Dad needed to find a restroom and we pulled over at a guest house with a bar and restaurant at the top of a pass above timberline. After 15 or 20 minutes, he had still not come back out to the car. I went in search of him and found him at the bar talking with a man who knew a guy that managed a gas station in Artesia, NM (where I grew up).

5. Dad as a story teller. Dad liked to talk. And, he had a perfect memory, even of events from 90 years ago. He loved to talk about his childhood on the family farm in Oklahoma; about his first horse; about the weather there; the workings of the farm; family stories; etc. One thing he never talked about was his Navy service. He joined the Navy right out of high school at the beginning of World War II. Actually the theme of Dad as a story teller came up over and again in people's memories of him.

It was actually a joyful celebration of his life and chance to reconnect to family. 

We drove back to ABQ on Saturday afternoon. And, I spent all day Sunday with my Mom. She has moved into a new adult community apartment there. She needed some help unpacking things, moving a few items to storage for a future garage sale, hanging her cuckoo clock, etc. We ate a few great meals together. And, went to see The Secret Life of Pets with my sister. This was all meant to be a surrogate birthday celebration for her. She'll turn 80 in early August and I won't be able to make it back down for that big day.

Of course, all weekend I was thinking about what to do with the truck when I got back to Denver. My sister has worked at GM dealerships managing service departments and inventory for over 30 years. She knows a lot about cars, and especially Chevy's. She suggested several possible problems, one of which was "vapor lock". I did not realize that a car without a carburator could have vapor lock, but she said it could be the problem.

I figured there were three possible alternatives:

Worst case: The truck won't start, I have to call Good Sam's Roadside Service, tow the truck to a service garage, find out that it is really bad and I'll need to leave the truck for several days. In that case, I'd rent a car and go home coming back in several days to get the truck.

Medium case: Same as above, but they can fix the truck within a few hours. This would allow me to drive the truck home that day, only later than I expected. And, that I may or may not be able to pick up the RV washing machine I'd ordered for the cabin.

Best case: The truck starts and acts as if nothing ever happened and all my weekend anxiety was for nothing.

Guess what? It started right up! Per my sister's instructions, I drove to the nearest gas station and put high octane gas in it. I also put in a fuel injector cleaner additive she recommended.

I was able to pick up the washing machine as planned. The whole process was a bit more time consuming and complicated than I had hoped, but I won't go into all that here. The main point is that we now have a washing machine sitting in a utility closet of the cabin awaiting a plumber (next Tuesday, oh please, oh please). Now that makes this a truly memorable weekend!

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