Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Sunday, May 03, 2020

May Day(s)

It has been a couple of weeks, so let me catch you up. No news from home. Boring...

But, we are now truly "Off the Grid" at the cabin, and loving it. We came up on Thursday, the last day of April. When we got here, we were astonished at how much snow had melted! With about 10 minutes with the snow blower, we had full access to the cabin with the truck.

Here is a photo of the driveway taken one month earlier, on 30 March. I can't even get the snow blower out of the wood shed.

And, here is a shot of the driveway on 30 April. I took a short break to take the photo. The snow was about 20 inches at the deepest point, but I was able to clear it enough to get the truck to the cabin in about 10 minutes.

We have lots to cover to bring you up-to-date, so here we go.

April always teases us with Spring. Sunny days, snow starts to melt, and we can get reasonable access to the land and cabin. But, of course, also fights back with a few Spring snow storms that can dump feet of snow. May is equally as spiteful, bringing a see-saw of weather, from sunny, warm days to cold and snow. But, it is a sure sign of spring when: 1) you can see the ground (check); 2) the creek is running loudly (check); 3) the early wildflowers start to appear (check)!

Here are photos of the earliest four flowers in Spring:

A field of Buttercups.

Buttercups, up close.

Of course, Pasque Flowers, the crocus of the high country.

Phlox. This will come in many colors.

Bluebells.

Another sure sign of Spring are the baby animals. We haven't seen any yet. In fact, the wildlife and even birds have been sparse, so far. We did get a few hummingbirds on 1 May. I hung out a feeder "just in case", and am glad I did. And, we've seen a moose at one of the salt licks. But, not much else.

I did hike to all the game cameras and retrieved the memory cards that had been in them all winter. After sorting through over 3000 photos, I selected 8 to keep. Here is a sampling:

A very healthy-looking coyote, near the cabin.

A buck deer. This is from near the pond.

And, also from near the pond, the back end of our mountain lion.

It has been in the 80s back home, and we've had a couple of nice days here, too. But, it has also been rainy and cool. It might even snow tonight!

Here is a photo of Destin, sitting on Lynne's lap, as we enjoy a fire.

There is little in life more cozy than an open-hearth fire!

In addition to just sitting around, we have accomplished some chores. The cabin got thoroughly dusted and the floors are clean. The indoor windows are all washed.

We've taken the dogs for long walks each day. Destin found something foul to roll in, so a dog bath may be in our plans when it warms up a bit.

We've been eating well too! We had what we call "Trailer Spaghetti" on the first night--we almost always do because it is so easy. We just brown some hamburger, pour in a bottle marinara sauce, boil some spaghetti and serve it all with Parmesan cheese on top. Easy, but comforting and good. We named it "Trailer Spaghetti" because it is also what we almost always cook for dinner on our first night out with the travel trailer. We had Spicy Sausages with Onions on Friday. It is a Lee Drummond recipe that we like. That gave me a chance to fire up the grill for the sausages and onions. Yesterday, we did a slow-cooker recipe that Lynne got from a friend on Facebook. It was a beef roast slow cooked in some Mexican-style herbs and spices and broth. We shredded it and made a double layer of nachos with tortilla chips, shredded barbacoa beef, refried beans and cheese. I pickled some onions, too. No photos of any of that. I guess we were too hungry to think about taking pictures.

I guess that is it for now. Not sure when we will go home, there is no compelling reason to do so except to mow the lawn (and I could have a neighborhood kid do it!) I guess we'll head back when we run out of food, wine or whiskey.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Just Another Pandemic Monday

We have been exercising our "extreme social distancing" at the cabin for a few days now. Spring is definitely starting to spring. The birds are getting more plentiful and there is more variety. The aspen trees are just starting to leaf out--we can see the difference each day. Bart's Creek is running pretty good from the snow melt. We still can't drive down Hidden Meadows Lane, but there has been significant melting. I think one could probably drive it in another couple of weeks.

One thing we are seeing is the wildlife. I gathered the memory cards from the three game cameras closest to the cabin. And, while there were some image of a moose and some elk, there has not been much activity. We sit on the porch at sunset each evening listing for the Great Horned Owl, but no hoots heard yet. I'll go gather the memory cards from the three other cameras later today, and post photos of anything really interesting. We have heard some loud crashing noises in the bottom of the valley a couple of times and assume it is a moose or maybe an elk crashing around as they walk along the creek.

Some chores are getting done, too. I've cleaned up the "shop" side of the barn, even vacuuming the floor! The porch swing and also the swing in the yard have had their wood treated. Bird houses have been repaired and moved as necessary.

After we returned from the cabin a few weeks ago, we groomed the dogs. They were so clean and fluffy and smelled so good. They are now a little dirty again. At least Destin has not rubbed in anything foul yet, so they smell okay. They sure love it here--especially when they find a remaining snow bank on our walks.

We take a long walk almost every day, weather and wind permitting. And, we are keeping track of the wildflowers we find on our property. So, here is the latest installment:

We are not really sure what this is. It grows in the disturbed areas of decomposed granite and is very prolific. It looks like something in the pea family. We will continue to work on identification, but if you know what it is, let us know, please!

Of course, this is the common dandelion--a really very pretty flower. Destin's nickname is Dandelion Boy because his identifying ribbon color as a puppy was Dandelion Yellow.

This is some kind of daisy or aster. There are so many varieties that I've not tried to ID it yet.

Finally, a flower genericly called a Snowball. It is the Western Saxifrage variety (there are 6 different varieties). You can tell because of the red stem

Some of the barrel cacti in the area are just strarting to bloom, so we'll get photos of those later.

We think we have a ghost. The other day, one of the rain barrels was knocked over. It has some water in it and so was quite heavy. There had been no big wind. But, there it was on its side spilling water. Then, this morning we heard a weird noise. It was pretty loud and, to me, sounded just like when an avalanche of snow slides off the metal roof. But, there is no snow. We ran outside and inspected the entire outside of the cabin and the grounds around it, but saw nothing that might cause the sound. We've also looked around everywhere inside for something that fell or slid from its normal place, but nothing is obvious. Very, very weird.

Okay, time for my COVID-19 rant of the week. Things are starting to open up some. There have been some businesses that have taken advantage of the minimal loosening of stay-at-home orders, as well as taking advantage of people's frustration with being shut in, and have opened their doors to customers without requiring masks, social distancing or limiting the number of people in the business.

We hear a lot about "rights" from the people to who take advantage of this. And, I get it. We do have rights, but they are not unlimited. And, when an action can harm someone or, even more importantly, lead to the harm of another, our rights have always been restricted. Speed limits on highways, for example. Still, I get it, people are frustrated and want things to go back to normal. They say "it is my life, if I want to take the risk of exposure and get sick, it is my decision." And, they use that logic to justify not wearing masks or observing social distancing. But, what they don't seem to understand is that those practices are not really in place to keep them from getting sick. They are in place to keep them from making others sick. So, I see it as a blatant disregard for other people's lives, especially those in the vulnerabe population. It is selfish behavior. Thinking only of oneself and not of others.

People who do expose themselves by flaunting the orders and recommendations related to masks and social distancing, could get infected and, if so, will likely be symptom free for at least 5 days, maybe longer, and they may even go forward symptom free. But, that is no justification for their behavior since they can then easily infect another person once they become contagious. So, it is not about our rights to make ourselves sick if we choose to do so, it is about how wrong it is to make others sick, maybe deadly so. Downright selfish.

Rant over.

By the way, I've turned commenting back on for this blog site. So, feel free to comment if you choose.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Quick Update to Yesterday’s Post

Glenn L gets the "win" for identifying one of the wildflowers from yesterday's post. We believe he is right in thinking the daisy-like flower is a Hooker's Townsend Daisy, aka Townsendia Hookeri. It is a member of the aster family, so at least I got that right.

There was more struggle with the yellow flower, but Lynne finally recalled it is Golden Smoke or Corydalis Aurea. The photo on the linked website is not great, but be careful if you decide to Google "Golden Smoke". You will end up with a lot of smoke shops in Colorado! Try adding "wildflower" to the search.

We had a nice long walk "around" this morning, after a breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes. The dog's should sleep well all day.

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Memorial Day Warning

First, let me say there is nothing quite as satisfying as sitting by a camp fire, eating 'smores and sipping peanut butter whiskey. Those flavors blend nicely and with the smoke in the air, it is heaven. That is what we did last night. Today, we did laundry to get rid of the smokey smell in our clothes.

I was born in Colorado, but don't remember much of my childhood. So, leaving those years out, I've been in Colorado for memorial day for 25 of the past 40 years (or so). And, in every single one of those years, we have crappy Memorial Day weather. Usually, some combination of cold temperatures, rain and/or snow, and wind. So, let that be a warning to those of you who are choosing to adventure out this weekend, getting away from the comforts of home or distance yourself in nature. Winter has not yet let go, if history repeats.

We've got some flower photos to catch you up on. And, we are considering a "bird" post and maybe even a "food" post. But, that is for a rainy day.

For now, we just wish you a very happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Wildflowers Galore

Since it is a cold and snowy day (as predicted in my last post), it is a good day to catch up on our wildflower posts. The purpose is to not only show the great diversity of wild flowers, but do chronicle when we see them for future reference.

First, however, here is the scene out the window as I write this post:

With this weather, the satellite Internet connection is pretty unreliable, so it may take a while to complete this post. Bear with me.

Okay, here we go with the recent wildflowers. Now, keep in mind that wildflower identification is an art, not a science. Well, to botanists I guess it is a science. But, for a couple of amateurs with a few apps and a stack of books, it is an art. Many of the flowers look alike and are only distinguished by their size, leaves, habitat, season, etc. And, most have many variations. All have multiple common names. So, this is our best stab at these, feel free to comment. Also, I am not a very good photographer with my phone. Lynne does much better with her camera and she tends to remember to get a couple of shots from different angles and include the leaves and stems, etc.

This one is pretty easy. It is Arnica. It grows prolifically in the forest around here. It seems a bit early to be seeing it, but there were only a few.

This is also pretty easy. It is a Ball Cactus (it has other common names).

This one is a bit trickier. Sure is pretty. We are pretty sure it is some kind of False Dandelion. There are no leaves along the stem, only at the bottom. May also be known as a Cat's Ear of some kind.

This one has us scratching our heads some. We are pretty sure it is Lambstongue Groundsell. We have obviously struggled with this in the past also since there is a dried version from years ago on the Lambstongue Groundsell page of one of our books!

We think this is a Lanceleaf, also called an Alpine Spring Beauty, although there are other types of Spring Beauty.

Another pretty easy one: Larkspur.

Loco. (Don't let your horses eat this.)

Oregon Grape Berry

Slender Fringecup.

This is a patch of Wild Strawberries near the cabin. These plants will produce tiny strawberries that pack a huge flavor. Unfortunately, we hardly ever get to harvest them since the local critters love them too!

And, finally for today, a beautiful Yellow Violet.

A note of comments left on the blog site. While the commenting seems to work, notifications don't. So, you won't get notified if someone else also comments, etc. The software platform that runs this blog is now very, very old and frankly, I'm a bit surprised it still works at all...

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  • Tom, no it is not a pac krat/wood rat. We are very familiar with those,…

    Posted to: ‘Just Another Pandemic Monday’ by Rick on 05/22/2020

  • Self correcting problem, though it will probably get nasty before it is done.  Hated to…

    Posted to: ‘Just Another Pandemic Monday’ by David on 05/20/2020

  • Thanks Rick,  you made the point spot on in your rant.  It is the exact…

    Posted to: ‘Just Another Pandemic Monday’ by Tom on 05/20/2020

  • Beautiful wildlife photos! That coyote almost looks like a wolf. (Not that I’m an expert.)

    Posted to: ‘May Day(s)’ by Steve on 05/19/2020

  • Hi Rick and Lynne—just wanted to say I’m glad you’ve resumed your blog and I’m…

    Posted to: ‘Webcam Photos’ by Steve on 05/19/2020

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