Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The guys cut the ice with 20" chainsaws, into cubes about 18" square.
Once they would get one cut one of us would take a long 4"x6" board and bang on it to break it loose, because it would begin to re-freeze as they cut it so it still had to be broken loose. Once we got it loose then 3 to 6 guys with 2"x6" boards would push down on it and try to dunk it under the ice and push it away from the hole. This was a real struggle, you wouldn't believe how buoyant a big ice cube is. After we dunked the first few we started picking them out using the 2x6s as chop stix to lift them then wrap a rope around it and pull it across the boards to the surface.
Once the ice was out of the way, and a lot of dipping with shovels to get the slush out of the way so we could see,
Wallah, there was the machine.
Leif went fishing with a grappling hook and got ahold of the front bumper of the machine.
We managed to lift the machine high enough with a com along hooked to the bumper of my snowmachine to get a ski up to hook a rope through it.
As we worked on tieing the rope on the ski a bunch of interested onlookers stopped to check out the process. Once we got a rope on the ski with this many people here it was Game ON. We just pulled it up, tied a rope on the other ski and the group started pulling. It went really slick.
We are leaving tomorrow for Yentna Station to visit for the night then on to Anchorage and a flight to Ohio and points beyond. We look forward to seeing a lot of you while we are on or travels.
We probably will not post an update for 3 weeks or so, I am not sure.
I will talk to you all in the near future,
Thank you for the privilege of letting me share with you.
Friday, December 17, 2010
I looked many different times at the average temperatures for where we now live,,, Before we moved. It always showed that the averages here were only ten degrees colder than North West Ohio. They LIED. I am not complaining, I am just saying that it is much colder here than where ever the Weather Channel gets there temperature from. IT WAS -27 DEGREES BELOW ZERO at 11:30 today. The Weather Channel shows the record low for this date to be -21. I guess there thermometer is in Anchorage or something. Anyhow, it has been a lot colder than we anticipated but we have no complaints. It is a Dry Cold, just like Arizona is a Dry Heat. Watch the video and see how Myra is dressed. Granted she was not out for an hour like that but 15 minutes isn't too bad.It did get up to a whooping -20 about 3:30 this afternoon. Be patient waiting for this video, it is 98 megabytes, almost 5 minutes long! Isn't the coffee thing cool! It's kind of like shooting a Grouse with a 44 magnum Bear load, Poof, it's gone! After taking this video I gently started a snowmachine and warmed it up and went visiting. Lief, one of the cabin owners was up for a couple of days so I went to see him then over to Bentalit to visit Tom and Patty for a few hours. The ride was a little brisk since I did not put on anything other than normal snow pants that I wear to work around here and one poly shirt with a flannel jacket. No special clothing at all. It was not too bad other than my forehead got so cold I got an Ice Cream head ache, and it came from the out side and went in. That was a new experience. Once I got home I did some outside chores like haul wood into the back porch, gas up and start the generators and I prepped the snowmachines for a trip tomorrow. I did this stuff dressed the way I described and was outside for about an hour and a half. It is truly amazing that I can do this and to the best of my knowledge the coldest I have ever worked in before was -22 in Ohio. Back then I froze my butt off and was going inside every 15 minutes to get warm. Here I just stayed out and did what needed done. I am even able to work without gloves for several minutes at a time. I have no idea how God engineered us to be so adaptable to so many different conditions but it is truly miraculous. (Big word huh) We are planning on leaving around 9:30 tomorrow morning to head down river. We are going to go watch and maybe participate in removing one of the snowmachines from the water, from when the guys fell through the ice a few weeks ago. Lief, our part time nieghbor is the one going to spearhead the operation to get it out. It is about 45 miles down river but it just sounds like to much of a neat experience to not go do it. It is currently -24 degrees and still dropping again tonight. I am sure it will be plenty chilly when we get on the snowmachines to go in the morning. Can you believe Myra is up for this! The video shows most of what I could blog for today so, See Ya, Thanks for sharing with us, Roger
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
The first trip was last Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday. I went in with 4 other people and we cut the trail through the new deep snow. We developed what will be the freight trail for this 60 plus miles of the river system. It was a neat experience to be a part of cutting the trail. Me and one other guy had so much to do that we stayed in town until Wednesday and the other three returned earlier. On Wednesday I was the leader coming back home and the other guy had never made the trip by his self. Come to find out, he moved out here late last winter and was originally from San Diego. He only has a couple of months of snowmachine experience, period. I thought I was a rookie at this life until I heard that! I got us home, on an unmarked trail that now had many many off shoots where other people had come and gone to there cabins and taken other routes etc. I am proud to say I did not even have to use the "turn around gear" on my snowmachine.
Did I mention we got a pretty good snow fall last week (22" in one day) Remember how high the cabin is off the ground? It is starting to pile up. Look at the top of the Burl log at the back corner of the cabin (one snow fall). See the depth around the shop and barn. I am thinking I am going to walking above them before spring.
I got back to Northwoods Lodge late Wednesday afternoon, where Myra was at and stayed for a short visit then took off to go home before dark, and check on things and feed the cats etc. I was pulling a freight sled loaded with a 30 gallon fuel barrel, a 40 lb propane tank, 50 lbs dog food, 25 lbs cat food, groceries and misc other supplies. I don't know if I ever mentioned the valley in the trail about half way from there to here but, it is a pretty good size hill coming either way through the valley. I did not make it up the hill. When the machine stopped its forward movement the weight of the trailer took over and I started backwards down the hill, OMG. The freight sled is twelve feet long with front steer skies and fixed rear skies. It does not back well on flat land. Well, I was on the edge of disaster when the brakes started to slow me and then the sled stuck in the snow on the side of the trail. Whew! I locked the parking brake lever and got off the snowmachine, took one step and heard a click. The parking brake let loose and the whole assembly started down hill again. I jumped on the machine and grabbed the brake again with the same good result. I am now half way down a 200 foot long 30 degree hill. I re-locked the brake and proceeded to unload the fuel barrel. I got the barrel out and turned to get the propane out when the brake let loose again and it all slid about twenty more feet before stabbing into the bank of the trail, now it won't go any farther down. I unloaded everything off of the trailer and set it along the side of the trail. Now, I re- lock the brake (after finding the problem) (operator error) and picked up the back of the freight sled and set in on the trail. Now I backed the sled down the hill about 10 feet at a time, continually stopping to lift the back of the sled around the curve and get to the bottom. I then got a good run and got the sled to the top of the hill. I then proceeded carrying everything up the hill, on arm full or heavy load at a time. Can we say, It kicked my Butt! I got everything up the hill and onto the sled except the fuel barrel. It is Still setting beside the trail as I type this 6 days later. I will take over gas cans and the barrel pump and empty the barrel where it sets, then haul it home.
I had just walked into the door of the cabin when the phone rang and one of the fellows needing a ride into town to get "parts" for his snowmachine. It seams he hit a stump on his way home and bent a bunch of steering parts. I told him what I had just gone through and I would have to call him back. Well, I caught my breath, called Myra and knew we still needed many more supplies so I called him back and said OK.
The very next day (Thursday) I left before dawn to go get Gary to head for town. As it turned out, he had a freight sled he needed to take to town and he had a spare snowmachine at the landing that he had just got back from the repair shop. SO, I hooked his freight sled to mine (pulling tandems) and he set a chair on his sled with some ratchet straps and a "ride em cowboy rope" and I hauled him and two freight sleds to town, with empty fuel barrels and totes etc. He darn near froze to death, figuratively speaking, It was ten below and breezy. He got cold since there was no engine heat and no windshield.
Oh Yea, more to this story. On Monday I had rode our two up long track snowmachine to town pulling my "Skwagon" to be able to haul the empty containers to town that I needed. I then picked up my "new" used freight hauling snowmachine that I bought last August and that is the machine I hauled out the freight sled full of stuff with. I had left our two up machine at the landing. Now I had a spare machine at the landing.
This is the "Skwagon" a couple of months ago right after the first snowfall. I pulled this little sucker over 60 miles to town with skies strapped on the wheels. Not really what I intended for it!
Well, we loaded my spare machine on Gary's freight sled along with two 55 gallon drums of diesel fuel he needed to deliver to the Post Office in Skwentna. I returned the freight sled that I had borrowed, while waiting for our new one to be built, and we headed back for home. ON the way home I stopped at Yentna Station Roadhouse. I ran into a Craig Saunders the snowmachine tour guide. He was in a pickle with too many snowmachiners on tours that got into trouble in the deep snow. Two of them had to get back to town that night and the others wanted to stay out on the trail another night, too cold, tired or disappointed to travel farther. I turned around and took his two people back the 38 mile trip to the landing and loaded the snowmachines into his trailer and seen his people on their way. Then rode back out to his cabin for the night (42 miles). I had made the vast majority of this landing trip in the dark and it was 13 below zero. I stayed with him and his five other people for the night and finished my trip home in the morning. It was a really good experience and a very long day.
This is Sunrise on Denali during my trip home Saturday morning. I purposely got the windshield in the picture to give you my driving perspective. The darker gray in front of Denali is the shorter Alaska range Mountains, "11,000 to 12"000 foot peaks" and still below the sunrise. (Still my cheap little camera though) Just around the next corner Mt Foraker and Mt Hunter came into view with the sun on their tips also, but, no more stopping. What can I say about my commute this day! Tough drive home from "work". (Yea Right!) It was spectacular beyond pictures.
Now I had gotten home on Saturday, did my chores at the house and groomed and packed trails then went to spend the night at the lodge with Myra. Sunday, home for chores, back to the lodge helped clean the yard and vacuum the lodge and Eric and Shan's son flew in and took over lodge sitting "early" because he was bored in town since college went to break. Myra and I then went to Gary's and got our two up snowmachine that he had hauled out and we got home just after dark. Sunday is done!
Monday morning, up at 6:00 and on the trail at 8:00. It is 18 below zero and I am heading to town alone this time. About three hours later I am at my pick up truck and it won't start. Ron Vanwaveren (owns the local "does everything shop") took a heater and generator to the truck, warmed it up and it started but runs like crap. I headed for town for much more shopping (it did not work out on the trip with Gary because our freight sled still was not ready). I also made an appointment to have the truck looked at. Well, a full day of errands and shopping, a motel room and off to the repair shop this morning. Almost $600 and a new distributor shaft later and the truck runs like a million dollars. I hope that repair last a while. Back out to the landing, got the new freight sled and loaded up. I unexpectedly ran into two other guys from our region that were heading out so I teamed up with them and I got home about 5:30 this evening.
On this trip home it "was" and continues to be very windy. The radio is saying that there is 25 to 40 mile an hour winds with gust to 75 miles an hour and we got about two inches of snow last night. Oh, did I mention temperatures near zero. It was like stuff you see on TV. The trail was very ruff from drifts, the snow was blowing and it was "white out" for a large portion of the trip. I was pulling the new freight sled with about 1000 lbs of lumber, a new bed (we have been sleeping on a Coleman campers air mattress since we got here), groceries and other supplies. I have no idea how to describe to anyone what it is like to be in the middle of wilderness at zero degrees with very strong winds and blowing snow, with very limited visibility. Use your imagination to see the experience then add exaggeration and you may come close to the conditions. It really was something out of the movies in a very neat way. I was dressed properly. I had a very good survival pack strapped to me and I knew where I was at. I really did not get UN comfortable.
I really wanted to take pictures but there was no way to stop without losing the two guys I was riding with; This would be a recipe for them to turn around in the deep snow with heavy freight sleds to look for me (not good). Even this drive was a spectacular experience in many ways. My butt was whipped when I got home. I am Rested enough now to do this blog (after unloading the sled) but that's about it for tonight.
It has been a very busy week trying to get re-stocked and get ready for the trip to Ohio and beyond. At least one more Fuel trip before we leave next week.
Thanks for being here with us!
It is a privilege to be able to share this with you.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Anyhow, Willie and I went to the post office and picked up mail for ourselves and the two lodges on our little forest Island. We brought back about 100 lbs of mail, No Kidding. It had been over a month since anyone had boated, flown or be able to get mail.
The condition of the ice on the river was getting pretty good. We did go over two spots that made me uncomfortable. I was in back so I just stayed far enough back that if Willie sank, I was not going with him. He has many years on the river and it was good to be able to follow him.
While we were at the post office Many other people showed up from all over the area. It truly was the first "safe" travel day for the Ice. A few of us have made plans to go to town next week for the first time "snow dependant". No one will travel that far with no snow, it will just tear up the machines.
Good News, It's snowing hard right now and the forecast is for 14" to 22" in the next twenty four hours. It looks like the town trip will be able to happen.
We just ran out of Propane for the refrigerator. We have been using 20 and 30 lb bottles for the fridge and a 100 pound er for the stove and water heater. the big bottle sits outside and the small bottles sit on the back porch for the fridge. we have 3ea 20lb and 2 ea 30lb and we went thru them all. I did the math on generator run time (for the amperage consumed) vs propane consumption and it is still cheaper to use propane than it is to haul and use gas for the generator, for running the refrigerator. I have put things in a cooler and put it on the back porch right next to the cabin wall. Hopefully it won't freeze.
The temperature has gone up over night and this morning with this snow storm. It is now +1 degree outside. It has been about -18 to -20 below at night and -10 during the day for a few days now. The cabin has stayed very toasty and I have no complaints about the cold. Myra has had to learn how to stay warm in the Lodge across the way. The lodge is drafty and uses only fuel oil heaters and it is very un comfortable if you are just sitting still. It is a beautiful place and I am sure the heat could be turned up enough to compensate if guest were there but can't justify the heat bill above 68 degrees for one or two non paying people.
I have been working on Cabin "Interior" repairs and alterations for a few days now. I have relocated some built in shelves and re-sided about 20' of interior wall surface with plank wood. this is where built in items were removed and we put in the new back door and water heater etc. It is starting to look decent in here, but always more work to do. I have my "Saw Shop" set up on the back porch for cutting all of the siding planks and trim. When it was 15 below outside it was 10 below on the porch. I was out there cutting wood in tennis shoes, jeans and a tee shirt. some times 5 or 6 pieces cut at a time so out there for several minute stretches. It is amazing how the human body can get used to this.
Sorry, No Pictures this time. I have got to go do snow prep work "getting ready for 14" to 22" of snow" which entails Gassing generators early, digging out the trail groomer, cleaning off the ice from roofs where I can and getting plenty of wood on the back porch. Then while it is snowing this hard, every 4" inches or so I need to go run the trails and keep them packed down so I don't have to go "Waller" thru deep powder on narrow trails thru the woods. That could make for a bad experience with a tree.
Talk to you Soon,
Thanks for being Here with us!
UP DATE: I just came back to the cabin from North Woods Lodge. I left there about 11:00pm. It took me nearly an hour to go 2 1/2 miles. I had to keep stopping to clear snow from hood and headlight so I could see. Then I had to stop and dig out from under a tree that has fallen across the trail. I went under it earlier today but it has snowed so much it was over half way down the windshield tonight. We have gotten over 18" of powder snow since about 10:00 this morning. It was a challenging ride thru the woods, just what I typed about this morning and it got ahead of me. Another lesson!
Saturday, November 27, 2010
It is mostly accurate except a few things. The guys weren't scouting trails, they were trying to go get fuel AND Dave (according to him) was not the almighty savior for Russ. Russ was not in good shape but the coke-sing was only for the last little bit of the walking trip, when Russ was getting really weak. They also only walked a few miles, not 7 1/2 as stated in the article. It was a rough few miles across ice rubble and slush.
You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser address bar to get the news paper article. Thank God the guys survived this one.
Myra "moved" over to Northwoods Lodge yesterday for the Caretaker job that We have. We loaded up about 9:00am on Friday and went over there. I took Shan and Eric to the landing strip on a Snowmachine with trailer, along with their luggage and away they went. I stayed with Myra until about 12:30pm or so then back to our place to do some work on my snowmachine. (track alignment and tension adjustment) I went back over to see her about 4:30. I found her setting on the couch watching TV, chilling out. This is funny because we have not watched actual TV in over three months and that was in a motel room. We have not had TV since May. I set with her for a couple of hours and we cuddled and had a little dinner. By 7:00 we realized that we do not want TV in our cabin. We had flipped thru channels and the directory, found the same old crap and came to realize that we had not spoken much while that blasted thing was on.
We have talked (communicated) more in the last six months than we have in the previous thirty one years of marriage.
As most of you know, we were married at sixteen and eighteen years old with a child on the way. We had known each other as casual acquaintances for years through a cousin of mine and we lived two hundred and fifty miles apart. We had spent about three weeks together "Total accumulated time" as a couple before I ask her to marry me. (The proposal is a whole story of its' own) We jumped into marriage and family life and work when we were still children ourselves. We raised our children to the best of our ability.We worked jobs then started a business and Myra went to college etc, etc, etc. We were just "always" busy with Life in the Modern World. We were living the "Great American Dream".
We never took the time, made the time, had the time or knew how to "Just be Us". If we had any time it was used for a vacation or a TV or an escape from "reality" by one means or another. Even a radio in the vehicle is a distraction from the other noises that may have been entering my head, real or imagined; I just gave it Time.
Today I can tell you that I have stopped to breath. I have stood in the absolute quiet of the winter forest and been able to hear my own breathing. I have sat in the quiet I listened to myself breath. I have stood by the river with Myra and experienced Freeze Up and the silence. I have sat in a quiet cabin and listened to Myra breath. I have heard her speak and felt her words.
We have been together Twenty Four hours a day for three months and I woke up this morning without her in the cabin. I miss her! You may not find this strange in your current life or marriage for yourself but, for me this is a new feeling. To be separated for this short of a period of time and to wake up, already wanting to be back with her, is new for me.
In 1982 I got my first salaried management job and I worked a lot, in 1986 I got a job that required travel from time to time. In 1989 I got a different Salaried position that required many many hours and some travel. Myra went to college and in 1994 we started our own business. This evolved into a business that was licensed in 26 different states and I was gone at least three weeks out of the month almost every month. A few times I was gone for months at a time.
To wake up after only 13 hours apart and truly feel that I miss my wife, and have time to feel that feeling is new for me. What more can I say about this life today? I have been given another gift in life, and this time, I have time and awareness to know it and accept it.
It is about 11:00am here now. The sky is mostly blue except for a patches of clouds. A patch directly overhead is giving us a very gentle snow fall, with blue sky and mountains in the back ground. The sun is staying very low in the sky's these days. Sunrise was at 9:48 this morning and Sunset will be at 4:00. The sun never rises high enough to be above the trees right here. If I go to the hill by the river I can get a clear view of the sun.
I am enjoying these short days with a new appreciation. I don't have to race around to get things done. I just do whatever I can get done during the daylight and use a light to do what I need to during the dark. This "Used" to be a huge inconvenience because I HAD to get things done.
Once upon a Time, I HAD to make X dollars a day to pay the bills or pay for the vacation. I Had to bust my butt so I could afford the finer things in life. As you know, we sold all those "Finer" things in life to be able to live this life. The sale of those "Finer" things did allow us to jump into this life with both feet. Most people (not all) around here worked their way into being here, by being here and building their cabin and hunting, trapping, fishing and crafting their way to what has made them comfortable. We worked thru a different avenue to be here.
Today I know that I never needed all those "Finer Things". I know of many people around here that never had the "Life" that Myra I had BUT they have always know what has taken me most of my life to learn.
Had I known that I did not "Need" a vacation to enjoy life or a motorcycle to feel free or a Hot Tub to relax I sure would have worked a whole lot less to get those things. I was successful by most accounts of modern living.
I heard a minister at a funeral a while back say that he never heard anyone say on their death bed,"Gee, I wish I had worked more". I am one more guy that won't be saying that!
We have not been to town for months and We can survive on what is in our freezer for a few more months if we needed to. I could hunt and fish enough to stay ahead of the game of survival for the time being. (By the way, the freezer is not plugged in, it is cold enough to store the food without electricity for now.) We have wood for heat and can get more. We don't "Half to Have" Snowmachines and ATVs and Generators and the like. We have figured out how to live this life without that stuff, however; that stuff does make it "easier". If I ran out of fuel tomorrow We could survive and eat. I might lose more weight because of more work but We could do it. Not only can I do it, I would be happy doing it because I have time to breath. I have a freedom that I have never known before. I have a whole new realization of what is Necessary for life and what just makes life a little "nicer or easier".
I am pretty sure that Myra and I will return to "society" to live again someday, although I can't make any promises. When and If we do I will be a different person. I am a different person. I will Never Again obligate myself to anything beyond appreciation of Life and Love. The "Finer Things" in life is time to breath, time to love, time to see, time to feel, Time. Time is Free, I just did not know it! As I see it today, I worked so that I had Time to play and enjoy life. What Bullcrap was I selling to myself? I can't blame anyone else or anything else. I bought into the "Finer Things" in life theory.
Time is Money; Bull! Times a wasting; No but you can be wasting it! Time does not Stand Still (This one is True). USE your time Wisely; This has a Whole new meaning for me!
What a Gift my God has Given me today! I have Time to Breath, Time to Love, Time to Appreciate, Time to Feel. If I die with my next breath, I have had Time!
My Wish for all of you is this: MAY YOU HAVE TIME! You don't have to take it, You don't have to make it. You only have to Breath and Appreciate it! See what is Right In Front of You!
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.
I am looking forward to my TIME with my Family and Friends this holiday season.
Thank You for Allowing me to share myself with you today.
I Love You Myra!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I have to start this Blog Post with a heavy heart from some sad news. We got word about an hour ago that two people down river from us are missing. One of which I have met and both we are very familiar with. Dave Luce owns Luce's Lodge and resort and Russ Bevins have both been on the Yentna River for 20 years and more. They left there homes this morning to go to town to get fuel and have been missing ever since. The river is still very UN-stable and we have gotten reports of other people getting wet (dropping thru the ice) trying to travel, now two are missing. Please throw out a prayer for their safe recovery and for the families comfort. Hopefully they get found along the river trying to get warm after getting wet but getting out of the water. It is now night time and temps are beginning to drop. It was near thirty today and heading for the teens tonight.
I am having a hard time getting into this post, I will do my best.
This video is part of the actual Freeze Up as it happened. Myra and I were standing along the shore looking at the stopped Ice in front of us and we were looking at all the water still running. It was very quiet right in front of us but we could hear a crushing sound coming toward us from up river. As we watched the Ice begin moving again from up river acting like a bulldozer plowing into the stationary ice and pushing it further and tighter. When you watch this short video you will see stationary Ice with the moving ice coming toward us. I am sorry the video is so short, my batteries died and this happened fairly quickly. Myra took 4 different videos but it was the first time with her camera and we found out that the settings were not quite right and they did not work. The push of the ice went all the way past us and the whole river flowed very slowly with ice for about 10 to 15 minutes then it just crushed to a stop right while we stood there, all went silent, completely silent, and it has not moved since. It was really an amazing gift of Gods nature to be there while it happened. We have talked to people that have lived here for years and never been at the river at the right time to see and others (Dan and Jean) that live right on the edge of the river for 35 years and have only witnessed the actually "setting stop" twice.
The jumbled ice where it has packed together is the thickest and safest ice to travel on. The flat ice is never considered safe because it has running water right under it, that moves very fast and the flat ice usually does not get thick. The jumbled ice is two to three feet thick immediately. The problem comes in because the flat areas can happen anywhere so one has to be very careful to choose the first path on the river. Some of the smaller flat areas do freeze to fill in the gaps in the jumble, so after a week or two of cold weather there is typically a safe route to travel.
The problem we have right now is the ice has not been set very long and we have had a little warm up. the river water level is raising so it has opened up some new holes in the ice. Now, after everyone being land locked on there little islands in the forest for nearly 3 months people are anxious to get out and go somewhere. Hence, things like "getting wet" happens. Willie, the new neighbor (to our neighborhood) showed me just two days ago where he had been in water just over the hood on his snowmachine, where he broke thru trying to get off the river.Pictures from the Hill in the front of our front yard. I walk out here occasionally for a wider expanse of the view. This is the same hill we see over from the inside of the cabin. Sorry for the water on the lens of my cheap little camera
These pictures were taken the morning of Freeze Up.
This is just frost and ice accumulation on the trees from the cold of this period. It had been running about 2 to 5 degrees during the day and 10 below at night during the freeze up period.
This was taken Just before the ice re-settled to its' final place.
Good looking Guy huh!
Huh, you talking to Me?
Isn't the depths of the slush and ice cool. I am walking right on the edge of shore, not on any ice.
These pictures were taken right after the river had stopped in its' final set, about 15 minutes after the video.
I thought the black and white version is awesome.
This is a view straight up into some trees from the river bank.
My heart is a little heavier now for our fellow river dwellers. We got another call to update us. The men have not been located and the Coast Guard Search and Rescue has been called in. The last sighting of them (according to the State Patrol Investigation)was just before the confluence of the Yentna and the Susitna river. They stopped to talk to a man that lives there and got a report of poor ice going up the Susitna, so they decided to go Down the Susitna to a town called Point McKinsey. They have not been seen since by anyone along the rivers or in Point McKinsey. There is still hope that they are stuck along the river somewhere. They are both skilled outdoorsman and can survive this weather if they are OK. Dave Luce had just found out Friday that his wife has Bone Cancer. This is all hard to absorb from here. There is nothing we can do from here but Pray.
This is truly an amazing and beautiful place, it does however, belong to God and all of the forces of Nature. I hope that I never forget this and those out here remember as well.
Thank You for being here with us!
I will talk to you soon,
Monday, November 22, 2010
We would love to make arrangements to see everyone during this time. Give us a call or email to see if we can work out timeing for either a group get together or a one on one visit.
When we leave Ohio we will be going to Florida for a week with Myra's Mom.
Back to Alaska on 1-16
Saturday, November 20, 2010
All I need for river travel is some snow and someone elses tracks (that did not fall in the river) to follow.
Pictures and stuff to come, just pretty busy for now. Wanted to do a short update.
Thanks for caring enough to read this!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
When I arrived at the rivers edge I had one of those experiences that I want to try my best to share. Please close your eyes and read along, try to feel and picture this through my words. Oh wait, open your eyes back up or you can't read along.
The Air; it was 9 degrees out side and very low humidity. There is a gentle breeze blowing along the river bank and it is gently polishing my face with the crispness. It does not feel all that cold mostly crisp, I believe this is due to the low humidity. Breath in deep through your nose and get a sense of the cleanest air with a crisp edge. There is no smell that can be separated or sensed, just clean and crisp.
The Snow; crunchy under foot. When on a path the snow is very solid. Step into the fluff over by the edge of the high bank and sink to the middle of your shins in a delicate powder of crystal snow. You walk through this snow easier than walking through water, it just moves away from your feet as you stride foreword.
The Sound; Gentle breeze, only the slightest rustle in the trees. The water is flowing over rocks in the river, there is a bubbling noise from this. There is Ice and Slush floating in the swift current. The ice, as it hits the edges of the rim ice makes an almost Hollow sounding grinding noise. As the slush rubs together in the water or along the bank it makes a hissing noise. This gentle hiss never stops along with the gentle breeze and the bubbling water. The sounds are gentle and orchestrated, it could lull you to sleep with a perfect picture in your mind.
The Scenery; Standing twenty feet above the rivers edge, water and ice flowing. Surrounded by a Forrest behind, beside and across the river. Look to the right, up river, and there is Yenlo Hills and Yenlo Mountain, capped with snow, but interestingly enough the lower sides of the mountain seem to be void of snow. The sky above this mountain has thin clouds of slightly gray and blue. Look left and there is Forrest covered with mostly blue sky with wisp of clouds painted orange by the sunset. Begin to look from there toward straight ahead and the sky changes. The clouds go from orange to almost yellow to blue, then lavender. The sky clears shortly before the Tordillo Mountain range comes into view. The tops of the mountains appear to be on Fire with the sun. Brilliant, fire orange clouds (blowing snow) lifts from the edges of the mountains. They are lined all along with the fire glow. Peaks to eleven thousand feet down to the valleys as low as I can see above the forest. The contrast between the forest that is just across the river and the mountains that are from thirty to fifty and sixty miles away is spectacular. From deep evergreens to fire orange rimmed mountains going up and down.
All I could do was stand still and breath. Feeling alive beyond any sensation that I could compare this to. The colors change as the sun goes down, I can't move. Minutes went by, Colors went by, Ice flowed, the breeze blew and I just stood there, amazed.
Eventually it got dark and the show subsided. When I finally did walk away I realized I had stood still so long my legs and feet hurt. I had to loosen muscles that had strained for the days work. I climbed onto the snowmachine and rode home, put things away and the day is coming to a conclusion.
I am a lucky man today!
Thank You for being here,
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
We may be able to travel in about 7 to 10 days. the forecast is for clear cold weather for several days in a row then snow on Sunday. This is the perfect scenario because the river will have time to get solid then the snow will cushion it and lubricate the snowmachines.
This is all great news and a little disappointing. We begin care taking the lodge in 9 days and that means one of us always has to be there. This means Myra will not be going to town because she is not traveling 65 miles down river on a snowmachine by herself. I am the MAN around here and that is MY job darn it! Just kidding about all that male chauvinist stuff but, she won't make the trip alone so I will be making a trip or two by myself since we can't leave the lodge unattended. All in the timing huh. I guess God decided to see how she will deal with being in the bush for about 4 months straight without seeing "civilization".
I am very happy to say that we seem to have done a good job of stocking up on fuel and groceries to get through this freeze up period. We did get some good advice from our friends and neighbors about what to expect and how to plan for it. Of course heeding their advice and making the list and deciding just What we were going to stock was up to us. Thank God we were not to proud or dumb to listen to what we were being told. We haven't really ran out of anything except popcorn. Thankfully one of the neighbors had been in town and they called us before they flew home to see if we needed anything and they brought us more popcorn before we actually ran out, but we are using the new supply now. If you know Myra and I well, you know popcorn is a staple of life and it might not be worth getting up in the morning if there is no popcorn available. Thankfully, we never had to find out!
With all of this being said, we still have not seen the river stop flowing here and there is no guarantee that I am going to town in 10 days until I am on my way to town (if you know what I mean). So, I have spoken proudly about us doing a good job BUT, this is still all contingent on God following my plan and he finishes freezing the river. If he fails to read my script (or if he reads it and laughs at it) and he decides to do something different, like thaw the river back out and make us wait longer, then I will have to wait and see if we did such a good job all over again.
Life has been pretty routine for the last few days with a couple of exceptions. Myra got to do laundry in the house, with a machine! I think I posted before that I got the little washing machine that was here working all except the water pump, if not, well I did. We pour the water into it and I re-plumbed it so that it gravity drains. Here is the kicker. I welded together a 33" by 40" stainless steel shower pan and installed it up stairs with a drain pipe into buckets downstairs. We took REAL comfortable showers (here) for the first time last Friday. No standing in a galvanized tub and no shower curtain sticking to my leg Woo Whoo! OK, back to the laundry. I got the idea that the shower pan was big enough to set the little washing machine in it. This is required since the seals on the agitator leak and it drips all the time you are using it. I would fix it but it is obsolete and no parts available. I may have to try to make some new seals if the leaking gets much worse though. OK, back to laundry again. Anyhow; we carried the little washer up stairs and were talking about getting the buckets around to drain it and Myra said "too bad there isn't a way to just put a drain out the kitchen window or something since it will take so many buckets to drain this thing". Bing! a light went off in my head. I grabbed a couple of 90s, some more pipe, tools and misc stuff and in under 20 minutes I devised a detachable drain line that we stick out the window when needed then remove it when finished. No tub under the cabin, no worry of water leaching where we don't want it, and it works. I will dig in a leech field next spring but for now, we have quite a few less buckets to haul and indoor laundry and shower facilities.
Oh Yea, the shower. Our shower curtain rods are made from two 12" wall style plant hangers hanging down from the ceiling holding Birch sapling tree "curtain rods". Myra went to the woods and found 3 saplings of "just the right size" and cut them, then peeled them and sanded them to make the rods. I then screwed two of them to the back wall of the shower (one on each end of the shower) and hung them from the plant hangers. Then laid the other rod on top of them for the front rod and tied them together with some nifty nylon rope. I put Fiberglass board on the back wall of the shower and we have a three sided shower curtain and it looks and works great! Life is SO GOOD when you can take a HOT shower in a full size shower stall. If only I could tell you how nice it is. You might think you know but trust me, until you have gone months with either motel showers (few and far between and in a motel), use baby wipes or you are standing in a galvanized tub with a shower curtain stuck to your legs, you don't know how nice it is to have a good shower. I still have to haul the water to the barrel and charge the battery that runs the water pump, put fuel in the generator that charges the battery, haul the fuel 65 miles to get it here, haul the propane for the water heater, but I have a shower, oh, how sweet it is!
My first trip to town on the snowmachine I will have to figure a few things out. We have purchased a new (used) heavy hauling style snowmachine that is at the Deshka Landing where our truck is. I have purchased a freight sled from our friends at Yentna Station that I have to pick up from them, and I need it to haul our groceries and supplies. I will have to leave a snowmachine at the landing when I pick up the new one so I would like to leave the small machine there. The small machine does not have a hitch so picking up the freight sled would be out of the question. Myra bought a loveseat that I am supposed to pick up along with groceries and propane while I am in town so I need the freight sled. I need a two person snowmachine to be able to take two people to the landing to pick up the little snowmachine and get both machines back up river. It's another riddle of living up here. I can't take Myra, I can't leave the two person machine (the new machine is one person) I can't haul the freight sled with the little machine. I guess I go 40 miles past Yentna Station, with the little machine, get the new machine, go back to Yentna Station and pick up the freight sled, go back down river 40 miles, then go to town. Let me see, that will be 63 plus 40 plus 40, yep one hundred forty three miles to get to the landing on a snowmachine for the first trip after freeze up. Then I get to drive about 35 miles into town.
Did I ever tell you it is one hundred and two miles to the closest Walmart, and that is in Wasilla (the far side) which is the nearest real town. There is the community of Willow with its population of 83 people and then Huston with 150 people but to actually go to a real store it is well over 95 miles.
Enough for one post, sorry for no pictures again, it is really cold and my cheap little camera is not doing well with it. Maybe I will get a new "cheap little camera" when I get to town.
Thanks for letting me share. It really helped to think thru the snowmachine freight sled thingy.
Talk to you soon,
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
The snow machine "Lucky" just might not be at fault for all those broken mirrors? Myra and I went for a short ride the other day. It was her first time out on the machines this year. I warned her of how soft the snow is (top 6 or 8 inches anyhow) and told her to shift her wieght and lean in extreme because it was like driving on water. I was riding Lucky and was leading out our back trail. I got to the end of our property and stopped to look back before I turned onto the next trail. NO Myra. I turned off my machine and listened, No Myra. I hollard loudly and I hear a return "something". I hollard again and I hear "I got it back up". Well, to make a long story short, when I got back to Myra she was still cleaning the snow off of her glasses and staightening them. It seems she went in face first as she fell off the machine as it was tipping over.
No harm, No foul, she did not get hurt and neither did the machine, but her face sure did get red from the cold for a few minutes, lol.
Anyhow, she now leans to extreme on the little hills and corners and no more incidents have taken place.
Over the last few days we have gotten about 13" of fresh powder snow that has settled down to about 8" of fluff now. this is on top of 6" of very hard packed base. The temperatures have been in the single digits the last couple of nights, 2 degrees last night, and a high of 12 yesterday.
The river has the most ice on it I have seen so far. Neighbor Eric came by yesterday, during conversation he said in his experience that it appears to be about 2 more weeks for "Freeze Up" maybe three at the absolute most. Of course he then added the disclaimer that, God is in charge and this is always subject to change.
Oh well, still here for now, and living the dream.
Thanks for being here,
Sunday, November 7, 2010
We have been land locked to our little "Island in the Forest" for between 7 and 8 (me 7, Myra 8)weeks now. This is the first time I actually looked at the calender and counted weeks since we have been to town. We do have the two different neighbors that are a couple of miles away and Willie did move to his cabin which is a little closer. Willie is a true Bush person in every sense of your imagination. Picture a guy in his Fifties, lives alone with a couple of dogs, little formal education, lots of love for the territory and been in the woods a long time. Yep, that's Willie. Anyhow, visiting with the neighbors is not a regular thing. There is always so much to do for everyone out here. Just living requires so many hours of the day, it does not matter if you have our little cabin or 10,000 sq ft lodge with a racquetball court, there is a lot to do just to get thru the day. We have only been to each neighbors place one time, together, that I can recall. On occasion I will go over for something like water or mail, or Myra will go for mail or water and this will result in a short visit, but this is not a social event out here. Accessible right now, by means of land are, Northwoods Lodge with Shan and Eric, Bentallit Lodge with Tom and Pat, and Willie.
When living a "Normal" life we would get up in the morning, start the coffee in the Bunn coffeemaker and let the dog out. Coffee was done in 3 minutes or so and off to the shower we go. Then, onto the computer, do email and begin the day of work. Walk into the garage, get into the vehicle and drive to a destination. Get out of the vehicle, walk into a heated/air conditioned building and go about business. When we would get hungry, just go buy a meal somewhere convenient. Building to vehicle, back to building, back into vehicle, etc. If at work in the same building for 8 to ? hours then it was back to the house, picking up an item or ten at the store on the way home. We would live for the weekends and time away from work so that we could go play or do something for ourselves, or just relax and do nothing. Does all of this sound familiar? Work and the number of hours required to travel to and from was the means in which it afforded us to "live". We did see more people (many thousands more) and have very close relationships with some of them (you). The personal time spent together talking, visiting or playing was limited and precious, and still is. Life just seemed to keep getting in the way.
Today we live a very different life. I will speak of my " developing routine" here. I get up in the morning put on my robe and slippers. Go down stairs and change into tennis shoes.Go outside to pee, let the dogs out and start the generator. Come in and start percolated coffee and check the wood burner and get it stocked up and warm in here. Thirty Five minutes later coffee is done and the wood burner needs adjusted. I have now been up for nearly and hour and done virtually nothing but get warm, get electricity, get coffee, get "pee'ed" and maybe have time to get dressed but not usually. Now there is time for a little "wake up" so I fire up the computer for a while, Read the news on the Internet, check email and cook some breakfast. No microwaved or fast food here, usually oatmeal, if we have cereal you get out two cans of condensed milk, dilute it with water, shake it in a sealed quart jar, then you pour your cereal in a bowl. Now put on the tennis shoes again and go outside to relieve some coffee. How many of you have gone outside in nothing but a robe and tennis shoes in a foot or more of snow and 15 degrees to pee, more than once? I know it is a really bad mental image but it is life! Now dressed I've been up for 2 hours and time for chores. Dress for work includes putting on the outside clothing and boots and the gun. Outside is shovel a path, clean snow off of vehicles (snowmachines), scrape snow off of roofs (cabin, generator shed, barn and shop), fire up a snowmachine and pack snow, then groom smooth so we can walk around comfortably, then stock wood into the back porch as needed. Now Pump more fuel into gas cans if needed and check the water supply. Once all of this is done I can begin my task(s) of the day. These may include cutting or splitting more fire wood, going after water, fixing something or building something.
Yesterday for example Myra said she needed an Ironing Board to make her sewing task easier and we did not bring an Ironing Board. We went to the barn and picked out some wood and proceeded to Make and Ironing Board. She now has a nice little portable Ironing Board that she is Making a cover for. I proceeded to work on welding the stainless steel Shower floor pan that I am making. At this point in time we still stand in a 15 gallon galvanized laundry tub to take a shower. At least we have running hot water to it though we do have to haul the tub outside to dump after every shower. When I finish the shower pan I will install it with a drain pipe to go outdoors into the galvanized tub for now, that we will have to dump it quickly so it does not freeze. Next year I will dig in a leech field for the shower and "Gray water" from the house.
After six to ten hours of working on projects plus meal times I can settle in for the evening. Oh Yea, first I may have to re-shovel and pack snow and clean roofs and cover the snowmachines as it seams to be snowing regularly and Every night at least a little. Then gas up the generators so they are ready for the following morning.
We do not have normal TV so most evenings are spent reading with the radio on and some time on the computer looking up "God knows what" stuff or reading a manual for something that isn't working right etc etc etc. Sometimes I watch a video (DVD) and a couple times a week I will watch an outdated TV show on the Internet.
Did you know that even though it seems simple to set down and type that it takes between two and three hours to do one of these blogs. By the time pictures are sorted, re-sized, uploaded and the typing is thought thru (most of the time) the process is quite extensive. This blog post has now taken over two hours and has one video.
Anyhow; back to the general theme of this post. Our life is very much different from what it used to be but it has many familiarities. Instead of going to a Job to earn money to buy the things to live and entertain the Job is to live and build the things we require or want. There is no more "free" time than there was before, in fact, there is less time because of things like wood stove (needs attention 24/7), water (hauling and transferring), waste water and honey buckets, preparing every meal (always), outdoor attention requirements etc. There Are NO modern conveniences even though we have conveniences that are modern. Examples: We have electricity but not with out a generator (and maintenance) and fuel and we have running water but not with out hauling it In & Out etc. There is different time available to "spend" unlike anything that I was once accustomed to. Vegging on the couch for a day still involves maintaining heat, power, water and meals. The utility companies and pizza delivery just don't exist. We don't just run to the store or the fast food place, we don't Just plug in the microwave, we don't Just turn on the faucet to get a drink.
Now after eight weeks of virtually no contact with other people other than computer or some telephone I do see it starting to wear on Myra. I have never been a social butterfly and have always said I could be a hermit. This might just be true for me as I feel very grateful and happy to "just be" here. I do miss the kids and grand kids and will be happy to see them when we make a trip to Ohio, and I even miss most of you folks. I am pretty content to just Be here with Gods gifts of nature for the most part. This style of life does afford time to think. Prioritizing what is Really important is coming to the forefront of my thought process more and more often. I also see Myra struggling with the seclusion. This was the first Halloween she missed with the grand kids and it has brought about a tough period to go along with eight weeks of just being here. There is a lot of personal learning going on with in both of us.
As a couple I think we are doing quite well (at least as I see it). Of course I could be the last to know if there is a problem brewing between us because I am a guy. Again, we are together (at least in very close proximity) twenty four hours a day. This is a change from me traveling about three weeks a month for work. This is another Huge change in our lives, almost as big as the relocation. I personally am as happy with this change, or happier, than anything else. (You will have to ask Myra for her prospective on this.) I feel like I am truly getting to know my wife on a whole new level than ever before, and I like most of her. (She understands, as anyone who has been married thirty one years will understand.)
It is Sunday morning, I have been typing this post for nearly three hours, Myra is beginning to make bread (have I ever mentioned I like bread day) and I have my chores to get done. Sundays we are pretty Non-routine around here. I have found it good to still Take a day to do something different. We do also make time to get out into these surroundings and enjoy the gifts God has given us today. Being able to appreciate the little things is an important part of this life.
Thank You for allowing me to share,
Talk to you soon,
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I found it necessary to do some playing the other day before it was time to put the ATVs away and Myra took a bunch of pictures. I had a good time tearing up the yard. You might notice the black straps under my Bibs. There are still Bears wondering around out here, so my gun is still strapped on. I am told that on years like this (late winter arrival)we should expect to see bear sign for another month at least, Oh yea, and they get hungry, tired and discontented.
Today I got out the Snowmachines from under their tarps. They both started right up, as expected, and away I went on the test runs down the trails. All went very well with the little sled,it ran well, handled a little stiff but loosened up and back to the cabin I came. I hooked up to the groomer that I have built and pulled it around a little bit and it works very well also. The snow is so wet and heavy that the short track machine did have a problem pulling it so I parked it and emptied the snow out of it and declared, all is good.
I jumped on the two person 800cc machine and took off down the trail. This machine has a history of bucking, unexpectedly, like a pony we had when I was a kid. The ponies name was Lucky and I was never sure if the pony was Lucky because my Dad did not kill it with the two by four, or if the rider was Lucky that the pony did not kill them? Oops, got sidetracked, back to the snowmachine. Well me and the 800cc Lucky rounded the first tight corner and caught the side of a little mogul and over I went. "Luckily" I had just rounded this corner and was only doing about 2 mile an hour. It was a slow motion tip over, with plenty of time to recall my mistake. I even had time to watch the machine tip onto the mirror on the left side. "Luckily" it was the mirror on the left side because this machine has broken 3 mirrors on the right side. One of them was less than two hours after being replaced from the previous rollover (ask Myra, I can't tell). Anyhow, the left mirror flexed on its' spring loaded mount and snapped right back into position. No Harm, No Foul, the machine is perfect and hopefully it got its' bucking out of its' system for the year. I drove it back to the cabin and hooked up to the "Skwagon" that I built.
Definition: "Skwagon" vowel, meaning; ATV Tow behind Wagon that Roger made Skis for and strapped them to the wheels. Another story, another time, with pictures.
OK, I hooked up to the Skwagon for a test run with it. The Skwagon performed flawlessly but, the snow is so wet and heavy, when I had to run slow with the Skwagon I could not kick up enough snow to cool the radiator and the machine overheated. I caught it quick and again, No Harm, No Foul. Another lesson learned and another challenge to overcome. We had planned on pulling the Skwagon with "Lucky" to haul our water. Now the snow is deep enough using an ATV is not feasible and I can't pull the Skwagon until it gets colder, the little snowmachine has no hitch, a short track and I don't believe enough traction to pull a skwagon full of water up the hills around here. Here in lies the challenge. It is not easy to just strap a full 50 pound water jug on a snowmachine, let alone 9 of them. We have about 35 gallons of water in the barrel and 9 empty jugs now. I have got some "Sifering" to do in the next day or two to figure this one out. Or maybe we will get "Lucky" and we will get a good cold powder snowfall and the problem will be solved. I REALLY don't want to carry these jugs by hand for a long distance and it is a very big slope on the bank of the river to try to strap them on a snowmachine, the machines are tippy enough with out more top heavy weight. The neighbor water is still about two miles away and to make that trip five gallons at a time on the snowmachine might be the only option, we will see.Oh yea, we can always melt snow on the wood burner. It takes about 11 gallons of snow to get one gallon of water (I looked it up). That should only take about 4 hours a gallon. Ya think?
Always remember, Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. I have been asking for snow, I got it, AND I get a new opportunity to solve a need. I guess this is Gods idea of a Bonus gift ay?
I am really not complaining, just sharing the thought process.
Thanks for listening, and being here with us.
Life is good,