We got word today from our friends at Yentna Station that the river ice jammed in front of their place today about 10:00 am. This is about 25 miles down river from us and as I am told it typically takes from 1 1/2 to 2 days for the jam to reach back to us. I went to the river 3 times today just to watch the ice flow and see it progress. There is definitely the most ice I have seen so far. The excitement from other people along the river is almost palpable. We are in contact with several people via facebook and email and everyone is ready for the river to freeze solid.
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,