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Saturday, December 31, 2011

A December full of Events

It has been an event filled month of December and there are many more events to come!

We built a shelf rack on the back porch to hold a bunch of the extra totes of "stuff" that we have that don't fit into a 16' x 20' cabin. We had twelve extra totes stacked up and setting around the back porch. I built the rack big enough to hold at least sixteen totes. Of course the more space you have the more space you need. We already have the shelves completely full and and have double stacked the top but, we have a little more space inside the cabin.





I finally made it into town after a few weeks of very weird weather. I ended up flying in and catching a ride back out to the Deshka Landing to get my truck for a little shopping. I only bought 1 tote worth of needed items because I did not have a freight sled with me. All I had to take back out to the cabin was my New Snowmachine.

I picked up my brand new 2011 Ski-doo, Skandic, 800cc, 4 stroke, Super Wide Track snowmachine. I Got this machine 3 weeks ago today and I now have 896 miles on it, almost All working, money producing miles! This new snowmachine is pretty nice. It is very similar to the (new / old) one I bought last year except it has much more power and a better ride. I have pulled 6 barrels of diesel fuel on one freight sled with this one and I does not even grunt very much. That is about 3000lbs on one sled. That is more than any compact car can pull efficiently, on pavement. Of course, I paid more for this machine than several of the little cars cost.

Myra and I went back into town about two weeks later to do our big shopping trip.We took in empty fuel barrels for a customer and then brought out our own groceries and supplies.













This is the sunrise from the trail the morning Myra and I rode into town. YES, We left home well before dawn that day, as I do most days when leaving to go anywhere. Sunrise this time of year is about 10:15am, of course that changes everyday.



























I have been shoveling snow off of Cabin roofs and decks and out-builds all around the Shell Lake area. I have been doing this for hire and have been making decent money doing it. It is one heck of a lot of work but it is very good exercise. It is really cool to be standing on the ridge line of a building looking out over the lake or the mountains in dead silence and just take in the experience. Look at the top of the cut off tree. See how it has curled over? The snow up here does not melt all winter (for the most part), it just settles and compacts. In this case, the snow had stood straight up until it decided to just fold over. You never see this in the lower states. The snow just hangs there now. How cool is that!
Shell Lake received over 10' of snow in 2 1/2 weeks. Since it and the previous snow has settled and compacted, I am shoveling about 5 1/2 feet of snow off of decks and roofs. It is very heavy and the bottom 2 feet is as hard as clay to dig into.

videoI kind of hurried on this video because they take so many Megabytes to upload but I thought you might want to see this. I tried to give you a video last year but it was too big of a file to upload. It is a little BRISK here this morning at -31 degrees.

OK, Now I am just going to give you a hole bunch of pictures of sunsets and mountains and dogs from our living room, THEN, after all of these pictures, I am going to give you some BIG news of a change for Myra and I.






































Look at the clouds blowing right off of the tips of the mountain tops. Isn't that awesome. Blow up these pictures, they are amazing.








































































































































































OK, now for the news. This has been developing for quite a long time and it has now come to reality. Oh Wait, before I tell you about that let me tell you about this.
Myra will be flying to Ohio on January 18th for a few week visit, then on to Florida for a week to see her Mom, then she will be back home.
Now on to the big news of a change. You probably all have read the stories I have typed about Joe and Norma Delia, our post master extraordinaire(s) and our neighbor and friends. Oh wait, before I say anymore, let me tell you this.
While I was off shoveling roofs at Shell Lake I had one of the dumbest damn things happen too me. I had looked at my shop building before I left and determined it was fine, we only had about 4 inches of snow on it and it would be good until I got home. Well, the damn thing collapsed while I was taking care of other peoples property. Someday maybe I will learn to take care of myself first, before I go do for others!
OK, back to the Delia's. Joe retired from the post office back in mid summer. Norma retired from the post office on Dec. 22. NO, No, No, we are not becoming the new post master(s). Steve C., a long time resident up here took over the post master job. Joe and Norma are moving to town tomorrow, 1-2-2012. Myra and I are going to be moving into Joe and Norma's house up on the Skwentna River and taking care of it as if it were our own. Joe is suffering from some issues that come from aging and they must move to town and Norma is not able to sort through and de-cipher 50 some years of Joe's collection of STUFF. Myra and I are to go through and sort and organize etc while we live at their place. What an experience this will be, to see what 50 plus years in the bush can bring together. We will winterize our little place over the next couple of weeks and move a lot of our belongings up to their place for now. Their homestead is for sale but the activity has been very low. If any of you have and extra $400,000 laying around and want a really nice property let me know. I will hook you up with Norma.
I will continue to come to our place and make improvements etc on our place, AND it looks like I will be building a new shop building soon.

Myra and I have never known why we felt so compelled to move up here. We had no idea what was in store for us, if this was a God thing for sure or human will. At most points of time in the beginning we were sure that God had a plan for us up here and as time has passed, honestly, we each begin to wonder if it was more of an illusion of human will. Today, I don't know if this assistance to Joe and Norma is why we are here or if there is still larger plans in process for this adventure but, today there is a bigger reason to be here, than just us.

Thank You for allowing me to share with you,
God Bless you all,
Roger

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Myra and I would like to wish all of you a Very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a Happy New Year!

Thank You for visiting our Blog and allowing us to share with you.

I will try to do a full post again in the near future.

Love and Blessings to All

Roger and Myra

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Living WITH Mother Nature

It has been a very different early winter as compared to last year. Once it got cold in the end of October it got very cold for a few weeks. We seen temperatures of -30 deg a few times and it stayed -10 to -25 for about two weeks.
The river freeze up was much faster and less dramatic than last year. The river ice stopped flowing very smoothly and there is not much large jammed up rugged ice. There was a few week period after the river stopped flowing when we did not get any snow. I think it was just too cold to snow. The lack of snow made it very difficult to travel on the river because we need snow to cool and lubricate the snowmachines.
A neighbor from down river contacted me one day mid November about going down river to try and mark a trail over the ice. We made it about 15 miles or so from my place and came to some very un-safe ice conditions. We did not make it as far as hoped before turning around to go home.


These are pictures from the trip down river.

Riding on Ice this close to open water really makes my cheeks tighten up. This is Not the spot that was bad ice!











Mt McKinley in the background.































I have been trying to get into the "Landing" for two weeks now. We (several of us) of planned a trip to all go in together many times but the weather has not cooperated at all. Once we started getting snow, we really got it. Then it turned warm, then it rained, then the river flooded over with slush and water (we call that Overflow). Then it got cold out here, the river is in great shape here but it never has froze good near the landing. As recent as last night I had a friend make the trip and report a foot of water on top of the ice for over 150' long, plus several other areas of open water and overflow that would make it Very difficult to haul anything. SO today I was scheduled to fly to town, do some shopping and bring out my new snowmachine with just a tote full of stuff on the back (no freight sled), Now today, the planes were not flying so I am still home. Several guys from out here did ride in today but no one was pulling sleds that I know of. Many people have appointments or are flying out for the holidays etc. We will start hauling very soon however. It won't take much cold weather to get the river good and solid again but it needs to get colder than 20 degrees at the landing. Again, the river is great from about 15 miles away from the landing all the way out here, it is the 15 miles near civilization that is a problem. (Some may say, In more ways than one!)
Myra and I are still in good shape for groceries etc. The only thing we ran short of for this period of "isolation" is Dog Food. Last year 200# was plenty for 4 months. This year #200 pounds got us less than 3 months. Thank God for neighbors. I guess Hans is eating a little more than last year ay!



Today, just before I took these pictures, we had 2 Moose go across the back yard area. We were outside hanging Christmas Decorations and the dogs were getting real nervous and were barking toward the back area. I was giving the dogs the dickens and told Myra I suspected a Moose when she said LOOK, there was two of them walking just beyond the far back of our clearing. Of course by the time I got the camera and gun to go check them out, they were nowhere to be found. (The gun was just for personal protection. I do not have a permit for this time of year in our yard. I have to go to the National Park to shoot one now.) Just use your imagination and you can see 2, 1000# Moose walking along the edge of the trees back here. Speaking of the trees, isn't the snow beautiful right now!

Our neighbor on the other hand, got a Moose yesterday out on the river. One neighbor, like me does not have a permit locally but he came across 4 bull Moose bedded down on the river. He called the neighbor With the local permit who promptly went out and took his choice of the 4. He brought home a nice healthy bull. Not huge but should be great eating.

















Now for a Sun Set, nothing I can say!
















Kind of a Nice Front Yard!


















You can really see the contrast between the smooth ice and the sections of Jammed Ice. The foreground is the gravel bar in front of our place.











Life on the river is great today. God has given us many blessings to enjoy and is teaching us a lesson in patience, for working and doing in His Time. Myra reminded me today, of a time when we talked about being thankful that we were not dependent on the weather, like a farmer, for making our living. I had to laugh because that was back in a time when I thought I was in control of my day. Today, I (hope) I have learned to do what I am allowed, that God has made OK for the day. I try not to do what is un-safe. I try to accomplish what the weather will allow. I try to allow for the snow, rain and temperatures that will be thrown our way. Above all, I try to just Accept the hand that I am dealt each and every day. It is a new day, Everyday!

Thanks for letting me share!
It's a pleasure,
Talk to you soon,
Roger

Friday, November 25, 2011

After The Root Cellar

There is life after the root cellar. I was beginning to wonder because once I started on the cellar it dominated so much time that I was almost overwhelmed for a few weeks.

The day after the root cellar was in the ground, covered with dirt and we thought it was done we started digging again. This time it is for a "Gray Water" drain system.


Cute Huh, this is the little digger I borrowed from Tom that I thought I was going to use to dig the root cellar hole. It digs a maximum of six feet deep and will only lift about 4 feet above ground level. I would have had to hand dig a vast majority of the cellar hole. I had to hand dig a portion of the outhouse pit and also the gray water hole I am going to show.









This is me hand digging.

















Here are two 55 gallon plastic barrels. These barrels are drilled full of 1" holes all over them on the bottom and sides. Then they are completely surrounded by hundreds of rocks that are 2" to 4" diameter and then smaller stone and sand on top of the big rock. The smaller rock is to stop the sand from filtering down into the barrels.

















These barrels are piped together and the pipe goes back into the cabin. We will find time to "plumb" the sinks and shower into this in the near future. This will eliminate drain buckets and having to put a pipe out the window for a shower drain.The tops of these barrels are about 42" below ground and hopefully will drain all winter. This system will only take shower and sink water. Maybe someday I will build a cesspool for a real flush toilet, until that it is still the outhouse.


















This side yard really took a "diggin" after I had it all ready for grass. Now we will have to spend hours next spring picking up all of the rock that has been dug up and spread threw out the soil. We will also have to roto-til and mix in some top soil before much will grow. The rocks had all frozen in the night after we finished this. We were pushing the edge of winter freeze to get this stuff done.

There has been a real evolution taking place on this property. Here are a few pictures from our arrival on 6-10-2010




















































And now here it is just 43 days after we had arrived.


















And now at 17 months, do you notice any difference?

















I do have a goal that I want to achieve. I would like to be able to snap pictures virtually anywhere within 100 yards of the cabin and not have a blue tarp in the picture. Since about 2 days after we got here we have had something covered with a tarp somewhere. I don't know if I can ever get totally away from it because there is always 4 wheeler's to cover or snowmachines to cover or a rogue wood pile somewhere. It sounds like a pretty hefty goal after I type this out. That is going to take a lot more buildings.
The reasons for all of the clearing around the cabin are many. We now have a fire break in case of a forest fire. We have separation from the trees for "Blow down" as happens so often out here. Now they won't hit the cabin if one falls. Also and probably #1 for Myra is BUGS. With getting the forest this far back we will have a greatly reduced bug population right near the cabin.
We also have plenty of room for snowmachine turn around and snow shedding off of the buildings has a place to go. I still have to get the shop built farther away from the cabin because we don't have enough room for snow between the cabin and shop. By February the snow is piled very deep in that area.

And then,, there is the view. This was the view looking toward the river when we got here.


















And here is our view today (late October 2011) from about the same angle.

















We have a pretty nice little piece of Gods' world to enjoy today.

I have moved the water supply pump and pressure tank into the root cellar and we are pumping water from there now, instead of from a barrel upstairs. The hope is to not have to haul or pump water up to the barrel upstairs in the cabin. The only problem I am having right now is the pipe I ran from the cellar to the corner of the kitchen needs insulated differently. I built a 2 inch Styrofoam box about 12" square and packed it with fiberglass insulation around a 2" plastic pipe. It goes down about 7 feet total from the cabin to the 90 where it goes into the cellar. I then piled dirt up all around the Styrofoam box as high as I could under the cabin. I then ran a flexible high pressure nylon tubing threw the 2" pipe to serve as the water supply line. The water line keeps freezing about 18" below the bottom of the cabin. It is a good thing the line is flexible and I left slack in it. I just pull it up and flex it around to break the ice, then run a little fan on it for about 5 minutes and poof,, we have water again. I should be working on fixing that problem instead of typing this but,, Oh well.
On a little side note of the water,,, What a nice thing it is to have 33 to 34 degree water coming out of the tap for drinking water. This root cellar thing just might work out really well.

It has been Great sharing with you again today.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. We went to a Neighborhood dinner at Bentallit Lodge with about 20 other people and had a good meal and a good time.,
Enjoy your day or evening,
Roger

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Root Cellar

I showed a Preview of the hole for the Root Cellar in the last post. Now I am going to give you an In Depth view of what we built. I know I had told people that I was going to put the cellar under the cabin but that changed once we started digging and discovered the conditions of the sub soil. If I had dug a hole big enough under the cabin the cabin would have fallen into it. This soil has no compaction, it is all sand and rocks and caves in very easily.
The first thing I must say about the process of digging the hole got very much easier and I must give out a big Thank You to my neighbor that got a new (used) excavator this summer. Thank You ERIC, you saved me weeks of labor.

How neat is it to live 65 miles from a road and have a neighbor show up to the cabin with this.

Now that the big shovel showed up I got to show you a few more pictures. I had just recently cut down 3 trees that were right next to the cabin on the south side. I was originally going to dig the hole for the cellar on the north side of the cabin but once the trees were down and the yard was cleaned up it just looked like it made a lot more sense to dig on the south side.
This is the side yard the day before the excavator showed up. I had cut the big tree near the back door and the two trees near the fuel oil tank at the front of the cabin. The roots of the front two trees are still under the leaves near the fuel oil tank. The trees here grow very different than in Ohio. The roots of even the biggest trees only go about 2' to 3' down, they just spread out very very wide and thick just under the surface of the forest floor. I had cut a bunch of roots from the back tree and tilled the yard preparing it for grass seed next spring. This was a finished project, just before Eric had offered to bring over his machine. I was going to start hand digging the root cellar hole on the north side with-in the next few days.


It took me about 5 hours to cut and dig the roots from the back tree stump to make the root ball as small as you seen in the last picture.












It took Eric about 20 minutes to dig up both root balls on the front trees and carry them away.















Take a good look at this picture. We are digging exactly where that back tree was at. There is no sign of any roots going out of the hole, they were all on the surface. I had cut the roots to the point that when Eric got to the stump with the excavator he literally just grabbed the top of it and picked it up and carry'd it away.








This is (what was) my groomed side yard that was ready for grass. This was just a couple of hours after Eric showed up.













Now for the Building of the Cellar. I had bought the treated plywood but all other wood had to be made. This picture is of the "Alaska Mill" attachment on my chainsaw. I cut trees, pulled the logs to the yard or milled them where they laid in the forest depending on the situation. You see an example of slabs coming from a log.








In this picture you see logs stacked in the background, slabs of wood leaning up against the front of the wood shed, the table saw and circular saw set up and cut finished boards laying on a rack to the left.


The process; cut the tree trim the branches and take what is usable for firewood, cut the log into required lengths for the length of boards I need to make, decide what thickness of slab is best suited (and needed) to calculate how many boards I can get out of each log then cut the next log as needed, cut the starter flat side on the log using a guide, then Mill the slabs off of each log. Repeat the process for the next log. Now take the slabs, cut the first straight edge on the slab, set the table saw for width of boards and cut the actual boards. Now, sort and stack the boards until all are accumulated to do the job. For this job I had to apply a treatment to a lot of the boards that were going to be in direct contact with the ground. You will see "Green" color on boards in later pictures, this is the preservative.


Now I have made all of the boards and start building the cellar.















Notice the floor is built inside of the walls instead of on top of the walls. This is so the floor pushes out on the walls for counter pressure against the dirt that will be pushing in. The roof trusses are also cut to set on top of the walls but also down inside the walls. The roof trusses are 8" deep and notched down 3" inside the walls to push against wall studs. (I forgot to take a picture of that.)






The box is built and the roof trusses (joist) are in. We are wrapping it with Ice and Water Shield to try to stop moisture penetration.














Eric came back over, (he had left the machine here) and picked the box up and put it in the hole.














I am helping the machine, lol
















This sure beat trying to build it down in the hole.















Notice how deep it is below the surface of the ground as it sets now. You will see the mound over it later.
































We set it in here then I put a couple of temporary sheets of plywood on the top. Eric back filled a few feet around 3 sides of the box and kept setting dirt on the top that I hand shoveled into the side under the edge of the cabin. Once we have it set and filled so that it won't move I have a lot more work to do.








I had to build the ladder shoot and finish water proofing.
































Sure looks pretty in this picture huh!
It rained for 3 days straight after I got it all buried.















I found that it leaked like a sieve around the ladder shoot. I had to dig it back up, wash it down, torch down the water shield and add more, then covered in visqueen and re-buried it.













No more leaks as of yet, but it froze shortly after this.


I have the roof finished over it now.















I have working lights and an outlet in the cellar now.
















It has been sub-zero temperatures for several days now and down to as low as -30 below and is currently -15 as I type this. I just went to check the temperature inside the cellar so I could be very accurate. It is 33 degrees in the cellar. I have 150 gallons of water in there and no signs of ice anywhere right now.







It will be interesting to see if we have a refrigerator or a freezer before winter is over.
The cellar is over 42" under ground and no frost has gotten that deep yet, I am not sure where the cold temps are coming from inside. I have some insulation on the two trap doors and the roof inside the ladder shoot. I think I am going to have to add more and maybe keep blankets on top of the inner trap door.

I have more pictures of other projects that I will post in the near future. We have taken out many trees with Eric's help,and I put in a gray water drain system outside. We still have to do the drains system inside plus we are going to try to do the kitchen remodel this winter. I still have not gotten the outhouse built, just using the pit and we have other things to do.

Thanks for visiting, now go build your own root cellar!
See You soon,
Roger