Welcome to "Our Life"

Friday, December 27, 2013

So This Was Christmas!

Ok where do I start?
   I guess I will start back in November. On the 20th I "moved" over to Northwoods Lodge to care take over there while the owners went on vacation. That was also the last day that we drove the Rhino. Took 3 attempts to get up one of the hills and then we just barely made it. OK time to switch to snow machines, even though there wasn't much snow. The river was not safe but we have overland trails between us and the lodge.
   Roger stayed here at our place to work on the kitchen and his snow machine. The plan had been for him to get the kitchen done while I was care taking at the lodge. Well you know what they say about plans! Roger had to get his snow machine up and running so he would be good to go once the river was safe for freighting. Well that ended up taking longer than expected as come to find out the Skidoo place sent him the wrong part which we didn't know until after having another part sent out and the problem still continued and had everyone baffled. So Roger got online and did some research and discovered that the first part was not the right one! UGH! (And it was the Skidoo places computer that had the wrong part listed). So the Skidoo place ordered the correct part, and then had to ship it out here. Now that may not sound too bad until you realize that we maybe get mail into Skwentna 2 times a week, weather permitting. And then someone has to be able to get up there to get it. Always interesting!
   The weather was very weird through this time also. We had a few days of sub zero temps, then would warm up to the upper 20's I think we may even have gotten above freezing a day or two. When it gets that warm you get overflow on top of the ice on the river and that is not good. Sometimes it can get pretty deep and it really sucks when you get stuck in it. Roger had a freight sled stuck in overflow last week and it took about 2 hours to get it out. 
   Anyway I was at Northwoods Lodge until December 15th, and then I hopped their back flight into town and was there until the 18th. And baby it was COLD! The entire time I was in town it was in the -20's and 30's! Luckily I didn't have to spend too much time outside, just mainly going from the truck into a store etc. I flew back home on the afternoon of the 18th after a couple of whirlwind days in town getting groceries, plumbing and electrical supplies etc etc etc. Always tiring! 
  I have just been doing the daily stuff of life out here since getting back. There is always wood to bring in, especially when the temps are sub zero as they have been again this past week, meals to be fixed and so on. And I tend to want to stay inside when it is that cold out! 
   I really struggled with putting up any Christmas decorations as I did not have much Christmas "spirit" going on. My mood was such that as far as I was concerned I just wanted it over. Anyway I did finally put a few things up about 5 days before Christmas and all in all it was a nice day. 
   Started out with Roger fixing the generator at 5:30 in the morning. We had been having trouble with it for a while but thought it was maily due to the cold. Anyway on Christmas Eve I couldn't keep it running unless it was fully choked and that is not good for it and then it just quit altogether! Anyway Roger found something in a port and got that out and knock on wood the generator has been running great since. 
   Then Roger went to play racquetball while I enjoyed my coffee and Bejeweled. While playing racquetball there was a collision of sorts while going for the ball and Roger's toe got the worst end of it. Pretty sure it is broken but he is "toughing" it out. 
   My Christmas present was Roger hooking up the kitchen sink again even though the counters are not done, the framework is in and the sink was in place. It will have to come out one more time when he does the counter top but who knows when that will be now that freighting and tours have started! Maybe during breakup this spring! I am thinking that Roger's Christmas present is me not griping about the kitchen situation! LOL
  We needed water so Roger went to get some while I started dinner as we had invited a couple of our "bachelor" neighbors over for dinner. They got here before Roger got back with water, which actually was good as the freight sled got stuck behind the wood shed and it ended up taking two machines to pull it out. So got that done and then had a nice dinner with Al and Willy. 
The Kitchen "A Work In Progress"

The New Stairs

Yesterday Roger was supposed to put my counter top in but ended up freighting for another freighter who's machine broke down. While he was gone, I attempted to do dishes. We have an instant water heater that we keep a metal plate in the chimney of to keep it from freezing when it is so cold. So you pull the plate when you want to use it. As it was so cold I was putting the plate back in after each time I ran hot water and then pulling it out again when I needed more hot water. Well I went over and pulled the plate out, stopped to answer a text, maybe a total of 3 minutes, and went over to the sink and turned on the hot water faucet. Within a few seconds, I heard a hissing and turned to look......OH CRAP!!!!!! There is water spewing all over out the side of the water heater. I am looking everywhere for a shut off valve and not finding one.....try calling Roger.....try calling Roger......Thank God got a hold of Roger. Have to go to root cellar and disconnect power from the water pump.  Ok pull the red wire off the pump, go back up and into house, water still spewing! OK lets open faucet get the pressure out of the lines.......not losing pressure......what the heck?! Can't get a hold of Roger again (he is freighting) ok back to root cellar, not sure what I am going to do but got to do something, water is still spewing everywhere and going underneath the new flooring! Get down in the cellar, take another look at the pump and suddenly see another pump! We replaced our pump this past fall, I had pulled a wire off the old pump that was not in use! Anyway finally got the water stopped.....sopped up and sucked up as much of the water as I could and then we ran a fan on the area of the flooring that had gotten wet. So far it seems to be ok. Thankfully! Seems like you just get one thing fixed and something else breaks. 
   Today Roger left here at 7 a.m. with a temp of -27 to do a propane run and also a tour. He often combines the 2 as there is no sense in running "empty" to the landing and back. Right now it is 8:45 p.m. and he is a little over half way home. Tomorrow we are both going in to the landing, Roger has two tours to do and I am going to run to Anchorage and Wasilla and take care of some stuff. It will be another long day for both of us. I am guessing that Sunday Roger will collapse for the day after he delivers propane to Skwentna. 
  Well I am thinking that I have rattled on long enough. Now you know what has been happening the last couple of weeks. Oh and the good news is it has finally warmed up! Right now we are at +3F and lightly snowing. Thank you for taking time to read our story, may each and every one of you have a Blessed New Year! Myra

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Bottom Fell Out

So, I am riding along,,,, I know I am on a creek bed,,,,Everything had appeared to be fine until I looked ahead of me and I saw some open water about 25 yards ahead. I slowed down and suddenly "The Bottom Fell Out"
None of the Brown water and snow you see was visible in this area when I started into the area. When the machine broke through it sent out a wave and things just changed everywhere.

Look at the edges of all of these Brown holes and you can see that they just broke away. You can even see some ice floating in the top right of the above picture and in the hole directly to the left of the machine. Boy was this a surprise when it happened. It was instantaneous. The things you see on the right lower corner of this picture is packages of mail I was trying to take to the Post Office along with my survival back pack kit (which I was wearing).
I was between 3 and 4 miles from home, not on a frequently used trail, trying to take a back way to the Post Office. The main trail on the river had some very bad ice conditions so I was trying to go this way. Me and a friend have gone this way a few times in years past but I was all alone and the first to travel it this year. This creek does not look bad but look below.

See the stick in the water in front of the machine? See the water under the back of the machine? See the water off of the left side of the machine? ( The water off to the left side is not there in the first 2 pictures) See the water under the skis of the machine? Now look directly behind the machine on the snow. There is 1 red and 1 blue ratchet strap connected to a yellow rope tied to the little tree across the way. I pulled the machine onto this little 3' wide island using the ratchet straps and rope I had under the seat. The machine had slipped farther into the water during the process. Look closely at the hood of the machine. There is a line of ice starting at the front left (upper front) corner of the hood and going off of the back of the hood just below and behind the "Rotax" decal by the windshield. Back to the stick in the water, Look at the snow just left of the stick and you can see ripples (ridges). This is the marking from the track of the machine tipped sideways in the creek. Now, Look at the stick in the next picture.
The stick is over a foot into the snow and there is an ice line on it. That water is over 4' deep and it is that deep all of the way around the machine. God gave me that little island right there for some reason and I sure do appreciate it. Now look a little closer at this picture. Do you see any foot prints between the machine and the rope the ratchet straps are tied to? No, I had to walk behind where I stood to take this picture, walk down about 30 yards and cross the creek, walk in the woods on the other side and come out at the tree, then walk back around again, and again, and again, and again, etc. The ice would not hold me to go straight over to the tree, trust me, I tried. 
  Back to the stick, I cut this stick to make a walking / ice testing pole. I had to jab and prod the ice with every step, every trip around, because the ice kept changing and breaking up. I was wet to my knees where I would drop thru with one foot or another. Thank God I never fell straight thru to my chest.
  Now for the last part of the challenge. The machine is balanced on that little 3' island and the skis are hanging over 4' of water. The motor had been wet and I had to dry the wires to get it started. I had to get on, lean back on the machine putting the back into the water, get the skis pointed up over the bank of the creek and hit the gas and kind of leap the machine off of the island and across the water. Yee Ha,,,, I made it!
   It took me a couple of hours to get the machine out of the water and onto safe land. We wear boots called "Bunny Boots" up here. They are amazing technology. They do not saturate with water and they will keep your feet warm when full of water and it is 10 degree's outside. I can personally attest to this! I was warm enough I actually took a different route and still went to the Post Office. I did go into the generator shed while there and take off my boots and socks and wring out my socks and squeegee my polypropylene inner pants etc. Never ever wear cotton clothing out in the cold. If it gets wet it can kill you from hypothermia. The proper clothing was amazing. It is the first time I have had to depend on it in a "danger" situation. Had I not been able to get the machine out of the water or not been able to get it started I may have had to walk back home. Can you imagine doing that in 10 degree's soaking wet in cotton clothing?
   I also always have a survival pack with me that includes 5 different sources of Fire starters, a small pot to boil water for drinking, Extra gloves and hat, materials to make a shelter, a small first aid kit, an emergency satellite "Spot" locator that I can use to send for help and other misc small items (mirror, whistle, marker and flags, compass) etc. I also keep Flint Strike Fire starter in a zipped pants pocket and another one in a zipped coat pocket just in case the survival pack were to be lost (under water). I did have to change gloves quickly because they got soaked immediately and my hands went numb. I did warm up with dry gloves.
   I have been accused of carrying too much stuff before but I got to tell you, I never felt threatened in this wet situation because I knew I could survive and get dry, over night and more if I needed to. There is only about 5 or 6 hours of daylight here this time of year and help can't always get to you the same day, even with exact GPS coordinates. It was 2 hours after dark when I did get back home.
   I was able to get messages to Myra and let her know where I was and what was going on. Modern technology is wonderful.
   I know I made this story sound dramatic. I did not have a camera crew for a TV reality show, No helicopter, No Bear Grylse (Survival guy) No Yukon Men. It really was just a day in the life of living here. One I hope not to repeat, but it is part of it. I learned a few things that day, about the terrain and about myself. I also learned that I am not over prepared, just pretty well prepared. I may even add a couple of things after this.
Thank You for being on Our Adventure with us,
We'll talk to you again Soon,
PS: Myra has a bunch of pictures of our cabin remodel and other things going on around here but she is not here right now. We will post again soon.