It's better out West.
Adventures from our home in Colorado Springs. Gardening, prepping, dog wrangling, off roading and even a little complaining from time to time. Useful information once in a while that might help someone live a better, more prepared life.
The pleasures of trying to lead a fairly simple life while the world spins by at warp speed.
The iPhone takes a good photo but it's nothing compared to a real camera that you have to look through an eyepiece to see what you are shooting. I've left mine in town long enough and after a reminder text, it made it's way down on Sunday along with our friends who just purchased a side-by-side Razr ATV.
The riding was great, the company was awesome. What could top that but some great photo's from Sunday evening and Monday morning.
This boy was about 75 feet from the front door this morning.
We are spending over half of our time at the cabin, it's just so damn peaceful and calming. I headed down on Friday night with a car load of supplies for projects we wanted to get done. Nothing over the top, no construction, just little things that needed attention.
The weather was cool, actually almost cold. I headed out at 8:15 for some star gazing and wore one of my winter jackets. The wind was blowing moist and I would be out in the elements and for once I decided to dress appropriately. The stars were, as usual, amazing. In Colorado Springs we have a lot of stars but until we started getting away we didn't realize how "ugly" it is at night.
I got up at my usual 6AM on Saturday and started the day by trying to make a tincture for my dill pickle spears. Turmeric and hot water was my choice, I was trying to get the spears to look "not so pale". It worked a little, I simply didn't have a large enough container to stir it up effectively every 5 minutes. Cucumber and zucchini spears.
Inside the cabin it was 59 degrees and I was worried about the jars cooling down before I dropped them into the hot water canner. I decided to measure everything out to keep the process fast: dill seed, dill weed, mustard seed, garlic.
3 cheers for pickle spears. I wanted regular pickles, but my choice of cucumbers for the garden once again gave me short fat cucumbers.
I did all kinds of other small projects and then decided to work on myself a little bit and enjoy a bike ride. The wind decided to mess with my plans and I didn't enjoy it so much, the huge headwind put my record time 15 minutes out of reach on my 111 mile route but it was incredible workout.
After my date with a foam roller and some stretching, I moved onto grapes. They were on sale, for silly cheap, so I decided to go ahead and can them. If you have never washed a lot of grapes you have no idea just how dirty they are.
A very light syrup was made and into the canner they went.
Dinner time; sliced potato with olive oil, garlic powder, yellow curry powder and rosemary.
Amish neighbor dog paid a visit and came inside. She is 17 years old according to her owners and I did have the storm door open so I didn't mind. She was exhausted for some reason and didn't even beg while I was eating. A few hours later she headed out again.
I redid my get home bag and dropped some weight out of it. Technology is amazing in how the weight of technical clothing can reduce your overall load. I then took it out for a hike to star gaze, and while it still has some weight (about 43 pounds) it was very comfortable.
There is a lot of wildlife at our cabin, more than we ever expected and we haven't even experienced springtime yet. We've got the mountain lions, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, antelope, etc.
I really never imagined we would have badgers, I've never actually seen one in Colorado but apparently we have a lot. It makes sense, there is a lot of crap soil land edging lush forests, it's the perfect feeding ground and habitat.
Many think the badger is aggressive, but like most wildlife, just leave it alone and they will give you the same respect. We saw it out the picture window, Rock was being a good watchdog and trying to figure out what this new "large not a bunny thing" was.
In our usual tradition of going for a walk after dinner to stargaze, we encountered either the same, or another badger. It was on the roadside and didn't like the high powered LED tac lights so it scurried off into the high grass on a field edge. Just another reason to be alert, vigilant and armed.
Speaking of that, a neighbor stopped me on the road asking if I was ok or just out for a hike. She apparently didn't recognize me and thought maybe I was an escaped convict rumored to be in the area. Yes, she drove right up to me with her window down and vehicle unlocked....
We small talked for a minute, she told me to be careful and then stared longingly at my XDm. I headed back to the cabin, I had left it unlocked as we always do on our hikes. Not being one to toss caution to the wind, I cleared the entire place upon re-entry.
For city slickers, we do OK with projects. It might take us a while but we get things done. Usually the time delay is not having enough of something and not being under a time crunch. The shed roof was finally completed on Monday.
It will hold and it doesn't look too bad for us do-it-yourselfers.
On the way into work I counted about 35 wild turkeys, a few dozen antelopes, around 20 bighorn sheep and countless bucks and does. It's on the edge of winter, everything is moving down the mountains and grazing/getting ready to hibernate.
Even rock gets worn out from the wildlife and duck hunting....
When most people think of hand tools, they usually think of things like shovels and rakes. I think a hand tool is anything powered by your body, and we think it's a great idea to have a lot of hand tools. Saws, drills, shovels, rakes, screwdrivers, pliers, nail pullers, hammers, different saws, etc.
Saturday I was up nice and early and started to add supports to the woodshed roof area. We need to add about 8 2x6 supports, but need something to brace them against. It's a typical easy job of measuring, cutting and drilling screws in.
Nothing is 'easy'. The battery powered circular saw cut one 2x4 and then died. No problem, we have 3 batteries so I grabbed another one and the same thing happened. It's a craftsman, not a Dewalt, but it's done well over 10+ years. The third battery didn't get me anywhere so I got my hand tools out.
Sawing 2x4's is easy, using a hand drill is easy. What's not easy is balancing at the top of a ladder while trying to keep pressure on the hand drill while you are stuffed against the underside of a roof. I decided to try again next weekend when I 'll have some help, I'm not a wobbly-ladder kind of guy.
Since the hand tools were out I decided to cut down a small dead aspen tree. This was followed by another, and another, and some bigger ones. Once it's cut you need to drag it out into a pile so you can get the chainsaw out and make firewood lengths, and then split it. 3 hours later I stopped cutting and dragging since I was dehydrated and completely soaked with sweat. 80 degrees in the shade is still 80 degrees.
I headed into town and picked up a corded skill saw at the one and only pawn shop. It was a Dewalt and appeared to be almost brand new for a great price. I can use hand tools, but I figured it would be great to have some nice power tools too.
I got a 2 mile hike in, a 40 minute run and even a 9 mile bike ride. I slept amazingly well for once in the last few weeks. It probably had something to do with the temperature being cool and the house getting down to 60 inside.
Sunday morning it was 44 outside and of course 60 inside. Perfect time to make muffins, run the laundry through the dryer (need to get a clothes line up still) and get some inside stuff done before the temperature decided to get hot again. It's late summer and I have to remind myself that we work with what we are given.
I went for a hike in the morning but got distracted by talking to my new neighbor. He isn't staying, he backed out of the deal once he found the subfloor rotted bad from a leaking water heater. He is renting for a month while he closes on another house he found on the other side of town. Sure, he annoys us by not containing and/or leashing his dogs but he would still be a great neighbor to have. He reminded me of my own Father, including the way he dressed and his sense of humor and self sufficient oriented lifestyle.
More chores were done, we use my hand drill bits (12" bits) to clean out a cable hole in the side of the cabin so we could run some wire in it. I just knew those long bits would come in handy. I did almost an hour of trail running and it was brutal. You can't look up or you trip/slip/slide and you have to constantly plan where to place each foot for each step. It was exhausting but fulfilling as usual and I'm just doing what I can to keep in good shape while I'm able.
It was still another great night of sleep, something I really needed again. I almost feel whole again. 64 inside this morning, 44 out. Headed out for the 1 hour 40 minute drive to work and enjoyed every mile of it.
While I was in Salt Lake City I picked up a 50% off Fenix coupon code. I don't know how long it's good for, but I put it to use already. They are my favorite flashlight manufacturer, so half off more lights is always great. www.fenixlighting.com/fenixaccount
Once you are there you need to make an account. I made one and used a normal sounding made up business name. Coupon code for your cart: FENIXUSPRO
If you like Revo sunglasses here is a 25% off code to use at checkout: OR2014_25 (revo.com)
I mention the sunglasses since my Oakley's are at the bottom of a lake in Utah... lesson learned there but I did a pretty nice job on the standup paddle board only getting wet once. I think I paid about $200 for those glasses 10 years ago so I've gotten my use out of them for sure. My backup pair are 16 years old, I try to make things last.
Cricket flour bars, not bad actually. I wasn't sold on it entirely but it they have different flavors and they were all OK. Just one of the several dozen bars/snacks I sampled at Outdoor Retailer this past week.
My great, great, great grandfather sculpted this, first time I've seen it in person. Salt Lake was pretty easy to navigate, cheap to park and overall not too bad of a city. For a city.
At the cabin right now it's 52 degrees and its only 7pm. That's a picture of Lorie, the Amish working dog, getting spoiled. We took most of her molting hair out and leave fresh water out for her and some snacks.
A little snack, a little nap, and then she is off and running. It's nice that Rock gets along with her, we just don't introduce food when they are together. Yes, I know, the green outdoor carpet is horrible but it bets splinters until we can get around to redoing the deck.
We have new neighbors up the street who have zero control of their 2 dogs. I gave him a little introduction today to my vocabulary after the 7th time of his dogs running around us snapping at Rock. I figure if you can't get the hint, and have only apologized once with zero corrective action, you deserve to hear whatever I have to say.
Like their cat who walked into the cabin last night while we had the storm door propped open. I know it's the country, but manners (should) still apply. I think I'm we are the only people who own a leash in the county.
The shed roof is half done, we got the metal from a company in Colorado Springs who shorted us by one sheet, didn't have enough to do both sides. The top cap is on order, we wanted green and everyone had silver or white. The tar paper kept the rain out so it's nice and dry inside finally. We will finish it this coming weekend. The overhang is almost a foot to help keep the rain from splashing up on the wood and concrete. Once we are done it will have a fresh coat of stain.
More supplies lined up in a space that seemed perfect. Free space is at a premium with electric baseboard heat and the ATV's hogging the garage. The buckets can be stacked to the ceiling if we put the lighter ones up top (oats, elbow noodles, etc.).
We had one of our BBQ group members and longtime friends down to the cabin. I showed them how to make and can blueberry jam and he showed me how to use a 7 foot longbow. I did OK, then decided to get my compound bow out since it had been a long time. I couldn't figure out why I missed 5 out of 6 times, then I gathered the arrows and noticed the fake feathers were dry rotted: time for a re-string and new arrows. It never occurred to me they would dry rot but the broad head arrows were just fine, cheap target arrows are cheap.
We made chocolate chip cookies from food storage and they enjoyed my recipe tweaks. I introduced them to freeze dried yogurt bites and they ordered 6 #10 cans (they are pretty awesome to snack on). They both helped out on the shed roofing without being asked, that's a quality that's hard to find. We really enjoyed their company and they loved hanging out with us in the mountains.
It's raining, down to 48 degrees and I don't think I'll see the moon tonight. Last night was pretty amazing but unless the clouds vanish really soon it's going to be early to bed (and I really need some sleep). I'm predicting snow on the peaks within 2 weeks, it feels like it should be sooner but it's damp with all this running water around us.
I wanted to title this, "Another week in a life well lived" but for some reason it sounded a little egotistical but I suppose it really does fit. I could also title it, "I probably need less dangerous hobbies or better reasoning abilities when battling my activity OCD."
I visited the doctor for my "Affordable Care Act Wellness Checkup". I had no clue why I was going in, nor what they were going to check, but it was free and I figured I should see a Dr. once every 5 years even if don't think it's needed. It turns out it was a complete physical, including lab work that I was supposed to have gotten done before the appointment. Fail on that, fail on urine sample, fail on fasting, etc. I told them if they want this stuff they should inform patients.
The Dr. said I'm healthy, blood pressure is great, resting heart rate is great, nothing abnormal, etc. He did ask me a lot of useless questions (nothing about guns) like: do I recycle, do I have a fire detector at home, how much exercise do I get a day, rate my diet on 1-10 (10 being great), etc.
Apparently healthier people care more. He had a BS explanation on why they had to ask silly questions. I did get a tetanus shot, it's been about 25 years since my last one and I'm always playing with old metal and crap at the cabin. When I asked for the side effects and drug interaction sheet everyone was stunned and confused for a bit.
Not a sheep.
Anyhow, here is the week in pictures!
As I was driving to the cabin on Wednesday afternoon, the rain had finally eased off and the clouds had lifted up, it was obviously a perfect time to get some mountain biking in. Those puddles in the road just added to the fun. I geared up and headed out... weeeee.... it's a nice downhill grade to start so I was flying. Suddenly the rain started to fly as the wind shifted directions and was blowing towards the mountains instead of away as usual. I've been wet, will be wet again and don't care about being wet so I kept going and was enjoying the tailwind. Unfortunately that turned into a headwind when I headed back home. All was well, it's a long grind back home through mud puddles and battling a 30+ mph rain and wind storm. The the flashes started....
One day, and hopefully not soon, I'll be found dead in a ditch somewhere with a smile on my face having enjoyed whatever it was I had been doing when my time was up.
It just wasn't my time I suppose but good lord I was exhausted. I had to push the bike for a few hundred feet since the wind was so bad. Flash; 1 thousand one, 1 thousand two, boom!
It isn't often that people get naked outside but I was wet there was no way I was going inside dripping all over the floor. I cleaned up and assembled the new Berky! 8 gallon capacity, 6 out of 8 filters installed and we now have some fantastic water at the cabin. It's gi-normous!
The half moon was out, it was very nice for an evening walk.
The next morning I headed to work as usual.
Amazon didn't let me down and a box of books showed up. I have about 25 books to read, including those trilogies. I really like the Terry Brooks Shannara series, I grew up reading them and it gets my head into something other than the usual books. I have hundred of books from when I was a kid, that's all I spent my money on, whenever I had it. Forgotten Realms, Dungeons and Dragons, etc. I really loved to read, and still do. I find it's enlightening to change genres from dystopia to anything else.
Everything was wet Friday afternoon but we had high hopes for a nice weekend. We needed to get some outside work done. That's a shot of the backyard dog area. The Amish neighbors dog is getting used to us being here and hangs out most of the time with us. Probably since we pulled all of her molts out, feed her and let her come along on hikes, etc. I have the door open and she just walked on in wondering where Rock is. They get along great, only the third dog ever, but we don't let them play it would be too hard on her.
Since it was cool and wet I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies. Food storage cookies for the most part, I didn't have butter powder. I need to remember to bring some down in the next load of goodies.
Yum! We had BBQ chicken drumsticks, fresh veggies and Italian bread. Using the over helped get the cabin warmed up to 70, it was cool and damp. It got as low as 42 degrees Friday night.
Saturday was beautiful, mid 70's and a slight breeze. Here I am working on stripping the old roofing from the small storage shed. The local hardware store is nice, and it's big, but they didn't have any shingles in stock. That wasn't expected so it's just a tar paper roof right now. We are going to pick up some metal slide roofing sections and peak cap in town and finish it this coming weekend. I was really hot working up there but I wanted to be protected from the sun, wood, nails, etc. so I ditched my signature shorts and t-shirt look.
This morning Rock was awaiting his hike but I was really exhausted from the last week of nonstop epic adventures. He settled for a few big rides and is probably sticking his head out the window on the way home right now. I did grab my bike and ride into town this afternoon, 10.25 miles in 41 minutes. I cheated and got a ride back, I know my limits.
It's cool currently, 54 degrees and we had an hour of light rain. I'll sleep great tonight and head out on the highway for Salt Lake City in the morning. Cheaper to drive instead of fly and rent a car, and an 8 hour drive could be another epic adventure to post about. I'll be at the Outdoor Retailers Expo, if I see anything awesome I'll snag photo's.
The weather for some has been miserable, it's summer and they enjoy the 100 degree heat we often get. I'm enjoying the overcast rain, it's making the garden really flourish this year. Mid 70 degree weather and hours upon hours of rain with a few hours of nice sunshine are perfect.
I know that veggies are sneaky, but 2 days ago I didn't have a single cucumber. I know this since I was helping direct them onto the fence. I don't want them laying on the ground, they are supposed to climb but often meander wherever they feel like. Last night when I was harvesting some zucchini, I checked the cucumbers out again... I have about a dozen of them close to picking time.
It's national pit bull week! Not sure if that's true or not, but Rock was very pleased to hear about it.
Those who saw my adventure from this past Saturday will be pleased (or not) to know I'm recovered and ready for the next random thing. This picture below shows the route I took.
This picture is from Monday morning on my drive to work. Not only was it beautiful, it's was full of wildlife. I saw about 40 does, 12 bucks of various sizes, 2 groups of 20+ wild turkeys and a bighorn sheep.
Since it's not that great canned, I decided to freeze a lot of the zucchini and squash this year. I did one batch from the fridge that I had picked and then cleaned the garden out again. I have a feeling I'll have a lot more batches and a freezer full of nutritious veggies for the winter.
Heading to the cabin tonight with another load of supplies. We are going to redo the roof on the little shed and shore up the woodshed roof this weekend. I'm waiting to see how the month turns out at work before I decide how much firewood to order. When I wake up at the cabin I'm reminded that winter is coming, 49 degree's is the average morning temperature at 5am.