September 5 though 7, 2015
Bottle Bricks, Water Tower, Exploring the River.
We enjoyed a lovely long weekend. It is time to begin a
new page. The
summer page is taking too long to load and there is
a hint of colour in the woods. Now that September has
arrived the winter cannot be far away.
We continue to work on the wash house. I did all but two
bottle brick windows and Javier put up the water tower.
We should be able to flush the toilet about 250 times
before refilling the tank. I am a little nervous about
the stability and plan to put in some heavy bolts to
support the nails.
We took Marlenys for a nice ride in the canoe up to the
rapids. We were supposed to go fishing there but I
forgot the tackle box. Later the girls went for a walk
down to needle eye rapids. It was nice to have good
cooks. The food was delicious.
Exploring the River
Needle Eye Rapids
September 12 Through 14, 2015 Bottle Bricks,
Cedar Shingles and Wood Chopping
I went up alone as the usual crew was busy. Happy
Birthday Javi! (should have spent it up north)
I installed 4 more solar panels and two more deep cycle
batteries. We should have enough power now. We will see
as the winter progresses. And the winter will come. It
was only 4 degrees C on Sunday night. I needed to throw
a few logs on the fire which kept the cabin comfortable.
This prompted me to begin attacking the cut logs
including two big logs down the hill which were too
heavy to bring up whole. I did my chopping down below
and hauled the fireplace sized chopped pieces up in pails Ranger Style.
Work continued on the wash house bottle brick windows. I
ran out of cement and bottles at about the same time.
Just two small windows to go. At night I lit the place
up with several candles and three LED lights to take
some time exposure shots from outside. Looks like
stained glass windows from a church. Finally hooked up
the water tower to the toilet only to be disappointed
that the water won't go in (or out) of the inlet. Must be a valve that has to be adjusted or replaced. Meanwhile
the toilet works with modifications. I connected a hose
with a tap to the tank. When you need to flush you can
fill up the tank by opening the tap for a few moments.
It works fine, just not automatically.
On Monday morning I went out for breakfast. For the first
time I visited Ahmic Harbour. Once a bustling lumber
town with several factories supporting the lumber
industry at the beginning of the last century It is
almost abandoned. There are a few long time residents
still there, several cottages, a hotel and diner which
served me a good breakfast. I took a picture of the
I also started the wash house shingles. I thought we
should go cedar. They are quite durable and will blend
into the forest. It was a good weekend.
Four More Solar Panels
Beginnings of the Wood Pile
View Up River From the Beach
Trailer and Canoe
Bottle Bricks at Night
Abandoned Church Ahmic Harbour
September 19 Through 21, 2015 Potatoes,
Solar Array, Wood Chopping The fall is upon us. The weather was
perfect and I was really sad to leave on Monday afternoon. There are signs all
around that it will soon be winter and we won't have such perfect weather for
long. We finally had to get serious with the solar panels because they
were just stuck on the roof which gave a western direction at a very low angle
which was good for summer but will not be good for the winter. The memory of
last winter is still fresh and I cannot see the panels charging with five
feet of snow covering them and no reasonable way to clear them. Javier used some
scrap lumber which we salvaged from the previous owner's failed projects and we
built a stand for the solar array which will double as a place for the wood pile
as well as storage for the batteries, generator and water pump. Now the panels
are facing south and we will be able to change the angle in the spring to gain
greater efficiency. If we get five feet of snow again this winter the panels are
at a sharp enough angle to let the snow fall off. In any event they are now
accessible with a ladder and long handled broom.
I was glad to finally finish the bottle brick windows. Next week we should
finish the wash house floor, shingles and siding.
We harvested the potato crop. Not a lot there but they were delicious baked and
served with fresh salad and barbequed steak.
No time to swim or fish but the river was beautiful.
the Dead Ferns
Solar Panel Stand
Cabin Sept 21, 2015
River From the Beach
September 26 Through 28, 2015 Work on the
Roof, Changing Fall Colours We had to head back to the city early so things
we wanted to do on Monday will be left for next week. The super moon
eclipse was a no show as heavy clouds rolled in by the afternoon. Javier
worked on the wash house roof and completed all of the shingles. I
removed the last four solar panels from the roof of the cabin and
installed the array on the south wall. I also put in the last MPPT
charge controller so we will be getting a better percent efficiency from
the array to the batteries, especially in winter. It was very good news
that by about noon the batteries appeared fully charged and on trickle
state. The charge indicator went down to 2/5 over night but there was no
amber warning light. We even used the batteries to briefly run the skill
saw and mitre saw as the construction generator blew a pull cord and I
screwed the thing up trying to replace it.
It was nice that Joel and Marisol could come up. They went fishing and
caught a nice bass. We had plenty of food so Mari cleaned the fish,
froze it and we brought it back to the city. The leaves are turning by
the hour. On the road out the change over the weekend was amazing.
Solar Panel Array
View From Trailer
River September 27, 2015
October 3 to 5, 2015 Getting Ready for
Winter Javier and I enjoyed a mild wet weekend. The
rain was misting most of the time. In the evening it was
lovely to hear the sound of rain in the forest. The
interesting aspect was that it was not really raining.
The mist all day was enough to collect water on the
leaves and the sound of droplets was a symphony. I could
imagine the scene in January. The mist would have been
soft wet snow beautifully covering everything. It will
not be long. I can see the weather pattern has turned.
It is no longer summer.
Our big project this weekend was to start the spray
insulation. It is getting a bit too cool for that as the
chemicals have to be above 20 degrees C. We closed all
the windows and heated the place for two days with a
roaring fire and got everything up nice and warm. The
spraying went very well but unfortunately one big kit is
not enough. I will have to buy more this week and finish
off the project next weekend.
We moved the solar batteries up to the platform from
where they were under the cabin. It was a major wiring
job as I had wired up the batteries wrong. I think they
are ok now. We used the electricity for lights and the
fridge, the satellite radio and music throughout as well
as charging the cell phones and iPad. I made a
point of not being as careful as I might just to see.
For example for a couple hours I left the lights on in
the cabin even when we were not there. It was part plan
and part careless practice but no issue whatsoever. Our
lights stayed on and the supply indicator showed green
Everywhere the trees are at peak colour. Javier's
dahlias showed signs of frost burn. They are sensitive
and it showed that at least one night it got down below
zero. It meant a lot more firewood chopping. I got the
bin under the solar panels filled and started an
overflow. We also put up some plastic covering on the
veranda as the north wind can blow quite cold through
there. This year we are much better prepared. We have a
supply of logs that were cut last year and they are nice
and dry. We even have the supply cut for next year! Last
year we were tramping through the snow to drag out soggy
deadfalls that were very hard to light and burned cool.
I hope to see the large bull moose that wanders through
the area. Dale saw it on Saturday by the river in front
of the cabin. Apparently it had a spectacular rack of
Ranger Javier with the Campfire
Dopy Fire Ghosts Dancing by the Fire
October 10 to 12 2015 Happy Thanksgiving We enjoyed the weekend with visitors. Mari and
Marina were able to come up as did Eric and Joel. On
Sunday Zoraida and Juselbio came up with Mother
Theresa and Marlenys. We celebrated Thanksgiving
with a big turkey roasted on a spit over hardwood
Eric took over photo duties and so most of the shots
here are taken by Eric. The leaves on the trees were
truly spectacular. When we came home we drove the
scenic route and it was breathtaking. The weather
could not have been more perfect. I believe it was
23 degrees C on Monday. The Solar panels held up and
we were able to enjoy music, lights and a fridge.
All night the fan helped circulate the air. Javier
finished the insulation and we were cosy all
As a bonus we were even able to watch the Blue Jays
play off game on the ipad while sitting around the
campfire thanks to the cell phone antenna and an
We got in the fall bulbs. I suppose we planted about a
thousand bulbs, mostly daffodils with some long stemmed
tulips, Dutch irises and other varieties. Either it will
be amazing along the roadway next spring or we gave all
the burrowing critters some nice treats for winter.
On the way early in the morning admiring ground fog
Across the River
Going for a walk in the woods
Javier believes in frequent hydration
(If you feel thirsty it is probably too late)
In a more savage time these might have ended up
on our Thanksgiving dinner plates
No worries they were welcome and safe
River October 11, 2015
Wash House at Night
October 17 to 19, 2015 Solar Pop Can
Space Heater Javier and I came up for the weekend. I was
anxious to complete the pop can solar space heater and Javier wanted to get
the concrete floor in the wash house completed before the heavy freeze set
in. The spray foam insulation seems to be working well. It went down
to about 5 below Celsius on Saturday and Sunday nights but we were
comfortable with the wood stove and the cabin was about 22 to 24 C.
The pop can solar heater was completed. It will need to be painted etc but
it is essentially done. It will be fascinating to come up next weekend to
see if it has been able to collect some heat. The idea is that if it goes
down to minus 20 or 30 for a whole week the cabin gets too cold. It is all
we can do to to get the building up to a comfortable temperature. All of the
glass bottles and cans freeze and there is danger of breakage. The cans can
swell up and the seals break which leaves open the possibility of food
poisoning. I hope we can collect five or even ten degrees of heat from the
solar collector and store it in the building. That way if it is minus 10 we
might be lucky to have it only zero inside.
The peak of leaf colour is long gone. We at least can see the land and took
a tour on Sunday. While I was working on the heater Javier took the chainsaw
and sawed the trees we fell last year into chop able pieces. he also was
able to collect some nice granite pavers and cemented them into the wash
house floor. It looks great.
In the morning on Sunday the river steamed against the cold air. It looked
Cutting the Pop Cans
Placing the Cans
In and Out Vents
Solar Heater and Solar Panels
Frost on the Leaves
November 01, 2015 Happy Birthday Marisol!
We went up Saturday afternoon and on Sunday
celebrated Marisol's birthday. It rained quite a bit on Saturday night but
on Sunday the weather was great. I fiddled with the pop can solar heater by
installing a 12V computer fan on a timer so that we might get forced heat. I
want it to turn off in the night so any heat collected in the day will not
be wasted at night.
We thinned out a number of pine tree saplings and brought them over to the
cottage for planting. The river is beginning to rise.
Happy Birthday Marisol!
Bringing in the Pines
River from the trailer November 01, 2015
November 07 and 08, 2015 Starry Night
Javier and I went up to continue work around
the place. I spent a lot of time carrying firewood up the hill and
piling logs so that they can dry. We already have the wood in for this
winter but now we are working on next year's supply. Meanwhile Javier
began uncovering the granite behind the cabin and transferring the
topsoil to the septic field. I marvel at his energy.
On Saturday night the air was clear and cold. I spent a couple of hours
outside taking star shots. There was no moon but the trees were
illuminated by the fire and cabin lights. Javier played disc jockey and
we listened to music well into the night. I fooled around taking
portraits in dim light with the camera still attached to the tripod.
I was really happy to be able to say that the pop can passive solar
heater is a success. Usually the cabin is a few degrees colder than the
outside when we arrive there on Saturday afternoons. That is because it
gets cold in the night and the insulation prevents the heat from
entering. Gradually over weeks the interior becomes like an ice box.
This week the temperature outside was 4.4 C and inside it was 9.6
C. That is more than 5 degrees warmer. The heater was able to collect
the heat and the insulation acted like a solar battery. I changed the
computer fan for a smaller one that fit perfectly in the 3" vent.
The river continues to rise. It is almost to the post that demarcates
our property line.
River and Property Line Marker
River from the Cabin
Portraits of Javier
November 21 and 22, 2015 First Snow!
Last week I could not visit the cabin as there
was a lot to do in the city. This week my usual
companions were also busy but I could not miss the
opportunity to experience the first heavy snowfall
so I went alone. It is a month before the winter
solstice and it will be two months before the sun is
this bright. I am a bit worried about the solar
panels ability to deliver enough juice.
When I arrived, around 4 in the afternoon the panels
were covered in snow but still charging about 13.4
volts. I brushed off the snow and the charge rate
went up to about 15 volts. The next day in
good sun the panels were generating about 21 volts.
I was surprised that by six at night it was so dark
outside. The little solar patio lights were out.
They were covered in snow and unable to charge their
batteries. I am thinking it might be the same for
the cabin. By 9 or so in the evening the charge
indicator showed only 1 bar (out of 5) which is the
lowest ever. I got up at 6 in the morning. It was
still dark but I cleaned the 6 inches or so of snow
off the panels and started the generator. I hooked
up the battery charge and ran it for two hours until
the sun began to generate power. By noon the charge
controller showed 3 bars.
The passive solar heater seems to be working. It was
about -4C outside but still 0 C inside even though it
was cloudy all week. With a few logs in the wood stove I
got the cabin up to a comfortable 20 C. With the Ecofans
on the wood stove and the Haiku fan gently circulating
the air down from the ceiling the place was warm and
cosy all weekend.
It snowed hard all night and I was a bit worried that I might not be able to
drive out. There was no
problems except for the tree that fell across the
road. On the way south from Parry Sound to Barrie
the roads were almost impassable due to severe white
out conditions as the early lake effect snow came in
off Georgian Bay. They will be skiing early this
year if this keeps up.
Here are some shots of the weekend. I slipped and
fell on my way to the river and the camera got
covered in snow. I tried my best to clean the lens
but it was somewhat wet for some of the river shots.
I suppose it adds to the effect. (reminder to self -
carry a lens cloth at all times. Keep the camera
under the jacket!)
(The river level keeps rising)
(image taken at night with camera on tripod - about
Note, no shadows because it was taken in total
The trouble with Solar
(A few weeks ago this inlet was dry)
November 28 & 29 2015 Rising Water, Milling
Most of last week's snow has already melted.
The ice melt showed up in the river which, according to
Environment Canada, is up about a metre higher than it
was last week at the discharge point in Georgian Bay. Up
river at our place it is even higher. The isthmus that
makes up our riverfront is now an island. We will not be
able to reach it until the river freezes or next spring. Last
week I took a picture of the iron bar which demarks our
property line. It is now completely submerged.
This week the plan was to try milling some lumber. I
have a portable Alaskan mill and I picked up a powerful
chain saw so that we could make big slabs of lumber.
Unfortunately we could not get the chain saw to light.
We ended up putting a rip chain on the smaller saw and
tried it out. It works but we are limited to 12 to 14
inches wide pieces and the logs we plan to mill are much
bigger than that. So we just played around just to see
how it might work. Javier didn't bother to attach a
starting level as we were just practicing. The result is
some wavy planks but it works! We spent about 2 hours
and got about 50 sq. ft. of hardwood flooring about 1/2"
thick. It will need to be properly dried and sanded of
course but it works. We have an almost unlimited source
of hardwood lumber which we can turn into furniture,
flooring and wood panelling.
River From the Cabin
(What happened to the Iron Bar?)
The Isthmus is now an Island
Washing Dishes (Ranger Style)
Big Saw vs. Little Saw
(Yes I know we were supposed to start with a level
December 06, 2015 Quick Check Up
The usual crew was busy and so was I on
Saturday but I managed a quick trip up on Sunday
morning. I had some winter supplies like 4 boxes
of fireplace logs which help start the fire.
They are now selling 10 piece boxes which are
heavy and not something I would like to haul 3
kilometres through the snow. I also brought up
the MS 880 chain saw which I brought back to the
dealer as we could not get it lit last weekend.
We flooded it quite badly apparently. Anyway I
started it and it works fine.
It was good that I went up as the Go Power 3000
watt inverter tripped. The warning light slowly
flashed red which indicated that the unit shut
down as the batteries were dead. That was around
midnight some time in the last 7 days. We had
left on all of the power bars with their
assorted chargers, the cell phone antenna etc. I
suppose it was too much. I ran the
generator to power up the battery charger while
I was there and turned off everything except for
the fridge. It is a good safety precaution that
the inverter trips as dead batteries can freeze
in extremely cold weather otherwise they are
good to -50C.
It was a nice trip. I left around 6:00am well
before dawn. Once I got through the fog there
was a spectacular sunrise. The drive was good as
there was very little traffic at that time of
the morning, this time of year. I listened to
some great music on the new Pono player. It does
have impressive sound.
I had a nice walk through the grounds and on the
way home saw a flock of wild turkeys. Now that
Thanksgiving is done I suppose they feel it is
safe to come out for a stroll down the road. The
river is slightly lower than it was last week.
Sunrise on the Road
View From the Trailer
Property Line December 6, 2015
December 12 & 13, 2015 Getting Things Done
The usual suspects were busy again so on
Saturday afternoon I went up alone. I slept
overnight and was able to get a good start
on the electrical system. Sadly this time of
the year it is very cloudy and the sun is at
the lowest point. The charging panels are
not very efficient. I had everything
except for the fridge turned off all week
but when I arrived the solar system was
about to shut down. The fridge is too big or
our system is too small. I suppose in the
spring I will invest in more panels.
Meanwhile I installed 4 receptacles, one
outside and three inside. The outside
one is beside the generator. The rest are
inside connected to it by a wire through the
wall and the hole the wire goes through
insulated with spray foam. So when the
system fails we can crank up the generator,
plug the system in and let it run on back
up. I have a big battery charger also hooked
to the generator and that helps charge the
Now we can also connect the infra red space
heater to one of the "outside" plugs with
the generator on to help heat the cabin when
we first get there. It is much better than
how it was before which was an extension
cord through a crack in the door out to the
Being up alone is interesting. I was a bit
too busy to be lonely. I imagine it would
get that way if I had to live like Robinson
Crusoe for a long time but an over night
stay is quite nice. I got a chance to write
a bit, work on the weather station - (having
issues with the remote sensor), climbed up
the roof to put in an FM antenna - (we now
get one FM station, have not tried AM),
meditate and listen to some very good music
via the Pono player connected to the stereo.
Sometimes the sound of your own breath is
I forgot the camera at home but took a
couple shots of the river to show the
waterline with the cell phone.
River From The Trailer
December 19 & 20, 2015 Getting Things Done
For another week no one could come with me to
the cabin. I braved the snow squall warnings and
predictions of 20cm of blowing snow. The drive up
north was uneventful. There was only about 1" of
snow on the ground when I arrived.
The weekend saw useful work at replenishing the
firewood bin. I chopped wood for a couple hours. It
was a good workout. We have plenty of wood but the
stove uses a lot. Fortunately the cabin retains the
heat. On Sunday when I was working inside I needed
to remove my long sleeve shirt and sweater as it was
about 24C inside and -4C outside. It is comfortably
warm but the stove goes through a lot of wood.
I also worked on the electrical system. We quickly
tossed in four LED pot lights last summer when we
first put in the solar array. One switch turned on
all four. The fridge was also wired in rather
sloppy. It worked but without style.
I continued re-wiring the cabin. I put in a nice LED
spotlight for the dart board and began putting in
light switches for the four main lights. Two are
done. Next week (or whenever I can get up again) I
will continue with the last two which will also be
on another circuit. I also need plenty of sockets so
that we have places to power up cell phones and run
The sound system, especially connected to the Pono
player sounds wonderful. I really enjoyed the
stereo. It is perhaps the best sound system I have
On Sunday morning I woke early. Perhaps around 6:00.
I put on the only radio station we receive there. It
has a program that came with an announcement that
"The following paid program contains opinions and
expressions that may not be shared by Moose Radio,
its employees and advertisers". It was a gospel
program from Halifax Nova Scotia. The message was
the birth of Jesus. Interesting. I listened for a
half hour or so while drinking my coffee and eating
oatmeal spiked with freeze dried strawberries. I
felt content like being on a retreat.
Sometimes the sound of your own breathing is enough
to know you are alive.