Spring into Summer at the Cabin 2015



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Previous Entries: August to December 2014

April 25, 26 2015 -- New Growth

Quite a change after two weeks away. All the snow is gone. I think we could have driven in but the farmer at the road's end warned us to park the car or get stuck for sure. So we parked the car and walked it. The road was good and it took only 50 minutes of walking.
This week the river was as high as ever. Everywhere there was evidence of new growth. I was very happy to see that the spring bulbs we planted last fall are coming up quite nicely. There were flocks of robins, chipmunks and a rather rude red headed woodpecker who knocked briskly on our roof at 6:30am on Sunday morning. I tried to get his picture but it was quite blurry.



Red Headed Woodpecker (honest)

New Growth 1

River from the Trailer 1 & 2

River from the Cabin

New Growth


Ranger Marisol Checking for new growth

May 01, 2015 Eric Graduates from Film School

Hurrah Eric! Congratulations on your graduation from film school. Best wishes!

May 02 and 03, 2015, Spring Arrival!
For the first time since we bought the cabin last August we were able to drive all the way in. It was a thrilling ride as we thought there was a chance the truck could have sunk down to the axles and that would have been difficult. But Javier's hard work last fall paid off and for the most part we could hardly even see the tracks of the Ford F150. There are a couple of soft spots. We walked the trail and shovelled the earth back over the tracks. I will order a load of gravel and put in the finishing touches. Now that the truck can make it all the way to the cabin it is time to pick up a canoe! The sunset on the still river was particularly beautiful. I can only imagine what the view will be like from the canoe.
It was great to unpack so much stuff that is needed including the bee equipment, a new three burner propane camp stove, a kitchen table, 4 cases of Kirkland water and much more.
My companion was Ranger Marisol. I nominated her first apprentice fireman for her enthusiasm and skill at maintaining the bonfire under control. The weather was wonderful. No bugs. Too early for black flies and mosquitoes.
This week everywhere in the forest many trilliums have broken through. As well many kinds of little flowers, irises and what might be wild strawberries. We saw a big frog up near the swamp. It was rather sluggish and let me get in close for a picture. It was a lovely weekend.


The Bee Hive

View From the Truck

Walking the Access Road
Note: No evidence of the truck having just passed this way

Frog 1 & 2

New Camp Stove


Unknown Flower
(Thousands of these everywhere)


Watching the Fire

May 5, 2015 Bottle Bricks

The plan is to use bottle bricks to create a stained glass effect in the east and west corners of our outhouse. I am fortunate to have good relations with a restaurant and can get all the bottles we need. Many are intrinsically beautiful.
They are cut with a diamond blade wet saw by gently rotating the bottles to create an etch which allows for a clean cut. I set the width guard at 4 inches. You cut off the bottoms, tape two similar sized with duct tape then rest them in plaster. The light is filtered by the glass and photo gel filters can be used to create effects in clear bottles like sun bursts shades of a colour. It should be nice. We shall see.


Bottles Before

Bottles During

Bottles After

May 10, 2015 A lot accomplished in the Rain

Ranger Javier and two Mothers joined us for a nice Mother's Day at the cabin. The road was quite a bit wetter than last week but still passable in the F150 on 4 x 4.  We brought up 4 x 100 watt solar panels, a charge controller, 3 deep cycle batteries and a 3000 watt pure sine inverter. Got the works hooked up and quickly wired 3 10 watt LED pot lights. It works! In spite of the heavy clouds, overcast and occasional showers the charge controller indicated that it was charging at 13.4 volts. I think that is good. We should have a fully charged battery bank when we go up for next week.

Still no blackflies. The truck stirred up a big swarm of mosquitoes but we lathered on some deet and they went away. Bugs never came back all weekend but that may have had more to do with the rain.

Lots of trilliums, white, pink yellow and purple. Javier's chain sawed leg still bothers him somewhat but he limped around the camp checking on the road and the river. I took macro photos of flowers but it was too windy for anything serious. On the way out we stopped at the resort for late Mother's day brunch at the all you can eat buffet.

Cabin With the Solar Panels

Charge Controller


Purple Trillium

Butterfly on White Flower

Ray's Place

Our Road

May 11 to 18, 2015 - Long Weekend. Thank You Queen Victoria!

The May 24 weekend in Canada is traditionally the time people "open up" the cottage. As we never closed it we just continued to enjoy the place. Guest artists Andrew, Fran and Jose came up for the weekend. The workers cleaned out the trailer and Andrew painted it which made it look much larger.
Ranger Javier's leg still troubles him but he was able to get in some healthy relaxing time. Marina loved the camp stove and the girls spend a good part of the time organizing and cleaning.
I tried a few times to contact the guy with the sand and gravel as our road is getting quite beaten with the truck. A few loads of gravel would set it right. I hope next week we will be able to do that. The solar panels are functioning perfectly. It was quite hot and sunny. At one point the charge controller indicated more than 15 volts incoming. We installed more lights and used the power to charge the drill batteries and run the reciprocating saw quite a bit and had power to spare. Next week I plan on bringing up the bar fridge.
I spent about six hours tilling the soil in a garden patch. It is backbreaking work because of all the roots and heavy soil. My back was a bit sore yesterday but I am fine today. There were a fair number of Mosquitoes but the black flies were not biting. We wore mosquito nets as part of the spring fashion.
The weather was wonderful, a little on the warm side but I am not complaining. On Sunday night there was a tremendous electrical storm in the distance and then by about three in the morning the front passed through with heavy downpours, great flashes of lightning and thunder boomers. Hurrah for Queen Victoria. Nature put on a fireworks display!



Cleaning out the Trailer

Andrew Rolling


Andrew and Jose

Spring Fashion

Spring Cleaning

New Ferns


May 23 - 25, 2015 - It was all a Blur

For the last two weeks I thought that the lens was dirty or there was an issue with the camera because all the images taken  are blurred at the top and bottom. It was a moved setting on the camera that was responsible. So for the second week a set of blurred images.
We picked up a 16 foot prospector canoe on the way up. About 2 km from the cabin our progress was halted by two fallen trees. We hiked in to the cabin and came out with the chain saw to cut the offending trees into firewood sized pieces. The canoe was a pleasure and we were able to explore up river to the rapids. Soon I will find the portage route and keep on going. The river continues to recede. The island is now an isthmus.
The gardening continued. We also found the local gravel pit which is very close to our land. Ranger Javier was still on the disabled list so could not come to the cabin this weekend. So it was up to Ranger Marisol and me who got three loads and shovelled them on the road. The gravel almost disappeared, literally swallowed by the muck. Almost is the operative word as small progress was made and I am sure that after several more loads we will have a passable road.
The solar panel charge controller indicated that the battery bank was fully charged when we arrived. I brought a little bar fridge and plugged it in. It worked perfectly. I left it plugged in as a test to see how the batteries would last over the week. It was nice to have very cold beer and to be able to read in the evening.


(Why you should carry a chainsaw in the truck)

Dry Lagoon

(Last week this was all under water)

River and Tree

View From the Cabin
(Note the Canoe!)

More Trilliums

Ranger Marisol Reading at Night

May 30 - June 1, 2015 - It was a Hive of Activity

Ranger Mike and Ranger Javier came up for the long weekend. The girls had to stay in town to work because someone has to make the money to finance this enterprise. We put in the bee hive. It was exciting transferring the bees from the nuc colony to the hive box. I think I did it all right. Time will tell.
The rest of the solar panels wet up on the roof. We now have an 800 watt system charging 4 deep cycle batteries. There was plenty of power for the bar fridge a number of led lights, charging the phone, iPad, drill batteries, mosquito trap and operation of the saws. We deliberately left everything on all day Sunday and by midnight we were down to about 1/2 battery. By 11 am the next morning the indicator told us the battery was full and on trickle charge.
We took the canoe up river to survey the rapids. It is outstandingly beautiful and glorious. More exploration must be undertaken.
The road is our biggest concern at the moment. The truck got stuck in the muck and it took a couple hours to dig our way out. We are rangers and equipped to get ourselves out of trouble using the tools available. We put in three more loads of gravel which sank into the mud. We picked up three culverts at a supplier in Parry Sound. The idea is to install one or more next week. Mosquitoes in the bush are large and ferocious but Ranger Javier brought a number of bug hats from the dollar store and they worked perfectly. I did not receive a single sting.
The garden is growing well. I expanded it by about another 15 feet by 15 feet, mostly beans and tobacco.

Cabin June 1, 2015

Playing in the Mud

Dollar Store Mosquito Hat

Paddling the Canoe

Up River
(click on image for the video)

(click on image for Video)

View From Above

Down River

Bee Hive

Purple  Flower

June 6 to 8, 2015 - Plumbing and Permits

Oops no pictures this week! I left the camera up at the cabin. Ranger Mike went solo. I spent the time divided between heavy exertion and meditation. My goal was to get water from the river up to the cabin. It is about 250 feet away up a rise of about 150 feet. 
I tried a strong electric pump with a lot of 3/4" pipe but the hill was too high and the electricity demands also problematic because the generator did not work. I ended up getting a Honda high pressure gasoline pump with fire hose and it did the trick. Now we have endless water for the garden, flush the toilet etc. I need to add a cistern, filter and sterilizer so we can use the water for showers and washing. According to my pedometer I walked about 18km on Saturday. Most of that was up and down that hill. By the end of the day I was quite tired and my leg muscles reached the end of their usefulness. I planned to curl up with the latest Stephen King book and read the night away but by 9:30 I was in dreamland.
The bees seem to be thriving. I did some gardening. I got the building permit for the deck.

June 13 to 15, 2015    Digging in the Rain
This week Ranger Mike was joined by Marisol, Joel and Javier. Our big project is to get the septic system installed. Joel and Mike picked up a 1000 gallon tank and transported it back to Camp. We also ordered 20 tons of clean septic gravel for the weeping field which should arrive next week.
It rained fairly steady all weekend and our road is suffering a lot. While we ordered the septic gravel we also ordered road gravel. We did nothing to the road this week as we will wait until the gravel arrives.
The weekend was spend pretty much digging the pit for the septic tank. We were able to find a suitable area and dug down to solid bedrock. The tank was levelled and we built up the area so it will be up to code when the project is done. The tank was filled with water to check the level and we were delighted that everything looks good. Not easy work but three good rangers armed with good shovels can accomplish a lot. Even in the rain.
Javier installed another window to the cabin so it is much brighter inside. Meanwhile we did a bit of gardening. The beans are growing good as are the potatoes and other crops. Joel enjoyed the Canoe and went fishing. He caught nothing but that is not the point. The bees are as busy as ever. They are not yet expanding to the other combs but I suppose that will come.

Cabin June 15, 2015




Doll with Dolly

Joel Fishing


June 20 to 22, 2015    Solstice, Stuck in the Muck and Spider Porn (Caution there will be spiders)

We worked on the road. The quarry sent over two truckloads of gravel and so we spread most of one load on the worst parts of the road. It is still too squishy. Javier installed three culverts. I lost control of the 4 x 4 and ran off the road into the swamp. It took over three hours, digging, plywood, a jack and Ranger ingenuity to free the beast.

It was solstice and father's day. Eric came up for me and Javierlito came up for Javier. Later the people next door came by for a drink and we enjoyed Sunday evening by the fire. A big spider caught a big June bug and we watched the struggle in fascination for over an hour. I was able to free the truck when it got stuck in the muck but I fear the June bug was not so fortunate.

Looks like the deer or perhaps rabbits are feasting on the garden. They delicately ate just the leaves of every bean plant. Nothing left. There is a good crop of potatoes, the tomatoes are growing as well.

Stuck in the Muck - Natural Parking Lot
(Click for Video)

Summer Sunset

Summer Sunset 2

Canoe with Eric and Javierlito - Nearly Tipping!
(Click Image for Video)

Ray's Place at Solstice Sunset

Spider Porn


Marina and Javier by the Fire

Cabin June 22, 2015

June 25 to 28, 2015    Weekend Alone, Peg leg Truck and the Importance of Neighbours

Ranger Mike went up alone. Javier was busy with company , Marisol had her Mom to look after and the kids were at work. So I enjoyed a quiet weekend digging in the dirt. The weather was pretty good. It apparently rained all weekend back in the city but up north we got only an hour or so on Sunday morning and a couple of passing showers Monday morning. There was a lovely sunset Saturday evening.
I shovelled many loads of gravel onto the road but apparently the grade is too fine. It just mixes with the wet sand and turns into quicksand. I ordered a coarser grade and will try again next week. On my way out on Monday afternoon the truck got a flat tire. I drove on the flat and ruined it. No spare tire. I learned that I must keep a spare on hand.  The neighbours telephoned Canadian Tire. They had a replacement that would fit but since they closed at six they could not do it that day. We removed the wheel and threw it into the back of Ray's van. I got to stay overnight and Ray drove me into town in the morning.
Meanwhile I took some photos of wild flowers. I was worried that the bees would be hungry but the flowers are everywhere. Many bees keep coming and going from the hive. The river was quite a bit lower. I say many animal tracks in the mud by the shore.



Shadow Man at the Cottage

Ray's Cottage in the Morning

Animal Tracks by the Shore

Tracks of some kind of bird?

Forest Ferns

Wild Iris

River drop (last week the inlet was under water)

Peg Leg Truck


July 4 to 6, 2015    Road Work, Road Work, Road Work

Ranger Javier and Ranger Mike went up alone. The weekend was dedicated to fixing the road. Not much time for anything else. During the week the gravel pit dropped of a load of 2" stone which is what we should have started out with. This gravel is very good for repairing the soft spots. I loaded almost the whole truckload over the course of Saturday and Sunday. I spread it over the ruts in the road while Javier removed the small squashed culverts and installed new 12" pipes. We covered over everything with plenty of stone.

On Monday morning I picked up the last 15 foot culvert and Javier installed it. We figure that another two or three truckloads of gravel should make the road passable. There is still quite a bit of the finer gravel left so as the summer progresses the plan is to shovel a quick load into the bed of the F150 and spread it as needed. We did a great job.

By Monday we were both about spent. On my trip to the construction company in the morning I picked up some more perennials from the nursery including two fine apple trees. I planted the rest of the flowers and worked on the garden. Javier went for a swim and we both enjoyed a mother pheasant and her many chicks that have taken up residence near the cabin. I suppose they know that the foxes and coyotes are giving us a wide birth for now so they feel protected.

About the only thing doing very well in the garden is the potato plants. The deer or badgers ate the beans. We are sharing this land with the animals. Javier got a big shock when he was out working on the road. He turned around and saw a big doe watching him. He barked like a dog and it bounded into the woods. Must have been a shock for the deer as well.
We were able to water the garden well with the fire hose but something has to be done with the inlet. It is in the mud. The water is too dirty. I suppose we will need about 100 feet of  4" pipe to reach the main current.




Potato Leaves


July 11 & 12, 2015    Quick visit - no photos
Had a nice visit to the cabin with the wives. We only stayed Saturday night and half Sunday. I was busy with the road, water and garden and forgot to take photos. Meanwhile we cleared the brush from the trailer to the beach and found an excellent rocky ledge for river access and a nice drop off for strong swimmers. The water was wonderfully warm and invigorating. The strong current is like an all over massage.

July 18 to 20, 2015    Perfect Weather - Great Getaway

While the city sweltered in high heat and high humidity we enjoyed a wonderful weekend at the cabin. There was a lot of work to do of course but we did get some useful time to relax and enjoy the place. There was swimming on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The water was clear and refreshing. Next door visitors were playing guitar and singing. We joined in with a singalong. Our cold beer right out of the cooler was welcome as were our additional voices. We stumbled back to the cabin in the dark after midnight. The next day I installed a string of solar powered patio lights.

Many of the trees that were cut down last year to bring in some light and breeze are now ready to be cut into bite sized pieces for new winter's fuel. We did a lot of sawing. I also set out most of the sewer pipes for the septic tank drain field. We have a lot of soil to transport to cover the lot but I suppose we can start on the construction of the bath house next weekend.
The honey bees seem to be thriving. They come to the cabin for a drink of water. The garden is slow except for the potatoes and tomatoes. We have a lot of flowers and our first vine ripe tomato.

Sunset July 18

View From Trailer

Our Swimming Hole


Javier Getting Use of the Cooler Bag

Honey Bees Drinking

Potato Flowers

First Tomato


After the Work Was Done

July 26 to 27, 2015    Short Stay - Hot Weather

Family obligations kept us home on Sunday. (Happy 15th birthday Melissa - Great party)
So we came up on Sunday morning. Absolutely no traffic. We returned Monday night. Most of the time was spent hauling gravel and covering the septic tank with topsoil. Javierlito, Marino and their friend Danny came up for a visit and helped out a lot by filling the truck with two loads of drain field gravel. I carried the gravel, two Home Depot buckets at at time using a dolly to the drain field. It was totally exhausting. 90 degrees, 90% relative humidity made us all sweat a lot.

Javier began excavating the bathroom. He made the floor frame and levelled it. He loaded many wheelbarrow loads of topsoil and covered the septic tank. I do not know where he gets the power. I dumped many buckets of gravel into the frame where the bath house floor will be. The plan is to lay a floor of cement so the gravel is to create a base, help level the base and to save on cement. We plan to get that part started next week.

Down at the beach I brought the Honda water pump, some hose etc and pressure washed the swimming area.  I cleaned a lot of the built up slimy clay silt so we have a nice granite walkway to the beach. The water was wonderfully refreshing. We spent the better part of Monday fooling around in the water.

There were some great photo opportunities but no time or when there was time no camera. I only managed a couple of selfies showing me very tired. One of the images has Javier over my shoulder.

Ranger Mike

Ranger Mike (Ranger Javier looking over the shoulder)

August 1 to 5, 2015    Hurrah for Long Weekends and Guests!

Monday was a civic holiday so I took the opportunity to spend a little extra time in the woods. The weather was great. While we worked there was an occasional light shower which was refreshing. Mostly it was hot and perfect. Our visitors from the Pan Am games came up and enjoyed a taste of Canadian wilderness. We set them up with a nice tent and they camped for two days. Even grandma came up and enjoyed the weekend.
One night I set up my chair and tripod down by the spit of land we use for swimming. I took long exposure shots of the stars using the fish eye lens. The moon was so bright that a 4 minute exposure illuminated the trees like daylight. I got so lost and the sensation of quiet was so profound that I lost all sense of time and when I got back to the cabin it was almost 3 in the morning.

Moonlight 1
Images taken after midnight with exposures 1.5 to 4 minutes

Moonlight 2

Moonlight 3

Moonlight 4

Morning on the River 1

Morning on the River 2

Morning on the River 3

Teresa Reading

Entrance to Lower Burnt Chute Rapids - Magnettawan River

Near Upper Burnt Chute Rapids

Everybody Works

August 08 to 10, 2015    One Year Here!

August 9 marked the one year anniversary of our acquisition of the cabin and land. We celebrate by flushing the toilet for the first time! I spent the weekend hauling washed gravel for the septic field. Javier built the frame of the wash house. When finished it should have a flush toilet, sink and shower. Javier made a new friend of a large snake that was living under the rotting plywood from the last owner here. We got rid of the plywood and let the snake slither off into the woods.
Swimming was great as usual. I can rarely recall such a stretch of perfect cottage weather. In the evening it was clear and I looked for the Perseid meteors but I suppose it was too early. Meanwhile I enjoyed taking night shots with the camera and sitting for the first real rest of the weekend.

Reflection of Sky on Water

Starry Night

Big Dipper

Night on the River

Long Way to Pump the Water

Red Flower

Testing the Seat

Watch Your Step!

August 15 to 17, 2015    On the River

Marisol was able to come up and stay until Monday afternoon. It is difficult to get anything done if we have to rush up late Saturday and fight traffic on Sunday afternoon. Being able to stay on Monday gives up a pleasant morning and relaxing day on Monday where we can swim or do light work. We took good advantage of it by paddling up river to a good fishing spot then later diving for freshwater clams which are found in abundance at the rapids. Unlike ocean clams these need salt but can be used with fresh onions and garlic to make a wonderful clam sauce for pasta. Swimming in the river is SOOO relaxing! It is our own exercise pool or personal whirlpool bath. After a day of hauling loads of gravel for the septic field and roadwork it is wonderful to lounge in the river and let the currents gently massage your muscles.

Now that the washroom is done we must work on the plumbing. We got a big tank and will build a tower to elevate it. The gravity fed water will feed the toilet and shower. The tank can easily be filled with the fire hose.
Mari is a specialist in watering the garden and she enjoyed fighting with the fire hose as well as learning how to set it up and get the pump started. Likewise with the generator. We have plenty of electrical power for the cabin but for the heavy power tools we are using the generator. It is easy to start and like any good country wife she needed to know how to turn it on and off. Things like pulling the starting cord with your back rather than your arms is something good to know.

Now that the washroom building is essentially complete we started with the granite floor. That is a lot of concrete! Next week I open the windows and put in some bottle bricks.

At the Pump

Watering the Garden

Filling the Water Barrels

Cherry Tomatoes

Washroom and Cabin

Granite Floor

Marisol on the Rocks

Smoke through the Trees

August 22 to 24, 2015    Home Alone

I went up alone this weekend. Everyone else was either too busy or uninterested. I am in love with the place and so the irresistible attraction pulls me there alone or with company. I spent a quiet weekend working on the electricity in the cabin and opening windows in the wash house for the bottle bricks. Time flew by. Although the weather was perfect for a swim I found by the time I left on Monday afternoon I had not had a chance to visit the river.

Was excited to learn that the Haiku Fan fit perfectly. I was able to wire it temporarily and it worked as advertised. No surprise this is the third one I bought and they are the most energy efficient , most well made fans that exist on the market. The temperature differential between the air at the ceiling and the floor is remarkable. This should help a lot to circulate the heat from our little wood stove this winter.

I was able to get 4 windows cut out and framed for the wash house but I need to do at least 4 to 6 more. No time to put the bottle bricks in, perhaps next week. I was very happy to have found a new valve for the 1000 litre tank we will use to gravity feed the toilet and shower. Thank you All Tanks for your help! The roadwork continues but after three loads of gravel I sprained my back a bit so called it quits. However it is coming along great. There are no wet spots and each week and after each load of gravel it is getting a lot smoother.
I had a delicious aged steak on Sunday evening with fresh lettuce and tomatoes from the garden. On Monday morning I fried up what was left and served it with fried egg and lightly sautéed cherry tomatoes. The garden is coming along but the weeds are growing better. One of Javier's Dahlias burst into bloom. The bees are thriving. I did not disturb them Next week I will take a peek to see if there is any honey in the super.

Haiku Fan

Windows and Frames for the Wash House

How the Bottles Will Fit

1000 Litre Tank

Javier's Dahlia

Natural Steam

August 29 to 31, 2015   Bottle Bricks

Javier and I worked on the wash house. This is the first weekend since we got the place that no work was done on the road. We concentrated on the wash house. Javier waterproofed the roof and used plywood to close the upper loft so that it can be used for storage. I created the last four window frames (six in total) and began plastering in the bottle bricks. I was surprised that it takes so much cement. I did separate the bottles a bit too much I suppose. I used four 50 pound bags for one window. I will need at least fifteen or sixteen to complete the project. Perhaps I will even need more bottles. It looks really good inside when the sun shines through. We will add lighting inside so it should look lovely at night as well.

The little beer fridge was just too small and energy inefficient. The food was spoiling and the motor was red hot. I picked up a good energy efficient refrigerator at a scratch and dent sale. I hope our solar power system can keep up with it. By Monday morning the batteries were red line low. I added two more deep cycle batteries. Now we will wait to see if the panels will be able to charge them. To be fair though it was quite cloudy all weekend and we had everything powered on.
We have one apple in our orchard and a few scrawny stalks of corn in our cornfield. The farm tax write offs should be tremendous this year.

Wash House

Bottle Brick Collection

Bottle Brick Wall 1

Bottle Brick Wall 2


Apple Harvest

Corn Stalks

This continues...Fall into Winter 2015


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