Fall into Winter at the Cabin

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Fall into Winter 2015.htm
January 01, 2016     Happy New Year!

No more truck rides right up to the door of the cabin. The snow is already too deep. I found myself at the tail end of 2015 coming down with a cold and decided to forego the usual New Years celebrations and abuse of the body with alcohol and lack of sleep. I drove up to the cabin to spend the night in seclusion and contemplation.
There was a lot of snow and I was forced to park the truck at the Chamber's Family farm and walk the 3km to the cabin along the nicely packed snowmobile trail which was a good walk and the last 1600 feet in knee deep snow which was a bit of a struggle without snow shoes. I will bring the snow shoes next time.
There was a big wind storm last week apparently. It blew down one of the solar panels. I returned it and nailed a board in the hope of keeping it more secure but it is not secure.
I had big plans to do more wiring but the tiredness and body ache that accompanied my cold made me lazy and I did very little. I suppose I go here alone with the understanding that among my family and friends I am the oldest and probably will have the least time here so each moment is precious. If I can come to the cabin, winter or summer I need to come. I belong here somehow. It is home to me more than my place in the city.

Winter Flower
(Even in the cold of winter there are flowers)

View From The Trailer January 1, 2016

Property Line

Along the Trail

Along the Trail

Wood Pile

Solar Array 10 minutes after brushing it clean

January 16 & 17, 2016    After the Snow

There was no really compelling reason to go but I was curious to see how the solar panels survived the ice storm and heavy snow. I dreamed a simple idea to keep the top row of panels from blowing down in a strong wind storm and was eager to implement it- basically just a heavy nylon cord to tie them in place.

Eric came up to keep me company and we had a nice visit. Murray the farmer greeted us on arrival and once again assured us that we could park on his property any time we wished. It took about 45 minutes to walk in. We were blessed because our neighbour, Ray was kind enough to run his snowmobile up and down our driveway a few times during the week so we did not have to struggle though knee high snow for the last 1600 feet. This week we brought the snowshoes in on the little sled and we were able to make a nice trail down to the trailer.

According to the sunrise / sunset chart we got about 16 minutes more daylight this week compared to two weeks ago when I last went up. The charge indicator showed 3/5 full when we got in so there was no problem running the lights and stereo. I ran the two space heaters off the generator and lit a good fire but it was still about 5 hours before we could remove our hats and coats. According to the weather station the temperature went down to -23.5C about 10 days ago. Two of the 5 gallon jugs of water froze solid and split. When we arrived it was about -9C outside. It went down to -14C in the night. We were able to get the temperature up to about 20C. On Sunday it was a balmy -5C and we were quite warm in our winter clothing and exertion to walk in snow shoes. I got the panels tied down and hooked up two more speakers so the stereo sounds even better.

Note: The passive solar heater does work. The temperature in the cabin was -4C vs -9C outside when we arrived so there was a 5 degree differential. BUT it is not good after sunset. The warm air enters the top vent cools and rapidly falls to blow out the bottom vent giving a very cold draft on the floor. We really do not need air conditioning in January! I plugged the vents with plastic bags in the evening. That stopped the draft. I removed the plastic bags when we left.


Ranger Eric Moving In

Eric at the Border
Note: Walking 45 minutes in snow is not the same as just walking


The Trail



Pine in Front of Trailer

Property Line January 16, 2015

Ranger Eric

Ranger Mike

The Beach

The Trailer

View From the Trailer January 17, 2016

January 23, 2016    Volunteer Skating Rink

No cabin this weekend. Ranger Mike stayed in the city to help with the volunteer skating rink. Six members of the community came together to get permission from the city to build a natural skating rink at the little park at the end of our street. The city supplied hoses, key to a frost free water supply, some florescent orange cones and signs warning that the rink is unsupervised and used at your own risk (helmets recommended) and said go ahead!

For the past two weeks we have been out most nights flooding but we could use more snow to build up the low end. Unfortunately it looks like it will be warm this week. The only way to survive a Canadian winter is to get out and play in the snow. That way it slips by before you know it, never snows enough and is always too warm.

Volunteer Ice Rink

January 30 & 31, 2016    Animal Tracks Take Flight. Unusually Warm
It was another solo weekend for Ranger Mike. Environment Canada promised a warm but wet weekend and I was tempted to stay home but it has been two weeks since my last visit and I felt the pull of the North.

On the road I thought about the reason to travel three hours alone and like all those serious contemplations it echoed throughout the weekend. There really is nothing to do. It is lonely. So why do I go? The desire to have a piece of land in the north has burned in me since I was a child. This gift is with me now and I know that the hours are limited. I bathe in each precious minute as it were my last.

Also it is beautiful. On my 50 minute hike down the snowmobile trail from the truck to the cabin I noticed animal tracks in the snow. There were a lot of moose passing through. I saw small animal tracks, larger than a field mouse, much smaller than a dog or cat but large enough so that the animal sank in the snow and it must have been a fight just to move along. Suddenly the tracks ended with the signature print of bird wings. It pretty much will end like that for all of us I suppose. A struggle and then sudden flight. Each minute is precious.

  January 31, 2016

The Beach

The River

Bee Hive
(I can hear that they are still alive inside)

Animal Tracks Take Flight

Weather Station
Hard to believe that it is +6C outside

Ranger Mike Contemplating the Light

February 20 & 21, 2016    The Sun is Back!
I was away for three weeks. The forecast for this weekend was cloudy with a 60% chance of rain. It ended up strikingly sunny and beautiful. The sun was very strong. By 11:00 on Sunday morning the charger indicated 5/5 bars and it was already on trickle charge. I left the refrigerator on when I left.

The weather station showed the coldest temperature of the year on February 14. Apparently it was colder than -36C. That is cold.

The beer can solar heater actually works! The inlet on the floor is about 50F and the outlet on the top is 130F! That is great. When I hook up the computer fan to help circulate the air the outlet drops to 80F but of course there is a lot more volume.

I worked on the electrical wiring for most of my stay. I was able to remove a big extension cord and hard wire a number of receptacles.  The ceiling fan is now on a switch as is the bedroom light.

In the bright light everything looked beautiful. There appears to be a nice bird living under the cabin. Perhaps one of the pheasants we used to see last fall. I did not have the right camera to take a picture but I post the best blurry image I got here.

The walk in from where I park the truck is almost an hour. I am thinking that next week I go up with cross country skis.

The River

Property Line

The Weather Noon February 21

How Cold It Got on Valentine's Day With No One Here

Beer Can Heater

The Air Temperature Going In at the Bottom

The Air Temperature Coming Out at the Top

The Cabin

The Wash House

Blurry Bird Outside the Cabin

The River

The Cabin

February 27 & 28, 2016 Learning to Ski is like Learning to Crawl

t was perhaps not a smart idea to think I could ski into the cabin while hauling a heavy sled and a knapsack on my back especially after not having strapped on a pair of skis in 50 years. It is a little like riding a bike but there are also muscles to use and they are not the kind of muscles that are developed while sitting at a desk all day.

I fell twice just getting out of the parking lot. That should have been a sign but my excitement overpowered my common sense and I persisted. There were several more challenges to the law of gravity along the way and as usual, when you fight the law, the law wins. The 45 minute trip from the truck to the cabin took an hour and a half. In fairness part of the excess time was because about half way in I realized that I was not carrying the camera and I thought it might have been left on the back of the truck like a forgotten cup of coffee. With rain in the forecast that was not a good thing. I had to go back.

The snowmobile trail was not too bad but the soft snow of my driveway was difficult and when I fell for about the 6th time and got hopelessly tangled in the sleigh harness I was exhausted and that was enough for me. The skis were removed and I walked in. Falling on skis, especially in deep snow is not hard. Getting up is the hard part. The humour of a clown is based on embarrassment. I had a good laugh at myself.

My plan was to take out the skis on Sunday morning and practice but when I woke I was so stiff and sore it was all I could do to put on the snow shoes and walk down to the trailer to take a picture of the beach.

Not a lot was done but I did put in two light switches and figured out how we should put in underfloor heating, beds and bunkies. Not a bad weekend.


The Weather

The Beach

Animal Tracks
(There were a lot of these everywhere - Perhaps the rabbits are waking up)

The Cabin

The Wash House

Wheel Barrow

Some Trees

The Solar Panels

March 12 & 13, 2016  - UFO? Work on the Cabin Continues
The government changed the time again and robbed an hour of sleep from the people. I fought back by working to midnight and getting up early to continue at 6:00 am (or perhaps 7:00am I am not sure). I got my hour back.
I got a lot of electrical work done. The fridge is now hard wired. I had to drill a dozen holes to string the wire from the circuit box to the other end of the cabin.  Now all that is left is to rewire the ceiling lights and put in proper fixtures.
There is plenty of power. By around noon the batteries were registering 5/5 and on trickle charge. No issues running everything on full power all evening.

I turned the lights off in the cabin after midnight and took a long look out the back window after putting a few more logs on the fire. It was a beautiful clear night and I could see a lot of stars. Looking to the North West I saw the strangest sight.

At first I thought it was a star but it was low because I saw it through the trees. A craft was flashing a very powerful light. It moved very slowly in a straight line. It was circular in shape and I thought I could see windows. The lights from the windows were kind of yellowish,  like incandescent.  The flashing light was white like a slow strobe light. It was followed by a second craft, perhaps 2 to 4 football fields behind it flying in perfect tandem. They were about the same size but the craft following was in red light. I would have thought it to be one huge craft but that is far bigger than anything man-made. It seemed the front craft and the back craft were signalling each with lights. The one in front would flash and then the one behind also flashed in rhythm less than a second later. The front craft had white lights and the back was red. They were moving very slowly and crossed beside the cabin so I lost sight. I looked around in the dark for my binoculars but I could not find them. There was something creepy about it and I was afraid to turn the lights on in the cabin to find the binoculars. I did grab the camera however and went out to the front door which faces East South East. The craft(s) continued at the same speed away from me and seemed to be climbing. I got the impression it was mapping or searching for something like a Google Earth project. It made me nervous. There was absolutely no sound whatsoever. I waited until it passed far into the distance in case it was very high and the sound might come later but there was absolutely no sound whatsoever.
The best I could do was to take a few long exposures with the camera braced up against the cabin as the thing flew away to the south west. I knew by the shutter speed that the images would be worthless but I took three shots and post the cropped images here.
Apart from the disconcerting feeling of the UFO everything else on the weekend was beautiful. I was sad that the family could not share the wonderful weekend. It was remarkably warm and the Saturday evening and Sunday morning sunset / sunrises were stunning. I invite them up every weekend but I suppose I am the only one still insane.

The Beach Saturday Evening

Sunday Morning Sunrise

Reflection of the Sunrise in the Lagoon

3 Shots of the UFO - See note above


The Road to the Cabin

Naked Trees

Dark Water

March 19 & 20, 2016  - River Rising
I came up with Javier. The snow is melting but all around the cabin and on the road in everything is quite covered. I would guess that off the trail there is still about two feet of snow.
Javier started working on the culverts that draw the spring run off under and away from our roadway. The water is running very well and this spring the road should be the driest ever.
I left everything on all week and the ceiling fan and computer fan on a timer pushing warm air through the beer can solar heater really made a difference. The cabin was 6C when we arrived. It was -1C outside.  That difference made it quite a bit easier to warm up the place and keep it comfortable all night. The battery bank indicator showed 5/5 power on our arrival. According to our solar chart the spring equinox passed last Friday morning and we were already with about 3+ minutes of day vs the night. Spring is here!
I was eager to check out the bees but sadly they did not make it through the winter. I have a feeling it was something I did. I will order a new queen and try again but with a bit more research and perhaps a cover over the hive next winter.


Sunset near the equinox

The River

The River 2

Property Line

Working on the Road

Working on the road 2

Working on the road 3

Morning Frost

Chambers Farm
(Not everything is covered in snow. It is melting in the clearings)

March 26 & 27 2016  - Electrical Work Continues

Happy Easter! I took Saturday off for Easter so left the City at 5:30am. No one wanted to come up with me so I went alone as usual. There was a big ice storm last week so the excuse was the road would be bad but of course it was fine. It was a lovely weekend, well above freezing in the day and comfortably cold at night. I had to open all the windows a bit because it got too warm in the evening. The solar heater pumps 90F air into the cabin from 10:00am to 3:00pm. I left the power on all week and together with the Haiku ceiling fan on 24 x 7 the cabin is now quite easy to heat.

I worked on the electrics again. I made very good progress. I put in two pendant lamps and removed quite a bit of the old wiring. I put in some sockets and switches. The solar bank is fully topped up by 10:30 in the morning and on trickle charge by 11:00. I suppose it is time to add a couple more batteries to give us extra storage. We do not need it now but when we add the kitchen and bedrooms it may help.

Sadly the bees died. It was complete die off. I think it was something I did when playing with the little door to keep out mice. I think I suffocated the hive by putting it in upside down. Too bad.  I did harvest some honey and it is clear and very light colour. The taste is wonderfully sweet. I got a lot of beeswax as well and plan to make some candles. I will order a new nuc and queen and next year I will not fool around with the door when everything is doing fine on its own!

The Cabin

The Beach

The River

The Canoe Reappears

New Lamps

Better Way to Haul in Supplies

Pebbled Sky

April 1 & 2,  2016  - Happy 25th!

We stayed in the city to celebrate Ranger Mike & Marisol's 25th wedding anniversary. There was a renewal of vows in front of the congregation and a nice dinner with friends at the Ruston Restaurant - Champagne courtesy of the owner Frank. Thank you Marisol for everything you have done.

Mike, Marisol, Eric and Joel


April 16 & 17,  2016  - Early Spring Visit with the Spouses

We were away three weeks or so and although I knew it would be still too early for the truck I thought I might be able to get to the cabin on the motorcycle. We hauled it up very easily on the truck. Unfortunately the Vespa
does not like the snow and in some places the wheels sunk down to the axel in the mud. Easier to haul out than the truck but still impossible. About 1/3 of the way in I slipped on the ice and crashed. There was a pretty bad back strain so abandoned the bike and walked the rest of the way. I was not in good shape to work so we just rested.
In the rush to come up I forgot the camera. These shots are taken with the cell phone. It was lovely to see that most of the tulips and hycinths are sprouting. In a few weeks it should be a riot of colour.

The Beach

Dale's Firepit

Ranger Javier & Ranger Marisol

The Beach 2

April 23 & 24,  2016  - Spring Cleaning

Javier and I went up to work on the cabin. We were not sure if we could get the truck in because
last week the road was in pretty bad shape. We walked in from the farm. The snow has melted so next week we should be able to drive the truck in all the way. Soon we will be able to bring in supplies.
Javier worked on installing the particle board walls. Everyone says that dry wall would be a poor choice because we are not living in the cabin continuously and the change of temperature makes the building "breath" and this will pop the dry wall screws. So we put in a layer of 1/4" partical board which will eventually be covered in some kind of woody decoration.
I worked on the hill below the cabin. Now that the snow is gone and before the weeks come up I could really see the firewood we cut and left last fall. I hauled up cut brush and stacked fire logs. The brush will be used for campfires and the rest of it will be split for next winter. There is plenty of wood.  Clearing the brush opens the area so we can make a nice trail down to the river.
The river has risen again and our little island is once again under water.

Sunday Morning Sunrise

Installing the Particle Board

Brush Pile

Javier's Pants

North country hint: When you attempt to make cut off jeans using a chainsaw....
First remove the pants from your legs
before attempting to remove the legs from your pants.

Continued : Spring into Summer 2016

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