Sunday, January 31, 2016

Back on Track's

Well it's been a strange few weeks
 and thanks are in order.

After many years of hard use and little to no maintenance 
I had to do some repair work on our track set-up.
A call to David at
  "American Track Truck"
got the project started,I have to say he's great to work with.
Not only is the service and shipping well above average
 but his pricing made the repair very reasonable.
I had everything I needed in just a few days!
Thank you for being such a great company to deal with!

Thank you
"Tire and Auto Lodge"
The four turns of the front torsion bar was perfect,
that raised the 1999 Rodeo a strong 1inch

Big thanks to
 Dean Berneking,
The use of the heated shop with a swinging boom chain hoist,
 and his help,  made the job an easy one.
Installation is much nicer in a warm shop

Last but not least,
 "Cook County Towing"
 for their great service. They picked up the truck at
 Dean's and delivered  it within 3 miles of our house.

Now to the next problem,
With the shoulder surgery late in the fall I didn't get a chance to stage my winter equipment properly.
This became painfully obvious when I needed to get my drag out to groom the road.  
Not only was the drag behind a pile of snow, it was behind a loaded two place snowmobile trailer  that was behind the snow pile.

Here is a photo of what piss poor planning (PPP) looks like:

The thing sticking out behind the trailer is the tongue for the drag.

By this time the snow pile is rock hard, 
I came up with a elegant solution,
ram the crap out of it with the back of my pick-up until it was soft enough to shovel.

Ramming it got me to this point.

After shoveling to find the tongue I hooked on to it with a strap and 
pulled the tongue right out from underneath the trailer. 

Thank god Pat was there to give me that look of
  "What the hell were you thinking"

So now I have a heavy box of snowmobiles that I can no longer move
and the snowmobiles only unload out of the back. 
Someone I know described this as
That was enough damage for one day, so we decided to try again the next day.

Over night I came up with a plan,
 not a great one, but the only one I could think of.
We started by cleaning off the top of the trailer so we could open the top,
 I then ran two straps,
 one under and the other through the trailer connecting them together in the back
then closed the trailer. 

This finely worked and the trailer was free, 
I now had a opening to retrieve my drag,

Running straps to the drag
 we were able to pull it onto the driveway.

after the pull

ready to pull

That's two day of my life I'll never get back.

Here is a short video of the drag in action.


My cat Itchy had a visitor last week, 
normally it's the white menace (snowshoe rabbit)
but this week it's a brown menace (pine marten?)

More later, thanks for reading

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Broken Stuff & Early Easter Egg Hunt

What a strange week since Christmas,
Got home the night of the 25th to find around 5" of new snow.
No big deal, the next day we went to work,
 I fired up the 4 wheeler in the garage put it in gear and hit the gas to start plowing.
On my way out of the garage door I hooked the plow blade on the door frame and snapped one of the pins that holds the plow on.
Meanwhile Pat is running the snowblower working on the path to the observatory,
 she was able to find one of our hanging solar Chinese lantern that had fallen do to snow load.
Finding the lantern with the snowblower wasn't good! 
It wrapped in the auger and broke the shear pin,
so we are less then a hour into snow removal and all our equipment is broken down.

Regrouping in the house, I started to unpack our new play toy,
 Pat give me a GoPro camera with a package of mounting brackets, 
we started with filming a red squirrel eating sunflower seeds.
see video below

Once at warmed up enough we decided to run out to the storage building for the parts we need to fix all our broken stuff. 

Putting the windshield mount on the camera we climbed into the jeep and filmed the drive out,
it's about 10 minutes long and gives a good look at our everyday drive to get to our vehicles.
see video below

Returning home with parts and the chainsaw we stopped and removed the low hanging tree that we could hardly get under,
 then home to fixed the 4 wheeler plow.

The snowblower needs more attention then I want to give it that day
 so it's up to the plow to do most of the work,
after a few hours of plowing including getting stuck several times things were looking pretty good.
Before calling it a day we pulled down the
 weather station unit to clean off ice
 for the second time this winter,
after reinstalling it we were done for the day.

Back indoors I decided to look at the video we shot throughout the day!
That would be the exact time I realized I no longer know where the camera is.

The search began,
 it included looking in the jeep, garage, house
 then back out to the storage building.
Now in the dark we continued with flashlight trips up and down the driveway
and path to the observatory finely giving up around 9:00 pm.

  The new day brought a new search,
 this included some Google searches and email to GoPro to see if the camera
could be found with a metal detector.
Answers were mixed at best, the guy from GoPro said
 it would have to be a very good detector if it was to work at all.

Now for the metal detector story.

I have always shopped pawn shops,
 so I'm in my mid 30's I had a pocket full of money and a day off in some small town USA.
I decide to make a trip to the closest pawn shop to look around, the great part about pawn shops is you never know what you need till you find it.
That day a metal detector caught my eye, hell what mid 30's guy could pass that up, after a little negotiations it was mine.
This is one of those buys that when you get home your wife gives you the look,
well I got that look but explained we could have some fun with this new found item.
Her response was you'll never use it,
 to prove her wrong I packed it twice for winter vacations, once to Florida and then Costa Rica and never used it.
Three winters ago I was asked to find a underground gas tank
 cover for the owners of Lockport in Lutsen. 
The cover came off during snowplowing and was somewhere in a large snow pile,
I found it in short order and charged them lunch, I was well on my way to locating items for fun and profit.

Back on the shelf it went waiting for the next big opportunity,
2 day's ago it was pulled of the shelf and prepared it for service and the search was on!

I put about two hours into the search the first day to no avail,
 I search enough to be sure I wasn't going to drive over it with the jeep but still worried I might find it with the snowblower.
Well Wednesday Pat and I went looking again,
 this time searching the snow piles humped up by the 4 wheeler plow, we started knocking the tops off the piles so the metal detector could check deeper into the banks and we found it within a hour.

The camera is in good shape and still works fine, the only damage was to the suction cup mounting bracket,
 no big deal.

Between the searching we also fixed all our broken stuff so we're ready again for snow.

Christmas was good with the exception of mom's dog having health trouble that could not be fix so she had to put Henry down on Christmas Eve, very sad.

We took care of Henry a few years back for a shot time, he wasn't much of a woodsy dog, more a city slickers.
We had him down on the dock and he fell in the water, I know some dogs don't swim but I figured all dog at least float. 
Not Henry he sank like a brick,
 I look over to see what happened and he was standing on the bottom of the lake looking puzzled.
Pat jump right into the water and save his ass,
she was not going to let that dog drown on her watch, I would have helped but I was paralyzed in laughter.

One last item for now,
 today is our wedding anniversary, 28 years of married bliss.
I've had people calling and emailing her all day to tell her how lucky she is to be married to me! 
I've been telling here this for 28 years and at times I think she forget just how lucky she is,
 so feel free to call, text or email her and remind her,
thanks for your help on this issue.

Our test video of the red squirrel

Video of our drive to the storage building where we keep our vehicles
we make this drive every day

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter hit's with a mixed mess

Well, Wednesday we got hit with rain, then 8" of snow, and I decided to drive the three miles to our house in my pick-up.

Turned out to be a bad decision. If I had waited till morning for turning the truck around it would have gone better, instead I ended up badly stuck.

No big deal,  just run the three miles on the 4 wheeler to the storage building and get Val and Kathy's jeep on tracks, or so I thought.

About a mile into my trip I find a large cedar tree hanging across the road about 5 feet above the road surface. This tree had fell in the 10 minutes it took me to get stuck.

At this point the word "screwed" comes to mind.
 I had only been out of my arm sling 2 days after shoulder surgery and pretty sure over head chainsaw work is out of the question.
With one phone call to my new neighbor Richard Bohnen my trouble was over! He was kind enough to snowmobile down to my fallen tree and he cut and cleared the road in no time.

A quick run for the jeep and Richard helped get the truck unstuck, 
this goes above and beyond being a good neighbor!
Thanks again Richard!

We also had to pull down the weather station today and bring it into the house to let the ice melt,
 it could not be cleared any other way.

Now to answer some of the bullet points from the earlier post, odd but number one question was about the new cat we tried to bring into the house.

Here she is, a 3 year old Sphinx, yup hairless, what a sweet cat, it's the first cat I've seen that came with outfits. I was really hoping it would work but Itchy would have none of it.
I could not guarantee her safety and had to bring her back to Duluth.

I blew my right shoulder in October and had surgery November 2nd, working on physical therapy now and trying hard not to re-injure it. 

This years new umbrella over the bird feeder, it's been pretty good year for feeding.

Ok I'll show one big fish photo,
 my good friend Dean caught and released this nice 30 inch fish on June 12th proving even a blind squirrel finds a nut ever now and then.

a nice photo of the Cascade river taken today.

Just packing up for Christmas in the cities, it's always hard for me to leave here for any amount of time, Pat not so much, she's looking forward to the trip and Christmas.

I hope everyone has a good holiday and stays safe.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Been to Long

It’s a cold rainy snowy day and out of boredom I find myself up at the observatory where the much underused large computer lives. After winning  2 of 13 games in solitaire and looking over the music selection I’d be playing over the next few hours I decided to get to work.

You need to understand  with my level of ADD means everything around me acts like the squirrel that distracts the poor dog, so my getting to work started with a lengthy search for stuff I don’t need on EBay, followed by even more music selections.

Fighting back the urge to click on the Full Tilt Poker site and let LayDownSally have some fun (my poker name at that site) I decided to have a look at my neglected blog and all I can say is wow,
 Where do I start?

I haven’t written since May 2014, as a matter of fact I have not looked at the blog since then. That's when King Leonardo died. Now all the memories of him came flooding back, I had a very  hard time with that and it still hurts today.

Here is one of my excuses for not writing, I can come up with more if needed!

My work hours spent on community items has grown considerably, I guess I’m making up for all the years of pipeline work were I wasn’t home to get involved with local government.

  • unsuccessful run for county commissioner 
  • appointed to the water adversary committee
  • appointed to the Cook County Planning and Zoning Board of Commissioners
  • appointed to Cook County Board of Adjustments
  • seat on the Cook County/Grand Marais Airport Committee
  • elected to the Arrowhead Electric Cooperative board of directors
  • Seat on the county aquatic invasive species task force
  • Volunteer lake & river monitor
  • Seat on the Comprehensive Land Use committee
  • Board of Directors Birch Grove Foundation
  • Still attend most of the county commissioners meetings
               I think to keep this first post short I will bullet  the last few years and write about a 
                 few at a time, they are listed as they come to mind may not be chronologically.
  • · Winter of 13/14 was tough and very long
  • · Winter 14/15 not too bad
  • · Winter 15/16 not much so far
  • · Rebuilt a boat big enough for the Great Lakes
  • · Built a big new floating dock
  • · Have high speed fiber internet to the cabin and observatory
  • · Grand kids visit
  • · Blew out my other shoulder, surgery required
  • · Summer of 2015 was great weather
  • · Lots of friends visited and fished over the two summers
  • · A few large fish over the two summers
  • · Had a yard beaver one summer
  • · Lots of wolf sightings
  • · Bird feeding both winters was unbelievable added a new feeder
  • · Tried to place a new cat in the house (not good)
  • · Road repair
  • · House in the cities flooded from a broken dishwasher
  • · Pretty good garden summer 2015
  • · Flower gardens doing very well
  • · Lost our clothing optional sign (it was holding back property sales)

I'm sure other things will come to mind

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Long, Hard, Cold, Snowy Winter and My Cat Died

King Leonardo
All long time readers or anyone who has visited the observatory or our house know the King and his brother Itchy.
Unfortunately Lenny died Sunday April 27 from health issues that just piled up and was too much for him.
He was well loved and will be sorely missed maybe most by his brother, they have never been apart.

Now the weather
It's getting harder to convince my wife Pat that the move to Grand Marais was a good idea
We have been on tracks since late November and I don't see getting off them till end of May.
Six months of not being able to drive her car to the house is getting very old!
This was almost a daily site, our snow total is over 180 inches this year and snow is still in the forecast. We have had 18 inches in the last 12 days.
weekly snow removal from the dome
and cabin
Jim started to worry about his deck so we went down to clear it off
Took half a day just to get the path to his house

We opened the deck door and started shoveling
4 to 5 feet of snow on the deck

January 10th, 2014. The moron season started with this guy buried in our road. He was driving a truck with tires that most people up here wouldn't drive  on Highway 61 in the winter. Best of all he was towing a 2 place snowmobile trailer with a sled on it!
He got stuck sometime Thursday afternoon, I came upon the truck Friday morning,  no sign of people no note, nothing!
I was stuck with no way to drive around it, I was just standing there wondering what to do when someone roars up on a snowmobile.
Turns out he was from the local snowmobile club that grooms our trails around here. He had received a call from this skilled driver wanting his truck and trailer pulled out.
The club member explained to me what had happened. Once stuck they offloaded their sled and went for help, first was a call for a tow truck. The tow rig showed up and told them there was not a chance of getting it out.
By then it was getting late so the tow truck driver took them to Cascade Lodge so they could get a room for the night.
From there they made the call to the snowmobile club asking for assistance,  which is why this  guy came out to try to find the truck Friday morning.
Now it's 10:00 am Friday and with the truck located, the call went out for the groomer an ETA of  3:00 that afternoon there was nothing for me to do but go back to the house.

At 3:00 I went back to watch the show. First to get pulled out was the trailer, no big deal, then came the truck.
Chained to the groomer with the owner in the driver seat they had to drag  the truck out backward for a 1/2 mile, shedding body trim parts the whole way out

Glad it wasn't my truck!

Big thanks to the Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club,
not only for getting rid of that truck but for repairing my road, they did a great job!

I know this little mess up cost that wayward traveler around a $1000.00
After this our neighbors Lonnie and Loren were kind enough to paint up a sign to hopefully  keep others from making the same mistake.
Must have been too polite because three more drivers went right on by over the next two weeks so we tried a second sign .
Apparently this was clear enough to end the madness.

As far as the fishing opener goes
forget it!
Not only will the lake still be ice covered but the road won't even be clear.
A home owner at the other end of the lake drilled a hole few days ago and found we have still over 20 inches of ice.

Last summer Jim gave us a nice remote weather station
 so when WTIP (local radio station) asked for weather reports from around the county I started emailing in a report every morning.
I usually turned in the report around 6:00 am , at first it was fun but it soon got depressing.

For a total of 10 reporting days in December
we had only 2 days above 0,
 coldest was -24

We had a total of 9 days above 0
coldest -29

We had a total of 8 days above 0
coldest -33

We had a total of 20 days above 0
coldest -25

I have to believe the mud season is going to be long one, snow melting has been gradual but getting rain now and for the next few days.

We might try to get the green house up next week, this time last year it was already full of nice green plants by now.

I can tell you living up here would kill a normal person!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Snow, Cold, Repeat and Our Propane is 1/2 Gone

Happy New Years
Sorry for the lack of writing but it was a strange summer and having only one somewhat useful arm didn't help matters
Late spring turned into a pretty nice growing season for both flowers and vegetables and we were overall happy with all the gardens.
We also run an outside light on a wall of the cabin that attracts moths, we have done this for a few years now but this was an exceptional year with great variety. We did notice a large decrease in dragonflies which led to a huge increase in mosquitoes.
The black fly season had it's moments, lots of people up here will tell you more black flies means more and better blueberries {I think they're full of shit}I believe all that does is help us bit up, welt covered folks feel better while scratching till bloody.
Big summer for ducks on Deeryard,
maybe the best since the 70's when the wild rice was thick in the small end of the lake and our osprey nest produced two healthy offspring.
With the ducks came the eagles, more then I have ever seen in the valley. Turns out the eagles like chasing, killing and eating the ducks! They would perch high in the great White Pines screeching  and swooping down on the ducks driving them away from shore to where  they were easier targets in open water.
Now just when I thought I'd seen enough duck killing for one season this happened.: We had Jim, Michele their daughter, son-in law and two grand kids out fishing  and along comes a mallard with her 7 ducklings swimming happily about eating emerging may flies.
As the hatch moved away from the shore maybe into 12 feet of water, the mallard  followed the hatch and led her young into the deeper water. They were now about 30 feet from our pontoon giving all of us a great view,.with the whole boat watching and the kids counting the ducklings,1,2,3,4,5,6,7, suddenly things got ugly fast.
The water exploded from underneath and up popped a loon with one of the ducklings in its mouth. The mother mallard put up one heck of a fight but swam away with only 6 ducklings following her lead.. So there we sat,. wondering what we had just witnessed and trying not to freak out the kids.  A quick Google search  confirmed everything so now when we hear a loon calling on the lake we think
"duck killer"

Work continues on the observatory, we still have no Internet service although the fiber is run to the building it's still not lit-up.
We also burned out our declination drive motor and controller board in the telescope, which meant we couldn't control the up and down movement of the scope. After some research I found the JAT Observatory which covered the removal and replacement of the parts, which made me brave enough to take the scope apart.

Taking it apart went good, I then called Meade for the parts and found them again very difficult to work with,. All they kept saying is " Pack it back up and send it back to them in California," and "The scope is not serviceable be the owner and not to take it apart". Little did they know, but that pony already ran and the bad parts were sitting on my desk.
After getting no where with Meade I called the dealer that sold it to us in the first place
 Woodland Hills Telescopes
 One call to them and by the end of the day Meade called me back, found and shipped the part but made it very clear the parts are sold as-is with no responsibility on Meade's part.

Thank you Woodland Hills your a great company to work with.

All in all the repair went well and the scope jumped back to life with out trouble, we also added a piggy back camera mount and tried some Milky-Way photos

The phrase million or billion is used a lot but rarely seen
click on these photos and see just a very small portion of our galaxy.

Summer quickly changed into fall which included a big wedding up on Cascade Bluff for are friends
 Val and Kathy
This event brought the highest quality of cars to ever drive down  Pike Lake Road and the largest group to come to the realization they were not in Kansas any more.

you can
Kathy and Val's New World At Cascade Bluff! 

Fall colors on our lake were pretty good

photos by Jim Malters
gives a good view of the large Maple forest in our valley
panoramic view

The preparation for winter got started right after the leaves dropped. This began with moving things around out of the way of the snow plow, wrapping and storing boats, building a new bird feeder and mounting the heated water dish, pulling shovels and roof rakes out of storage, wrapping the bottom of our cabin with concrete blankets so the wind can't blow under it, installing the tracks on the trucks and more just to be ready.
Well here is how the time frame looked

Last boat wrapped   Nov 21

New bird house installed   Nov 26  {trace of snow}

Dec 3 1st snow fall of 10 inches

Here is our December snow plow bill dates for cleaning out the storage building where we park the cars.
This is more plowing then all of last year with no let-up in sight.
the track fleet
Lots of people put there wipers up for snow storms, I thought it was to keep the wipers from freezing down
Now I know they are snow depth gauges, you can look up the driveway and if you can't see the wipers the snow is deep
day after day we wake up to this
This photo was taken Jan 1st, just short of 24" of snow on the level and since then we had a blizzard with another 12" of new snow on top of that.

Jan 4th I pulled the small drag out to the mail box corner, the snow banks are as high as the car
one more good snow and the mail box will be covered
at the storage building, under that snow is 2-16 foot boats, a 20 foot pontoon boat and a station wagon
I was down that driveway Dec 31 and now you cant even tell I was there
going to be some big snow loads on some old cabins
snow blower at the end of my dock after last storm Jan 4th
lake view Jan 4th

That's it for now, I will try to do more with the blog, this was a perfect day for writing we woke to
temp   -31
dew point  -40
wind chill   -62
and the scary part is our propane is 1/2 gone and we will be lucky to get more by
 May because we have already packed down 3 feet of snow on the road
One thing is for sure, it's either warm (above zero) and snowing or waaay below zero and freezing,