Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Cook County MN Health Care Proposal

As many of my local readers know
I've been looking to get more politically involved up here in the great north and I now have a health care platform.
Removing snow from the roof affords a person lots of thinking time. I have spent this time working on a health care policy that I believe could help the full time winter resident's here in cook county.
I call my concept:

"Winter Vikie's"

1 Vicodin for every 1 inch of snow fall
1 Vicodin for every degree below -10
1 Vicodin for every degree of wind chill below -10
1 Vicodin per every 1/4 inch of ice on our roofs
10 Vicodin per every sunless day
1 large bottle of Baileys per week (coffee additive)

(Initial concept, numbers can be easily adjusted and suggestions welcome)

Now this would only be for legal age full time residents during the winter season,
which up here runs from September 15 through June 15.
Thinking outside the box like this just might help make a happier core population in the county year around, I know it would work for me!

Today I woke to 10" of new snow and it continued all day for a grand total of 14".

Yesterday I posted a photo of my propane tank.

Here's the same tank at the same angle taken about an hour ago, note it's still snowing.

One other thing we have encountered in this heavy snow season is the need to groom the packed snow on our unplowed road. A few years back I had built a single bladed drag that worked well at the start of the year but is not ideal for deep snow.
What we found is that the single blade drag is too short and will not fill in the dips,
it just follows the contour of the road without releasing the snow it carries.

A new design was needed.

So with a large load of steel and Dean's warm shop we now have this,
an 8 foot wide by 10 foot long 450 pound super drag that should be complete tomorrow. We are just finishing up the road wheel deployment system and tow bar design.
The drag will make much more sense when I photograph it on the snow, which I will do in a future post.
It is designed to carry more snow and zig zag it back and forth for the full 10 feet of it's length, depositing it nicely in all the dips and holes and finishing it smooth by running the excess snow under the packing plates in the rear.

In my last blog, I promised cabin photos for the readers that live on this road in the summer.

Jim's roof had snow removed over Christmas

You can click on any photo to enlarge it,
remember they were all taken last Wednesday and now there's at least 16" of new snow on top of what you see here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just More Winter and a New Tracked Jeep

For now I guess this is a weather blog!
It's Friday night and heavy snow has been falling since 4:00 this afternoon and the wind is howling.
Pat and I spent some quality together time Wednesday shoveling snow off both the cabin and observatory

We are now also shoveling out the windows.

We packed a snowshoe trail to the propane tank, dug out the gauge cover and checked to see if we have a chance of having gas for the remainder of the winter. Normally this cap stands about four feet from the ground!

Just another day.

Shoveled out and ready.

We are starting to realize how much snow we're driving over with the tracks,
keep in mind that we have not plowed the road or driveway at all this winter.

This is the Everson's lot sign which is well over my head in the summer, look in the lower right hand corner that's the door mirror of the Rodeo.

Our new friends and neighbors, Val and Kathy are the latest Track owners in Grand Marais enjoying the snowy winter.
Check out their blog.
On Wednesday we also took photo's of the cabins on our road and I'll try to post them tomorrow.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Farewell To Bucky

It just won't quit snowing.
It's getting really bad around here, snow is piling up faster then a person can move it and everything is suffering.

Last week we lost our local deer Bucky,
we have always had a love hate relationship , he loved eating our flowers and I loved shooting him with my paint ball gun.
A few years ago I caught him stretching out over the garden to eat the tulips and I opened the window and painted him yellow with around 10 paint balls. I was feeling fairly confident that Bucky wouldn't return for a few days and Pat would get to see her flowers the next weekend.

Well I couldn't have been more wrong, I looked up at the flower bed one hour later and the tulips were already gone, he was a sneaky bastard.

Bucky showed up at the cabin around Christmas,
we were all happy that he made it through hunting season but the deep snow was going to be a big hurdle this year so we started feeding him trying to keep him close to the cabin and safe.
Unfortunately last week he went out onto the lake and headed over by the other cabins where a large pack of wolves caught him in the deep snow.
Since Bucky's demise we have a doe showing up to the feeder
which just may have his off spring in her, we can only hope. Bucky was a very large deer with a beautiful rack and a great gene pool, he will be missed.

(photo: Jim Malters)

Now scroll down to the Jan 13 blog photos,
look in the background at my tan plow truck with the light covering of snow on it.
This photo was yesterday, that's just 7 days of snow.

Back side of the cabin.

Observatory and warm room

Seeing how it's only mid January and we have this much snow I fear cabins will start collapsing
under the snow load like in the 1970's. This could be a record setting year and a large wet snow in March could be a disaster

We woke this morning to 27 degrees below zero and
the cats staring out the window at our doe in the feeder. She looked cold but happy for the food.
The sun is now up and it's warmed to 16 below zero, the birds are filling up at their feeders and watering dishes which ends up being great entertainment for the cats.
Looks like an indoor day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

One Year Project and Blog Anniversary

When I posted earlier today I didn't realize that I've been writing this blog for one full year.
My plan was to have the observatory completely up and running and posting photos within the first year, well as you can see I fell short of that goal.
Now I could list all the excuses it's not done but it's just not and I'm not going to cut corners just to speed it up.
What I can tell you is just how far the blog has gone,
here is some stats from Google Analytics you might find surprising.

Total Visitors 2,721 from 49 Countries/Territories

The top ten in order are
United States
United Kingdom
Along with
United Arab Emirates
and 28 others

All I can say is wow and thank you all for reading,
It's been a fun learning experience in both the observatory and the blog and I will continue to document the building and then use this blog as our observatory log book and photo gallery.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Week I soon Hope To Forget

Early last week Pat and I started running sheet rock to the observatory which sounds easy but entails a ton of work,
any trip to town starts with warming up the the Rodeo then a 3 mile run to the storage building where we warm up the truck for the 17 mile trip into Grand Marais.
The return trip has the added fun of repacking everything from the truck into the Rodeo then unpacking into the observatory, we have then handled the sheet rock 3 times and still need to hang it.

The transfer at the storage building

Looking out the warm room door.

The last part of the week we traveled into the cities to do our seasonal pack up and storing of all the Christmas stuff along with buying up items on our shopping list which included a large load of steel needed to build a new snow drag for smoothing out our road.
We also went on a big date, if you can call a movie showing Friday afternoon a date,(I know I can). The movie of choice was True Grit which we both thought was great. And Saturday night found us at Chuck's 50th birthday party, I tell you it's was just one social event after another in the city.

Back to God's Country Monday and the start of a very expensive and unusually cruel week.
After unloading the steel in Dean's shop I then had snow to plow at the storage building where I'm running out of room to pile it, the day ended with snow removal off the cabin roof.

Tuesday started before dawn with the above mentioned work just to get to town,
it's Cook County commissioners meeting day.
To do this right I need to be in town by 7:30 for breakfast at a restaurant called "South of the Border" (south of the Canadian border not Mexican food) The meeting had a 8:30 kickoff and lasted to around noon then I had a few stops before heading back, during my running around town I was lucky enough to receive a no seat belt ticket.

SOB breakfast $10.00
gas for the pickup $70.00
seat belt ticket $115.00
sub sandwich $10.00
My Tuesday total $205.00

The best part is,
the seat belt tickets base fine is $25.00 but there's $90.00 State Surcharge and Law Library fee for the total of $115.00 and the officer telling me the ticket is for my safety.
At this rate I can't afford to go to town.

Wednesday was cheaper,
I wore my seat belt and headed back into town, our sign company had the new truck door signs ready and she installed them. I then had one stop at the lumber yard and one stop over at Dean's where I was talked into snowmobiling Thursday, he wanted to pack a trail to a secret trout lake for the opener this weekend.

Wednesday total

For all you readers who know Dean (our project tree hating dirt contractor) if he ever wants you to go snowmobiling with him run, I mean run away as fast and as far you can.
I trail ride up here but I like trails about 12 feet wide and nicely groomed, Dean's trail was about 6 feet wide, covered in fallen tress and waist deep snow.
I knew I was in trouble when he packed the chainsaw and large scoop shovel into the truck to go on our little trip.
After unloading everything at the starting point he strapped the shovel on his sled and the chainsaw to mine and off we went with Dean in the lead. The very first obstacle is a small open water creek not more the 10 yards from the truck.
Dean shot through the creek with a big splash and was gone in a flash, I started my sled hit the gas, cleared the creek and got stuck just on the other side and I mean stuck. So here I am, 650 pound sled buried to the seat, the truck is only 40 yards away but on the other side of the creek, I don't have a key for the truck and all I have to dig out the snowmobile is a chainsaw.
The word screwed came to mind.
Dean showed back up after awhile because the trail was blocked by downed trees that apparently were to much for his shovel, after digging out my sled we headed up to the first blockage, after sawing past that batch of trees we took off again.
We continued riding getting stuck and sawing trees for the next 2 hours, the perfect sport for 2 fat men over 50 and in all this fun I lost my brand new eye glasses, I do mean new had em 2 weeks.

Thursdays Total
Glasses $ 275.00

Beside all this fun it snowed hard all day Thursday and won't be done till noon today (Friday)
so I have more snow to plow and remove, the weeks money total was $600.00 along with a new 8" snow total and I'm so sore from the snowmobiling I can hardly move, I think I'm going to add brandy to my coffee and baileys and stay close to home.

This kind of week would have killed a normal man.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year from the Great White North

The observatory has taken a back seat to the winter season,
between having to find a new truck, bad winter storms both here and in the cities and the Christmas holiday there has been very little done on the project.

Seems like I just get the snow cleaned up in time for the next snow,
two days ago we got hit with rain for most of the day then snow through the night making clean up and getting around really hard.
Pat was up here for the storm that collapsed the football stadium in Mpls. so after pulling snow off the roof and cleaning up at the cabin we went home to clean up the house.
Arriving home we found 3 feet of snow at the end of the driveway where the plow piles it up and 2 feet in the rest, the roof also had the 2 feet along with deeper drifts.

One big trouble is the ice dams, we have them on both the house and the cabin. The cabin roof is already leaking, between that and the heavy snow load, this is going to be a long winter.
The other tough thing is to find a spot to put all this snow,
we're driving over it with the tracks but I still have to plow out the storage building where we park and that parking lot is getting very small.

So all I can say is that I'll try to get more done in the next few weeks. I have to buy and move some sheet rock back here with should be fun without getting it to wet.
We're coming up on the one year project anniversary, I had hoped to be done by now but to all you that have followed the blog I thank you.
I'm sorry for the slow month and will try to get more blog writing in the future.