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,