Monday, February 27, 2017

February 1-7, 2017 Snow, snow and even more snow!

This was absolutely the month of snow!

This was taken on February first.  One of the neighbors slid off into the ditch.  It's the third time in 24 hours one particular driver has made people take to the ditch or get hit by her car.  Ironically, the people who helped get the third victim out were the other two drivers who were run off the road the day before.

This is ten days later.  Note how much the road has narrowed simply because there's no place to put all of the snow.  With each new batch of snow the road got a little narrower until it was down to only one (narrow!!!) lane wide.

Ben and Scott with their dad.

I took a couple of video clips of Ben dancing along with the music played by the toy in front of him.  It came in handy a few days later at the hospital while I kept him entertained while we waited for his mom to have his little brother.  He watched the videos of himself over and over and over again.

Grandma and Ben.

Susan sometimes takes photos of comics she finds.  This one was on her phone so I stole it for my blog.

Scott was entertaining us with a story he made up.

Washing dishes in the dark.  We live completely on solar power so all of our lights are LED or low-watt fluorescent.  We use only the lights we need to see with and seldom try to light the entire room.

Scott on his tablet.

Scott in his bed with one of his "guardians" standing watch.

We are at the hospital with Scott and Ben's new-born brother (Feb. 4th).

Less than an hour old!

We went to IHOP for breakfast with Scott, Ben and his dad.

Ben coloring.

We spent the night at a local motel where we could play in the hot tub or pool.

The rates are cheap for a motel with a pool.  The breakfast doesn't offer a lot of variety but it comes with the room.

This and the four pictures after it are in our daughter and SIL's house when when they got home with the new baby.

Then it was time to head for home trying to beat the next storm that was rolling through.  It had already snowed another four to six inches while we were gone for one day.  More was on the way.

Almost to Fortine.

I got out my new tire cables (purchased at a yard sale) only to find out that they were too big for the tires.  I got them for another vehicle but we no longer had it so I thought they'd fit our new car.  I should have tried them in warm weather!  Now we were stuck about a mile from our cabin.

A neighbor from past us on our road tried towing us up the hill but the tow strap broke half-way up the first hill.

So we rode to the cabin with them.  I planned on using my truck to pull us up the rest of the way (I had more chains and tow straps at home) but it wouldn't start.  I tried the charger then another battery before figuring out that the starter had gone kaput!  I called the neighbor up again and he came with his PU.  He too had chains on it and he pulled the car the rest of the way home.  There it would sit for several days while we got hammered with more snow.

Susan had a spot shovelled out fopr the Hyundai when we got it back home.  She shoveled out about a foot of snow.  This was taken at 5:09 PM.

9:02 PM the same night.  The snow begins in earnest!

Good morning!  I'm beginning to have a love/hate relationship with my snow shovel!  We got about two-feet of new snow (depending upon where you measured).

Both of these vehicles were shoveled out to ground level two days before.

The gate in the background is about six-feet tall.  There's about two feet of it still showing.  I waded out into it to rake some snow from a shed roof and it was up to my waist.

These are our picnic tables.  Note the new layer of snow on the table tops.  Some have two levels of snow.  That's how deep the accumulated snow from all winter is.  Remember, some has already settled.  This last snow is a wet snow that's heavy and sticky.  It's terrible for skiing or snowshoeing.  It sticks to skis and snowshoes in large, icy, globs.

The new snow depth on the trailer carrying our 4-wheelers.

And, shovel off the roof of the van ...

and shovel off the roof of the U-Haul camper ...

And more shoveling ...  Note that this area was down to ground level before our latest snow.

Our poor car is buried at the end of the driveway.

A good morning's work for Susan and I (and Scott)! I ended up shoveling the snow off the roofs of our outbuildings three times in January and February.  Normally once is enough for the season.  Each time there was over two feet of snow depth on the roof.  Some schools were cancelled due to excessive snow loads on the roofs of the school buildings.  Even when the schools were not open many of the students were still snowed in at home.  Those with heavy machinery that could open up the roads were getting $100.00 per hour to run  dozers and skidders to plow roads open and all were several days behind.  The biggest problem was finding places to push the snow.  Pickups with plows can only push it so far then it backs up and the roads keep getting narrower and narrower until it's only as wide as the plow itself.  Many of the roads have high banks on both sides to make matters worse.  Maybe it's time to invest in a good snow blower!

We were snowed in for five days before we could get someone out to remove the snow.  We weren't necessarily stranded because I could have used a snowmobile or walked out. (It was plowed about a mile away.)  But there was no need to get out.  We had plenty of food and firewood so we just kind of chilled (bad word?) until we were plowed out.  Believe me, once the plow went past we were gone!!!!  But more about that next time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January 11-20, 2017 More winter, more snow, more fun!

You could probably say that I've had about enough quality time spent with my snow shovel for one year!  This winter has been a bit unusual with it's long, unbroken cold spell and loads of snow.  I've had to clear the roofs of outbuildings twice already when normally once is sufficient.  The drive has needed shoveling numerous times as well.  All told though, it's been a great winter in that we didn't have the constant freeze/thaw cycles that turn the snow to slush then to ice then we get more snow on top and the cycle continues.   

We were in a quandary regarding which vehicle we're taking back down south with us in the next week or so.  The van needed work and the U haul needed work.  So, I got the U Haul running by replacing the battery and rebuilding the carburetor.  I thought the carb. rebuild would cure it's extreme, cold-blooded problems but it didn't.  When the temperature plummets It's a real chore to keep it running until it will idle on it's own.  So I finished repairs on the van and it looks like it's the rig we'll be using.  The good thing was I could wait to work on them until the weather warmed up a bit.  The bad thing was that it was still barely in the double digits on the positive side of the thermometer!  Working on vehicles when the tools are freezing cold is not much fun but if it has to be done, it has to be done.  So...
Out came the carburetor on the U Haul.  It's the standard Ford 2 barrel of which I've conservatively done probably 500 or more rebuilds on.  I like these carburetors (my second favorite is the quadrajet) because they're simple and normally good carburetors. My third favorite was the Ford Variable Venturi carburetors.  They are very simple carburetors but most mechanics wouldn't work on them.  The key is having a good inches-of-water vacuum gauge and a handy little tool manufactured by Lisle for setting the jets on them.  When set up right they would really make a motor run great.  When set up wrong they were terrible.  A lot of them came from the factory set up wrong.

They don't have a lot of pieces in them either.  This one went well.  I put in a kit (which included a new needle and seat, accelerator pump, power valve and gaskets) and a float and cleaned it all up before reinstalling it on the truck.  I like working on carburetors.  It's interesting that the best teacher I ever had on carburetors was an engineer from Holley Carburetors.  He was brought in by a local parts store and the invitation to come was given to all of the repair shops in the area.  It was easy to see why he was on the road teaching.  He began the class drinking beer and it ended seven hours later (well after midnight) with him still drinking beer.  He ended up drunk as a skunk yet could still teach with clarity.  I will say that he knew his stuff and I came away with a greater understanding of how a carburetor works than I ever dreamed possible.  I thought I knew about carburetors before the class.  I didn't even know what I didn't know until that night.

Susan playing the piano under Scott's supervision! 

The road going by our cabin.  There is only one full time resident beyond us so we have very little traffic to contend with.  This was taken from our driveway looking east.  Our property ends at the top of the road in the distance.

Susan and I were shoveling out the driveway after another six inch snowfall.

This was taken from the upstairs bedroom window at 9:53 PM.  That's our garden area covered in snow.

The same place at 10:31 AM.

Scott asleep with his teddy bears standing guard.

Susan made banana splits using snow ice cream. (We have no shortage of snow!)

Yes, it was a good as it looks.

I bought a set of tire chains for the van at a thrift store in southern Nevada.  I paid $10.00 for them and they'd never been installed on a vehicle before.  I've bought several sets of tire chains and a snow (roof) rake at yard sales and thrift stores in Nevada for pennies on the dollar of their new price.  Lots of retirees move there for the warmer climate taking their winter gear with them.  Then they find out that they don't really do winter that far south and sell the stuff at yard sales ... cheap!

We started up our 4-wheelers to load them on the trailer for their trip down south.  Mine has a new battery and started right up (pretty impressive since they'd been sitting there over a month in below zero temperatures.  Susan's rig needed some help.  The battery was dead.  So I wheeled over our small, 2250 watt generator and the fast charger and jump started her ATV.  The can of starting fluid on the battery charger was used on the generator to start it.  The temperature was about -10 that day.  In our experience if a generator doesn't have an electric starter it won't start when it's that cold.  If I have starting fluid on hand that will usually get it going.  If I don't, I'll wheel it inside the cabin and warm it up by the stove.  Our generators with electric starters are larger and it takes a bit more effort to wheel them through the snow.

Susan's ATV loaded up nicely.  The tires must be a softer rubber because I've never had her's spin out on a steel ramp.

Mine, however, is a different story!

It made it over the side then all four tires began to spin.  The back tires began working the ramps to the side so instead of dumping it I shut it off and went to plan B.

Get out the come-along and a couple of tow chains and winch it on board!

Now all I have to do is strap them down.

We strapped down the ATV's, slid Scott's kayak underneath them and strapped my kayak on top of them then covered it all up with a tarp until we leave. (Susan's kayak is at the motor home down south in storage.)

We dug out one of these trays from our barn and Scott got all excited about another "Lego tray."  They're commercial baking pans we found in the dumpster years ago.  We use them for projects like when he gets out his play dough or Legos.  We don't have to put everything away. Instead we just put the tray up somewhere until he wants to use it again.  In this instance he got some Legos for Christmas and was putting them together.

Susan has been making cinnamon sticks when she makes pizza.  Scott, in particular, loves them. 

Our favorite pizza is ham and pineapple.  She;s been experimenting with different crusts and this one is a winner.

Our van is in the "staging" area and just waiting to take us south.  In the meantime it had warmed up above freezing so I cleared the snow from the roof to let it dry off.  The flat panel to my left is a 65 watt solar panel that we use to power the lights in the camper portion of the van.  It's a small panel and the oldest one we have.  I traded some car repair work for it many years ago.  The people I got it from put it on their camper prior to Y2K so it's at least 17 years-old and still works as good as the day it was made.  Those 65 watt panels when new sold for over $300.00.  The last two panels I ordered in December were 165 watts each and I paid a little over $300.00 for both.  Prices have come down a bunch over the years!

Susan sliced deeply into her thumb the other day.  We often joke about grabbing a camera before the bandaids but this time it was bandages first.  It took quite awhile to stop the bleeding!  This was taken a couple of days afterward.

The temperature finally warmed up enough to make snow balls.

I'm using Scott's "snowball maker."  I don't know what it is supposed to do but Scott saw it at a thrift store and in a delightfully happy voice said, "look, a snowball maker."  So we bought it for him.  It works great and you can make snowballs really fast with it.  Naturally he wanted it back as soon as he saw I had it!

We had about three feet of snow prior to the warm-up.  We got a little light rain and warmer temperatures and the snow packed wonderfully.  Scott and grandma made themselves a snowman.  Scott's finding out that the snow can get pretty heavy when the moisture content is high.

Their finished snowman.  I told Susan she should have used a carrot for the nose then I could set a game camera up to watch the deer eat it's nose!  We didn't set the camera up but the snowman was surrounded with deer tracks the next morning. 

More snow shoveling!  The second time for this building too!  The snow was not nearly as deep this time but it was wet and heavy.

Scott putting on a dance show in his spider costume.  The bear on the wall behind him was shot by me about a mile north of our cabin.  He squares 6.75 feet (7 feet across the tip of the claws to the tips of the claws across the front legs/feet and 6.5 feet from tip of the nose to the end of the tail).  By Montana measurements he's a big bear.  The taxidermist had to use a small grizzly form for it's head.

We heard an avalanche hitting the roof and went outside to find that the snow had slid off the upstairs roof.  It broke one of the rafter pieces on the front entryway roof.  We were happy that no one was standing under it when it let go.

So I got up on the porch and shoveled more snow!

That chunk of ice near the step is about six inches thick.

Scott came up to help shovel.  He's threatening to throw a snow ball at grandma who took this picture from the safety of the upstairs bedroom!

Scott put a snowball on the top of the flashlight.  It diffused the light to illuminate the entire snowball which looked kind'a cool.

Our mountains looking east from the paved road going into Fortine.

Potato soup and cornbread ... one of my favorite meals.

Shoveling snow ... again!  This time it's the shack roof ... again!  The snow is wet and heavy.

Thanks for looking!