Monday, November 24, 2014

Energy Conservation Night

For those of you old enough to be adults back in the 1970s and early 1980s, do you remember the "energy shortage"?  Gas lines?  Odd and even days to buy gas?  We were even concerned about being able to buy energy at all, let alone how much it would cost.  Being a young parent with a young daughter, I worried about these things, and even though we lived in a middle class suburb, I decided to buy and install a Vermont Castings Vigilant wood burning stove.  This was in the day that Vermont Castings had no dealers and I had to drive to Randolph Vermont to pick it up.  But it was that prized of a wood stove, so I did it.

I installed it myself, using tips I got from the half a dozen self sufficient lifestyle magazines that I subscribed too.  Google would have made this whole process so much easier.

With the wood stove installed, we enjoyed the free heat and warm fuzzy feeling it provided us.  My first wife and I also decided that we would have "Energy Conservation Night", a night without using any outside power.  We turned off the electric heat and cranked up the wood stove.  The electric lights went off and candles and oil lamps came on.  The TV was turned off and Sorry, Monopoly, and other board games came out.  Our daughter Becky, probably about eight years old, was very dismayed.  No TV?  No video games?  No.

For the first few weeks, it was just the three of us.  But then a couple of Becky's friends started to come by, sporadic at first and then on a regular basis.  Energy Conservation Night was a big hit, not only with us two adults, but with the kids!

Look, I'm probably the last guy who knocks technology.  I programmed, built, and sold computers for decades.  I love my GPS.  I loved my electronic navigation system on my boat.  They all served useful purposes.  But I don't have a cell phone.  I don't see what use one is, and the one time I did have one, people seemed to call me on it.  I  look on modern conveniences the same way.  They're nice to have, but also nice to do without.

It is never too late.  If you have a young family, consider having your own Energy Conservation Night, and  reconnect with your kids and their friends.  Maybe things weren't so backwards a hundred years ago.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Harvey the RV Heads South

Yes.  I've named our old Fleetwood Bounder Harvey the RV.  It came to me while driving from Bleecker New York to Eureka Florida.  I've always been a firm believer that pets and things name themselves.  You just have to be patient.  And maybe a little punchy.

We left on Monday.  We had a six or seven hour drive to Windy Ridge Farms in Pennsylvania, so I wanted to be on the road by 10 AM.  We got up early, and while I was winterizing the Unabomber Cabin's water system, Pam ran our stuff over to Harvey.  I finished and we were ready to go at 10:15 AM with the exception of hooking up the white trailer to the RV.  I backed Harvey up, after jumping him (Yes.  After spending $1,000 at Alpin Haus,  I'm still trying to figure out what they fixed.  So far, nothing), we hooked up... and had no lights.

"Huh." said Earl.  "They worked when I tried it with the truck."

We jiggled wires and did all the other man fixes we knew of, but no lights.  Luckily, I have a set of magnetic tail lights that are usually used on a car being towed.  I plugged those in and they worked perfectly.  The only problem is that the trailer is all aluminum.  Earl, Bill and I pondered this.  Finally, I suggested that if Earl had any angle iron, we could cut a couple of pieces, bolt them to the door hinges, and stick the lights on.  That's what we did and it worked.  12:30.  Getting late!  We were about to leave when Earl decided the trailer tires needed 50 pounds of air instead of 35.  By the time the compressor pressurized and we got air in the tires, it was well after 1.  After having to jump  Harvey yet again (and after turning him off when we stopped for gas), we were on the road by around 1:30.

We arrived at Windy Ridge about 8:30, and it was 9 PM before we were settled.  Judy, Windy Ridge's owner, had a fine ham dinner waiting for us.

Judi's little  Toyota.  Pam led the way, followed by Harvey, followed by Judi.  That was our caravan, all the way to Florida.

Everything was pretty uneventful after the first day.  Tuesday we arrived  at Lazy Acres in Lexington, Virginia.  We love it here, as does Jeremiah the Horse and all of our critters.  In the pic below, Ruby is watching Jeremiah graze,  while Sassy the Cat could not care less.

We also love Lexington itself.  It has a very vibrant downtown,  no doubt aided by the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University.  

Virginia Military Institute was founded in 1839.  It is a four year college with about 1,600 students.   VMI is the nation's first state sponsored military college.  Its mission statement says that it prepares its student to become "ready as citizen-soldiers to defend their country in time of national peril."

Washington and Lee University was founded in 1749 with a $20,000 endowment from George Washington.  It was then known as Liberty Hall Academy.  Today, it is a liberal arts college with about 7,000 students.

The next batch of photos were all taken on a short walking tour of downtown.

There was a farmer's market.   I love farmers' markets.

This is the inside of an antique store.

The brick sidewalk was inlaid with informational blocks.

Our stop on Thursday was a new one, Creekside Farm in Charlotte, North Carolina.  We were making a very long run from Lazy Acres to Lakeview Plantation in South Carolina, but that took a toll on us all.  Pam found Creekside, and it was perfect.

In the photo below, you can see 34 foot Harvey, hauling a 12 foot trailer, which I think was loaded with Judi's anvil and bowling ball collections.

Friday we arrived a Lakeview Plantation.  We planned to stay two days so Pam could get in some riding, but Saturday was down to 32 degrees.  With Florida beckoning and within a day's drive, we left for warmer climes.  Sorry, no pics.  We left in too much of a hurry, but I do have photos on the blog from last year.

We arrived in Florida around 4 PM, weary and achy.  It is now noon on Sunday, and it is 71 degrees.   We have lots of cleaning and fixing up to do, but the weather is grand.  It is forecast to be around 80 today and Monday, but then plummet to 52 for Tuesday's high.  That's fine by me.  In Bleecker, it will be in the 20s and snowing.  Poor Earl.   He should have come with us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Getting Ready To Leave

We almost made it.  Our Unabomber Cabin is heated by our wood stove, and in the past several days it hasn't been drawing real good.  Well, this morning, it stopped drawing at all.  So I climbed the ladder and pulled off the elbow that I recently installed, and it was plugged solid with creosote.  Completely.

The outside chimney was rusted through, and the entrance of cold outside air to the chimney means creosote.  I pulled the elbow off, and the outside chimney dropped down.

We only had one day to go, so I cleaned the elbow and attempted to re-install it.  This is what happened.  The rusted pipes simply collapsed.

No biggie.  I'll fix it next year.  Meanwhile, we need to prepare for leaving on Monday.  We needed to clean our Jeremiah's barn, and so needed Bessie the Tractor to start, but she would not. So I hooked the dump truck battery up to an inverter, and that to a six volt battery charger, and within a few minutes Bessie started.

After many trips of moving Jeremiah the Horse's manure, I moved Bessie under the frame.

After changing her oil, Pam and I covered her for the winter.

We leave Monday morning for points south, with warmer temperatures and hopefully no snow!

Friday, November 7, 2014


I knew we should have left a couple of weeks ago, but doctors' appointments kept us until the end of October, and at that point we decided to stay for my daughter Becky's and Earl's birthdays.

We're in the process of getting ready to head out to Florida.  The summer furniture is being packed away, the old Bounder RV is getting packed... and it started to snow.  Not for long.  Just a few minutes.  But enough as if Mother Nature was telling us to get our butts in gear.  Message received loud and clear.

RVs have nifty storage compartments all around the outside.  It makes a convenient low-center-of-gravity place to store stuff, like fishing poles, carpets, power washer, dog toys, mice...  Mice?  Yep.  lots of mice.  Olivia is on it though, as you can see in the pic.

Tomorrow we pick up 15 bales of hay for Jeremiah the Horse, take down the roof and screens of the screen house, and maybe change the oil in Bessie the Tractor.

While typing this, Olivia went nuts, barking her head off.   It's 11 PM and pitch black out, and the wind is blowing and it's cold.  What could she hear?  Might be the sasquatch.  Might be the moose.  Our friend with the hunting camp near us has 12 game cameras set up.  He's got coyotes, a bear, Olivia, and other critters, including a moose recently.  They're supposed to stink as bad as a sasquatch.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Found Sasquatch's House

Today was a productive day on the mountain.  While Pam trailered Jeremiah the Horse to the vet for a health check, I assembled Bessie the Tractor's frame for its winter tarp.  I'll be able to drive into one end of the frame, and then walk the three legs of the tripod, one by one, into position behind her.

I decided to check the game trail for tracks.  Besides dogs, we've seen deer and sasquatch prints here.  Three sets of sasquatch prints, actually.  One set much larger than my size 11, one about the same size, and one smaller.  Dad, mom, and kid?  As I looked down the trail, I noticed a twisted and broken stick.  According to a DVD recently sent to me by a sasquatch group in Georgia, sasquatches will sometimes to this to mark territories.

This is it up close.  Not too big of a stick, but definitely broken and twisted.  But a person could do this.

I went just a little farther, and what I found made my jaw drop.  Very large saplings were bent over and then covered with small branches, making a little hut of sorts.  The large tree in the middle was pushed over, either by the wind or a large sasquatch, sometime within the past two years.  How do I know?  There is a green ribbon tied around it.  Pam and I marked the trees the loggers were not to cut with these green ribbons.  The tree was not cut, but pushed over.  Later, the smaller saplings were bent over and held with logs and branches, forming a cave of sorts.

The low entrance is in the pic below.  Just large enough for something to crawl into to sleep.  Our dogs, who will climb into anything to look for rodents, wouldn't set foot inside this.

It was also very long.  Large enough for a sasquatch family of three, certainly.

The trail split here.  To the right were more broken and twisted branches.  

But this was the most bizarre.  This very large sapling was pulled down horizontal, and then bent backwards and held in place by another tree.

Another view of the same tree from farther back.  The top branches of this tree were also broken and twisted.  Could this also be some kind of territorial marker?  Something obviously made, and not by natural causes?  This was on the state land that borders our property.  

Besides the massive hand print on the back of our car, this was the most compelling signs I've seen of... something.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

See The Moon!

Today was nice, weather wise, so Pam and I hied ourselves over to our land to cut small trees to make a frame for tenting Bessie the Tractor.  I have to admit to being saw-shy when dropping the trees, for obvious reasons for those of you who know me.

The first tree I dropped was a good sized hemlock that fell with a thud.  The second was a tall scrawny thing that I tried to drop one way, but fell the other, hanging up in another hemlock.  Since my track record with leaning trees isn't good, so Bessie was used to drag it down.

Our three dogs were with us and Pam made sure they stayed "safe", "safe" being the command word that they know means to go to to Pam and to sit.  Or, in Ruby's case, to play with her indestructible toy ball.  Yes.  That was a ball, completely dog proof.

Two F-15s flew overhead, armed.  Hopefully not live.

Our pile of saplings to build Bessie's tent.  And Ruby with her shredded Bugs Bunny, now missing its squeaker and stuffing, with two more shredded balls behind her.

Earl and Judi came over, had a couple of victory beers, and enjoyed the moon.   
When I was a toddler, my mom said I always got excited when I saw the moon, and would exclaim "See the moon!  See the moon!".   I no longer do that.  Out loud.  Usually.   OK OK, all the time.

See the moon!  See the moon!