August 23, 2008 - Saturday
Since we're not able to get good Internet service on our lot (yet!) I'm resorting to once a week updates when we come in to do laundry - we get GREAT service in the laundry room! LOL
We've gotten a lot accomplished since I wrote last. The walls are all framed & are up... and Thursday/Friday we put the exterior plywood sheeting on the walls so it's really starting to look like a house... er... cabin! (Pictures are not posted yet as I forgot the USB cord! Duh!) I stained the deck but the stain must've been inferior - after 3 days it is still tacky; the product did not soak into the wood decking... and one can literally scrape it off with a fingernail. I"m NOT happy with it at all & will be returning the rest of the can of stain & getting something suitable!
Tomorrow afternoon we'll probably start putting the rafters in... a day's work... and then we'll be putting the floor on those rafters so we can add the other 1/2 story to the cabin & begin the roofing process. We're planning to use metal roofing... but still up in the air on an appropriate color. I'm leaning toward a dark green to blend in with the trees... Jerry is indecisive at this point so who knows. At any rate, Ft. Garland is 2 weeks delivery time from everywhere so we HAVE to make a decision & get it ordered ASAP!
A couple weeks ago I planted some grass... just to see if there was ANY chance at all of having a "lawn" of something besides cacti & sagebrush... and today I noticed that the grass is growing! I'm very excited about this & will be planting some on the east & south sides of the cabin (the west side gets too much traffic yet...and the north side will get built over next spring). We also bought a bunch of flower seeds (I think I may have mentioned?) and I will plant part of them before it freezes (Sept. 10-17 is what the locals say) and hopefully they'll come up in the spring! Wouldn't that be lovely!?
Skeeter brings an occasional bleached dead animal bone to the camper to chew on. I read in a book a description of a dog that describes Skeeter perfectly: "What he lacks in manners he makes up for in enthusiasm".
Not much else is going on right now. I'll get those pictures posted ASAP & hopefully be able to get online more often as things progress. Have a great weekend & a blessed week!
August 13, 2008 - Wednesday
Another wasted day? Maybe. We had to make a "water run" in town… needed to go check the mail… and get into cell phone range to see if by any chance Alltel had gotten my new phone in yet. We visited with friends in the coffee shop. Jerry called to order our lumber (which we thought could still be delivered this afternoon – but alas, not until tomorrow) then got our 5-gallon water jugs filled. We called Alltel & luck would have it that my phone had arrived in Alamosa so we drove over there to get it. I had a buy one/get one free coupon for Arby's so we had lunch there then made our usual stop in WalMart… picked up just a few things & headed for home.
PROBLEMS? Our fridge doesn't seem to want to run on propane for some reason. We could probably buy a new one for what it would cost to fix and/or clean this one. Generator power it is! Luckily I can stay on the computer a little longer while the generator runs… and we can also charge our phones!
I think we're doomed for Internet service here "at home" with the Verizon wireless service. Even on a CLEAR day it says there is no coverage. Guess I'll just be dragging the laptop with us every time we go to town. Oh well.
IN OTHER NEWS… I've graduated to "reading glasses". I've discovered that when I wear my contacts I just can't read small print (newspapers & labels mostly) so I bought a cheap pair of reading glasses. So far the progressive bifocal glasses work okay… but I usually only wear them when we're working outside or reading at night.
NATURE: We have gotten some rain here in the past couple of weeks. Someone told us we got 8 inches of rain…a drop here & another drop 8 inches away & so forth! We get rain like Estes Park & Manitou Springs… a nice shower in the afternoon then it clears off & the rest of the day is beautiful! The sound of the thunder resonating in the mountains is fabulous… I almost hate for it to quit for that reason! The smell of the sagebrush after it rains is almost pleasant – as sagebrush goes. The sunsets over/behind the San Juan Mountains is always a treat. The colors are amazing – shades of blue & orange with streaks of red & purple thru the clouds. We have awesome views all around us of the mountains, the valley, the mesa. On clear nights you can see literally millions of stars – and see the constellations perfectly without need of a telescope. It's truly a feast for the eyes! Some nights the coyotes howl… other times they wait until mid-morning. But usually the nights are VERY quiet. It's almost eerie how quiet it is. We sat outside by the fire the other night & the only sound (other than being able to hear each other breathe) was the wood crackling in the fire pit. Incredibly peaceful.
Tonight we sat by the fire in our new chaise lounges watching the stars & the lightning in the thunderheads over the mountain to the northeast. We even got to see some meteorites falling. Unfortunately our peaceful evening was interrupted by a neighbor a half mile away who was evidently having a heated discussion with someone. Hopefully tomorrow evening will be better!
From August 11
CATCHING UP: I know I left out a few things in the last entry…. I had started it a couple days before I actually got it posted (had problems getting on the internet!).
Friday we went into town to do some laundry, shower & then head to Blanca to eat & go to the Centennial celebration. As we pulled out onto the highway we heard a thud… the tailgate had come down… and our generator was lying in the road (luckily it was the road we turned from not the highway!). Strangely enough it landed upright… and started on the first pull! It's a Coleman… guess they're made extra tough for people like us! We got our showers taken, laundry started & went to the coffee shop while it finished… then headed to Lu's Diner in Blanca for dinner & then to the park to visit with folks we knew & some we didn't. We called it an early night leaving about 8:15.
As I mentioned previously… Jerry got a new phone… mine was supposed to arrive in Alamosa Saturday afternoon. We made the trip to Walsenburg & got the barrels… and stopped at a favorite thrift store – April's Attic. We drove back to Alamosa to get my phone… and wouldn't you know it… the person who was supposed to go to Salida to get it – didn't! He said he would go Monday & would have it in the office Tuesday. I think I'll call first to make sure! So… since we were in Alamosa anyway we made a stop at the Rainbow thrift store (do you see a pattern?). I found a couple of t-shirts for working outside (on sale, no less) and Jerry found a pair of cowboy boots – and a bear skin "rug". It was actually a cub – maybe a year old - that had we can only presume had been killed (or could it have been suicide?) & then skinned. The thought of having any part of a dead animal in my home would normally be repulsive… but you should feel the fur! It is soooooo soft. The fur is actually longer than I had thought it would be. Yes! We bought it… it was too good a deal to pass up. It will probably be hung on the wall of the cabin when it's finished. (Now if we can just find a Jackalope!) We stopped at another little antique store & Jerry came across several hundred packages of flower & garden seeds marked 2008. They were 5 for $1.00 so we bought several packages & will plant them next spring – hopefully some of the seeds will still be viable.
AUCTIONS!: This morning we drove to Creede to an auction. (This is only the third auction we've been to since we arrived in Colorado.) We had never driven up Highway 149 that follows the Rio Grande. What a beautiful drive!! Back to the auction! They had advertised a queen size full log bed and a tan leather sofa & matching chairs. The sofa was cream – not tan (didn't stay for that)… and there were just so many people there that we finally decided to take what we bought & leave. Our treasures included: 3 hummingbird feeders (& some miscellaneous stuff) and a child's sombrero & canteen (and some other miscellaneous stuff – most of which we left!). Don't frown… we've all done it!
Anyway the auction was located at a home that was on the Rio Grande River. GORGEOUS view… not to mention the house next to it is VERY similar to what we're building (only we're building on a smaller scale!).
After leaving the auction we stopped in Del Norte & Monte Vista at some antique shops… came up empty handed. Not a bad thing considering we have NO storage space left in the camper & the storage units in Ft. Garland are all full. Oh well.
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BUILDING: Sunday afternoon Jerry got all the joists nailed in (the extra 6 spots on each hanger) and took measurements for the wood we need delivered for the front deck & cabin floor. The footings will support a 900' square foot cabin, but we've decided to build smaller – roughly 600 square feet… and have a nice observation deck on the north (view of the mountains) as well as along the front of the house (west).
I collected more rocks for my rock garden / flower bed while Jerry finished nailing the joists. And when we got back from the auction I continued my rock hunting. I moved some of the bigger rocks around to enlarge the space I had already made. I then went thru all the seeds to see what we had – and will start planning where to plant them in the spring.
GARDENING: I believe I mentioned in a previous post that I had cleared most of the area where we'll plant a garden next year. There are a couple sagebrush plants (front center & big one to the right) that I may have to blast out as I have tried digging them out to no avail. I'm thinking that I will need to get some railroad ties to wall off the garden space. I'd like to keep the new dirt, "fertilizer" and compost contained – less likely to blow or wash away. We will probably have to fence in the area as well to keep the deer out. There should be plenty of room for the composting bin close to the garden.
THINGS FOWL IN NATURE: I've also been reading CHICKENS (by Sue Weaver). From what I've read, 4 chickens should be more than enough to supply our egg needs. I'd like to have some pretty chickens – like Brahma or Wyandotte as these are "cold hardy" breeds. The book says that standard white hens make really good targets for hawks & other predatory birds – but they don't see the colored chickens as well. I don't want the chickens close to the garden area (don't need them eating MY veggies!) so I've been trying to figure out where a good place would be. I'd like to have them fairly close to the cabin… but yet not TOO close! It would be nice to have them just close enough that I could run out the front door & grab the eggs… or toss out some leftovers for them – instead of having to walk across the yard (I use that term loosely!) in all kinds of nasty weather. Having them closer to the cabin would also make it easier to keep a heat lamp going (attached to the solar hook up). And it would be better to have them close enough to keep an eye out for intruders (coyotes, fox, big cats, etc.) I've made an executive decision (for what that's worth): I DO NOT want a rooster. I don't want to bother with having to incubate eggs & mess with chicks… nor do I want the NOISE of a rooster. We have a neighbor down the road who has one & I hear him every morning about 7:30 as he practices sounding the alarm to get up! Quite pitiful! My dad took down the old chicken coop on the farm in Kansas but I had pulled out the feeders & waterers so I'd have them available when I'm ready for them. The nesting boxes were long gone so we'll have to build some. Will have to find out what Jerry thinks about where to house any chickens as we'll also have to build a coop / condo (off the ground) for them … and have room for a "playpen" & a "greens" garden of their own. I want "free range" chickens… but not with too much freedom… yeah! It's a control thing!
August 10, 2008 - Sunday
A few days’ worth....
We moved the camper to the lot on Tuesday morning…got it all set up just in time for it to rain! Another day lost. Oh well. It did quit raining long enough for us to put some salmon on the grill. While I was cooking pasta I had the light on over the stove… but when I switched on the light over the table neither light worked. I guessed either the solar battery didn't hold a charge or maybe we blew a fuse? At any rate we had NO lights in the camper… and ended up eating our dinner by the light of our lanterns. It's starting to feel like home here. We're enjoying the VERY quiet, VERY dark (but starlit) nights. So far we've not had any wildlife experiences… just hear coyotes in the distance – during the day!
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Wednesday we finally got the rest of the joist hangers nailed in place & the floor joists set (we're still short 4 joist hangers & 10 - 2x12s). Those of you wise in construction knows that each of these joist hangers requires 10 nails into the outside stringer… then 6 more nails into the joist itself. My elbow & wrist were really sore by the time we got done. I kept thinking we should have rented or bought a nail gun for this project! We discovered we've been spoiled having big lumberyards to get supplies from… places that rarely run out or carry a very limited number of things… so working with a small town lumberyard has been an experience. The nearest Lowes or Home Depot is almost 100 miles away in Pueblo (there's not even a Menards in Colorado!). We tell them how much we need delivered & they send us what they have… which is usually about ½ of what we asked for. We've been fortunate to get "free" delivery due to the amount we order.
Wednesday afternoon Skeeter started going kinda crazy like there was something outside. We didn't hear anything so we figured it was a "dog" thing. Pretty soon we heard "hello?!". I looked out the window & there was a little red car parked in our driveway. We were being paid a surprise visit from some neighbors down the road. They just wanted to welcome us to the neighborhood & find out a bit about us. They live in Boulder but spend weekends & vacations here apparently. Nice gals… hope to get to know them better in the future.
Thursday morning Jerry cranked up the generator to see if we "had power"… everything in the camper seems to running fine…and then he discovered what the problem was with our solar battery. One of the clamps wasn't securely fastened to it so he tightened it & all our battery operated things worked just fine. Even my computer worked… but when I tried to get online… the "insufficient coverage" message popped up. I hope this will not be the norm! Ugh! Thank goodness for the coffee house! That's where I am now… having a good cuppa coffee & working away on this! Hopefully I'll be able to copy & paste this into my blog… who knows?!
A quick trip to Alamosa…We got the joist hangers and we'll get the rest of the 2x12s and also the floor decking ordered for delivery for Monday. Jerry's cell phone died so we stopped at Alltel to get him a new phone. They had a deal on one model where we could buy one, get one free… and of course, sign up for another two years of service. We made our usual stop at Walmart & picked up a couple of nice chaise lounges…and some grass seed. We figured that as much as it's been raining lately we should at least TRY to plant some grass!
This weekend was Blanca's 100th Anniversary with lots of fun things going on. There was also the dedication of the War Memorial here in Ft. Garland. We're also making a trip to Walsenberg to pick up a couple of barrels (Jerry found a deal too good to pass up in the paper). We'll only make the trip if LaVeta pass is open. It was closed again last night due to mud / rock slides!
We'll be in touch… By the way… we have officially passed the 60-day mark… for those of you who are counting!
August 4, 2008 - Monday
This morning we went to San Luis - the county seat - to take care of some business there. We stopped at the local market to pick up a couple things & on our way out... a RAT ran from the alley under a parked car & across the street! EEEEKKKK! I just hate rats! I don't think I've even seen one since I left NY (it was in the subway & was nearly the size of a dachsund).
Anyway... our lumber was delivered this afternoon & we had every intention of continuing to work... but the clouds rolled in, it cooled off - down to almost 55 degrees - and started to rain! We decided that was enough & headed for town. Needless to say, we are still parked in the RV park... at least until tomorrow. Hopefully we can get moved BEFORE the rain tomorrow.
Other than the rat & the rain it has been a rather uneventful day. Just doing some catching up with some people I knew from college years ago... Have a peaceful night.
Go Green! Doing your part for the planet!
Here is a link to an interesting slideshow presentation regarding plastic bags.
Several stores offer cloth bags for sale as an alternative to taking home your groceries (or whatever) in yet another plastic bag. We have a mesh one that I think was one we used for laundry (it's small with a shoulder strap) that is great ... and I got 2 of the ones Walmart had at the checkout. I'm surprised that more people don't use them! I'm not faithful in using them... but I do have them! I always justified getting the plastic bags because I "recycled" them in my trash cans instead of buying other trash bags... but that's coming to an end!
Plastic drink bottles are another issue. Although they're very convenient & can be recycled... do they all really make it to recycling? Jerry & I are guilty of having several in our possession... but we do refill them & reuse them. There are several nice, heavy & reusable drink bottles on the market - but I guess people are too lazy to fill them. We also have some of these (somewhere in our camping gear) but don't use them!
Another gripe I have is the fast food places that hand out the 32 oz plastic cups & then frown when you bring it back in to reuse instead of getting another one. I haven't found a good re-use for them yet... maybe starting veggies - but you'd have to poke a drain hole in the bottom.
Being out here - preparing to live off the grid & hopefully as organically as we can - I've been spending more time reading labels for biodegradable this & eco-friendly that. It takes a lot of time... and not all stores carry those types of items - especially cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items (shampoo, etc.) & paper goods. Someday I'll make the switch from paper napkins to cloth napkins & do away with paper towels completely. I have switched to baking soda & borax for a lot of cleaning... and just switched from years of using JOY dish soap to a product from PLANET. When my bottle of TIDE is gone I will be switching to PLANET or 7th Generation laundry soap. We will most likely start composting... another big change! .
I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts & ideas on recycling, reusing, composting, natural (organic) products, etc.
August 3, 2008 - Sunday
*Yawn*...no building accomplished today...
Today was sort of a wasted day... well... maybe not entirely... but we didn't go to the lot to work nor did we go to Forbes Park after more wood like we had thought we would. Instead, we made a trip to Alamosa to look for chaise lounge chairs (we think we deserve something comfortable to lounge in during down times)... with NO luck! Every place we looked was either sold out or didn't carry them to begin with! Ugh! Since we're going to be moving to the lot tomorrow or possibly Tuesday morning we thought it would be wise to pick up more groceries so we stopped at Walmart. We needed to get a few things like a garden hose, a small cooler & dogfood anyway. We bought items that would not have to be refrigerated. We're not sure how well the camper fridge will work being run off & on during the day by the generator... and we've not tried it at all running on just propane. So $155 later... we had LOTS of boxed & canned groceries and filled our already quite full pantry. I spent some extra time really looking at labels... trying to find things that are bio-degradable and eco-friendly (toilet paper, dish & laundry soap, etc.). Staying in town for the past 2 months has been tough on our budget because it's too easy to stop at one of the local restaurants to grab a bite to eat... and visit. I guess this isn't any different than living in Lincoln. Anyway ~ since we'll be about 8 miles out of town it will be much better for us to just eat "at home"... and going out to eat will be a treat. Speaking of going out to eat... we stopped at Calvillos - Mexican buffet for lunch. Flan has become on of my new favorites...along with sopapillas & honey and chile rellenos (sp?).
When we got back I started digging into cleaning the camper & reorganizing things. I really let things go because I have just been too tired but since we're going to be hauling the camper to the lot I figured I'd better just get it done... that way it would be a nice way to start over! It rained for about an hour while I was cleaning... not suprising since it was rather overcast & breezy most of the afternoon. There is probably a load of work clothes that needs to be washed... as well as the sheets (we leave the camper windows open all the time & sand blows in... so it's like sleeping in a sand box!).
I found my hummingbird feeder the other day packed away in the patio box... so I picked up some instant nectar concentrate to feed the one hummingbird I've seen out there. Hopefully it will attract a few others before time to migrate. Our friends Jim & Jenny have several feeders on their deck & the hummingbirds are just thick in the evenings!
Barring any rain or roads to muddy for delivery - the rest of the 2x12 floor joists & floor decking will be delivered tomorrow afternoon. Jerry bought some joist hangers at the auction yesterday so I suppose we'll hang those & be ready for the wood when it arrives! Progress is being made... I can see a light at the end of the tunnel & it's not a train!
August 2, 2008 - Saturday
Day of rest? ... Auction!... Pizza!
Yesterday we hung four floor joists (that's all the wood we had until we get the next delivery on Monday). While we were working - mid-morning - I heard what I thought was a coyote howling. Strange since they usually do that at dusk/dark. Skeeter was very interested in the sound... and headed down the driveway... but was obedient when I called him back. I wasn't sure if he'd come back or take his chances investigating the sound. Since running out of 2x12s kind of put us at a standstill we decided to go to our lot in Forbes Park to load wood we had cut a couple years ago & left stacked on the lot... and bring it to the building lot. On the way to Forbes Park we were planning to make a detour & drop off Jenny's mail... only to discover to young men in a truck calling about a lot. Jerry backed up & asked them what they were looking for... someplace they could ride dirt bikes & snowmobiles, park their RV & do some hunting... all things that are not allowed in the gated community (read: over governed / restricted) of Forbes Park where they currently own a lot. Jerry told them that we had a 5 acre parcel for sale about 4 miles up the road... which might be exactly what they wanted. We drove up to show them the lot & they were very impressed! We exchanged information... & hope to hear from them about the possibility of selling them the lot!!! We had noticed that Jenny was home so we stopped on the way back down the mountain to drop off her mail... and she invited us back for dinner when we got done loading our wood. Once we got into Forbes Park... less than 1/2 mile from our lot we noticed a herd of about 100 elk cows in the meadow! They are truly a sight!! After we unloaded & stacked the wood we came back to the RV park to clean up & headed off to Jenny's cabin for dinner & margaritas. She's a wonderful hostess & we always enjoy visiting with her (& her husband).
This morning I met friends for breakfast at the coffee house while Jerry previewed the auction. Following breakfast my friend Jenny & I headed over to the auction. The auction was made up almost exclusively building supplies / materials. Jenny wasn't going to buy anything but ended up spending about as much or more than we did! Jerry bought a few tools needed for construction (Jenny talked him out of a few things - like a cement mixer & ladders - because she had the same tools we could borrow). Surprisingly it got very warm - about 95 - and the backs of my legs got sunburned while standing outside. When will I learn?
Tonite we went to San Luis Valley Pizza with friends Ron & Kathy. We had lots of interesting conversation & lots of laughs! We look forward to spending more time with them. They live about 3 miles from our lot in the SDCR.
Tomorrow is church (skipped last Sunday so have to go tomorrow) and then maybe swimming at the Community Center or possibly taking Skeeter to the lake... he needs to blow off some steam as he was cooped up at the camper all day today.
Hope everyone had a great weekend. We'll be in touch...................