So 2018 has been an eventful year that has just flown by. I realized I haven’t taken the time to sit back and write a little so I guess I have a lot of catching up to do. It will be 2019 by the time you read this and we are stuck in the cabin with temperatures hovering around 2 and 3 degrees. We are about halfway through the freeze up period and it won’t be till mid January before we can get to town and post this. It has now been six weeks that we have been stuck back here on the little lake. Our side is already frozen but the larger lake is wide open waters.
I thought no better time to cozy up next to the fireplace and start writing than now!
We have been so busy this year trying to finish up projects around the property so that we can make more time to do the things that we came up here for in the first place. That is, to hunt, fish, garden, and most of all slow down and relax. These projects were timely but we are proud to check them off the list finally and be done with them. Before we moved here, I had lots of visions of what and how I wanted to add to the property to make it “ours”. I spent endless hours sketching blueprints and designs on paper of what my vision was in my head. Not ever building much of anything before I moved here, I must say that Jen and I together made a good construction crew! And I must admit we did a pretty good job! And we didn’t kill each other in the process!
We finally got the wrap around porch completed and checked off our list.
This is a great addition, especially because we now have a covered walkway around the house, so in the winter time we won’t have to shovel snow 360 around the cabin. I’ve learned I hate shoveling snow!
Jen added a workout room and covered storage area over the backside of the cabin.
These projects doubled in time to complete due to our location and the fact that we have to get all of our materials up the river then across the big lake.
Every piece has to be brought in one boat load at a time.
This means lots!! of boat rides.
Upon completion of one of my loads there was about 1.5 loads of lumber on the river bank left. I thought for sure I could just load up with the rest and make one final trip. After all, this was about my 20th trip out to the riverbed with in the last 3 days and I just wanted to be done. I dropped half the load off in clear creek past the river and went back to get the rest. I couldn’t take the full load of lumber up the river because I would be way too heavy with the current and the motor wouldn’t push it up river, against the raging waters. I know this from experience.
One time my load was so heavy that when I got to the confluence of the little salmon river and where the Tsirku river met I was at a complete stand still. I was suspended in motion. Throttle was wide open and I was going nowhere. It was like I was on a river treadmill. The current is at its strongest right here with both rivers entwining to make one huge torrential current. This is also where clear creek empties around a bend. This trifecta of water ways creates a massive swirling whirlpool, and very fast moving waters that when you drive through it, it grabs your boat and jostles you and the boat like as if you are in a car wreck.
This is probably the most intense part of the boat ride because the turn into clear creek is a blind one. You never know if another boat is coming around full speed at you in the opposite direction. You also have to be secure and ready for the thrashing of the currents against the boat. If you’re too close to the rock wall, the current can slam you against it. If you’re not holding on to anything, you can get thrown down, or worse, fall out of the boat, and if supplies aren’t secure, you can lose stuff in the river.
Since we have been living out here, there has been one boat collision around the corner, and we witnessed one boat completely capsize, and an ADFG boat get slammed into the rock wall.
Amazingly, I was able to swing the boat around 180 degrees. At this time, the force of current and being at full throttle, I was shot out like a cannon back down the river to where I had begun. I proceeded to unload the boat some and repeated with a lighter load. Lesson learned!!
Now that I had the lumber across the river I thought it was gonna be easy peasy. Overload the boat and just go nice and slow across the lake. It might take longer but at least I won’t have to go all the way back down to the river again.
After loading the boat I was so heavy that there was only about 2 inches of boat exposed from the top of the water. As I was puttering along clear creek the water was coming awfully close to just pouring over the sides and sinking the boat. But going low and slow seemed to be the trick. Plus being so heavy the boat wouldn’t move any faster regardless. It looked like everything was gonna be fine. As I came out of clear creek to the mouth of the big lake, I could see my flag was going crazy in the wind. I put this flag up so that from a distance I can tell where the mouth of the creek is as well as see what the wind is doing.
You never really want a windy day on the lake. It makes for a really bumpy ride. You get soaked, and it can be risky with a heavy load.
(This is a shot of perfect lake conditions…flat as a mirror)
I was so nervous as I came into the big lake. The flag was ripping in the wind and whitecaps as far as I could see on the lake. My gut was telling me just turn around and go wait it out in the creek. But for whatever reason I kept moving forward. The waves on the lake whenever I hit them would come up over and fill the boat with water. I thought for sure the boat was gonna sink. I thought, if its gonna sink, I want to be near the shore and not in the middle of the lake.
So I changed course and headed for the shore and the treeline. Now instead of going head on into the waves I was going sideways and the water was now coming up over the side of the boat instead of just over the front. The boat was filling up fast and I was still about 500 yards from the shore. Miraculously, I made it to the shore without sinking.
The water in the boat was up to my ankles, which added even more weight. I had to empty the huge lumber load back onto the shore, pump out all the water, reload the boat and figure out what to do next. Close to the shore, with the protection of the treeline, the waves were not as bad. I just slowly crushed along the contours of the shoreline until I finally made it to the cabin.
In retrospect, it way took longer than making two trips and definitely more dangerous. I learned to never overload the boat again!
On top of construction projects, we’ve done a lot of up grades around the cabin as well. We’ve replaced our indoor battery bank which was aging.
Our existing batteries are close to about 20 years old. That is really old in battery years. In the summertime with all the sun and long days, we never have to charge the batteries. We always have continuous electricity by harvesting the sun’s rays. But when winter arrives, and the sun disappears, the old batteries only give us about 8 hours of electricity before the charge is drained. So, we have to run the generator once a day to charge the battery system.
We decided to upgrade to a larger set so that we can have an even larger Amp load. I have to say, this was the hardest task I have performed not only out here but probably in my entire life. All 6 battery cells weigh a total of 1,400 lbs. Each cell is about 225 lbs a piece. The only possible way to move these was one battery cell at a time. Carrying each cell down the ice and snow filled rocky incline to the boat was extremely challenging.
The boat only holds about 800 lbs max and with the extreme low river we could only take 3 at a time to cross over to the creek. The hardest part was getting them up to the cabin one at a time, from the boat dock. Once we got them all in place we noticed that one of them was defective and leaking acid. Now we had to get a replacement and do it all over again. I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. This entailed us getting the manufacturer to send a new one. Nothing this heavy is easy to get to us. It has to make it’s way to Seattle on an 18 wheeler then put on a freight ship. From Seattle, it must sail north through the inside passage to its destination in Haines. Then the journey continues when we pick it up from the receiving dock. Still learning that nothing is really that easy out here.
We also replaced our wood stove.
This is proving to be my favorite upgrade. It’s also the dogs’ favorite as well. It’s way more fuel(wood) efficient and heats alot better. That means less cutting wood every year.
This year, we were finally properly prepared for old man winter. The last few winters around mid-January when temps are the coldest, we would run out of firewood. We would then have to get out and freeze our butts off to get more firewood. This year we stacked up enough for about 2 seasons worth. There’s is a special feeling a man gets when he is sitting back next to the fireplace with months of firewood stacked.
With the old stove, I had a time schedule in the winter. At night, after we went to bed, I would have to wake up to put wood on at least 3 times a night. 12am, 3am then again when I woke up around 6am. Now, I load the stove before bed and it burns slowly and efficiently all the way into the next morning.
We also stepped up to the 21st century and have way better cell phone coverage now. By installing a booster tower we can now get service better enough to use the phone inside the cabin.
Before this amazing instrument, Jen and I both had to go outside with phone, find an open spot on the hill, hold the phone up high in the air, and rotate counter clockwise until we found at least 1 bar on the phone. After 3 years of fighting myself to not give in and put this tower up, here I am, glued to the phone once again. I used to have dreams of moving out here and throwing my phone into the lake, but after 3 years, the monotony and boredom of days trapped inside the cabin due to foul weather has pushed me to finally cave in. It is nice to be able to keep in touch with loved ones and friends, see what’s happening on social media, and to be able to call people from the comfort of the cabin.
Once all the major work was completed, Jen went all out and became “The Chicken Lady” this summer. Accumulating about 40 hens and selling eggs at the local farmers market.
….Which she sold out of every week! These chickens were pumping out eggs. We would have as many as 20 dozen eggs at times to sell at the market. And they went for $8 a dozen!! The Chicken Lady was right and it wasn’t such a bad idea to get all those yard birds after all. She then upped the ante and said we should get a couple of rabbits….Man these things do really breed like rabbits!… I felt like every time I blinked, another bunny was brought into this world.
I must admit that they do make tasty meals, and their waste is super high in Nitrogen and makes great compost for our garden soil. Again, Jen’s idea wasn’t half bad. She had also sold some baby rabbits for breeding and for pets at the farmers market as well.
But the real money maker was her homemade doughnuts. She likes to say “they sell like hotcakes!!” Then I would say “Nope they sell like doughnuts!”
We’ve had lots of guests this year and the weather was just amazing all year. This has been by far the sunniest year! It was also a really warm year. We broke a heat record twice this year. 2018 weather over-all was grand!
In between work we were able to host a few friends, old and new!
We have had a few numbers of run-ins with critters, lots of ups and downs, alot more lessons we learned and many everyday adventures. Now…we wish we could share with y’all, but without prosecution by local authorities, we must keep to ourselves about some of our adventures.(Just joking no criminal activity going on at Motes mountain!)But, I do promise to share “most” of all the stories from 2018. So more to come…