Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Suspending Blog

Because I receive no feed back or comments on this blog, I have decided that it isn't worth my time to continue it. If you are a regular reader and wish for me to continue it, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Week of Feb. 8 to Feb. 14

Monday, February 8, 2010

            The skies are clear and the sun is out, shining brightly this morning. The low temperature was 3 degrees, with the high predicted for the mid thirty’s.

            I worked all day on genealogy but took breaks to play with Zack and do a little bit of cleaning. I finished the day by loosing my eyesight at about 7:30 PM, showered before eating dinner and rested the remainder of the night.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

            Last evening, before it got completely dark, I watched an ice cloud drift slowly down my gulch from the Divide. It was an eerie sight and I wasn’t sure if it would remain for the night or move on. When I got up, the hoarfrost covered all of the forest around me and left me with visions of old man winter blowing ice-cold air, covering everything with a layer of white frost.

Aside from the morning weather, today was a repeat of yesterday. Following my grandmother on my father’s side of the family, I managed to view 478 pages of the 1900 census for Cass County Texas, which is where my grandmother was born. Each of the pages consists of 50 handwritten, in cursive, entries of the family name and members. Most of the pages had water damage at the bottom and the gif format made reading them difficult. So, at 50 people per page and 478 pages, I perused almost 24,000 names.

My diligence paid off, as I believe I found the family. I will continue to search for additional information to see if I can trace further back on her side of my family. Check out this page to see what I had to view and the family of Mack Johnson (entry number 70), my grandma’s father.

            I ended the day with eye fatigue and a neck and back pain from straining to see the names, so a hot shower and some dinner were in order.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

            Blowing snow this morning and out of all the mornings to have heavy snow, I have to go into town. The temperatures are staying in the low 20s to teens for the night and then right around 32 degrees during the day.

            By eleven O’clock, I had the Argo warming up and played with Zack before heading to town. We made the trip there and back again without any problems. I managed to run all of my errands, make my chiropractor appointment, and still get home before dark. Zack and I played briefly after I had put all of the frozen and refrigerated food away.

            I stoked the fire back to life and had my V-8 while reading my mail. My camera was returned from warranty repairs and I made sure it was all there and working. The work order only listed that several things were cleaned, but nothing about repairs or replacements, so I hope what they did has truly fixed the problem. In researching possible fixes before sending it in, I discovered that Nikon’s are all made in Thailand now and that most of the parts are purchased from other country resources, so I shouldn’t be surprised that everything else, like the quality control and finished product, is below my expectations.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

            I was surprised to see an almost clear sky this morning, with the sun making a valiant attempt to break through and shine. By 11:00, it was snowing heavily, like it did most of yesterday. The one positive thing is that the clouds are keeping the temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s.

            I cleaned the cabin most of the day, as I am having my friends, Joe and Michele, up for the three-day weekend. Normally Joe would have to work on Saturday, but the owner closed the business for good on Wednesday. Joe wasn’t depressed as he had already lined up another job here in Helena and was quitting at the end of the day anyway. He now gets a mini-vacation until his new job starts in a week or so. He had already moved all of his things to Helena, so after locking the store doors, he was free and clear to move on.

            I spent the day cleaning the cabin, organizing and putting things away. Zack and I had our playtime and I managed to get four loads of wash done. While living alone gives me the luxury of letting things go, it is always nice to have a clean house and everything in its place.

Friday, February 12, 2010

             It is snowing and blowing this morning with the wind being fairly consistent at 7 mph, with gusts to 14. NWS is predicting snow for the next several days, but the temperatures are supposed to stay in the double digits.

            This type of weather makes it nice to stay inside by the fire and with company here; we can play board games and visit while relaxing.

            After my usual morning routine, I cleaned the kitchen and assembled the items I need to prepare my seafood chowder for our dinner tonight. I will be taking the Argo to meet Joe and Michele in Maryville at 6:00 and then return for a hot meal and good visit.

            I arrived in Marysville at about 5:20 and only had to wait about 5 minutes before Joe and Michele showed up. We loaded their things into the Argo and headed for the cabin. The trip was uneventful and we arrived home before it became dark enough to need headlights.

            They got settled while I prepared dinner and we ate around 7:00 and then enjoyed the fire and a visit before going to bed at about 11 PM.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

            It is overcast and gloomy outside this morning, with snow in the forecast. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warmer, so I would expect to see several groups of snowmobilers come by. Last weekend, I had several and my tracks are fresh, which is why they follow them.

            My back muscle is acting up again and is causing me a lot of discomfort, which along with the weather had us all staying inside, watching the Olympics and visiting most of the day.

Sunday, February 14, 2010           HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

            As predicted, the sky cleared and the sun shone brightly. After a hearty breakfast, Joe, Michele and Zack went for a walk in the snow.

            I haven’t had any relief from my back pain and it is bad enough to upset my stomach, so I stayed inside and tried to find a comfortable position that would help.

            In the afternoon, we watched some more of the Olympic events and a few DVDs, and then I prepared dinner. After eating we watched television before retiring.

Michele and Joe watching the fire dance while it snows outside. Note the icicles hanging from the roof.

This is a double icicle that ran into each other and formed one. Note the size of the snowflakes in the background.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week of Feb. 1 to Feb. 7

Monday, February 1, 2010
            Well, the first month of the New Year has passed us by and after re-reading my own blog; it wasn’t that great of start for me. I hope things have been better for all of you.
            The weather is still overcast and NWS predicts snow through the entire week. It is snowing lightly this morning, with a 2 to 3 mph breeze blowing snow out of the trees.
            Saturday, I changed out my last full propane tank so I have to go into town to get one refilled and pick up a few things. Zack and I loaded an empty tank into the Argo and headed for Marysville at noon. Once we reached the Divide, the sky cleared and the sun was out, but a glance back towards the cabin showed that it was still snowing heartily.
            We reached Marysville, parked the Argo, warmed up the Jeep for the next leg of the journey and visited briefly with Guy and Mary before departing. The trip to town was unremarkable and I collected my mail, filled the propane tank, got groceries, prescriptions and gas, returning to Marysville by 4 PM.
            On the way back up to the Divide, the Argo was making an odd noise and with the problems I’ve been having I stopped to check on it. The sound seemed to be coming from the snow tracks and almost sounded like a flat tire as it was rhythmic and made a thumping sound. I stopped and checked all the tires and the tracks but found nothing wrong. I surmise that it may have been the weight of the full propane tank (187 lbs.), 15 gallons of gas (84 lbs.) and groceries of an undetermined weight, causing the tracks to make the noise.
            We continued on, arriving home at about 4:30. I unloaded the propane tank to gain access to the groceries and then took the items into the cabin to be put away. Once that was done, I moved the Argo to its garage and removed the gas cans, putting them in the shed. Zack and I played for a while and then I fed him and the cats, built up the coals into a good fire and sat down to read my mail before a shower and dinner.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010
            It is still snowing, heavy at times, but generally light and staying just around 30 degrees. The snow is dry and almost a crystal rather than flakes.
            I spent the day doing research, reading and writing with time to play with Zack several times. In the afternoon it began snowing harder and Zack doesn’t care what the weather is when it comes to playing, so I stand under the roof and throw the disc for him until he gets tired or I get too cold. After we come back in, he naps by the fire while I continue with whatever I am working on.
            Rusty is having a very good day and has been a real pill all morning. He tried to get me out of bed to feed him at 6:30 this morning, but I resisted until a little after 8 O’clock, and then got up and started my day. Meanwhile, Rusty is racing up and down the stairs, into the sunroom and back to the kitchen, trying to climb my leg. It was like he was high on catnip or something. This continued most of the morning with naptime coming just before noon, and then he started all over again. All of his activity got Zoey going and she chased him around for a while and then didn’t want to be bothered.
            I guess I strained my lower back yesterday when I wrestled the propane tank out of the Argo, as it is bothering me this morning, along with my leg muscles, so I am moving stiffly and not feeling like being too active.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
            The sky cleared during the night and the temperatures went from double digits to a single digit, with the low being 3.7 degrees at 7:30 this morning. When I start my morning fire, I try to remember to check the outside temperature to see if I need to heat the flue before lighting the fire and it was 8 degrees, so I preheated the air in the chimney using my propane torch. After a few seconds, I lit the fire and it had no problem drafting properly.
            The days are getting noticeable longer and the sun poked its head over Greenhorn Mountain by 10:30 this morning. It is staying light until 5:30, which makes me believe that spring is on its way. Except for a few high thin clouds, the sky is clear and it is above freezing before noon today. Yesterday, the high was 30 degrees and it snowed almost all day, so this is a nice break.
            I split and stacked about ¾ of a cord of firewood, and it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do with my back causing some pain, but it warmed up and the sun was shining, so I needed to take advantage of the weather and get the firewood stack a little higher.
            After finishing that, I headed the front door to work on the Argo and as I shut the front door, I almost collided with a killer icicle that had curled all of the way under the porch roof and lurked to injure me. I removed the flooring from the Argo, checked the chains and lubricated everything again. I started to work in the shed, but the clouds moved in and it was getting late, so I quit for the day. Zack and I played one last time, then I fed him, and the cats, did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.

            I just stoked the fire and the animals are all laying down for their after dinner naps. I will shower and then fix myself something before relaxing for the evening.

Thursday, February 4, 2010
            It is another dreary overcast morning with a few flakes of snow blowing around. The forecast is for snow all day, but yesterdays forecast was the same and it was a sunny afternoon. It is colder this morning than yesterday, with the low being 3 degrees.
            I spent the day giving my back a rest and doing some genealogy research on my grandfather. I had spent the last several days looking for him and his family on and having gone through pages and pages of census records, found nothing. I did find him listed on the voter’s registrations going back to 1924, but that was all. allows you to have a free 14 day trail where you can search all their records and then after the 14 days, they charge your credit card a monthly fee until you cancel.
            I finally gave up and Googled “free birth records,” which led me to the site of the Latter-day Saints, which is free. My grandfather had become a Mormon during his second marriage (he was married three times) and as such was obligated to research his genealogy. In less than 15 minutes I found his family tree and the information I was looking for. He managed to trace his family back to the 1500s and England, but it stops there. So much for being worth a monthly fee.
            Having consumed the day in my research, after one last play period with Zack, I fed all the animals and then showered, relaxing for the rest of the evening.

Friday, February 5, 2010
            This morning is starting off exactly the same as yesterday morning, with the low being 3 degrees, overcast, a few errant snowflakes, but no wind. Yesterday afternoon the sky cleared and it was sunny and a warm 49 degrees, so maybe today will end up being nice. When I went out to shut off the generator last night, the sky was clear and I could see a million stars, so I was a little surprised to see it overcast this morning.
            I spent the entire day working on the computer, stopping to play with Zack several times and once to service the generator so it is ready for the next time I need it. I have been doing family research and for those interested in genealogy, try the Mormon site:, it’s free and they have millions of family trees and information.
            I ended my research day at five O’clock, playing one last time with Zack and then feeding all my critters, showering, eating dinner and relaxing for the rest of the evening.

Saturday, February 6, 2010
            It is a bit foggy this morning; in reality it is a low flying cloud scooting through my gulch on its way down from the Divide. It looks like it may clear and leave me with some sunshine to help warm the day. The days are getting longer fast and I have daylight until 6 PM now. Soon it will stay light until 9:30 at night.
            I spent the entire day researching family members, with some success, with time for Zack, Zoey and Rusty. Rusty is having a good day today, as he did yesterday also. His good days are out numbering his bad days so I hope his system is getting stronger and he will gain his full strength.
            Inbetween my research, I managed to do some wash, make up the bed with clean linen and vacuum, so I feel like I accomplished a lot.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
            I hate starting off my days like this morning, but after checking the outside temperature, 8 degrees, I used the propane torch to preheat the firebox and chimney, or so I thought. The wood started burning and seemed to be drafting okay but then it stopped and filled the cabin with acrid smoke.
            It took me almost an hour to set things back to normal after removing the smoke alarm battery, opening the sliding door, setting up the box fan to exhaust the smoke while the ceiling fan ran at full speed. What a pain in the butt. There is still some remnants of smoke lingering in the air, but it was just too cold to leave the cabin open to the outside air, which rushed in faster than a flood. The smoke assaulted my lungs enough to cause a constant cough and eye irritation, but I’ve suffered it before and survived. To top it all off, at about 3:30 this morning, I awoke with a muscle spasm pinching a nerve between my shoulder blades. I took ibuprofen immediately, slept restlessly until 8:00, and then got up. Moving around has helped a little, but it is still bothering me.
            I spent the entire day doing more genealogy research and had limited success. I find it fascinating and addictive, but also exhausting and eye crossing. It is now 6:30 PM, and I have played with and fed all the animals so I will now shower and relax for the rest of the night.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week of Jan. 25 to Jan. 31

Monday, January 25, 2010
            This morning is a mixed bag of weather. It was 14 degrees, overcast and a few snowflakes when I got up, but as the day went on, it showed signs of improving and then it started snowing again. The high was 30 degrees at 3:30, up from the low of 6 degrees around 7 AM.
            I spent most of the day on the computer, posting my blog, reading, listening to a short story, doing research, and keeping the fire stoked. Zack and I played several times and both Zoey and Rusty got some one-on-one time with me. Zoey hasn’t tired of the new toy, which is one of those circular plastic things with a ball in the trace and scratch pad in the center. The ball on this one has a motion sensor and lights a blinking red light when moved. Zoey loves that, but Rusty has only tried it once and since then, ignored it unless Zoey is making a lot of noise with it.
            Rusty had a good night and was active before daylight, causing me to wish he would play down stairs instead of on my bed. By noon, he was looking ragged and tired, napping most of the day. I have tried to keep the humidifier going to ease any problems the dry air might cause, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Meanwhile, it seems to be helping Zack’s pads, as they aren’t dry and rough. I have also been putting the pad balm on his pads every night before bedtime, which must be helping also.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
            Today was a repeat of yesterday’s weather, with overcast and still air, turning to blowing snow in the afternoon, with winds around 4 to 5 mph.
            I spent the day working online and finally maxed out my download limit by 4:30 and had to quit for the day. It all started when I received my usual political email from the Ron Paul website that had an interesting link. The grab line stated that we, the U.S, might have caused the Haiti earthquake on purpose, using HAARP. I couldn’t resist reading and viewing videos on just how man could cause an earthquake in a specific, pin point spot, like Port au Prince. The more I read and viewed, the more plausible the theory seemed.
            It seems that the United States, along with Russia and Norway, have stations with antenna that emit High-frequency Active Auroral signals called HAARP. The U.S. has two stations in Alaska and one in Puerto Rico, close to Haiti. I haven’t been able to finish my research due to the slowing of my internet downloads, but will continue it tomorrow and report my findings.
            Man need not fear the coming of the end of earth due to the planets aligning or mother nature, as he will end it himself.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
             Clear skies and bright sunshine are the order of today. The problem with clear skies is that allows all the heat to escape, so the low at 7:15 this morning was 0 degrees, with the temperature upon awaking a mere 5 degrees.
            I attempted to resume my research on HAARP as my service was showing I was at full speed. As soon as I opened a second search, it slowed down and when I clicked on a third, a message from Hughes Net came up saying they were having trouble charging my monthly fee to my credit card. I spent the next hour trying to remedy the problem only to find out that Citi Corp locked my account for some reason, so I then had to use another card and pay online to regain use of my internet. What a pain in the ass. This is the third time Citi Corp has caused me problems and I won’t be using this card any time soon.
            By the time I finished everything, it was still slow and I was told it would take up to an hour before it went back to normal, so I quit and turned to cleaning the cabin. I vacuumed upstairs, the stairs, and all of the downstairs and then cleaned the bathroom and kitchen. While doing all of this, I stopped a few times to cool down and give Zack his playtime.
            The day was over before I checked back on the computer and found that my download speed was back to normal. I showered and fixed everyone dinner, then relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Thursday, January 28, 2010
            It was cold again last night, with the low being -0.6 and only 8 degrees at 9 AM. As I started the fire, it instantly backed up and started filling the room with smoke. The flue was just too cold to allow the smoke to rise in the chimney, so I fought with getting it to draft and then clearing the room of smoke.
            As the computer was running normally, I decided to check my mail and do some poking around. One email I received was for a site that allows you to visually visit almost anyplace and see a 360 view. It is and a great site that will captivate you for hours, should you let it. Thanks for sending it to me Fred.
            Another project that took the remainder of the day was searching for family members and/or relatives for a Lewis Brooks Hazelton. Who is Hazelton? Well, when I was still with the Sheriff’s department, I discovered several letters and a single photo inside of some stolen merchandise. The letters would have been discarded, as the true owner of the items couldn’t be found, so I kept them and tried to discover who Hazelton was, in hopes of returning the letters to the family.
            In the course of working the Sheriff’s warehouse, I discovered and returned many items that might be valued memories, such as a videocassette of someone’s wedding, a photo album of old family photos, and some other things, but these letters eluded me finding anyone . . . until today.
            The technology and information available to us in today’s world has improved since I found the letters, and in a few simple searches, I found the history of Lewis B. Hazelton. Let me give you a small picture of the man and what happened to him.
            Lewis Brooks Hazelton was born in Liberty, Arizona on December 26, 1890, at the family farm of Enos Carter Hazelton and his wife Mattie Julia (Stewart) Hazelton. He was oldest of 8 children, having 5 sisters and 2 brothers. He worked on his father’s farm until he was 19 and then started his own small farm. He never married, but had a sweetheart named Winnie. Whether he and Winnie would be married and have a family is lost to time as at 26, he enlisted in the army to fight in WW I. He was sent to Fort Funston in Kansas for training. The letters start on September 20, 1917, as he is taking the train to Fort Funston. The first letter is to his second and third oldest sisters, Pearl, and Una. Reading the letters, you can tell that he dearly loves his sisters and is lonely for news from back home.
            He hadn’t traveled much before now, so he was seeing and describing the landscape of New Mexico, and Texas, not caring for what he saw. His second letter was written September 22, and is to his mother. He arrives at Fort Funston and it has been raining almost the entire trip. He talks about how many boys from Arizona are there, naming several, and that they are all housed together in several barracks. He misses the family and home, but is anxious to get over to Europe and fight. He is in Battalion A, of the 340th F.A.N.A., which I believe is a field artillery battalion.
            A third letter, dated November 20, is to Una and Pearl, and talks about a quarantine of the men, but doesn’t say for what, possibly the Spanish flu. He mentions that he wrote to his mother the day before, but that letter isn’t with the others. A fourth letter, December 13, 1917, a couple of weeks before his 27th birthday, is to Pearl and he mentions that he had been on 24 hour guard duty and upon getting off duty, was kicked in the right thigh by a horse. He doesn’t go into detail about the injury, but from a future letter, I concluded that it was bad. He writes that they will probably “cross the water” in January or February and that he has taken out a $10,000.00 life insurance policy for “papa and mama.
            On January 25, 1918, he write to Pearl that he was taken out of 340th, Bat. A, and is now in the depot brigade and expecting to ship out at any moment, but he doesn’t go into any details. He says that his orders are drawn for over seas service, but doesn’t think they will go as “there is something wrong with most every one of us and it does not look reasonable that the cripples would be sent over first.”           
            The last letter is dated March of 1918, he writes to his sisters that he is at Camp Merritt, New Jersey and in the 69 Causal Company, and will be going overseas soon. I was unable to find anything on the Causal Co., and he spelled it this way three times in the letter. I tried spelling it “casual” without any luck.
            On July 28, 1918 he was killed in the Battle of Reims and is buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in France, with 6011 other soldiers that died in the Oise-Aisne campaign.
            I have contacted a woman that I believe is a relative of Hazelton, to see if she wants the letters, but haven’t heard back from her yet. I’ll let you know what happens if and when she contacts me.

Friday, January 29, 2010
            It is overcast with a few snowflakes here and there, but warmer this morning. There is a light breeze and the sun is attempting to break through the overcast, so it may warm to the 33 degrees that NWS is predicting.
            I spent most of the day working on the computer, with breaks to play with Zack and bring in more firewood. The temperature has remained right at 30 degrees, give or take 2 degrees, all day. The sun did try to come through but it was only intermittent and didn’t help warm things up too much.

Saturday, January 30, 2010
            The sky looks about as it did yesterday, with one or two errant flakes of snow and cold, with the low this morning being 11 degrees, but warming to the 20s by 11 O’clock. NWS is predicting 80% chance of snow for this afternoon and then 60% through the beginning of next week.
            Other than working on the computer, I split and stacked more firewood, but not all of the cut sections I still have by the splitter. The sun was out briefly and then the clouds moved in and the wind increased, causing it to be unpleasant outside.
            I managed to do three loads of wash, and made up the bed with clean linen and comforters. It’s always nice to climb into a nice fresh bed with Zoey and Rusty joining me. Zoey tolerates having Rusty there is he stays on one side of me with her on the other. Zack often asks to come up just before I get up for the day, and I let him, giving him his good morning pets.
            Zack got plenty of playtimes today and both Zoey and Rusty had individual attention from me. Rusty had a great morning, being more active than usual and running up and down the stairs and from the kitchen to the sunroom. By 11:00, he crashed and went into his stupor, with glassy eyes, drooling and in general looking like he was about to die. By evening, he was back to being active and playful. I am beginning to believe that he is having small seizures, which is causing him to go into these stupors, but their isn’t any physical signs that I can see. This behavior occurs at least once every 7 to 10 days and I will start keeping track and recording them to see if there is a pattern.

Sunday, January 31, 2010
            It snowed lightly during the night and this morning, but by 10:00, the sun broke through and the sky cleared. Maybe I’ll get some warmer weather today, even through NWS says no.
            Yesterday, I had three different groups of snowmobilers go through. I was out splitting wood and playing with Zack when two groups went by and they waved, but none stopped. With their full helmets on it is impossible to tell who they are or even if they are male or female, but each group consisted of 4 or 5 snowmobiles. I don’t like what the snowmobiles do to my road, leaving moguls and ruts, but don’t mind having them come by once and a while. They have no idea how they mess up my road as they only come this way on snowmobiles and probably only once a season. There are miles and miles of labeled snowmobile trails, most of them groomed, through out the Helena National Forest, but the road to my cabin is not one of them, but then it is a public use area and not controlled by gates or fences.
            I have no plans to do anything special today, and will probably spend most of it inside by the fire. The morning hasn’t warmed up much, sun or no sun. It is still in the teens with some snow still falling even though the sky is almost clear of clouds.
            I will post these updates now as I doubt if anything exciting is going to happen today.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Week of Jan. 18 to Jan. 24

Monday, January 18, 2010
            Well, I guess the predicted snow for today is late as the sky cleared by noon and the sun came out, raising the temperature to a comfortable 54 degrees by 2 PM.
            I worked on the Argo again today and finished everything, including checking all fluids, lubricating all chains and greasing all fittings. I finished and had all of the tools cleaned and put away by 3:15. I took it for a test spin and to my dismay; the new tensioners didn’t take up the slack and adjust the chains as they are supposed to. The tops of the chains were still dragging on the frame and shouldn’t be. I tried a couple of things, hoping to get them to work and then gave up.
            I came in and studied the manual but can’t see that I did anything wrong. The only thing I didn’t do was taking the snow track off to allow the wheels to individually turn freely. The only thing I can think of that is allowing the upper portion of the chain to stay loose, is the slack in each axle. I will start all over tomorrow and hope I can resolve this issue so I can get into town on Wednesday.
            Zack and I played for the third time today and then I fed him. Rusty is having a bad day today as he drank a lot of water with his breakfast, and then threw it up. Immediately after doing that, he had a sneezing fit that caused him to rise up and fall over backwards. His eyes looked glazed and he isn’t very active. He has good and bad days on an ongoing basis and this was just one of his bad days.
            A warm fire and shower and then I’ll have some dinner and relax until bedtime.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
            This morning is bleak looking, with the temperature in the mid to high 20s and a few snowflakes dancing in the air. I am hoping that by noon the sun will poke through and give me some warmth so working outside isn’t too difficult.
            I got lucky and the sun did come out with the temperature getting into the high 30s, but unfortunately the wind created a wind chill factor and caused my eyes to water. It’s hard to work outside when you can hardly see.
            I worked for about 2 ½ hours on the Argo, jacking it up, removing the snow track to allow me to turn the wheels, taking up the slack in the upper portion of the chains. I had to remove both chains again, and it was a good thing I did as I discovered that the spring on the forward tensioner wasn’t wound enough to move the block up. I fixed it and then reinstalled both chains, reattached the snow track, inflated the front and rear tires and took it for a test drive.
            Even though the chains still have a little more slack than I’d like, it has to be that way. When the slack is 2 ½ inches, it allows the tensioner to move up a notch and take additional slack out. I did notice that when in reverse gear, one of the left side forward tensioners is too loose and needs to have the spring wound more to work correctly. While in forward gear, it seems fine, so I’ll wait to fix it when I have to tear things down again.
            I replaced the floor panels and put my survival gear in the back, along with two empty gas cans for my trip to town tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
            It is colder this morning than the past couple of mornings with the temperature at 10 degrees when I got up at 9 AM. NWS is showing temperatures in the twenties with lows in the teens through the weekend. They are forecasting a 60% chance of snow starting tomorrow and through the weekend.
            I had my morning cup of coffee, dressed and headed for town by 10:30, hoping to get my errands and appointment finished early enough to be home long before dark.
            We did it. We made it home by five O’clock and Zack got his playtime in the fading daylight. I unpacked the Argo and parked it in the shed, having made the trip to town and back without any problems. I fed the gang and put all of the groceries away, built up the fire, which had kept the cabin warm all day, and then sat down to read my mail before showering and having some dinner.

Thursday, January 21, 2010
            It is clear and sunny with the temperature reaching 50 degrees by early afternoon. NWS is giving the chance of snow for tonight at 60%, with more on the way.
            After having worked on the Argo for several days, I decided to take today off and just catch up on computer stuff, research and reading. While Zack and I played outside several times, the cats made good use of the new toys I purchased yesterday.
            A nice fire, steak dinner and relaxing for the evening was the order of the evening.

Friday, January 22, 2010
            When I got up this morning, a cloud of ice was settling over the cabin and shortly thereafter, the wind picked up and it started to snow. The storm is coming out of the northeast, which is where the Canadian cold fronts come from, keeping the temperature in the low teens, with the high being 15.6, after a low of 7.5. NWS is indicating that this storm could dump an additional 14” of new snow over the next few days.

            I spent the day reading, working on the computer, stoking the fire and watching television, and of course Zack got his playtime, both inside and out. I played keep-away with his monkey toy that hangs over the sunroom ceiling beam, and threw his disc for him while out gathering more firewood.

Saturday, January 23, 2010
            I awoke to blowing snow that was dry and light. The winds are coming out of the northeast, so this is still coming out of Canada, with the low temperature being single digit.
            After my trip to town on Wednesday, I brought home the Nickel Ads, which is the free give away paper like many communities have. Inside was an ad for Murdoch’s and after reading through it, I discovered that they had a sled, which can be pulled behind ATVs or snowmobiles, on sale. I went online to see if it suits my needs for hauling large or heavy items to and from the cabin in the winter. The sleds are made by company that specializes in molded plastic ATV items and they are the cheapest I’ve found. Otter Outdoors makes a wide variety of sleds so I researched all of them and found one that I think would be good for hauling my propane tanks and other items back and forth. It is the 1040 Wild large sled, which is listed for only $34.95. The hitch is extra, at $54.99, and a cover is available for an additional $69.99.
            All in all, the sled looked perfect and because the sale ends tomorrow, snowstorm or no snowstorm, I decided to go to town and purchase one. Zack and I headed out in fairly heavy snow at about 12:30, and made it to Marysville without any problems. I was surprised to see so many snowmobilers out and about, but this type of snow is the kind they love to play in. The ski hill is also doing a booming business as cars went up one after another.
            I cleared the snow from the Jeep and we headed into town, going straight to Murdoch’s. Randy, the owner of Zack’s mom and sister was working and Zack always goes nuts when he visits him. I think it may be the odor of his mother on Randy’s clothes. Randy informed me that they had no sleds in stock, but could get one from another store at the sale price. He then told me that they only carry four models of the Otter sled, and none was the one I wanted. Not only that, the one closest to the size I want was $120.00 on sale! Knowing that the web site indicated the price was only $34.95, I opted to order online and have the sled and hitch delivered to Guy and Mary’s so I wouldn’t have to haul it on the roof of the Jeep.
            I purchase dry food for Zack and the cats, a couple of lead ropes on sale that were more than half off ($4.00 regularly $9.99), and some balm for my dry feet, so the trip wasn’t totally wasted. We also stopped at the market to get some hamburger for Zack’s dinners and then back to Marysville. After transferring everything to the Argo and a short visit with Guy, we headed for home arriving at 4:15. The snow hadn’t stopped and the visibility was poor. I was worried about a fast moving snowmobiler coming down the trail and hitting us, so I stayed to the far right and moved around corners carefully. 

            After unloading and parking the Argo, Zack got his playtime and then dinner. I put things away and then sat down with my V-8 to warm by the now roaring fire. The temperature never got above 17 degrees, but the cabin had stayed at 70 while we were gone.

Sunday, January 24, 2010
            The sky is a mixture of clouds and clear sky, with the air moving them to my southwest. By noon, the sun made a full appearance and it began to warm considerable. The high was 43 degrees, which is a huge difference from yesterday’s high and the morning low of 2.8 degrees at 9:30 this morning.
            I had a full breakfast, or I should say brunch as it was almost noon, of pancakes, bacon, eggs and orange juice and went online to order the sled. I put the sled and hitch in my “cart” and then when I was ready to enter my credit card information I noticed a note that told me to check shipping zones for the cost that would be charged to my card. The shipping information on the finally total only stated that the charges were yet to be determined. The sled only weighs 36 lbs. and the hitch couldn’t be much, so I thought shipping costs wouldn’t be too much, but checked the zones. I was floored to discover the cost of shipping the sled was $122.00, and the hitch was $14.00.
            That is unreal, so I checked their list of dealers to see if another store near by carried their brand and discovered the there is a Big R Ranch store in town. I haven’t run across it in my shopping so will find it the next time I am in town and see if I can get the sled I want, for a reasonable price, from them. A check online shows most sleds cost several hundred dollars, which is why I think the Otter sleds are such a good deal, but not if the shipping exceeds the cost of the items.
            The remainder of the day was spent playing with Zack, organizing my tax records (just got my 1099-R), and shoring up the roof over my firewood on the deck. The heavy wet snow that has piled up, falling from the upper roof, is causing the 2 x 4s to sag dangerously. To avoid another collapse like a couple of years ago, I cut and wedged upright 2 x 4s under the sagging ones to help support the weight.

            A few loads of wash, putting clean sheets on the bed, fixing dinner for all and taking a shower before relaxing to enjoy some television, filled the remainder of the day.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week of Jan. 11 to Jan. 17

Monday, January 11, 2010

            It is in the teens this morning with a few scattered clouds as the sun is coming over the mountain. The sun doesn’t shine on the shed until 11:30, so that’s when I plan to go out and tackle the temporary repairs and get the right side wheel on.

            I worked on the Argo all day and just finished at 4:30 PM. I used 2x4s to make heavier temporary rub blocks and positioned them under the drive chains to take up the slack. I put the repaired wheel on the right side and managed to refasten the snow track. They never go on the same way twice, and just when I think I have found an easy way to do it, something else goes wrong. This time, after letting the air out of the front and rear tire so the track could be pulled together, the rear tire got pinched between the two ends of the track and I had to start over again.

            I put Slime in all of the tires, aired them up and took it for a test drive. The improved rub blocks seem to work okay, but I wouldn’t trust them for more than one trip down and back, which I’ll make tomorrow.

            I played with Zack one last time and then fed him and the cats. I am having my daily V-8 drink with apple cider vinegar and watching the fire come to life. It was a good day to work outside and if I had more days like yesterday and today, I’d get more done outside. The high temperature for today was 48 degrees but there was a slight breeze later in the day. I had been working in my T-shirt but as the sun ducked behind some clouds, I had to put my sweatshirt back on. All in all, it was comfortable for working outside.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

            The morning started out mild with a clear sky and the sun cresting Greenhorn Mountain at 11:30. I spent the morning as usual and then got ready to head to town.

            Zack and I left at noon; heading for Marysville, hoping the temporary fixes on the drive chains hold.

            It is now tomorrow and I am just getting back to writing about the trip to town. We made it to Marysville without any issues and the temporary rub blocks held and worked as well as expected. A check of the UPS tracking site showed that my parts had been delivered at 6:37 last night. UPS policy is that if you pay for next day delivery, they promise to deliver the item no later than 7 PM the next day, but because you must pay extra for Saturday deliveries and my order went out Friday afternoon, the parts wouldn’t arrive until Monday. Under these circumstances, I won’t pay extra again as the parts probably would have arrived on Tuesday anyway.

            Zack and I headed to town in the Jeep, needing to run a couple of errands and pick up the house batteries. I also had an appointment, via telephone, with Social Security to sign up for Medicare, Part B. I collected my mail, stopped at Ace Hardware for a couple of items and then waited outside of the storage and transfer office for the Social Security phone appointment.

            The call came through at the exact time and I answered all of the questions so the person could electronically file my application. Why I couldn’t have done the same thing online, I don’t know, but in about 10 minutes, we were finished.

            I proceeded to the office and signed for the batteries and when the forklift operator brought them out to the Jeep, I was surprised to see that they were on a smaller pallet than my previous delivery of the same sized four batteries. The entire pallet fit in the back of the Jeep and after a quick stop at Costco to purchase their least expensive digital point and shoot camera, we headed for Marysville. My expensive new SLR camera has become totally unreliable and I have to send it in for repairs under warranty, so I wanted a simple camera to use until it is returned.

            Upon arriving back at the Argo, I had to determine how I would transfer the heavy batteries (158 lbs. each), and how many, into the Argo. My friend Guy had just returned from town and came to help me and we managed, with much effort, to slide the batteries, one by one, from the back of the Jeep into the back of the Argo. By placing a couple of 2x6 boards across the rear seats, we were able to get all four of them in. I wasn’t positive that the Argo would pull that much weight, plus Zack and myself up to the Divide, but wanted to try so I wouldn’t have to make an additional trip back to Marysville.

Batteries in the back of the Argo. You can see the fourth one on the floor under the ones on the boards.

            I loaded the remainder of items and the repair parts for the Argo and we took off for home. While the going was slow due to the weight, the Argo pulled us up to the crest of the Divide without a problem. My temporary rub blocks both broke on the way, but enough stayed in position to prevent damage to the chain from rubbing on the frame.

            The trip down the other side to the cabin was easier and we arrived home at dark. I unloaded the small items and left the batteries for unloading another time. Zack got in one last playtime before I fed the crew, built a fire and sat down to read my mail and relax before a shower and dinner.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

            The day is clear and as the sun began warming things up, the snow on the roof began melting and dripping onto the deck. By noon, it was 45 degrees outside and calm.

            I had my morning coffee and routine, then changed into my work clothes and went out to figure exactly what I need to do to fit four more batteries into my system.

            The day didn’t go as I had planned, as it was one of those days when nothing seems to go right. I had laid awake the night before, imagining how I could arrange all eight batteries to fit in the existing battery box. I believed that by placing them on their ends all eight would fit, but it didn’t work out. Being AGM type batteries, they don’t have any water in them and can be positioned in any direction, so I figured that if all of them were on their ends, they would fit, but without removing two layers of insulation board, they were too tall for the enclosure.

            I ended up building a two-foot extension platform in front of the battery box and will temporarily put a cover of some type on it, until I can build a more permanent enclosure this summer. This means that they will be exposed to the elements, but these batteries can survive to forty below zero, so I don’t think it will affect them too much.

            I ran out of daylight before I could connect them to the current set, but will do that tomorrow. One last play period with Zack and then I fed all the critters, built a fire, had my V-8, showered and then ate some dinner before calling it a night.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

            So far, this New Year hasn’t been too kind to me. With the Argo problems and dealing with the batteries, I find myself facing difficulties I’d rather not have in my life. Although NWS was only predicting a 20% chance of snow today, the wind is blowing at a steady 7.4 with gusts to 20 mph and errant snowflakes passing by horizontally. This isn’t the type of weather I enjoy being outside in, so I may wait to see if the prediction of mostly sunny skies tomorrow is true.

            The weather didn’t improve, and in fact got worse with more snow and wind, staying right at freezing, so I worked on projects inside all afternoon. With clear calm skies tomorrow, and temperatures expected to be in the low 40s, I’ll finish connecting the new batteries and maybe have time to start working on the Argo.

            Although Zack is still considered a young dog, being 4 ½ years old in human years, he seems to be suffering from either arthritis or acute muscle fatigue. Playing in the deep snow, he over uses muscles he may not use on a daily basis, and this is causing him to be stiff in the evenings and into the next day. This morning he can barely walk to go outside for his usual morning call. I have checked his nails and feet, massaged his muscles and while he doesn’t complain, I know he must be in pain and sore, so I made him stay inside and take it easy today. Not playing at least once or twice is more painful to him than suffering through his stiffness, but I think he needs to rest and heal rather than play.

            The remainder of the day and evening went pretty much as usual and I hope the weather will cooperate tomorrow. Eew, I just checked Weather Underground and while it is for the Marysville area, a thousand feet lower than me, they are predicting partly cloudy and warmer, but they are also predicting winds of 15 to 25 mph and gusts to 50 mph. Not the type of weather I am hoping for.

Friday, January 15, 2010

            The sky is clear and it is 32 degrees this morning with winds around 5 mph. The wind died down last night and didn’t start again until around 10:30 this morning.

            Because the house batteries are on the east side of the cabin and the wind is coming from the southwest, I can work on connecting the new batteries with some protection from the weather.

            At 32 degrees and windy, the wind chill factor stayed around 28 degrees, which was bearable, except when I needed to remove my gloves to handle the nuts and bolts attaching the cables. I shut the inverter off, disconnected every cable, and removed all of them. Because I now have eight 12-volt batteries, I can connect them differently than I previously had, so I started from scratch.

            I had some difficulty getting four of cables connected as they were about a quarter of an inch to short. I had to bend one end and make sure the batteries were as close together as possible. I finally got all of the cables in place and tightened, then I tested to make sure they were producing 24-volts as a group, which they were, before I reconnected the cables to the inverter. I connected my wind generator and then temporarily covered the batteries to give them some protection from the weather.

This is the new set up with all eight batteries connected and functioning.

            All of this took longer than one would expect, but that’s pretty much par for the course around here. It was 4 PM by the time I finished and was satisfied with my results. I played with Zack and then fed him and the cats, started a fire and heated up some of my seafood chowder for dinner.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

            It is overcast and due to the warmer temperature of 35 degrees and rising, it looks like it might rain. NWS is still predicting 20% chance of snow for today and tonight, so we shall see.

            After my usual morning routine, I changed and went to work on the Argo. Without going into a lot of detail, I can say that this is no easy job. Just to remove one of the chains and give me access to install the new tension block takes a couple of hours. The manual says to jack up the Argo so the wheels can be rotated, but in order to rotate the wheels, I would have to remove the snow track, yet again. I tried to avoid that, was lucky enough to find that the retaining clip holding the rear chain together was accessible, so I removed the chain and installed one of the new tension devices and a new rub block.

            Attempting to put the chain back together is another story. After numerous attempts to gain the necessary slack that would allow me to pull and fasten the chain together, the day grew short (along with my temper) and began getting much colder, with snow starting to fall. I decided to give up for today and hope for better weather tomorrow to finish it.

            Playtime with Zack in the snow and then I fed him and the cats, stirred the fire and sat down to warm up before taking my shower and eating dinner.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

            The morning is looking much better as the sky is clear and the sun is coming up over the mountain. With the low of 11 degrees at 4:30 this morning, it has warmed to 40 degrees by 11 AM.

            I had my coffee and a bite to eat and then went to work on the Argo.

            Back online at 6 PM, after having worked on the Argo all afternoon. The weather cooperated and I worked in my T-shirt until a few clouds blocked it around 4 PM. I have played with Zack and fed him and the cats and they are now napping in front of the fire.

            Work on the Argo isn’t finished and didn’t go as well as I had hoped. After jacking up the right side, I managed to reattach the rear chain and then remove the front chain and replace the tensioner and block, but I discovered the frame member that supports the tensioner had a broken weld on the inside, causing the tensioner to drop down at an angle. This is probably why both tensioners broke in the first place.

            No matter how I tried, I couldn’t raise it enough to get something under it. After working on it for some time, I finally realized that I might be able to get a logging wedge driven under it. This tensioner is directly under the driver’s seat and gas tank; so doing a proper repair at this time is not possible. This summer, I’ll haul the Argo to a shop in the back of the truck, and get the brace welded. For now, I hope this will work and last through this winter.

            I didn’t finish today as the spring clip that locks the chain pieces together broke. I took one off one of my old chains and worked for almost half an hour trying to get it to lock before I discovered that the front chains have a different size link by about 1/16th of an inch. I was running out of daylight and it was getting colder, so I put things away for today and came in.

            After stoking the fire, I used my Dremel tool to grind the spring clip and allow it to fit and it should hold, at least until I can get a new replacement clip. I might just be able to get the Argo in running order so I can keep my chiropractor

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jan. 2 to Jan. 10, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

            It was windy with gusts to 15 mph and snowed much of the day, finally stopping around 3:30 and the sun actually showed its face. Zack loves to play in this type of weather (actually, all kinds of weather) and we played several times before he had dinner.

            I spent most of the day working on projects, sewing Zack’s disc, which turned out to be a dismal failure. I am sure it takes a special machine to sew right next to the surgical hose that forms the outer ring, because I kept breaking my thread and still couldn’t get right next to the edge. We took it out to test it and after about five throws, the edge of the new rip-stop material pulled out. From now on, I am just going to sew small patches of material over holes and hope to make them last longer.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

            This morning is one of the warmer ones with the low 23 degrees at 11:15 last night. Even with my bedroom window wide open, I had to throw off a quilt to keep from being too warm. I am outside enough in this cold weather that my blood has thickened and what would seem really cold to you in warmer climates, seems warm to me.

            The day was consumed with removing the Argo tracks and switching wheels, so I have good tires in the front and rear on each side to drive the snow tracks. The day warmed to 36 degree with full sunshine, so after checking with NWS and seeing that they predict 70% chance of snow for tomorrow and the next day, with the highs of the day in the teens, I decided today was probably a good day to work outside.

            I cleared the snow from the area just outside the Argo shed and backed it out. I removed the right track and then jacked up the front. I pulled the bad tire off the front and switched the second wheel to its place. I had to deflate that and the rear tire to reattach the snow track, which was more work and effort than I hoped for. The sun was racing to hide behind the mountain, so I hurried to remove the left track, removed the rear wheel with the bad tire and then took the second wheel off and put it in the rear. The reason I did that was that the third wheel was also flat and I didn’t want to take a chance that it wouldn’t hold air and recreate the problem.

            I managed to finish the left side in about half the time it took to do the right side and the sun had just disappeared when I finished and put the tools away. I switched out an empty propane tank with a fresh one and then played with Zack before feeding him and the cats, calling it a day. It started snowing shortly after dark.

 Notice the missing wheel

Monday, January 4, 2010

            It is still snowing this morning and NWS indicates that it will snow through Wednesday night and then clear, with the high temperatures being single digit.

            I spent most of the day cleaning up my hard drive, deleting old stuff and consolidating others and then worked on projects inside, playing numerous times with Zack outside. I had to re-shovel the path to the generator shed as the snow had filled it in with about 2’ of new stuff.

            The afternoon brought heavier snowfall and the temperature stayed right at 31 degrees all afternoon. I had all the fixings for my recipe of seafood chowder, so I prepared it for my dinner, with plenty leftover for the next few days.

            This being the beginning of a new year, I am surprised that I haven’t heard or received emails on New Years Resolutions. I have never made resolutions and while I have general goals for the year, I don’t make promises that I will only focus on those goals, that way I never get disappointed. Have you made resolutions in the past? How about this year? Let me know.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

            Still snowing and now NWS has posted a storm warning with predictions of a possible 20” of snow in the next 24 to 48 hours. This is a wet snow, with the temperature at 33 degrees and a faint hint of the sun shining through the snowstorm.

            NWS is predicting the storm passing on Thursday, with high temperatures being only single digit, so the arctic front is passing through behind this storm.

            With as much snow as I am getting, and as wet as it is, I am concerned about the weight load on the roofs. I am not worried about the cabin, but the garage and Argo lean-to haven’t had this much weight on them since I built them. All I can do is hope they hold up.

            I spent the morning and part of the afternoon researching home made wind generator, watching videos on them being made. The rest of the day I worked inside on my projects and played outside with Zack, while Rusty and Zoey came out to watch. I had the sunroom so hot, I had to leave the sliding door open for almost a half an hour to cool down.

            The rest of the evening followed my usual routine and we all enjoyed a warm fire while the snow continued to fall.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

            Before 8 PM last night, the outside temperature dropped below zero and stayed there. I awoke this morning to a clearing sky and bright sun. With all of the new snow and now the sunshine is causing me to go snow blind. It was still below zero at 10 AM, and has slowly been climbing into the teens, with a noon temperature of 18 degrees.

            I spent the morning shoveling my path to the shed so I could service and start the generator. I also took lots of photos to show the snow loaded trees and landscape. I then worked on projects and enjoyed my amazing view in all directions. It is truly a winter wonderland scene.

            By two O’clock, the sky was completely clear and the air calm, inviting me outside to take advantage of the perfect photo opportunity. Zack and I headed outside and I started the Argo to let it warm up. It was only 18 degrees, but with no wind and the sunshine, it felt warm to us.

            The Canadian company that makes the Argo, Ontario Drive & Gear, has a contest for photos of Argos to use in their yearly calendar, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for some great shots. I had wanted to get a good photo with the Argo sitting on top of the Divide, so after taking a few shots by the Christmas tree with all of its snow, we headed for the Divide.

            Crossing the creek was a bit precarious as the snow builds a two-foot drop off into the water. Once across the creek, I thought if I could get up the hill I could get a great shot of the cabin from above. It was not to be as the Argo was pushing three feet of snow and the tracks couldn’t climb above it, so we continued on. While my previous tracks where completely covered with new snow, the piles on the sides from me plowing a couple of weeks ago were still visible, so we stayed within them and made our way to the spring with little trouble.

            Once we passed the spring, the area is more open and the snow was heavy, being 2 to 3 feet deep, or deeper, so the Argo was pushing the loose snow in front of it as the tracks propelled us forward, at least for a while. As we got to the steeper portions, the Argo once again was pushing a wall of snow in front of it and the tracks couldn’t gain any traction.

            After several attempts, I got out and shoveled the snow in front to see if I could climb above it. Several more tries and the Argo simply couldn’t overcome the deep loose snow. I ended up having to turn around and retrace my tracks to where the actual road turns to traverse the side of the mountain up to the Divide.

            As we made our way, the Argo was in its amphibious mode and was literally floating on top of snow, which was about 6 feet deep. When the tracks lost traction, I would have to turn more towards the downhill side to make additional forward progress. I ended up zigzagging up the slope until I was on the Divide, but several hundred yards further south than where my road joins the Divide road. I turned and keeping on the edge of the Divide road was able to make my way towards the road going down to Marysville.

            I stopped to take several photos and because the sun was low in the sky, I couldn’t get a shot of the Argo looking west, which is what I wanted, so settled for several shots looking east and south.

    I decided that it was early enough in the day, so we headed to Marysville to make sure there weren’t any surprises. We continued on and literal plowed through deep snow getting to the county road. Several snowmobilers had been up the county road and you would think that their tracks would provide a decent surface to drive on, but snowmobiles leave moguls that violently jar the Argo with no suspension. I stayed to the side of the road in the softer snow, and just before reaching the road that is plowed, I ran out of gas.

            I always carry a gallon of gas for such occasions and also have a gallon of gas substitute in my emergency box. I poured the gallon in and the Argo started immediately, allowing us to finish the trip to Mary and Guy’s.

            Mary and Guy were out walking the dogs and soon arrived back at the house. The sun was now on the other side of the Divide and the temperature dropped quickly towards zero. Guy offered me some gas and I refilled my gallon container and poured about another gallon into the Argo, not wanting to take all of Guy’s gas. He has a snowplow on his ATV and a snow blower, so needs gas for them.

            After a short cold visit, Zack and I headed back up the mountain for home. I come and go over open land between the plowed road and Mary and Guy’s house, so when I came to the road I had to climb up and over the mountain of snow that the snowplow leaves along side the road. The Argo made it up and then slid to the side, getting high centered on the mound of snow. I got the shovel and began digging it out when a young guy approached and asked if I wanted him to pull me off with his truck. It would certainly be faster, so I said yes. He had been trying to load his snowmobile into the back of his truck when he saw me, so I after he pulled the Argo off the mound, I asked if I could return the favor and help him.

            He couldn't get his snowmobile into the back of his truck, and he had no ramps. He was trying to back the truck into a snow bank and drive it in, so I helped him, slipping on his truck bed liner and whacking both shins bloody when I tried to climb in the bed of the truck. We finally got it in and then visited for a bit. His name is Vince and he is around his mid to late 20's. He works off shore jobs, meaning anything out in the ocean. He finished the crab season in Alaska, and is now working on a tug doing salvage around the world. Interesting guy.

            We headed on up the hill and I tried to go the short way up the power lines, but couldn't get up the steepest part. I backtracked and started taking the long way when the Argo started acting like it was running out of gas. The engine would only rev up a little and then bog down after we moved a few feet. We crawled up the road at about a half a mile an hour, pushing deep snow in front of us. The engine die twice, but starting right away each time. I thought maybe the fuel filter was clogged but after struggling all the way to the Divide and starting down the other side, it dawned on me that the gallon of gas I put in before getting to Guy and Mary’s must have been old and caused the problem. After it died again, I dumped in the fresh gallon Guy gave me and it started running normally, getting us home at dark. For a few moments, I thought Zack and I would have been hiking home.

            I will change the fuel filter and fill the tank with fresh gas before leaving for town tomorrow. Upon our arrival, the temperature had dropped to eleven below zero and the fire in the sunroom had trouble keeping the temperature up. I stoked the fire, adding more wood, but it just wasn’t putting out much heat. I played with Zack, even though it was now dark, and then fed all of the animals. I sat down with my V-8 juice and tried to warm up, but the sunroom was still at 54 degrees. Due to the temperature difference and the fact that the sunroom had been allowed to cool down, it took two hours for the room to become comfortable. By then the outside temperature had plummeted to -20 degrees.

            After warming up the room, all the animals napped in the warmth of the fire and I watch some television before going to bed at midnight.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

            I was -20 when I got up at 9 AM this morning. The air is calm and the sky clear, so as the sun peaks over Greenhorn Mountain, it should start to warm up. The lowest temperature was at 8:40 this morning; being 21.9 below zero, and yesterdays high was 20 degrees.

            This is the third arctic cold front to move through the area this winter and usually I only get one with temperatures below zero, so I hope this one passes quickly.

            I had my morning coffee and then got ready for our trip to town.

            I played with Zack to help calm him down a bit and then started the Argo to warm up, only it wouldn’t start. It was -11 degrees and the battery was growing weak. I set up and started the propane jet heater to warm the entire Argo shed and the insides of the Argo, then sprayed starter fluid down the carburetor and after a couple of more attempts, it finally started. I let the engine warm up while I loaded the two wheels and 3 empty 5-gallon gas cans. The trip to Marysville was unremarkable and we easily followed our tracks from yesterday, making it to the Divide and down to Marysville.

            It took us longer than usual to get to Helena as I had about 14” of snow and then ice on the Jeep.

Once in town, I hurried from place to place, hoping to get back home before dark. I dropped off the Argo wheels to have the tubes installed first, and then ran my errands and got gas and groceries before returning to pick up the wheels. I stopped to get my mail and took that opportunity to retrieve my phone messages.

            I had ordered four additional house batteries for the cabin and thought they would be delivered today, but a phone message informed me that the freight driver called me on Tuesday and because he couldn’t reach me, didn’t even bother to try and deliver them to Guy and Mary’s address in Marysville. These batteries are 130 pounds each and come on a pallet, so there wasn’t any way I could get them into the Jeep with three gas cans, two Argo wheels and all my groceries. I called them to see if I could have someone else pick them up, thinking my friend Joe might do it with his truck on Saturday. I was told that they are closed on the weekends, so that option was out. I guess I’ll need to make a couple of trips to town to haul them back to Marysville and haul them to the cabin in the Argo.

            After that, we immediately headed back to Marysville, arriving at about 5 PM. I transferred everything to the Argo and after a brief visit, headed for home. When I went over the pile of snow left by the snowplow, I broke the rear right drive chain tensioner and the thing began making one hell of a racket. I stopped to try and determine what exactly broke and if I could fix it, but I would have had to remove EVERYTHING from the Argo to remove the floorboard. My flashlight was weak on power so I decided to try and make it home at a crawl and hoped it would make it without doing a lot of damage.

            At a slower than walking pace, we made our way up to the Divide and down the other side. All of a sudden, the noise of the drive chains got very quiet. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop but it never did and we made it all of the way home. Looks like I'll be doing more work on the Argo before I can make any trips to town.

            After all of that, I was exhausted, so I unloaded everything from the Argo, put it away, played with Zack in the dark, built up the fire, fed the animals and sat down with my V-8 to read my mail. After resting for about an hour, a hot shower and dinner finished off the day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

            It isn’t quite as cold this morning, with the low being -17,2, but after the sun came up, it rose to a warm 17 degrees. It is partly cloudy, with a promise of sunshine and temperatures in the high 20s. Snow is predicted for the weekend, but the temperatures are expected to be above zero, so that arctic front is moving on, thank goodness.

            As the sun warmed things to the 20s, I donned my work clothes and headed out to shovel snow from around the wood splitter while playing with Zack. I split some more firewood and still have plenty left, plus my extra supply against the cabin. I then removed everything from the Argo and pulled the floor out. I was absolutely right about the chain tensioners breaking. Both of the right rear tensioners broke into two pieces and it was a combination of the chain hitting the broken pieces and dragging on the frames cross members that caused the noise.

One of the broken chain tensioners and the other is still lodged in the chain towards the top of this photo. This photo is taken from the rear looking forward.

            I immediately emailed the supplier to order new parts as if I wait, I won’t be able to order until Monday. I then cleaned out the broken pieces and thought about a fix. I rummaged around my Argo parts and found some rub blocks that I had ordered previously, measured and cut a 1x4” piece of wood to the correct dimensions, put a rub block on top and forced it under the chain. That took up the slack and should work for a few trips to town and back. I still need to make a second block for the forward chain, but that shouldn’t be a problem.

            Back in the house, I had replies to my emails about the parts and they are shipping them second day air today, so I shouldn’t have any problems installing the new parts, making the Argo reliable and hopefully I will be able to get my additional batteries up and installed.

            Playtime with Zack, built up the fire, fed all the gang and sat down to update this. It is now dark and I will take a nice hot shower and then have a bite to eat, settling in for the evening.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

            It was a mild night with the low being only around 18 degrees as I didn’t clear the night before, so I am not sure. It is overcast today with NWS saying 30% chance of snow this afternoon and tonight.

            After my usual morning, but before noon, I started a load of wash and began cleaning. I ended up doing five loads of wash, which included my two comforters, which constitutes a load by themselves. I cleaned and mopped the kitchen and bathroom, vacuumed everything but the upstairs, which I’ll do tomorrow, and put things in order.

            It is now 6 PM, and I am quitting for the day. The last load of wash just finished drying and I’ll make up my bed with fresh everything, and then shower and have some dinner. I fed the crew already and tired Zack out playing catch in the deep snow.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

            It is still overcast this morning and I only got a light dusting of snow overnight. The temperatures are in the high 20s and low 30s, so if the sun makes its appearance, as NWS says it will, it should get nice enough to do some work outside.

            I worked on building the front chain tension block and after installing it, backed the Argo out to put the wheels back on. I started with the left track and could not get anything to cooperate, but finally got the wheel on, refastened the track, with much trouble, and then added Slime to all the tires and aired them up. By the time I finished, it was getting dark and cold, so I decided I would leave the right side until after I went to Marysville for the chain tensioner parts. I needed to move the Argo so the Slime would circulate inside the tires, so I drove to the garage and both of my jury rigged blocks broke and became useless.

            I will now need to spend tomorrow making stronger blocks, using 2 x 4s instead of the 1” material I used. If I can complete the task early enough, I’ll try to get to Marysville to pick up the replacement parts, but if not, I’ll make the trip on Tuesday.

            I am suffering for my labors of today, so after playing with Zack, feeding the crew, building up the fire, I sat down to have my V-8 and finish writing this. The day turned out nice, with a high of 46 and no wind, so working outside wasn’t too bad, except for standing in the snow.