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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No Rules

We are up at Cascade Bluff proving that February is a month with No Rules! We've managed to take 2 weeks off and like normal people decided to spend our mid winter time off further north where it is colder! Perfectly sensible...not! But we just don't like rules. Rules like, you need to connect to the electrical grid...NOT! These panels are movin' electrons in our direction!

Thomas Edison apparently didn't like rules either. We put up a few pithy quotes in our battery room, to remind us to keep experimenting and learning new stuff....


Ah, lovely February! One day it was 45 degrees in the shade...


...we took off our shoes and jackets, and grabbed some sunshine on the deck...

...and a wee splash...

....next day...hmmm... where'd the sun go? What the... fog???

...there was a view there yesterday...

Next day, not so nice... 8 above and 25 below wind chill... BTW, the clock is only right twice a day. It takes a battery, which decided to stop working the first time it hit 10 below...
Big chill means time for a big monster fire in the little stove...

....which requires lots of wood from the woodpile behind the garage. Here's Val, trying to stay warm in the really cold wind, trudging along with a load of wood on our sled...
We needed a break today from thinking about weather (and we had a few errands to run in the civilized world), so we headed out on an adventure today, and the highlight was a late breakfast at the Lockport Store in Lutsen, MN, about 15 miles west of us.


The "store" is one of those all inclusive places where you can fill up with gas, have breakfast or lunch, buy a few necessary groceries and sundry items, have a cappuccino, chat with the neighbors, or buy some real estate!

Once you really make it on the North Shore you become a local, and you get your own coffee mug with your name on it to hang on the wall at Lockport, and you get to sit at the special "local's" table... no one else is allowed! (We sit elsewhere...)

There are extremely tempting pastries, pies and other bakery items, right inside the front door...

....but we opted for breakfast: eggs, the world's best hash browns, sublime pancakes, sinfully thick-cut bacon, wonderful raisin bread toast... and cappuccinos....
Here are the hostesses at Lockport, Deb and Nan! Stop by for a visit, they are the friendliest folks in Cook County... and they have some property to sell, too!
One of our errands was to rescue our dead chain saw... watch out, maybe another blog later this week will be the chronicles of the woodswomen of Cascade and their new Jonsered saw... oh, yeah, no rules...

So, forget the chain saw action for now! Wednesday came with wind and woolly weather for us again... more snow... okay... you can stop any time now....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Double the Power!

It is February up at Cascade Bluff, meaning still lots of snow and a good deal more than 6 weeks of winter left! Clouds and white stuff is in our weather forecast for a while. So, last time we were up, in Jan, we had a consult with Brian Bennett, solar maven, and we decided to add another bank of 8 batteries to give us more power and hopefully less time on the generator. We had 8 and are doubling our battery capacity.
But getting 1000 pounds of batteries up to our place with our unplowed road and a Jeep Wrangler Sport is not an easy task.... Enter the trailer, borrowed from our good neighbor and fellow blogger, Stan T (Murmur Creek Observatory)...

Here is the trailer all loaded with the batteries, to be tarped, 'cause Babe throws a lot of snow with her new winter boots!

The full load arrived at the top o' the hill intact and reasonably dry....

Welcome, batteries, and electricity geniuses (and Morgan)!

Geniuses have to do some heavy labor, at times...
Each one of those batteries weighs in at 165 lb. Yikes!

The battery staging area.... That's our wood hauling sled in the background...

Here they are, installed and collecting electrons from the sun!


Morgan's had an exciting day, she's ready for her nap!
Thank you to Brian and Randy for all the help, and to Stan for being such a great neighbor... And to Morgan for helping convince Val of the wisdom of getting a really nice dog!

Friday, February 4, 2011

La Nina Winter


2010-2011 has been a La Nina winter, which generally means lots of extra precipitation and storminess in the northern hemisphere. Guess we've proved that one correctly--not just up on the North Shore of Lk Superior but all over the country! Greetings to our readers in Chicago, friends in Oklahoma, Boston, New York, the Carolinas, Atlanta...
Do all those places even have snowplows???

We recently learned that on nearby Devil Track Lake the weather station has recorded 80 inches of snow this year. Devil Track is only a few miles east of us and about the same distance from Superior, so we probably have about the same amount... sure seems like 7 feet...

Some views of what we saw before the Jeep got out and made trax with the tracks...

Winter sun can be kind of feeble...

Never ending snowflakes, gotta get out there and clean the panels again...

This is one of the duties of the passenger riding shotgun in Babe: to climb out and move fallen trees. Fortunately this one was little and didn't require a saw.

We got a couple of big barrels and filled them with sand and salt for the steep parts of the road...

Whew, am I tired of shoveling the path to the sauna! Pretty soon it will be a long snow cave!


Speaking of snow caves, FYI, Lonnie Dupre made it down off Denali safely and out of that chilly (and smelly) snow cave...

And we will be heading back to Cascade Bluff in about a week and hope to post more news and pix of the adventures of Val and Kathy and Babe!