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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 - 12 - 12

Greetings to everyone in the north, south, east and west... We are so pleased to report that Cascade Bluff has received a wonderful gift -- real snow! While we didn't actually get the whopping 14 to 16 inches that fell on the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas in this week's winter storm, ours is more likely to stay put since our temps remain well below freezing. 

We arrived at The Bluff on Saturday Dec 8 to the disappointing sight that most of the snow we'd received around Thanksgiving was gone. The Northland had actually received rain on top of melting temps, resulting in roads that are, now that the temps fell again, pretty darn icy. 
But the colors were lovely that first evening, looking out over The Big Lady Lake....

...with the final light glancing off the water and showing off our long distance view of the Wisconsin and Michigan shores...
 Sunday dawned dull and dreary... and where did all our snow go?
Then... it started. Little itty bitty snowballs bouncing off everything, making little pinging sounds... 
We had to clear off our solar panels a bunch of times and it still kept coming...
 ...gently, steadily...
though snowfall can be amazingly noisy in the woods...
video

Here is our snug abode at the height of the snowfall...

Meanwhile, indoors, Her Highness made herself completely comfortable. Interestingly, Our Princess has not been lobbying to go out for walks... I guess she must have finally figured it out. BTW we tried extra small dog booties... those lasted less than thirty seconds...
 Rosie wasn't the only one seeking comfort... Here is the view from inside the hot tub, all nice and steamy, with snow falling on our heads and our eyebrows freezing (no photos of that...) Ahhhh....!

Before we left Cascade Bluff in November, we refilled our roadside sand barrels and partially covering the opening with jaunty little caps. Here's one by big enormous hill, snowed in but no snow got inside to get that sand wet... yes!

Well, we needed to get to town, regardless of weather. Our fabulous road guy Casey had braved the ice and hills and plowed our road on Monday, so by Tuesday AM, despite more snow, we took a chance and headed out in the big red Ford pickup, Dimples...
Here's a view through Dimples windshield looking down our oh MY! hill...
 I popped out of the passenger door to take this shot... a pristine road, heading downhill at an 18% slope... yikes...
 The road gets narrow when it crosses through USFS land...
 After a successful trip to town to do a bit of restocking and some bank business, we headed back, and retraced our tracks... in gorgeous sunshine!
In the sunlight those narrow places don't seem quite as daunting...
I stopped to capture this image of snow on the balsam fir trees, a beautiful basket weave pattern...
A very slight wind was all it took to create this magic... diamond dust in the sunlight...
Just one glorious bank of Christmas trees after another...


Aspens glowing pink-gold in the late afternoon sun...

...and the stately tall balsam fir by our house looked just fabulous with "natural backlighting"....
And one last shot... Currier and Ives comes to mind! 

We'll be blogging again soon, as the holidays approach, and a certain birthday happens (Psst--- tomorrow, Dec 13th, Val turns 58!!)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Willing Wood Workers

Here is a swing backwards a bit in time -- a post that thanks and celebrates some recent visitors to Cascade Bluff who willingly (really!) pitched in to help us out with the main chore of our "compound" with our 4 wood stoves: putting up a store of split wood before winter. 

Here's a shot of our niece Marissa and her hubby Eric. They came up for a weekend in October for some fun and good food and to give us a helping hand with splitting and stacking...

The day was nice enough that we were in T-shirts and light jackets...
The wood on the right is all dry and useable for this year, and the stuff on the left needs to cure for another year or so... At the end of the weekend we had split more than half of our huge pile of birch chunks and stacked a bunch, but as you see, we still had some left...
All work and no play makes Eric a dull boy... Here he is enjoying a certain Cuban import on the deck...

Then in mid-November, we entered hunting season and some friends from Chicago braved the journey to the North Woods. Robyne and Ann are showing off their blaze orange vests and posing in "the Guest Spot" at our lookout over the Cascade River...

Our friend Ann helping Val run the splitter... Take a look at that enormous chunk of yellow birch! Harder wood than paper birch, and more BTU's per cord... but harder to split...
The Splitter Team in action...
video
Ann and Robyne posing at the end of two long split and stack sessions...

Will you look at that! A whole wall of perfectly stacked wood (two kinds of birch, hard maple, and the occasional hunk of serviceberry...) ready to dry and cure for the winter of 2013-2014 and beyond...

...and the whole woodshed in all its glory...
Thanksgiving brought the snow I showed you on the post just prior to this one. The snow was preceded by a coating of ice on every branch and tree. That in turn led to a few downed trees on our road... and our friends Randy and Mary Jo pitched in with a different type of "wood work"... helping move some downed trees! 

Here they are at the end of a nice holiday, none the worse for wear, ready for the snowy drive back to Fargo, their home town...

We are so very thankful for having such great friends and family -- just in general -- and especially such helpful willing workers giving us a really solid supply of wood for this year and next! Thanks, everybody!