Friday, December 21, 2018

Solstice Tidings!

December is roaring by and the days are getting shorter and shorter.  This photo was taken the day before the solstice.  We timed our direct sun coming through the slot in the mountains at 2 minutes and 14 seconds!  On the solstice, it was overcast, so we couldn't see the sun in the cut.

One of our December projects is finding the perfect Christmas tree.  I swear we looked multiple times at every tree in the bay, but Jen finally narrowed it down to two trees.  After several trips to each of those, we decided on a nice Sitka Spruce.

Getting the tree home.

Traffic wasn't too bad.

Feral loves her Christmas tree!

We finally started to get some snow in mid-December!  You can see a dusting on the ground.

Night Lights

Our neighbors had a problem with their waterline over at the townsite.  It involved moving big heavy pipes around in the Baranof River, so I headed over with chest waders and a big pry bar.  Since I was headed over in the skiff, I took our compost bucket out to be emptied.

Jen went with me one day to look for firewood logs on some of our outer beaches.  This is a nice red cedar!

Once the logs are close enough to the water, I put a line on them so I can tow them home with the skiff.

This Sitka Spruce kept trying to pass us on the tow home.

Home Sweet Home!

Our friend Pete stopped by with some crabs, so I made some sourdough whole-wheat honey egg bread to go with it.

I think I made enough!

Our neighbors John and Jeanne came over to help us eat crabs and play cards!

Dinner is served!

Sunrise Colors!

Our first significant snowfall was 9 inches on December 15.  This tree had been cleared from a lot over at the townsite last fall, so I dragged it home to put on the deck.

I got to use the new Honda HSS1132 snowblower for the first time.  It really cut through all that wet, sticky snow!

Heavy rain came in after the snowfall to start a big melt.  It has been a wet winter--we've had 82 inches of rain since October 1, including 29 inches in the first 20 days of December.

A Pacific Loon stretching its wings out in the bay.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Lights Out!

It sure is nice to have a hydro-electric system here at the lodge to keep the food in the freezers frozen, run electric heaters, and make lights turn on when you flip a switch!  So, I was very concerned one morning shortly after Jen arrived when the lights started flickering wildly as I was standing in the kitchen drinking my tea.  We have electrical meters in the kitchen and I watched them swing wildly as the lights flickered and then went dark as the meters all went to zero.  I jumped into my Xtratuff boots, and ran out the back door towards our hydro shed.  As soon as I got outside, I could hear the pelton wheel overspinning as the load of the generator was obviously not slowing it down.  My heart sank as I got closer to the shed and smoke was pouring out of the windows.

There was too much smoke in the room to do much.  I took a deep breath, then ran in, opened the windows fully, and ran out.  Once the smoke was mostly clear, I was able to shut down the water running to the pelton wheel and take in the scene in the shed.  It all looked normal, except it was very dark and very quiet!  It also smelled like something expensive had burned up!

Jen was shocked when the lights went out!

We do have a diesel generator back up, so there was no big concern about losing all the food in the freezers.  There is a big difference though, between running a diesel generator three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening, and having quiet, clean hydro running 24 hours a day.

Our neighbor John comes to the rescue!

Luckily, our neighbor in the bay, John, is an experienced electrician.  We were also very fortunate that there was a new generator already sitting in the hydro shed.  That generator was going to be hooked up to a separate pelton wheel sometime in the future, but we decided to hook it up to the existing wheel.  It was a different generator, so the key was to mount it where we had perfect belt alignment.  

Jen was very unhappy after three days of no hydro power!

We took our time figuring things out and started at daylight on the third day without power (that was long enough!).  This is the start of the installation of the new 350 pound generator.  John and I tried to pull the generator out of it's storage spot and couldn't budge it, so we used a comealong to drag it out where we could get look at it.  The Pelton wheel is in the red housing and you can see the old shorted out generator that is still in place.

We used a chain hoist to lift and maneuver the new generator into place.  John is attached to the boots coming through the ceiling as we cut a hole to attach the chain hoist.

We lifted it up and down several times to find the proper place to put the mount for good belt alignment.  We tried several dry fits before finally settling on a location.  We marked the spot, then lifted it one final time to drill pilot holes for the lag bolts that hold the mount down.

Putting the drive belts on to check for alignment.

Once the generator was in place, John wired it and made some final tests and adjustments.

At the end of a very long day, we had hydro power again with the generator putting out almost 13 KW!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Lodge Chores

Putting lights up on the roof.  We also put lights up around the boardwalk, deck and some of the trails to other cabins.

At least the roof's not steep!

Feral likes to help chase lines!

Finished Lights....and more of the same.

Propane top-up:
Another winter project is to bring all the empty propane bottles out to the deck to be refilled.  

There is a boat that stops in to the bay to refill them.

Taking a 55-gallon drum of heating oil up to the crew cabins.  Because of the ramp to the dock, high time is preferred for this task.

Maneuvering the heating oil around the propane bottles (which all have to be moved back to the storage area once they are filled).

We also got a drum of diesel so we can top up the tanks on Prime Time.

Of course, Jen wants to help...

Feral out on the deck to supervise all these activities!

One of the planks on the dock pulled out during a storm.  

It and the cleat have been replaced!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Deck Wildlife

Cleaning up leftovers after our Thanksgiving dinner, we made a batch of turkey soup.  We put a bowl of turkey bones out on the deck and within 10 minutes, the deck got very busy!

This mink decided to relocate all the bones in the bowl to an undisclosed location of his choosing.

He grabbed each bone.....

...and then ran off the deck with it.


Looking for water under the ice on the surface.

Getting down to the nitty gritty!

Full extension.

Feral watched all the action from the comfort and safety of the living room!

This red squirrel arrived too late and had to make do with drippings from the BBQ!